As a new year, and a new decade, begin, we’re taking a look back and some of the biggest and most interesting stories to make headlines on The Metropreneur in 2019. Coworking spaces took root in nearly every corner of the city, social enterprises continued to make an impact, and various organizations, from long-standing service providers to the city itself, looked for ways to continue to build the small business ecosystem in Columbus. Read on for a look back and 2019.
To kick of 2019, The Metropreneur sat down with go-to business resource the Small Business Development Centers at at Columbus State Community College to discuss how their programming has evolved with the uptick in interest in entrepreneurship in Central Ohio. We also highlighted the culturally-competent resources the SBDC provides for Latino entrepreneurs. ECDI talked with Carnell and Malik Willoughby about their Mansa Men project, a monthly personal development program that works with black males between the ages of 14 and 18.
Rhove launched its renter rewards program which works with property owners to offer a dollar-for-dollar monthly savings match, up to 2.5% of an individual’s rent value. Balm Skincare dug into the impetus behind its rebrand to CONCUR and shift to focus on microbiome-friendly skincare products. We took a peek inside the continuing evolution of The Fort on the South Side and its quest to become a destination. COhatch continued its march across Central Ohio, opening a coworking space in the former Gazette building in Downtown Delaware. Law firm Barnes & Thornburg answered the question of “Is it ok to hug my coworker?” (When in doubt, don’t hug it out.)
After spending enough time building and fulfilling clients’ visions, Edgework Creative launched its first in-house furniture line featuring seating, tables, and a venture into modular systems. Philanthropitch gave local nonprofits a stage to pitch for over $100,000 in unrestricted capital. In partnership with Vantage Point Logistics, we took an in-depth look at why Columbus is a good place to start and grow a technology-based business. Coworking continued to make headlines in 2019, with Kollektiv opening in the former home of Max & Erma’s in German Village, and The Merchant announcing its plans for Olde Towne East.
HonestJobs.co created a platform to connect the formerly incarcerated with vetted, second-chance employment opportunities, and was voted the Top Startup of 2019. Book + Street outlined the niche it serves in the startup community, helping companies get their finances organized in order to raise venture capital. An in-depth article dug into the advantages of doing business in Columbus, from “the Columbus Way” to leading industries and cost of living. SocialVentures chatted with the Furniture Bank of Central Ohio about their embrace of social enterprise and plans to continue evolving new business models.
What started as a successful Instagram account is now a retail storefront in Clintonville as Marigold added bricks to its clicks. Dr. Peter Edwards talked about taking things from #SaveTheCrew to #SavedTheCrew on the Columbus Chamber cbuzz podcast. A portable, private, stand-alone meeting pod?! The OotBox provided yet another option for remote workers, while in the world of coworking, COhatch opened at Polaris, providing a unique spin with a spot that’s part work, part bar in partnership with Brothers Drake Meadery. Four other coworking spaces also announced their intentions to lure Columbus workers – WeWork, COhatch again, this time at Easton, Kiddie Academy (for its parents), and Elevate Westerville.
The JusticeMobile hit the streets with lawyer Mindy Yocum at the wheel offering legal clinics for employers, agencies, non-profits and schools across the state. On the subject of law, Barnes & Thornburg outlined why its critically important to protect your domain name in the digital universe we live. Columbus was ranked one of the Top 20 U.S. cities for startups. Henry Golatt, Program Development Coordinator for the City of Columbus’ Office of Small Business and Entrepreneur Development, discussed the city’s role in building up small businesses. The findings of a comprehensive assessment analyzing the city’s small business landscape for strengths, opportunities and gaps was also released. We took an in-depth look at the two major gaps the study found: a gap in knowledge about resources available and a lack of microfunding options.
Origin Malt shared its story of bringing barley production back to the fields of Ohio and the Midwest. On the Columbus Chamber cbuzz podcast, Doug Joseph of Serif Creative shared his story of taking the leap from freelancer to business owner with a team. ECDI, once again voted the top small business resource in Columbus, celebrated 15 years of helping entrepreneurs achieve their goals. In the world of coworking, we finally got the details of WeWork’s expansion to Columbus (pre-IPO meltdown debacle), and Spaces added 39,000 square feet of coworking space to Short North.
Pouring fresh-juice mixers and a “just add alcohol” motto, Simple Times Mixers moved from a shared kitchen to its own product facility. Proving you can be an entrepreneur at any age, teen Brooke Yoakam delivered GiftPocket, an app that acts as a virtual wallet for gift cards. COhatch opened its third location on the year, this time in Upper Arlington.
Does your small business host events? Here’s what you need to know about the GCAC Admissions Tax, which officially took effect July 1, 2019. The Metropreneur hosted its fifth annual Aspire event, with a panel discussion on second-chance employment and honors for HonestJobs.co, Nature’s Touch Landscaping & Lawn Care and Freedom a la Cart during the Social Enterprise of the Year Awards. A finalist for one of the awards, Fortuity shared its vision for its Franklinton call center with SocialVentures. ECDI celebrated the opening of Food Fort 2.0, providing more space and resources for Columbus’ food-based entrepreneurs. Columbus is ripe with business podcasts and we rounded up 16 you can give a listen.
An industry veteran launched Columbus Apparel Studio, providing a local, full-service production house that can help meet the needs of the thriving, local fashion industry. After four successful accelerator cohorts, SEA Change announced new avenues to access it programming that helps build social enterprises – through the accelerator, online, and through affiliate partners. ECDI shared the successes of its Capital for Construction program.
A pair of women-owned beverage startups headed to market, with Tanisha Robinson presenting CBD-infused sparkling beverage W*nder, and Kathryn Dougherty offering non-alcoholic sparkling tea Spritz. Stauf’s and social enterprise Wild Tiger Tees partnered up on some seasonal mugs that went far beyond providing a vehicle for caffeine. Coworking got a twist with Cova’s new location at Gravity, also offering childcare.
Offering publishing services like editing and proofreading, cover designing, eBook, publishing and distribution for fees, Gatekeeper Press is a resource for self-publishers. SocialVentures spoke with Lutheran Social Services’ Eddie Rapp about what it takes to operate two successful social enterprises, Patriot Pride Painting and Fairhaven Lawn Care. The year wrapped up with The Metropreneur’s annual Best Of lists, with Beam Dental voted Top Success Story, Kenny Sipes of Roosevelt Coffee voted Top Entrepreneur, ECDI voted Top Small Business Resource, and HonestJobs.Co voted Top Startup.