Creative Mornings Columbus is a great start to the day once a month on a Friday. This month’s theme was “Surreal” and Celia C. Peters presented, Keeping It (Sur)Real: Afrofuturism and a Brave New Outlook. Per Celia: “The afrofuturist perspective is one that not bound by the constraints of any previous paradigms or histories, which is quite surreal to experience. It’s a Brave New World on steroids. I’ll highlight how the afrofuturist mindset informs my work and why.”
Conscious Capitalism Columbus Chapter was sponsored and hosted last night at LOUD Capital. Haley Boehning, Vice Chair Board of Directors led the night’s conversation around what Conscious Capitalism is all about and interviewed Carter Stewart, Managing Director of Draper Richards Kaplan, where he is responsible for identifying and supporting DRK entrepreneurs and serving on the boards of many DRK portfolio organizations and Navin Goval, Co-Founder of SmileMD and Managing Partner and Co-Founder of LOUD Capital, a Columbus-based venture capital group with some well-known purpose-driven portfolio companies including Hot Chicken Takeover, College Ease and other purpose-driven companies.
The Columbus chapter of Conscious Capitalism offers programming that connects, inspires and educates the Central Ohio community. They are an open and inclusive community, supporting those who currently practice the philosophy of Conscious Capitalism in their work and businesses, and those who are new to its beliefs and principals. Their monthly happy hours are a great chance to meet with like-minded business leaders and professionals, and hear stories from others on their journey to create and lead more conscious businesses.
First Merchants Bank presented the 2019 Economic Forecast with Michael J. Hicks, PhD who is the Director of the Center for Business and Economic Research and George & Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Economics, Miller College of Business, Ball State University.
Key takeaways for Ohio in 2019: “Leading economic indicators for Ohio paint a stable picture, with a recovery in the LEI (Leading Economic Indicators) in the second half of 2018, capping a better year than forecasted last year.” And…”Ohio’s economy is best characterized as stable and growing, with perhaps a better 2018 performance than anticipated in 2017.”
Key takeaways for the Greater Columbus area: “The Columbus, Ohio Metropolitan Statistical Area remains one of the more vibrant and growing urban and suburban places in the Midwest.”
Selected Quotes from Summary: “The United States economy is in its ninth year of expansion, with labor markets performing strongly. The unemployment rate is now beneath all common estimates of full employment, and wages have growth over the year a near full percentage point above the traditional consumer measures of inflation.” And…”Columbus remains a pocket of astonishingly robust economic performance in the Midwest. Growth in housing values, relative wage premium for education and the composition of employment growth are more like rapidly growing coastal and Sunbelt metropolitan places than small and mid-sized urban places in the Midwest.”
Rev1 Ventures held their January Founder’s Story: Q&A with Columbus’ Student Entrepreneurs at their facility today at lunch. It’s a great program that typically features a founder from one of their partner companies. But, today it was a panel of student entrepreneurs that shared their business journeys. I’ve been to these talks before and the themes of success and challenges that these students have faced are all familiar. Their resilience along with their realistic understanding of what’s possible all resonated just as strongly as it does coming from any of the other business owners who have told their stories.
Here’s a bit more about the students’ background and businesses as pulled from the event invitation:
Student entrepreneurship is an exciting part of the innovation and growth in our city. Columbus is a community filled with resources for young entrepreneurship. Join us as we sit down to talk with Brooke Yoakam of GiftPocket, Thomas Booker of Rev1 and Your Just Desserts, and Brandon Gotlieb of NXSTOR, as they share their experiences as student entrepreneurs and where they are headed on their startup journey.
About the speakers:
Brooke Yoakam, GiftPocket
Brooke Yoakam, currently a Junior at Upper Arlington High School, is actively involved on her school’s soccer team and volunteering. Brooke is also the CEO of GiftPocket, a mobile app designed to help teens easily store, manage, use, and exchange all their gift cards.
When she was 12 years old, she participated in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, where she developed the idea of GiftPocket and won funding for the “best business idea." After finalizing her business plan and participating in Customer Learning Lab, she became an engaged client with Rev 1 Ventures, where she received guidance that helped her turn her app idea into a reality.
Yoakam has worked extensively to bring together an experienced team to help her launch GiftPocket in December of 2018. Brooke has been committed and focused on solving the gift card problem that is common amongst teens.
Thomas Booker, Your Just Desserts
A graduate of the International Baccalaureate (IB) High School Program, a rigorous and internationally recognized college prep course of study, Thomas had originally planned to become a computer science engineer. Five years of entrepreneurial experiences in high school—including building a dessert catering business, Your Just Desserts and being a radio host on Pensacola Business radio X—propelled him toward a business degree.
Having earned a full scholarship to The Ohio State University, Thomas is majoring in operations management in the Fisher College of Business; a program ranked 10th in the nation by U.S. World and News Report. He is actively engaged with other young entrepreneurs on campus.
Thomas is also the Entrepreneur Programs Intern at Rev1. Thomas assists as the first touch point for the more than 600 entrepreneurs who reach out to Rev1 Ventures each year. He helps to quickly connect them to the startup resources available at Rev1 and in the Central Ohio community.
Brandon Gotlieb, NXTSTOR
Brandon Gotlieb is currently a junior honors finance student at Ohio State University and more notably, the CEO and Co-Founder of NXTSTOR. NXTSTOR is a revolutionary online marketplace that connects those with extra space to those that need a place to store items. Brandon’s love for the peer to peer economy and developing community based programs has contributed to both the development of NXTSTOR and his commitment to becoming a venture partner for Contrary Capital.
As a venture partner, Brandon works to deploy capital by utilizing the company’s first fund, which focuses on funding promising student run ventures. In this role, he is able to help college students actualize their companies just like he did. Brandon and his co-founders, Michael Gargasz, and Ashwin Rajgopal launched NXTSTOR in April of 2018, in order to bring the self-storage industry into the 21st century.
They have worked to grow the platform into the go-to hub for space rentals by working closely with homeowners to utilize spaces that are often left underused. The company is currently raising capital to continue building out the network of spaces available.
Tonight, Startup Grind Columbus featured Troy Allen, Chief Entertainment Officer at Rise Brands. Ryan Frederick, the Columbus Director, had a great conversation with Troy who shared his background, the story behind Rise and the success they’ve had with their brands, 16-Bit Bar+Arcade, Pins Mechanical Co and No Soliciting. Troy also shared that Rise is working on the development of two more brands that we’ll be seeing soon.
Troy said that taking risks has always been a part of his entrepreneurial journey and with the growing success of the Rise brands, the risks haven’t gone away…they’ve just gotten bigger (which equals bigger money). Community has been a part of Troy’s experiences and he cited the support of other business owners as being key to his success. Thanks to Troy and Ryan for an outstanding program tonight!
In this past Friday’s issue (Dec. 14, 2018) of Columbus Business First, Laura Newpoff has written an in-depth article about Gen Z and the expectations they’re bringing to the workplace titled, Are You Ready? Gen Z Brings Own Brand of Expectations to Workplace. I had the opportunity to talk with Laura about Gen Z and shared an experience I had talking with students preparing to enter the workforce.
Here’s an excerpt that hits on the theme of the piece:
Lauryn Rotonda is a senior at The Ohio State University and is about to graduate and looking for her first full-time role.
“As I get farther along in my search, I always ask, ‘What’s the culture like? Are they philanthropic? What do they do so employees feel like one cohesive unit? Do they do anything to make sure people are getting to know each other outside of work for the bonding experience?’” she said.
“When you’re working with people you know on a deeper level – rather than, ‘Hey, can you answer my email?’ – it should make the work environment so much more productive and meaningful.”
The 22-year-old’s style is a hallmark of Generation Z, which is about to take the workforce by storm. They’re the new recruiting targets and companies have a lot to learn about what makes them tick.
And here’s my contribution:
Chris Cochran, owner of Cochran Executive Search and Hire in Columbus, recently spoke with a group of college juniors and seniors about preparing for careers. Unlike previous generations, instead of just focusing on selling themselves, they plan to “interview the business” to gauge its desirability, he said.
Please note: Our business is Cochran Executive Search and a service we offer is a leadership development program called, Hire Learning Leadership.
Another great start to a Friday once a month with Creative Mornings Columbus. This month’s theme was “Tradition” and Jackie Kemble shared her stories of tradition and challenged the audience to break with traditions that exclude others or harm those who are different. She also talked about tradition being a reflection of identity and the anecdotes she told revealed this accurately.
Jackie is the Community Partnership Manager with Land-Grant Brewing Company. She manages philanthropic Initiatives and Community Engagement through their Franklinton Taproom, focusing on partnerships pertaining to Community, Education and Sustainability. She also partners with local organizations to plan awesome events centered around some of the best beer in the city. I did take that from her LinkedIn profile and she’s right…it is some of the best beer in the city.
The audience participation was strong when they were asked to share examples of their traditions, ones they hold, have broken and the new ones that have been created. As is often the case with these talks, it got me thinking introspectively. The tradition I’ve created is that when I get my haircut, I bring back the same flavor of lollipop from Mane Masters along with three, one dollar scratch off lottery tickets for my three daughters. Many traditions can be identified as an expectation and now I dare not ever come back home after getting my haircut without the lollipops and lottery tickets.
Tonight, I checked out Startup Grind Columbus that was held at Rev1 Ventures. Ilya Bodner, Founder & CEO of Bold Penguin was the featured speaker. He shared his experiences as an entrepreneur and insights to growing his current company. He said that when he begins with an idea and starts a company, he has a specific product in mind and he’s driven to achieve the outcome that he’s imagined. He knows what it should look like.
Here’s a bit more about Ilya from the Startup Grind website:
Ilya Bodner didn’t get into the insurance business because he found it particularly sexy, or exciting...or even because he Loved It. (After all, it’s insurance) He got into it because he wanted to fundamentally change how it works from the inside out. And little by little, he and the “penguins” are making it happen. The focus of their startup is to significantly reduce the friction in the commercial insurance experience—a mission that, unsurprisingly, no one seems to argue with.
My second stop last night was the GETDOT 2018 Christmas Extravaganza benefitting Franklin County Children Services at the Athletic Club of Columbus. There’s always a fun crowd at the GETDOT events and the organization raises a bunch of money at every event for a local children’s charity. Unwrapped toys were abundantly provided by attendees and a good bit of money was raised through the silent auction. It’s always nice to see the Co-Founders, Scott Boles & Chip Ramsey, the organization’s President, Eric Rine and many other members and guests. Here are pictures of the event.