Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Cincinnati, OH


In 2017, Forbes named Ohio the best state in America to launch a startup, and TechInsurance.com listed Cincinnati as one of the best places in the nation for tech entrepreneurs to live.

Cincinnati, OH sits on the bank of the Ohio River and is the third-largest city in the state. Both the state of Ohio and the city of Cincinnati are among the country’s best places for young entrepreneurs. In 2017, Forbes named Ohio the best state in America to launch a startup, and TechInsurance.com listed Cincinnati as one of the best places in the nation for tech entrepreneurs to live.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Cincinnati’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

BIT looks to help people of color succeed and network in the field of technology.

Founded by an Ethiopian immigrant, CBP is a way for people of color in the greater Cincinnati area to network and support each other.

In addition to networking, Cincinnati Entrepreneurs and Startups offer a number of programs and activities to help entrepreneurs turn their ideas into reality.

A group of entrepreneurs and small business owners hosting seminars to help others advance their careers.

Networking and support for real estate entrepreneurs in the Cincinnati area.

Elevating Women Entrepreneurs meets on the third Wednesday of every month and attempts to elevate women in both their business and professional lives.

Meetups and networking events for entrepreneurs and business owners who are also mothers.

A network across Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana for business owners and other professionals to meet people and create networks.

The Cincinnati branch of Black Expo America Inc.’s global network of black business owners, entrepreneurs, and professionals.

A group designed to help aspiring entrepreneurs achieve their goals by connecting them with those who have already done it.

Monthly events for the Cincinnati chapter of Startup Grind to educate and inspire young entrepreneurs.


Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

Annual 5-day event brought to you by TechStars to celebrate the entrepreneurial environment in Cincinnati.

If Startup Week is too long, TechStars also offers a weekend-long version.

Cincinnati is the host of the awards gala and finalists reception for the Ohio Valley branch of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards.

An annual conference in Cincinnati described as “the intersection of faith and entrepreneurship.”


Startup Competitions:

Greater Cincinnati-area entrepreneurs have the opportunity to deliver 5-minute pitches in a competition for a judges’ choice award and an audience choice award, both of which come with hefty cash prizes.

The First Batch accelerator’s annual spring competition for product prototypes created by local entrepreneurs.

Social Venture Partner holds competitions in which entrepreneurs have to pitch their startups in just 3 minutes.

The Unpolished Conference hosts a pitch competition with cash prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places.


Co-working Spaces:

Described as a sophisticated and modern co-working space, 1628 offers public and private working spaces and food and drink services 5 days per week.

Starting at $150 per month, HCDC offers a place for young entrepreneurs to work.

Cincinnati is home to one of Kinglet’s branches, with other more personal options just across the Ohio River in Kentucky.

Technically just across the Ohio River in Covington, KY, Platform 53 offers space, networking opportunities, and resume help to freelancers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners.

In addition to 24/7 access to the working space and free coffee, a Playground Coworks membership includes free access to member-related events in the space.

The self-proclaimed “most centrally located co-working space in Cincinnati,” includes an open workspace, a break room, a kitchen, and chill rooms.

38,000 square feet in the historic Over the Rhine neighborhood, with several levels of memberships to meet specific needs.


Maker Spaces:

A Cincinnati-area Hackerspace where people interested in science and technology can meet one another and work on projects.

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County offers a maker space full of equipment like 3D printers, laser engravers, and sewing stations to facilitate creativity.

A smaller, and perhaps less intimidating, maker space provided by the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

Over 17,000 square feet with several rooms full of equipment where each room serves a specific purpose.

Xavier University offers a wide variety of equipment and software, including 3D printers, to all students of the university.



An incubator for small businesses in the Cincinnati area, CSBI offers several packages for building and accelerating business growth.

Located just north of Cincinnati, Hamilton Mill is a small business incubator for companies focusing on clean energy solutions or other sustainable technologies.

One of the largest and most successful business incubators in the country, HCDC offers coaching, mentoring, networking, and access to financing.

Partnered with Xavier University focusing on launching and growing low-tech businesses to help the local community’s economy.

A non-profit organization designed to help food-based entrepreneurs in the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region get off the ground.

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A seed-stage startup accelerator that focuses on building brands as well as the product or service itself.

A business accelerator primarily focused on manufacturing and the creation of legitimate physical products.

A 14-week accelerator program for social entrepreneurs modeled after major tech startups.

Accelerator for tech companies led by underrepresented groups, specifically women and minorities.

In addition to seed financing of $50,000, Ocean Accelerator also offers a network of mentors and access to 17,000 square feet of brand new office space.

Open only to technologies developed at the University of Cincinnati, UCTAC aims to bring start-ups closer to commercialization.



The University of Cincinnati offers a major, minor, and graduate certificate in entrepreneurship, as well as a number of programs and internships to help aspiring entrepreneurs.

Xavier boasts a 97% placement rate with an average starting salary of over $44,000 after graduating with a degree in Entrepreneurial Studies.


Angel Groups/VCs:

Allos Ventures seeks to be the lead investor in early-stage tech-related companies located within driving distance of their offices in Cincinnati or Indianapolis.

Aims to invest in late financing rounds for Digital Media and Big Data companies that are already venture-backed.

A seed-stage fund that invests in technology-enabled services and software, digital marketing technologies, life science, and digital healthcare industries.

Cintrifuse is a startup catalyst with the goal of helping high-growth tech startups reach their full potential.

The self-proclaimed longest-established organized angel group in the Midwest, Queen City Angels are made up of Cincinnati business leaders looking to help new startups reach great heights.

One of the most active growth equity funds, RCCF looks to invest in high-growth IT and healthcare companies and help them grow with mentorship in addition to cash investment.

A venture capital firm in Cincinnati that invests in internet and mobile businesses.

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Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

The Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce offers a weekly newsletter with information about the local business scene.

In addition to helping startups get off the ground, Cintrifuse also distributes a newsletter.

The Flywheel Accelerator offers a monthly newsletter that includes “the story of social enterprise”.

Cincinnati SCORE offers mentorship and business workshops as well as a newsletter aimed at small business owners and startups.

Rise of the Rest aims to help entrepreneurs in newer, lesser-known locations for startups. Their newsletter is one part of that mission.


Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Cincinnati not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment below, and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

Chattanooga, TennesseeGreensboro, North Carolina, Salt Lake City, Utah

Article by Quinn Pilkey

Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at FundingSage where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.