Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Columbus, OH

Columbus, OH

Columbus, Ohio has been ranked the 3rd best city to start a business in, 3rd in growth of entrepreneurship, and 40th in the “Access to Resources” category among large cities.

Columbus, OH, named after explorer Christopher Columbus, is the states’s capital and largest city, and the 14th-largest in the US. According to the Kauffman Index, the Columbus metropolitan area ranks 3rd in growth of entrepreneurship. The city also ranked 40th among large cities in the “Access to Resources” category of NerdWallet’s 2017 rankings. Additionally, Inc.com ranked Columbus 3rd on their list of the best cities to start a business.

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

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

A networking community for real estate investors and entrepreneurs in Columbus.

Hosts weekly meetings during which entrepreneurs can share stories, tips, and tricks with one another.

The Columbus branch of H7 CONNECT, an organization that aims to create networking groups in cities across the country.

A large networking group for entrepreneurs and small business owners located just outside the city in Dublin, OH.

A large, active networking group for entrepreneurs and professionals in and around Columbus.

Hosts networking events and programs to help educate small business owners in the city.

Helps entrepreneurs and small business owners network and grow their businesses.

Hosts regular networking events for entrepreneurs in the area.

Columbus is home to a branch of Startup Grind, which hosts regular events to educate aspiring entrepreneurs.

Networking and educational events for tech entrepreneurs in Ohio.


Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

The Better Business Bureau in Central Ohio hosts an awards ceremony to recognize and honor millennial entrepreneurial organizations.

An annual weeklong conference with events and presentations celebrating entrepreneurship.

With events in Columbus and Cleveland, the Smart Women Breakfast is an event to help educate and an awards ceremony to honor female entrepreneurs and business owners.

An annual awards ceremony and major networking event organized by VentureOhio, an organization that supports entrepreneurship in Ohio.

Monthly events during which entrepreneurs are given 5 minutes to pitch their startup and then hold a 5-minute Q&A session.


Startup Competitions:

A national pitch competition for products and services that can positively impact the lives of women and families, with a local preliminary competition open to those in Central Ohio.

OSU hosts two Best of Student Startups competition every year, where students learn about what makes a successful business and compete for funding.

Open to all students at Ohio State, the Business Plan Competition allows students to compete for access to resources that can help advance their business.


Co-working Spaces:

The Hub describes itself as a “community workspace and social club” that offers shared work stations, private offices, conference rooms, and event space available for rent.

Industrious’ Columbus location is a 10,000 square foot office with a variety of amenities available for members.

Office Evolution has 2 locations in the city, both of which offer a number of membership plans including a shared workspace, private offices, conference room rentals, and more.

A large co-working space that provides all members with a full-time desk and options for private team offices.

Regus has co-working offices located all around the world, with 5 in the Columbus.

A pair of co-working spaces located just minutes north of Ohio State’s campus.



In addition to co-working space and offices available for rent, Idea Foundry also offers classes and a large workshop for people to use.

A makerspace created by the Reyoldsburg City Schools district just outside of Columbus that has open hours after school and on weekends.

Located in nearby Gahanna, OH, the Lincoln Fab Lab provides people with a variety of tools and resources they can use to create things.

OSU offers several ways for students in a number of academic programs to get access to makerspaces.

Not quite a complete maker space, Woodcraft is a woodshop in Columbus.



A test kitchen and incubator for food startups.

A small business incubator and co-working space located just outside of Columbus in Broadway Grove City.

An incubator program for technology startups in New Albany, OH, just outside of Columbus.

An incubator/accelerator/venture capital firm hybrid, Rev1 Labs invests in companies around the Midwest in a variety of industries.

Incubators & Accelerators: Which Best Fits Your Needs?



An accelerator that offers a 10-week program and a $100,000 investment opportunity for promising financial technology companies.

Offers a 10-week program with potential for investment of up to $200,000 to early-stage startups in a variety of industries with a minimum of two team members.

A firm with plenty of experience that launches and accelerates new tech ventures.

A Social Enterprise Accelerator program with offices in Cleveland and Columbus that includes an educational program and a pitch competition.

Partners with leading investors to support technology companies in a wide range of sectors at any stage of their development.



CSCC offers several associate’s degrees and certificates in entrepreneurship through their Business and Hospitality Services programs.

Franklin offers a B.S. in entrepreneurship that can be earned both in-person or entirely through online classes.

OSU’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship offers a number of opportunities to students, including an Entrepreneurship & Innovation minor and a living-learning community program.


Angel Groups/VCs:

Invests in high-growth companies that are either located in the Midwest or willing to relocate there.

Provides funding and help to technology-driven startups around the Midwest United States.

A Midwest-focused venture capital firm that invests in technology companies in the seed and early stages.

Managed by Rev1 Ventures, OTAF invests in Ohio-based startups in technology-related industries.

Invests in tech-based startups around the country that are founded or led by women.

Screening Meeting with the Angel Group: Are You Prepared?


Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

The business magazine offers a weekly newsletter about the latest news and events.

The Chamber of Commerce offers several newsletters to keep subscribers aware of business happenings in the region.

A website that includes plenty of information about the Columbus area, The Columbus Region offers business information both on their site and in their newsletter.

The Women’s Business Center of Ohio offers a newsletter that keeps subscribers up to date on upcoming events as well as general news.

Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Columbus, Ohio 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, TennesseeSeattle, WATampa, FL

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.