“Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit." — John Steinbeck
- Local EdTech growth
- Join experts to improve healthcare
- OhioX building tech partnerships
- Tech and nonprofit boards
- Two notable Series A funding rounds
- PopCom acquires Wyzerr
- Know your city!
July 28, 2020
Abre makes learning easier
Photo courtesy Abre
With just about every industry in the world having to rethink their modus operandi in response to COVID-19, education is no exception. But luckily, the folks at Abre already had a head start in providing an online educational program. The team behind this software platform are all former educators and board members.
Recently, Abre was named “EdTech Startup of the Year” by the EdTech Breakthrough Awards. Abre is also the 2020 SIIA CODiE Winner for best overall education technology solution.
Abre was founded late in 2017 by two educators in Hamilton, OH, a city that is home to 10,000 students. The software “allows schools to manage and distribute web-based software to staff, students, and parents. Abre provides software solutions to help administrators, teachers, students, and parents focus on education.”
“Our focus,” said Damon Ragusa, CEO of Abre, “is delivering easy-to-use, simple software to schools to replace the legacy of those really big companies that build massive software that’s simply hard to use.”
Ragusa said that while teaching is managing and delivering instructions to students, the execution of teaching has changed in recent months because of the pandemic.
“All of a sudden, we’re going from teaching in a classroom to teaching virtually,” he said. Part of the fallout from the pandemic is that a lot of teachers weren’t prepared to use their on-hand learning management systems because they never learned to use them to begin with. They were too complex, too big, and took up too much of their valuable time. But a learning management system like Abre is going to carry a lot of that load for both educators, students, administrators, and parents.
“One of the advantages of a platform versus a big piece of software,” Ragusa said, “is that we’re flexible." A lot of teachers who are using Abre currently still use their other platforms, mostly because they’re hard to get rid of as transitioning can be quite difficult. But Abre makes it easy to transition at the user’s own pace and comfort level.
Abre provides services that allow parents and teachers to track student behavior and student plans and gather new student information. There’s also a way to track teachers’ professional growth through Abre Professional Learning. And classroom activities and homework assignments can be monitored and managed. Teachers can even create and collaborate with their own peers on course-level curriculum.
Schools can also share the same information with each other as well, bringing the entire learning community into one large, collaborative, team-building hub.
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Collaborate with experts to improve healthcare
Hive Networks is not only a new business but it’s a business that is working in uncharted territory. Its goal is to build an integrated platform to support key elements of Learning Health Networks.
The Hive team includes software engineers, researchers and technical product managers, as well as clinical strategists, all with top-notch skills.
According to Scott Roth, Hive’s CTO, the culture at Hive is a big part of how they operate. “Our team is adaptable and agile. We are a family. Everyone collaborates and pitches in wherever they’re needed. We hold each other accountable.”
Roth said each team member does, “a little bit of everything. We’re all so focused on the mission that the roles can blur.” Chris Sauer, Systems Architecture Director says he stays in three modes—past, present, and future—and is always trying to anticipate how to create the “sum of the parts” and make them larger than the “whole.”
Bringing medical expertise to support the research behind Hive Networks, is an impressive board of directors.
The board includes Founder and CEO John Bostick (a serial entrepreneur who has been working with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital since 2016 on ways to spread and scale Learning Health Networks); Mike Venerable, CincyTech CEO, who has driven nearly $1 billion of investment into 85 Ohio-based healthcare technologies; Susannah Fox, the former CTO for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources; Jeffrey Robbins, PhD, Professor of Pediatrics who is the retired founder of the Heart Institute and Division of Molecular Cardiovascular Biology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center; Kedar Mate, MD, CEO Institute for Healthcare Improvement, and Justin McGoldrick, MD, CMO of Research and Innovation for Bon Secours Mercy Health.
If joining a close-knit collaborative group working for an altruistic mission appeals to you, you can take a look at Hive’s current job openings here.
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OhioX growing tech partnerships via virtual events
Image by Studio Romantic for Shutterstock
OhioX, a statewide nonprofit dedicated to building innovation and technology partnerships, aims to be the connector and promoter for entrepreneurs throughout Ohio.
“Ohio is lucky and blessed to have many great groups and organizations in different regions,” says OhioX President Chris Berry, speaking in an earlier interview. “OhioX will unite and promote those building the future across all 88 counties of Ohio.”
Berry understands that without active governmental partners, the foundation for a vibrant tech industry in Ohio crumbles.
Due to the spread of COVID-19, the OhioX team is implementing a virtual tech tour to provide networking opportunities, roundtables, and town halls to current and potential OhioX members. The virtual events are also a chance for the six-months-old tech nonprofit to build awareness among Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati entrepreneurs.
You can learn more about OhioX and its growing network of tech-enabled companies via a virtual town hall with Ted Griffith, Managing Director for the Information Technology and Logistics sectors for JobsOhio.
Cincinnati Cares brings volunteers and nonprofits together
More than 200 nonprofits and 500 potential volunteers in the Cincy area are taking advantage of Boards, a technology platform provided by Cincinnati Cares, that aims to connect board member candidates and nonprofits. The goal is to reach more volunteers in a “welcoming, inclusive, diverse, equitable and representative” fashion and help them find the right nonprofit for their experience and skills.
Boards is a two-way street: It allows volunteer candidates to present their interests and qualifications; and it lets nonprofits post information such as opportunities, expectations, and necessary time commitment.
A virtual event will take place on August 12. Interested board candidates must register by August 7, and nonprofits that want to connect with them must register by July 31.
SustainableCincy accelerator accepting applications
StartupCincy partners HCDC and the Kroger Zero Hunger Zero Waste Foundation, a public charity committed to building communities free of hunger and waste, are co-producing SustainableCincy, a virtual, six-week accelerator for entrepreneurs in the sustainability space.
Flywheel Social Enterprise Hub, a longtime training program for social entrepreneurs, will manage the accelerator with a focus on minority entrepreneurs.
“This program will foster collaboration and innovation among individuals and organizations that are just starting their journey as sustainability changemakers," said Sunny Reelhorn Parr, executive director of The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger Zero Waste Foundation, in a press release. “We look forward to working with the inaugural cohort to drive change in our region and help achieve Kroger’s vision of a future with zero hunger and zero waste.”
Click here to learn more about the SustainableCincy Accelerator. Be sure to register before August 14, 2020, to be part of the inaugural class.
Two Brandery alums close major funding rounds
There’s good news on the funding front to help keep Cincy entrepreneurs encouraged during these challenging times.
AdAdapted, a digital insights platform for Consumer Packaged Goods brands and agencies, and an alum of The Brandery, Cincinnati’s nationally ranked, marketing tech accelerator, is wrapping up a Series A round led by the Capital Midwest Fund and Michigan Angel Fund.
“AdAdapted’s patented tech and exclusive data are bringing something new to CPGs that they can’t get anywhere else,” Michael Pedersen, CEO, and co-founder of AdAdapted, said in a release. “The company and investors are excited about our continued growth.”
Personal Care brand Beast Brands, Inc., owner of the Tame The Beast product line, raised more than $3 million in a Series A round led by Callais Capital Management with participation by Sand Hill Angels and Capital Innovators.
“This investment will allow us to focus on product improvement and marketing, John Cascarano, president and founder of Beast Brands, said in a release. “We will be offering more reduced plastic and reusable packaging, more natural formulas, and more products aimed at a whole range of beasts.”
Steady leadership and hustle from Natasia Malaihollo, CEO and Founder of Cincinnati-based Wyzerr, has resulted in the company being acquired by PopCom, a crowd-funded, SaaS provider of smart kiosks and vending machines.
“My journey with Wyzerr was incredible, and we made a real impact on the companies we worked with,” Malaihollo says. “We have to think outside the box and align ourselves with people who are building companies that will survive a pandemic and adapt to the new normal. I’m excited for this new chapter of growth and innovation as we work together to create a new landscape in retail.”
Wyzerr is a member of the 2015 class of Cincinnati’s The Brandery accelerator, a nationally ranked accelerator focused on advertising, marketing, and retail tech.
Have you checked your "Cincy-Q" recently?
- In the Roaring Twenties, Cincinnati was home to the King of the Bootleggers, a Prohibition crime boss equal to Al Capone, and a popular character on HBO’s period drama Boardwalk Empire. Who was he?
- Cincinnati enjoys a spot on the pro football record books for the Freezer Bowl, the second-coldest game in NFL history. Who did the Bengals face in the January, 1982, American Football Conference Championship Game?
- A 19th-century Cincinnati Enquirer crime reporter and journalist is best-known as the writer who introduced Japanese culture, folktales, and life to the West. Who was he?
Click here for the answers!
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