QCA’s Startup College® Trained 29 Startups at the 19th Annual Boot Camp

More than 100 entrepreneurs, angel investors and business experts gathered At Interact for Health June 4-5 to become the next wave of entrepreneurs and start-up savants at the 19th Annual Entrepreneur Boot Camp. The hands-on workshop started in 2001 has now trained over 643 entrepreneurs and provides an opportunity for anyone thinking about a start-up, small business owners, founders and start-up teams to learn from angel investors and experts about how to navigate the entrepreneurial waters.

 

Among the topics on the agenda are intellectual property, strategic marketing, contracts, social media, pitching angels and financials. The presentations included educational sessions, panel discussions and one-on-three (or 4!) meetings with local angels and other mentors from our local community.

 

Included on the agenda is Thomas Humphrey, partner at Wood Herron & Evans, who has now presented at every single Entrepreneur Boot Camp, his 19th session!

 

“The Boot Camp is an amazing opportunity to connect those with a start-up vision with the knowledge, resources and motivation they need to jumpstart or continue to build their dream,” said Humphrey. “I have had the great opportunity to participate in the Boot Camp since its inception, and every year I walk away inspired by individual entrepreneurs and the start-up community that is thriving in Cincinnati. This an event like no other, and it continues to grow because of the cooperation from those that want to learn how to be successful and those with the desire to share their success.”

 

Additional speakers will include:

  • Tony Shipley, founder and chairman of QCA
  • Marvin Abrinica, founder of Thrivera
  • Michael Hurley, partner at Calfee Halter
  • Mary Newman, partner at Dinsmore & Shohl
  • Scott Mindrum, QCA member, founder and CEO of CRäKN
  • Sally Kay, consultant and 36-year veteran of The Dow Chemical Company and GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare

 

The Boot Camp will be held again next year on June 2-3 at Interact for Health. More information about the event can be found here: https://www.qcabootcamp.com/. Tickets are still available at online, you can register here: https://tinyurl.com/yys8avap

 

The event is sponsored by Startup College®, a registered trademark of the QCA, as well as marquee sponsor, HCDC Business Center; and supporting sponsor, KeyBank.

Miami U: Fueling the Entrepreneurial Machine

There’s a great deal of entrepreneurial buzz happening on the campus of Miami University. The Miami Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies is an internationally recognized program providing immersive, real-world experiences. The program has been ranked among the “Top 10 Undergraduate Public Schools for Entrepreneurship Studies” in the nation for 10 years in a row by Entrepreneur Magazine and The Princeton Review®.

The program is led in part by Mark Lacker, John W. Altman Clinical Professor of Entrepreneurship at Miami, helps students understand that they don’t have to be middle aged to be entrepreneurs, and there really is no better time than the present.

“The thesis of the program is that you learn how to start a business by doing it. Our program is practice based, not theory,” said Lacker. “Entrepreneurship requires creativity, and social and technical skills, and while many students may have those attributes, they still need a place to practice. That’s where Miami comes in, as well as organizations such as QCA.”

QCA and its members, several of which are alums of the university, are regulars on campus, helping to strengthen the programs commitment to immersive experiences.  

 

“QCA is one of the bellwethers in the region in terms of helping organizations start and scale,” said Lacker. “Partnering with QCA members is natural for us because of our practice-based curriculum that puts students in the field.”

It’s not uncommon for QCA members Scott Miller, Scott Avera, Kevin Martin, among others to be on campus judging business plan competitions, speaking on panels or talking to students about how to be entrepreneurs.

Lacker added, “We are teaching students how to be entrepreneurs, and who better to partner with us on that effort than angel investors who have built successful businesses, are using their own money to invest in other companies, and are ready and willing to share their experiences?”

Lacker values the growing entrepreneurial community in Cincinnati, and the understanding from the players in the ecosystem that everything starts with education, with programs such as Morning Mentoring, the Entrepreneurial Boot Camp and eKickStart.

“I was in HCBC 15 years ago, and one of the greatest things about being in that building was that if I didn’t know something, I could get help from someone in the same hallway. We have a really unique support system in the region, from the relationships between big companies and startups, to the handful of accelerators and the second largest angel network in the country. It’s why our entrepreneur students can be successful in Cincinnati.”

Strategic Partnership to T-Pro Solutions Leading to Acquisition

Earlier this year, T-Pro Solutions, a provider of trade promotion optimization solutions, was acquired by Blacksmith Applications out of Lawrence, Ma. QCA was an early investor in the Columbus, Ohio-based company, participating in two rounds of funding with the first closing in the summer of 2015. What made the investment unique is the collaborative nature of the funding, which included Rev1 Ventures and the Ohio Tech Angel Fund, in addition to QCA.

Terry Ziegler, CEO of T-Pro Solutions, valued the willingness of QCA and the other groups to work together to get the deal done. The Angel groups shared due diligence, but for QCA, which has a membership base full of former consumer packaged good experience, Ziegler sensed the group wanted a partnership with the young company.

“QCA did a significant amount of business due diligence, and they spent time looking under the covers, reviewing our documentation, and our team could tell they wanted to be partners, and not simply passive investors,” said Ziegler.

From the lengthy due diligence review, Ziegler selected two members of QCA to be part of the company’s board, one as a member, the other as an observer.

“Because Alan Roth’s and Terry Wright’s unique skillset and knowledge, one from P&G and 8451, the other with startup experience, they understood what it takes to acquire a customer and provided guidance around our sales process that really benefited us,” added Ziegler. “One of Terry’s areas was go-to-market strategy and he was a great sounding board for how to improve our process and proposals.”

After hitting certain milestones and succeeding in acquiring customers, the company wanted to scale the business. Roth took the lead, bringing in a consultant to assist T-Pro leadership take the next steps, which became a pivotal moment in the company’s history.

“We always asked the board for help, but Alan insisted that we engage him and QCA even more,” said Ziegler. “Alan brought in a consultant at the right time, helping us to define an incredible mission, vision and values, and from that, we continued to grow until our exit earlier this year. This was just one more thing that came from his strategic leadership.”

When asked what he would say to an entrepreneur looking to work with QCA, Ziegler said, “it’s important that you spend time with the people, find out who are the ones that want to get involved. Your early investors will likely spend a lot of time with you, and if you don’t use their skills and experience, it’s a waste. They will go to war with you. In the end, money is a commodity, so it should always be about the people.”

QCA Wants to Jumpstart your Startup at Annual Bootcamp

More than 100 entrepreneurs, angel investors and business experts are gathering in Cincinnati in June to help train the next wave of entrepreneurs and start-up savants at the 19th Annual Entrepreneur Boot Camp. The hands-on workshop started in 2001 has trained over 600 entrepreneurs and provides an opportunity for anyone thinking about a start-up, small business owners, founders and start-up teams to learn from angel investors and experts about how to navigate the entrepreneurial waters.

Among the topics on the agenda are intellectual property, strategic marketing, contracts, social media, pitching angels and financials. The presentations include educational sessions, panel discussions and one-on-one or one-on-three meetings with local angels.

Included on the agenda is Thomas Humphrey, partner at Wood Herron & Evans, who will be presenting for the 19th time at the Boot Camp.

“The Boot Camp is an amazing opportunity to connect those with a start-up vision with the knowledge, resources and motivation they need to jumpstart or continue to build their dream,” said Humphrey. “I have had the great opportunity to participate in the Boot Camp since its inception, and every year I walk away inspired by individual entrepreneurs and the start-up community that is thriving in Cincinnati. This an event like no other, and it continues to grow because of the cooperation from those that want to learn how to be successful and those with the desire to share their success.”

Additional speakers will include:

  • Tony Shipley, founder and chairman of QCA
  • Marvin Abrinica, founder of Thrivera
  • Michael Hurley, partner at Calfee Halter
  • Mary Newman, partner at Dinsmore & Shohl
  • Scott Mindrum, QCA member, founder and CEO of CRäKN
  • Sally Kay, consultant and 36-year veteran of The Dow Chemical Company and GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare

The Boot Camp is on June 4-5 at Interact for Health. More information about the event can be found here: https://www.qcabootcamp.com/. Tickets are still available at online, you can register here: https://tinyurl.com/yys8avap

The event is sponsored by Startup College®, a registered trademark of the QCA, as well as marquee sponsor, HCDC Business Center; and supporting sponsor, KeyBank.

Dipping Her Toes into Angel Investing

In 2017, QCA started the Ascent program as a lower-risk way of introducing angel investing to a broader group of prospective investors. Since the beginning, the program has attracted nearly 30 members, 10 of which are women, bringing the total membership of QCA to 91.

Among the first members to join Ascent was Kathleen Jividen, who spent 36 years with P&G as a director working with chemistry-based technology and advanced engineered materials.

“I’ve always been interested in how new technologies and innovations come to the market,” said Jividen. “Before I retired, I had a special assignment that allowed me to consult with technical teams, coaching them on how to translate their technical innovation into a commercial proposition.

After she retired from P&G, she continued to coach and mentor young technologists. And after attending a couple QCA meetings, Jividen joined Ascent, bringing with her a unique skillset that complemented QCA’s members.

“The members of QCA have a strong business background, many owned companies, and many have a strong understanding of the financial aspect of running businesses,” said Jividen. “Not many have the technical background that I have, so I was able to come in and fulfill a unique role.”

She added, “QCA values my experience and knowledge in terms of evaluating potential start-ups with innovative technology. They were excited to discover my background and be a contributor to due diligence processes.”

For people interested in learning about angel investing, Jividen highly recommends the Ascent program, calling it “an easy way to get involved without a lot of commitment time and money.”

Ascent offers a great opportunity for people who are interested in investing to meet great people and learn a lot, even if they don’t want to play a major role. For those that want to spend a lot of time, the opportunities are there, but for those that appreciate the flexibility of participating in occasional meetings while learning about new opportunities to connect with people who are creating amazing things, the program is ideal for that too.

“Ascent was a great way for me to put my toes in the investing waters without the major time and financial commitment,” said Jividen. “The opportunity to help someone who has invented something cool but doesn’t understand how to get involved in the start-up community; or the opportunity to seek out inventions and inventors and get them into the community is interesting to me, and I’m sure to a lot of prospective angel investors. With the program, QCA is extending an invitation to come be a part of it.”

Each Ascent member makes a one-time capital commitment of $25,000, which is invested as an LLC into the QCA First Fund. As a member of Ascent, investors receive custom training and can participate on screening and due diligence teams and serving as mentors to local entrepreneurs.

Cladwell Helping Thousands Get Dressed Every Day

Retailers are still struggling to understand consumers. While they know what the consumer bought last time, they don’t know what they are going to buy next. Cladwell, which was founded in Cincinnati in 2013, is a company built on the human concern of fashion, based on what you wore last, what will you buy next.

“We help people get dressed every day,” said Blake Smith, co-founder of Cladwell.

While Smith doesn’t mean that literally, Cladwell’s free fashion app has helped more than 250,000 people the past 30 days decide what to wear based on the app’s recommendations.

He added, “People are using our app to change what they wear and interact with other people. The depth of influence we are having on what people wear is rapidly increasing.”

In January, Cladwell’s app was showcased alongside two competitor apps on Good Morning America, coming away as the strongest, particularly when it comes to being social with your closet.

“There is a social aspect to our app that allows our users to connect with friends and virtually explore the closets of Cladwell users from around the world,” said Smith. “While we are connecting people through technology, we are first and foremost serving human beings, so the experience with our brand is critical to building and maintaining our viral growth.”

Today Cladwell is growing virally with the number one closet management app in the industry, and expanding its partnerships with retailers, including four in the first quarter of 2019.

Regarding the company’s roots in Cincinnati, Smith commented, “The entire ecosystem is encouraging and supportive for the entrepreneurial community with people truly focused on building valuable companies. It’s a cool time with some high-quality growth and exits coming out of Cincinnati.

Q&A with Michael Hurley from Calfee, Halter & Griswold

Calfee, Halter & Griswold (Calfee) is full-service, corporate law firm with three offices in Ohio and one in Washington D.C. with more than 115 years of experience providing legal counsel. The Cincinnati office opened in 2011 and serves both publicly-held clients and private, family-owned businesses, as well as nonprofits and individuals across the region. Calfee is active in the area’s entrepreneurial community and is a sponsor of QCA. Recently, The Halo Effect caught up with Michael Hurley, partner at Calfee with a focus on helping startups access capital through angel and venture-funding.

T.H.E.: What made Calfee want to partner with QCA?

Hurley: QCA is the other side of the coin for what we do at Calfee. They are a great supplement to the legal advice that we provide to entrepreneurs. We work together symbiotically to prepare these people as best we can to have a successful startup experience. While we overlap minimally, QCA provides insight into other areas like accounting, business evaluation modeling, and what’s important to investors on the economic side to show how the capital they provide is being deployed. It is areas like these that are not in my wheelhouse that QCA brings to the table. In addition to that, QCA is a well-regarded brand, very involved in the community, and they do a lot to push not just their own agenda, but the agenda of the larger startup community. With their track record and history of success, it’s our honor that they want us to be part of growing that ecosystem.

T.H.E.: Why is it important for Calfee to be involved in the Cincinnati startup community?

Hurley: We’ve only been in Cincinnati since 2011. Specific to this office, we like to think we have a lot of similarities with some of our entrepreneurial clients. We are a new entrant into the market, delivering disruptive services in certain ways that are beneficial to making sure the legal community is on top of its own game in supporting the business community. Specific to Calfee’s role and how we intertwine with the entrepreneurial community, the people and businesses that comprise the community are what ensures the vitality of the larger business community. Without them, the more mature business community won’t exist for long. They are the necessary pipeline of new market entrants, new ideas, and people that is the lifeblood of the system. We take a long-term approach in many things, especially with our clients. Looking down the road, my biggest point of pride would be to say that I helped someone start a business in 2019, and they are still a Calfee client generating significant revenue, employing hundreds of people in the Cincinnati community and staying involved in doing great things for the region.

T.H.E. Tell us about your Instructional Toolkit

Hurley: The startup toolkit is a labor of love that has been developed by myself and my colleagues during the last several years. At Calfee, we create the structure that helps entrepreneurs institute the processes that help them achieve business objectives. The toolkit covers potential legal structures of entities, funding rounds, equity and debt investments, etc. It fleshes out discussions on a high-level regarding what entrepreneurs need to do to structure their internal and external legal relationships and helps them understand the correct equity/governance documents. There are 10-15 types of relationships that as an entrepreneur you want to make sure you structure correctly from the outset, and the toolkit makes sure they develop all of them the right way.

T.H.E.: Describe your team at Calfee

Hurley: Our Cincinnati office includes attorneys experienced in labor and employment, privacy and data security, intellectual property, corporate and securities transactions and business disputes. This overlays nicely with the immediate needs of startups. In addition to the people on the ground here, we have approximately 160 attorneys firm-wide that provide all other support that we need that may be outside the sweet spot of our Cincinnati staff. We have an overlay of team members that speaks to the needs of entrepreneurs and startups, and we consciously built our team around the concepts and needs of such clients.

T.H.E.: What would you say makes Calfee stand out from other firms?

Hurley: The willingness to take time to invest in our clients. To understand what they are trying to achieve and then working with them, with a long-term approach, to address those needs. Regarding startups, a lot of it is about triage. We are a cost center to them. We impact their runway to get to market and grow. We are very cognizant that every dollar they spend on legal is a dollar they can’t spend on bringing a product or service to market. We’ll take the time to create a solution that works for them rather than throwing form docs at them for a set fee without any kind of personalization because we are not trying to lose money on the front end or for any other reason that you don’t provide the full level of service at the outset. There is one thing I try to do with every client that has an idea for a startup: I tell them to put the legal questions aside, and before we do anything, talk to me as if I were a potential customer or a potential investor. Tell me what you are trying to achieve, how you are satisfying a market need and what you are going to do to develop and deliver on that proposition. Through that mechanism, I can usually tease out a lot of the questions and answers that I need to personalize the initial corporate governance and other documents that they will need.

T.H.E.:  Why do you think Cincinnati is the place to start a business?

Hurley: I wrote my college thesis on the city. I love my hometown. It’s a fascinating story. We grew up as a ramshackle river town and have always historically punched above our weight in terms of the business community. We still have a lot of solid Fortune 500 companies, and we have great ecosystem in general to foster people who want to be successful. An integral part of that is not just legal and business support but having a place to do things when you are not in the office. The types of amenities this city offers for its size are unparalleled. There are a lot of ways that this city can be attractive to someone who wants to start a business. More important, when you are living on a shoestring budget as a startup, the cost of living in Cincinnati is probably a lot more attractive to someone choosing between groceries and paying a vendor than the Bay Area. Accessibility to great legal services, large companies that can provide guidance and support, professionals that have come out of them – it’s a perfect mixture.

T.H.E.: What can the area do to improve and what are we doing right?

Hurley: What I think we can do to improve is getting our message out to potential transplants to come and start their businesses in our city. We are starting to see the genesis of that and starting to see Cincinnati creeping up on lists of places to live and run a business. I think we need to continue to deliver that message outside of our market. Hopefully that will create a groundswell movement where we have people coming in from outside the market, maybe from more mature startup markets, who can then inject all their knowledge and experience from previous lives.

As far as what is unique or beneficial to the city, especially in the last 10 years, is the spread of cultural acceptance around startups. I see and feel more people willing to forego the job with benefits at a large corporation to strike out on their own and make it. I think that is a direct result of the support provided to date. FC Cincinnati didn’t exist a few years ago. A few local business people decided they had this dream, and they wanted to make it work. FC played their first MLS home game recently. They are the perfectly allegory for what I would like to see in the startup community. We need to do everything that we can to get into the major league for supporting our entrepreneurs.

Standard Bariatrics

Standard Bariatrics is a clinical-staged company developing and commercializing innovate medical devices for the surgical treatment of obesity. Its Standard Clamp was cleared by the FDA in August c2017, and today more than 32 hospitals are using the device. Surgeons are praising the clamp for its consistency leading to positive outcomes, as well as the hospital buyers who value the reduction of supply costs of the existing staplers used with clamp.

Recently, the company closed on a Series A round of funding with the help of QCA. Members Tony Shipley, John Habbert and Roy Kulick played critical rolls in the early rounds and leading up to the Series A financing.

“Without the support of Queen City Angels, we would not have achieved the milestones that were required to go out and raise the amount of capital we needed in series A,” said Matt Sokany, CEO of Standard Bariatrics. “In the early stages, Roy was a board advisor, and I was quick to learn his value, not only representing QCA, but also his experience in the life sciences arena.”

As Standard Bariatrics was preparing for a new round of funding, the company wanted to reach out to a wider number of angel investors and groups across the country. QCA’s connection to the national angel groups, particularly in California, Texas and other parts of Ohio. QCA’s reputation and connections allowed Sokany to reach out number of people to get the best indication of interest in the Series A round.

“Tony has a really good handle on the types of angel groups that would be appropriate for our deal,” said Sokany. “A number of people took my call, and I had a number of conversations with investors because of Tony’s and QCA’s influence. Their time and energy focusing on the right investment groups brought about a sizable syndication.

In addition to making connection, Shipley also spent time helping develop the pitch presentation, providing input on how to present Standard Bariatrics opportunity in the best light. In the end, RiverVest Venture Partners, a Midwest VC, provided the term sheet. While there were questions about whether or not an angel group would appropriate for this part of the investment, Shipley was able to articulate how QCA works, and in the end, RiverVest was comfortable with QCA and the other angel investors introduced by QCA to the deal.

“QCA is a very good partner, and we never felt that QCA was only looking out for QCA,” added Sokany. “Even when we only had two board seats to offer for the funding, and QCA was not offered, the group was supportive, and excepted a observer seat graciously. They were always looking out for what fit within our investment strategy and business.”

Today, Standard Bariatrics looks at QCA as a strong partner with members who have vast knowledge in the start-up world that add value to the company’s c-suite. Sokany sees QCA has a great resource to tap into when big decisions are coming and the company needs different inputs to address challenges and opportunities.

Sokany stated, “The most important thing about making the right decision is to have access to the most information I can. QCA adds real value to its portfolio companies, not only supplying capital, but also business experience, and functional and technical skill that we can tap into as often as we need to.”

SoLo Funds Finds Home in Cincinnati

Travis Holoway left his home in New York City to take a chance on himself, building a start-up in a new city amongst strangers. Jump forward a few months, and Holoway is now a fan of the city and the “strangers” who have helped him establish Solo Funds, a mobile lending exchange connecting lenders with borrowers for the purpose of providing more affordable access to loans under $1,000. The mobile-based platform is peer-to-peer lending in its purest form. From a mobile device, anyone can now lend to or borrow from anyone in the country. SoLo Funds’ has eliminated the strain of pay day loans, the need to borrow from friends and family, and the awkward moments and strained relationships that can often arise when money is involved.

SoLo launched its full version on April 2018 and also announced a $1.2 million round of seed funding led by QCA. T.H.E. caught up with Solo CEO Travis Holoway to learn more about his company, his experience building a business in Cincinnati and the support he has received from QCA.

T.H.E.: What has happened since you received your investment from QCA?
Holoway: We conducted a closed beta of our iOS product, which provided us with the ability to gather data and feedback to improve our process and overall user experience. We are now nationwide with our product through the Google Play and Apple App Stores.

T.H.E.: How have you used the QCA investment to move your company forward?
Holoway: Since our investment from QCA, we’ve been able to grow our team. Key hires for design, Quality Assurance, and marketing were made which have expedited our progress immensely.

T.H.E.: Describe your experience working with QCA
Holoway: The experience has been great so far. There is a reason why they are such a respected group. I appreciate the professionalism, honesty, and support that I’ve gotten both directly and indirectly from multiple members of the group. Investing money is one thing that can be recovered. It’s the time invested in me and SoLo that means more because that can never be recouped. With that said, I feel like they truly care about SoLo’s success, and that means the world to me.

T.H.E.: Describe the interaction with your specific angel member, how does he/she continue to support you
Holoway: I feel like I have “cheated the system” because there are multiple members of the organization that have poured their knowledge and experiences into me. Mark Dawes has been a champion for SoLo since we met at the Hillman Accelerator and I’m so thankful for that. I have no doubt that he is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. Jack Ridge and I meet regularly, and he never fails to leave a gem with me. It’s easy to get so far ingrained in your company and personal vision that you are blinded by opportunities that are sometimes overtly apparent. Jack’s questions and suggestions have been extremely helpful. I enjoy leaving our meetings thinking in a way that I’ve never thought before as it will help us grow in the long run.

T.H.E: What’s next for SoLo Funds?
Holoway: The goal for SoLo is to unequivocally be the number one resource for loans under $1,000. That’s a lofty goal, but I didn’t give up a stable career and encourage others to leave their jobs just to join me on a path of mediocrity. The idea for SoLo comes from authentic personal experiences. I’m just tired of watching vulnerable people being taken advantage of by predatory lending practices. It’s been such a long journey to launch this product. The satisfaction for me won’t come from press, notoriety, or revenue. It will come from witnessing the impact of providing more affordable financial solutions for the people who need it most.

T.H.E.: What is your perspective of Cincinnati and its startup/entrepreneurial scene?
Holoway: I’m a huge fan of Cincinnati and its startup ecosystem. I decided to move our company here from NYC, so I feel like the unofficial poster child for StartupCincy. There are the obvious advantages like lower burn rates, big-cos that are open to partnering with startups, access to capital, and talent. What I’ve been most impressed with are the intangibles like how supportive strangers have been to me and our team as a whole. The other startup founders in the area are friendly and always willing to help connect the dots for others. Even though we are running separate companies and competing for investment capital from the same groups, there seems to be an element of team and camaraderie that is truly special. It’s just something you don’t find in most cities, definitely not in NYC.

T.H.E.: What would you say to entrepreneurs or startups considering working with QCA?
Holoway: To understand that their diligence process is stringent for a reason. I think the process helps founders look at their business more intimately and objectively, which helps to identify vulnerabilities and potential opportunities. I would also note that this is an organization filled with a lot of experience and knowledge across various sectors/industries. To me, this is one of the most exciting benefits of having QCA in our corner. This level of knowledge and experience is invaluable, but you have to take advantage of it, having access to resources is worthless if you don’t utilize them.

T.H.E.: What are some lessons you have learned during your startup journey that can help others going through or considering a startup?
Holoway: That you have to be fully committed. You can’t be half-in and half-out. I used to pitch investors while still working my previous full-time job, and I couldn’t understand why they would pass on me because I wasn’t full-time. When I look at the progress I made while “moonlighting” versus being full-time I now wholeheartedly understand the perspective of investors. Being full-time on an idea that has an uncertain financial future is such a vulnerable feeling, but that vulnerability lit a fire in me that I didn’t know existed. My thought process switched from “I hope this works” to “This has to work, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make it work.” That’s powerful. I’d also say that asking for help is important. I’ve always been very much the “I can figure it out myself” type, but that doesn’t work in this world. Asking for help doesn’t show weakness, it shows awareness. Nobody achieves success without help along the way.

Queen City Angels Leads New Investment in CRäKN

Company using investment to bring never before seen innovations to the death-care industry

CINCINNATI – June XX, 2018 – Queen City Angels today announced a new investment in CRäKN, a cloud-based software solution that helps funeral directors manage day-to-day operations in order to streamline operations, prevent errors, and save time. This is the second investment in CRäKN for QCA, which provided early-stage funding for the company in June 2017. The new round of funding includes investment from QCA and QCA members, as well as funds from industry professionals and from Canadian investors. More than half the funds were from outside the United States.

CRäKN plans to use the funds to continue rounding out the product, bringing new innovations to the funeral home industry, and for marketing support to help increase awareness for the company’s technology. The company is also hiring developers, customer success personnel and sales professionals. Many of the operational hires will be based in Cincinnati, while the sales team will be located throughout the country.

“Our software makes funeral directors’ lives much easier, so they can focus on families and providing a great experience for them, and less time on other business details,” said Scott Mindrum, president and CEO of CRäKN. “The industry is ripe for innovation, and we are finding customers and prospective customers who have been waiting for technology like ours to help them be more efficient and provide excellent service. Funeral directors are notorious world-class jugglers. CRäKN gives them more arms to manage every aspect of their businesses.”

Mindrum added, “As a member of QCA, I have a unique perspective on the angel group. Terry Wright with QCA has been awesome, jumping in whenever we need help. He has gone above and beyond a typical angel investor, accompanying us to investigate new technology, and helping us figure out pricing and marketing strategies. We appreciate QCA’s commitment to CRäKN and the local entrepreneurial community.”

Prior to CRäKN, most funeral directors managed their interactions with customers with pens and paper forms. Often, doing arrangement forms by hand led to duplicated efforts, as information was entered into various systems. On average, the name of the deceased is written more than 50 times when planning funerals. This increases the opportunity for spelling mistakes, transposition errors and inaccurate filings. CRäKN eliminates these manual processes, and the new innovations will increase efficiencies even further.

“The past year we have seen a lot of innovation coming from CRäKN, and we are excited for the industry’s response as the new technologies are released later this year,” said Wright. “The company has doubled down on mobile capabilities and is doing things that no one in the industry is doing; all of which bodes well for CRäKN’s near and long-term success.”

About Queen City Angels
The Queen City Angels (QCA) is a group of more than 50 experienced accredited investors who provide funding, support and guidance to early-stage growth companies in the Cincinnati area and surrounding region. QCA members, which include former C-level executives and entrepreneurs, draw from their personal operating and management experience to evaluate opportunities and provide on-going mentoring to young businesses with exceptional growth potential. Since 2000, QCA members have directly invested approximately $50 million in nearly 80 portfolio companies. The total capital invested in these companies, including QCA members’ capital, syndication partners’ capital, follow-on venture capital funds and venture debt is in excess of $410 million. CB Insight recently ranked QCA second out of 370 national angel organizations. For additional information, visit www.qca.com.

About CRäKN
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