If you’re not located on the coasts, venture funding can be hard to come by. But your business can still tap into a host of funding options and get the start you need. Here’s how three companies in Cleveland, Ohio thought local and made the most of regional incubators, non-profits, angel investors and universities when building their businesses.
Tap into your strengths
10 year-old biomedical tech startup CardioInsight developed a safe and non-invasive way to make a 3D map of the cardiovascular system to better prevent against heart disease. Founder Charu Ramanathan, a university researcher, developed the technology at Case Western Reserve University. Ramanathan headquartered the company in the university hospital’s health system and raised $250,000 from the university's technology transfer program. This initial backing gave the company the validation it needed to attract funding from JumpStart Inc., a Cleveland, Ohio-based non-profit venture development organization (VDO) and venture capital fund Draper Triangle Ventures and West Capital Advisors.
Read more: How a Biomed Tech Company Raised $35.7 Million Before Going to Market
Start small to build traction
Tom Lix, a former professor of entrepreneurship at Lake Erie College, launched his Cleveland Whiskey in 2013 after nearly 4 years of development 2009. He started small, with a $25,000 grant awarded by the Lorain County Community College Innovation fund. This money allowed him to move to a Northeast Ohio manufacturing incubator, The Great Lakes Innovation & Development Enterprise where he could test his idea in a controlled environment and consult with in-house engineers. This early boost set the stage for experiments t and a prototype that helped him prove to investors, and other state and community organizations that he had a solid concept and plan and earn subsequent rounds of funding.
Read more: How an Innovative Whiskey Brand Won Angel Investors (Without Getting Them Wasted)
Seek advice, build relationships
Embrace Pet Insurance founders Laura Bennett and Alex Krooglik bootstrapped and used funding from also looked to VDO Jumpstart for help. These Wharton School of Business grads leaned on Jumpstart for mentoring and advice, making wise budget decisions, getting tips on how to connect with the right hires in the region as well as attracting further funding. These relationships paid off. Jumpstart eventually invested $800,000 over three years and connected it with other outlets to help it raise $4.5 million from VC firms and angel investors. Founded in 2005, as of 2014, the Beachwood, Ohio-based online insurance company was brought in $6 million in yearly revenue.
Read more: How This Pet Startup Raised $4.5 Million in Funding