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Thanks to a ground-breaking Kentucky law, a local entrepreneurial support program is here to help you grow your company… for free! Read on for more.


NKY Innovates promotes economic growth throughout Northern Kentucky.

The Kentucky Innovation Act was passed in 2000 in order to promote economic growth throughout the state. The act launched the Kentucky Innovation Network, which consists of twelve entrepreneurial support programs throughout the state of Kentucky. The network exists to “assist companies in the process of providing products or services to federal, state, and local government organizations,” according to its website. “I like to think of it as a confederacy of offices given local leeway. Each office forms around the strength of its region,” says Casey Barach, director of the Northern Kentucky Branch.

One of the 12 locations, Northern Kentucky Innovation (NKY Innovation), is thriving in the northern Kentucky/Cincinnati area. This location was founded in 2005 when the need for an entrepreneurial support program in such a high-tech area as northern Kentucky became apparent. Casey Barach was elected director, and has held this title ever since.

Because NKY Innovation is a product of the Kentucky Innovation Act, its services are provided by the state of Kentucky and its local economic development organization, Tri-Ed. So, all of its services are free. While the branch’s focus is technology and technology-driven companies, it will never turn down anyone with an idea. “We believe that everybody with an idea should be heard, and we are here to help them however we can. Sometimes that’s simply giving them our opinion or setting them up with a past client of ours,” says Barach.

Most of the company’s clients are small businesses or start-ups. For each client, NKY Innovation goes through a series of “ABC steps.” The first step focuses on assessing where the company would like to be in the future. The second step, B, stands for business planning, which is figuring out exactly what will be pitched to the customer. C is for “capital,” which consists of networking and introducing the client to capital sources.

The company has been quite successful in helping businesses grow, having had over 500 clients since its founding. One of the most well-known companies is Tier One Performances, which started in the “incubator” of NKY Innovation and now has numerous offices across the country. “We do a good job finding investment capital for our clients and prepping them to raise capital. In the end, our goal is to promote economic development in the northern Kentucky region,” says Barach.

The Northern Kentucky branch is responsible for the creation of Uptech, one of the top 30 accelerator programs in the country. Uptech functions specifically for data-driven start-ups developing technology-based solutions. The program consists of intensive entrepreneurship education, one-on-one mentoring, and extensive community involvement.

The branch is located at 1 Innovation Alley in Covington KY. For more information, visit the branch’s website.

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Inspiration, collaboration, and growth. That’s what a new co-working space that’s coming to Rookwood plans to offer. Click for details!


Fueled Collective is a social and workspace membership club currently in development at the Rookwood Exchange.

Fueled Collective is a social and workspace membership club being developed on Edwards Road at the Rookwood Exchange in Cincinnati. The franchise aspires to be the entrepreneurial and co-working center of the city, and the space is set to open in October 2017.

The co-working space exists to provide members from various backgrounds a place to work, collaborate, and inspire. “Members could be start-ups, attorneys, small companies, creatives, as well as people working for large companies that need to utilize meeting and conference space,” says Betsy Hodges, vice president of business development at Fueled Collective.

Membership in the club comes in various levels. There will be 1,000 social memberships available. These memberships include everything from hourly to as much as unlimited monthly access to the space. Some of these memberships will allow 24/7 access, but hours vary per membership. 

The building will have 220 work desks, numerous conference rooms, and a variety of other meeting spaces, including a full bar and lounge. It will consist of two floors and take up 25,000 total square feet, according to Hodges.

Many amenities will be offered to members, such as free parking, Italian roast coffee, cold brew, assorted teas, snacks, beer, high-speed internet, printing, and more.  

Co-working is the perfect option for those looking to get work done efficiently, start and grow businesses, collaborate with other start-ups, and host meetings and conferences, Hodges says. “Co-working solves an immediate need for people who need a place to work, that can entertain, hold meetings, and get inspired,” she adds.

Fueled Collective Cincinnati will be located in the Rookwood Exchange at 3825 Edwards Road in Cincinnati. To learn more, visit, like them on Facebook, or call (513) 207-1135.


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Mobile, female-owned, and ready to help you rebrand your company. See how this local PR firm can help you, your company, or event reach its full potential.

PR in Pumps is a mobile public relations group based in Dayton.

ROCK. ROLL. REVIVE. That’s the motto of PR in Pumps, a mobile public relations group based in Dayton. The firm, which works with a variety of clients across the Tri-State and beyond, promises to rock your project, roll in new clientele, and revive your brand.
PR in Pumps is female-owned and recently celebrated its first anniversary, and its name is a reminder of the femininity of the firm. “I really wanted people to know that this was coming from a female perspective. When I first started out, I noticed that there weren’t a lot of PR firms that were run or operated by women, so I thought it was really important that we play up the part,” says Samantha Elder, owner and CEO of PR in Pumps.

Samantha Elder, CEO of PR in Pumps

The company provides services in PR analysis and planning, media relations, public affairs, brand/personal image consulting, event promotion, crisis management, and social media strategy.

Due to their emphasis on the female gender and perspective, the majority of PR in Pumps’ clients are in the fashion, beauty, interior design, and fitness industries. “We do really well in the fashion and beauty because females tend to have a good eye for trending topics. The name is a good fit for our clients,” says Elder.

PR in Pumps also stands out for its mobility. “We don’t make our clients come and meet us in an office. We will come directly to your location and work around your schedule,” says Elder.

Currently, some of PR in Pumps clients include Yoga with Sabrina, Wavelengths Salon, and Naves Iron and Metal. “My clients range from experienced businesses to brand new,” says Elder, adding that PR in Pumps also does personal branding and branding for large-scale events.

To learn more, visit

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Learn more about the marketing firm started in a barn in Kentucky that’s grown to support numerous Fortune 500 companies.


“We know we need to grow, but we’re not sure where to start.” “We know our five-year vision but we don’t have a pipeline to get there.” “We have this amazing piece of technology, but what do we do with it?” These are all concerns of clients addressed by Seed Strategy, a growth acceleration firm located in Crestview Hills, Kentucky.

Seed Strategy was founded by CEO Susan Jones in 2002. After having previously worked for a more traditional marketing agency, Jones was dissatisfied with the traditional model and wanted to develop her own, new vision. And with that, Seed Strategy was born.

Seed Strategy is a growth acceleration firm. This means the company aims to help clients achieve top-line growth and come to unique solutions with speed and agility.

“Jones wanted to create a sanctuary for the creative spirit. Our goal has never been to be the biggest agency, we just want to be the best for what we do,” says Robert Cherry, Chief Creative Officer.

Seed Strategy is a growth acceleration firm that helps clients achieve growth and find unique solutions.

Clients can receive services under the following categories: growth, fresh ideas, and moving people. Whether clients need help with business vision, brand renovation, new product ideation, or team alignment, Seed Strategy has the tools to reach a solution.

The company’s tagline is, “Where clarity grows,” explains Cherry. “We work upstream on a lot of innovation products. We are really adept at helping companies get real, actionable results and tangible things that they can develop and sell to retailers.”

Seed Strategy works with numerous Fortune 500 companies and has clients on every continent, excluding Antartica.

In their spare time, the employees of Seed Strategy put out an online magazine on creativity called the Fire Theft Project. “It’s an interview series with people who are in creative fields outside of our field. It’s a way for us to stay fresh and stretch ourselves,” says Cherry.

To learn more about the firm and check out their online magazine, visit



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See how a local entrepreneur is leveraging Facebook, multimedia and live video streams to highlight small businesses across the Tri-State.


More with Les showcases local businesses and fun things to do in the area.

More with Les is an editorial-style show that spotlights local businesses and fun things to do, whether it’s food, entertainment, or business. The show uses Facebook as its platform, and through it, founder Les Fultz hopes to show companies that there is a lot of business potential behind producing video content through this platform.

Fultz first recognized the power of digital content while he was still running his cleaning business 2010. Fultz created short videos about his products and services and realized what a traffic generator it was for his company. After finding his passion in this side of business two years ago, Fultz began producing digital content full-time. “I knew the power of video and attracting awareness, engagement, and new business, so I jumped full-speed ahead and now we have a production studio,” says Fultz.

More with Les creates videos specifically for Facebook to showcase local businesses. “This was a great opportunity to show the power of video specifically on Facebook- to give people a taste of what it’s like to publish an episodical style piece of content that is fun and interesting and has some impact. I want these folks to gain some exposure and experience in what it’s like to get their content out through social media,” says Fultz.

The show started only three weeks ago, however it’s already reaching thousands. Within the first two weeks, the pilot episodes had reached over 25,000 people. “That’s where the non-traditional part of my business model comes in. Folks have to produce regular video content to have the opportunity to engage more material on Facebook,” says Fultz.

Fultz hopes to attract clients that have something interesting or exciting to share. Whether it’s business, entertainment, food, or a unique product, he is eager to help showcase your company and set you up for more exposure.

To request to be on the show and check out the pilot episodes, check out the More with Les page on Facebook.

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See how a local company can help you, your family, or your business facilitate growth and find success.


When Life Success Seminars (LSS) closed its doors earlier this year, Kim Myers, Seth Howard, and Michelle Vondrell knew its message was too important to stop all together. As past contractors to the LSS facilitation team, the trio started a new and improved version with its legacy company called Catapult. 

The purpose of the company is to help people learn how to develop better relationships, enjoy increased confidence, and lead happier and more successful lives. Catapult’s tagline says it all: Breaking through the boundaries of self.

“We all have things that hold us back from things like great communication and critical conversations, so the mission is allowing people to live the life they want to live,” says co-founder Vondrell. “Sometimes people just need a little launch to a new area in their life. You can’t be stuck long if you’re in a catapult.”

In order to help clients reach these goals, Catapult offers various seminars to teach these life skills. Currently, they are offering a seminar called Intentional Living for previous graduates of LSS. They are also offering Launch, a flagship workshop available to the public. Dates for this workshop are to be announced and will appear on the company’s Facebook page.

As an extension of LSS, Catapult took all of its basic principles and added its own enhancements. “We’ve stuck with the core principles of what was being taught at Life Success because it was so effective,” says Howard. “We’ve modernized and restructured to make it newer and fresh.”

Vondrell adds that Catapult takes all the components about trust, circle of influence, forgiveness, personal responsibility, etc. that LSS was teaching but now takes it a step further. “We took all of those things and added the influence of a client’s family dynamic and how that could affect his or her decision-making,” she explains.

The founders are actively addressing this idea of family dynamic, a concept called family-of-origin. “A big part of this is dealing with stuff that has held you back in the past. We all get stuck from time to time, we all have life experiences that can bring baggage into our relationships without realizing it,” Howard says. “A big part of what we’re working on is identifying those triggers and then figuring out how could we can react a different way.”

Catapult is now offering both off-site and on-site workshops. “We go into companies ourselves, or a lot of times people send employees to our seminars,” says Vondrell.

The company is located at Unlimited Training Center 7870 E. Kemper Rd. in suite 100. For more information, visit the company’s Facebook page.

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Learn about a local non-profit designed to help teen mothers and their children reach their full potential.

Shondale Atkinson, Founder of The Mustard Seed Foundation

Leading by example. That’s the idea behind The Mustard Seed Foundation (TMSF).

With a vision to break the cycles of generational poverty, TMSF leads by example by providing supportive programs that teach parenting skills and build healthy, stable families. Founded in Dayton in 2007, it’s the only residential parenting facility in Montgomery County, and the non-profit is bringing about positive change state-wide.

TMSF offers numerous different services in order to accomplish its mission. In doing so, the following three specific community needs are addressed: residential, health and wellness, and outreach, prevention, and awareness.

The 501(c)3 non-profit organization was founded by Shondale Atkinson, who grew up in the foster care system and had her first daughter as an unmarried teenaged mom. Her own struggle inspired her to give back and make a difference in the lives of other teenaged moms in the foster care system. When she began working on her dream of giving back, she says, all she had was the faith of a grain of mustard seed, which led to the name of the foundation.

The Mustard Seed Foundation is the only organization in the county that is prepared to house teenage moms in the foster care system. The program is structured so that they can take young ladies from anywhere in Ohio. At the center of what the services the foundation offers, is safe and secure housing. This house is dedicated to pregnant and parenting adolescent mothers ages 13-21 and their children. By providing a home and a stable environment for these young women and children, TMSF hopes to helps to reduce the percentage of child abuse, neglect cases, and multiple unplanned pregnancies.

Education is a key aspect to the vision of TMSF. In addition to housing, core services include educational advancement, parenting/child development, and independent life skills instruction. Clients are taught where and how to find internships, how to build interpersonal skills, and how to develop a career. Through these programs the foundation hopes to lead its clients toward independence and the ability to succeed on their own.

Additional services include access to healthcare, access to licensed daycare, and access to transportation.

Overall, the foundation exists to increase high school completion, promote career development, encourage self-sufficiency, promote healthy child outcomes, and increase parent-child bonding. Through accomplishing these goals, TMSF is making a huge difference in the Dayton area and the rest of Ohio- and you have the chance to be a part of its impact. The foundation appreciates any financial/in-kind gifts as well as skilled and dedicated volunteers.

To learn more about this inspiring program and its impact, visit their website.

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Sustainable, ethical, small-batch, USA-made products. That’s what a new local shop is all about. Keep reading to learn more.


Deerhaus Decor opened its doors six months ago and provides a location for local artists and manufacturers sell goods.

Deerhaus Decor is not your typical boutique. New to Cincinnati just six months ago, the shop’s purpose is to provide a brick and mortar location for local artists and manufacturers to sell goods. Inspired by a passion for sustainability and ethicality, the shop’s owners noticed a desire for a boutique like theirs in the area. “We wanted to be part of this growing city. We went to Findlay Market and got 300 surveys answered about what people wanted to see in the area, which were small-batch, USA-made products,”  says shop owner Sonja Thams. And with that, Deerhaus Decor was born.

For the minds behind the boutique, consumer education is key. The shop refers to itself as a transparent boutique retailer, meaning it promotes communication with shoppers about who created the product, where it came from, and what materials it is made of. The shop’s products fall under the categories apparel, furniture, bath and body, jewelry and paper goods.

Most of these products are manufactured in the USA, however consumers can stumble upon globally-sourced items as well. “If our products are not manufactured here in the US, they are from manufacturers in countries we have personally traveled to. We make sure all these products are handmade, ethical and small-batch,” said Thams.

A family business, Deerhaus Decor is owned by Sonja Thams and her boyfriend Benjamin Deering. Thams’ passion lies in the design aspect of the store. She graduated from the Columbus College of Art and Design and received a degree in interior architecture and design. Deering recently graduated with a degree in entrepreneurial economics from the College of Wooster. With collaboration between design and entrepreneurship, the team combined their visions to create Deerhaus Decor.

On top of retail, the boutique offers by-appointment interior design. In a studio located at the side entrance of the building, Thams offers freelance interior design and textile design. “We are only six months old, but we’d love to see this grow. While we’re still working on the current shop, it’d be fun to have a maker-space to foster local artists in the future,” said Thams.

Check out the unique boutique for yourself at 135 West Elder Street in Cincinnati in Ohio’s Historic Findlay Market. To learn more, visit


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As apps, social media and sharing photos leave a virtual trail, one local organization keeps families protected through cutting edge news and information.


Stephen J. Smith, Founder of A Wired Family

A Wired Family is a website made to help parents and families stay up to date with technology. Filled with collections of articles and short videos, A Wired Family helps parents keep up with the ever changing world of apps and how teens are using them. Often, the website provides a view of these apps and technology well before they are adopted by teens.

A Wired Family was created and is run by Stephen J Smith, who is currently working at Cincinnati Bell, but is a man of many talents. With over 30 years of experience in different industries, Smith has done a lot in 30 years, some of his favorite past professions include his work as a writer and director of film and video projects while working at NCR Corporation.

“It was an exceptional opportunity where technology and creativity would intersect. That experience working across the country with so many different people and technologies has helped me in my position today at Cincinnati Bell,” Smith explains.

That combination of technology and creativity has allowed Smith to also build off A Wired Family, with the SOCIAL MEDIA: YOUR DIGITAL TATTOO program. Connected through his website, this program is about teaching families about how to responsibly use social media and technology.

“Children today are the first generation that will grow up with much of their every move having been recorded either through their own will- by others or simply through the infrastructure they use. Therefore, their actions at age 15 can come back to haunt them later in life,” says Smith.

But where did this strong inspiration for family-based technology education come from? Smith explains.

Both the program and website were inspired by the suicide of a local high school student a few years ago. The young woman had sent an inappropriate photo to her boyfriend and after they broke up, he sent the photo out to many other people, which caused emotional distress for the young woman.

“After discussing the issue with our management, we felt it was incumbent on our company to help educate our community on the potential consequences regarding the misuse of social media. Following a lot of our program presentations, many parents would come up and ask me “Where can I find more information on these issues?” We thought a website was a perfect tool to continually update parents on the apps teens are using,” says Smith.

When it comes to the website itself, Smith writes all the articles and videos, with the help of Geoff Torbeck photography who records and edits the videos.

The content Smith uses comes mostly from what is seen and heard in his community. Smith himself studies technology and teen mental health issues constantly, and has spoken to over 270,000 people on those issues. He admits that his most compelling stories come directly from young people that have had bad, or sometimes great experiences with social media.

In today’s world though, there is so much content about social media, one might wonder how Smith is able to pick and choose which stories to cover.

“We have learned through the years that what is going on in other parts of our country is often different than what is actually going on in Cincinnati. To help, we surveyed over 10,000 local students on their use of apps and we use their feedback and discussions to aid in the direction of our material,” says Smith.

Most of the followers of Smith’s blog happen organically through other social media mentions, or through the result of their physical audience mentioning their program and website to friends and associates. That physical audience has also stemmed and grown from word of mouth.

The growth of this blog has happened because the audience understands what it is. Smith notes that he wants people to understand this blog isn’t about selling Cincinnati Bell products or services, but is instead his community outreach to help protect families in his hometown.

“We hope families understand that social media and technology are great tools for this generation. However, when unfettered access to such technology is given to children, the results can be tragic. We are here to help guide you along the way,” Smith explains.

For more information on the program or website itself, click here.


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See how a local real estate developer is all a-buzz to give old buildings new life and a new direction.


HIVE brings new ideas and energy into buildings that some may have forgotten.

Cincinnati is home to a booming start-up scene. Fresh, exciting, new businesses are popping up left and right. But Cincinnati is also home to many abandoned, historical buildings and landscapes. That’s where HIVE comes in. A company led by Kent Hardman, HIVE brings new ideas and energy into what some considered already forgotten.

Bella Ray

Growing up and living in Cincinnati his whole life, Hardman knew he wanted to be involved in real estate from a young age. “I grew up in Hyde Park and lived in a beautiful Tudor-style home,” Hardman recalls. “That house really put me down this path of falling in love with architecture and eventually wanting to get involved with real estate.”

After graduating from Miami University, Hardman had his first job as a marketing rep for a manufacturing company. But after two years, he decided to quit and follow a path he was more passionate about. He began buying old apartments and renovating houses. In 2011, one of his earlier projects included purchasing the Jackson Theatre and building it out to become a host to both apartments and salons.

The Marianne Theater, one of HIVE’s projects.

But HIVE is much more than just real estate, Hardman says. “I don’t consider myself just a real estate developer, I’m much more than that,” he explains. “My real passion is renovating old buildings. I target properties that have deep, historical roots in Cincinnati. I really enjoy tapping into that history.”

One might wonder how Hardman masters HIVE all by himself, and when asked, he explains he isn’t really alone at all. The idea of community and togetherness is key, he says, as HIVE is actually more of a family operated business. With support from his father and brother, Hardman is able to successfully run HIVE.

But why call it HIVE? And why pick Cincinnati as its base? The name itself stems from the idea of a bee hive, Hardman explains, adding that he has multiple different kinds of real estate projects going at any given time. These projects, he feels, are similar to honeycombs; they are all different, but together make up one network, or “hive.”

Kent Hardman, Owner of HIVE

As for the location, Hardman picked Cincinnati because it’s home. “I was born and raised here, I will never leave it,” he says. “I’ve become very passionate about the buildings and history involved in the city. I know this city like the back of my hand, so it’s very cool to be involved in the renaissance happening here.”

After living in one city for so long, it makes sense that Hardman wants to do the city justice through his work. Therefore, it’s not hard to understand why the motto of HIVE is “building stories.” Hardman doesn’t want his work to be meaningless, he wants people to understand the roots of it all. And along with building those stories, Hardman works to also build communities. It is because of this that most of the buildings he takes on are located on business strips that are a walkable distance for people within that certain town or neighborhood.

Take for example, one of Hardman’s proudest accomplishments, Fireside Pizza in Walnut Hills. Previously an abandoned 19th century historical firehouse, Hardman bought the building from the city for $1 and turned it into a trendy, new eatery, complete with an apartment on the top level.

“I get no more joy than just sitting at Fireside’s bar and watching people come in and seeing their reaction. Seeing people enjoy themselves in a place that I helped bring back to life, is really satisfying,” admits Hardman.

Hardman wants people to enjoy the comfort of their neighborhood in the places he renovates and is constantly on the lookout for the next historical piece of architecture to do just that. He admits a lot of times the buildings “find him.”

“Word has gotten out that I’m passionate about these historical, messy, complicated projects,” Hardman laughs. “But it’s okay because I enjoy that challenge of finding a purpose for tough buildings.”

Hardman gave some insight into his next upcoming project: The Marianne Theatre in Bellevue City, Kentucky. The theatre is an old, art deco building and Hardman will be re-developing it soon. As for what customers can expect, he explains the new theatre won’t just be one thing. It will be a space that will offer live entertainment with a bar and food component and it will also be a space available for rent.

“This project is a very challenging one,” he says. “The goal is to have something that caters to the people of the district and also attracts outsiders.”

To learn more about HIVE, visit