timberland uk boots Five entrepreneurial predictions for 2018
LaunchHouse, a co working community, will celebrate its 10 year anniversary this year. Ten years ago, my business partner Dar Caldwell and I started our dream out of a room above Geraci’s Pizza.
During the last decade, I watched as the city of Cleveland and the Northeast Ohio region grew to accommodate the hungry entrepreneurs who decided to make this place their home. The one feeling that has sustained me the most during this last decade has been one of hope. I have that same feeling as I look forward to what this year will bring for our region’s entrepreneurial community.
If you look at the startup landscape in Cleveland, it seems as though the city is trying to be Silicon Valley with app based companies winning startup competitions and seed funding. Yet, our region excels at manufacturing, health care and food. While companies involved in those areas aren’t flashy, they are poised for steady and consistent growth in 2018. Companies like NRS Industries, Vitamix and Peaceful Fruits all demonstrate how non tech companies can start and grow in our region.
Cleveland does not have to mimic the West Coast tech hub to be relevant it simply needs to keep playing to its strengths.
2. Libraries will continue to evolve as hubs for entrepreneurs.
Cuyahoga County has taken the lead by creating innovation centers, and the trend will spread to other systems throughout Northeast Ohio. This trend is not isolated, and I expect other library systems to follow suit. Just as Amazon changed how we consume books and ordered goods online, automation and technology will do the same for libraries across the state and country. Libraries will evolve to be more than just repositories of knowledge. They will be places where entrepreneurs launch their next big idea.
3. The conversation around supporting startups will shift from “funding” to “community.”
Ask any startup founder and they will tell you that getting seed funding for their venture is on the top of their mind. Yet if you look around Cleveland, the valuations and requisite funding are nowhere on par with that of California, New York or any VC heavy area. To keep our startup community vibrant, rather than asking, “How can we ensure that startups are funded in Cleveland?,” we ought to shift to asking, “Besides funding, what can we do as a community to help a startup become successful?”
Many in the business community can provide access to their networks, mentoring opportunities and guidance for many of the new startups that will be founded in 2018.
4. There will be an increase in collaboration between the entrepreneurial communities in Cleveland, Akron and Youngstown.
Over the past few years, each city has developed its own unique entrepreneurial community, and it’s only natural that collaboration will increase among them. Whether it’s Bounce in Akron, the Youngstown Business Incubator or the network of incubators and co working spaces in Cleveland, each city and their surrounding suburbs have a wealth of talent and knowledge to share with each other.
5. Suburbs will play an increased role in Northeast Ohio’s economic development.
While tax incentives can work to lure large businesses to an area on the promise of bringing jobs, much of where our economy will change will be on the individual level. Members of the “gig economy” and freelancers are increasing; more parents are staying at home and starting side hustles while raising their kids.
Suburbs are uniquely positioned to take advantage of drawing in these new types of workers through offering places to work along with communities suited to raising families.
I truly believe Cleveland and Northeast Ohio can continue to grow as a place where entrepreneurs can launch their dreams. Our region is more than an area that has a cheap cost of living. It has people who will work hard to turn their dreams into reality. Whether it’s an app or a food truck or a self made product, you have the ability to build it this year in Northeast Ohio. I am excited to see what our region’s entrepreneurs create in 2018.