The 3-year-old Root Insurance company,with a mission to sell insurance exclusively to good drivers,received approval on Monday for state tax incentives for a project that is projected add 463 jobs in Columbus over the three years with an annual payroll of $38.9 million. The company currently has about 100 workers now. Early on in its growth Root CTO Dan Manges pitched at SunDown RunDown Mansfield.

Young insurer Root Insurance is taking a big growth step.The 3-year-old company with a mission to sell insurance exclusively to good drivers received approval on Monday for state tax incentives for a project that is projected add 463 jobs in Columbus over the three years with an annual payroll of $38.9 million. The company currently has about 100 workers now.Also, the company said it will take 65,000 square feet of space Downtown at the new 80 on the Commons building being developed at 80 E. Rich St. It will begin moving in this fall, taking up two stories of the building and investing $2 million in the site.The tax credits have an estimated value of $8.7 million.“We have this core idea of this is how consumers want to purchase insurance. It’s an idea that resonating faster than we thought,” said Alex Timm, Root’s CEO and co-founder.The project was one of 10 to be approved Monday by the Ohio Tax Credit Authority. The projects will create 2,279 jobs and retain 924 jobs and lead to investment of $313 million across the state. The incentives for all projects have an estimated value of $15.6 million.Of the 10 projects, seven are in central Ohio, including plans by Dollar Tree to build distribution operations in Morrow County for Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores. That project alone is expected to create 400 jobs.In all the seven projects in central Ohio are expected to create 1,163 jobs. And that isn’t counting Amazon’s announcement last week that it will build another distribution center in central Ohio. This one, in West Jefferson, will create another 1,500 jobs in the region.“It’s a lot of capital investment. It’s a lot of jobs over the next 18 to 24 months,” said Kenny McDonald, chief economic officer for Columbus 2020, the region’s economic-development arm. “It reinforces that this place continues to grow, not just in the core, but in the entire region, and in lots of sectors.”Root, the largest of the central Ohio project, has already been expanding at a fast pacey. A year ago, it employed about 15. Today, that number has risen to nearly 100. The company continues to hire engineers, data scientists and customer-service staff.“Business has really been growing rapidly. We’re hiring at a rapid clip,” Timm said.Timm said keeping the company’s headquarters Downtown was vital.“We think there’s just a lot going on Downtown, and it’s important to be right in the middle of it,” Timm said.Root’s premise is simple: Use smartphone technology to price auto insurance.Drivers interested in Root coverage download the insurer’s app and drive as they normally would for two or three weeks, typically. The app tracks how fast a driver goes, whether they brake hard or drive distracted.Then Root determined whether a driver is eligible for coverage, often at rates that run 30 percent or more below what a traditional insurer charges.The company offers coverage in 16 states and plans to be nationwide by the end of 2019. It recently received a $51 million round of funding from venture-capital funds, one of the largest funding announcement by an Ohio tech startup.

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SunDown RunDown Mansfield alum Root Insurance keeps growing and adding more jobs

May 18, 2018
by Carrie Ghose, Columbus Business First
Root Insurance Co., an alum of Mansfield SunDown RunDown, plans to grow to nearly 550 employees and is moving its headquarters to the 80 on the Commons mixed-use building under construction alongside downtown's Columbus Commons Park, according to City Council documents

Root Insurance Co. plans to grow to nearly 550 employees and is moving its headquarters to the 80 on the Commons mixed-use building under construction alongside downtown's Columbus Commons Park, according to City Council documents.Just over two years old, the Columbus auto insurer offers paperless signup and management of a policy through a mobile app, which also measures driving habits so only safe drivers can enroll. The company sells online, eschewing agents, and its data-driven model results in big discounts on premiums.Root in March closed a $51 million venture capital round led by Redpoint Ventures, along with Scale Venture Partners and returning investors Ribbit Capital and Silicon Valley Bank Capital Partners, all in the San Francisco and Silicon Valley region. The company has "unicorn potential" – tech slang for greater than $1 billion in value – to grab a sizable portion of the $220 billion auto insurance market, Elliot Geidt, a Redpoint partner, said at the time.The company plans to lease 65,000 square feet in the 12-story office, retail and apartment building under construction at 80 E. Rich St., with a goal to move in October, according to a downtown office incentive before council. Daimler Group and Kaufman Development are partners in the $60 million, 350,000-square-foot project that completes the bookend of towers that border the park. The city's downtown office incentive would pay the company as much as $2.4 million over five years – half of income tax withholding on new jobs – while generating the same amount of new taxes for the city in that span. The agreement calls for retaining 79 jobs and adding 463 new positions, with salaries ranging from $35,000 in customer support (about 122 jobs) to $120,000 for less than a dozen data scientists. The largest single category is 189 software engineers, averaging $108,000 yearly. Payroll would total $47 million.The company also appears on Monday's agenda for the Ohio Tax Credit Authority, which does not release details until after its meetings. Both agreements are with Ibod Company Inc., a holding company for Root named by co-founder Ilya Bodner, who runs a different insurance-tech startup and no longer is involved with Root.

<!----> <!----><!----> Root plans to spend $1 million equipping and furnishing the headquarters, according to the city proposal. As of March, Root had 85 employees at 34 W. Gay St., so it's already created some of the new jobs.In its first nine states, Root had gross direct underwritten premiums of $4 million in 2017, according to filings with the Ohio Department of Insurance. It's now operating in 16 states, and is in the licensing process in more.Root's data-driven model and “superior product experience for consumers" set it apart, Redpoint's Geidt said in March.Co-founder and CEO Alex Timm started working as a teenager in his family's insurance business; his motivation was to create "honest" rates that use data to better project risk and don't spread the cost of bad drivers on safe ones. The app and analytics side is led by Chief Technology Officer Dan Manges, who also was founding chief technology officer of Braintree, an online payments company that PayPal acquired five years ago for $800 million. <!----> <!----> <!----> <!---->
<!----> Root's first investor was Columbus-based Drive Capital LLC; the company has raised a cumulative $78 million in less than two years. Beam Dental, a fellow insurer in the Drive portfolio, this week closed a $22.5 million investment round from Silicon Valley VC giant Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

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Mesh Integration helps businesses streamline processes

April 19, 2018
by Jennifer Conn,
Software company Mesh Integration is a joint venture between Bill Vasu of CyberAccess, an electronic health record program, and John Covender of, data-base driven customer information software.

While some of Mesh Integration's neighboring startups sport flashier product displays, Mesh's customized software is doing some heavy lifting behind the scenes in the United States and across Europe.
The founders developed Mesh Integration to fill what they saw as a void in the industry - a quick, cost-effective way to streamline and unify all the software, tools and apps a large or small company needs for a unified workflow.Mesh Integration's connection platform -- the Application Programming Interface -- consists of more than 15,000 applications that can be tied together in seconds using the company's 200 pre-built software packages.Covender likens Mesh's system to Legos, in which blocks are quickly snapped together with other Legos."We're able to snap them together that fast and get one or many applications working together quickly," Covender said.The company's customized API connection platform eliminates the need for software developers to spend hours writing code to tie diverse applications together, he said. For example, if a company's workflow requires a shopping cart, email, a database, Quickbooks and inventory software, Mesh's API connection platform would be customized to quickly connect all those programs and apps, unifying the company's business process.Mesh's API connection platform works in any industry, with any computer language or operating system, Covender said.Looking into the future, Covender and Vasu also identified a need to help companies come into compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation. The GDPR went into law in April 2016 and will be enforceable through fines on May 25, according to the EU's public information website on the GDPR."It applies to all companies processing and holding the personal data of data subjects residing in the European Union, regardless of the company's location," the website states. Personal data "can be anything from a name, a photo, an email address, bank details, posts on social networking websites, medical information, or a computer IP address."The point of the regulation is to give individuals control over their personal data outside the European Union and to streamline regulations for international business.Working with large healthcare systems in Europe, Mesh officials realized the far-reaching effects the GDPR would have, and have incorporated the appropriate controls in Mesh Integration's API connection platform."Companies have to document their processes coming in and going out, including data in motion and data at rest," Covender said. "There are so many things involved it's worse than an IRS audit. They're going to go after small, mid-sized and large companies."Mesh Integration offers a platform designed specifically for the online documentation the GDPR requires, including data security through micro token exchange technology. In addition, Mesh's API connection platform is designed to enable online GDPR documentation to self-update directly from the company's systems.For more information about Mesh Integration, call 877-524-5005 or visit the website.

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Interview with Ashland mayor (and Braintree board member) Matt Miller

April 9, 2018
by Courtney McNaull, Richland Source
Ashland Source asked mayor Matt Miller to reflect on his first 100 days in office.Here are his reflections in a recent interview

ASHLAND SOURCE: What would you say has been your top accomplishment as mayor to date?MATT MILLER: I would say first and foremost, one of the things that we talked about a lot during the campaign was being more transparent and openly sharing city business with city residents, city taxpayers.One of the first things we did when we came in was move the city council meetings to a new location, a more modern location, and we partnered with the schools so that we could place our council meetings on cable television. The feedback we have received from that has been nothing but positive.Over and over again, people will come up to me and tell me, “Hey, you know, I've lived in this city 30 or 40 years and I've never been to a council meeting, but the other night I went to one and all I had to do was go into my living room and flip on the TV.”Also, with our use of social media, we’re able to give more timely and accurate updates to folks that maintain Facebook accounts.AS: Another thing you stressed in your campaign was job creation. You promised to help existing businesses expand here and to help bring in new businesses to the area. Have you begun that effort?MM: When I was sworn in as mayor, I became the newest member of the Ashland Area Economic Development board. Over the last three months, I have attended those board meetings and actively participated in trying to shape the discussion about what the future of economic development looks like here in Ashland.I would like to see the economic development board increase the size of the board from the current five members to at least seven or nine members, and to include more of our local business leaders and entrepreneurs on that board. That is a discussion that is underway currently.Also, believe it or not, in the short three months that I've been here, we have already sat down with several prospects that are looking to relocate their companies here in Ashland.This week was probably the most significant discussion that I've had with one of those prospects, because according to the president of this company that's based out of Columbus and looking at our area as a possible new site, it's between us and one other community.They are looking to make an investment of $18 to 20 million, with the potential of having 75 to 100 employees, and the minimum wage they pay is around $14.75 an hour.I hope that day comes here very soon where we can share all those details.AS: You vowed to attack the opioid epidemic. What are you doing on that front?MM: I requested that the police chief and our top narcotics detective, Brian Evans, meet on a routine basis or regular basis so that I can get an update on how the fight against opioids and against drug abuse in the community is progressing.We had our first meeting about a month ago, and one of the interesting facts that came out of that first meeting that as we have focused on trying to eliminate heroin abuse and heroin use, we have been fairly effective. The problem is, now crystal meth cases are on the increase.Another thing is I worked with the chief of police and (Ashland City Schools superintendent) Dr. Doug Marrah to get a long-awaited school resource officer in the city schools.I've also met with Project One and a variety of other faith-based leaders or people that are involved with faith-based treatment organizations.We met with two individuals from Columbus who are interested in bringing a drug treatment type center here to discuss whether or not this is something that makes sense here in our community.We've also talked with a number of people in law enforcement as well as folks at the Samaritan Hospital Foundation about possibly teaming up and putting together, for lack of a better way to describe it, an anti-drug campaign.Back in October of last year, working with Louise Fleming (of the Center for Civic Life at Ashland University), we applied for a grant to lead community discussions on the opioid issue.We had the first of those and we've got more coming up here very soon.So that's a long answer to your question, but we haven't forgotten that issue. It would take a little bit more time to claim a victory.AS: You said you would enlist the services of a professional community planner to help create a blueprint for key areas of the city. Can you provide an update on that process?MM: We're very fortunate that the Ashland County Community Foundation Board of Directors, along with the executive director and president Jim Cutright, did agree to provide funding for the city to hire a professional planning firm to come in and help us develop a targeted plan for the future of our community.Myself, Jim Cutright and Rick Ewing of our city planning commission made a trip down to Columbus to meet with the firm OHM. They have prepared a number of plans for communities our size and much bigger all across Ohio. You can see their handiwork in places like Wooster, places like Newark, and even in a variety of other states, particularly in the Michigan area.What they specialize in is helping a community decide where development should take place and how to do it in a way that the final product is something that the whole community values.Right now I'm in the process of putting together a steering committee to lead that process. And I'm hoping here within just a few weeks we'll have more of a formal rollout of what that planning process will look like and what areas we hope to target with that plan.AS: You pledged to clean up vacant, abandoned houses and commercial properties. Any news in that area?MM: Obviously, the property that we've been most focused on is the Pump House area. We have looked at the options that are available to us, and that's why we're moving forward with the Land Bank that should hopefully be an operation here within a month or so.One of the other items that comes to mind is right after arriving in the mayor's office, I met with the city planning commission and requested that the commission take on the task of reevaluating and updating all of our zoning codes and our signage regulations.We have a committee appointed of planning commission members, some local developers, realtors and other interested community leaders, and basically they intend to take no more than one year to go through all of our zoning regulations and signage regulations, figuring out which ones are not needed any longer and which regulations we need to put into place to protect the community.The reason that came to mind is in the course of that discussion, the topic came up whether we should further develop or update our property maintenance code. The group has determined that is a separate project, and I agree with that decision. So right now, we're going to focus on zoning and signage regulations, and then maybe property maintenance is a future project for the group.AS: You said you would sit down with each city employee to listen to their ideas for improving operations and services. Have you done that, and if so, have you chosen to implement any of those ideas?MM: I started with the parks department. The parks employees have been without a director since 2013, I believe, and also during that time have had more than one park supervisor. That's kind of number two in command, and in fact, that job is vacant right now.So after talking with them, they do believe that it is time for the city to have a parks director, someone who can devote their time and energy to managing the day-to-day operations of the parks, developing new programming and recreational activities to take place at the park, reevaluating the fee structures and the amount we're charging for various services and going after grants that will help us improve the parks.I was glad they all felt that way because I did too.When I came in, I worked with Larry Paxton to make sure we had money set aside for that. And the reality is, by not having a park supervisor for several months, there's money in the budget to cover the cost of that position.AS: As the city was making appropriations for 2018, you pulled Brookside Golf Course out for separate discussion. That discussion resulted in the elimination of the golf pro manager position and the raising of course fees. Can you walk us through your thought process on that?MM: During the campaign, that was an item of major discussion across the community, whether or not we should continue to fund Brookside Golf Course. With the election of a new mayor and the new council, we did what we promised we would do.Number one, we got all the numbers out there before the public. We had a Saturday morning hearing, shared the numbers with everyone and gave the leadership of the golf course the opportunity to explain them so that we were all working off the same spreadsheets.After doing that, as you know, the council and myself decided that we would make some changes out at the golf course to make it more financially viable.At that time I made three recommendations. Number one, that we look at the staffing at the golf course. Number two, that we adjust the fees that we charge at the golf course. And number three was to seek private sponsorships for the golf carts and the golf holes.We took a look at the staffing and basically what we determined that we could really no longer afford to have a full-time golf pro out at Brookside golf course. We did increase the fees, and then finally, a group led by Gene Haberman is busy soliciting sponsorshipsWe’ve got a great team in place right now. So I think it's going to be exciting to see if the golf course breaks even this year. A lot of that of course can be determined by the weather we have this golf season, but with the changes that we've put into place, I think we're certainly heading in the right direction when it comes to the golf course finances.AS: Some people are concerned about the cost and operations of the 9-1-1 dispatching center. How are you handling WARCOG?MM: Hopefully before the month ends, the city council, the county commissioners, myself and maybe even several others are going to go over to Wayne County and tour the WARCOG facility. We want everyone to see firsthand how the dispatch center operates, ask any questions they might have and so on.I've had conversations with Ashland and Wayne county commissioners about their dispatch centers. I've met with the sheriff.I'm sure the council will do their homework, and we're going to figure out what's best for the future of the city of Ashland.The thing that is very promising to me is that the city and the county, and even the city and the county and in Wayne County, everyone is at least talking about it together with all the players at the table.AS: What’s next on your to-do list?MM: There has been a lot of discussion over the last six months about consolidating the Ashland County and Ashland City health departments for folks in the community.We have the city health board that was established by the city charter, and we have the Ashland County health board. Believe it or not, when an Ashland City-County Health Board meeting takes place, we have two tables in the room at the same time. The county board members sit on this side, the city sits on that side.That model has kind of grown out of date, and now as the health departments seeks to get accredited by the state, basically it doubles the amount of work and expense that will go into that process because they have to do the exact same thing for both boards.As a result, the city and county leaders began, around six months ago, talking about consolidating the two.The city and county are working very closely to make that happen, and the first step is for the city of Ashland to contract with the county health board to offer services.AS: We’ve been hearing a lot of people, particularly young people, saying they want to be more involved in efforts to improve our city and community. How can they get involved?MM: I've got a notebook here right now of the different commissions and boards and entities that exist here in the city of Ashland, and in some instances in the county of Ashland, where the mayor makes appointments.The way I am approaching all of those appointments is, it's time to bring some new people to the table. We have a lot of smart, energetic, enthusiastic, intelligent people in this community of all ages that have never been invited to serve on some of these commissions and some of these bodies. And now's the time, in my opinion, to start bringing them to the table.And so that's one way that I hoped to get some new voices, young voices involved in city government and in community planning and so on.If you're interested in getting involved, then it requires action on your part. You need to make yourself available. You need to make the decision to come to the council meeting, come to the Chamber of Commerce events, support the Ashland Main Street activities. If you’re interested in serving, reach out to me or let the mayor's office know.I’m the next speaker for Ashland Young Professionals, so stay tuned for that presentation.

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Root Insurance, a Columbus-based car insurance startup that calculates insurance premiums based upon driver behavior, has raised a $51 million series C round, led by Redpoint Ventures. Other participating investors include Scale Venture Partners, Ribbit Capital, and Silicon Valley Bank. Columbus-based Drive Capital has also previously invested in Root Insurance.

While the Midwest continues to lag Silicon Valley in the total amount of venture capital raised, there is still progress being made as more of the region’s fast-growing tech startups raise rounds that are closer to Silicon Valley-size.
Root Insurance, a Columbus-based car insurance startup that calculates insurance premiums based upon driver behavior, announced today that it has raised a $51 million series C round, led by Redpoint Ventures. Other participating investors include Scale Venture Partners, Ribbit Capital, and Silicon Valley Bank. Columbus-based Drive Capital has also previously invested in Root Insurance.According to Crunchbase data, Root Insurance’s round looks to be one of the largest, if not the largest, series C round ever raised by a tech startup (a company called Altus Pharmaceuticals also raised a $51 million series C in 2004). Cofounder and CEO Alex Timm declined to comment on how much the new round of funding valued Root Insurance at.“Root’s model of using mobile phone data to reward safe driving is fair to drivers, economically rational, and represents an impressive technical accomplishment,” Elliot Geidt, a partner at Menlo-Park based Redpoint Ventures and now a member of Root’s board of directors, stated in the press releaseannouncing the funding.Root Insurance claims to be “the first car insurance company to incorporate individual driving behavior in every quote,” though there are a number of other companies seeking to disrupt the way car insurance quotes are calculated.Root Insurance’s business model is unique in that it acts as an insurance broker itself, rather than selling its data to other companies. True Motion, for example, uses smartphone sensor data to determine how distracted a driver is and then sells that “distraction score” to auto insurance companies. There is another competitor that sells insurance directly to consumers — Metromile, backed by First Round Capital and SV Angel. Metromile differs from Root in that it lets consumers pay per mile for insurance.Root Insurance first launched in Ohio in 2016 and is now available to customers in 12 states. The plan is to launch nationwide by 2019.Timm, a former consultant at insurance company Nationwide, said in a phone interview with VentureBeat that he launched Root out of frustration that traditional insurance providers weren’t moving quickly enough to create better pricing models using mobile data.“All of this sensor data started to fly in, and one of the things that was pretty obvious was all this data was more important in predicting than a good risk or a bad risk, and certainly a lot more important than something like credit score,” Timm told VentureBeat.Interested customers first download Root’s smartphone app, and Root then measures the customer’s driving behavior for 2-3 weeks before customers can sign up for a policy. Timm says that Root’s algorithms can tell when a driver is tailgating or driving too quickly around a corner, for example, using data collected from the smartphone’s GPS, accelerometer, magnetometer, and gyroscopes. Through Root, consumers can save as little as 20 percent or more than 50 percent compared to car insurance policies offered by traditional brokers, Timm claims. He declined to state how many customers Root has.The biggest hurdle that Root will face is regulatory — not all states currently allow insurance companies to underwrite policies based upon their calculation of how distracted the driver is or whether he or she tends to text and drive. Timm says that Root is now licensed in 20 states, however, so the company will be rolling out operations in another 8 states shortly.In addition to today’s injection of coastal capital, Root, which has roughly 80 full-time employees, has also benefited from attracting mid- to senior-level talent who want to “boomerang” back to Columbus from the coasts. The company’s chief creative officer, Travis McCleery, was formerly a lead product designer at Netflix, while the company’s VP of corporate development, Kumi Walker, was previously a business development manager at Twitter.“The most common thing we’ve heard is people [who want to leave Silicon Valley] are sick of living in a place that’s prohibitively expensive to raise a family,” Timm said.

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