News


Former Braintree tenant Dan Manges now a part of $3.65 billion startup

September 9, 2019
by Carrie Ghose, Columbus Business First
Root Insurance is now valued at $3.65 billion after a $350 million funding round – the largest single venture capital round ever in the state.
The co-founders pack a one-two punch: CEO Alex Timm, 31, is a mathematician and actuarial science wiz who worked in the insurance industry since age 14. Chief Technology Officer Dan Manges also was CTO of startup Braintree Payment Systems, which was acquired for $800 million by PayPal in 2013. He is also the cofounder of Fractal Surfing, formerly a tenant company at the Braintree Business Development Center in Mansfield.

Root had already been valued at more than $1 billion with $150 million raised in two rounds last year, also the highest in the state for 2018. Statewide Ohio startups set a record last year for a combined $1 billion in VC funding, according to JobsOhio. That's for hundreds of deals.Before this latest round, Timm's equity in his creation had shrunk to 10%, according to a cap table filed with the Ohio Department of Insurance. Manges was among a group of owners with less than 10%, 27% was owned by original investor Drive Capital.

Read more: Former Braintree tenant Dan Manges now a part of $3.65 billion startup URL: https://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2019/09/09/supersized-unicorn-root-insurance-leaps-to-3-65b.html?utm_source=morning-roundup&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20190910&utm_content=article14-readmore


Third Frontier program awaits decision by governor

August 11, 2019
by Jay Miller, Crain's Cleveland Business
The Ohio Third Frontier program is looking to approve spending at least $82 million before the end of 2019.The 17-year-old program, which has spent more than $2 billion to stimulate new business development, awaits a decision from Governor DeWine on its future. In 2018, the Third Frontier board awarded $28.2 million to a group of Northeast Ohio entrepreneurial support organizations including JumpStart, Flashstarts, MAGNET, and Braintree.

The Ohio Third Frontier program is looking to approve spending at least $82 million before the end of 2019.The 17-year-old program, which has spent more than $2 billion to stimulate new business development, awaits decisions from the administration of Gov. Mike DeWine on its future. Earlier this summer, the Ohio Development Services Agency released requests for proposals (RFP) looking to invest Third Frontier bond money to help grow technology businesses in the state. The DeWine administration has been noncommittal about the program's future. In an emailed statement, DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney said the administration is examining how best to support new and growing businesses."Gov. DeWine and Lt. Gov. Husted are committed to making Ohio globally competitive and attracting growing industries, and Third Frontier has provided many benefits to Ohio businesses over the years. It has also continued to evolve," Tierney wrote. "We are looking at ways to maximize these resources to take them to the next level."
The Third Frontier program gives grants to universities, businesses and nonprofits to spur technical innovations designed to lead to new businesses. It has funded a wide variety of research that might lead to the commercialization of products. It has financially supported everything from resurfacing the test track at the Honda of American Manufacturing Inc. with a $6 million grant, to a dozen $200,000 grants to organizations, including the University of Akron and relink.org of Aurora, that are pursuing technology-based solutions to address the opioid epidemic.Voters in 2010 authorized a renewal of the original 2002 bond issue, approving the spending $700 million over the next decade. Spending $82 million before the year is out will leave the bond fund with about $100 million in spending authorityRay Leach, CEO of JumpStart Inc., the Cleveland nonprofit business accelerator and investor, said he thinks that had the Third Frontier program and its money not been around, there would be significantly less startup activity in the state than there is. JumpStart has been the beneficiary of significant Third Frontier financial support and has used some of that money to fund other organizations that help entrepreneurs turn their ideas into viable businesses."I do think the outcomes of the program are such that it would be very hard to wind down this work," he said. "The only way would be if there is a better alternative, and maybe there is, but I haven't seen it."Leach added one important key to the success of the investments the Third Frontier program has made is the requirement that most grants have a matching private or local investment.The current RFPs are for its Entrepreneurial Services Provider (ESP) program and its Technology Validation and Start-up Fund (TVSF). The ESP program funds a network of six regional nonprofits, including JumpStart, that offer technology entrepreneurs and early stage companies advice, technical support and entre to early stage and venture capital. The TVSF program provides grants to universities and other nonprofit research institutions to help transition technology from Ohio research institutions into the marketplace through Ohio startup companies. TVSF awards typically go to research programs at universities and other nonprofits, such as a $50,000 award to the Northeast Ohio Medical University for research into a commercial screening kit for gene therapy.In 2018, the Third Frontier board awarded JumpStart $28.2 million to lead a group of entrepreneurial support organizations for 2018-20, including BioEnterprise, which works with entrepreneurs to commercialize bioscience technologies; Flashstarts, a business accelerator and venture fund that provides capital and support services for tech companies; and the MAGNET Incubation Center (MIC), which helps turn manufactured product ideas into growing businesses. Flashstarts, for instance, uses its own money to support and invest in a young business, but is also one of the organizations that benefits, through JumpStart, from funding through the entrepreneurial support program. It can assist an entrepreneur in turning an idea into a business by providing help on things such as forming a corporation, filing the right tax forms and even naming the business.
"Early stage companies often need advice more than money," noted Shannon Lyons, chief operating officer of Flashstarts. "The Third Frontier money has allowed us to work with hundreds of companies."Though the DeWine administration has so far been mum on how it will continue to support entrepreneurial efforts, the research foundation of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce in July 2018 completed a study that offered an alternative.In "Ohio Bold: A Blueprint for Accelerating the Innovation Economy," the chamber's research organization recommended accelerating the state's business-building activity around four innovation platforms, which it called Next Gen Manufacturing, Future Health, Smart Infrastructure and Data Analytics. "The statewide Innovation Hubs will focus on 'industry-facing' activities and specialized shared-use facilities to advance new-product development, process improvements and commercialization of new technologies through active connections to serial entrepreneurs, angel investors and seed-stage venture capital funds," the report stated.

Read more: Third Frontier program awaits decision by governor URL: https://www.crainscleveland.com/government/third-frontier-awaits-dewines-verdict?utm_source=morning-roundup&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20190812&utm_content=article3-readmore


While researching patent attorneys nationwide, Stephen Key reached out to Braintree Board member Jacob Ward, a patent attorney from Tiffin Ohio whose firm serves primarily independent inventors. In addition to teaching patent law at the University of Toledo, he regularly advises inventor groups in the Midwest. In fact, Forbes became acquainted with him in 2017 due to his support for independent inventors.

I’ve written about a conflict that exists between inventors and patent attorneys. I’ve been a little hard on them, even. But there’s more than one side to every story of course. With that in mind, I interviewed two patent attorneys I know who have a great reputation among independent inventors about their practices.Let me be clear. I believe in the patent system. Patents are tools you can use to further your goals. In 2003, I successfully defended my portfolio of more than 20 patents in federal court. Early on in our relationship, my patent attorney John Ferrell gave me superb advice when he told me flat-out, “Steve, protection is easy. Selling is hard. Go sell.”That was more than 20 years ago, and it profoundly affected the choices I made as an entrepreneur moving forward. Because I decided to worry about selling instead of protection, I became extremely successful at licensing my patent portfolio. These patents, I might add, covered a technology that was invented in the 1950s. Carr & Ferrell took great care in defining my point of difference and allowed me to help guide them. And when I sued for infringement, they took the case on contingency. Talk about standing behind your work!</fbs-ad>I think it’s important to share what patent attorneys who are deeply invested in the success of their clients are doing. After all, it takes years and a significant financial commitment for a patent to issue. Working with someone you trust is key to obtaining the best outcome possible.First, I spoke with patent attorney and inventor Damon Kali, whom I’ve known for more than a decade. He recently moved from the Silicon Valley, where he spent his career, to the Eastern Sierras of Northern California. One thing I’ve always appreciated about Kali is his perspective on the value of determining whether you have a marketable idea. When the vast majority of patents are not profitable, that’s a clear example of looking out for your client.Then I reached out to Jacob Ward, a patent attorney from Northwest Ohio whose firm serves primarily independent inventors. In addition to teaching patent law at the University of Toledo, he regularly advises inventor groups in the Midwest. In fact, we became acquainted in 2017 due to his support for independent inventors. (Full disclosure: Ward Law Office made a donation to help Inventors Groups of America, the group I cofounded, put on its first conference, part of which took place United States Patent & Trademark Office. I wrote about that event here.)Here are key takeaways from our conversations about how they help inventors obtain patent protection.1. They start slow and with the big picture. First and foremost, Kali wants to understand what potential clients are trying to accomplish. He achieves this by spending about 30 minutes on the phone getting to know the inventor.“Once I have a clear idea of what the inventor is trying to do and what their experience is, I can start tailoring a patent application to fit their needs,” he explained.2. They do not charge for an initial consultation. Be wary, Kali advised: A patent attorney who charges you for an initial consultation is setting the tone for how they are going to charge you for future services.3. They embrace education. In fact, Ward views educating inventors as a core part of his business.“I do so much initial consulting, sometimes spending one or two or even three hours on the phone for free,” Ward told me. “Before they step into this process, an inventor needs to have a good understanding of what’s required so we can cooperate.”He also directs potential clients to a network of experts who are similarly willing to share helpful information for free.“From a business standpoint, I think it’s important that inventors surround themselves with a strong network. No one is an expert at everything.”With inventors and startups, Kali takes the time to patiently break down intricacies of the patent process. This is markedly different from how he engages with his larger clients, like IBM. “I don’t need to speak with larger clients ever — I do the work and bill. Smaller clients are different. This is a long and complicated process and smaller clients need to understand what, why, and how it’s all going to happen.”He acknowledged that the process of learning about patents is often painful. But he thinks it’s worth it, and I wholeheartedly agree.4. They’re good communicators. Kali was a partner in a boutique firm before deciding that he wanted to be able to develop more of a relationship with his clients than what billable hours — the billing system most law firms follow — allowed for. Today, he provides his clients with an upfront estimate of what it will cost to get a patent. This way, he said, he’s able to focus on getting the job done right.“I’m not thinking about how long our phone calls are. In my opinion, communication with a client is critical for understanding and fulfilling their needs. It’s also what’s required to build a relationship. It doesn’t matter how well you draft claims if you don’t understand what the inventor actually wants and needs,” he added.If you cannot understand what a patent attorney is saying, that’s a red flag. Don’t be intimidated by jargon you don’t understand. Instead, keep interviewing patent attorneys until you find one who makes you feel comfortable and that you click with right away.5. There are no billing surprises. Two years ago, when Ward opened up his own firm, he immediately lowered his billable rate.“I did that for a couple of reasons. Partly based on our overhead — the Midwest is not New York or D.C. We try to provide high quality services at a lower price,” he explained. Like Kali, a fixed estimate is provided upfront for most of his firm’s work.Receiving a bill before any actual work has been produced is another warning sign to watch out for, Kali said. “My feeling is that if you’re going to charge someone several thousand dollars, something needs to be produced. Not just talking,” he said. “It’s never too late or too soon to pull your case and begin working with someone else.”In my opinion, good patent attorneys understand that inventors who have a marketable idea and are successful become loyal clients.Be mindful about who you choose to make part of your team.

Read more: Braintree board member Jake Ward featured in Forbes as an inventor-friendly patent attorney URL: https://www.forbes.com/sites/stephenkey/2019/07/19/is-your-patent-attorney-inventor-friendly/#701d3450527a


SunDown RunDown alum Gate Genie in the News

July 15, 2019
by Tracy Leturgey, Richland Source
Ontario mother Amy Hiner launched Gate Genie earlier this year, a business selling fashionable, but affordable fabric covers for child and pet safety gates. Hiner pitched the idea of Gate Genie last fall at the Richland Idea Audition and was named one of six finalists. From there she refined her idea and pitched again at another entrepreneur-friendly event, Sundown Rundown. These events and several entrepreneurs in Mansfield have been helpful to her. She highlighted Victoria Langer, Julie McCready, Victoria Norris-Diez and Bob Leach of Braintree, but still Hiner said, it's been challenging to get her business up and running.

Amy Hiner can thank her mischievous 2-year-old boy and an aging, but still rambunctious dog for the inspiration to start her first business.The Ontario mother launched Gate Genie earlier this year, a business selling fashionable, but affordable fabric covers for child and pet safety gates."Initially, I wasn't using safety gates. I refused to use them because they were too ugly," Hiner said, before glancing at 2-year-old Evan, who was determined to crawl up on her lap instead of playing with his 6-year-old sister Maeley."Then, he (Evan) kept going towards the stairs, and I had to constantly chase him. So I thought, all right, there's got to be something that's pretty." She searched both in stores and online, but found nothing fitting her needs. She temporarily rigged a patterned cloth with ribbons on both sides to either side of the banister, which deterred Evan from crawling up the stairs, but she wanted something more sturdy and reliable long-term. "That's what I used to do: I rigged things to work. And I thought, OK, I'll stop rigging, start inventing and do something that's way safer than what's already out there," Hiner said. "So what I did was I created a cover to go over a wooden safety gate ... The cover just goes over it, but doesn't mess with any of its safety features." She says the gate has transformed life in her family's house. She feels her children are safer and because the gate looks nice or blends in, she doesn't tear it down when having company. Hiner pitched the idea of Gate Genie last fall at the Richland Idea Audition and was named one of six finalists. From there she refined her idea and pitched again at another entrepreneur-friendly event, Sundown Rundown. These events and several entrepreneurs in Mansfield have been helpful to her. She highlighted Victoria Langer, Julie McCready, Victoria Norris-Diez and Bob Leach of Braintree, but still Hiner said, it's been challenging to get her business up and running. "There are tons of barriers for entrepreneurs, and my circumstances have allowed me to keep on working through those barriers, but I could see how most people may not be able to overcome those barriers," Hiner said. "Richland County is on the right track, but we're not there yet." She described challenges associated with getting a vendor's license and making a professional video of her product. At this time, Hiner is testing price points for her existing product and working a prototype for metal safety gates. She's also applying to get the Gate Genie listed on websites like Jane.com. The product is already available at Etsy, and Hiner frequently posts business updates on Facebook.

Read more: SunDown RunDown alum Gate Genie in the News URL: https://www.richlandsource.com/business/ontario-mother-s--year-old-boy-inspires-business-called/article_d7f71088-a3f9-11e9-b82e-fbc126a04aba.html#utm_source=richlandsource.com&utm_campaign=%2Fnewsletters%2Fheadlines%2F%3F-dc%3D1563267607&utm_medium=email&utm_content=headline


Share 'N Dippity Bakery brings fresh bread and other items to Mansfield area

June 12, 2019
by Lou Whitmire, Mansfield News Journal
Darlene Mast has traveled the world and especially loves going to European bakeries. Her Mansfield bakery focuses on European-inspired breads. She also bakes cookies and offers space for local vendors to sell their goods, including Twisted Fig Tea products, specialty pasta and flavored balsamic oils.

Darlene Mast's favorite item to bake is bread."I love the process of breadmaking," said Mast, who's new business, Share 'N Dipity at 287 Taylor Road off Arlington Avenue, features sourdough, cranberry-walnut and olive breads, cookies, pastries, croissants, Danish, biscotti and cheesecakes — all made from scratch."I grew up baking," said Mast, whose parents and whose husband's parents were Amish. She bakes every day that the business is open — every day but Mondays.
The shop, which opened Feb. 27, is celebrating a grand opening on Thursday with the Richland Area Chamber and Economic Development. The white-framed building is the only commercial business in the quiet neighborhood. The site was once home to a well-known toy store and soda shop in the 1950s called Crall's Toy and Gift Shop.Mast has traveled the world and especially loves going to European bakeries. Her Mansfield business focuses on European-inspired breads. She also bakes cookies, including four popular staples — chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter and chocolate indulgence. The shop offers space for local vendors to sell their goods, including Twisted Fig Tea products, specialty pasta and flavored balsamic oils.
Mast and her husband Todd both served in the military — she in the U.S. Air Force, and he in the U.S. Marines Corps. They met at work in Mt. Eaton, Ohio, where she was a waitress and he a part-time cook. The couple have four children.

Read more: Share 'N Dippity Bakery brings fresh bread and other items to Mansfield area URL: https://www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com/story/news/2019/06/12/aroma-of-fresh-bread-fills-air-at-share-n-dipity/1385378001/