The Tech Tribune staff has compiled the very best tech startups in Columbus, Ohio. In doing our research, several factors were considered. At the top of the list was Mansfield SunDown RunDown alum Root Insurance.

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Mansfield SunDown RunDown alum launches fundraiser for Liberty Park

July 29, 2018
by Tracey Geibel, Richland Source
Longtime Mansfield resident Travis Behrendsen has set up a fundraiser to help bring Liberty Park back to life. Members of Mansfield's entrepreneurship ecosystem remember Travis as a presenter at the November 2017 SunDown RunDown pitch night.

When Travis Behrendsen recently saw a Facebook post concerning the condition of Liberty Park, he did something most people don’t.He stopped scrolling and got involved.“There was a guy who posted on my Facebook feed. He was really concerned about the state of the park, and one of the things he asked for was for the community to come together and do something about it,” Behrendsen said. “So, I thought to myself, I might be able to help with this.”The longtime Mansfield resident reached out to the city’s parks and recreation department and set up a fundraiser for the park that means so much to him.He remembers learning to swim at the Liberty Park pool as a child and later marrying his wife, Cheyanne, under a tree near the pavilion.“My goal with the park is to bring it back to life,” Behrendsen said.As he walked around the park recently with his wife and 1-year-old daughter, he spotted boarded up windows and minor vandalism that hasn’t yet been cleaned.He also noted the recent efforts of Mansfield Murals and was impressed with the volunteers’ impact on the park, but he would like to put a more permanent end to the graffiti and destruction.Part of Behrendsen’s plan is to install a security system to deter vandals from returning.He hopes to raise $100,000, which will be used for the security system, clean up of the pool house and pavilion.In researching the park, he found out that the original plans for Liberty Park included an amphitheater, a concept he’d like to see brought to fruition.“It would certainly bring a lot more events, and I think it’d be of interest,” Behrendsen said.He intends to give the fundraiser several months to take off.He anticipates the repairs could take place in the off season and completed before the pool reopens next summer.To donate to Liberty Park’s revitalization, visit

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Canton SunDown RunDown alum Smoke Staxx in the news

July 12, 2018
by Rachel Abbey McCafferty, Crains' Cleveland Business News
What started out as a hobby for Brian Halasinski and Kirk Hyust is now a promising business, Smoke Staxx Pans LLC in Canton. They pitched their company at the July 11, 2018 SunDown RunDown pitch night in Canton. Last summer, Halasinski had trouble finding a good, round barbecue pan to go along with his round smoker. So he began brainstorming and the two of them came up with the idea for a stackable pan.

What started out as a hobby for Brian Halasinski is now a promising business, Smoke Staxx Pans LLC in Canton.Last summer, Halasinski started using a round smoker, and he had trouble finding a good, round barbecue pan to go along with it. He began brainstorming with his friend, Kirk Hyust, and in December, the two came up with the idea for a stackable pan. In early May, Smoke Staxx Pans went live on Kickstarter. It reached its goal of $15,000 within eight days, Halasinski said, ultimately raising $17,706. Halasinski said that he and Hyust have been busy in recent months, filing for a patent, forming an LLC, registering with the state and setting up an online presence for Smoke Staxx Pans. Halasinski is president of the company, and Hyust is vice president.The way the pans are designed allows smoke and air to flow throughout, even when they're stacked on top of each other. That will let customers stack the pans and cook multiple items without cross contamination, Halasinski said.Hyust said the pan needed to have structure and be able to do something typical pans can't; they couldn't just patent a regular aluminum pan. Hyust has patented a wrench, so he has experience with the process. The business partners met about two-and-a-half years ago when Halasinski hired Hyust for a renovation project. The job ended up being eight months long, and the two became friends in that time. And on this particular venture, their experiences aligned well. Both Halasinski and Hyust have entrepreneurial experience: Halasinski is a pharmaceutical sales representative who ran a head lice treatment center that he recently sold, and Hyust has his own construction company. Before getting into construction, Hyust attended culinary school and worked in the restaurant industry. "It's a perfect combination," Hyust said.The two originally planned to make a disposable aluminum pan, but they found quotes from U.S. and Canadian tool and die makers to be prohibitively expensive. They started looking to Chinese manufacturers, but really wanted to make the product in the United States, preferably in Northeast Ohio, Halasinski said. After a little more searching, the pair came across an Amish manufacturer in Millersburg who said the pans could be made in cast aluminum. That would make the pan reusable, but more expensive for consumers. The original idea of making disposable pans was to make it affordable, Halasinski said. The cast aluminum pans cost about $100 each.But the tooling for a cast aluminum pan would be less expensive for Smoke Staxx Pans, as they wouldn't need to make as much, and that would let the company go to market faster.They decided to make the change."We didn't really have much choice," Halasinski said.From there, Halasinski and Hyust put together an entire supply chain in Northeast Ohio, lining up a company in Southington to make the tooling, one in Medina to do the surface finishing on the pans and another in Macedonia for the packaging. "That's really what we wanted to do in the first place," Hyust said.The region's long been a hub for manufacturing, Hyust said, and he and Halasinski wanted to try to contribute to the local economy.The company plans to sell the pans online. It also has about five retail stores in the area already committed to carrying the product, Halasinski said.Custom Fireplace Shop in North Canton is one of those locations. Manager Jeff Dick said the store has already placed an order with Smoke Staxx Pans. The store carries a lot of barbecue grills, and the pans stand out because they'll let customers increase their cooking surface in a small amount of space, he said.Lehman's in Kidron, Ohio, is another store that will carry the product. It was started as a hardware store for the Amish population in the area and has grown to become a more general, non-electric goods retailer, said sales manager Steve Henry. The store sells a lot of barbecue and cast iron products, and the locally made cast aluminum pans will be a natural fit, he said.Halasinski said he expected production to begin in mid-July and delivery to Kickstarter backers to begin in early August.

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Canton SunDown RunDown alum in the news: Wastebits continues growth path

June 10, 2018
by Dan Shingler, Crain's Business News
Wastebits provides an online platform that helps waste generators,
haulers and disposal sites handle many of the logistical challenges of
matching waste generators with haulers and getting waste to the most
cost effective and appropriate disposal sites. Perhaps more importantly
at the moment, it also provides users with an easy way to electronically
manage data and document how waste is handled — and new federal
regulations are creating big demand for that service. The company pitched at SunDown RunDown in Canton in February of 2015.

Regulations aren't always bad for everyone's business — just ask Akron-based Wastebits.The
company provides an online platform that helps waste generators,
haulers and disposal sites handle many of the logistical challenges of
matching waste generators with haulers and getting waste to the most
cost effective and appropriate disposal sites. Perhaps more importantly
at the moment, it also provides users with an easy way to electronically
manage data and document how waste is handled — and new federal
regulations are creating big demand for that service. "We're experiencing like 600% growth this year — it's amazing," said Wastebits founder and CEO Dan Collins.He
attributes much of the surge in business to a new federal requirement
known in the industry as "e-Manifest." It's a bit like the electronic
medical records requirement that not long ago sent hospitals and other
health care providers scrambling to make sure their systems can be
compliant with new demands that records be digital and easily
transferred from one computer or system to another — except, in this
case, it's the handling of hazardous waste that the government wants to
better monitor. "E-Manifest is taking over the entire industry,
and all the waste companies across the country are scrambling and trying
to figure out what to do," Collins said.If you're not in the
hazardous waste business, you've probably never heard of e-Manifest. If
you are, it's been a hot topic of conversation as of late."This
pertains to all hazardous waste that is regulated . ... It impacts
everybody in a big way from coast to coast," said Mike Guenther, head of
business development for Avon-based Chemtron, an environmental services
company that takes in and disposes of hazardous waste. Guenther
said facilities like his will be affected because they are the entities
required to record the handling of hazardous waste in the new system.Of
course, in any industry, some or all of the costs added to a product or
service generally make their way to the end user, and the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency will charge fees that are higher for
paper filings than for electronic ones. It has not unveiled what those
final fees will be, but the EPA on its website estimates it will charge
$4 for electronic manifests to be filed, $13 for paper manifests to be
scanned and uploaded, and $20 for paper manifests submitted by mail. Ultimately,
the EPA predicts the new system not only will enable state and federal
officials to better monitor hazardous waste, but also will save waste
generators and handlers money.On top of providing better and more
accessible data on how hazardous waste is handled, the EPA predicts
e-Manifest will ultimately "reduce the burden associated with preparing
shipping manifests by between 300,000 and 700,000 hours, saving state
and industry users $75 million to $90 million per year."So, a lot
of companies dealing with hazardous waste are scrambling to be able to
use the system, avoid higher fees and reduce their own costs — and
that's driving Wastebits' growth, Collins said. Wastebits had
plenty of time to prepare, and used it, he said. The actual law
requiring e-Manifest was passed in 2012, and it has taken this long for
the EPA to implement it, giving Wastebits ample time to prepare. It has
been designing its system so it would work with the new system all
along, Collins said, and now it's reaping the rewards as e-Manifest is
set to take effect June 30."We have the product in a position
where the market fit and product offerings align," Collins said. "We
have been working on the e-Manifest solution for some time, with the
recent mandate of an implementation date of June 30 for e-Manifest, we
knew there would be a need for our offering."Privately held
Wastebits does not disclose its revenues or financials, but Collins said
his business has been steadily growing and just turned the corner to
become profitable.It already employs 31 people in downtown Akron,
and Collins said he'll need to hire at least three more full-time
employees and probably more part-time help this year to keep up with his
increased business."We're currently servicing over 60,000
manufacturers across the U.S. and hundreds of waste companies, including
two of the top three," said Collins, who said one of the nation's
largest trash haulers recently began subscribing to his service. Civic
leaders and economic developers have praised Wastebits because it's
creating the kind of modern, high-tech jobs that the city wants — and
the type that helps attract young professionals to live downtown or
elsewhere in the city.Collins said he'll be able to continue to
find the personnel and other resources he needs to continue growing
locally. So, at least for now, he plans to keep the business entirely in
the Rubber City."We certainly hope so," he said. "Akron has the
talent and infrastructure to support our growth for the time being. The
city has been working hard to attract new businesses and entrepreneurial
talent to the area. Our ability to be 100% located in Akron will depend
on our ability to attract and retain talent, as well as access to the
right kind of capital."

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Rotunda Scientific Technologies has added two new research-grade benchtop spectrometers to its product line. RST is a Braintree tenant company as well as an alum of SunDown RunDown in Mansfield and Canton.

Rotunda Scientific Technologies introduced two new advanced research spectrometers today at the Penn State Summer Symposium on Molecular Biology. The new “MiniScope” spectrometers are affordable and provide laboratories with enhanced performance at a fraction of the size and weight of anything commercially available – until now.This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: MS-5000X from Rotunda Scientific Technologies. (Photo: Business Wire)The new MS-5000 and MS-5000X spectrometers are small, lightweight and portable. Weighing less than 100 lbs. and about the size of an average briefcase, the new EPR/ESR spectrometers can be used everywhere.“This product is a first for the Unites States,” said Joe Rotunda, a partner and founder of Rotunda Scientific Technologies. “Products like this have been available in the U.S., but they were roughly the size of a refrigerator or washing machine and cost more than $1 million.“Previously, smaller spectrometers either didn’t have the performance to replace the larger units or were awkward to operate and several times the size of the MiniScope. These spectrometers are affordable and completely portable – it opens the door to advanced research for many small- and mid-sized labs for the first time ever.”The MS-5000 and MS-5000X from Rotunda Scientific Technologies are manufactured by Magnettech, a worldwide leader and pioneer in electron spin resonance (ESR). While EPR/ESR spectrometers have a variety of research applications, the company says they are ideal for life sciences, environmental toxicology, biophysical features, food chemistry and pharmacy, bioinorganic chemistry, petrochemistry, separation of radicals and alanine dosimetry.“These next-generation spectrometers deliver outstanding sensitivity and magnetic field stability,” Rotunda said. “They allow laboratory personnel to focus on research, not the operation of lab equipment. There is a very low learning curve with these new spectrometers, and our software – ESRStudio™ – is simple, powerful and intuitive.”The MS-5000 and MS-5000X also connect to a wide range of accessories enabling a myriad of experiment designs and testing applications for different materials and temperatures. The accessories make it possible for MiniScope spectrometers to do testing that would have required significantly more equipment in the past.Rotunda Scientific Technologies, LLC is based in Ohio and is a woman-owned small business. The company has over 25 years of experience with instrumentation for the laboratory and field.For more information about the MS-5000 or the MS-5000X, visit Rotunda Scientific Technologies at or call (330) 906-3403.

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