Nearly a quarter of small businesses may permanently close

April 3, 2020
by Sabrina Eaton,
The economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic threatens the continued existence of nearly a quarter of the nation’s small businesses, a new U.S. Chamber of Commerce poll indicates, with 11 percent saying they’re less than a month away from permanently going out of business and 24 percent saying they’re two months or less away from permanent closure.

The economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic threatens the continued existence of nearly a quarter of the nation’s small businesses, a new U.S. Chamber of Commerce poll indicates, with 11 percent saying they’re less than a month away from permanently going out of business and 24 percent saying they’re two months or less away from permanent closure.“The real question is, how long can we go through this process, this period, of businesses not having revenue and how long can small businesses survive,” said Neil Bradley, the organization’s chief policy officer, told reporters Friday. “Obviously, the longer you go out, the more likely it is a small business says they may not be able to survive.”Twenty-four percent of the 500 small businesses around the country that were surveyed from March 25 to 28 told the Chamber’s pollsters they were temporarily shuttered, and 40 percent of those who remained open said they’d probably close at least temporarily in the next 14 days.

Thirty percent of surveyed businesses said they’d shortened their hours, and 17 percent said they’d adjusted employee salaries or hours. Service businesses were the most likely to report they’d shortened hours or temporarily shuttered, while manufacturers were most likely to adjust employee salaries or hours, the Chamber said.The Ipsos online poll conducted for the Chamber defined small businesses as companies with fewer than 500 employees that aren’t sole proprietorships. It has a credibility interval of plus or minus 5 percentage points for all respondents.Bradley said that the good news in the poll was that the CARES Act Congress adopted last week included the top three measures that small businesses said would help them survive: direct cash payments to Americans, loans and grants, and deferring payroll tax payments.“While small businesses are facing unprecedented headwinds in light of the coronavirus, the good news is that the provisions that were put into place in the CARES act offer them that lifeline to help weather the storm," Bradley said, adding that about half of respondents said “that we’ll be through this and back to normal within six to twelve months, and one in four say they’re going to be back and they’re going to be hiring new employees.”

The organization’s vice president of small business policy, Tom Sullivan, said small business owners need cash quickly to keep their businesses open, noting that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that $875 million in small business loan applications were processed in the program’s initial hours on Friday morning.Bradley said the the Treasury Department made “great progress” on Thursday night in finalizing details of the small business aid programs and reducing confusion. The organization has posted step-by-step guidelines on applying for a loan through the new Paycheck Protection Program at and has a separate page of small business coronavirus resources at

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Startups being pummeled

April 1, 2020
by Erin Griffith, NY Times
After a crush of travel cancellations in March, WanderJaunt, a short-term home rental start-up in San Francisco, laid off 56 of its 240 employees last week.Demand for services from Wonderschool, a start-up that helps people find day care and preschool providers, dropped by half, leading it to cut most of its 60-person staff.And at ClassPass, which offers a membership program for fitness classes, over 95 percent of revenue evaporated in just 10 days as studios and gyms around the world shut down. To survive, the start-up slashed spending, froze hiring and rushed to build a video streaming service for virtual workouts.

Start-ups have always been risky, designed to grow fast or die, but the coronavirus pandemic is turbocharging Silicon Valley’s natural selection and causing a shake-up so sudden it has defied comparison. In just a few weeks, more than 50 start-ups have cut or furloughed roughly 6,000 employees, according to a tally by The New York Times. Plans for initial public offerings are on hold. And funding is drying up for many young tech companies.
The fallout is hitting the highest-profile start-ups as well as the smaller ones trying to disrupt them. Airbnb, the home rental start-up valued at $31 billion, has stopped hiring and has suspended $800 million of marketing. Bird, an electric scooter start-up, laid off 30 percent of its staff last week, while Everlane, an apparel company, cut or furloughed hundreds of workers.The real estate start-ups Knotel and Convene have laid off or furloughed half of their workers. The hiring site ZipRecruiter cut around 40 percent of its staff. OneWeb, a satellite start-up that had raised $3 billion in venture funding from investors including SoftBank, the Japanese conglomerate, filed for bankruptcy on Friday and plans to sell itself. And travel start-ups — Vacasa, Sonder, Inspirato, Zeus Living and TripActions, among others — have been some of the hardest hit.Daniel Zhao, a senior economist at Glassdoor, a workplace review and job listings site, said the situation facing start-ups now was worse than in downturns like the dot-com bust in the early 2000s and the financial crisis of 2008.Advertisement

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Mansfield SunDown alum Mbrio Technologies in the news

March 8, 2020
by Julie Washington, The Plain Dealer
Mbrio Technologies is the company behind Mbrio, a device that makes it easy for expectant moms to play music to babies in the womb. Cofounder Jonathan Klinger pitched the idea at the November 2019 SunDown RunDown event in Mansfield.

n 2006, Julianne Klinger was pregnant with her first child with husband Jonathan. They were living in Jonathan’s native England, where midwives urge pregnant women to play music for their unborn babies to promote bonding.Julianne looked for a device that would make it easy to play music to her baby in the womb. There were headphones that stretched over her belly, harnesses with speakers and tiny speakers that attached with sticky pads. All were too complicated or too messy.What if, the Klingers asked themselves, playing music for an unborn baby was as easy as popping in earbuds? The question led them to invent Mbrio, a pregnancy earbud adapter. Standard earbuds fit into Mbrio’s two silicon adapters; the adapters clip onto the waistband of the wearer’s pants.“That’s it — it takes three seconds,” Jonathan said. He and Julianne, who live in Pepper Pike, are co-founders and co-presidents of Mbrio Technologies, the company behind Mbrio. Jonathan and Julianne are the only full-time employees.When model Ashley Graham shared a photo of herself using Mbrio with her millions of Instagram followers, more than 1,700 people left comments, Jonathan said. Taylor Brooke Boyd, wife of country music star Craig Wayne Boyd, also has used it.Mbrio made entertainment and fitness website PopSugar’s list of “Must Have” products last fall, Jonathan said.Since Mbrio’s launch six months ago, even more women have used it to bond with their babies. The device, which costs $29.95, can be used with wireless or wired earbuds. It’s available on the Mbrio website. The Klingers declined to give sales figures.Some expectant mothers say they feel their babies kicking while the tunes play, but their babies quiet down during the pauses between tracks. That makes sense, because unborn babies begin to hear at 18 weeks’ gestation, and respond to sounds at 25 weeks, according to the Mayo Clinic.Kristi Szabo, 39, of Painesville, created a playlist for her son Dawson, who was born in January.“Music is very important to me and holds so much meaning to me in many milestones in my life,” Szabo wrote in an email. “I wanted to share that love and commemorate the pregnancy of Dawson with music.”Mbrio user Heidi Malleske of Fairview Park is wearing the adapters while taking walks and doing low-impact exercises during her pregnancy.“I have read the research on how amazing music can be for a baby's development in the womb,” Malleske wrote in an email. “So I figured, why not do anything I could to help improve that?”That research suggests that music helps stimulate certain areas of an unborn baby’s brain.A study published in the medical journal Neural Plasticity in 2019 examined the research on fetal and neonatal processing of music. It found evidence that the ability of newborns to respond to music is influenced by sounds they were exposed to during the last trimester.A 2017 controlled trial published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice suggested music improves the vital signs of pregnant women during the third trimester, and increases fetal heart rates.Julianne Klinger wasn’t able to use Mbrio with either of her two pregnancies, because the development process took years. Initially, the Klingers used money from family and friends to fund Mbrio Technologies, and kept their jobs.Now, a thriving Mbrio Technologies is their full-time gig.The couple met while Julianne was in business school in Chicago; Jonathan was working for a startup and traveling between Britain and the United States. They married in Julianne’s hometown of Kansas City, Missouri, in 2004.The Klingers lived in Paris and Britain, then moved back to the United States in 2007 to take jobs in marketing and engineering in Silicon Valley and New York.The couple moved to Cleveland in 2015 for Jonathan’s former position running marketing, research and development for a Cleveland-based business.They found a welcoming startup environment in Ohio. Last year, Mbrio Technologies won $100,000 in a pitch competition run by Glide, which offers assistance to entrepreneurs in Northeast Ohio.Mbrio components are made overseas and assembled at Christie Lane Industries, a nonprofit organization in Norwalk, Ohio, that provides employment for adults with developmental disabilities.Having access to a 3-D printer at Sears think[box], a maker space at Case Western Reserve University for students, entrepreneurs and not-for-profit organizations, allowed the company to make prototype earbud adapters at low cost.

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Root Insurance had the 9th largest startup funding round in the U.S. last year! The company was founded in 2015 by Alex Timm & Dan Manges.(Dan is a Lexington native, former Braintree tenant, and two-time SunDown RunDown alum).

9. Root Insurance $350.0M
Round: Series E
Month of Funding: August
Description: Root, the largest property-casualty InsurTech in the country, offers personalized, affordable coverage in an app. Founded by Alex Timm and Dan Manges in 2015, Root Insurance has now raised a total of $527.5MCoatue Management, DST Global, Ribbit Capital, Silicon Valley Bank, and Tiger Global Management.
Investors in the round: Coatue Management, Drive Capital, DST Global, Redpoint, Ribbit Capital, Scale Venture Partners, Tiger Global Management
Industry: Auto Insurance, Automotive, Insurance, InsurTech, Mobile Apps, Property Insurance
Founders: Alex Timm, Dan Manges
Founding year: 2015
Location: Columbus
Total equity funding raised: $527.5MThe TechWatch Media Group audience is driving progress and innovation on a global scale. With its regional media properties, TechWatch Media Group is the highway for technology and entrepreneurship. There are a number of options to reach this audience of the world’s most innovative organizations and startups at scale including having prominent brand placement in a high-visibility piece like this, which will be read by the vast majority of key influencers in the business community and beyond.

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Braintree grad Hess Industries serves tool and die clients worldwide

January 13, 2020
by Katie Ellington, Richland Source
Hess Industries, a graduate of the Braintree incubator, is a tool and die shop where workers program machines to mill and heat treat metal, grind it down and meticulously slice it with electrically charged wires.

It’s easy to take for granted the numerous metal products around us. Phone chargers, pots and pans, door hinges are all so ubiquitous, it would be easy to assume they are near-effortless to make.
Yet all of these products owe their existence to the tool and die makers. They manufacture the equipment that is foundational to mass production -- the tools, molds and stamp dies used by other manufacturers to make goods. Any object that’s been cut, formed, shaped or molded out of sheet metal was made with tools and dies. Inside Hess Industries Ltd., a tool and die shop in Mansfield, workers program machines to mill and heat treat metal, grind it down and meticulously slice it with electrically charged wires. Sometimes the products are large, other times they’re no bigger than a pinkie finger. In tool and die, precision is the name of the game -- employees are working with measurements as fine as 1/30th of a human hair.Modern tool and die workers are skilled technicians, who are constantly learning and adapting to the industry’s latest technology. Coding, programming and virtual design have become essential skill sets.“Today's tool and die shops are not your grandfather’s machine shop,” said Mark Hess, who founded Hess Industries in 2000. “They are technical centers that use state-of-the-art machinery throughout the entire facility.”At the turn of the century, experts warned that the tool and die sector was dying. Hess Industries is a prime example that the opposite is true. Tool and die is not dying. It’s evolving.
Hess defied industry trends when he opened his own tool and die business 20 years ago. Looking back, he describes it as a call from God.“I had to really lean into my faith,” Hess said. “There was a huge risk that we could lose it all, but I really felt led by God and knew that he would take care of us through the thick and thin.”Hess and his wife Pam sold their home and put all their personal equity into the business. Hess Industries opened in June 1999 in a rented workspace inside Braintree. The company remained steady as the recession took its toll on the manufacturing industry. Hess believes staying ahead of the technological curve was a key factor in his business' survival. “A lot of tool and die shops went out of business in 2008 because they didn’t grasp the modern tech,” Hess said. “We were able to thrive through all that. It wasn’t easy.”While some tool and die shops were resistant to changes within the industry, Hess Industries was an early adopter of computer-aided drafting (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) technologies. “What Mark does is he embraces new technology to try to always stay ahead of the curve. He was always up to speed on what the newest technology was,” said Tom Hutchison, Hess' business partner and president of Hutchison Tool Sales.“When I look at the future of tool and die, I see more technology used to build the tooling,” Hess said. “In a way, it’s kind of less craftsmanship, but in another way it’s a different way of being a craftsmen and doing it in a 3D virtual world.” Hess Industries integrated 3D solid modeling into its operations in 2002.“We were one of the first to really get into the 3D world,” he added. “Most tool shops that are in business right now have either made the plunge into the 3D world or are making it now.”

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