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Ten Years and 1,000 Pitches Later

The Ohio Third Frontier's Entrepreneurial Signature Program has been supporting Northeast Ohio's incubators and entrepreneurial support organizations for approximately ten years now. GLIDE joined the ESP as a state-funded incubator 2006 and since that time we have helped numerous companies through the challenging early days of their startup.

In fact, the collective results of all the state-funded ESP organizations are pretty amazing. But when it comes to results, there are more than just statistics to look at. As the Northeast Ohio ESP collaborators wait on the results of our latest proposal for the State in hopes to continue receiving support, I had a few thoughts about entrepreneurship in Northeast Ohio.

Northeast Ohio has a steady stream of new ideas being led by new entrepreneurs. After listening to almost 1,000 idea pitches during my time at GLIDE, I am thoroughly impressed that we never seem to run out of new business ideas! Today's entrepreneurs look at the world differently and see opportunities in places that consistently surprise me. Some of it has to do with a recent experience or a current job, but mostly it's because they take nothing for granted and feel empowered to change the world. For many who fail it is because the world is not ready. For those who succeed it is because they convinced the world to be and or to behave differently.

Not surprisingly, we see do many failures. Most are because they were not able to raise capital fast enough and therefore they got into the market too late. Risk capital is tight and angels are becoming more risk adverse. Our entrepreneurs need to move at the speed of light to just preserve cash. The result? MVPs that could have used a little more refinement in order to realistically test the market.

But more often than not and most importantly, these failures don't mean the end of the entrepreneur's dream of starting a business. They go back, they re-invent, and they start again with a lesson learned. That is what I love the most—entrepreneurs who hate failure and are tenacious in their belief that their idea is the best next new thing.

Who would have thought that in the last ten years we could have created this new culture here in Northeast Ohio? It is not widely publicized and therefore known. Most do not understood how we got here and all the work many have put to nurturing an ecosystem that has laid dormant for decades. It could be one of the most important changes we have witnessed if the last 25 years. I will not be here in a hundred years but it would be interesting to see how historians describe this period. Keep it going!

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