OhioX said its priorities will be shaped by members as they come on board. (Berry said there will be a “progressive” membership model, which starts at $100 and goes as high as $5,000, with something at the higher level including sponsorship opportunities.)
In regard to the organization, Gritzan said her mind is on education, noting she wants the group to work with schools and colleges on preparing students for the future workforce as it relates to tech. The hope is that could improve retention of talent and inspire new entrepreneurs.
Promoting what various existing companies do within the business world and how they could work with one another could have impact as well. OhioX might be the missing conduit for that. The OhioX name was inspired by early talks about forming the group, during which folks like Berry would map out the regions of the state the group intended to connect, the result resembling an X.
“(Squirrels) just celebrated our 11th anniversary, and probably 90% of the state doesn’t even know we’re here,” Gritzan said. “It’s frustrating.”
Access to good capital is a struggle as well, she added, explaining how Squirrels — which focuses on developing wireless screen-mirroring software — falls into a “no-man’s land” for investment. She said the company is too profitable to draw lower-level investments but not profitable enough to attract larger ones.
“We want to be able to connect with the right people instead of shooting darts in the dark and hoping we hit something,” Gritzan said.
Croft agreed that financing is a complicated situation in this market.
“Investors in this region want to give a little but take a lot and it almost chokes the company to death because of the terms they place on the investment,” he said. “You don’t find that on the coasts. Investors are more educated on how tech companies work (there).”
From advocacy to education to serving as a liaison between startups, established business, investors, entrepreneurs and everyone in between, OhioX aims to become what it feels is a missing piece for growing a thriving tech industry in Ohio.
“I think this is really needed in our area and long overdue,” Croft said.