Nonprofit awards $365K to startups

Equity-free funding to help local startups begin, grow their businesses

Main Street Ventures, a local nonprofit that provides equity-free funding to entrepreneurs and startups in eight counties within the Tri-State region, has awarded $365,838 in grant funding to nineteen local entrepreneurs during its first quarter grant cycle.

“All of the founders receiving grant funding this quarter have proven that they are ready to take their companies to the next level, and Main Street Ventures is excited to help support and guide them on that journey,” said Abby Ober, Main Street Ventures’ director of community engagement and entrepreneur support. “We can’t wait to follow the success of this impressive group of entrepreneurs as they bring their ideas and concepts to the marketplace.”

Abby Ober

Main Street Ventures provides two types of grants: Launch funding and leap funding. Launch funding provides emerging, pre-revenue businesses at the prototype or product stage with $5,000 to $10,000 of equity-free funding to increase the odds of reaching the market entry stage and beyond. Leap funding provides promising, revenue generating businesses with $10,000 to $30,000 of equity-free funding to scale their community impact and increase the odds of survival.

The companies receiving launch funding are:

  • Cool Comforts develops innovative products to meet women’s unmet feminine care needs.
  • GOFASTER is a veteran-founded, high-performance running shoe brand delivering the most comfortable road shoe with the durability and protection to go off-road.
  • Todd is an online tool that makes the last chapter of a loved one’s life more manageable by democratizing and automating both estate planning, end of life care, and settling affairs.

The companies receiving leap funding are:

  • Ripple will build a well for a community in need of accessing clean water on the other side of the world for every 2,000 Ripple bottles sold.
  • Babushka Pierogies is an Eastern European food producer and grocer of imported goods located in historic Findlay Market.
  • Beltways designs and manufactures the world’s fastest, smartest, and safest accelerating walkways.
  • Better Blend Nutrition believes in making the world happier and healthier by offering smoothies with nutrient-rich ingredients, eliminating unnecessary sugars, and building products that benefit your nutrition and your tastebuds. Its unique combination of beautifully simple products helps communities to get more out of life.
  • BoxFull sends a HUG in a BOX for the moments people can’t be there to comfort or celebrate the ones they love.
  • Cooler Keg is a portable kegerator built into a cooler allowing anyone to have a bar/restaurant quality draft anywhere (beer, cocktails, seltzers, bubbly, etc.).
  • Cork N Crust Bellevue is a gourmet pizzeria and full bar specializing in wines by the glass and vegan options that is expanding to the second floor of the building it owns so they can serve more guests, hire more staff and move further towards its goal of becoming a destination restaurant which will positively financially impact the entire Bellevue Entertainment district.
  • Eve Floral Co. is an independent woman-owned flower shop and creative studio space in the historic Columbia-Tusculum neighborhood.
  • Parts & Labor blends fresh ingredients and bold seasonings, using heat and smoke from hardwood fire, to deliver imaginative, yet familiar, barbecue with unforgettable flavors.
  • Golden Gelato Company makes authentic Italian gelato and sorbet using the traditional Italian hot process while emphasizing its Kentucky roots and resources.
  • Herban Vegans offers quality pan-cultural vegan cuisine with a fresh modern twist, that all can enjoy in an inviting and judgment-free establishment.
  • Soundtrace is a B2B SaaS and IoT Company that automates OSHA’s Hearing Conservation Program requirements by providing noise monitoring, audiometric testing, and recordkeeping in a digital, end-to-end solution resulting in cost savings and mitigating risk for customers.
  • Spasenses elevates the shower routine to a spa-like experience with Spa Senses Shower Steamers – the perfect way to say goodbye to dull showers and hello to relaxation.
  • Sunshine Caramel Company is an artisan gourmet caramel company, producing the world’s finest caramels, buttery melt in your mouth like no other caramel you have ever tasted.
  • The Empanadas Box specializes in Argentine-style gourmet empanadas with tastes from around the world with an upscale, quick-serve concept.
  • The Heirloom Chef creates fresh, healthy, warm-and-serve meal options for busy families or individuals, delivered weekly right to their doorstep.

“We are deeply honored to be a 2023 recipient of the Main Street Ventures grant,” said Deborah Rudisell, owner of Cork N Crust. “This funding will not only allow us to renovate space for additional customer seating but will have a major impact on our business, staff, and our community. We are truly grateful for this opportunity.”

The grants were made possible, in part, due to funding support from Ohio Third Frontier, Cincinnati City Council ARPA funds, the Hubert Family Foundation, the McDonald Family Foundation,and Northern Kentucky Entrepreneurship Fund in collaboration with Blue North and Horizon Community Funds.

Main Street Ventures is the financial engine for entrepreneurs in the Freater Cincinnati region providing grants so founders can feel more empowered and connected in building their businesses than they would with traditional means.

Having given over $3 million to more than 100 companies, Main Street Ventures strives to ensure Cincinnati is a good home for its next generation of entrepreneurs.


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