OTR nonprofit awards $265K in grants to local startups

Main Street Ventures awarded $264,524 in grants to 15 local entrepreneurs over the past three months. In total, the Over-the-Rhine-based nonprofit distributed $1,103,754 to 64 startups this year.

These grants are part of Main Street Ventures’ Leap and Launch funding programs. Launch funding provides pre-revenue businesses with $5,000 to $10,000 to help them move beyond the concept stage. Through the Leap program, revenue-generating companies receive $10,000 to $30,000 to scale their operations and increase their odds of survival.

Sean Parker

Below are the companies that received Launch and Leap funding during Main Street Ventures’ fourth quarter. All grants are given equity-free.

Main Street Ventures had 400 businesses apply for funding in 2023, according to Sean Parker, the organization’s executive director.

“We continue to be impressed with the quality of early stage businesses in our community that apply for funding from Main Street Ventures,” Parker said.

Support ‘Main Street’ startups for two decades

Main Street Ventures started in 1999 by providing tech companies with physical infrastructure and a wi-fi network. In 2010, MSV launched The Brandery, a seed-stage startup accelerator that offered expertise in areas such as branding, marketing and design.

Today, the organization provides equity-free funding to entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses in eight Greater Cincinnati counties. It also supports businesses through workshops, mentorship and business development resources.

Since 2018, Main Street Ventures has distributed nearly $3.5 million to 164 companies.

A Main Street Ventures event

These grants are possible, in part, because of financial support from Ohio Third Frontier, the Hubert Family Foundation, the McDonald Family Foundation, The P&G Fund, Jacob G. Schmidlapp Trust, Northern Kentucky Entrepreneurship Fund, in collaboration with Blue North and Horizon Community Funds.

Main Street Ventures also benefited from American Rescue Plan Act funding from Cincinnati City Council. Since 2021, the ARPA funding allowed Main Street Ventures to distribute approximately $900,000 in grants to 44 women-owned businesses in Cincinnati. The ARPA funding concluded with this grant cycle.

Over the last five years, Main Street Ventures grant recipients generated more than $14 million in sales and created 400 jobs.

“As we approach our 25th anniversary next year, we’re excited to continue empowering entrepreneurs to transform their innovative ideas into thriving businesses,” Parker said.

“We can’t wait to see what happens in year 25,” he added.

Launch Funding

  • 6 ‘N The Mornin’ is a Southern-style breakfast/brunch restaurant concept.
  • Brewed & Frothy Coffee is a small-batch coffee roaster and mobile coffee cart providing catering at private events.
  • Inland Shrimp Company is a Cincinnati-based indoor shrimp farm business focused on providing local seafood with a reduced carbon footprint. It uses vertical farming methods, remote sensing and automation and alternative energy from repurposed inner-city buildings.
  • Outmore Gear designs, makes and sells outdoor recreation equipment.
  • Qualzai is an AI-powered tool for qualitative research.

Leap Funding

  • Beards & Bellies BBQ offers Louisiana-style barbecue using locally sourced ingredients.
  • BenSuite is an SaaS platform focused on streamlining employee benefits systems.
  • Commonwealth Sanctuary is a comedy club, listening room and community events venue in Northern Kentucky.
  • Jet Black Vintage is a Black-owned business focused on providing unique garments made from repurposed materials as well as curated vintage goods.
  • Live N Learn creates international education opportunities for students and families to travel, host and make connections with peers from around the world.
  • The Delish Dish is a full-service catering and events company.
  • Micromerch creates, photographs and distributes branded merchandise.
  • Modica produces low-sugar and health-minded cocktail and mocktail mixers.
  • OBA-AI streamlines insurance claims by instantly assessing auto damage through the use of AI and a computer vision model.
  • Spotted Yeti Media is a video marketing and production company.

Main Street Ventures