CLEVELAND, January 11, 2019
by Michael C. DeAloia, cleveland.com
Sometimes the best startups can be found in the most unusual places. There's a great bastion of entrepreneurial spirit in the hinterlands of Ohio and that's where one particular tech company is solving a staffing problem in the medical field.
Startups in the Hinterland. When one typically thinks of Mansfield, entrepreneurship does not immediately come to mind. It's a Rust Belt city with a rural economy. But as Bob Cohen, executive director of Braintree will quickly note, "The entrepreneurial spirit is strong in Mansfield."
Braintree is a regional non-profit incubator and citadel of entrepreneurial thought. Cohen became executive director in 2004 and has grown the footprint, relevance and influence of the organization.
The organization was launched 30 years ago in an abandoned grocery warehouse on the outskirts of town. It was a joint project of the City of Mansfield and Richland County as a way to spark entrepreneurialism. Since its inception, the incubator has helped more than 100 startup companies, and focuses on advanced manufacturing, alternative energy, IT, bioscience and agriculture. Braintree has expanded from its humble origins in Mansfield to now include Canton, as well.
Next year, Braintree will move into a new space in the Mansfield area. The new incubation model going forward will require less space. The new software companies simply do not have the large appetite for space as some of the past manufacturing start-ups Braintree once focused heavily upon. Space was the big requirement of Braintree past portfolio companies like Midwest Aircraft Products (aviation manufacturing), Goyal Industries (passenger rail components), Greywacke Engineering (defense contractor) and Hess Industries (software intensive tool & die company).
The new incubation model has to fit a company such as Localynx, an app company that only needs a few desks, chairs and abundant wireless Internet. Software companies need the flexibility to stay in a space for short periods of time, while the manufacturing companies needed significant space to operate for longer time periods.
The Canton Braintree operation was launched in 2015 and it offers flexible office space geared toward software companies. This facility has done so well that Cohen is now scrambling for larger space. And hopes to have a new Braintree office ready sometime next year.
But Braintree is not just about space. It is a gateway to capital that could be invaluable to a raw tech startup. Braintree offers TechSprout (grant program to help with commercialization), Appleseed Microfinance (a loan fund) and access to the Innovation Fund (a regional investment fund) to its fledgling companies.
Braintree has funded 12 companies through these programs and is currently incubating 15 companies in its two locations.
Cohen has been instrumental in developing a strong slate of events for the Braintree community as well. Caffeinated Ideas is a brainstorming session over many cups of java. Entrepreneurs will talk through an idea they have and receive feedback from other attendees. Another event, Sundown Rundown, connects investors, mentors and talent through pitch events. This affair hones the entrepreneur's presentation skills to be precise, quick but informative.
Braintree is defying its age and reinventing itself to accommodate the times. It's a reflection upon the fresh entrepreneurial spirit that can be found in abundance in the hinterlands of Ohio. And is a great testament to the organization serving these noble souls.
Going to a Hyr level. Local serial entrepreneur Manoj Jhaveri is at it again. Recently, Jhaveri, and his merry band of cohorts, launched Hyr Medical in Highland Heights. The company seeks to solve the locum tenans inefficiencies in medical staffing. Locum tenens is a Latin phrase that means "to hold the place of, to substitute for."
In medical staffing, it represents an independent doctor assuming extra hours in a hospital system in which he or she does not have an affiliation. It is not uncommon for a physician to take extra shifts at other hospitals a few times a month. Currently, the only way to find a physician for these additional turns is through a locum agency. This agency is a third-party recruiter between the doctor and the hospital system. This appears to be an inefficient way to staff physicians, not to mention the agency typically charges a 50-100 percent markup on the hourly rate for the doctor.
Hyr Medical has created an online marketplace that compresses the communications between doctor and hospital. The company's platform includes an algorithm that sets the rate between the two parties. The end result - the docs make more per hour and the hospital pays less - and Hyr makes a modest margin.
To date, the company has raised $100,000 but will soon seek $500,000 in growth capital. It will soon complete its Minimum Viable Product (MVP) with the help and development support of Lean Dog, a Cleveland -based software developer. Beta product is to be launched sometime this month (June). Recently, the company hired a full-time CTO to aid in development.
Hyr Medical recently won third place in the recent Medical Capital Innovation Competition. This Cleveland-based competition had nearly 200 companies from across the United States apply and more than 25 companies pitched.
According to Jhaveri, "It was a very humbling experience. We have received fantastic support from the region and are fortunate to have a great team of advisors, partners and investors.