Ohio Venture - OVA Review Newsletter
News from the Ohio Venture Association meeting on January 8, 2013

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Keynote Address:

Foodie'nomics: Trends in Northeast Ohio's Food and Agri "Culture"

Moderator:

  • Bob Cohen, CEO
    Braintree Business Development Center

Panelists:

  • David Moss, Co-Founder & Chief Marketing Officer
    Emerging Chefs
  • Steve Schimoler, Chef/Owner
    Crop Bistro & Bar
  • Keith Pabley, Founder
    Good Greens
  • Tom Lix, Founder
    Cleveland Whiskey

OVA meetings are generally dominated by heavy subjects. They tend to cover innovations in advanced energy, medical devices and procedures or big data. But in January the group took a different tack, to focus on emerging trends in a very different area—the food and agricultural scene in Northeast Ohio.

After all, as moderator Bob Cohen, of the Braintree Business Development Center, noted, "Whether it's food processing or agribusiness, beverage, hospitality, even things like pet foods—most of us don't realize what a big business sector this really is. A lot of times we think that commodity agricultural products are something that takes place west of here, and food processing as something that takes place east of here. And world-renowned chefs and restaurants as something that takes place far from here. But in reality, all of this takes place right here in Northeast Ohio."

Steve Schimoler, owner of Crop Bistro, noted how the popular restaurant in the West Side Market neighborhood is the culmination of his long career in the food industry. He spent several years with Nestle, the world's largest food company, and Sysco, the largest food distributor.

"So I look at the food business a little differently. CROP began as an acronym. It stands for Custom Restaurant Operations Platform. I had gotten into the product development business and food science side of the business, and while I was living in Vermont, had a test kitchen and laboratory. We had corporate jets flying in from all over, and we would conduct innovation sessions, where we'd blue-sky things, and come up with ideas for McDonald's, Red Lobster, Nestle, etc. We would come up with these ideas, and then bring them to life as prototypes in our test kitchen and lab. But what we were missing was a real-time venue for integrating these concepts for validation."

Thus Crop was created. "After I left Nestle, I decided that the restaurant would be an extension of the product development business. That is really how the name CROP evolved."

Keith Pabley said he founded Good Greens, a maker of health bars and other health foods, with a simple idea. "Our philosophy is simple: we eat good, we feel good and we do good. We do all those things as a core culture."This year alone, he said, "we've donated $20,000 to charity...like many young entrepreneurs today, we feel we have a social responsibility to make sure that we're not only putting out a good product but also making a difference in the community."

But he added that it isn't a "me-too" product. "We don't go to category managers and say, ‘we're the next power bar.'"Instead, they work with local distribution channels, using data strategically. "The great thing about working with local companies like Heinen's is that they give you great data. They say, ‘you know what, Keith? 50% of people buy your product once, but 49% try it again and buy it repeatedly.' That's extraordinary for a new product. So we're actually adding to the category. We're actually functional foods, which is what nutritional people and scientists call it. Foods that give your body nutritional value, but also some health benefits as well."

David Moss of Emerging Chefs is trying to build a foodie live event and content company around the exploding regional culinary scene. "We know that Cleveland has become, if not a top ten, then at least a top 20 place for foodie culture."

Tom Lix, of Cleveland Whiskey, may not be focusing on nutritional value quite so much, but he is working on revolutionizing his niche. Lix and his team are developing a patented process for pressure-aging distilled spirits, thus quickening the aging process, to meet the mounting worldwide demand. He said the company came upon some interesting findings while researching possible names for its product.

"We did a lot of research on what to call our products. And of course the name 'Cleveland' scored best in the Cleveland metropolitan region, in terms of most likely to buy. But it also scored best in Boston, in Atlanta, in Dallas, in Seattle, in Los Angeles. And when we asked them in the open-ended part of this, people said it was because the Cleveland brand was edgy, it was creative, it was hard-working and earthy. That it had the right attitude they wanted in a new whiskey," he said. "I like to say that Cleveland isn't just a geography. Cleveland is an attitude and it is going national."

More information:

Webcast from the Meeting:

Click on the image below to view the entire presentation as video.

Video Webcast from Recent Meeting
Webcasts produced by Tom Kondilas.

OVA's New Video Archive is Online:

OVA is pleased to have recently added an archive of program videos to its website. You'll find the full video record of most OVA formal programs since 2008 at www.ohioventure.org/video-archive.html.

Upcoming Meeting Dates:

  • March 1, 2013
    Venture Summit VIII
  • April 12, 2013
    Baiju Shah
    CEO, BioMotiv
  • June 14, 2013
    Venture of the Year

See complete details and registration for these events.
 

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