They strive to be the socially unassuming point guard for the Cincinnati tech startup community, one fun and friendly morning event at a time.

JoeThirty. Breakfast Club. 

These are two of the spirited monthly pitch events where the volunteer-based Greater Cincinnati Venture Association (GCVA) captures the current wave of high-tech entrepreneurial creativity flowing through Greater Cincinnati. The GCVA takes pride in its in-person brand that exemplifies promotional and educational programming for technology startups, is free (or heavily discounted) and experiential. And the GCVA is adamant about partnering with other organizations, steadfast in its belief that Cincinnati has all the resources it requires to be the Midwest’s No. 1 startup destination. 

“Our programming content is always focused on technology startups, but as a ‘front-door organization,’ our events welcome entrepreneurs, investors, service providers and general fans of #StartupCincy,” says Kevin Mackey, GCVA president. “Our leadership is comprised of volunteers from startups and startup-focused organizations. We’re all giving our time, and our focus is completely external.” 

 Each member of the leadership team is so passionate about what they do during their day job that the verve and excitement can’t help but resonate throughout their before- and after-work volunteer events. 

“The sense of community here is so strong and growing,” Mackey says. “What we do is really just guide things, recognizing the people who are doing good things, bringing them together, educating.”

The GCVA morning events are held at a different venue each month. Learning mixed with levity. And here, generally speaking, is what goes on:

JoeThirty (Second Wednesday of each month, 8 a.m.) – A lively back-and-forth conversation between one tech startup founder and members of the tech startup community, offering said founder an opportunity to share three pre-identified needs. 

Breakfast Club – Four startups have a chance to pitch a local audience in a “Demo Day”- style experience. This event provides local startup enthusiasts a convening spot while giving startups an opportunity for pitch practice and exposure. 

GCVA Recognizes – Might be an awards show. Possibly a celebratory dinner. Maybe a blog article. Always something different, but guaranteed to showcase the people doing significant things and exciting new products. GCVA hosted its first “GCVA Recognizes” Awards at TedXCincinnati in June.

What’s up next for GCVA?

Bounty Days – GCVA will work with local technology startups to identify specific problems in their code and will offer “bounties” – in this case, specific challenges that, if solved effectively, will receive cash rewards. 

“We will have a preliminary event in September with local CTOs, describing what it takes to be a technology CTO,” says Mackey.

It’s the perfect lead-in to October Bounty Fortnight where coders can solve “bounties” from 10 local startup CTOs. And this culminates with the grand Bounty Week Finale, to be held during Compare, when local CTOs will award the winners.

Olivier Lemaitre, co-founder and chief executive officer at Atumsoft, describes the GCVA as a vital part of the #StartupCincy ecosystem. 

“We participated in Breakfast Club, a pitch event, which was a great opportunity for us and three other startups to get feedback and build relationships with investors and advisors,” he says. “My co-founder and I also volunteered for GCVA’s ‘Recognizes’ event, which spotlighted people and products doing great things in the community. It’s always great to meet new people interested in #StartupCincy through GCVA.”

By the people, for the people. That’s how GCVA rolls.


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