Western & Southern: Celebrating Cincinnati Startups

Western & Southern: Celebrating Cincinnati Startups

“Historically, our region has been built on and benefited from the good work of entrepreneurs,” says John F. Barrett, Western & Southern Financial Group’s CEO. “We have a long and proud history of innovation that has helped drive Cincinnati’s economic growth.”

Each year, the most innovative Cincinnatians in the business sector are honored by Western & Southern, the Entrepreneurs’ Organization of Cincinnati and Venue Magazine with the John F. Barrett Entrepreneur Vision Award.

Mahendra Vora and his company, Ascendum Solutions, received the award in 2021.

“Ascendum’s efforts to continue innovating and launching new digital products truly embody the entrepreneurial vision and spirit that inspired the award and are an important part of Cincinnati’s DNA,” says Barrett. “Individually and collectively, the cutting-edge work of all of our past winners continues to advance Cincinnati’s leadership as a hub for innovation.”

In the IT industry, Ascendum provides a number of services that include developing mobile and desktop software and constructing back-end database and QA systems. 

“At Ascendum, we partner with corporations and brands in any industry to help them realize a full digital transformation,” says Vora. “We operate as an extension of their business and offer a full range of services to help them truly realize their digital-first initiatives.”

Vora found that working in information technology has allowed him to explore the different professional sectors that he was drawn to.

“Due to my interests across many industries from health care to retail and a deep belief that innovation is a way to make a difference, I dug into IT because I believe it can truly transform any industry,” says Vora. “IT helps improve consumer lives, makes corporate work more productive and can change the world.

“In fact, I switched from studying medicine to computer science early on in my career. But because of this life choice, today I enjoy working with multiple companies in health care, retail and finance.”

The John F. Barrett Entrepreneur Vision Award celebrates businesspeople like Vora who have many of the admirable qualities it takes to get a business off the ground.

“To be successful, entrepreneurs have to have two things — vision and grit,” says Barrett. “Starting up and running a business is not for the faint at heart. You have to have a good business plan incorporating your vision and the resources and networking to help get things off the ground.

“But you also have to have that innate ability to stick to it and weather any storm — no matter what comes your way.”

Vora is appreciative of all the encouragement he’s received from Barrett over the years.

“For the past 30 years, John has been a huge motivator for many of us growing in the city,” says Vora. “He leads by example and is a humble man. It’s truly inspiring. His lifelong commitment to our community to foster innovation, entrepreneurship and the growth of our region is obvious through his personal efforts and programs.”

Ascendum now has offices in India, the U.K. and Australia, but they continue to keep their headquarters in Blue Ash. 

“Greater Cincinnati has so much to offer and is a great place to set up a business,” explains Vora. “We can build in a very capital-efficient manner with a great work/life balance and there’s a loyal, dedicated workforce here. I made a choice to build an IT business in Cincinnati when almost every one of my colleagues moved to the California Bay Area. It did take some time, but it has definitely worked out.”

Barrett also sees Cincinnati as an ideal metropolitan area to grow a business.

“We have a tremendously robust support system for entrepreneurs,” explains Barrett. “Accelerators, incubators, angel groups, investors, university programs — you name it, we have it. Truly a full support system.

“However, we must attract several more Fortune 500 companies to bring more people to our city and further fuel our growth and vitality while continuing to develop our flourishing

entrepreneurial community.

“All along the way, entrepreneurs have been and continue to be vital to our region’s ability to adapt, grow and succeed. It should not and will not stop.”

Nominations for the 2022 John F. Barrett Entrepreneur Vision Award can be submitted through July 22 at venuecincinnati.com.

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