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Lightship Accelerator applications are now open in Cincinnati, OH!

As Lightship’s hometown and headquarters, it’s clear that we are really into Cincinnati!

With its strong business community, lower cost-of-living, central Midwest location, and fantastic support the city provides entrepreneurs, startups, and professionals– Cincinnati is becoming a relocation destination for founders and their small businesses nationwide. In fact, Cincy is #1 among Ohio cities for startup activity!

Cincinnati is also home to several Fortune 500 companies, including; Procter and Gamble, Kroger, Fifth Third Bank, Macy’s, American Financial, Western and Southern, and Cintas– along with three professional sports teams: Cincinnati Reds, Cincinnati Bengals, and FC Cincinnati– and the University of Cincinnati, one of the highest rated public institutions in Ohio.

Cincy’s appeal to entrepreneurs and investors is also part of a region-wide performance-based fact, simply stated: the Midwest is out here winning!

Meet us in the Midwest…

Currently, four states—California, New York, Texas, and Massachusetts control 80% of venture capital dollars. Yet, investors and startups are moving away from traditional funding meccas in record numbers, attracted by the lower cost of operations and apparent opportunity between coasts— where entrepreneurial ecosystems are beginning to take root and develop. And with the region’s venture-backed startup exit valuations outpacing their coastal counterparts— despite the fact they receive less than half the funding— Midwestern startups are on fire, turning underfunded innovations into V.C. wins.

The rapid development and adoption of remote communication and collaboration platforms due to the COVID-19 pandemic continue to eliminate logistical challenges that precluded coastal investors and capital-seeking startups from looking to cities like Cincinnati.

And while Cincy is still early in its ecosystem development, as the US transitions toward a global service economy based on technological entrepreneurship, the trend toward opportunities for startups in Cincinnati to turn locally developed entrepreneurial enterprises into national and global success stories, is picking up pace.

We know ecosystem building is a collaborative effort, so Lightship partners with Cincinnati-based corporations, foundations, and universities to implement programming and facilitate partnership opportunities for local entrepreneurs.

Lightship is partnered with fellow impact-focused organizations in Ohio that are working to bridge the gap between minority-led high-growth startups and meaningful opportunities, including:

  • Jobs Ohio: JobsOhio offers solutions for companies and Ohioans that enable economic prosperity across the state from grants, buildings, talent, and more

  • Ohio Third Frontier: Ohio Third Frontier is an internationally recognized, technology-based economic development initiative that is successfully changing the trajectory of Ohio’s economy. Third Frontier works with innovative startup companies across the state, making Ohio the destination for technology entrepreneurs. This robust network of resources from talent, funding, education, and more

  • Startup Cincy: Cincinnati has a rich ecosystem of accelerators, incubators, and angel investors actively looking to work with startups like yours. Explore the list of Cincinnati’s startup resources.

  • Black Tech Week: Black Tech Week is an inclusive ecosystem-building experience driven by the community and corporate collaboration. BTW connects investors, entrepreneurs, tech professionals, and creatives across five days of curated content, meaningful connection, and incredible energy. Lightship hosted the completely re-branded and enhanced Black Tech Week experience in Cincinnati, Ohio, July 18-22, 2022, including entrepreneur education workshops, panels, roundtable discussions, a career fair, and a stellar keynote conversation featuring Serena Williams. Sign up for updates for 2023!

  • Main Street Ventures: Main Street Ventures’ funding programs support local entrepreneurs in the idea/prototype and revenue stages with equity-free business startup funding rather than traditional investments.

  • Cintrifuse: Cincinnati’s startup ecosystem is home to dozens of accelerators, incubators, and angel investors actively looking for startups like yours. Cintrifuse’s network of subject matter experts, strategic partner agencies, and ecosystem stakeholders are excited to work with you as your ideas grow.

These groups help us successfully execute our programming and mission in Cincinnati and add value to the Ohio Startup Ecosystem.

Build your business in Cincinnati

Join us in growing Cincinnati’s amazing FOC (Founder of Color) led innovation economy by building your business here! You can start by applying for the Lightship Accelerator, where we offer companies led by FOC, women, and LGBTQ+ founders the following:

  • Up to $500k investments for companies operating in CPG, E-Commerce, Sustainability, Artificial Intelligence, and Health-Tech spaces

  • Two 6-week sessions of education and project sprints to take their business to the next level.

For program details and to apply— follow us here, email us any questions at!

Accelerator Application:

See you in Cincy!

The Team at Lightship 🌊

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