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Hottest startups in town for Techstars Startup Week: How to go

Techstars Startup Week Dayton begins June 11. As in previous years, the idea behind the week is simple: Network, find customers and get answers.

Now in its third year, the week features five days of panels and networking at the newly remodeled Steam Plant, 617 E. Third St., Dayton.

There will be chances to learn about capital, marketing, sales, bank loans, tax strategies and more.

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“Startup week really began for us as a way of creating more momentum for our startup community,” said Tiffany Ferrell, co-creator of Dayton Tech Guide and a co-founder of the event. “We wanted our would-be entrepreneurs to have an opportunity to learn from and connect with seasoned entrepreneurs.”

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There will be information that will help a variety of businesses, but the common denominator here will be technology-oriented businesses in their early stages.

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“A lot of the foundational work that needs to be done is all based on the same kind of stuff,” Ferrell said. “There are so many different topics that are just universal across the spectrum for business owners.”

Scott Koorndyk, president of The Entrepreneurs Center in Dayton, said the event is on its way to pulling in 700 people.

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“We want to showcase and highlight the growing entrepreneurial culture in Dayton,” he said. “If you think about numbers, the first startup week (drew) about 300 or so.”

New companies participate because the event offers something, Koorndyk. But there are also new companies being created all the time, he said.

“Dayton is a community that is absolutely chock-full of talent,” he said.

“We’re a very bootstrap community,” Ferrell said.

Jeff Graley, co-founder and partner in Mile Two LLC, a Dayton-based software creator and human performance engineering company, said starting a business can be a lonely endeavor.

“It helps a lot with the loneliness of wondering, am I doing this right,” he said of the week’s events. “How are we doing compared to other folks? It takes the isolation away.”

While Dayton enjoys the presence of Ohio’s largest single-site employer, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, it doesn’t necessarily have the same “big business engagement” that startups in larger cities like Cincinnati and Columbus enjoy, Graley said.

“One of the things you see in the larger cities, in even a place like Cincinnati — Kroger, P&G, some of those larger foundational companies, those anchor corporations, are feeding the startup scene,” he said.

Bigger civilian companies often acquire technology developed by smaller, newer companies or at least present problems startups can attempt to solve, he said.

“One of the things I think is the next tipping point for Dayton is when those large corporations start to engage with the startups, to throw problems at them and have them fix those,” Graley said.

Ferrell said it helps that the Entrepreneurs Center was able to land “ESP” — Entrepreneurial Services Provider — status last year.

The Ohio Third Frontier Commission picked the center as the Dayton area’s ESP in March 2017. This award granted the center up to $6.1 million to support local tech startups.

While there are no official numbers on how many tech-focused startups are out there, the Dayton Tech Guide (found at Daytontechguide.com/) serves as a kind of roster of who’s who.

Today, about 100 companies are identified by the guide, well up from about 30 at the guide’s genesis in 2015.

“We’ve been able to keep a thumb on the pulse of the startup community,” Ferrell said.

For more information on the week, go to Dayton.startupweek.co/

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