Two YBI companies receive Innovation Fund awards

The Innovation Fund, in partnership with Youngstown State University, has announced a $125,000 investment for via680 and Campus Shift, two portfolio companies of the Youngstown Business Incubator.

The IF provided a $100,000 award to via680 to further develop their product, Ving, a web application that enables users to create multi-media communication packages with video, surveys and documents.  A Software as a Service (SaaS) product, Ving sends secure messages through email and provides reports that show if a message was received, read and understood. It improves customer and employee engagement and helps organizations reduce risk, increase revenues and reduce costs through effective communication.

The funding will specifically be used to create a market entry product that will drive accelerated growth in a global market. According to Tony DeAscentis, CEO of via680, “2012 has really kicked off strong for via680. We have an excellent team on board. Our business is growing and momentum is strong. Add to that this recognition by Innovation Fund and you’ll find this technology start up clearly pointed in the right direction”.

In addition, IF awarded $25,000 to Campus Shift for early stage development. Campus Shift offers a textbook search engine that allows students to compare textbook prices in real time, and arrange for a direct sale or swap.  Campus Shift also connects student populations to local businesses in order to keep them updated on special savings and events. According to Derek Haake, founder and CEO, “I founded Campus Shift because as a student, I was spending nearly $1,000 per semester on textbooks.  Campus Shift empowers students to take matters into their own hands and swap their books, saving them hundreds of dollars per year.”

Another company affiliated with YBI, Quixby, also received $25,000 in IF funding.  As a virtual portfolio company, Quixby receives support through the JumpStart Entrepreneurial Network, but is not physically located on the YBI campus.  YBI is a member of the JumpStart Entrepreneurial Network.

The Innovation Fund, founded by the Lorain County Community College Foundation in 2007, is supported and administered through a regional and state network of higher education, government and economic development partners to nurture a technology-based entrepreneurial environment for wealth creation and job growth in Northeast Ohio.  YBI and YSU are among the partners. As a partner, YSU provides direct financial support, as well as technical assistance to the Innovation Fund.

“We are proud to work in this unique program to boost entrepreneurship in northeast Ohio,” YSU President Cynthia E. Anderson said. “This is not only good for the economy, but the internships and other opportunities that it affords are good for our students as well. As an institution, YSU is proud to support our local businesses in other ways as well.  via680’s product is already being used on campus, and we look forward to developing a further relationship with Campus Shift when they are ready to advance.”

Barb Ewing, Chief Operating Officer of the YBI, added: “YBI is so grateful to YSU for their support for this incredibly important regional initiative. This is one of those instances where you can definitely say that the ‘whole is greater than the sum of the parts.’ If we are going to be able to continue to drive our economy forward, our region has to be able to tap into these types of resources. On behalf of YBI and all of our portfolio companies, I’d like to again thank the University, and offer congratulations to all our companies that successfully applied.  They are changing the face of community.”

About Youngstown State University
Youngstown State University is a comprehensive emerging urban research university that offers over 14,000 students more than 135 undergraduate and graduate programs backed by a strong tradition of teaching, scholarship and public service. As a major educational and economic development resource in the region, YSU is known for its focus on academic research and creative programs that transform its students into successful professionals, scholars and leaders. Located in the heart of the Tech Belt between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, YSU provides opportunities for students to actively participate with accomplished faculty, often in one-on-one settings, on advanced research and creative collaborations. The beautiful 145-acre campus includes high-tech classrooms, state-of-the-art labs and performance facilities, a variety of on-campus housing options and recreational facilities among the best in the nation.