Story excerpt provided by Fresh Water Cleveland
Written by Lee Chilcote
Mark Woodka, founder and CEO of the software company Onshift, has raised more than $8 million in venture capital funding since he first launched his startup in 2008. That’s hardly unusual for this serial entrepreneur, who has created and sold two successful companies, TMW Systems and Flashline, in the past 15 years.
What’s different this time, however, is that much of Onshift’s funding has come from Northeast Ohio-based venture capital firms. That’s a world of difference from just a few years ago, when Woodka looked to investors in Pittsburgh and New York City for capital.
“I was pleasantly surprised to find that when Onshift came about, the ecosystem was there for financing,” says Woodka, who expects to hire his 50th employee this year. Onshift provides scheduling and shift management software for nursing homes, ensuring efficient staffing levels at a time of rising costs and health care reform. “Venture capital firms say the deal flow coming across their desks is strong.”
Lynn-Ann Gries, Chief Investment Officer for the nonprofit economic development organization JumpStart Inc., says that the success of companies like Onshift is the culmination of more than a decade of hard work. Ohio Third Frontier, a state effort which provides funding for early stage companies and the entrepreneurial support organizations that service them, has successfully attracted investment, she says.
“Until 2000-2002, there were very few companies being created from scratch,” explains Gries, citing the support that JumpStart and other groups provide to startups as one reason behind the big increase. “There’s just so much more happening here now.”
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