Startups in Columbus, Ohio are thriving and hiring

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City Spotlight: Columbus

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Amid a wave of tech layoffs across the country, tech hubs like Columbus, Ohio are still growing and hiring for the future.

There’s little doubt Columbus, Ohio is becoming one of the fastest growing technology centers not only in the Midwest, but in the nation. And along with this, there are problems with finding and hiring the right workforce. Now in 2022, Columbus is a growing ecosystem of tech talent, startup professionals, active venture capital firms, and Silicon Valley expats.

Like its Midwestern neighbors, Columbus began as a major manufacturing center in the early 20th century. To this day, Ohio is still home to most of the nation’s manufacturing jobs, but over the years, the Columbus economy has shifted towards financial institutions, large retailers, and healthcare companies.

Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Columbus’s population largely matched that of the United States, and the city became known as a test market for new products. This attitude to new things, and the experience of the Fortune 1000 community (such as JP Morgan Chase, Nationwide, State Farm, Cardinal Health, and L Brands) have created a fertile environment for startups, especially in fintech and insurance technology.

In the 2010s, key players entered the scene. Founded in 2011, JobsOhio, one of the nation’s leading economic development organizations, is committed to promoting job creation and new investment in Ohio. And in 2013, two former Sequoia investors moved out of Silicon Valley to bet on Columbus. Mark Kvamme and Chris Olsen founded Drive Capital, a venture capital firm that recognizes all the opportunities that lie between the coasts.

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Drive Capital now manages $1.2 billion, has twelve partners, receives interest from 7,000 startups each year, and has stakes in some of the biggest players in the Midwest startup and technology scene. Olive, Drive’s first investment, is a healthcare AI startup now valued at $4 billion.

Since then, Columbus has evolved into a startup city with new funding opportunities, top engineering talent from seasoned industries as well as local universities (the biggest being Ohio State University) and a lot of excitement from big startup wins. After the acquisition of CoverMyMeds by McKesson Corp. in 2017 for $1.4 billion (the first exit from Central Ohio worth more than $1 billion), Columbus officially appeared on the map as a serious startup ecosystem.

“This is the start of a wave,” Mark Kvamme said of the startup ecosystem during the 2021 Purpose Jobs State of the Columbus Startup Community event.

Funding in Columbus

One of the easiest metrics to identify a successful startup hub is funding, and Columbus has three huge factors in investing in the startup ecosystem. There’s the previously mentioned Drive Capital, a venture capital firm that has invested over a billion dollars in some of the region’s biggest startups: Olive, Root, Beam Dental, and others, including Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based Duolingo.

There’s also Rev1, a Columbus-based VC studio focused on developing a holistic innovation economy. They help major Columbus corporations innovate as well as invest in startups like Updox, Myonexus and ScriptDrop. Rev1 has helped launch over 150 startups, invested in over 300 companies, and supported over 70 successful exits. The third major player in the Columbus ecosystem is Jobs Ohio and the OneColumbus team. As an economic development organization, JobsOhio has been instrumental in bringing major technology companies to Columbus as well as supporting local companies. JobsOhio’s investment helped position Columbus as a major technology hub and ensure its success.

2021 was a year of rapid growth and massive funding for Columbus startups. Here are a few highlights:

Startup Unicorn Olive raised an additional $400 million last year, bringing its total funding to over $856 million.
Path Robotics has raised $156 million, expanded its Columbus office and announced it will create 140 jobs.
Lower raised $100 million in Series A funding, a significant amount for any Series A round, as well as the largest amount in Ohio history.
Beam Dental, an insurance company and toothbrush manufacturer, raised $80 million in March 2021, bringing their total funding to almost $170 million.
Emerging artificial intelligence startup Aware raised $60 million last October in a Series C funding round and is rapidly recruiting.

And 2022 is no exception. Columbus startups continue to receive major funding rounds this year. HomeTown Ticketing recently raised $75M, and former CoverMyMeds co-founder and CEO Matt Scantland launched AndHealth, raising $57M.

Who is hiring

Many Columbus tech companies are hiring local talent for open positions. Companies like Veeva, Aware and Path Robotics have invested in beautiful Columbus offices and are looking for people to join them. And, of course, there are tech companies Columbus who are hiring remotely while keeping their office for anyone who wants to be there.

Here is where you can get involved:

Veeva Systems — helping the life sciences industry get medicines to people faster

  • Software engineering
  • Social media manager
  • Validation Leads

Aware – building artificial intelligence tools to help companies be more responsive

  • Product design
  • Product Marketing
  • Engineering

Root – fair auto insurance rates based on how people actually drive

  • Application Development
  • Design
  • engineering guidance

Provide – helping medical professionals achieve their dreams of owning their own practice

  • Engineering
  • financial leadership
  • Analysts

T-SETRA – bridging the digital divide for the poor

  • Software engineering

Below – make home ownership more accessible through a one-stop shop for home buying

  • Software engineers
  • Credit consultants
  • Data Engineers
  • Designers
  • Technical recruiters

To view these tech jobs and more, check out the Purpose Jobs community in Columbus.

Silicon Valley chooses Columbus

For the past decade, Columbus has been home to major tech affiliates Meta, Amazon, and Google. Life sciences industry Microsoft Veeva Systems also selected Columbus for its 2018 expansion. Kathryn Allshaus, global CIO and head of Veeva’s cloud operations, led the company’s expansion in Columbus.

“When Veeva was looking for a second US headquarters, we looked at over 15 cities. We chose Columbus for three main reasons: innovation and energy, the flow of talent, and a community of people who share our values. Columbus has seen a high level of vibrant innovation and entrepreneurship, creating a startup culture that is creative and fast-paced,” Allshaus told Purpose Jobs.

More recently, Intel made headlines not only in Columbus, but throughout the country. Earlier this year, Intel announced a historic $20 billion investment to build a pair of semiconductor manufacturing plants near Columbus. It is Ohio’s largest economic development project of all time, and has received recognition from President Biden in recent speeches.

Not only Silicon Valley companies choose Columbus, but also many professionals. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many to rethink how and where they live, and many have moved away from the traditional technology hubs of coastal cities. Those who returned to their Midwestern roots, the boomerangs, found amazing technological opportunities, significantly lower cost of living, and higher standards of living.

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