A Surge of Startup Growth in the Midwest

Between lower costs of living, affordable tech talent and a growing number of investment opportunities, Midwestern cities are drawing venture capital.

For Chris Olsen, cofounder of Drive Capital in Columbus, that comes as no surprise.

“Moving to the Midwest dramatically increases most companies’ odds of success. And yes, people are really moving. In droves,” Olsen told Venture Beat.

He said he’s now giving the “opposite of the tried-and-true Silicon Valley location pitch” more often.

Ohio, in particular, has the highest growth of entrepreneurship in the Midwest, according to the Kauffman Index Growth of Entrepreneurship. Contributing to Ohio’s overall ranking, Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati are all ranked in the top 25 metropolitan areas for entrepreneurship growth.


“Moving to the Midwest dramatically increases most companies’ odds of success. And yes, people are really moving. In droves.”

— Chris Olsen, cofounder of Drive Capital


Additionally, the University of Dayton ranks as one of the top entrepreneurship programs in the country for 2018, jumping to the No. 11 spot nationally according to The Princeton Review. The school’s graduates have launched 122 companies and generated over $17 million in funding in the past decade. Core to this success is the real-world entrepreneurial experience of faculty and hands-on experience for students, according to Vincent Lewis, the director of Dayton’s L. William Crotty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership.

Students “don’t just read about starting a business,” Lewis said in a release. “You can take part in a venture capital fund or even lead a seven-figure student corporation…The entrepreneurial spirit is alive here and it’s growing."

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With MBA@Dayton, you will learn from University of Dayton faculty who are driving the Midwest’s entrepreneurial growth.

There are several reasons behind Ohio’s thriving entrepreneurship: It’s a research hub and home to 55 of the Fortune 1000 companies that often serve as investors or clients for startups.

Ohio’s business landscape and talent contributed to a shift in venture capital firms cropping up in — or even relocating to — the Midwest, proving that “…while the majority of the value in technology was built in Silicon Valley over the last 15 years, a disproportionate amount of the returns over the next 15 will be built elsewhere,” according to Olson.

In 2017 alone, Ohio raised $574.7 million in venture funding from a mix of in-state and out-of-state venture capital firms — signifying why Ohio startups have achieved more credibility and viability in the last several years.

Olson said Drive Capital has met with more than 7,000 entrepreneurs since its founding in 2013 and more than 3,500 new companies in the past year. Meanwhile, health care software startup CoverMyMeds — established in Columbus in 2008 — was recently acquired for $1.1 billion, making it “Central Ohio’s first $1B+ exit…[showing] how tech companies can grow and succeed in non-coastal cities,” according to Forbes.

As Ohio’s potential for startup growth increases, how does it compare to other large Midwestern states? Below, we take a closer look while examining how Ohio’s cities rate in key areas of entrepreneurship growth.

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MBA@Dayton: University of Dayton’s Online MBA

MBA@Dayton offers a traditional MBA and a one-year MBA option for students with an undergraduate background in business. Get started today!