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8Qs with a Silicon Prairie Founder: Summer Crenshaw

VentureOhio, an organization dedicated to improving access to capital, fostering collaboration and telling Ohio’s story of entrepreneurship, recently announced Ohio’s most promising startup companies with the inaugural Startup Showcase.

Through a competitive nomination process, VentureOhio identified 50 pre-seed to growth stage companies most primed for success in 2018 and beyond. Nominees of The Watchlist will be attending the inaugural Startup Showcase on September 13 at COSI, followed by the fifth-annual VentureDinner.

Summer Crenshaw, COO and co-founder of tilr

“VentureOhio is thrilled to debut The Watchlist, and the Startup Showcase, to honor these amazing startups that embody all the great things about Ohio’s entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said VentureOhio CEO Falon Donohue. “Based on the quality of the submissions, all stakeholders—entrepreneurs, investors, governments, higher education institutions—should be excited about the startup business climate in the state.”

Nominations for The Watchlist were sourced from the entrepreneurial community at large. The pool was then ranked by a panel of judges, including representation from the VentureOhio board of directors, along with more than 20 venture capitalists, angel investors, and technologists.

SPN caught up with nominee Summer Crenshaw, COO and co-founder of tilr, the first true algorithmic hiring solution. As COO and acting CMO, Summer leads with a strategic efficiency that manifests in employee and customer delight, while simultaneously driving tilr’s transmedia and communication strategies.

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SPN: How did you get started in your industry?
SC: At the start of my career, I had the drive to work in the entertainment industry, specifically in marketing and public relations. I had the opportunity to work with an amazing company in New York City, working for major record labels and movies houses. I needed to move back home to Cincinnati to be with family, so the next area I wanted to venture into was the tech space. In 2003, I started working for a startup called Careerbuilder.com, which grew to a household name over the years within the HR tech space.

SPN: Is/was your job what you thought you would be doing when you were a child?
SC: I always knew I want to make a difference in the lives of those I around me. I saw the plight of the working poor. I personally grew up in a trailer park. My mother was a waitress, father worked hard in a local steel mill. My friends’ parents were lucky to have jobs. I consistently heard how hard it was to find work or make a living wage. So, it stuck with me. tilr is my way to change the trajectory of how people find work. I knew I would be an entrepreneur because even at a young age, I knew that was the best way to make an impact.

SPN: What are you building right now? Why is it important to you?
SC: Currently we are building a new white label version of our initial platform. This will allow us to expand our reach to reallocating talent within organizations.

SPN: What is your favorite thing that you have ever built? Why was it your favorite?
SC: So many amazing things business related––but my favorite thing ever is the first lego set with my son. Batman mobile. Such a memorable time with him.

SPN: If you could improve one thing about your job or the place that you live, what would the change be?
SC: For entrepreneurs in Cincinnati, I wish I could change access to capital in a more meaningful way, especially for those seeking funds beyond their seed round.

SPN: Was there anything looking back that you would do differently?
SC: I don’t believe we fail, I believe we learn. There are areas I would have like to test longer, but there is no substitution for the learning we have in the moment.

SPN: What could the SPN community do to help you succeed?
SC: Continue to be a tribe to support entrepreneurs like myself. Being a startup outside the coasts come with opportunities and challenges. The biggest advantage is the desire for fellow entrepreneurs to support one another. Collaborate and be a resource in areas that you may have already learned lessons.

SPN: If you could ask these questions to anyone, who would it be?
SC: I would love to see this asked of the same person, just at different intervals in their entrepreneurial endeavor.

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