Entrepreneurs, Funders, Mentors, Connect At Northeast Exposition

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More than 100 exhibitors -- mostly IT or business-consumer product companies – showcased their services and wares in the hopes of attracting backers willing to fund the next stage of development.

A curious gray bag – similar to a large whoopee cushion -- sat on one table, where Mayank Saksena talked up its potential for filling in potholes. In short, the fluid inside the bag turns into a solid when heavy pressure is placed on it.

Saksena is co-founder of HolePatch, and says they’ve finally got enough money to test their invention:

“The goal over next winter, is to really put hundreds of these bags out on the roads in Cleveland, in Chicago, and Boston, and many major cities," says Saksena. "And to test them over the course of the entire winter season to see how they perform in the long run.”

Saksena says more money can help with further research and development, and eventually production and promotion.

Meanwhile, Apryl Beverly sat at the booth for Bad Girl Ventures, a microloan organization with offices in Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati. She’s taking a 9-week business program, with chances of scoring a $25,000 loan for BAAB -- her writing and marketing company -- when finished.

“Women business owners definitely struggle trying to find funding for their businesses, so this organization is so very necessary and critical to our success," says Beverly. "Since arriving in Cleveland, the organization has facilitated $135,000 in loans for women entrepreneurs, and the program has also helped women business owners find an additional $700,000 in funding for their businesses.”

Jumpstart – an entrepreneurial company based in northeast Ohio – helped organize the expo and tracks investment trends. A spokeswoman says this past year’s level of investment is back to pre-recession levels, to the tune of $259 million invested in tech startups, mostly in IT and healthcare.

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