EDGE Fellow Success Stories

Numerous Northeast Ohio companies find great value through their participation

EDGE Fellows help business leaders focus on new opportunities by providing quality primary research, data analysis, a comprehensive report and recommendations as part of a proven program that helps companies capitalize on growth opportunities.

  • 2007-2021: 191 students have vetted 98 new business opportunities.
  • Over 50% of ideas studied have resulted in new investment within 2+ years.
  • 36 of 98 projects (~37%) have come from repeat leaders or companies.
  • Identifying and training a select group of graduate-level students as over 60% choose to stay and work in Northeast Ohio following graduation.
  • Contributing Support from Burton D. Morgan Foundation, Fasenmyer Fund, Harvard Business School Club of Northeast Ohio and participating companies.

Here is a look back at EDGE Fellow Program Successes (one per class):

2007: Flavorseal was created – using flavor sheets to provide consistent seasoning and appearance of food. With 50-100 employees; sold to private equity. Crain’s 

2008: Provided Kichler Lighting a wholesale strategy for overstocked lighting supplies – helping Kichler to grow to $450M and sell to private equity for $550M. Crain’s

2009: Demonstrated market feasibility for NewPort Tank to use food grade liners – allowing the use of one shipping container for both chemicals and food.

2010: Helped Parker Hannifin validate opportunities in water purification markets.

2011: Helped CardinalCommerce identify new ways to add value with electronic payment validation. The company sold to Visa in 2016. Crain’s

2012: Targeted markets and value proposition for Tesla Nanocoatings (an early stage co.) to grow more rapidly; in 2017 – roughly $40M – $50M in annual sales. Crain’s

2013: Validated market for Gebauer to provide medical-device product in single-use and single-patient packaging, leading to significant year-over-year growth.

2014: Provided Innovative Medical Equipment (IME) valuable research data, which led to investments from both the Third Frontier Fund and private investors. Now serving heating, cooling and pain reduction in healthcare markets with rapid growth.

2015: Confirmed market for Aexcel Corp. to create a bio-based paint and coating made from soybeans. Hired Fellow Chris Hren to launch. Significant growth in sales.

2016: Using data analytics, identified opportunities for PartsSource to increase customer spend and improve search conversion with online platform – resulting in $250K+ in savings and hundreds of thousands more in opportunities.

2017: Validated market and identified supply chain opportunities for a manufacturing company to generate new revenue selling colorants to rockeries and rock mines to color stones for landscaping design markets.

2018: Helped early-stage biomedical company working with bio-inks and 3D printing to identify market opportunities and valuable industry partnerships to understand go-to-market strategies and timelines for industry adoption.

2019: Local construction company explored expanding into new Columbus markets and the Fellows team developed a prioritized strategy.  The company created a new business development position and hired one of the Fellows to implement the plan.

2020: A local manufacturing company needed help exploring both new sales opportunities as well as potential acquisition targets to help the company grow in a consolidating market.  The Fellows research provided several options for the company to pursue which will accelerate their overall sales efforts.

2021: Fellows helped a local software company assess and validate opportunities for a marketing and CRM Tool (SaaS) to serve the U.S. Automotive Dealership Market. Company plans to double sales in the next 12-24 months.

Additional Success Stories:

Malish (Mentor) – Fellows validated new market opportunities and actionable steps for a nearly 80-year-old growth-oriented brush manufacturing company that has been working in a highly mature industry.

A Manufacturing Company in Mentor was interested in seeing how it could take its existing 80+-year-old business to find new revenue generating opportunities. By the end of the summer, EDGE Fellows identified two very promising opportunities, including partnering with other NE Ohio companies in need of manufacturing outsourcing and identifying a $50M – $100M emerging market as well as partners and recommendations for entering as a leader in this field.

Ashtabula Rubber Company identified new ways to reuse and recycle, providing opportunities for significant reduction of waste and new revenue opportunities.

Parker Hannifin/Parflex has successfully entered the medical device and catheter markets as a direct result of student research efforts.

Mold Masters International (Mentor) wanted to explore opportunities to diversify its product lines and potentially enter into the burgeoning medical device industry. EDGE Fellows explored possible industry partners and opportunities — which resulted in a new sale before the end of their project.

Orbital Research (Cleveland) wanted to assess markets for monitoring fitness and training programs to understand where their technology stood currently and where future opportunities lay. In just a year, Orbital Research renegotiated contracts and explored new, promising markets in consumer electronics as a direct result of the EDGE Fellows research.

According to Tony Opperman, Director of Business Development: “The EDGE Fellows’ attention to detail and thorough analysis led to their creation of several valuable reports for the company. They were able to identify competitors we had not considered and find evidence of market needs. Several times the information they gathered was used in delivering reports to our customers.”

Contact Chris Keller, chris@edgef.org, EDGE Fellows Program Director, to learn more.