Director of Engagement email@example.com
At Main Street Ventures (MSV), we strive to do one thing: Empower our next generation of entrepreneurs by helping provide capital, connections, and education to help them take their idea from dream to reality. But who are the individuals working behind the scenes to support our region’s startup and small business community?
Meet the people who look forward to meeting you at Main Street: Abby Ober, MSV Director of Engagement.
Q: When did you officially start working at Main Street Ventures (MSV)?
Ober: I started in Nov. 2021. I first heard about Main Street Ventures when they started their grant-giving program back in 2018. I have been working in the startup community since 2014, so I was so excited to see an organization putting money into the community this way!
I was ready for my next adventure and looking into different opportunities outside of the startup space. I met up with a board member from my first job out of college to catch up and he introduced me to Kelly Bonnell (the former Executive Director of MSV and current MSV Board President) thinking we would benefit from getting to know one another. They were just about to post a new role to expand the MSV team, so it came at the perfect time for both of us.
Q: Do you have any pets?
Ober: I have a dog, her name is Spencer and she is a Labrador and Australian Shepard that I adopted from the Stray Animal Adoption Program (SAAP) the weekend after my 30th birthday. It took me about three days to decide on a name for her, though – I was too indecisive! Then, as I was watching my favorite show, “Psych” –the main character's last name is Spencer – I just looked at her and said ‘Hmm … Spencer is perfect!’ I loved that name and I think it suits her well.
Q: How would you describe your role at MSV and how do you work with MSV Activators (those who have received grant funding from the organization)?
Ober: I am the Director of Engagement; I was brought on to create our support programming.
I created our Level Up Program which is the support, education, and connections piece that comes with being an Activator! Having worked in startup support in the Greater Cincinnati region for 10 years, my biggest goal for the program was to meet each individual where they are. That is why we don’t have ‘cookie-cutter’ programming that everyone goes through. We start by meeting one-on-one with our Founders after they receive their grant, using our onboarding process and taking a needs assessment to see what their needs are and how we can support them. You get more out of having a conversation with someone than just writing it down.
I figure out the best ways to help them and then I'll curate, with the help of (MSV Special Events & Operations Manager) Jazmine (Mosby), great programming and events to help them get to the next level. I connect them to resources, mentorship, and more.
I also run MSV’s Launch It: Cincy University program, lead our PR efforts and all partnership opportunities. This role is a great mashup of the things I am most passionate about … I feel so lucky to do this work every day!
Q: Why is the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region a great place to start a business?
Ober: The greatest thing about Cincinnati is everyone is willing to help you. Even if all they've got is 30 minutes, they'll go for a coffee – whether it's a lawyer, someone at P&G, anyone that’s very successful and has run a company or someone who has multiple restaurants – all you have to do is ask and they're willing to help.
Everyone here really wants to elevate our city and the people who live here. It's really cool to see everyone lending a hand. That's what I love so much about my job: Connecting our Activators to the other people who want to help.
Q: What can the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region do to help entrepreneurs and startups?
Ober: We need more money to be able to put into companies at an earlier stage.
For example, when it comes to bank loans, some banks require you to put up a million dollars or show you generate a million in revenue before you can get one. In general, (I would like to see) more investment into and easier access to loans (and) better education around loans.
Q: If you were to ever start your own business, it would be …?
Ober: I've been working in entrepreneurship for 10 years, (but) I've never had an idea that I'm as passionate about making work as (a business). I see the people that we support, their passion and drive for what they're doing is so insane. Those are the people who succeed and do very well.
If I had to choose right now, I would love to have some sort of gathering spot, whether it's a coffee shop or a little cafe in my neighborhood, where people can come and build community.
Q: What is the best part of your job?
Ober: Honestly, it's the people we work with every day. The thing I love the most is helping people reach their goals and seeing their dreams become a reality; helping them continue to grow and supporting them in whatever way they need. It just energizes me every day. Supporting the people that we work with is my favorite thing.
Q: Do you have any hidden talents?
Ober: I can fit literally anything into a car. If you need to get a couch somewhere, I will make it work. Whenever we're moving or I'm buying something at a store, someone will say ‘That's not going to fit’ and I always make it work. I'm like the human Tetris champion.
Q: Is there a story that you feel either represents Main Street Ventures and/or why you enjoy what you do?
Ober: My favorite thing is when I finally get to meet people in person because we do a lot of things over Zoom. Every quarter when (MSV Director of Funding & Impact) Brianna (Dzuricsko) sends out the accepted grant emails, that is my favorite day.
There was one day when we were doing that and one of our board members emailed us to tell us they were on a call with one of our grant recipients. The recipient started freaking out with excitement when the email came in as they were on the call together. That’s a reminder every quarter of why we do what we do when we get those kinds of responses.
There was also one time when I was doing a live interview with Fox19 with one of our Activators, Means Cameron of BlaCkOWned and BlaCk Coffee, and while we were still on the air, we received a call from someone at the coffee shop asking for more information about Main Street Ventures because they were watching live and wanted to learn more and apply. It was really cool to see in real-time someone learning about us and being so moved to call in to learn more!