Director, Funding & Impact
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: Brianna Dzuricsko, MSV Director, Funding and Impact.
Q: When did you officially start working at Main Street Ventures?
Dzuricsko: I joined the Main Street Ventures in 2019. I got connected through the Venture for America fellowship program. Venture For America is a fellowship for recent grads who want to learn how to build a business while making an impact. VFA Fellows get training and join a startup in an emerging US city, where they live and work for two years at one of our hundreds of partner companies.
I connected with someone in the VFA interview process that was here in Cincinnati, and I was really interested in everything that was going on in the city, so I knew that I wanted to come here. It just worked out that Main Street Ventures had a mix of all the things I was looking to do – a little bit of marketing, a little bit of entrepreneur support and funding – so it was kind of a perfect fit.
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)?
Dzuricsko: My title is Director of Funding & Impact. I’m the first person that entrepreneurs interact with, helping bring them into the community to ensure a smooth application process. I handle the onboarding process and making sure Grant Recipients are comfortable with their Grant Agreements and make sure the money gets to them in a timely manner.
On the impact side, my goal is to measure Main Street Ventures’ impact through the sales, employee data, and other metrics of our Grant Recipients. I really dig into that backend data to make sure we’re serving the community’s needs.
Q: Do you have any hobbies or passions outside of work?
Dzuricsko: Outside of work, I currently serve on the Alumni Association Board for Venture for America. I work as an engagement chair, working on all things alumni and bringing them together. The fellowship has been around since 2012, so there are a lot of great people that have gone on to do amazing things and are in really amazing places in their careers.
I'm also an internationally appointed volunteer with a sorority I was in in college. I work in membership experience, making sure that our collegiate members and their advisors who are also alumni can have a really great experience. I travel and visit different chapters and leaders throughout the state of Kentucky to support and guide them.
I also do some freelance graphic design work; I'm a self-taught graphic designer. Sometimes I'll pick up side projects, whether it's making signage for a company, making slide decks or whatever else may come up. I also resell vintage clothing on the side. I've been thrifting since I was a little kid.
Q: Why is the Greater Cincinnati Northern Kentucky region a great place to start a business?
Dzuricsko: It’s a great place to start a business because regardless of what you're doing, odds are, there's someone that's in the field that can help. There are a lot of different resources depending on what stage of business you're in. That’s a really amazing plus. Even if a company is not the best fit for us at Main Street Ventures, there's usually a list of three to five places immediately that I can think of that are a better fit that I can recommend to support them. That sense of community and willingness to help makes this a great place to be.
Q: What can the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region do to help entrepreneurs and startups?
Dzuricsko: Great question. This isn't specific to Cincinnati, but Cincinnati definitely falls into this category: We need to make sure that there are sustainable funding sources for people continuing to grow. We do a great job as we can for what we do, but I think there will always be a huge gap between people that we see at our stage and people that are ready to really raise capital and continue to grow and scale. The more resources we can put behind getting money to the people that need it would just make it even better.
Q: If you were to ever start your own business, it would be …?
Dzuricsko: If I could start my own business, with little to no risk at all, I would love to own a typeface factory. I was able to go on an immersive design trip to Denmark when I was in college. We got to visit a company whose entire goal is to design typefaces. I think that is the coolest thing. You get to work with a lot of cool people and take on really cool projects.
Another thing that I would love to do – but you have to have specific genetics to do it – is be a Pantone color tester. You have to have specific cones in your eyes to be able to test their colors and make colors. It's just so cool.
Q: Do you have any hidden talents?
Dzuricsko: I competitively baton twirled for 14 years. I haven't touched the baton in a long time. I was actually looking to twirl in college, but it just didn't work out … I probably could still twirl half decently if I picked it up now.
Q: What is the best part of your job?
Dzuricsko: The best part of my job is definitely being able to bring companies into our community and into our process. A lot of people can get overwhelmed by the concept of grants, especially with the reporting processes that are required.
I've really been able to do a lot of work to streamline that process for our entrepreneurs. I really enjoy taking them through the process and seeing what questions come up so it doesn't feel like we're unattainable and they can't reach us or ask questions.
Q: Is there a story that you feel either represents Main Street Ventures and/or why you enjoy what you do?
Dzuricsko: It’s kind of like a feel-good story. We were at our community showcase two years ago and we invited our most recent group of companies.
I was talking with one of the grant recipients who works in food. She did her (original) pitch in her kitchen, doing all her meal prep in a very ‘This is what life is like for me’ (manner). She said, ‘I didn't know if you all would understand me … I didn't know if you all would get it, but I really appreciate that you saw me for who I was and what I was able to do.’ That speaks a lot to our process and the work that we're able to do.