Beyond the Pitch

First Connect Network Leverages The Backyard Effect

First Connect Network

The First Connect Network is helping make Central Ohio the  go-to place in the Midwest for entrepreneurs and investors. There’s a spirit and attitude toward entrepreneurship that exists here in Central Ohio that makes our region unique. We call it The Backyard Effect.
From serial entrepreneurs to Fortune 1000 C-level executives, to venture investors, this community Columbus-and-Rev1[1]leans in to make it easier for startups that start up here to succeed.

In 2014, Rev1 launched a powerful program——to make it easier for the community and entrepreneurs to deliberately collaborate. We are doubling down on Central Ohio’s Backyard Effect.

First Connect Network Is Driven by Central Ohio’s Backyard Effect and Modeled from Actual Startup Experiences

First Connect wasn’t born at a white board or in an offsite—as valuable as those exercises are.

The First Connect is modeled directly from our hands-on experience with actual entrepreneurs and startups in the Central Ohio ecosystem.

In fact, if cooperation and collaboration wasn’t so ingrained in this region, there probably wouldn’t be a First Connect.

A great way to understand the parts and power of First Connect is to tell the story of Simple-Fill, the winner of VentureNEXT’s Best Backyard Effect award.

Simple-Fill’s Story


Simple-Fill is developing a novel industrial gas compression technology that is more efficient, reliable and affordable than conventional gas compression technologies.


Simple-Fill, Inc. was spun out from The Ohio State University with the ambitious plan to change the way America fuels its vehicles. Simple-Fill as a case study in the Backyard Effect is a prime experiential model that helped shape First Connect.

  • Spinout: Simple-Fill’s technology was conceived at The Ohio State University’s Center for Automotive Research (CAR), the pre-eminent interdisciplinary research center in sustainable and safe mobility.
  • Strategic Advisors: Rob Underhill, Simple-Fill’s co-founder, president and CEO, linked into to the larger business community in Columbus. He developed relationships with industry leaders in energy and manufacturing, including Worthington Industries, Delta Energy, and Parker Hannifin.
  • Services Experts: Simple-Fill engaged two legal firms, a CPA firm, and other resources from the Rev1 First Connect Experts. Expert service providers have provided more than $1.6 million of donated or discounted services.
  • Simple-FillSecuring Capital: Simple-Fill was the first company to receive investment from the Technology Concept Fund. Angels invested alongside Rev1. Simple-Fill’s strategic relationships with Worthington and others led to co-investment, board of director seats, manufacturing partnerships, and customer relationships.
  • First Customers: Both the City of Columbus and Safelite AutoGlass are on track to become Simple-Fill beta customers. And they’ve been willing to talk about their plans and enthusiasm for Simple-Fill.

The bottom line is that in about three years, Simple-Fill has taken an idea that was literally on paper at The Ohio State University, started a company based on that idea, and proven that it works.

Simple-fill has developed strategic partnerships with significant companies in the industry. At least two customers are teed up and ready to beta test the solution with their fleets.

That’s how First Connect amplifies the power of Central Ohio’s own Backyard Effect.

To learn more about how Rev1 can help you build a more successful company, contact us.
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