Here's why a tech consultancy decided to call Ohio home
GreenBlock is a great example of Columbus’ burgeoning tech ecosystem. After growing up in Akron and working in Washington, D.C., Chris Berry came to Columbus a few years ago as chief of staff at the Ohio Treasurer’s office. While working on the launch of OhioCrypto.com, the state’s initiative to accept bitcoin as tender for business tax payments, Berry met Ari Lewis, a consultant and venture capitalist well-known in the world of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency.
The two shared the desire to launch a business of their own, and GreenBlock was born. The consultancy was launched in April to help tech businesses build products, partnerships and brands. Berry’s expertise comes on the public relations and marketing side, while Lewis’s roots are in the tech startup world.
Lewis was so excited by the possibilities he saw, Berry says, that he relocated from the New York City metro area and is now based in Cleveland, while Berry is planted here in Columbus. “This city is great,” Berry says. “I don’t have any family here anymore, but I wanted to stay here. It’s an up-and-coming place—just the kind of place we wanted to be.” Lewis was tired of how expensive New York City is, and how difficult it is to build a life there as a result, Berry says. Instead, he recently closed on a house in Cleveland. “We’re going all in on Ohio.”
“There are so many consultants in Boston, Silicon Valley, New York, and they do good work, but they come with the coastal price tags,” Berry says. He says consultancies from out of town often come in and help with specific projects, but then they’re out the door just when things start to get interesting. “We can come in early, help them with branding, with technical questions of what the best user experience is. We want to work throughout their entire life cycle, as they prepare, launch and develop their company over time,” he says.
The pair have deep experience in the venture capital world—Lewis co-founded and sold cryptocurrency hedge fund Grasshopper Capital. GreenBlock aims to help new firms raise money, too.
“We understand how to build those communication methods to resonate with new investors, which you have to do or you’re not going to have the opportunity to get to the next round,” Berry says. “We’re hoping by getting in early, at the start of a new company or product development cycle, that we can walk through the pitfalls, and using our diverse backgrounds see immediate opportunities and plan for long term ones.”
Cynthia Bent Findlay is a freelance writer.
Founders: Chris Berry and Ari Lewis
Business: Consultancy helping tech entrepreneurs develop their products and ideas with expertise in blockchain and cryptocurrency.
Investment to date: Self-funded
Launch date: April 2019