The secret is out. Quietly queried by market researchers and industry wonks as America’s test market, Columbus is losing its anonymity as the nation’s silent trendsetter.
This celebrated stomping ground for artists and academics isn’t just calling the creative class and those with cerebral street cred anymore. Even National Geographic recently dispelled the flyover fears of Midwestern monotony by answering, “Why All the Cool Kids Love Columbus, Ohio”.
Quickly dismissing Brooklyn, Portland, Oakland, New Orleans, and Austin as destinations that eventually overplayed their hands, the mix of originality and authenticity found in Central Ohio puts us on the map as approachable innovators who aren’t too big for our britches.
Our audiences are demanding, and forgiving—creating a freedom to fail that would ruin a business in a larger or smaller market. We’re in the fabled Goldilocks Zone—neither too big, nor too small. We’re just right. In Columbus, the startup spirit of “launch, refine, repeat”, still works in ways it used to in Silicon Valley, before eggheads overhead priced everyone out.
Despite this new found fame, we remain a city guided by our hearts, and our stomachs. We love to eat, and it shows. Restaurants and bars are as close as any industry gets to their customers. They innovate with every plate, and each drink is a focus group of one.
That’s why anyone with sights set on Columbus, and those who already call the capitol city home, should seriously explore the local cuisine scene and better beverage boom for inspiration in starting something new.
But singular success only lasts so long. Eventually, expansion becomes inevitable—and how it’s done will either raise all boats, or sink a steady ship. Each expansion is admittedly unique, though they all take one of three paths—or “three courses” of innovation.