Fintech Innovation in the Heartland: Our Conversation with JobsOhio’s Ron Rock

The role of state-based organizations in helping foster fintech innovation in their communities is often overlooked. For years, one such organization, JobsOhio, has helped bring attention to the opportunities available to fintech entrepreneurs throughout the state of Ohio. The private development corporation also works to encourage investment in the state’s most innovative businesses – from advanced manufacturing to insurtech. As remote work has expanded in recent years, more and more founders and professionals have turned from Silicon Valley and New York to cities in states like Ohio to launch new businesses and begin new careers.

This year at FinovateFall we sat down with Ron Rock, Senior Director of Insurance/Insurtech with JobsOhio to talk about the organization’s role in driving fintech innovation in Ohio, and what the Buckeye State has to offer both fintech entrepreneurs and fintech investors.

Below are a few excerpts from our conversation. Watch the entire interview at Finovate TV.

On the impact of remote work on fintech and financial services

In financial services, it seems like we have the ability to be remote. We’re not a “build a building, fill it full of people” kind of industry. So being able to work remotely is very easy in the financial services space – especially when you’re stretching into some of the tech strategies that we have … On the other side, there are some banks and insurance companies that are quick to get people back into the office. They love the camaraderie. They love the collaboration.

On the rise of Ohio as an fintech innovation hub

We fund three different innovation centers in the state. We have one in Cincinnati, one in Columbus, and one in Cleveland that are being developed right now. There’s a lot of collaboration in the healthcare space, in the true IT space. So, in the financial services space, we think that being close to that innovation is very key. What I’m trying to do is recruit some of those (financial services) companies to utilize those innovation centers, get close to that innovation because, I know it’s kind of corny, but innovation breeds innovation.

On the advantages of launching new fintechs in Ohio

What you have is that you’re close to about two-thirds of the financial services sector in Ohio. So, within a day’s travel you can be anywhere you want to be within the financial services ecosystem in the midwest. What we’re also trying to do is highlight with our venture capitalists that fintech and insurtech is a space that is going to provide some really good ROI. We’ve got a lot of venture capital in the state. When you think of venture capital, you tend to think of Silicon Valley or New York. But we’ re trying to get really strong in the state of Ohio, as well.

Photo by Dale Jackson