By Jessica Sublett, chief operating officer of Bounce Innovation Hub
It’s been a few months since I’ve written an update on Bounce – and boy, a lot has changed since January! We’ve hired a CEO, Doug Weintraub, who has been working nonstop on making Bounce THE place for innovation in Akron. We’ve also been moving full steam ahead on construction of the first floor. Have you seen our Twitter account lately?! There’s a huge hole in the front of our building for some new windows to brighten up the space! It’s so incredible to watch this transformation.
And speaking of holes, one of the biggest (and most important) holes that Doug and I have had to fill was the Bounce team. The right team is critical for any organization – your people help create the culture, build the programming and enact the vision. It was necessary that we get this right, so we worked together to determine the different roles we needed to fill and the types of people that should fill them. We are really excited about the people joining us, and I’d like to share a little bit more about why they are the right people for the job.
As an innovation hub, we have both an incubator and a software accelerator. Both programs require someone with a keen eye for building structure and accountability. This person must be able to understand measuring deliverables and outcomes while providing our entrepreneurs with the best customer service possible. Therefore, one of our most important first hires was our director of entrepreneurial services. Christopher Mazziotto reached out to us almost serendipitously at the end of April, wondering if there was any way he could get involved with Bounce. Christopher’s background meshes perfectly with what we were looking for in this position. He has a strong understanding of the business model canvas and customer discovery methodology that the Northeast Ohio community believes so strongly in. He’s also a master of data and efficiency. We can already see the massive impact Christopher is going to have at Bounce.
For a facility and program as large as Bounce, we need good, qualified, hardworking support. EbaNee Bond interned with me in the summer of 2017 at the former Akron Global Business Accelerator. I knew then that, if we could keep her in Akron, she would be destined for great things. At the beginning of this year, Dan Hampu of The University of Akron Research Foundation and I were discussing how a joint position between our two organizations would bolster collaboration and eliminate duplication. So, we created the Akron Entrepreneurial Fellow and we both instantly thought of EbaNee as a fit for the position. Knowing that EbaNee was graduating in May, we quickly reached out to see if we could bring her on board. EbaNee is a lover of entrepreneurship, learning, people and our great city. She makes an amazing addition to our team, supporting Christopher as our program coordinator.
Entrepreneurs in residence
In order for Christopher to effectively manage an incubation program, we needed the right advisors to help our companies set milestones, create strategic plans and guide them in growing their businesses. It was critical for us to find real-world entrepreneurs with track records of success in conceptualizing, building, growing and selling businesses. Michael Haritakis and Victoria Tifft are such individuals and are absolute assets to our team.
Mike’s experience in the startup world in several different types of ventures is monumental in order to help the companies in Bounce. He has experience in the healthcare industry, the software industry, law and business administration. He can see several different angles of companies and best determine their next step. Vicki’s experience in growing her business is widely impressive and her strategic thinking is going to be extremely valuable for our companies. She is a thoughtful strategizer and will hold our companies accountable to meet deliverables. And, on another note, she will be able to provide our female founders with a similar perspective on how tough it can be to grow a business and raise capital as a woman. We are ecstatic to have both of these experienced entrepreneurs on board at Bounce. Needless to say, we’re pretty darn excited to have this accomplished crew of people join Bounce. The energy is growing and we’re excited to set them loose and watch them do what they do best! Be on the lookout for much more coming from them and from other people joining our growing team!