By Christopher Mazziotto, director of entrepreneurial services for Bounce
As Bounce’s first director of entrepreneurial services, I am excited to bring my experience with and passion for entrepreneurship to the team. I love working with companies that are experimenting with new ideas in the market, that change strategic direction quickly, and can adopt new technology or innovations without the burden of bureaucracy. I can be involved in all aspects of building a business and I get to see how my work directly affects the way people live their lives every day.
Before my wife and I moved to Northeast Ohio, I worked at reSET, an award-winning startup accelerator program (2015 SBA Growth Accelerator Fund Competition) in Hartford, Connecticut – my home state – as a program manager and later as director of operations.
During my time at reSET, we built an accelerator program that provided extensive and customized entrepreneurial resources to over 50 startups, generating millions in revenue and investment. We worked with many more startups in various capacities through offering entrepreneurial education and consultations. One of my responsibilities was to build and grow a network of professionals, comprised of mentors, service providers and investors. Mentorship is one of the most significant resources for entrepreneurs and so we grew the mentor network to over 100 local professionals and connected them to entrepreneurs, resulting in thousands of dollars of pro-bono value.
The best part of my job, however, was getting to meet with the entrepreneurs; developing personal relationships as we experienced the extreme highs and lows of startup life; and ultimately, helping startups solve problems in the market.
From East Coast to the Midwest
As I mentioned, I recently moved to Northeast Ohio from Connecticut, which is where I grew up. We moved here because my wife was accepted to the Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED). As a side note, we are really enjoying living here – it’s been quite a pleasant surprise! We’re excited to see Akron and Northeast Ohio continue to grow and develop.
When Bounce opened earlier this year, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. As I learned more about it, I immediately understood the vision and was attracted to the opportunity to build something new, so I joined the team in June. In my short time working with the team, I have seen their unique talents, diverse education and extraordinary experiences that will drive the creativity and productivity of this organization.
Getting Down to Business – New Programming and Services
The programming team and I have been working very hard on developing Bounce’s entrepreneurial offerings. We’ve hired two EIRs to work with the companies in our incubator program and are actively adding more. For more information on our incubator program and how to apply, check out our website. Through the end of the year, we will continue to restructure and evolve the entrepreneurial programming and incorporate additional startup resources made available through Bounce, such as partnerships with BioEnterprise and MAGNET.
In addition, we’ve also taken a deep dive into better understanding the needs of software companies in Northeast Ohio and, in response, have restructured our accelerator program, The Bit Factory, to meet these needs.
I’m very excited to share that The Bit Factory will now be offering two tracks for software startups: Product Development and Sales and Marketing. Both provide access to investment, mentorship, programming, preferred service providers and working space. With a strong relationship with the Northeast Ohio Entrepreneurial Services Network and a network that includes the investor, academic, governmental and corporate communities, the opportunities are endless. Here are some additional details about each track and how to apply:
The Product Development Accelerator (PDA) is focused on software product development and accommodates startups in any industry with a software solution. The program is for startups that are beyond the concept phase (initial understanding of the market and customer) and ready to start building a minimum viable product (MVP). Each startup that enters the program will work with The Bit Factory mentors, and other professionals from the Bounce network, to build a software product and start iterating with early customers. The program is an intense, hands-on experience where startups learn the repeatable process of iterating a product; a process that can be used after completion of the program as the startups progress towards significant traction in the market.
Sales and Marketing
The Sales and Marketing Accelerator (SMA) also accommodates startups in any industry with a software solution. The program is for startups that have built a product and are starting to see traction in the market. Each startup that enters the program will work with the Bounce sales and marketing lead mentors to build a sales strategy, validate the strategy with customers, and execute the strategy. The program is an intense, hands-on experience where startups learn how to create a repeatable sales process and develop a predictable sales forecast. This process can be repeated after completion of the program as the startups continue to grow and scale.
As Steve Blank said, “A startup is a temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model.” Bounce is the home for startups while they are searching for a scalable business model. Upon entering programs at Bounce, an entrepreneur gains a long-term partner that cares about their growth as a business leader and the growth of their startup.