By Doug Weintraub, chief executive officer for Bounce
It’s “Go” Time!
As you are probably aware, May is a big month for Bounce Innovation Hub! Our Grand Opening and Open House is less than two weeks, on Wed., May 22 and all are invited. For more information and to register, visit www.bouncehub.org/grand-opening.
For the past year, we have been busy transforming this 150-plus-year-old BF Goodrich tire factory into a beautiful, modern facility that will soon open to the public for daily use. We have also been building our staff and bolstering our programs and services to help more than 50 tech startups in northeast Ohio, many of whom reside at Bounce.
As with any major construction project, there are so many pieces and parts, and it’s truly amazing to see things come together. For this, I wanted to take a moment to thank some of the key players that have helped us bring this vision to life.
On the construction side, we could not have done this without Welty Building Company and Hasenstab Architects. It has been an absolute pleasure to have these companies and their people on our team – their talent, expertise and professionalism is second to none. Also deserving of mention is PTA (engineers), Speelman Electric, Bell & Blaire (HVAC), D&A Plumbing, Giorgi Interiors, Frank Novak & Sons, Messina Floor Coverings, Excelsior Marking, GMS Automation and Controls, B Systems, Akron Energy Systems and F.C. Borisuk General Contractors Inc. Thank you, all!
Of course, once the structure is built, you have to add design and feel. I had something very specific in mind of what I wanted and what I thought would be best for Bounce’s first-floor space. It had to be comfortable, but professional; it had to represent Akron’s past and future; and it had to incorporate local talent – from artists and designers to furniture makers. We support all entrepreneurs here at Bounce and that includes creatives! When talking to people in the community, they all pointed me in one direction – Hazel Tree Design Studio. I can’t thank Karen Starr and her team enough for realizing this incredible vision and making it happen for us. At the opening, Bounce’s first floor will feature the original works of more than 75 northeast Ohio artists. As far we know, this is the biggest effort of this kind in our area’s recent history.
Last, I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to the Bounce team. They have been heads down for months, steeped in construction and design planning and meetings, developing new programming and services, implementing marketing strategies and tactics, recruiting new members for our community and putting out fires left and right. All this is on top of their “normal” day-to-day responsibilities. They are the best of the best at what they do and none of this would be possible without their dedication, enthusiasm and ability to steer us in the right direction.
Not Just a Pretty Face
As excited as we are about what the first floor is going to look and feel like, as well as the new amenities, there is one aspect of this project that is just as, if not more, important – that this first-floor Generator space is what truly makes Bounce an open innovation hub. I’d like to explain exactly what this means because I think it will help you further understand not just what we do here, but who we serve.
Until now, Bounce, and formally the Akron Global Business Accelerator, has been primarily funded by the State of Ohio’s Third Frontier ESP program which focuses solely on technology – and not just technology, but companies with a proprietary technology component, meaning they have developed, or are in the process of developing, some type of new technology that solves a problem in their industry. Technology, in this case, is defined as software, biomedical, advanced manufacturing, advanced materials, life sciences and sensors. What this means is that we are restricted to allowing only a very specific type of technology startup here at Bounce.
All that changes on May 22.
The first floor allows us to throw open our doors to entrepreneurs and community members in all industries, from all walks of life. New amenities such as coworking memberships, rentable office space, meeting and event space, a creative co-op/makerspace, an esports facility and a coffee shop and café, which are open to the public for daily use, gives us the opportunity to provide a welcoming environment and community for anyone to work or create.
We will also offer a variety of programs and services that will cater to tech and non-tech entrepreneurs and startups, including monthly, free, one-on-one office hours with business experts from a wide variety of industries and professional services.
Bottom line, if you have an idea and want help, come to Bounce. If we can’t help you, we’ll find someone who can. And in the meantime, we have a great space where you can be a part of a community of coworkers, entrepreneurs, small businesses, freelancers, artists, makers and gamers. Sounds pretty incredible, right?
I don’t know of any single facility in northeast Ohio that has so much for so many under one roof. I want to see organized chaos meaning, people everywhere – meeting, working, creating, building.
And it’s all happening in just a couple of weeks. We hope to see you on May 22 and beyond!