By Doug Weintraub, Bounce CEO
On behalf of everyone here at Bounce, I’d like to wish you a happy new year. It’s amazing how far Bounce, as an organization and as a team, has come since I wrote last January.
As you know, the biggest highlight of 2019 was completing the first-floor Generator project and opening Bounce to the public. Whether you’re a coworker, freelancer, student, entrepreneur, gamer, techie, artist, arts enthusiast, maker or coffee addict, (or all of the above), there’s something for you. We encourage you to visit and, as we like to say, find your space. We hope the Generator is the beginning of many connections, collisions and catalysts, to help build a thriving city and region.
In fact, since the Generator opened in May, we’ve sold hundreds of coworking day passes and have added around 45 members, putting us at more than 50 percent capacity. In 2019, we hosted 221 events and welcomed more than 12,000 visitors to Bounce (up from just over 2,000 in 2018). The Generator is exceeding expectations and we anticipate further growth in the new year.
But 2019 wasn’t just about the Generator, believe it or not. Bounce, as an organization, grew – in size, scope and mission. Our team currently sits at 11 full-time employees and 10 part-time advisors, with plans for additional hires in the coming months. I am extremely proud of this growing group of advisors, directors, executives and entrepreneurs who work tirelessly to ensure that our programs, services and facilities meet the needs of our vibrant community.
At the end of 2019, we can report that Bounce currently serves more than 80 clients and houses approx. 60 tenants for a total of more than 270 jobs.
We still have our signature programs for tech companies – the Incubator and software accelerator, which accept applications year round. But one of the first things the team needed to tackle this year was our new mission as an open innovation hub; i.e., we had to expand beyond services for technology companies. Previously, our programming only served a narrowly defined type of technology company due to funding restraints. This focus on tech left us unable to serve the majority of local entrepreneurs, which includes many minority and women founders.
So in late winter/early spring of last year, and in conjunction with the Elevate Greater Akron initiative, we found funding to support hiring non-tech entrepreneur-in-residence Ace Epps, who built and now manages our GROW program (and who was just recently named our director of inclusive entrepreneurship). I’m happy to report that fifty percent of the client companies at Bounce are minority and/or female owned. And we have high-growth expectations for this year as we continue to build the team and increase programs and services. In fact, look for a major announcement coming at the end of the month.
For a final 2019 highlight, we saw significant increase in the number of funding and programming partners. I want to take a moment to recognize those organizations who, without them, we could not do what we do.
Akron Children’s Hospital*
Akron Community Foundation
Burton D. Morgan Foundation
City of Akron*
MARCUM (formally Skoda Minotti)
State of Ohio
Akron Urban League
Greater Akron Chamber
The University of Akron*
UARF (University of Akron Research Foundation)
Our top priorities for this year include strategic planning, increasing capacity to serve more people and companies and finding new ways to meet the needs of minority entrepreneurs and businesses.
Of course, as a 501c3, we depend on partners like the ones mentioned above. So MY focus for 2020 is fundraising and development and corporate and community engagement to increase opportunities for everyone to be a part of the Bounce community. There is plenty of room in the ecosystem for innovative, small, mid-sized and large corporations that want to work with startups – or that need a creative, inspiring space to accomplish their own business goals. In fact, Bounce offers a corporate membership for the first-floor Generator space. Also, as veteran business experts and entrepreneurs, you could give back to the community by becoming a mentor to these startups and entrepreneurs through our newly formed Mentor Network. If you want to know more about corporate memberships or mentoring, contact me at [email protected].
As always, thank you for being a part of the community and supporting our mission to serve Akron’s entrepreneurs. As I mentioned above, stay tuned for more exciting news coming soon. And remember you are always welcome.
Activate Your Idea. Build Your Business. Find Your Space.