As Bounce Innovation Hub begins its fourth year in existence, we, along with the rest of the world, happily leave 2020 behind. To be sure, we ended the year in a strong position and with everyone on our team healthy and safe, but it was still a difficult year that tested every one of us – all of us. So in the spirit of new years and new beginnings, we thought we would spend some time letting you know what 2021 has in store for us and the Bounce community. To do that, we asked each member of our leadership team to tell us what they will be focusing on this year.
DOUG WEINTRAUB, CEO
Despite everything that 2020 threw at us, the Bounce team completed our first, three-year strategic plan, giving us a clear roadmap for the future. Areas of focus for me and the organization are:
>> Assisting even more new and existing startup businesses to foster growth for the local economy that, in turn, strengthens the greater Akron community. Entrepreneurs who want to start on their journey to create and write their own future can start here.
>> Continuing to secure a bright path for the long-term sustainability of Bounce. This means making our community aware of all of our capabilities through expanded membership, opportunities for new investors and creation of diverse, consistent revenue streams.
>> Expanding brand awareness to ensure that entrepreneurs know Bounce is here and that we can help by providing programs, services, experienced advisors and affordable workspace.
JESSICA SUBLETT, COO
A new year always brings new energy and we intend on leveraging that energy to continue to perform meaningful work. With our first strategic plan in hand, 2021 is all about excellent execution and scaled efforts. My focus this year is ensuring we have the wherewithal to execute on our strategic plan. This includes supporting fundraising efforts and managing our finances, optimizing processes and guaranteeing they are followed, monitoring and reporting on the progress of our strategic plan, maintaining the health and output of our incredible team, and fulfilling the big goals we’ve set for ourselves in our various programs. It’s going to be a very full year, but you won’t receive any complaints from me!
JEANINE BLACK, CMO
Looking at the strategic plan, my overarching goal for 2021 is to continue to build and then increase brand awareness for Bounce and its programs and services. Luckily, we have a strong foundation already set. To that, my top priority for this year is to be more proactive, intentional and strategic in all of our marketing, PR and communications initiatives. This means building a solid team of advisors, writers, designers, developers and strategists who can help me execute on that plan; digging deeper into digital and content marketing initiatives; and working closely with media personnel, bloggers, influencers and brand ambassadors to help tell our story and the stories of our entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses.
DIRECTOR, INCLUSIVE ENTREPRENEURSHIP
This year, I am planning to increase relationships with more minority, business-savvy individuals across the Akron entrepreneurial ecosystem. These new connections will contribute to a more inclusive and robust mentor network for all our small business programs. While Bounce continues to provide resources to local people of color, having participating mentors that look like and understand the cultural nuances of the people we serve is one of my main objectives for 2021.
DIRECTOR, COMMUNITY AND PARTNERSHIPS
As I look at 2021, I see a future that is both exciting and a challenge. As we continue to deal with COVID-19 restrictions, we see opportunity to grow our Generator space through other avenues such as conference room rentals, corporate memberships, and day-passes. Our focus in the Generator is to become the center for convening and an open space for all people to work.
The top priorities for me include:
>> Increasing corporate memberships. As more companies decide to end their office leases, we have the opportunity to become their “convening place”; i.e., a place where companies can hold meetings, have trainings, and where their employees can work.
>> Forming an organic, collaborative environment. As more diverse groups of individuals work from Bounce, we have the opportunity to create an environment that fosters collaboration that leads to transfer of knowledge and creation of new business in Akron.
>> Creating a culture of community for both Bounce members and our guests. Two ways we do this is by hosting events and building personal relationships.
>> Becoming the most trusted and top coworking space in Akron and Northeast Ohio.
PROGRAM MANAGER, INCUBATOR
In 2021, I am excited to help foster new, meaningful connections throughout all of our programming. A Startup Genome Report found that there is a strong correlation between connections and success. “Founders that learn are more successful. Startups that have helpful mentors, track performance metrics effectively, and learn from startup thought leaders raise 7x more money and have 3.5x better user growth.” Connecting our clients to mentors, advisors, community stakeholders, and peers will give them the support they need to thrive.
PROGRAM MANAGER AND STARTUP ADVISOR, SOFTWARE ACCELERATOR
I firmly believe 2021 will be a great year. We make the best of what we are given because we choose what to do with the time that is given to us. I have a long history in helping other founders navigate their startup and the ecosystems surrounding building a successful company. Now that I’ve accepted the role of program manager for the Bounce software accelerator, my primary focus for 2021 will be continuing the accelerator’s promise of active and involved mentorship for software startups. Now is a great time to expand the connections we make for founders as the world has become more digitally inclined than ever before; investors are seeing the benefits by investing capital regionally distant from the coasts where the money can go further for the startup. Finally, I believe in creating a strong cohort dynamic, including participation with the other programs at Bounce, in the acceleration of Northeast Ohio’s software startup community. This year, we will see continued mentorship, expanding connections for founders, and creating a solid dynamic among cohort founders.
We want to acknowledge that none of this would be possible without you. Regardless of your relationship with Bounce, you are a valued part of a thriving community that grows each day. Please reach out and let us know how we can help you achieve your goals. In return, we ask for your continued support and ambassadorship, whether you are a Bounce company, member, entrepreneur, funder, mentor, advisor, or colleague and friend. Together, we can make a real and lasting impact on Akron and the region through entrepreneurship, community and collaboration.