Akron, Ohio (May 4, 2022): Bounce Innovation Hub has announced that Douglas Weintraub, chief executive officer, will retire at the end of 2022. The board of directors has appointed Jessica Sublett, chief operating officer, to succeed Weintraub as CEO on Jan. 1, 2023.
“On behalf of the board of directors and the Bounce team, clients and members, we want to thank Doug for his leadership as Bounce’s first chief executive officer,” said Hans Dorfi, chair, Bounce board of directors. “A steadfast and effective leader, Doug brought a unique, entrepreneurial mindset and style to Bounce. During his tenure, Bounce has grown exponentially, expanding its team, clientele, program offerings and footprint, creating jobs and opportunities for the Akron community. He was also instrumental in procuring several major funding partners. The board is sincerely grateful to Doug for his dedication to Bounce and wishes him nothing but the best in this next chapter.”
Weintraub is best known for leading Bounce through a major construction and expansion project on the organization’s 27,000 sq. ft. ground floor. The Generator, an open co-working and event space, makerspace and café, featuring more than 150 pieces of local art, opened in May 2019.
Weintraub will be appointed to the Bounce board of directors, effective January 2023.
Billy Taylor, CEO of LinkedXL, located at Bounce and part of the software accelerator, was named to the Bounce board of directors in December 2021. “I’ve had the pleasure to work closely with Doug and Jessica for the past two years,” said Taylor. “Doug was an advisor for LinkedXL when we first arrived. He helped us make some important connections and become a part of the Bounce community. I admire Doug as an entrepreneur and businessperson and want to thank him for bringing Bounce to this point. I look forward to working with him on the board.”
A New Leader
On April 28, the Bounce board of directors unanimously elected Sublett as CEO effective Jan. 1, 2023. Sublett has served as chief operating officer since January 2018. Prior to that, she was a program specialist with the Akron Global Business Accelerator, before it transitioned to Bounce in 2018.
“The board carefully weighed our options for succession, including conducting a national search,” said Dorfi. “But it soon became very clear to us that Jessica was, by far, our strongest candidate to lead Bounce into the future. With Doug’s resounding endorsement, we spoke with several of Bounce’s partners throughout the community, who echoed his sentiments. Once we heard from Jessica directly about her vision for not only Bounce, but Akron’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, we were unanimously agreed.”
Dorfi cites Sublett’s understanding of the role and what it takes to be successful; her demonstrated ability to set a vision an execute on it; her involvement in the community; and her understanding of operations and where opportunities lie, as four main reasons the board is “highly confident in our decision.”
Taylor reiterates the endorsement. “I’ve gotten to know Jessica as our company has partnered with Bounce to help them develop a strategic purpose map and, of course, as a new board member,” said Taylor. “Jessica’s leadership and interpersonal skills continue to impress me. It was clear that she is the right leader for Bounce right now and I was happy to give her my endorsement. I look forward to working with her as the new CEO.”
Sublett is a licensed attorney in Ohio and has extensive background in technology transfer and intellectual property. Combined with a decade of experience working in Akron’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, this gives her a unique perspective that goes beyond operations. She led the organization’s efforts to secure more than $6 million in grant funds since 2018 to sustain financial health. She has also led programming structure and team development to implement and execute on strategic initiatives. Sublett oversaw the strategic planning process for the organization’s first strategic plan, and now drives the implementation of the plan.
“I’m extremely proud of how far this organization has come in just under five years – especially our efforts to build and deliver inclusive entrepreneurial programs and the strong relationships we’ve built with partner organizations,” said Sublett. “I specifically want to thank our passionate team for their dedication to our mission and our work – which wouldn’t be possible without them. I have extreme gratitude to the board for acknowledging my contributions and providing me this incredible opportunity. And many thanks to Doug for allowing me to grow as a leader during his tenure. They’ve both been very supportive and I can’t wait to get started bringing Bounce 2.0 to life!”
Sublett’s vision goes beyond the walls of Bounce to greater Akron, Summit County and the northeast Ohio region. She has been keenly focused on developing and building inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystems and works closely with other entrepreneurial support organizations to build partnerships that ensure that entrepreneurship is accessible to all of community members. Sublett is also a Greater Akron Chamber 30 for the Future award recipient and will graduate Class 38 of Leadership Akron in June.
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan, who first announced the creation of the new Bounce Innovation Hub in 2017, had a chance to meet with Sublett before the board vote and joined with his endorsement.
“The City has been a proud partner of Bounce since it was first imagined in 2017,” said Mayor Horrigan. “Doug’s outstanding leadership as Bounce’s first CEO has undoubtedly set the organization up for continued success. And I believe that Jessica is well-positioned to take Bounce into the next level of growth. The continuity of experienced leadership will be an asset to our community.
Vincent Peterson, CEO of Vigeo Gardens, a long-time Bounce incubator company, is equally supportive. “I’ve worked with Jessica for a long time, from before Bounce, when it was the Akron Global Business Accelerator,” Peterson said. “It’s been really great to watch her and the organization progress. She and Doug have created an ecosystem for entrepreneurs here, one where Vigeo has been able to grow and become more successful. From connecting us with advisors to allowing us the space to expand our operations, I’m thankful for their leadership these last four years and look forward to seeing Jessica take her turn as CEO. We are truly excited to watch her preparedness meet opportunity, and will be here to support in any way we can.”
The CEO transition process will begin immediately. Sublett will continue in her role as COO, while working closely with Weintraub, the Bounce leadership team and the board to transition roles and responsibilities. A search for a newly conceived position, to replace the COO, will also begin this summer. The position of chief administrative officer will be responsible for many of Sublett’s current responsibilities, including, but not limited to, human resources, organizational compliance, leasing and grant administration and compliance.
“It has been an honor to serve as CEO of Bounce during this period of transformation and growth, and I want to offer my sincere thanks to our employees whose hard work and dedication have allowed us to achieve so much,” said Weintraub. “I also want to thank our clients, community, partners, stakeholders and the board of directors for their ongoing support. I have worked closely with Jessica these past five years and am confident she will be an excellent leader for Bounce. I look forward to working closely together for the balance of the year to ensure a smooth transition.”
Bounce Innovation Hub is located in downtown Akron in a former B.F. Goodrich plant and comprises 300,000 square feet of office, lab and light manufacturing space. More than 50 companies and organizations are located in Bounce. Bounce encourages open collaboration among diverse groups through unique opportunities, programs and events. The organization has served more than 300 entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses since its founding in January 2018. A 501(c)3 nonprofit, Bounce accepts donations and gifts. Please visit bouncehub.org/donate to learn more.
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