Collaboration vs. competition

One thing we hear at Bounce when talking with anyone who is not intimately familiar with the Northeast Ohio entrepreneurial ecosystem is that 1) there seem to be a lot of organizations doing what we do, and 2) with so many, how can we all be effective?

Well, they’re right. There are a lot of organizations with similar missions to that of Bounce — approximately 30 in Northeast Ohio alone. But we are not doing the same things. We actually complement each other. That’s what makes us effective.

We collaborate where we can, stay in communication as much as possible and find ways to partner, instead of seeing these organizations as competitors for clients and funding. It’s by no means a perfect system, but we share resources in order to give our entrepreneurs what they need to succeed. Most of us are nonprofits, so this ensures that we’re using funds effectively and for the most impact.

Bounce is unique because it is an open innovation hub, with an emphasis on open. To accommodate “anyone with a mind for innovation,” we had to figuratively and literally open our doors wider in order to serve everyone. (Previously, as the Akron Global Business Accelerator, we had been limited to serving only tech companies because of the way we were funded.) That’s a great mission, but it’s a big one.

We could try to go it alone, but we didn’t want to. There was no reason, with all the incredible resources already in Northeast Ohio, to duplicate efforts. Within weeks of our founding, we started talking with BioEnterprise and then, a bit later, MAGNET. BioEnterprise has extensive experience and expertise working with biomedical/health care startups — one of our fastest-growing tech industries. MAGNET’s Iterator program specifically works with entrepreneurs to turn their early physical product ideas into businesses. Now they each have office space and personnel at Bounce whom we consider part of our team.

We also share entrepreneurs in residence (EIRs – veteran entrepreneurs who provide one-on-one consulting with our incubator clients) with JumpStart, BioEnterprise, MAGNET, Youngstown Business Incubator and others. And The University of Akron’s Research Foundation is a partner in helping our companies validate their ideas before they come to Bounce for help.

We also partner with the Small Business Development Center, Procurement Technical Assistance Center, Economic Community Development Institute and Women’s Business Center, the Akron Urban League and the Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce and Women’s Network to offer comprehensive services and programs to all of Akron’s entrepreneurs.

By working together, collaborating and communicating, we complement services and programs, presenting a comprehensive ecosystem for tech startups to thrive.

There is plenty of room in the ecosystem for innovative middle-market and large corporations that want to work with startups. In fact, Bounce offers a corporate membership for the first-floor Generator space. Also, as veteran business experts, you could give back to the community by becoming a mentor to these startups and entrepreneurs. If you want to know more about corporate memberships or mentoring, contact us at [email protected]

Doug Weintraub, CEO of Bounce Innovation Hub, is an industry leader with more than 30 years of business and entrepreneurial experience in Northeast Ohio. An active angel investor, serial entrepreneur and mentor, Doug has helped grow businesses by providing investment opportunities and coaching to more than a dozen companies. He is a founding member of JumpStart Inc. and served on many board committees, from its inception to his final role as chairman from 2009 to 2012.