Dream big

Ray Leach knows start-ups, inside and out.

The Cuyahoga Falls High School and University of Akron graduate began his career at IBM and then founded two start-up companies, which were successfully sold to Multigraphics Inc. He went on to work for Digital Systems and A.B. Dick/Multigraphics Co.

Leach earned his master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2002 while serving as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence for CommonAngels, Boston’s largest angel investing organization. He also founded Capella Investments, which has advised and invested in numerous start-up technology companies.

When NorTech was looking for a leader with vision to energize and increase the entrepreneurial resources and services in Northeast Ohio, Leach returned to his roots. He joined NorTech in July 2003 and, within a year, became the founding CEO and president of JumpStart Inc.

JumpStart’s creation was the result of NorTech and Case Western Reserve University joining forces and merging four formerly separate organizations – Enterprise Development Inc., NEOpreneur Inc., NEOpreneur Exchange and JumpStart LLC — into one new model. JumpStart is a nonprofit venture development organization that focuses on providing critical intellectual and financial resources to early stage companies in 16 Northeast Ohio counties.

Under Leach’s leadership, JumpStart has invested nearly $6 million in 16 Northeast Ohio companies and should surpass 20 investments by the end of 2006. The organization has created 75 new jobs in its portfolio companies to date, and Cleveland State University calculates that JumpStart has had an estimated $30 million economic impact on the region.

The organization has set a goal and is on track to commit more than $20 million in 60 promising Northeast Ohio companies for a total economic impact of more than $400 million by 2011.

In addition to being recognized locally as an asset to the region, JumpStart has been honored nationally by PricewaterhouseCoopers’ ‘MoneyTree Report’ as one of the top pre-seed investment firms in the country. JumpStart also plans to secure recognition for this area among America’s Top 10 regions for entrepreneurship and innovation, as measured by Entrepreneur magazine and other national publications.

HOW TO REACH: JumpStart Inc., (216) 363-3400 or www.jumpstartinc.org