Richard Lunak, President and CEO, Innovation Works

Richard Lunak, President and CEO, Innovation Works

WINNER / SUPPORTER OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP

It wasn’t a slam-dunk decision that Richard Lunak would take the position that had been offered to him and become president and CEO at Innovation Works. The not-for-profit company that was created to help entrepreneurs was itself struggling and had recently been investigated for its handling of a federal contract.

At the same time, it was an opportunity for Lunak to get back to his roots and assist entrepreneurs. He reflected on his previous experiences helping those with a dream to make it a reality and was sold.

He arrived to find a business that was being pressured by the entrepreneurial community to revamp its programs and services and offer greater support to seed stage companies. So Lunak did just that. Innovation Works redoubled its efforts to help these companies, and satisfaction, as well as new requests for help, took off.

Lunak worked hard to develop a team of start-up experts in a wide range of fields to ensure his company could offer comprehensive expertise for whatever his clients needed. One of the things Innovation Works does that many first-time entrepreneurs may not do is research the market to find comparable products to get a better idea of what was out there.

He also eliminated a difficult and laborious system to make it less stressful for budding entrepreneurs to get access to the things they needed to succeed.

Employees and leaders at Innovation Works were encouraged to be more accessible and got more involved in the community than they had been. They served as judges at business plan competitions and as mentors for youth programs as well as speakers at forums in the area.

Innovation Works gradually restored its reputation and became a destination point for entrepreneurs.

HOW TO REACH: Innovation Works, www.innovationworks.org

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