For a city’s startup scene to flourish, it requires a few crucial components: talent, networking, affordable office space, access to capital and entrepreneurial programming, to name a few. Northeast Ohio, with easy access to a wealth of robust startup resources, is already a great place for entrepreneurship. With the addition of Bounce Innovation Hub in Akron, it’s poised to get even stronger.
“There is such vibrancy and energy around our entrepreneurial community that we want to be a part of and help foster. Bounce is a dynamic resource for innovators and doers,” said Deborah Hoover, President and CEO of the Burton D. Morgan Foundation and Chair of Bounce’s Board of Directors. “If you look around the nation at some of the strongest startup environments, they often have a central, accessible hub. We want to signal to the community that if you have ideas, we have tools and the space to help you make them a reality.”
Bounce will be inheriting and enhancing the operations of its predecessors, the Akron Global Business Accelerator and The Bit Factory—both longtime northeast Ohio regional partners of Ohio Third Frontier. They have long histories of setting up startups for success, like Komae, Echogen Power Systems, Tag N’ Brag and more. To be considered a hub though, changes needed to occur, including to the operation, the physical space and the programming of these resources.
Bounce follows a new model for an innovation space—the “hub” model. It’s designed to be a magnet for startup founders, investors, students and makers—anybody interested in innovation. The idea is that when you bring together a diverse group of stakeholders under one roof, they can collaborate, create and commercialize more easily. This approach to innovation is based off of two notable hubs, the American Underground in Durham, N.C. and the Idea Foundry in Columbus.
The innovation hub is completely renovating the first floor of the historic B.F. Goodrich Building on Main Street in Akron with the help of a $2 million grant from the State of Ohio, adding makerspace, flexible meeting and co-working space and a community cafe. For programming, they’ll open their doors to more to collaborative events with their neighbors to the north in Cleveland, such as Flashstarts, Think[box], StartinCLE and others. New leadership is coming to Bounce as well, with the hiring of Douglas Weintraub, a successful entrepreneur, investor, and a founding member of JumpStart, an Ohio Third Frontier partner in Cleveland.
“We are evolving with the needs of entrepreneurs. Bounce is an acknowledgement that the environment has changed and startups and innovators require different resources. If we want to provide value to them, we have to evolve with them,” said Hoover. “We’re sending the community a message that Bounce is the city’s front door for innovators. If you have ideas, this is the first place you should come. It’s an open, inclusive place, representative of the community it’s in.”
Bounce leadership believes that the more talent and ideas you can get through the door, the better chance you have to turn those ideas into something substantial. Bounce believes its innovative approach will result in generating more ideas, turning more ideas into companies, and turning more companies into successes.
“This is going to be such a great resource for our community. This building will be buzzing with activity and bright people feeding off each other’s bright ideas,” said Hoover. “We’re really excited to establish our role in the region and establish a foundation for entrepreneurship in Akron. Successful companies are the pillars of every community, and we plan to do our part.”