Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EiR) Program
POSITION: Founder and Chief Inspiration Officer at Nick Jackson Speaks and Speakers of Love and Certified Coach at Five Capitals.
FOCUS: Entrepreneurship; Social Entrepreneurship, Startups
Nick Jackson is owner and creator of Nick Jackson Speaks and Speakers of Love. Nick was honored with the TEDxCincinnati People’s Choice Award in 2014 for his inspiring speech at Memorial Hall. To date, he has enlightened, entertained, and championed the lives of over 1 million people.
In 2003, Nick earned a bachelor degree in Special Education and Teach from Mount Saint Joseph University. He began his career as the first African-American male teacher and coach at Reading and Norwood City Schools in Ohio, and later taught and coached at Fort Thomas (Highlands) Independent School District in Kentucky and goes down in the history as their first Afro-American educator. While at those schools, Nick coached two high school football teams to state championships and never had a losing season.
He was also elected by NBC, Showtime and Fox Sports’ Cris Collinsworth to become the national spokesperson for UGive, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering the next generation of volunteers. Nick believes his crowning achievement in life is orchestrating volunteer groups that have generated over 100,000 meals and 2,500 haircuts for homeless neighbors, single mothers, and friends.
FOCUS: Entrepreneurship; Startup and High Growth Strategy; Venture Capital; and Seed-, Early-stage and Growth Stage Funding
John McIlwraith co-founded Allos Ventures in 2010 to focus on investments in early-stage technology companies based in the Midwest. Since then, Allos has invested in 23 high growth companies and has earned a reputation as one of the leading venture capital firms in the region. John started his career as a corporate lawyer with Jones Day, where he co-founded the Private Ventures Group to serve the needs of entrepreneurs and venture capital investors.
After several years of representing VC firms and early-stage technology companies, he joined publicly-traded Quantum Health Resources, a provider of drugs and related therapies to individuals with rare, chronic diseases, as SVP of strategic planning and general counsel. After leading Quantum’s sale to Olsten Health Services in 1997, John joined Blue Chip Venture Company, an early-stage venture firm based in Cincinnati. John holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Hillsdale College and Juris Doctorate (JD) from Case Western University. His investment experience includes software, business service, consumer product and healthcare companies such as Cincinnati-based Assurex Health, where he served as chairman of the board.
During his career, he has been involved in over 50 venture capital investments and served on over 20 boards of directors. He was a founding member of the Michigan Venture Capital Association board of directors; was the founding chairman of VentureOhio; and is a founding board member of OCEAN Accelerator. John is also a member of the board of directors of publicly-traded Meridian Bioscience, a Cincinnati-based provider of innovative diagnostic tests and related technologies.
Holly N. O’Driscoll
POSITION: Founder and CEO at Ampersand Innovation, and Former Global Design Thinking Leader & Innovation Strategist at P&G.
FOCUS: Entrepreneurship, Corporate Innovation, Creativity, and Design Thinking.
Holly O’Driscoll is an industry expert in the field of Design Thinking and human centered innovation. She has enabled the transformation of organizations through teaching the method and mindset of Design Thinking. As Global Design Thinking Leader at P&G, Holly partnered with teams across the company to program and facilitate more than 250 Design Thinking experiences, often at the request of C-suite executives. Holly’s passions include problem framing, the application of Design Thinking to organizational strategy, unleashing the diversity of people, leadership philosophy and creating conditions that allow human creativity and curiosity to thrive.
Throughout her 20+ year career, Holly has built a reputation as a master human centered innovation strategist, trainer and facilitator. She is the founder and CEO of Ampersand Innovation, LLC; a Design Thinking and human centered innovation strategy consultancy focused on unleashing the diversity and potential of people and ideas via workshops, design sprints, and capability development.
Holly is the faculty chairperson and lead instructor of the Rutgers University Design Thinking Executive Education program. She has guest lectured on the topic of Design Thinking at The Parsons School of Design, Harvard Business School, Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, Michigan State University, University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Business, and more. In January 2018, she was named one of Michael Bloomberg’s Design Thinking Coaches for the Bloomberg Philanthropies USA Mayor’s Challenge project, and one of her cities was awarded a $1 million prize to take their idea to the next level.
Holly holds a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and an MBA in Business Administration and Management from Thomas More Community College.
Position: Founder and CEO at ConnXus and Board Member at The Techstars Foundation
Focus: Entrepreneurship, Startup, and High Growth Strategy
Rod Robinson is the founder and CEO of ConnXus, Inc., a supplier data management software company that enables Global 2000 companies to discover new suppliers, manage supplier diversity tracking, supplier risk, compliance and reporting. ConnXus’ cloud-based platform provides powerful tools and analytics that enable large companies to validate, quantify and measure the diversity within corporate supply chains.
Since starting the company, Rod has led the company through successfully raising $12 million in venture capital, 100%+ annual revenue growth, a database of over one million diverse suppliers and a growing list of global customers including American Express, Caesars Entertainment, Coca-Cola, Cummins, Dell, Fifth Third Bank, McDonald’s and Procter & Gamble. Rod currently serves on the Advisory Board of The Techstars Foundation and previously served as Chief Procurement Officer at Cincinnati Bell.
Rod holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the West Virginia University Institute of Technology and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a Dun & Bradstreet fellowship recipient. Rod was recognized by Ernst & Young as a regional Entrepreneur of the Year finalist in 2012.
Position: Executive Director and Senior Advisor at Flywheel Social Enterprise Hub and Advisory Board at The Women’s Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation.
Focus: Social Entrepreneurship, Impact Investing and Revenue-based Financing, Entrepreneurial Ecosystem-Building
Bill Tucker is Executive Director and Senior Advisor at Flywheel Social Enterprise Hub, a Cincinnati, Ohio nonprofit, where he guides the agency as it builds the capacity of startups that harness power of the marketplace to achieve social and environmental good. Under his leadership, Flywheel has leveraged Cincinnati’s entrepreneurial ecosystem in support of startup founders and nonprofit leaders with coaches and consultants, angel investors, philanthropists, and business partners. Hundreds of startup founders and nonprofit leaders have benefited from Flywheel programs including: Elevator, a social impact accelerator, SustainableCincy, a pre-accelerator, Opt In, for 1:1 coaching, Philanthroprenurs™, for angel impact investors and Flywheel Certified Coaches, a network for coaches.
Prior to joining Flywheel, Bill served as Executive Vice President at Berman, Touchpoint Print Solutions Company, a regional commercial printer based in Cincinnati, OH with a client list that includes many respected Fortune 500 companies. Previously, he spent 13 years at RR Donnelley as a Plant President and VP of Sales.
Bill holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Texas Tech University and is an alumnus of the Kellogg School of Management’s Advanced Executive Program.
POSITION: Vice President, Communications, Community & Economic Inclusion, Cintrifuse.
FOCUS: Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurial Ecosystem-Building, Startup, Venture Capital.
Eric Weissmann is Vice President of Communications, Community & Economic Inclusion at Cintrifuse – a Greater Cincinnati organization catalyzing regional startup growth. Eric is passionate about innovation and building communities through entrepreneurship. As one of the leading voices behind StartupCincy, the umbrella brand that threads through the region’s innovation network, Eric ensures startup entrepreneurs (of all colors, technologies and genders) find connections that move them to the next lilypad in their journey – wherever that may be. Through his involvement with nationwide organizations like Rise of the Rest, the Kauffman Foundation, Powderkeg, Village Capital and Techstars, Eric broadcasts the success of StartupCincy beyond its geographic borders and actively collaborates with other ecosystems to amplify and share best practices.
Eric’s background blends the discipline and focus of corporate marketing with the flexibility and resourcefulness of startup/small business leadership. His early experiences at Fifth Third Bank and the Walt Disney Company helped provide the perspective and long-term vision sometimes in short supply in the idea-a-minute world of entrepreneurs and venture-backed startups.
Eric is a graduate of The Ohio State University and is on the local board of Venture for America, a fellowship program for recent college grads with a passion to work at startups; an Entrepreneur in Residence at Miami University; and on the Board of Advisors for the Williams College of Business at Xavier University.
Position: Partner and Chair, Emerging Company Practice at Thompson Hine LLP
Focus: Venture Capital, Early and Growth Stage Funding, Technology Transfer, Corporate
Governance, Mergers and Acquisitions
David is Partner and Chair, Early Stage and Emerging Company Practice, at Thompson Hine LLP, a full-service law firm established in 1911 with approximately 400 lawyers in Atlanta, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, New York, and Washington D.C. David focuses his practice on working with entrepreneurs and emerging companies, accelerators and incubators, early stage investors and venture capital funds, and research institutions and BigCo corporate innovation teams.
Prior to joining Thompson Hine, David worked in the technology industry, holding the dual role of CFO and General Counsel at a series of venture-backed companies.
David holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard University and a JD from the University of Cincinnati, where he was Valedictorian and Editor-in-Chief of the University of Cincinnati Law Review.
David has been recognized every year by The Best Lawyers in America in the area of Venture Capital Law from 2007-2019, and has been named “Lawyer of the Year” three times (2014, 2017, and 2019).
David lectures frequently at the undergraduate level, and he is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, where he teaches a course on Startups, Venture Capital & Private Equity, and at the University of Michigan College of Law, where he teaches a course on corporate mergers and acquisitions.