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APS Grad Heads Up Bounce
Posted on 05/31/2018
Image of Doug Weintraub (as reported by Jennifer Conn, Cleveland.com)

Bounce CEO Doug Weintraub has serial entrepreneurism in his blood.

The Akron innovation hub's first CEO, Weintraub learned business at his father's knee. The quintessence of a self-made man, Bill Weintraub owned a scrap-metal company, Bill's Scrap and Auto Wrecking in Barberton, and later launched a successful real estate business. He involved his son along the way.

Doug Weintraub grew up in Akron and attended Akron schools from Case Elementary to his graduation from Firestone High School. At home, he was taught early about the importance of earning and the value of investing, he said.

Working summers his dad's scrap yard, Weintraub clearly remembers learning professionalism -- working to not break into a grin as money from a scrap sale was placed into his hand, while images of a new bike played in his head.

It's no surprise that, when Weintraub eventually attended The Ohio State University, he earned a business administration degree.

Upon graduation in 1982, he worked as an accountant and computer consultant in the Columbus area for a few years while remaining active with the university. He served on the President's Club Advisory Board of The Ohio State University, the Entrepreneurship Advisory Board for The Ohio State University Fisher School of Business and the Alumni Advisory Board of The Ohio State University.

Eventually, Weintraub and his wife, Janis, decided to move back to the Akron area. Weintraub wanted to diversify, so he invested in his dad's real-estate business and worked as an audit accountant.

Finally, working with numbers all day became too much. In 1986, he launched his own business -- Brunswick Integrated Computer Solutions, an accounting software company he would sell and eventually buy back as the industry fluctuated.

But with entrepreneurism running in his veins, he finally sold Brunswick in 2000 and exited the industry completely.

"Accounting is a wonderful background I use every day," he said. "It just wasn't on the cards for me long-term. I'm not a person to sit behind a desk and look at numbers -- especially old numbers."

But the move put him on a track more aligned with his real passion. Weintraub became an angel investor, mostly in software companies.

During that time -- post dot-com boom and crash -- a group of civic, community and philanthropic leaders in the Cleveland area were looking to stimulate the local economy through entrepreneurism.

They invited Weintraub to become treasurer of the board of JumpStart, an new initiative designed to support, mentor and grow startups and small businesses in Northeast Ohio.

At JumpStart, Weintraub was able to use his hands-on experience and his dad's early teachings to work with small businesses and entrepreneurs of every ilk, as well as businesses and community partners. He worked there for nearly a decade, moving from treasurer in 2003 to vice chair and treasurer through 2006. He served as JumpStart chairman from 2009-12 until he timed out of the position.

Throughout those years, Weintraub's drive to boost the local economy was also personal.

"I tried to create an environment where I could have my kids come back to the area," he said.

Since its founding in 2003, JumpStart has invested nearly $46 million in Ohio tech startups; worked with about 10,250 startups; and generated more than $5.6 billion in cumulative economic impact in Ohio, the website reports.

Since leaving JumpStart, Weintraub has continued investing in startups.

At the helm of Bounce since March, Weintraub is guiding the former Akron Global Accelerator in the old B.F. Goodrich plant into its next stage of life. And he's already in full swing, building the team, courting new startups, planning programming and building partnerships.

"We're working with ideas around funding ... and we're finding extremely open companies locally and larger corporations supportive of Bounce and innovation," he said. "We're having a great time working through that process along the way."

Still supporting startups and small businesses like its predecessor, Bounce is adding office, co-working, event and maker space, in addition to a cafe and an esports lab. The facility is also open to Akron's growing arts industry, with Weintraub reaching out to get area arts organizations involved.

It's all designed to serve more individuals and businesses interested in inventing and innovating in Akron, ultimately to strengthen the local economy.

As for startups interested in joining the Bounce ranks, Weintraub's team is inundated with inquiries.

But from experience, Weintraub knows he also needs scale-ups -- companies farther along in the process that have already raised at least $1.5 million in capital.

"I'm reaching out to the same database of people who once called me for money and asking them to consider moving in," he said. "I got out my Rolodex, and looked at my relationships, which are ground zero for entrepreneurship, and away we go."

With the first floor of Bounce already under construction as maker and co-working space is created, and offices slowly filling, Weintraub has a clear idea of how a good day at Bounce would go. The place is bustling from the first floor to the ninth, with people sharing ideas, meeting with investors and working with others to see their dreams come to fruition.

It's all about Bounce being used to its maximum capacity, he said.

"At the end of the day, it's a building, but it's the people that make the businesses," Weintraub said. "When we have a complete team of experienced entrepreneurs on our staff - pushing or pulling them through the process - we'll know we're successful."

Image of Doug Weintraub
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