, Northern Kentucky's informatics accelerator, has recently announced the addition of a new member to its team
. As the accelerator's first Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EiR), JB Woodruff is evidence that UpTech is growing and changing for the better. Now, with a business coach on hand, UpTech's third class of startups will likely have a leg up when they graduate next spring.
Unlike a mentor, of which UpTech has many, Woodruff will not be offering industry-specific advice to the startups at the accelerator. Instead, he will offer strategic advice and coach the young companies on the general direction of their business. With a plethora of industry experience under his belt, Woodruff will act not only as a peer to whom the company founders can relate, but also as the person who oversees their development. He meets with each startup for one hour each week to discuss their progress and make sure things are moving forward.
Amanda Greenwell, Uptech's program director, sees Woodruff's arrival as a sign of UpTech's growth as an accelerator. With an EiR added to the roster, there is now someone at UpTech who is responsible for making sure these companies are actually accelerating.
"He totally fits in with our culture, he's a super nice guy, and you don't want to let him down," Greenwell says. "You want to please him, you want to make sure you're doing what you say you're going to do."
Woodruff, a Cincinnati native, has worked with 20-30 startups in the past and has traveled all over the world, including South Africa, Nairobi, Kenya, to work with accelerators. He also helped jumpstart two local companies, Araytha
, and has worked with UpTech in the past as an instructor for one of its lean startup method courses.
Woodruff sees his new role at UpTech as that of a motivator—someone who is there on a regular basis and is not only a peer, but also a tremendous resource for everything from graphic design, branding, marketing, web development and business strategy. His goal as the new EiR is to also make sure UpTech's decision to accept these companies into their program was a smart one.
"They made an investment," he says. "I'm here to help assure that they get a return on that investment."
Woodruff decided to work with UpTech because he was impressed with the UpTech vibe. When he returned from Cape Town, South Africa, last year, he was anxious to get involved in the thriving startup scene. He met dozens of people in the industry, but when he met the folks at UpTech, something clicked.
"They were by far the most open and engaged," he says. "They were not hesitant to say, 'We want you to work with us.'"
Woodruff is the official EiR for UpTech's third class of startups, UpTech III, which will graduate from the program in February 2015. Though Woodruff and his wife have lived in several different places over the years, they will be staying in Northern Kentucky for the foreseeable future.