Entrepreneurs in Residence

An entrepreneur in residence is an individual with the experience and skills required to take an idea or technology from concept to commercialization. The ideal EIR is looking to build their next startup by finding viable commercialization opportunities in the Venture Lab’s Pre-Accelerator program and then working with that team to pitch for early-stage capital (from the University of Cincinnati and beyond) in order to validate the idea with customers, determine product-market fit and build the product toward commercialization and launch.  

While the role is flexible, what is consistent is that this is a roll-up-your-sleeves opportunity with the EIR taking responsibility for leading the team to successful deliverables and outcomes as they progress through the program. The EIR is the driver of the team during the Venture Lab process (after the pre-accelerator) and acts as the executive chairman or CEO or leads the process to help recruit a CEO upon company formation.

EIRs are accomplished founders and/or industry experts who have a wide range of experience and interests. They have the passion, energy and experience to take a rough idea from concept to company formation and product launch. EIRs have practical experience leading businesses, working with customers and building products in a fast-paced environment.


Skills and Competencies

  • A proven track record of taking ideas and bringing them to market
  • Breadth of experience in running high-growth companies
  • Experience in product development and/or commercializing technologies
  • Entrepreneurial, with an enthusiasm for very early-stage technology businesses
  • Excellent communication skills to effectively collaborate with teams
  • A unique mix of experience, soft skills, leadership and domain expertise
  • A credible yet humble leader, bringing what it takes to support the teams while operating in an atmosphere of uncertainty

Process to Become an EIR

Because the EIR role is so critical to success of our teams, we have crafted a simple but deliberate process to ensure ideal fit within the Venture Lab community. Importantly, this process will also help us cultivate and discover new EIR talent.

  1. An individual interested in becoming an EIR should begin by contacting David Zellen (zellendm@ucmail.uc.edu) to schedule a brief discussion to learn more about the Venture Lab program, and to share background experiences and qualifications and reasons for wanting to become an EIR.

  2. Once accepted into the program, EIRs are expected to participate in person in the weekly Pre-Accelerator sessions to coach teams. EIRs are also expected to attend the Pre-Accelerator graduation presentations for each cohort (four times a year). The goal of this part of the program is to identify and vet ideas and teams who you are interested in leading toward commercialization.
  3. Once you have exposure to the teams and operations of the Venture Lab, and there is a team that you desire to work with, you should reach out to David Zellen to understand the pitch process for Venture Lab funding.

Leading a Team

When an EIR has joined a team and successfully led them through the pitch process to be funded, they are responsible for driving the path to commercialization by actively managing the team, product, funding and budgets and ensuring that milestones are achieved.  


Duties

  • As executive chairman or CEO, lead the formation of the company, vision for success, go-to-market plan, product roadmap development and funding plan/initial capital raise.
  • Help the team rapidly learn and internalize how startups think and behave, and support areas that are unfamiliar and intimidating to new founders.
  • Lead, prioritize and drive projects from concept to commercialization by facilitating or conducting customer discovery, defining and building an MVP, testing hypotheses of market segments, business models and identifying a compelling value proposition with a distinct competitive advantage.
  • Define, validate, prioritize and deliver the critical features and functionality of the product to customers as quickly as possible.
  • Identify the talent needs that the team may have, assign roles as appropriate and coach the team.
  • Manage and approve spending plans and submit quarterly reports required by the Venture Lab.
  • Help evaluate team pitches when needed to sit on commercialization committees.

Coaches

The Venture Lab welcomes qualified, passionate individuals who are willing to provide their expertise and connections to our teams, even if they are not available to become an EIR. Coaches function to help with the Pre-Accelerator program by sitting with teams each week and helping to mentor them through the program.  Coaches will be invited to many events and can participate as desired. If you have an interest in becoming a coach, please reach out to David Zellen (zellendm@ucmail.uc.edu).