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What makes a startup accelerator great?

While many opinions have merit, the most common answer that UpTech 5 members give is Program Director, JB Woodruff. His humble, sincere support is reminiscent of a father that treats you like an adult. Take or leave his opinions for what they are, but you can bet he will give you honest and well-informed advice.

JB amassed a wealth of experience consulting with Accenture for 5 years and Centric for 3, advising startups in Kenya and Cape Town, and helping found multiple startups in Cincinnati. Aside from building a diverse skillset, these experiences helped JB find his passion in Cincinnati’s emerging startup community. In his words, he “felt like it was an opportunity to get involved early, so [he] could make [his] mark on it.” JB won’t readily admit it, but his mark on the program is obvious to everyone involved.

Glenn Lawyer, the CEO and founder of UpTech 5’s Healthcast, said that the primary reason he chose to apply to UpTech was “JB, who has himself a strong background in the startup world. He is someone who has a strong consulting background, who knows how to put together a process of innovation, who knows a lot about design.” How did Glenn form this understanding of JB before he even applied? Well, JB began offering one-on-one meetings in April of last year to initiate relationships with potential applicants—building trust and making sure the UpTech program would be a good fit.

Essentially, JB opens his calendar in April and encourages potential applicants to book some time to meet with him—preferably in person, but Skype works great too. Upon receiving a request to meet, JB replies within a couple of days. When Tim Mielke, founder of UpTech 5 company SuppleMental applied to UpTech, his company was still very early stage. Despite Tim’s reservations, “the day after [Tim] applied JB contacted [him] and said ‘can you come in tomorrow for an interview?’” JB gave him details about the program and critiqued Tim’s business model—telling him that he needed a stronger revenue model.

This blunt honesty is typical for JB, who believes that he is “a very honest person. Because if you’re not honest, you can’t build trust…And that’s everything in this program.” He will take the opportunity to poke holes in your company and give you some tough love. This means whether a company gets into the program or not, JB wants to make sure they “walk away with something that’s useful.”

Meet JB at the UpTech Info Session at New Riff on 5/9 and sign up for a one-on-one meeting. He wants to help shape perspectives, show realities, and advise startups any way he can. And if your company is a good fit? He will remember the conversation and help you through the application process. Who knows? You might just find yourself becoming a member of UpTech 6.

By: Jeremy Marks

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