The CEC Mentor Network includes 200 representatives of small, medium, and large businesses spanning dozens of industries in the tristate area. Students reach out to CEC Mentor Network members; receiving feedback, advice, and counseling.
The Center welcomes volunteers from a variety of fields to support its programs and events and the businesses, entrepreneurs, faculty, and students we serve.
Competent professionals of ethical character with expertise in all areas of business, entrepreneurship, engineering, banking and finance, industrial design, prototyping, manufacturing, and law, among others. A minimum of three to five years of experience is required for most volunteer opportunities.
The Center coordinates a university and city-wide network of mentors that help faculty and students from across all colleges at UC. Strong demand comes from entrepreneurial faculty and students from the Carl H. Lindner College of Business, College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS), College of Design, Architechure, Art, and Planning (DAAP), and the College of Medicine (COM) in particular, though volunteers will be available to serve faculty and students from all UC colleges participating in Center programs.
This volunteer program is coordinated in cooperation with other UC departments and programs that are providing support for entrepreneurship. The shared purpose is to increase the number of opportunities for internal and external accelerators, incubators, and investors as well as to facilitate job creation by increasing the number of startups and viable technologies coming out of UC.
Our volunteers find their interactions with high energy UC student and faculty entrepreneurs very rewarding! Volunteering provides you an opportunity to give back and to share your own expertise. It gives you a firsthand view of fresh ideas and new technologies being developed at UC. The spirit of entrepreneurship is growing and flourishing at UC. We are receiving excellent support from the business community, the Cincinnati entrepreneurship ecosystem including local accelerators and incubators, and private individuals interested in supporting faculty and student entrepreneurs. Registering as a volunteer will allow us to connect those that want to provide help with those that need help to become successful entrepreneurs.
What will I do as a volunteer?
Our volunteers motivate faculty and students to plan and launch businesses and commercialize innovative technologies, coach them on strategies to facilitate their success, and connect them with knowledge, resources and contacts that will enable them to launch promising startups that accelerate economic development in our region.
We can tailor your volunteer involvement to suit your personal schedule and needs. Registering as a mentor is simply a show of interest.
Volunteer functions include:
Attend elevator pitch or business plan competitions. Ask questions and appraise pitches and presentations. Provide written or verbal feedback during the competition.
Judges are needed toward the end of fall and spring semesters (around early December and April) in new venture planning courses (ENTR 2001, ENTR 5070, ENTR 7005). Judges are also needed for our competitions in December and April. Judging a competition is a commitment of approximately two to four hours.
Prepare students to succeed in internal and external competitions including, but not limited to, Innovation Quest Elevator Pitch Competition, Ohio Clean Energy Competition, Cardinal Challenge, and the Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition.
This is typically a one-to-three month commitment that involves multiple meetings and communications with the students leading up to the competition. Multiple mentors with diverse skillsets may be assigned to each team as needed to ensure adequate support. This is a time commitment of approximately 20 hours.
Coach participants in an entrepreneurship course on presenting an elevator pitch, making a presentation to bankers/investors, and writing a detailed business plan. Motivate and inspire participants to launch the business they are planning. They help them to qualify for funding from the Center and/or elsewhere. You must be willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement if requested by the students, though some teams may seek to partner with you in launching their venture. (Your involvement in the launch is not mandatory, but is encouraged.)
This is a semester-long commitment that involves meeting two to four times per month with students. You can expect to attend some class sessions with the team and arrange for team meetings as needed. We need volunteers primarily in the fall and spring semesters in new venture planning courses like ENTR 7005 and ENTR 5070. Multiple mentors with diverse skillsets may be assigned to each team as needed to ensure adequate support. It is approximately a 20 hour volunteer commitment.
Faculty entrepreneurs often enlist the support of their graduate students in developing technologies, evaluating the commercial viability of their inventions, and writing business plans. They often request their students to enroll in business planning courses (ENTR 7005) to ensure they have support from entrepreneurship faculty. In such cases the duties and time commitment of faculty entrepreneur mentors are similar to those of the course team mentors, with the exception that the mentor interacts directly with the faculty entrepreneur as well as the students. In other cases, faculty may choose to work directly with the volunteer mentor.
Time commitment varies in this role, but you can anticipate 30-plus hours. In this role, there may be meaningful opportunities for you to partner with the faculty/students in the launch of a new venture and/or commercialization of a new technology.
Coordinate with faculty to determine relevant topics to your areas of expertise. Prepare meaningful content for use in the classroom, or at club or program events.
Speakers are needed in a variety of entrepreneurship courses in all semester. Guest speaking is a commitment of approximately two hours, plus preparation time.
Sounding board volunteers respond to student or faculty inquires regarding the viability of new business ideas. They provide feedback on early stage business concepts and refer students to the Center for information regarding courses, student organizations, and extracurricular programs.
Time commitment is approximately thirty minutes per inquiry, and demand is highest in fall and spring semesters.
Venture launch mentors have often worked with students in other capacities prior to this role. It includes guiding faculty and students in taking initial steps toward launching their new ventures.
Once a team is ready for launch, ongoing support may be needed, and the level of support varies from team to team.
When will I be needed?
Once you have registered as a volunteer, we will contact you as suitable opportunities arise that match your interests and expertise. You will be free to accept or decline these opportunities based on your availability at the time. We want to tailor your volunteer commitment to suit your schedule, so that volunteering with UC is a win-win for you and the entrepreneurs, faculty, and students served.
For questions regarding volunteering at the Center, please contact Center Executive Director Tom Dalziel.