Executive Director, Black River Innovation Campus
The Black River Innovation Campus (BRIC) is searching for our first Executive Director to mobilize our vision unlocking the economic potential of rural America. Based in Springfield, Vermont, this is a once-in-a-career opportunity to drive real social impact while working with an incredible network of local civic leaders and national partners from the tech and investment sectors including Reid Hoffman of Greylock Partners, Dartmouth College, Venable Law Firm, and the Center on Rural Innovation (CORI).
Specifically, the Executive Director for BRIC will be charged with spearheading this pilot effort to build a digital economy entrepreneurship center in this rural location. With $1.1M in secured funding, this person will report directly into the BRIC Board of Directors and will work in partnership with CORI on bringing BRIC to life.
A strong candidate must be a demonstrated leader who is both self-driven and deeply collaborative. Ideally, they will be able to work and operate at the intersection of social, public and private sectors, and they must also be passionate about the power of technology to transform our small communities.
Springfield itself is a very exciting location for this pilot effort, exemplifying many of the challenges we see in rural America today. Working actively to transition from its machine tool innovation past, Springfield has beautiful inexpensive buildings; proximity to I-91, Boston/NY, and Okemo Ski Resort; hydropower; and a 10 gigabit fiber broadband connection to every building in the town. The first executive director will be blazing a new course for building innovation and wealth in rural America.
BRIC’s strategy focuses on the development of an Innovation Campus in Springfield – an initiative that offers digital job skills training for the “future of work,” co-working space, distance work opportunities, new business incubation, housing for young knowledge workers, amenities and cultural resources. Critical to our approach is access to broadband infrastructure, partnerships with regional higher education institutions and venture financing, some of which we will provide via an Opportunity Zone seed capital fund we are planning to raise.
BRIC has partnered with the Center on Rural Innovation (CORI) to apply its model for building Innovation Campuses to our project in Springfield. The startups will receive training, connections to other innovation resources from around the country including those at Dartmouth College, and mentorship and support from LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman of Greylock Partners. The BRIC Board of Directors includes strong local community leadership combined with world class innovation thought leaders and investors. With over $1,100,000 in operating dollars already raised from the Kauffman Foundation, The Siegel Family Endowment, The Vermont Community Foundation, the US Economic Development Administration and members of the regional entrepreneurial community, the organization has the platform to become a model for rural communities around the country.
Our initiative will bring young innovators to the community and enable local talent to pursue digital careers. The primary program will launch a pitch contest focused on promising startups that rely on gigabit or greater bandwidth, the unique infrastructure available in Springfield, VT. Winners will be awarded a stipend, an apartment, training and mentoring support for one to two years while working on their inventions at the Springfield facility. BRIC will build the cohort over three years beginning with 2-4 teams in Year 1 and grow it to 10-12 data intensive startups by Year 3. We anticipate a number of the launched startups will remain in Springfield, contribute to the innovation ecosystem, bring new residents to the town and hire from within the community.
The Executive Director will be BRIC’s internal and external leader with high visibility throughout the regional and national tech and venture communities as well as within the local community of Springfield, VT. The Executive Director is responsible for building the Entrepreneurship Center from the ground up with a specific focus on hiring an excellent team to develop and implement strategies for operations, marketing, partnerships, start-up selection, and fundraising. The Executive Director will lead collaborative efforts with other aspects of the BRIC ecosystem including the computer science education program, remote work initiative and real estate development as it relates to creating an excellent live/work environment for the entrepreneurs.
The Director should have experience problem-solving for start-up companies and be able to communicate with and advocate for both the start-up teams and potential investors. The Director must have the strong operational and tactical capabilities needed to build a strong team and effective strategy within a nimble startup environment. Also, the Director should have experience fundraising from the public, private and government organizations.
- Refine the Entrepreneurship Center strategy, hire the core team and ultimately be responsible for achieving annual goals including fundraising, earned revenue and the development of successful technology startups in Springfield, VT.
- Work to continually improve and support strategies that encourage entrepreneurship at all levels and with an emphasis on inclusion.
- Align entrepreneurial activities with wider BRIC activities to attract companies, stakeholders and others to the Springfield ecosystem.
- Build a strong network of relationships with a variety of key stakeholders at the local, regional, state and national level to support and empower BRIC Entrepreneurs.
- Develop funding, talent and programmatic resources to advance startups.
- Manage the BRIC entrepreneurship center to maximize the support of the entrepreneurs, support other aspects of the technology eco-system and provide financial sustainability for BRIC.
- Create a detailed three year budget and milestones for approval by the Board of Directors, and manage the organization to meet those budget goals.
- Lead team that develops, maintains, and streamlines an effective set of programs and activities that support entrepreneurship and startup creation.
- Design and organize programs featuring workshops, mentor sessions, seasoned entrepreneurs and investors that will be the most impactful for the BRIC participants and the regional innovation ecosystem as a whole.
- Develop framework and implement a seed fund to support BRIC startups and provide an eventual return for the ongoing sustainability of the organization.
- Oversee the execution of an effective marketing plan to attract excellent startups for year long residencies in Springfield from both a regional and national pool of talent
- Maintain a robust and regular media presence that continually promotes the Entrepreneurship Center separately and in conjunction with BRIC.
- Promote entrepreneurial successes at BRIC to maintain and support a world-class reputation in entrepreneurship.
- Seek awards and recognition that demonstrate the excellence of the teams and the BRIC model.
- Successfully pursue fundraising and sponsorship opportunities from individuals, foundations and government sources to provide ongoing operating support of Entrepreneurship Center.
- Align entrepreneurial activities and assets to maximize opportunities for entrepreneurship, startup creation, commercialization of technologies and know-how, and move ideas to impact.
- Develop and raise seed capital fund from a combination of philanthropic, government and impact investors.
- Develop relationships with potential investors and support organizations that can advance the longer term success of startup teams within BRIC.
- Seek grant, fee and sponsorship funding for entrepreneurial initiatives.
- Develop and maintain a set of key metrics that demonstrate the effectiveness of the entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem. Metrics may include:
- Startup success metrics
- Program success metrics
- Awards and recognition metrics
- Funding metrics related to available resources, funds invested and funds leveraged via partnerships and the market
- Community engagement metrics
- Bachelor’s degree in a related field required, master’s degree preferred.
- 8-10 years of relevant experience working in a startup and/or venture ecosystem.
- Demonstrated interest, aptitude, and knowledge of technology, entrepreneurship, and venture.
- Proven ability as a highly motivated individual able to take the initiative and manage a variety of functions and projects simultaneously.
- Ability to manage multiple priorities with competing deadlines.
- Proven leadership and management experience including managing across the organization from board members to building a new team capable of executing on a mission.
- Experience interfacing with executive leadership, including sophisticated boards and stakeholders.
- Superior communication and presentation skills.
- Strong financial management skills.
- Experience raising funds and acquiring resources in the venture ecosystem.
Compensation commensurate with qualifications of the applicant.