West Coast startup executive picked as new director of U-M Center for Entrepreneurship
Talent migration in the startup community often drags the best and brightest from the Midwest out to the coasts where venture capital is more plentiful, but not this time.
The University of Michigan has convinced at least one innovator the trend should move in the opposite direction, hiring California-based startup executive Tom Frank to lead its Center for Entrepreneurship.
Photo Courtesy Hollywood Radio & TV Society
“U-M’s entrepreneurship program is in such an explosive growth phase. The university is committed on a campuswide basis to making it the best program in the country, with an emphasis on creating new opportunities for students.”
Frank has been involved in the entertainment and technology sectors in California for more than 25 years. He began his career at Procter & Gamble and served as the chief operating officer at online media distributer RealNetworks during the first Internet Boom in the 1990s.
As the President, CEO or co-founder of six different startups between March 2002 and January 2013, Frank deepened his involvement in the digital media and entrepreneurial worlds. In a press release from the University of Michigan, Frank said the experience he has gained as an entrepreneur will positively translate to work in the academic sector.
“The very nature of building companies and helping them identify a successful strategy to their own growth and success are the same principles that need to be applied to academic programs that prepare students to deal with these challenges when they leave school,” he said.
Frank, who begins his work at the university on July 22, replaces Doug Neal, who had been director of the Center for Entrepreneurhsip since August 2009. Neal left the center in May and co-found Michigan eLab, a new Michigan-based venture capital firm.
Thomas Zurbuchen, associate dean for entrepreneurial programs in the College of Engineering said Frank stood out among hundreds of candidates as someone with practical entrepreneurship experience and a passion for academics.
Officially housed in the College of Engineering, the Center for Entrepreneurship operates offices in North and Central campus that offer resources for student entrepreneurs regardless of their major. The center also runs the TechArb student startup incubator that houses student startup companies and helps them mature and find early-stage funding sources.
In addition to its work with students, the center is responsible for the Michigan I-Corp program. Using funding from the National Science Foundation, the Center for Entrepreneurship organizes intensive training for basic scientists to develop business plans and engage in customer discovery in order to commercialize their inventions.
Ben Freed covers business for AnnArbor.com. You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Get in touch with Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at email@example.com. Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2