Entrepreneur Eric Weissman knows how to get people on board with a new venture — quite literally. The man helped establish the Disney Cruise Line brand.
When Find Great People discovered Weissman, he was serving as the vice president of external relations at a startup catalyst he helped found in Cincinnati, Cintrifuse.
There, had steered the social media hashtag “#startupcincy” into a full-fledged online community for entrepreneurs.
Greenville’s Next incubator program expects his experience developing innovation ecosystems, supporting entrepreneurs in securing venture capital and leading diversity and inclusion programs will serve him well as the organization’s Next executive director, according to a news release.
“As we look to the future, Next has a goal of tripling investment in the entrepreneurial ecosystem that we serve,” Scott Millwood, chair of Next, said in the release. “Under Weissmann’s leadership, we are confident Next will have the strategic and visionary leadership needed to accomplish these goals.”
Over the years, Next has connected more than 120 Upstate companies to mentoring, facilities, $28 million in capital, fellowship with aspiring founders across the country, according to the release.
“I’m excited by the opportunity and encouraged by the amount of collaboration I already see in the Greenville community,” Weissmann said in the release. “We’re at a unique moment in time where cities across the country are fostering entrepreneurship by leveraging their unique strengths to attract talent and dollars with the goal of increasing economic development. Greenville’s got the raw materials to make a huge impact on the region and I’m ready to get to work.”
Weissmann is expected to begin work in September.
“Eric embodies the qualities we desired in the leader of Next: a proven leader with experience building world-class ecosystems for start-ups and developing innovative, collaborative teams and communities where entrepreneurs can thrive,” Carlos Phillips, Greenville Chamber president and CEO, said in the release.
The city of Greenville is a primary investor in Next, as part of its economic development strategy to attract small and medium-sized companies that provide high wage, knowledge-based jobs. Next was founded in 2006 and has three locations including Next Innovation, Next on Main and Next Manufacturing.
“Next is the vehicle the city utilizes to support early-stage scalable businesses,” Greenville City Manager John McDonough said in the release. “We ‘get’ entrepreneurs and the dreams that drive them. Hiring a founder who has successfully started companies, grown companies and marketed companies, to lead the Next organization showcases our commitment to becoming ‘the place’ for brilliant minds to start and grow their business.”