The Corridor Conversation: Scott Jacobs
Scott Jacobs is president of the QCA Education Foundation and executive director of Queen City Angels – the longest-established organized angel group in the Midwest. QCA’s current portfolio includes Standard Bariatrics, NaviStone, Fortis and a variety of other local companies. Its sponsors are some of the region’s most prestigious businesses, whose relevant contributions help make possible high-value programs such as QCA’s annual Entrepreneur Boot Camp – a program that has trained and educated nearly 550 entrepreneurs over the past 17 years as they embark on their startup journey.
At QCA, Scott proactively manages programming, educational sessions, event management, membership engagement and sponsor relationships. He works diligently to support the local entrepreneur ecosystem through networking, financial support, educational programming and additional QCA network resources, including sponsors, community leaders and subject matter experts. Scott also monitors QCA’s deal flow process.
Scott’s career spans more than 35 years with proven success in brand management, marketing communications, sales and general management.
Tell us a little about the role Queen City Angels plays in the innovation economy.
Queen City Angels supports and promotes high technology, high growth startup businesses by providing smart capital to founding teams. As such QCA has the opportunity to see the newest ideas coming from founders and founding teams in many high technology verticals utilizing many of our society’s newest technology inventions. These technology inventions may be found in the areas of software (e.g. artificial intelligence, block chain technology, augmented and virtual reality, online platforms) and platform technologies being used in life sciences applications. Our QCA angel members provide over 20,000 hours per year coaching, mentoring, and guiding technology entrepreneurs on how to go-to market, secure angel investment, and scale their businesses.
What do you look for when deciding whether to invest in a company?
QCA places its bets on the jockey and not the horse! Founding teams, founders/CEOs of early stage businesses QCA funds tend to grade high in emotional intelligence and intellect, possess strong business acumen, and show signs of coachability. With our long history in investing in early stage companies, we know that business models, and the earliest assumptions may be tested and may need to evolve. QCA is looking for founders who are willing to work with QCA to identify early adaptations and quick adjustments such that capital efficiency is recognized. The value proposition QCA brings to the table for the companies we invest in is the fact that we have over 60 EIRs (entrepreneurs-in-residence) that are poised to help founders solve problems and aid in founders’ success.
How has angel investing changed in the five years you’ve been at QCA?
While we have seen increased interest and engagement in angel investing over the past 5 years, we have much work to do to get many other accredited investors off the sidelines to help in providing capital in the form of investment and business assistance. Our community is so rich in intellectual capital and philanthropy. We have many experienced life sciences and business executives who can give of their time and expertise to help our founder community grow. QCA wants to be the conduit for this support as we feel it is vitally important for the vibrancy and health of our local economy.
What do you view as the major strengths of the Uptown Innovation Corridor?
Capitalizing on the proximity and support of our phenomenal research hospitals and world class university (UC), the Uptown Innovation Corridor plays a big role in our innovation economy. From the huge investment UC has made in the 1819 Innovation Hub and the support the big companies are putting behind it, to the new Co/Made maker space that is in the works, Cincinnati can be viewed in a different way, in a more positive light as a central hub – not just another flyover city. Congratulations to all the great work done by the Uptown Consortium in helping to make this happen for our city!
What innovation economy trends do you see being significant in next two or three years?
I believe we will continue to see more and better use of data in the next two-three years. With quantum computing coming onboard in the not too distant future, we will have step changes in AI, and businesses will have even more insight into what their consumers want. We live in a very exciting time in human history!