SpringBox Labs Announces New Director and Completes Milestone Renovation

SpringBox Labs is a great place to work if you’re an entrepreneur.

The accelerator is home to nearly 3 dozen companies, more than 130 founding employees and $32 million in revenue. SpringBox entrepreneurs have real time access to venture advisors who have more than 200 collective years of experience in founding and funding startup companies.

SBL renovation

Plus, last year, SpringBox Labs companies raised nearly 2.7 times the investment capital of companies not resident in SpringBox Labs.

And if that’s not enough of a draw, there’s more. We’ve just concluded extensive renovations of our shared areas, meeting rooms, technical support, and office space—including a comfy green curvy couch which is a collaboration magnet.

And there’s one more thing.

We are pleased to introduce John Hrivnak, SpringBox Labs new director. John is an Ohio native and graduate of Ohio State.  He’s served in the military, earned his MBA at the University of Colorado, and started an initiative to introduce veterans to entrepreneurship as a career option.

TC: You’ve packed a lot of diverse experience into the last ten years of your life.

John HrivnakJH: I have moved around a little bit. I was in the National Guard for six years. After I graduated from Ohio State, I did a tour of duty in Iraq and then went to work for a department of defense contractor doing operations work. I had gone to school for communications and marketing but that was in 2008 and there weren’t jobs in marketing. Eventually I was sent back to Afghanistan doing HR work for about 6,000 people with 10 employees.

TC: And after that you circumnavigated the globe?

JH: My wife and I saved up our money from Afghanistan—she worked there too—and traveled for almost a year, stopping in 26 countries. While we were traveling something bit me about entrepreneurship. Oversees we saw so many instances of people starting their own businesses. India was one of our favorites. In India everyone is an entrepreneur. To get by, everyone has to start their own business. It’s either some kind of a consulting service, opening a shop, or selling in the marketplace. I started keeping notes about all the ideas that were coming to me. We wanted to move to a community that valued that. Boulder has a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem. There are several accelerators, large VC and angel funds, and the University of Colorado has a strong program. It was a perfect place for my wife and me to do what we wanted to do.

TC: So you packed up and moved from Ohio to Colorado. While you were there you became involved with TechStars, a mentorship-driven global accelerator that began in Boulder and has expanded to seven other locations.

JH: I started working with TechStars on a program to help military vets start their own companies. We took the TechStars three-month accelerator model and condensed it into three days for vets—not with the goal of investment or equity, but to inspire vets a lot of whom don’t realize that entrepreneurship is an option. Now alumni who have gone through are sponsoring their own Patriot Boot Camp. It’s become this organic, grassroots thing where people who have gone through help other vets in their own community.

TC: And now your travels and aspirations have led you back to Ohio.

JH: Our friends and family are here, but it’s more than that. When I was living in Columbus before, there wasn’t a lot going on with entrepreneurship. While I was in Boulder, I would check back on Ohio to see what was going on. TechColumbus caught my eye.

SpringBox Labs was taking a different approach than a lot of other accelerators. It’s more hands on. The advisors develop relationships with companies and entrepreneurs and work closely with them to help them grow.

With other accelerators, you come in, work for three months, do pitch day, and then you are done. It’s intense and close when you’re there, but after you go out on your own, there isn’t much.

I like the SpringBox model more. They dive in deep here for much longer and closer relationships. Once companies move on from SpringBox Labs, TechColumbus stays involved with helping them.

It all peaked my interested and as I was finishing up my MBA, it seemed to all make sense to come back here.

TC: You haven’t been here very long, but is there something you know already you’d like to accomplish?

JH: I still have a lot to learn here, but there is one thing I want to work on for sure. That’s encouraging the companies and entrepreneurs to come out of their suites and get to know their peers here in SpringBox Labs. We’ve created a great new communal space. It’s a way to get to know everyone, not just the TechColumbus advisors.

When you’re an entrepreneur, it’s hard NOT to just keep your nose to the grindstone. But that can cut you off. We want to use our renovated space to help build a communal feeling in SpringBox Labs. This is a friendly place with amazing resources. We don’t want any entrepreneur to miss out.


 You don’t have to live in SpringBox Labs to visit. There’s a spot on the curvy green sofa waiting for you. It’s a great way to get to know us and to get to know other Columbus entrepreneurs. Stop by.

And if you’d like more information about TechColumbus’ venture acceleration services, contact us.

Category: SpringBox Labs


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