Cintrifuse today announced the appointment of Wendy Lea as its new Chief Executive Officer. Lea is an accomplished Silicon Valley executive with deep experience in marketing, sales, and customer experience. She is an expert at digital innovation and has worked with hundreds of companies around the world, from start-ups to large multinational corporations. Lea has experience with freemium, direct, and indirect business models. She has broad knowledge in business financing, from bootstrapped start-ups to venture funds and private equity partnerships.
Lea serves on several boards, including Get Satisfaction where she is the executive chair. Get Satisfaction is the leader in online customer communities and is headquartered in San Francisco.
The Cintrifuse board of directors selected Lea after a national search for the non-profit’s permanent leader and was impressed with her range of entrepreneurial experience, mentoring capabilities with accelerator programs (Cincinnati’s The Brandery and Boulder’s TechStars), as well as her track record in collaborating with multinational corporations to adopt modern and innovative technology initiatives.
Entrepreneurship Thrives in Cincinnati
Greater Cincinnati now finds itself at the forefront of national conversations as startup entrepreneurs and venture capitalists invest outside Silicon Valley. Lea’s success as both a boot-strapped and venture-backed entrepreneur brings a level of experience to the region not seen before. Her deep professional network will also serve as a magnet for entrepreneurs looking to disrupt the status quo.
“On behalf of the board, we’re thrilled that this process led us to Wendy,” said Valarie Sheppard, Cintrifuse board chair. “It’s a perfect match. She’s the right person for our ecosystem and we feel we’re the right ecosystem for her. She brings the perspective of a seasoned expert and we’re very fortunate to have her join our community. We’re confident her passion and leadership will have immediate impact as she raises the visibility of our region’s desire to attract high quality entrepreneurs and ensure their success.”
Cintrifuse Fuels Entrepreneurship
Cintrifuse was formed in 2012 when the Cincinnati Business Committee commissioned McKinsey & Company to conduct a comprehensive study on what would make the Greater Cincinnati region more attractive to startup entrepreneurs and outside investment. Cintrifuse now counts 112 startups as members who take advantage of the organization’s broad range of service offerings – advisory services (such as mentoring and office hours), connections to talent, funding, and customers, as well as operating co-working space in downtown Cincinnati.
“I’ve been traveling to Cincinnati for some time,” says Lea, “and was always impressed how the global corporations in the region openly embraced innovation. Having lived in Boulder during the early days of TechStars and having now seen that effort scale across the U.S., I’m more confident than ever that the future of American business lies with innovation driven by entrepreneurs. I’m completely thrilled to build on the success of Cintrifuse and the foundation the Greater Cincinnati ecosystem has so credibly established.”
Lea was also drawn by the Cintrifuse Fund – a $57 million fund of funds – an investment vehicle for the region’s Fortune 500 corporations, mid-cap companies, and foundations who want to support innovation. The fund invests in venture capital firms from outside the region encouraging them to do business in Cincinnati either through their portfolio companies or by direct investment. Seven Cincinnati startups have received funding from the Cintrifuse Fund network.
“The foundation of Cintrifuse is rock solid; the corporate and community support is significant,” adds Lea. “This type of public support and track record doesn’t happen overnight and it certainly doesn’t happen all on its own. We’ve got a great story to tell, an impressive set of company and entrepreneurial relationships to leverage, and I’m confident we have what it takes to make a difference on the national scene.”
Lea also serves on the board of directors of Corporate Visions (San Francisco) and Xyleme (Boulder). She was named one of the Top 100 Women of Influence in Silicon Valley and is a member of Committee of 200 and Watermark – organizations that engage and mentor executive women. She will officially start as CEO on October 21 and make her home in Cincinnati.
For more on Wendy – visit her LinkedIn profile or follow her on Twitter at @wendyslea.