A pair of founders from two of Cincinnati’s leading startups have recently secured seats on boards of two of Ohio’s top public universities. Rodney Williams, co-founder and CEO of LISNR, and Rod Robinson, founder and CEO of ConnXus, were appointed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich to the Board of Trustees at the University of Cincinnati and Miami University, respectively.
Williams’ company, LISNR, develops sound technology that transmits data over ultrasonic audio, which rivals NFC, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth protocols, connecting devices more efficiently and securely amongst connected experiences in-venue, at home or in-car. The Baltimore native has landed on multiple nationwide 40 Under 40 lists (AdAge) and his company is now ranked among the top Disruptors (CNBC) in the tech industry.
“My perspective is not coming from what Cincinnati or UC was,” Williams said. “What I would like to influence is what the university can be and maybe more importantly what it should be.”
Robinson’s company, ConnXus, is a cloud-based supplier management platform that simplifies the complexities of global supply chains through responsible and sustainable sourcing solutions. ConnXus is an NMSDC-certified minority-owned business based in Mason, Ohio with local, regional and international capabilities.
“I’m thrilled and honored by the opportunity to join Miami University’s board,” Robinson said. “The impact Miami has had and can have on the Greater Cincinnati region is tremendous. It is imperative that we work to keep the university engaged, active and at the forefront of innovation in the region.”
As members of Cintrifuse, LISNR and ConnXus are both a part of Cintrifuse’s Active Network that connects Cincinnati’s startups and entrepreneurs to BigCos, investors, and universities — like the University of Cincinnati and Miami University.
“This isn’t insignificant,” said Mark Lacker, Altman Clinical Professor of Entrepreneurship at Miami University’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies. “Two successful StartupCincy entrepreneurs are now on the boards of two prominent university partners. This is what’s possible if universities are fully utilized within an ecosystem. It’s evidence of the two-way relationship at the highest level.”
Trustees are appointed to nine year terms — each will serve until 2026.