Business & Economy Campus News

Veteran entrepreneurs mentor UGA startups

Kevin Goodman, a UGA alumnus and experienced entrepreneur, is one of UGA's Startup Mentors. He coaches faculty entrepreneurs about attracting venture capital to support their startups. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

Expansion of Startup Mentor Program aims to provide deeper levels of support to faculty entrepreneurs

The University of Georgia has become an academic powerhouse for turning research discoveries into marketable solutions, thanks to its enterprising faculty and students. UGA has been a Top 5 university in bringing new products to market for six straight years.

When faculty members create successful commercial products, they can expand the impact of their work while connecting with key companies in their research space. But learning how to launch a startup venture of their own, while also managing research laboratories, instruction and other duties, is no small feat.

To help faculty members find continued success, the Innovation District is expanding the Startup Mentor Program. The program pairs experienced entrepreneurs—many of them successful UGA alumni—with faculty members to help coach and inspire them.

The expansion of this program will offer a greater range of expertise and provide a deeper level of support for our faculty.” — Ian Biggs

“Our mentors are experienced entrepreneurs and industry leaders,” said Ian Biggs, director of startups at UGA’s Innovation Gateway. “We look for people with experience in creating a successful startup, or who have seen it from the other side, such as through venture capital investments or corporate acquisitions.”

With the generous support of Georgia Power, the program is expanding the number and kinds of mentors available. In addition to its existing volunteer mentors, UGA is building a roster of experienced mentors, from varying backgrounds, who will be assigned to help specific startup teams. The annual Startup Mentor in Residence will also be announced in January.

Many mentors are alumni

“The expansion of this program will offer a greater range of expertise and provide a deeper level of support for our faculty,” Biggs said.

Many of the mentors participating in the program, such as Kevin Goodman, are UGA alumni. Goodman, co-founder of two venture-backed software startups and an angel investor at AngelList, coaches faculty on how to attract outside investments in their companies.

“The main point I try to get across is to let them see what venture capitalists are thinking,” Goodman said. “Most entrepreneurs want to spend all of their presentations to investors talking about what makes their products so fantastic.”

Advances Innovation District

Goodman encourages them to also focus on presenting plans to sell products and make money for investors. Other mentors bring insights into acquisitions, marketing and team building.

“I want to thank our alumni and corporate partners who are enabling the university to scale up this important program to advance our Innovation District initiative,” said Kyle Tschepikow, UGA’s director for strategy and innovation and special assistant to the president. “Their investment in our innovation ecosystem will enable even more of our faculty innovators and entrepreneurs to transform their bright ideas into products and solutions that improve lives and communities in Georgia and around the world.”

Because of the ongoing pandemic, mentoring sessions are virtual for now. To learn more, contact Dan Geller at