Business & Economy Campus News

New Startup Mentor to champion innovation

David Salyers (Photo by Aaron Coury)

As the University of Georgia continues to develop its vibrant innovation ecosystem, a new voice to inspire and consult with staff, student and faculty entrepreneurs is coming to campus.

David Salyers, the co-founder of several startups and nonprofits and former marketing executive at Chick-fil-A, will be UGA’s first Startup Mentor in Residence beginning this fall.

As the Startup Mentor, Salyers will act as a champion for innovation and entrepreneurship at UGA. He will speak and meet with faculty and students on campus to provide expertise, new insights and encouragement for those looking to start new businesses and nonprofit ventures or otherwise commercialize their inventions and ideas.

“David brings a wealth of experience about starting and operating a strong business,” said Derek Eberhart, director of UGA’s Innovation Gateway. “And if you talk with him, you will learn very quickly that he is passionate about both entrepreneurship and the University of Georgia. I can think of no better person to serve as our inaugural Startup Mentor.”

As the Startup Mentor in Residence, Salyers will conduct daylong visits to campus in the fall and spring semesters to meet with student and faculty entrepreneurs, deliver a campus-wide lecture, and participate in university innovation activities.

Salyers said he’s dedicated to the idea that businesses should “improve the stories of those we do business with” and bring genuine value to customers and clients.

“The focus of my career has always been on helping to create value for other people, and entrepreneurialism is one the best ways to express that to me,” Salyers said. “I am excited about this opportunity to work with the University of Georgia’s thriving community of innovators and entrepreneurs. I expect that I have as much to learn from them as they do from me. I can’t wait to get started.”

Salyers, a 1981 UGA graduate and an alumnus of the Harvard Business School, has launched businesses and nonprofits including ROAM Innovative Workplace and Champion Tribes, which aims to help fathers and sons connect in meaningful ways. He co-wrote the book “Remarkable! A Leadership Parable” with Randy Ross. His career at Chick-fil-A included leading the company’s iconic “Eat Mor Chikin” cow marketing campaign.

The Startup Mentor program, funded by the Office of the President and managed by the Office of Research’s Innovation Gateway, is part of a new, university-wide initiative to promote innovation and entrepreneurship across campus.

For individuals interested in connecting with Salyers through this program, contact Ian Biggs (