A new UGA Innovation District initiative will connect startup companies to dedicated mentors who provide coaching and professional expertise to accelerate growth.
Havalyn Hensley, a veteran executive who spent two decades overseeing IT operations at Coca-Cola Enterprises, will become UGA’s first Startup Mentor-on-Roster, providing business mentoring services to the growing pipeline of university-based ventures and entrepreneurs.
Hensley will consult regularly with assigned UGA startup companies, serve as an invited speaker for university courses and lectures, help guide Innovation District programming, and host weekly walk-in office hours in the Innovation Hub.
“It is said that the only constant is change,” said Hensley. “To me, innovation is the seed of change. I am excited to join this community of entrepreneurs offering my perspective on strategies to accelerate delivery of transformational ideas.”
At Coca-Cola Enterprises, Hensley and her peers managed a $190 million capital budget and a team of 1,000+ employees and contractors. She has been active in professional development, volunteer and mentor programs, including Women in Technology, which empowers women pursuing STEAM education and career paths.
Most recently, Hensley provided pro-bono consulting for Can I Recycle This, a startup co-founded by Katherine Shayne and Jenna Jambeck in UGA’s College of Engineering that is using artificial intelligence to improve recycling efficiency.
The Startup Mentors-on-Roster program is supported by a gift from Georgia Power and administered by Innovation Gateway, which actively recruits well-qualified mentors and identifies compatible matches. Mentors-on-Roster are appointed on a rolling basis and serve a six-month appointment. The program’s goal is to create a rotating roster of up to six mentors representing major industry sectors who are available to support UGA’s innovation ecosystem.
The Mentors-on-Roster initiative is the newest component in the Innovation District’s growing Startup Mentor Program, a university-wide effort to expand business mentorship and support across the UGA startup pipeline. The Startup Mentor Program also includes a volunteer mentor network as well as a yearly Startup Mentor in Residence.
“Many of UGA’s startups are led by faculty who are brilliant investigators but lack experience running a business,” said Dan Geller, assistant director of Innovation Gateway and startup mentor program coordinator. “The mentor program is here to help them navigate the tricky world of startups and avoid the pitfalls that most businesses face when getting started.”
To discuss if a mentor is right for your startup project, please contact Dan Geller at firstname.lastname@example.org.