UC staffer connects aspiring entrepreneurs to valuable resources
Navigating the entrepreneurship journey
Entrepreneurship is an exciting journey, but it can be challenging to navigate without the right resources and support.
Mentorship is vital in the startup ecosystem for building a successful business, and that’s where Elizabeth Wetzel comes in. Wetzel is the program manager of the UC Venture Lab, located inside the 1819 Innovation Hub, which offers a program designed to accelerate startups from concept to commercialization.
With a passion for making a tangible, positive impact, Wetzel guides would-be entrepreneurs through an eight-week pre-accelerator program to explore their early-stage commercialization potential.
I love being able to help people who are passionate about their idea to solve significant problems.
Elizabeth Wetzel Program manager of the UC Venture Lab
Wetzel is a true go-getter who never settles for anything less than her best. She has 20 years of public service experience in Cincinnati, with deep knowledge in local government. Soon after starting her role at UC in August 2018, Wetzel enrolled at the UC Carl H. Lindner College of Business, earning her MBA and Innovation Master’s Certificate in 2021.
What is your favorite aspect of working at UC?
I look pretty good in red. Ha! Seriously, it's many of the people I get to work with because they are also here to impact our community positively. I enjoy the work I get to do, fostering the realization of brilliantly creative people's ideas into startups.
What makes UC Venture Lab so intriguing to you, and what motivated you to pursue a career dedicated to it?
I love being able to help people who are passionate about their idea to solve significant problems. The eight-week Venture Lab pre-accelerator program aims to give entrepreneurs the tools to focus their vision and determine the best next steps to bring to life a startup that can make a real-world impact.
Which categories of inventors, aspiring entrepreneurs or researchers would benefit most from participating in the Venture Lab program?
As a result of their participation in UC Venture Lab, I have observed new entrepreneurs better understand the market, identify potential customers and competitors, and learn how to create a compelling value proposition. It is especially beneficial for individuals with great technical knowledge who have been making progress on innovation but need to be savvier about starting a business or launching a commercial product.
In what ways do you believe your work contributes to the improvement of the university?
We are, at heart, interdisciplinary and help the university connect between colleges, the industry and the community. I would hope my involvement and passion help everyone who wants to think a bit differently about their research and wonders if a process they've developed for their specialty might have a broader application. My goal is aligned with UC and the Venture Lab to help unleash some of the amazing potential for impact we all know UC's community holds.
Whose footsteps at UC would you like to follow for a day if given the opportunity to "job shadow"?
I’d like to follow Ryan Hays, UC’s chief innovation officer, to get a worldview of collaborations happening as the university is expanding the Cincinnati Innovation District. I’d love to get an inside view of how decisions are made at the highest levels at UC, with its numerous stakeholders in mind.
Can you share something you like to do when you’re not at work?
If the weather is decent, I want to be outside. I try my hand at gardening, but my favorite thing to do is walk in the woods.
Tell us one thing about yourself that most people wouldn’t know.
No matter how much stovetop popcorn I make, I will eat it all in one sitting.
Of all the ways you have contributed to the UC community, what accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am proud to be part of a larger team that connects people with knowledge and resources to help them create something new and meaningful. We've helped more than 250 teams of entrepreneurs with their ideas in UC Venture Lab's first five years, leading to the launch of more than 50 Midwest startups.
What is the best advice you've ever received?
“You’re smart. You'll figure it out. I believe in you." — Dad.
Featured image at top: Elizabeth Wetzel inside the UC Venture Lab. Photo/Greg Glevicky
1819 Innovation Hub
Through the 1819 Innovation Hub — the University of Cincinnati’s front door to business — UC connects corporations, small businesses and startup companies to a variety of business development services. With our assistance, you can:
- Learn how to start, run and grow your business
- Develop new technical skills and certifications
- Pursue executive education courses
- Find solutions to business problems
- Build prototypes
- Test new business ideas
- Engage employees in team-building activities
Request additional information about the UC Venture Lab