By Joe DiBenedetto, Managing Director

The president and chief innovation officer at Skypoint Ventures in Flint, David Ollila, is a serial entrepreneur with 12 patents on products ranging from sporting goods to wearable technology. He’s also deeply interesting and funny as hell.

David moved from Marquette (in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula) to Flint several years ago to help introduce Cowork at Ferris Wheel and 100K Ideas—where startups, garage inventors, creatives and entrepreneurs can locate resources that are critical to getting their ideas off the ground, facilitating project progression from ideation to commercialization. Having successfully launched Invent@NMU years ago, a unique idea incubator in tandem with Northern Michigan University, David sought to replicate the successful program in one of America’s most iconic industrial cities—Flint.

During our conversation, David and I talked about democratizing entrepreneurship—making the pathway to entrepreneurship accessible for all. While it was important to make entrepreneurial opportunities more accessible before the COVID-19 global pandemic, it’s going to be even more vital as businesses cut or furlough staff and unemployment rises.

What I love most about talking to David is the passion he brings to everything he pursues—and that’s easy to hear throughout this edition of the Purposeful Pitch. Listening to David, you can understand why he’s been successful across the many ventures he’s pursued and why he’s inspired others to not only follow their dreams, but to achieve them.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with David on a variety of projects, including the Entrepreneurs in Elevators video series Lambert created for its client, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation initiative. David was our first choice to host this entertaining, engaging and informative video series because of his passion, his insight and, most importantly, his curiosity. For it is his curiosity that has led David to explore different opportunities along his own entrepreneurial journey.

If you’d like to listen to additional conversations focusing on matters of social impact (or education), please download previous editions of the Purposeful Pitch here.  To continue the conversation or to learn more about Lambert’s Education & Social Impact practice, contact Joe DiBenedetto.