David Ollila had his first idea for a product as a seven-year-old worried about his mother cutting fruit. Though the idea never quite stuck, David hasn’t stopped tinkering to find solutions to problems he encounters. A serial entrepreneur, innovator and inventor, he now holds 12 patents on everything from sporting goods to wearable technology. While constantly thinking about new ideas, David provides his expertise and experience to help cultivate entrepreneurship and opportunity in Flint at Skypoint Ventures, 100K Ideas and the Ferris Wheel Innovation Center.
Since joining Skypoint as its President and Chief Innovation Officer, David has helped develop an ecosystem to foster entrepreneurship in the community. He learned early on that tools, resources and support are not always available to people on the ground floor. Unsatisfied with this reality, David set out to change it. He led the charge to develop the Ferris Wheel building into an innovation hub that many local businesses now call home. He also co-founded 100K Ideas to help passionate innovators create products, services and startups of their own.
In addition, his work is literally on display throughout the Ferris Wheel building. When he and Phil Hagerman set out to renovate the building to fit their vision, they quickly found there was no viable solution. So, David built one. He designed a flexible, inexpensive and quick-to-install prototype that was used to build out the seven-story building. Now that product is yet another Flint-based business: Divide by Design.
Before joining Skypoint, David was the founding director of [email protected], a nationally recognized innovation and commercialization center located at Northern Michigan University, which helps aspiring inventors get their ideas to market and spurs economic development in the Upper Peninsula. He also started a number of ventures, including Marquette Backcountry Ski, the first helmet camera, and U.P. Mountain Biking Magazine. David’s pivotal work improving and growing local economies has captured the attention of leaders at all levels and earned him multiple invites to the White House.
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