Interview by Derek Grosso
“There is no region in the country where business and community leaders are more willing to connect and collaborate in support of entrepreneurs than Central Ohio,” Charles Hill proudly proclaims. As Director of Community Outreach at Rev1 Ventures – a venture development fund providing capital and services to fuel high-growth companies – Charles leads efforts to broaden awareness of their services in attracting the most promising startups from across the region. Prior to Rev1, Charles was senior relationship manager at the United Way of Central Ohio, where he worked to develop strategic committees that helped to ensure volunteerism and donor investments in the philanthropic work of the United Way. In that role he was also instrumental in raising money for the community to help fight poverty. Charles has also worked at Time Warner Media Sales and BMW Financial. He started his career at Radio One as an Account Executive.
Name: Charles Hill
Company and Job Title: Rev1 Ventures, Director of Community Outreach
Neighborhood: Near East Side
What’s the “elevator pitch” description of Rev1 Ventures, and why is it important to the Columbus startup scene?
Successful high-growth companies start here at Rev1. When it comes to entrepreneurship in Central Ohio, we are the go-to-team. We supply the right resources at the right time. Columbus has become the number one city for scaling startups because of the robust infrastructure and the region’s dedication to fostering business growth. Rev1 is at the hub of that and we are excited to support and to connect entrepreneurs. Simply put, we help entrepreneurs build great companies.
What gets you up in the morning?
My purpose. I believe that I was made on purpose for a purpose, and I am excited about fulfilling purpose everyday. My mission statement is H.O.P.E – Helping Other People Excel. I believe that the rent that we pay for being on this earth is to give back to it. So I try to do that with every call, every handshake, and every relationship that I make.
And what gets you through the workweek?
The thought of “not” fulfilling my purpose and my family! My wife, my daughters and my purpose are my driving force. I try to look at it not as work, but every week is a chance to live on purpose.
What advice or mentors have helped guide you along the way?
I have received the following advice from my mentors: “Don’t count the days, make the day count.” “Treat people as though they matter, because they do.” “Relationships are at the center of everything that truly matters.” And one of the ones that I try to live by everyday is “You have tremendous freedom to choose how you think, interpret, and respond in any given situation. Through this choice, you have the power to create and change conditions.”
Explain some of your work-life balance challenges and how you achieve success in spite of the hustle and bustle?
In addition to my Rev1 responsibilities, I coach varsity high school football and I am also very active in the community. There really is no balance. One of my mentors told me to simply focus… focus on what you are doing when you are doing it! What that means is when you are at work… work. When you are with family… be with family (not work). When you are volunteering, focus on why you are volunteering and not checking your emails. You will never really have balance, what you have to do is set priorities for the day and follow through with being “present in the moment” at whatever you are doing. That, along with having such supportive wife and family. Sometimes they get the short end of my time in a given day, however they know I love what I do and why I am doing it. They love and support me and I couldn’t do what I do without their support.
What do you do or where do you go to unwind?
I love jazz, barbecue and friends. If I can get them all in one setting I am golden. I love to read and love to relax with like-minded people who like to talk about how we can make our community, and country better.
Tell us about one or two Rev1 initiatives that you’re most passionate about?
The START FUND. Entrepreneurs are in the business of new ideas, and we believe passionately that more good ideas deserve a chance to take root and grow. START is chance for entrepreneurs to give back and to create, by committed example, a culture of giving inside our own companies. Through START, entrepreneurs can support initiatives that are starting something special in our community. It could have a technical flavor, such as increasing WIFI availability for under-served neighborhoods. It could be a green idea, like starting the spread of urban vegetable gardens. It could be an initiative in the arts, such as creating a water color curriculum for nursing homes. The common thread is “starting up.”
The other is our focus on Inclusive Entrepreneurship. Inclusive Entrepreneurship provides a framework to connect the startup economy with the best available talent to achieve the greatest possible impact. Inclusive Entrepreneurship seeks to leverage the untapped economic value of the talent and market opportunity represented by diversity of all types (gender, race/color, ethnicity, national origin, cultural beliefs, sexual orientation, age, social or economic status, and experiences), with an emphasis on women-led, minority-led, and veteran-led companies.
What’s the coolest thing about Columbus right now?
“The Cbus Way.” The way that our city collaborates together to support public and private partnerships. It is a very welcoming city and it has a lot of potential yet still to be fulfilled. Our city is not defined yet; we are still in the process of creating the utopia that we want. Our city is cool because of the relationships you can have. It is not so big that you can never talk with the people who run it. We are at the forefront on becoming a smart city.
What does the future look like?
We have so much to look forward to. We have the women’s Final Four coming to the city in 2018, the National Urban League Convention is in 2018, our hockey team is on the verge of making the playoffs. We had our first-ever billion dollar acquirement of a company in CoverMyMeds. We have a ton of new startup companies who are just getting started to change the landscape of our community.
Which organizations are you involved with around the community?
The United Way of Central Ohio Resource Development Committee, Africentric High School (mentor), Columbus Urban League (New Beginning’s program speaker / mentor), Connect A Million Minds (volunteer coordinator), Harvest Prep High School (assistant football coach), Mid-Ohio Foodbank (volunteer), New American Advisory Council (member), New Voter registration for city of Columbus (volunteer), Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA), Columbus Black Professionals, Black Sports Professionals, The Shumate African American Outreach and Engagement Council, and YP President’s Council.
If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them?
A city on the grow… We are the 14th largest city in the country and we are just getting started!