Entrepreneur John Schott is passionate about the Roanoke-Blacksburg business community.
He first fell in love with the region while attending Virginia Tech, where he earned a Master’s in Civil Engineering, but career opportunities took him to Northern Virginia. “I knew I wanted to get back to this region, but didn’t know if I could have a career here.”
He and his wife moved back to Blacksburg in 2006 seeking both relief from the NOVA rat race and a community with great quality of life to raise their three young sons. They found those things and something else: a burgeoning tech community.
Schott was CEO of a successful Blacksburg software company for eight years prior to selling it in 2014, and is currently a “fractional executive” working as a management consultant for multiple companies in our region.
“The growth that has happened here since I was in school has been incredible. We want to keep the youngest, the brightest and the best here. You need to have fresh ideas or you become stagnant and stale.”
So in between his executive work, he has been serving as RAMP mentor to a new generation of like-minded entrepreneurs who want to call Southwest Virginia home. In 2020, he mentored two startups in RAMP’s tech cohort: Itus Digital and Yindividual, which recently became Realms.
“The input from customer discovery is critical to defining the market opportunity,” he says. “Realms did just that. They pivoted away from their original idea to attack a different market problem they identified.”
Schott hopes to serve as a mentor again this year during one of RAMP’s two cohorts: a spring program for health and life science startups (application deadline is Feb. 15), and a fall cohort for aspiring tech companies.