Mentor Profile: Doug Juanarena
Please join us in thanking Doug Juanarena — serial entrepreneur, Valleys Innovation Council board co-chair and mentor to three successful RAMP tech startups to date.
Founder and CEO of three tech startups over a 35-year career, Juanarena today donates his expertise to help aspiring entrepreneurs as a RAMP mentor. “It’s been rewarding because it’s fun to help the next generation of founders get to the next level whether it’s scaling up through raising capital or product development or strategic planning,” Juanarena says.
An electrical engineering major from Virginia Tech, Juanarena got his first job at NASA in 1975 where he developed a cutting-edge sensing system that aided in the development of aerospace vehicles and propulsion systems. He left NASA in 1978 to start his first company in which he learned how to run a business “through the school of hard knocks. The reason we didn’t fail was because we had a very innovative technology and the market was extremely receptive to our product. The lack of any competition in the early years allowed us to succeed through our early mistakes.”
He later co-founded Luna Technologies and GenTek Ventures, helped Webmail.US navigate its acquisition by Rackspace Technology. Since 2016 he has helped create Valleys Innovation Council. He has mentored RAMP tech startups, including Autonomous Flight Technologies, Rendyr, and MicroHarmonics, that have participated in RAMP’s signature annual 12-week program.
“A lot of it has to do with personal relationships,” he says in explaining his passion for mentoring. “Working with new founders, you’re developing lifelong friends and getting an opportunity to learn from younger generations as well.”
Applications are open through Feb. 15 for RAMP’s Spring 2021 cohort. Juanarena’s advice to the businesses accepted: “Come in humble, be receptive to the fact that your baby may not be the prettiest baby in the nursery, and be receptive to constructive help.”