The University of Louisville has hired alumnus, football star and seasoned tech founder Tendai Charasika to help guide innovations developed at UofL to market.
In January, Charasika started his term as an entrepreneur in residence, or EIR, through the UofL Office of Research and Innovation. In this role, he will work with inventors and the Commercialization EPI-Center to connect UofL technologies to industry and startups.
Charasika is a seasoned entrepreneur and leader, previously serving as executive director of EnterpriseCorp of Greater Louisville Inc., the Louisville Metro chamber of commerce, and as CEO of SuperFan U, a mobile platform company that helps colleges and universities engage and communicate with their fans.
Currently, Charasika serves as chief strategy officer with Saling Wealth Advisors, an independent wealth management firm that focuses on comprehensive financial planning for multi-generational families.
Charasika got his start at UofL as a varsity football star and student of both the UofL J.B. Speed School of Engineering, where he earned a bachelor of science in chemical engineering, and the UofL College of Business, where he completed his entrepreneurship MBA.
“It is a privilege to continue to be a part of the University of Louisville team, which I have been since enrolling at the university in 1996 as a Speed School student and student-athlete on the football team,” he said. “This time, I have the honor of helping to support and guide to market the incredible innovations that are being developed at the university.”
Charasika’s hiring marks the third round of EIRs hired by the UofL Office of Research and Innovation to bring inventions born from UofL research to market. He joins EIRs Jeff Cummins and Josh Nickols, hired in April 2019, and Alice Shade, who joined in 2020.
Cummins will roll off the roster in spring, while Nickols and Shade will stay on through summer 2021. The goal is to rotate EIRs regularly, to offer fresh insight, perspectives and connections that promote the conversion of technologies with commercial potential into high-growth companies and spurring economic development.
The program claims among its early successes a new, Vogt Award-winning startup, Unitonomy, founded by former EIR Charley Miller. The company is built around a UofL technology for measuring employee engagement, which Miller discovered and licensed while working with UofL. It’s the first license from the EIR program and the first from the UofL College of Education and Human Development.
“We’re ecstatic to have Tendai join our EIR team, bringing with him all the knowledge and experience of his years as a successful entrepreneur and founder,” said Will Metcalf, UofL’s executive director of strategic initiatives, who heads the EIR program. “We’ve had great success with the EIR program so far and I look forward to building on that success with Tendai on board.”
The EIR program is part of the Louisville Entrepreneurship Acceleration Programs (LEAP), a collaboration between UofL and the Louisville Healthcare CEO Council to support health-centric entrepreneurship and innovation. It is funded by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development through Amplify Louisville, an effort to energize the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem.