Accelerator Adventures: Day in the Life of a Program Manager

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Meet Eric Dodds, first year Program Manager at South Carolina based accelerator The Iron Yard. As The Iron Yard gears up for their second program (Apply Here!), we thought it would be interesting to ask Eric to share the insiders perspective as he cuts his teeth. Good news for us, he agreed to tell all… and it turns out he’s pretty funny too. He’ll be updating us about once a month, so be sure to keep coming back to hear his new adventures. Take it away Eric…

If you had said the words ‘Seed Round’ to me two years ago, I would have assumed you worked in landscaping. But change can do a lot with two years, and as I write this I’m surrounded by entrepreneurs at an accelerator. And none of them work in landscaping. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

My name is Eric Dodds, and I’m the Program Manager for The Iron Yard.

I ended up here after a winding road of education, marketing, attempts to escape to the Rocky Mountains, and craft beer. Here’s the short version: I had a job doing project management and strategy for a marketing firm, working shoulder to shoulder work with top-notch companies like Best Buy (in the good days), Double Day Publishing, and Anytime Fitness. I loved my job, but constantly found myself procrastinating by reading about technology, entrepreneurship, and even trying to start a few companies. About that same time, my path crossed Peter Barth’s, who happened to be the Managing Director at an accelerator, and who also happened to need an extra pair of hands. I decided to follow my procrastination, quit my job, and dive head-first into startup land. (You can read the whole saga here.)

Which is where you come in. Well, kind of. It’s where Sarah Jane and Patrick (here at GAN) come in. I had the pleasure of meeting both at the recent GAN Founders Conference!! in Boston. We all became friends, and I happened to mention to Sarah Jane that I had no idea what I was doing in my new job. Before the words finished leaving my mouth, we both realized it might be fun, maybe even helpful, for people to follow along as I learn the ropes.

So, starting in January, I’ll be writing a regular feature about what the life of a Program Manager looks like.

Here are a few of the things we’ll talk about:

  • ‘Operations,’ or how the heck you keep all your plates spinning
  • Starting an accelerator in a smaller, traditionally non-tech savvy area (in our case, the Southeast)
  • Promoting the program
  • Attracting good teams
  • Mentors
  • And more

I think it will be a fun ride, and we’d love it if you joined. I love meeting new people, so feel free to shoot me an email at eric [at] theironyard [dot] com.