John Turner’s background traces to engineering physics, where one of the fundamental principles is Newton’s Second Law: Force equals mass times acceleration.
Turner’s role at the College of Business provides a twist: The OSU Advantage Accelerator equals energy, in the form of passionate entrepreneurs and enthusiastic student interns, and that energy is what drives the Accelerator co-director.
“The ideas they bring in, the idealism that anything is possible – that’s the most fun part,” Turner said.
The OSU Advantage Accelerator is part of the South Willamette Valley Regional Accelerator Network created by the Legislature in 2013.
Turner, who shares directorship duties with Mark Lieberman, has a master’s and doctorate in physics and spent 21 years with Hewlett-Packard, taking early retirement in 2005. During his time with HP he became “curious about why some of the things we came up with in research and development made it to market and many didn’t, and so I shifted into product development and ultimately the business side of things.”
After leaving HP, Turner signed on with OSU, first as a mentor and commercialization/technology teacher to entrepreneurship undergraduates and later, at the invitation of instructor Tom Dowling and associate dean Jim Coakley, filling a similar role for MBA students.
“I love the technology, the minutia of deep understanding, the gee-whiz technical aspect of it,” Turner said. “But there’s also the aspect of what you can do with it and what commercial value it has, and that led more in the direction of where I am now. Now I’m more interested in it for the human element.”
Successful products, Turner notes, do one of two things: Address a customer pain, or facilitate a gain.
“You have to really communicate that value and take the customer’s perspective to move it out to the market,” he said. “The consistent theme is not just pushing the technology and saying how great it is but looking for that customer need.”
As for Turner’s own professional need, the Accelerator is meeting it and then some.
“When the opportunity came up to do this, I jumped on it,” he said. “It’s exactly what I wanted to do, a great follow-on to my other work. I was committed to getting it rolling, and now we’re at a point of maturity where we do know how to help these people. I feel we’ve accomplished some successes, and we’re always tweaking the program. I’m having a lot of fun.”