Hi, I'm Carl Labanz

Below you can read a bit about me, discover my values, explore my work, and see some of my recommended things to read, stuff to watch, or tools to use. I sometimes speak or organize events as part of my work at CincyTech.

About Me


I spent a solid part of my youth overseas. My first two years of high school were in Guatemala. I finished up the final two years in Bosnia with a graduating class of two.

I appreciate the experience much more now with some perspective. I'm still a huge fan of traveling, experiencing, and living in other cultures.

My family is from Cincinnati, but I had never lived here until I went to Xavier University for undergrad. I mostly studied history, but tacked on an international studies major and a poli sci minor.

History departments could do a much better job marketing themselves. History teaches you how to read critically, analyze sources, and form an argument. I also learned to reach a conclusion while fully aware that I lacked information. And that's the core of decision making in any field.

After undergrad, I moved to Washington, DC where I studied national security and intelligence analysis. I never actually became an analyst.

I was a part of a small team that created an independent grad school of national security and intelligence. Creating the school pushed me into the business world.

I moved back to Cincinnati and completed an MBA. That launched me into my current work.

I have a lot of hobbies and interests.

I'm an avid cook and love to share a meal. They're a great way to spend time with people. And, delicious food is my favorite way to advocate for veganism and reduce the stigma around plant-based eating. I've completed Rouxbe's Plant-Based Certification Course. I also tend to post my food to my Instagram.

I read a lot. My favorite genres are fantasy and sci-fi, but I also read a lot of non-fiction related to work interests—venture capital and startups, understanding talent, decision-making, history and strategy. I fully credit my frequent reading for developing empathy. Without books, I'd probably be as empathetically awkward as I was in middle school and high school.

Before covid, I practiced judo 4x a week and was starting to get into BJJ. I look forward to returning to the mat. Both are unique martial arts because you practice at full speed. There is no "pulling" your punches.

I also still practice chess at least a few minutes a day.

My dog Athena is an Australian Cattle Dog & Mini Australian Shepherd mix. She is high energy, playful, and sassy. We spend a lot of time walking, playing ball, or throwing frisbee. Her best friend is Henry, a King Charles Cavalier. He also is full of energy, but mostly to find random stuff to eat.

You can occasionally meet Athena in my Instagram Stories.

Values


I went vegan after working through my own cognitive dissonance around how we treat animals. I decided I could no longer be complicit in the mass violence that underpins our consumption of animal products.

There's also no moral or logical argument, it's better for our health, and it's better for the environment.

I also value authenticity, integrity, curiosity, and discipline.

Authenticity is the foundation of strong relationships.
Integrity means I seek to do what's right, not just what is allowable.
Curiosity spurs my love of learning and questioning things.
Discipline enables me to be flexible and adaptable when I need to.

Work


I work at CincyTech, a Cincinnati VC that invests in life science and digital companies. My core role is to connect universities to startups and startups to the universities with a focus on facilitating student talent.

Right now, I'm digging into talent and how we can be better at identifying it with incoming founding teams. I'm also interested in how to better recruit and manage talent for startups.

I'm also building CincyTech Students, a student org and professional association hybrid. Our vision is to create a community dedicated to bridging the gap between students and startups and drive growth for both. Our mission is to drive student professional growth and networking through work experiences in the startup community. I sometimes speak or organize events as part of this work.

My other activities include creating no-code workshops for students. These workshops introduce students to the usefulness of no-code tools, creates a familiarity with a handful of tools, and has the students complete several specific projects to build confidence using the tools. The first workshop was June 2021 where were exposed to Airtable, Zapier, Softr.io, and Glideapps. I collaborate with Joe Brown on these workshops.

Before moving to Cincinnati, I worked in Washington, DC.

I was part of a small team that created an independent grad school for national security and intelligence. I did a lot. My core contribution was to build out the finance department that got us on the road to accreditation. I also directed many of the startup operations. It's no longer operating, but the business creation and building experience motivated me to enter the startup and VC space.

Recommendations


Below are various books, articles, videos, tools, etc. that I've liked. I don't keep this updated all that frequently. I get asked a lot for recommendations, so I'm trying to consolidate that list.

If you're looking for one book on health, then I recommend How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger as the best aggregation of nutrition studies. He provides updated analysis of new studies (some contradicting the book now) on his website, nutritionfacts.org.

If you're looking for one book on what is success and how do you achieve it, then I recommend Barking up the Wrong Tree by Eric Barker. It's also an aggregation book.

If you're looking for a place to start with "no-code," check out the No-Code Cheat Sheet.