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ZinnStarter

Ray Zinn & ZinnStarter

Ray Zinn is known for many things. He holds the record as the longest-serving CEO of a publicly traded company in Silicon Valley. Zinn co-founded his semiconductor company Micrel without venture capital (a feat that was almost unheard of in his field) and led his company profitably for 36 of the 37 years he was the CEO. He holds over 20 patents for semiconductor design and is the author of two books, Tough Things First and Zen of Zinn.

In 2016, Ray Zinn founded Zinnstarter at Virginia Tech University with a three-fold mission:

  1. To inculcate the next generation of entrepreneurs to create enduring businesses
  2. To provide seed money for promising business plans
  3. To provide students with the leadership, management and entrepreneurship knowledge of Ray Zinn

In 2017, Zinnstarter expanded nationally to include three other universities, one of which was West Virginia University. Ray Zinn said about WVU and the other higher education institutions:

“These remarkable entrepreneurial programs have a valuable and consistent discipline of innovation and entrepreneurship that matches the vision, values, and culture of my leadership and experience, detailed in my Tough Things First book, podcast, and leadership platform. I’m thrilled with the opportunity to work directly with the students and facility in a direct capacity to plan and facilitate the creation of a new company.”

WVU uses all of the funds provided by Zinnstarter to fund worthy business plans entered in the WV Collegiate Business Plan Competition. A student board attends the WV Collegiate Business Plan Competition finals and chooses how to distribute the $20,000 of Zinnstarter funds.

Thank you, Ray Zinn, for investing in the future of West Virginia through Zinnstarter’s contribution to WVU and the WV Collegiate Business Plan Competition!

Purchase Ray Zinn's books:

Tough Things First             Zen of Zinn
Tough Things First
Zen of Zinn


Congratulations to our 2019 Recipients:


2019 ZinnStarter Winners
Iconic EDU (WVU) - $2,000; The Neighborhood Kombuchery (WVU) - $2,000; ThermoRoller (WVU) - $4,000; Farm to Fork Meat Processing (Marshall) - $2,000


2018 Recipients:

  • Hemeworks Technologies- University of Charleston
  • Inspiration Bakery- Concord University
  • VoixRx- University of Charleston
  • Gotel Mobile Accommodations- West Virginia University
  • Valley Tech Engineering- University of Charleston
  • Byrd's and Bee's- West Virginia University
  • Electric Skateboard- West Virginia University