Venture Manager - Concept Development
Ken brings a high level of energy and passion to challenging projects. His optimism shines brightly when he is experimenting with new, creative ideas. As a Venture Manager, he spends much of his time researching, listening to and observing business owners in a variety of industries to understand and help solve their unique challenges. Ken graduated from Southern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Arts in Music. He spent most of his professional career in the Chicago area, where he grew up, working in the insurance industry. An innovation opportunity led him to Ohio in 2017. Ken and his wife Mimi have three children, Anthony, Marissa and Emily.
What do you enjoy most about working at 1848 Ventures?
I really like the creativity, the pace of work and the team dynamic. As kids, we make up games and build things without plans. We don’t need rules and guidelines. The work here encourages us to draw outside the lines, look from different points of view and ignore established boundaries. We work fast and generate lots of ideas. We draw, we write, we tell stories. Our work is a collage of ideas. We develop everything as a team and feed off each other’s thoughts, energy and excitement.
Why did you transition from the core insurance business to work in innovation?
I’ve always been focused on the customer and helping people. As a claims professional, I worked with policyholders to help them recover as quickly as possible after an accident or injury. In risk management, I worked with large companies to help them improve safety and avoid accidents. My first innovation project was in insurance and focused on delivering safety advice in new, engaging ways. This is when I realized that the human-centered design method of solving customer problems was something I wanted to explore further.
Who is your hero and why?
I admire many people who come from humble beginnings, have limited skills/resources and use the highest degree of perseverance to reach their dreams. Abraham Lincoln, Walter Payton and Ronald Reagan are a few. But number one is my father, James Ashner. As a successful small business owner, he taught me how to overcome obstacles and develop a tireless work ethic. But most importantly, he demonstrated, without calling attention to his actions, how to treat people with respect and give back to those in need.