CEO & Co-Founder, My Paper Pusher
Samantha Abraham is the Chief Executive Officer and a co-founder of My Paper Pusher LLC, a full-service bookkeeping and association management firm that provides weekly and monthly services for growing businesses and nonprofits in the Tampa Bay area. Samantha is one of Tampa Bay Times' Top 5 Entrepreneurs Under 30 who is on the front lines of the future pursuing their dreams. Samantha started My Paper Pusher in April 2013, and she now provides services across the state of Florida and is looking to expand across the country. She is a QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisor and has a certificate in nonprofit financial management. Formerly, Samantha served as the bookkeeping manager and business advisor at a local full-service accounting firm where she independently managed all fully outsourced bookkeeping services and clients up to the point of tax preparation. Samantha also worked as a business and tax paralegal at Fresh Legal Perspective. Samantha graduated Summa Cum Laude from Saint Petersburg College, College of Paralegal Studies with focuses in business law, civil litigation, and elder law. Samantha’s goal for her clients is to give business owners the time, energy, and resources to pursue their passion and focus on their strengths while providing exceptional services to streamline operations and catalyze their business’s progress and growth.
Director, Helen Gordon Davis Women's Business Centre
Stacey Banks-Houston is the Director of The Helen Gordon Davis Women’s Business Centre for the Tampa Bay Area. The center provides individual counseling services and training to women with the mission to encourage, empower and elevate them to achieve financial freedom through business ownership. An entrepreneur, author, speaker, and business coach, Stacey encourages clients to “Push Your Passion”. She presents her passion in a way that is powerful, motivating and energizes business owners to position themselves for the next level. Winner of the 2010 Small Business Administration (SBA) Minority Small Business Champion Award, Stacey is committed to assisting the small business owner. She served for 6 years as Director of the Cuyahoga Small Business Development Center since its inception and was recognized as the top performing SBDC in the state of Ohio. Stacey lends her expertise and passion for entrepreneurship to many segments including the formerly incarcerated, seniors, college and high school students. She has worked at Yale University, Kent State University and Hiram College. Stacey is the author of 2 books: The Passion Plan…Journaling Your Business from Passion to Position to Profit, a working journal that allows the reader to take their passion from dream to idea to a profitable business and “Seasons of Wholiness”, a devotional for women to prepare them for their daily walk during every season of life.
Marketing Coordinator, Access Florida Finance Corporation
Lyn Blaise is your first point of contact when you visit or call Access Florida Finance Corporation (AFFC). Throughout her career she has demonstrated an exceptional facility for meeting organizational objectives and demands. In addition, Lyn is an adept event planner, having served as an Executive Assistant to Direct Connect Entertainment Group and 1230 Management Group. Her skills as a hostess and coordinator have often been utilized by numerous employers; entrusted with client greeting, tour leading, and other hospitality services. Lyn produces the AFFC publications and company newsletter, Lyn’s duties require more than the average Marketing Coordinator: it involves photography or film video for such publications in addition to various other duties throughout the day. Lyn has over 17 years of extensive Marketing and promotional knowledge. Lyn is a Tallahassee Community College graduate with an A.S. in Business Management, and has also completed Credit Analysis certification at Georgia Institute of Technology. Fluent in several languages, Lyn enjoys serving the minority community in any way possible and has certainly proven to be an asset at Access Florida Finance Corporation.
Senior Partner, One Payment Merchant Services
Christopher Bleakly comes from a background in hotels and real estate, but it was his start as a small business owner that led to joining forces with One Payment Merchant Services. After successfully launching an eCommerce travel website in 2009, Christopher was astounded to discover the processing fees associated with the company's sales. One Payment made an offer to slash the processing percentage for his business, and Christopher countered with an offer to join forces as a living testimonial. Today, as a Senior Partner with One Payment, Christopher leads a team of web design specialists and merchant representatives to educate business owners about the pitfalls of not understanding their merchant service.
Shareholder, Allen, Dyer, Doppelt, Milbrath & Gilchrist
Jeffrey Boyles is a shareholder at Allen Dyer, an intellectual property law firm, with substantial experience litigating claims involving patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, unfair competition, and Internet issues. He also assists clients in acquiring, managing and licensing intellectual property rights. Jeffrey currently teaches Intellectual Property Litigation at the University of Florida, Levin School of Law. He previously served as the Chair of the Intellectual Property Committee of the Orange County Bar Association. He was also a member of the Eleventh Circuit Pattern Jury Instructions Committee that drafted instructions for use in copyright cases. Jeffrey has been recognized by Florida Super Lawyers as a “Rising Star” and named to Florida Trend magazine’s list of top “Up & Coming” attorneys. Jeff attended law school at the University of Florida, Levin College of Law, where he graduated with high honors and earned a certificate degree in intellectual property. Based upon his score on the Florida Bar Exam, Jeff was selected by the Florida Fifth District Court of Appeal to speak at the 2004 Florida Bar Induction Ceremony. In addition to his law practice and teaching position, Jeffrey is the co-founder of a start-up software development company focusing on input technology.
Senior Counsel, Hill Ward Henderson
Roland is a Senior Counsel at Hill Ward Henderson in Tampa. His practice areas include securities, mergers & acquisitions, private equity and corporate law. Roland has thirteen years of experience advising companies and individuals on the securities law aspects of the offering, purchase and sale of equity and debt securities, including IPOs, public follow-on offerings, and private placements under all common exemptions from registration. Prior to joining his current firm, Roland practiced law at two international law firms in New York, New Jersey and Frankfurt.
Senior Area Manager, U.S. Small Business Administration
Robert B. Chavarria is the Senior Area Manager for the Tampa Bay South Florida District Alternate Work Site (AWS). In his capacity, Robert is responsible for SBA operations in a nine county Central Southwest Florida area that includes Charlotte, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, and Sarasota Counties. He is also the Veterans Affairs officer for the South Florida District. Prior to his appointment as Senior Area Manager, Robert was SBA’s District Director for the Lower Rio Grande District in South Texas. Robert is a native of San Antonio, Texas. He volunteered for the U.S. Army and served three years during the Vietnam War era in the U.S. Army Signal Corp in microwave communications. Education Robert is a graduate of University of Texas at Austin, with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He pursued a graduate degree with a major in Procurement at Webster's University.
CEO, Florida Funders
David has been starting companies from scratch and building them into profitable enterprises in Tampa for nearly 25 years. He sold his first company, Chitester Management Systems, to Hill International, a public company headquartered in New Jersey and he sold his second company, RedVector.com, to a group led by the Tampa venture capital firm, Stonehenge. His latest venture, Florida Funders, is an online venture capital firm that links investors to entrepreneurs seeking capital. With a goal of keeping startup talent in the state, Florida Funders aims to provide seed capital to promising tech entrepreneurs to help them succeed.
COO, Florida Angel Nexus
Kathy Chiu is the Chief Operating Officer of Florida Angel Nexus (FAN), where she is the strategist responsible for formulating the investor value proposition, delivering on the expansion strategy, architecting the collaborative investment processes amongst member and affiliate angel groups, and structuring strategic alliances. Pior to FAN, Kathy founded Venture Catapult, a strategy and business development consulting practice. Before starting Venture Catapult, Kathy was a wireless venture capitalist with Denver-based iSherpa Capital. There she was responsible for deal sourcing, due diligence, deal structuring, portfolio management, and portfolio exit. During her time in Denver, she was also with Lefthand Networks (an enterprise IT network storage company that was later acquired by Hewlett Packard) and Level (3) Communications (NYSE: LVLT) in product management and other sales and marketing roles. In Boston, she worked as a senior analyst at Cornerstone Research, where she worked on a wide range of client cases including derivative pricing, company valuation, dynamic trading model, tax shelter analyses, as well as administrative responsibilities such as analyst recruiting and case team management. She also worked in the corporate strategy department in Compaq Computers. Prior to embarking on the business career track, Kathy was an electrical engineer and worked in technical positions at Superconducting Supercollider Laboratory, Tektronix, and MIT’s Media Lab. Kathy has an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business, and an BS and an MS in Electrical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She speaks Chinese and Taiwanese with native fluency.
SBA Specialist, Bay Cities Bank
Denise Clemence has specialized in Small Business Administration lending for over a decade with a focus on education to small business entrepreneurs. Working with Bay Cities Bank who is an SBA Lender with PLP (Preferred Lender) status. Following formal education at University of North Florida she takes pride in nursing the dreams of future and existing business owners. Denise is a Pasco resident and involved in the community through providing consulting and education, serving on panels and boards in philanthropic organizations as well as industry specific groups such and Leadership programs. The specialty division at Bay Cities Bank focuses on 7a, 504 and Express loans throughout Florida for business acquisitions, expansions, partner buy-out’s, commercial real estate and other business needs.
Managing Director, Innovations Capital Group
Irv Cohen is dedicated to the all-important principal that the key to the future of this country and that of the Tampa Bay area is to be found in its competitive edge; its ability to innovate, and its drive to nurture and empower the entrepreneurs of today as well as tomorrow. He has an in-depth understanding of the macro and micro aspects of finance, capital raising, new business creation, strategic planning, new product development, product management, as well as operations and technology; essential requirements to charting the path to success in a constantly ever-shifting and disruptive technological world. Mr. Cohen is a Managing Director of Innovations Capital Group where he participated in numerous transactions involving capital sourcing and raising for client Companies. He has extensive experience and relationships with numerous Private Equity and Venture capital organizations. He is also a Managing Director of Southeast Capital Group, which invests in start-up companies in the Tampa Bay area.
Vice President, Hispanic Business Initiative Fund of Florida
Leonela Cole is the Vice-President at HBIF, Hispanic Business Initiative Fund of Florida responsible for the development and cultivation of corporate sponsorship support to achieve organizational funding goals supporting business counseling programs to support the overall organizational purpose of assisting small to midsize business owners identify, prioritize, and build organizational capabilities, behaviors, structures, and processes. Heavily relied on developing an annual territory growth production plan to organization executives that include well-defined strategies and specific actions to identify and develop new corporate partnerships in order to influence quarterly revenue forecasts. Previously as a Business Development & Education Consultant for HBIF, Leonela was responsible in providing one-on-one counseling to Hispanic entrepreneurs as well as organizing and evaluating educational opportunities for Hispanic entrepreneurs. Leonela also manages relations with professional providers to ensure that services are rendered with quality standards. Prior to joining HBIF, Leonela Cole worked in executive level positions; operations; marketing and accounting areas at several companies, including McGraw-Hill Companies, Gold Coast Freightways, Inc., St Petersburg Police Department and St Thomas University. Leonela Cole holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in General Business and her MBA specializing in International Business from St Thomas University. Leonela also serves in various boards and is committed in helping grow Hispanic entrepreneurs in the West Coast Region.
Franchise Specialist, FranNet of Greater Tampa Bay
Pat Deering is the owner of the FranNet franchise serving Central Florida, including the Greater Tampa Bay and Greater Orlando areas. FranNet is an international company of business experts who work with individuals seeking self-employment through business ownership. By using a proprietary profiling process to expertly match individuals with franchise opportunities. FranNet’s methodical approach has proven successful for over 26 years placing people into rewarding franchise ownership. Pat, along with her team of experienced specialists, offers no cost consulting services to individuals by matching them to franchise opportunities coinciding with their values, strengths, and resources. Prior to acquiring this franchise in early 2008 Pat had a successful career as a Human Resources Executive, providing expertise to small and mid-sized companies. Throughout her career one of her strengths has been in successfully placing executives and managers in key positions to effectively meet the Companies business model and goals. She now uses her expertise to assist people in finding the right business opportunity.
Founder, TJ Edwards Group
Tom Edwards is the founder of TJ Edwards Group, Inc., a CFO consulting firm focusing on early stage and venture capital-backed companies. His 25 years of financial and operations experience have been focused solely on working with entrepreneurs and growth companies. After 9 years with Ernst & Young’s tax consulting practice, he spent 13 years in CFO / COO roles with several venture capital-backed companies, as well as 2 years as a Senior Executive of Operations with First Advantage Corp (NADAQ: FADV) where he led a team of 400 over 3 continents. Mr. Edwards' consulting practice provides CFO services to early stage technology companies, and during the last 5 years, has completed over $50M in venture capital fund raising and Private Equity transactions as well as completed multiple venture debt and state financing transactions for his clients. Tom graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology.
IPOfferings was founded and is led by Richard Ehrlickman, a 30-year veteran at IBM. IPOfferings provides transactions and consulting services to help clients identify Intellectual Property (IP) asset value, and leverage and monetize those assets to increase shareholder value. Rich spent his last 15 years at IBM as Vice President of Intellectual Property and Licensing. He was responsible for intellectual property licensing, development and manufacturing alliances, acquisitions, and divestiture of assets. IBM increased its intellectual property income by greater than 10 times in this period, exceeding $1.7 billion in intellectual property income his last year at the company. Mr. Ehrlickman then served as CEO at Automated Resource Group, a software and service company specializing in database and subscription management solutions, and later as Executive Vice President of IP Transactions at TAEUS International Corporation. Rich Ehrlickman holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from CCNY and a Masters in Computer Engineering from Syracuse University. He is a member of LES, IEEE and AUTM, Rich is a CLP (Certified Licensing Professional), and he is a member of the IAM Strategy 250 - The World’s Leading IP Strategists.
Loan Officer, GulfCoast Business Finance
Joana began her career with GulfCoast Business Finance (GBF) in 2011, when she excitedly acquired an internship with the company. At the time, Joana was working towards her Bachelor’s degree at the University of South Florida (USF), St. Petersburg. The internship role subsequently transformed into a part-time job. Joana worked beside the Tampa Bay business development officers and the portfolio manager at GulfCoast to assist with loan processing and servicing. In May of 2013, Joana graduated from USF with a Bachelor’s in Finance and took a full-time position with GBF. Joana was a Loan Servicing Specialist until December of 2013. She left temporarily to then reestablish herself with the company in June of 2014. Joana is now a Loan Officer covering the Tampa Bay area and West Coast of Florida. Joana appreciates poetry, science and nature, and has a passion for understanding human behavior and psychology. Joana enjoys cooking, running, visiting new places and meeting new people.
CEO & President, Juice Marketing Design
Joyce Frustaci has been connecting businesses with their clients/customers for 15 years through impactful marketing. She worked for a top-ten lender where she explored her passion for marketing and quickly moved into managing corporate marketing departments. Joyce's background charted a course through the mortgage and banking industries that ultimately led to the creation of Juice Marketing and Design in 2009. Holding the multi-faceted role of business owner, she works with companies throughout the U.S. to bring their marketing to life. Branded and well-executed marketing ignites a passion in small business owners that inspires them to grow their business, and Juice works together with clients to light that flame. With her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Arcadia University and her MBA from Temple University, Joyce’s history encompasses marketing with mortgage companies, banks, small businesses and non-profit organizations. She is results-oriented with a proven ability to develop and implement strategic marketing programs in cost-conscious environments.
Al Gomez, Jr.
Partner, Johnson Pope
Al Gomez is a partner in the Tampa office of Johnson, Pope, Bokor, Ruppel & Burns, LLP. The majority of his practice is in the area of bankruptcy law, insolvency, assignments for the benefit of creditors and all other aspects of debtor/creditor law. He has represented clients in all aspects of bankruptcy representation and insolvency matters (debtors, creditors, trustees, assignees, receivers, purchasers, etc.) since 1990. His practice has primarily focused on the commercial and corporate aspects of bankruptcy and insolvency law, but he has remained active representing clients in consumer related cases as well. Al is AV rated by Martindale Hubbell and has been listed as one of Florida’s “Legal Elite” in Florida Trend Magazine. Al has been selected as a Florida “Super Lawyer” by Law & Politics publication and as one of Florida’s “Top Attorneys” in The Wall Street Journal.
Attorney, Business Transactions Group, Trenam Kemker
Diana Hayes is a corporate and securities attorney with Trenam Kemker attorneys, based in Tampa, Florida. Diana’s practice focuses on corporate and business matters, including entity selection and formation, commercial contracts, and general business advice; capital raising transactions, including private placements of debt and equity and venture capital; and mergers and acquisitions, including purchase and sale transactions. Diana also practices in the intellectual property and technology group, where she handles trademark and copyright protection, software and technology licensing and development, and confidentiality and trade secret protection. Diana received her J.D. and undergraduate degrees from the University of Florida.
CEO, Two Maids & A Mop
Ron is the CEO and Founder of TWO MAIDS & A MOP™. After graduating from the University of Georgia, Ron started down the well-worn path of working in corporate America. In the back of his mind, he wondered what it would be like to strike out on his own. With tons of ambition but little money, Ron realized that his best bet for success as an entrepreneur was to own a business in the service industry. So Ron left the security of his cubicle-filled workplace and purchased a fledgling maid service in northwest Florida. The decision was not a popular move within his circle of friends and family. In fact, the decision looked to be somewhat disastrous after just a few weeks of running the business. The company was in severe trouble and burning cash on a daily basis. But Ron persevered and used a combination of personal education and extreme passion to overcome the mountain of problems facing his new company. Ron redefined the definition of a residential house cleaning service by implementing many different industry changing programs and policies. From day one, Ron implemented a strict operational plan that systemized every task within the company. He created an innovative Pay for Performance Plan that created both operational efficiencies and marketing advantages. And he shocked the industry by not investing one dollar in traditional advertising vehicles by solely focusing on new age initiatives such as social media, search engine optimization and other online marketing tools. Most importantly, he created a strategic vision more than ten years ago that his company would one day dominate the residential cleaning landscape. Today, TWO MAIDS & A MOP™ is regarded as one of the industry’s fastest growing companies and highly regarded as the new face of residential house cleaning services nationwide. In 2012, the company was selected as the National Maid Service of the Year by a leading industry association. And in 2013, the company was recognized as the fastest growing cleaning company in America by Inc. Magazine.
Center Director, Florida Small Business Development Center at Hillsborough County
Carol A Johns is the Center Director for the Florida Small Business Development Center at Hillsborough County and Manager of Entrepreneur Services at the Entrepreneur Collaborative Center located in Ybor City. In her present role, Mrs. Johns directs the provision of management, marketing, business and financial consulting to businesses throughout the Hillsborough County footprint. A specialist in finance, she helps businesses with financial and cash flow management as well as loan packaging and identifying the best financing alternatives. Prior to joining Hillsborough County’s Economic Development Department, Mrs. Johns founded and operated GIM Associates, LLC a management consulting and training firm established in 1997 in Philadelphia, PA. Mrs. Johns retired the firm after 17 years of operations. Previously a bank executive, Carol has over 25 years experience in the financial services industry with nearly 20 years in small business, church and non-profit lending. Mrs. Johns is an adjunct professor with Saint Leo University, Hillsborough Community College and Pasco Hernando Community College teaching business, management, business finance and entrepreneurship.
Financial Planner, Ameriprise Financial Services
Nearly every financial decision you make is linked to more than one area of your financial life. Ashley’s multiple proficiencies provide a wide-lens view of the alternatives available to for each client. Because she is not bound to one particular proprietary product, Ashley has the freedom to create a plan that best determines and serves client needs while educating and advising on best financial options, and helping set and achieve attainable goals. Her vast network of professionals allows Ashley to provide alternative solutions and confidently refer specialists. Ashley, a Maine native who has happily made the Tampa Bay Area her home-away-from home, employs a family-friendly vibe that is resonant in her practice. Her personal investment in client relationships challenges the status quo, and builds a solid and trusting foundation for long-term success. Ashley regards her clients as more than a portfolio, which allows her to offer a more full-service financial solution. Certified Financial Planner™ Practioner Ashley Johnson has eight years of experience helping clients achieve their financial goals. A USF graduate with a BS in Finance, Ashley sites education as a primary key to her success. Ashley’s earnest dedication and diligence towards her practice and her clients is evidenced not only in received accolades, but also in her continued pursuit and provision of educational opportunities, for herself and for the public. Her focus on education empowers Ashley’s activity in the community. She holds board seats on non-profit organizations for education, art, and music; and is a member of several women’s organizations and networking groups. Ashley is committed to excellence in her business, her community, and her relationships.
Manager, Business Services, Navy Federal Credit Union
Mark D. Kaydo is the Manager for Business Services at Navy Federal Credit Union. Mark has over 30 years of commercial banking experience and has worked for several large commercial banks including National City Bank and most recently Huntington National Bank. He has held positions as a commercial lender, team leader and market executive. Mark started his time with Navy Federal in July of 2014 and his team covers Navy Federal’s nationwide footprint. His team works with businesses across the Country advising them on the steps necessary to position their businesses for success and help identify the commercial products and services that best fit their needs. Mark is married to Karen Kaydo of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services. They have 1 son and 2 daughters. Mark enjoys traveling, running, fitness and giving back to the community. Mark attended Case Western Reserve University and earned his MBA in 2005. Mark earned his BS from David N. Myers College and an associates degree from Kent State University. He also graduated from Leadership Lake County. Mark also served on WECO’s financial committee board. Mark has served as President of the Painesville Area Chamber of Commerce, President of the Painesville Kiwanis Club. Served as Chairperson for the Special Events Board of Lake Health as well as serving on the Hospital’s Foundation Board.
Dr. Jamie Kulaga
Owner, Two Maids & A Mop
Dr. Jaime Kulaga is an Entrepreneur, Certified Life Coach, and Motivational Speaker. She is the author of the upcoming book “The SuperWoman's Guide to Super Fulfillment: Step-by-Step Strategies to Create Work-Life Balance,” to be published in March 2015. She is the inspirational founder of the nationally known SuperWoman Workshops. Dr. Kulaga has been featured internationally for her expertise. She is the Owner of Two Maids & A Mop in Tampa, Fl. Two Maids & A Mop is the fastest growing cleaning company in America according to, Inc. 5000.
President & CEO, Tampa Bay Black Business Investment Corporation
Albert Lee started his banking career more than 20 years ago after graduating from Florida A&M University with a degree in Business Economics. He was recruited by a regional bank in Tampa where he received training in all aspects of banking, including: commercial credit analysis, underwriting, commercial lending, commercial real estate lending, consumer lending and retail bank management. In the late nineties, Mr. Lee partnered with a former client to start a local dry cleaning chain from ground up. The business ultimately grew to include four store locations, a processing plant, multiple wholesale accounts and over 15 employees before being sold to local competitors. In 2002, Mr. Lee was hired by the University of South Florida’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) as the area manager for Pinellas County. During his tenure as a consultant with the SBDC, he received his certification as a business analyst and consulted with hundreds of small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. He then moved on to serve a large national bank as the state SBA Loan Manager and eventually assumed the position of Vice President and Senior Business Banker. Mr. Lee has also held the positions of Senior Vice President and Director of Business & Retail Banking positions at a local community bank. Today, Mr. Lee is the President and CEO of Tampa Bay Black Business Investment Corporation (BBIC), a 25-year-old U.S. Treasury certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that provides loans to small businesses not meeting the lending requirements of conventional banks. The Tampa Bay BBIC has been responsible for funding millions of dollars in loans to small businesses and offers entrepreneurs direct loans, guaranteed loans, technical assistance and hands-on mentoring and consultation. He has loaned, underwritten and presented millions of dollars in commercial, commercial real estate and retail loan transactions during his career.
CEO, Dynamic Corporate Solutions
With 30 years Human Resources experience, Suzi Lemen, the CEO of Dynamic Corporate Solutions, has been offering practical and creative Human Resources solutions to businesses from Fortune 50 giants to small local enterprises. As an expert in the Human Resources function, she possesses a unique blend of technical, interpersonal and business skills which allows her to excel in the art of Human Resources management. As a small business owner, she has grown her consulting company from scratch, purchased another company and helped many small businesses with their growth plans and human resources needs. In 2012, her team designed the affordable HR Toolkit® for small businesses that contains a complete collection of all the components needed for an effective, government compliant Human Resources program. In 2014 she began hosting her own broadcast show called HR Heaven or Hell, where she answers HR questions and interviews guests about business needs. Suzi earned a BA of Human Resources and Psychology from the University of Kansas and an MS in Entrepreneurship and Innovation from the University of Florida. In 2005, she was recognized as the Entrepreneur of the Year by the Women in Business of Northeast Florida and DCSI was #108 on the INC. 500 Fastest Growing Companies list. In addition, Suzi was the Jacksonville Regional Chamber’s Small Business Leader of the Year for 2008 and the 2008 SBA Champion for Women in Business. She routinely speaks all across the country about HR and how good HR practices can help small businesses avoid costly pitfalls. Suzi’s motto is "People are your greatest asset."
Vice President, BBIF Florida
Duane Lewis is the Vice President and Senior Loan Officer of Black Business Investment Fund of Central Florida, Inc. (BBIF). BBIF is Central Florida’s premiere Small and Minority Business Development Organization. The BBIF is a private/public partnership investment fund designed to create, promote and enhance business development through loans, education, training, technical assistance and advocacy. Duane joined the BBIF in 2003, and is responsible for managing the organizations loan programs. His duties include managing the loan portfolio, managing the underwriting process, managing the Technical Assistance Program, consulting with clients, monitor payment practices to protect against losses, perform site visits and outreach to businesses. During his time at BBIF Mr. Lewis has assisted business in obtaining over $29.8 million in financing and consulted with over a 1000 businesses. Mr. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Commerce with honors in Business Administration and Economics.
Lead Economic Development Specialist, U.S. Small Business Administration
Charles Long joined the U.S. Small Business Administration South Florida District Office in 2009 as a member of Lender Relations/Capital Access team. He is currently the Economic Development Specialist and responsible for optimizing the deployment of SBA products and programs throughout the designated market area in service of the Small Business Community. Included in his responsibilities are recruiting new, and maintaining existing relationships with participating SBA Lenders as well as Micro-Lenders and 504 Certified Development Companies. In addition to the foregoing responsibilities Charles is the appointed District International Trade Officer and acts as point of contact for international trade inquiries and coordinator of external activities. Prior to joining the SBA, Charles was employed as a Regional Credit Consultant and Regional Sales Leader for Wachovia Bank and is a veteran of the United States Marines. Charles is an alumnus of the Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University and a native Floridian.
Director, Florida Angel Nexus
Blaire Martin is the Director of the Florida Angel Nexus (FAN). FAN fosters Florida’s angel and entrepreneurial communities by providing services and resources to efficiently launch, administer, and connect quality investment entities. FANLando, FAN’s charter investment group, has committed $1.5MM and through co-investment, has collaborated to raise over $3.5MM for early-stage ventures in Florida. FAN now has over 60 investors involved spanning the Orlando, Tampa Bay, Sarasota, Gainesville, and Jacksonville areas. The Nexus also has an extensive and growing network of investment and entrepreneur-support partners. In the UCF Venture Accelerator, Ms. Martin assisted early stage technology companies with the many aspects required to launch and grow a successful company, including: market research, competitive analysis, lead generation, investor pitch preparation, and strategies for commercialization, revenue models, and sales. She graduated with honors from the University of Central Florida with a Masters of Business Administration and a Bachelor’s degree focusing on business, entrepreneurship, and leadership.
Patent Attorney, Maxey Law Offices
Brittany J. Maxey is a registered patent attorney, and owner and founder of Maxey Law Offices, PLLC, a St. Petersburg, Florida based practice focused on patent, trademark, copyright and trade secret law, with additional Tampa Bay locations, including Clearwater. In addition to providing legal counsel, Brittany manages all aspects of clients’ intellectual property needs including procurement of patents, trademarks and copyrights, trade secrets and technology licensing. Brittany received her undergraduate degree in Biological Science at the University of Mississippi and her Juris Doctor from Stetson University College of Law. She is a frequent guest panelist and speaker at universities, law schools, industry shows, community events, legal panels, and local radio programs, where she addresses questions about intellectual property topics.
CEO & Co-Founder, Funding Wonder, Inc.
Michael is co-founder and CEO of Funding Wonder. He has more than 20+ years of executive leadership and entrepreneurial success in the technology sector. Before founding Funding Wonder, Michael was founder and Managing Partner of the Americas division of Corporate Finance Partners, an international mergers and acquisition firm. Under his leadership, the company executed more than 25 M&A transactions with more than $2bn in total transaction volume. Prior to this, Michael was co-founder and CEO of two companies, AeonWare, an e-commerce software firm, and Wireless Fire, which focused on the growing field of mobile entertainment. Before spending six years building his own companies, Michael functioned as an independent consultant to Daimler-Benz Interservices, which handled asset management for the automobile manufacturer.
Business Account Officer, Navy Federal Credit Union
Susan (Sue) Miller is a Business Account Officer at Navy Federal Credit Union. Sue has over 20 years of experience in the credit union industry. Having spent her entire career at Navy Federal, she held multiple positions within the Branch Operations department before joining the Business Services department in 2006. Sue has managed Navy Federal’s Business Services operations in Jacksonville, Florida for over eight years. She and her team work with small businesses in Northeast Florida advising them on the steps necessary to position their businesses for success and help identify the commercial products and services that best fit their needs. Sue is the recipient of one of Navy Federal’s most prestigious recognitions: The President’s Award for Service Excellence in 2002. Sue is married to Martin Miller, USN (Ret). They have two sons and three granddaughters. In her free time, Sue loves to spend time with her granddaughters and enjoy the wonderful outdoors in Northeast Florida. Sue is a member of the Small Business Resource Network, Navy League Mayport, Women in Financial Services as well as various Chamber of Commerce Councils.
First Vice President, Crestmark
Jeff Mitchell joined the Crestmark team in January 2010. Based in Tampa, Florida, he works as part of the East Region office. Jeff has over 23 years experience in commercial financial services industry and is well versed in helping businesses of all types gain non-traditional financing. He is a member of the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG), Turnaround Management Association (TMA), and currently serves as President of the Commercial Finance Association (CFA) Florida chapter. Jeff has a B.S. in Economics and International Affairs from Florida State University. He enjoys playing tennis and golf, watching baseball (anywhere from Little League to the Majors); and enjoys spending time with his family. Jeff is active in the Tampa Bay Little League and St. Mary’s Episcopal Church.
Managing Director, Key Person of Influence - USA
Topher Morrison is the Managing Director of Key Person of Influence - USA, a growth accelerator firm that has worked with over 1,000 companies, globally, to help them dominate their market share. He is featured in the award-winning documentaries "The Compass" and "Riches," and his first book Stop Chasing Perfection & Settle for Excellence has been hailed as The self-help book for people who are sick of self-help books. His most recent book, Collaboration Economy, was released May 6, 2014 and reached national best-seller status within hours. His extensive speaking schedule, spanning over the past 25 years, has taken him throughout the US, UK, Australia, and Singapore and has earned him a global reputation as an expert in mass-communications and influence. Topher has spoken for top execs with American Express, Microsoft & Google, just to name a few. In contrast to most professional speakers, Topher’s shockingly honest, sometimes irreverent, and always down-to-earth approach is surprisingly infectious. His personality and straightforward manner are perfect for the business person who is tired of fleeting success in “self-help sinkholes.” He is not afraid to tell it like it is and shatters the myth of achieving overnight success. Instead, Topher speaks to the person who could care less about motivational 'magic wands' and is more focused on getting tangible, proven strategies to become a key person of influence in their company, network, or industry.
CEO, PPi Technologies
Mr. Murray is an immigrant to the United States, and studied part time for his MBA while working as a Vice President of Sales in the packaging industry. He started StandUp pouch machinery business in 1996 in Sarasota with his wife and two children, who are in the business today. His business model was based on more than 30 patents to give customers an advantage over competitors and to keep the USA pouch machine market ahead of global competition. He took a new approach to the pouch machinery industry by signing long term supply agreements or investing in global machine suppliers to make parts of the American designed machines, and then deliver these back to the USA for finishing with his patented technology. The result was a company that offered the TOTAL pouch machinery supply solution. He then introduced StandUp pouches to the highly regulated liquor industry, which led to a contract for a packaging plant for wine and spirit pouches. Last year his efforts were recognized by the University of Tampa with the exclusive Earth Charter award for being a Deep green company. Mr. Murray is a true entrepreneur who has believed in his ideas, and developed them through investment and has brought work to over 200 people in Sarasota.
Executive Director, UCF Center of Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Michael J. O’Donnell, Sr. is the Executive Director of the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Central Florida. He participates in business coaching, program development, all aspect of business commercialization, trade missions, speaks on entrepreneurship topics, and formed the Florida Angel Nexus, an organization with a mission to provide funding and advising for select statewide emerging growth businesses. He is also an instructor in the College of Business Administration, Department of Management, teaching advanced courses in Entrepreneurship. Mr. O’Donnell is principal in MOD Ventures LLC, which continues, since 1999, as an investor and principal in new ventures. Recent investments include the retail, security, internet, medical, entertainment, and education sectors. As an active investor, he provides consulting, business development, operating and Board of Directors guidance, capital, and other services to start up and emerging growth businesses. He was a co-founder and the co-CEO of ALS LLC, commercial construction, clerical & light industrial, performance-based employee staffing. ALS LLC was sold in 2007 and employed in excess of 6,000 permanent and FTE temporary employees at that time. Mr. O’Donnell was Managing Director and Chief Technology Investment Officer for GATX Capital, Global Technology Services Division, where he has operating experience, and was elected to the Board of Directors, for financing joint ventures in Great Britain, Germany and Australia. This is part of a fifteen year career, as a principal, in the equipment leasing business. He specialized in asset management and the structuring of leasing transactions for essential use corporate assets. Mr. O’Donnell worked for thirteen years in various management positions for companies supplying product to the automotive industry, including a management led LBO.
Cheryl O'Neill - Gowen
President/CEO, Alternative Funding Solutions
As CEO/President of Alternative Funding Options, Cheryl has helped business owners for over 30 years seek cash flow alternatives. She decided to start her own company after realizing that there were so many different funding options available to businesses. She conducted extensive research to find out which companies offer the best solutions for specific cash flow needs, thus saving her customers valuable time and resources. Cheryl’s experience includes over 12 years in the banking industry, 6 years in the staffing industry, 3 years working as a small business owner, 3 years in the Professional Employer Organization (PEO) industry and 5 years in factoring of accounts receivables. Cheryl’s background has helped her understand the issues that business owners face on a day-to-day basis, especially those with cash flow. Cheryl now has a strong desire to share her experiences and what she has learned with other business clients.
Sally Outlaw is CEO of peerbackers, a service provider to accredited investors, entrepreneurs and emerging companies seeking capital and investment opportunities through crowdfunding and other innovative finance vehicles. She co-founded the first crowdfunding platform for entrepreneurs and has helped thousands of small business owners reach their funding goals. Her newest initiative under peerbackers, Crowdcast Network, takes crowdfinance stories to media outlets across the web. Crowdcast provides informative programming covering the important issues and leaders shaping the crowdfunding industry, as well as showcases companies seeking investments. Sally is a seasoned entrepreneur having run her own businesses for the last twenty five years. Her media and business ventures took her across the globe – including ten years of conducting business in Russia. Sally is a consultant on next generation capital solutions. She is a speaker on this same topic at various universities, business incubators, and entrepreneurial events and has been a repeated source on the subject of crowdfinance for national media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones, Entrepreneur Magazine and Forbes, among others. Her book, “Cash from the Crowd” on how to successfully crowdfund, was published fall 2013 by Entrepreneur Press.
Director of Sales, Crossroads Financial
Darren Palestine is the Director of Sales for Crossroads Financial, an Asset-Based Lender providing Inventory and Purchase Order Financing. Headquartered in Boca Raton, Crossroads has developed a unique market niche to provide both Inventory Revolving Credit Lines and Purchase Order Financing for businesses who might not be able to get financing from traditional sources. Darren has led Crossroads sales team since 2011, with a primary focus on business development, relationship development, and sales management. Darren has over 8 years of asset-based lending experience, providing unique products to businesses unable to qualify for traditional funding. Darren is a proud Florida Gator graduate, where he earned a Master’s in Business, with a focus on International Business. Darren also serves on the Board of the Turnaround Management Association and Commercial Finance Association.
Founder and Managing Partner, Ideasphere Partners
Chuck Papageorgiou is currently the Co-Founder and CEO of International Screening Solutions, a company that provides risk management services to the background screening industry, the Founder and Managing Partner of Ideasphere Partners, LLC, a company that provides executive consulting to the high-tech, light manufacturing, logistics and financial services segments and is currently working on building a new company, Avatar DSS that will provide Decision Support Systems to clinicians and physicians working in the Cancer Treatment areas. As an entrepreneur he has founded and launched a number of companies over the last twenty years, raising over 15M in startup capital. As a corporate executive and consultant he has built and managed organizations ranging from five person spin-off divisions to 10,000+ employee international operations. He has lead or acted as a senior consultant on completed Mergers & Acquisitions or Restructuring transactions worth over 9 Billion dollars. He is active in the Tampa Bay entrepreneurial ecosystem and is the Chair for the University of Tampa Accelerator program, an Entrepreneur in Residence with the Moffitt Cancer Research Center, an judge for the St. Pete College Business Plan competition, and a mentor with Tampa Bay Wave, and the Tampa Bay Innovation Center.
Director, Office of Technology Management and Communications & Associate General Counsel, Moffitt Cancer Center
Mr. Rieger oversees the Office of Technology Management and Commercialization (“OTMC”) at Moffitt Cancer Center. This department is responsible for patenting and licensing; startup support; and forging industry collaborations and strategic alliances. Mr. Rieger spearheaded the initial design and growth of the office, which was established in 2003 and grew the office from 3 FTEs in 2004 to 11 FTEs. He currently manages an annual operating budget greater than 1 million dollars. His office has executed 150 licenses, formed 13 startups, filed 250 original patent applications, and signed more than 3,000 research agreements. Mr. Rieger redesigned the department internship program in 2012, which has been recognized in various publications; the department has hosted over 40 internal and external interns. He has chaired the annual Business of Biotech Conference for the past 8 years. The conference showcases Moffitt innovation and draws more than 300 attendees. Additionally, he led the preparation and execution of a 3-year department strategic plan. Mr. Rieger was promoted from Technology Transfer Associate to Manager in 2005; promoted from Manager to Director in 2006. Prior to joining Moffitt, Mr. Rieger practiced as a patent attorney at Breed Technologies in Lakeland, Florida. With regards to leadership community programs, Mr. Rieger is a graduate of Leadership Tampa, Class of 2012, and Leadership Hillsborough, Class of 2010. Mr. Rieger earned his Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administration degrees from Stetson University College of Law in Saint Petersburg, Florida; he received his Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida.
Associate Director, Small Business Development Center at USF
Yanina Rosario is an associate director and certified business consultant for the Small Business Development Center at USF. Rosario provides business owners with one-on-one expertise for optimizing business performance through marketing, strategic business planning, and business certification. She oversees operations in Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties while managing relationships with sub-centers in Hillsborough and Pinellas as well. Part of her team includes the international trade and government procurement consultants. She also teaches a “Women/Minority/Disabled Veteran Owned Certification” seminar. As associate director for the center, Rosario is responsible for outreach. This involves educating the community, establishing strategic partnerships and working on special projects. Rosario’s expertise comes from more than 13 years in economic development, guiding pre-venture and well-established business owners through procurement, licensing, planning, marketing and financing. She’s helped clients secure more than $3.2 million in small business loans. Rosario serves on the board of directors for CareerSource Tampa Bay, is a member of the City of Tampa Equal Business Opportunity Advisory Committee, and the Minority Enterprise Development Week (MEDWeek) planning committee. She is also a member of the Tampa Bay Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Shareholder, Donnelly & Russo, P.A.
JOSEPH C. RUSSO, is a shareholder in the firm of Donnelly & Russo, P.A., and has been practicing law in the Tampa Bay area for over fifteen years. His practice focuses on business contracts and transactions, including asset sales and commercial real estate transactions as well as business entities, start-ups and small business practice. He also provides outsourced “in-house” counsel services for his clients, including advising clients on matters of employment issues, contracts, finance, intellectual property, insurance and litigation. He graduated com laude from the University of South Florida in 1993 and obtained his JD from Mercer University in 1997. He is a member of both the Florida and Hillsborough bar associations, presenter of the Florida SBDC’s business legal series in Tampa, and the Past President of the Small Business Resource Network (SBRN) in Tampa. JOSEPH C. RUSSO, born Islip, New York, January 18, 1971; admitted to bar, 1997, Florida; U.S. District Court, Middle, Northern & Southern Districts of Florida. Education: University of South Florida (B.A. cum laude 1993); Mercer University (J.D. 1997). Member of Mercer Law Review 1995-1997; Deans List; Phi Delta Phi honor society; Winner, CALI Excellence for the Future Award; Who’s Who Among American Law Students 1996-1997; Licensed Real Estate Instructor; Certified BBB Arbitrator; Honored Member Strathmore’s Who’s Who; Member: Hillsborough County Bar Assoc., Fla. Bar Assoc; Past President of the SBRN, Tampa. PRACTICE AREAS: Contracts, Business law, Real Estate and Asset Sales, Secured Transactions, Corporate Practice, Business Entities, and Small Business Practice.
Account Executive, Combined Worksite Solutions
Carrie Rutter is an Account Executive of Combined’s worksite division. For over 11 years she has been actively helping employers build a solid foundation of benefit educated employees to help reduce common financial pitfalls. She received a B.S. degree in Sociology from Penn State University and an Assoc. degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Community College. Besides being active in her local community she is a current member of the Tampa Bay Association of Health Underwriters the local chapter for National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) and Florida Association of Health Underwriters (FAHU). Carrie is also a certified ACA Florida Life, Health and Annuities insurance agent.
President, On Demand Capital
Douglas has been in the Real Estate and Finance industry for over 22 years. His extensive experience in lending has made him one of the top brokers in the Tampa area since 2003. Business owners find him invaluable when they need direction for raising capital, or making financial decisions that will impact their company’s ability to grow and expand.
CEO Nighthawk Running
Doug is the CEO and Co-Founder of Nighthawk Running, LLC, the designer and manufacturer of the innovative, patent pending, safety / fitness product, Night Runner Shoe Lights. Over the last 30 years, Doug has successfully driven business development and sales for multi-billion dollar, Fortune 500 companies. Doug led national sales team for Home Depot Supply and was instrumental in developing new market segment strategies. Doug has been an avid runner for 35 years and completed four marathons. Developed by athletes for all active people, Night Runner safely lights the way to run, walk, bike and hike from dusk until dawn. With no headbands, belts or straps, Night Runner shoe lights are completely unobtrusive to the user's experience and provide an industry first performance bio-feedback feature via smartphone integration. Night Runner is great for urban running, trail running, hiking, cycling and walking. Our tag line, 'See More \ Run More' embodies the vision of Night Runner to promote a healthy, safe and active lifestyle long after the sun has set.
Government Analyst, Microfinance Programs, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity
Garry Thomas is a husband, a father of 5 and a grandfather to 8 wonderful grandkids. He is also a graduate of Cuesta College and is currently enrolled at Florida State University with the goal of obtaining his Certificate in Public Administration. Garry has over 23 years’ worth of residential and construction lending experience. He’s worked for several major retail banks, such as Wells Fargo Bank, SunTrust Bank and Bank of America; to name a few. In June of 2010, Garry started working for the State of Florida as a Government Operations Consultant with the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and later with the Disaster Recovery Initiative Program. On September 2, 2014, Garry was hired to implement the State of Florida’s two new Microfinance Loan Programs. A Microfinance (Direct) Loan Program; and a Microfinance Guarantee Program both programs are designed to assist entrepreneurs and small businesses gain access to capital and to grow their businesses here in the Sunshine State.
CEO, Westlake Ventures
Carl Treleaven is CEO of Westlake Ventures, which invests in development stage companies. He is an active angel investor in the Tampa Bay area and is also a member of New World Angels, a group of Florida-based angel investors. Previously, he was a member of Piedmont Angel Network, an angel group based in Greensboro, North Carolina. Carl spent 20 years as CEO and owner of Pharmagraphics, a specialty label printing company focused on supplying pharmaceutical and healthcare companies, with operations in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Poland. He sold the company to a European packaging firm in 2006. Carl has a BA from Rice University in Houston and an MBA from Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH. He was previously licensed as a CPA in North Carolina and Texas. Carl is also actively involved with Rotary, serving as the Rotary Foundation Chairman in District 6950, as well as Chairman of the Board of Meet the Need Ministries, an organization that provides specialty software to help churches and charities manage volunteer efforts. He also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Stop Cleft International, a charity that sponsors free cleft lip and palate surgeries in Asia and Latin America, and the Board of the National Christian Foundation Tampa Bay. He and his wife, Lina, live in Pinellas Park. They have two children: a daughter, Emily who is a PhD candidate at the U. of California San Francisco, and a son, Rick, who works in sales for a development stage software company in San Francisco. Carl’s hobby is long distance running.
President & CEO, Unbehagen Advisors
Todd Unbehagen is a Graduate of the University of Florida and Keller. He holds bachelor degrees in both Finance and Economics, and a master degree in Accounting and Managerial Finance. Mr. Unbehagen has an US Federal Enrolled Agent (EA) License with the Department of Treasury. An EA is an accountant that specializes in taxation, and is a highly regarded federal taxation license that is difficult to achieve and maintain. In addition, Mr. Unbehagen has both an Accredited Tax Accountant (ATA) and Accredited Tax Preparer (ATP) licenses from the Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation, Inc. (ACAT). He is a member of the National Society of Accountants, the Florida Society of Accountants, and the National Association of Enrolled Agents. Mr. Unbehagen owns and operates an accounting and tax firm that has been in existence since 1992 in Tarpon Springs and Tampa, FL. His firm is one of the top 10 largest in the nation, in the over 400 franchise network of accounting firms (Padgett). His firm specializes in small businesses and individuals. Unbehagen Advisors specializes in tax, small business accounting, insurance and investments -- with its four separate divisions working together for client success. Mr. Unbehagen’s professional awards include; A National Top 10% Accounting Firm Award/Leadership Award (Padgett Franchise, multiple years), and he won an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Florida Society of Accountants (2004-2005). Unbehagen Advisors won both the medium business of the year and overall business of the year in 2013 with the Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce.
Vice President, SBA Business Development Officer, USAmeriBank
Garrett was born and raised in Michigan and attended Oakland University graduating in 2004 with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance while minoring in Political Science. In school, he earned an internship with Oakland County Business Finance Corporation (OCBFC) a Certified Development Company. Shortly after graduation he accepted a full time position with OCBFC, utilizing the SBA 504 Loan Program and Industrial Revenue Bonds to finance business expansion in and around the Detroit area. The experience gave him the unique opportunity to participate in all aspects of the SBA lending process, including, application, closing, servicing and some marketing. He moved to Tampa with his wife Gina in 2009 and worked with GulfCoast Business Finance in St. Petersburg for 5 years, underwriting and selling the SBA 504 program. Garret is currently working as the SBA Business Development officer for USAmeriBank where his focus has shifted to the SBA 7(a) program. Garrett is a member of several professional organizations including the National Association of Development Companies (NADCO), the National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders (NAGGL), the Florida Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders (FLAGGL) and the Florida Gulfcoast Commercial Association of Realtors (FGCAR), and the Commercial Finance Association (CFA).
Chief Success Officer, Ali Ann & Co.
Stemming from a family of C-level executives, business acumen was a regular side to Ali's cheerios and apple-sauce. Beyond this life-long grooming, Ali proved at a very young age that she has a gift for business mastery. From national awards to multiple business successes, Ali has decades of lessons and wisdom under her belt that she now uses to catalyze success for her clients. As a business advisor and profit strategist through her consulting firm, Ali Ann & Co., Ali helps small business owners master their productivity, profitability and purpose. She achieves this through various solutions such as turn-key system development, process streamlining and profit margin analysis. Having experienced burnout in several of her past businesses, Ali also learned the hard way what happens when you live to work. She has an unwavering focus to help business owners master the balance of life and business. The driving force behind everything Ali does – help clients achieve profitable businesses AND balanced, happier lives. In her spare time, Ali volunteers for several non-profits. When she unplugs, Ali grounds herself in the outdoors from hiking with her three rescue dogs, riding motorcycles, kayaking or riding her quarter horse Aspen.
Principal Community Educator, Open Book Innovation Institute for Minorities
LaTanya has studied Business in Tallahassee, Florida, Bartending in New Orleans, Louisiana, Innovation in Silicon Valley and Entrepreneurship in Bali, Indonesia. Serving as the Principal Community Educator for the Open Book Innovation Institute for Minorities, a Business Analyst for the Florida Small Business Development Center at Florida A&M University, an entrepreneurship mentor for Startup Quest Tallahassee and the Entrepreneurship instructor at her alma mater, FAMU’s School of Business and Industry, she makes a daily commitment to making access to entrepreneurship education more inclusive. More than anything, she considers herself a global leader, learner and teacher. LaTanya's expertise is in helping innovators and entrepreneurs get their business ideas to market with greater efficiency and less risk.
Partner, Strategic Advisors, Inc.
John has more than 30 years of public accounting and management consulting experience. He provided high-value financial planning, tax planning, and business valuation services to high net worth individuals, Fortune 500 executives and closely held business owners. Throughout his career he has worked collaboratively with business owners to help them meet the challenges they face and achieve their business and personal goals. Prior positions include serving as a controller for a pharmaceutical manufacturer.John is a member of Pinnacle Equity Solutions’ and has completed the Certified Business Exit Consultant® certification program and been awarded the CBEC® designation. This designation requires demonstrated proficiency in developing exit strategies for business owners. Pinnacle Equity Solutions is the exit planning community's premier membership organization, providing training, support and access to a network of the leading thinkers in this new and growing market space. John is also a certified business valuation analyst and has advised scores of midsized firms on exit-related issues and value building strategies in preparation for an eventual sale or transition.
Cari Haught Coats
Executive Director, Center for Advanced Entrepreneurship at Rollins College
Cari H. Coats is executive-in-residence, serves on the adjunct faculty and manages the entrepreneurship program at the nationally-ranked Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College in Winter Park, FL. Additionally, Coats is president of C2 Advisors, Inc. providing advisory and business and executive coaching services that leverage Coats’ extensive professional network and executive-level management, strategy, governance, marketing, capital raising and business development experience, specifically in the sport management, entrepreneurship and social innovation, and family-held enterprise sectors. Coats has worked extensively with sports organizations, entrepreneurial and social entrepreneurship ventures, as well as sources of investment capital and venture philanthropy. Her community and civic leadership, particularly in the strategy and mobilization of community campaigns, is longstanding and far-reaching. Prior positions Coats has held include chief operating officer with CNL Real Estate Advisors, chief strategy officer and corporate officer with CNL Financial Group, executive vice president of the NBA-franchise Orlando Magic and producer/co-host of the nationally syndicated television show PM Magazine. Coats’ longest standing role was a 16-year career with the Orlando Magic/RDV Sports where she played a key part in securing the franchise for Orlando, joined the staff as part of the founding team and quickly rose to one of the highest ranking women in professional sports. Coats was instrumental in the start up and growth of RDV Sports and its holdings, the Orlando Magic, Orlando Solar Bears of the IHL, Orlando Miracle of the WNBA and RDV Sportsplex. Coats departed RDV Sports in 2003 to complete her Global MBA at Duke University, and was promptly tapped by then newly-elected Mayor Buddy Dyer to Chair his Downtown Strategic Transition Team. Coats and her blue ribbon committee completed a six-month review and development of the Downtown Blueprint Plan that has become the roadmap of much of Mayor Dyer’s vision for Downtown Orlando, including the development of the Event and Performing Art Centers. In 2014, when Mayor Dyer was ready to build on the completed Downtown Blueprint and create a strategic vision plan for the next decade, Coats was asked to chair the Executive Committee of Project Downtown Orlando, which will be completed in the spring of 2015.
Chief Marketing Officer, Rockwell Watches
Chris is the Chief Marketing Officer at Rockwell Watches. Rockwell has experienced exponential growth in several different industries, catering to an active and passionate lifestyle. Passion has been the cornerstone for Chris’ success. He has a unique knowledge of introducing new brands and categories to various markets, as well as gaining investment capital. This passion has fueled others to succeed in categories previously untapped. Chris has a unique ability to seamlessly integrate marketing and sales in start-up companies. He has an understanding of impactful promotion in organizations with little to know cash flow. Chris’ goal each day is to inspire new ideas in others, convert marketing into sales, and above all else, have fun.
The Florida Small Business & Entrepreneur Forum 2015
March 24 & 25 - Crowne Plaza Tampa Westshore - Tampa, Florida
Preparing for Financial Growth and Success