SEEC 2017: Conference Speakers & Judges
Dr. Beverly K. Brockman, UTC College of Business
Beverly K. Brockman is the George Lester Nation Professor of Entrepreneurship, and Department Head for the Marketing & Entrepreneurship Department at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Dr. Brockman obtained her Ph.D. in Marketing from the University of Alabama, and an MBA and BBA in Finance from the University of Kentucky. She has taught numerous marketing and entrepreneurship courses, including new venture creation, managing venture growth, marketing principles and marketing strategy. Dr. Brockman has developed experiential learning opportunities for students, such as the UTC new venture pitch competition, internships at the Hamilton County Business Development Center and Tennessee Small Business Development Center, and market research for Chattanooga River City. Her research is focused on organizational learning and entrepreneurial alertness in both corporate and entrepreneurial settings. Her work has been published in the Decision Sciences Journal, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Journal of Business Research, Journal of Product Innovation Management, Journal of Small Business Management, Journal of Business and Entrepreneurship and others.
Dr. Robert Dooley, UTC College of Business
Dr. Robert Dooley is currently the Dean of the College of Business at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Previously as the Associate Dean at Oklahoma State University, Dr. Dooley led the visioning and strategic planning efforts for a new department of entrepreneurship that resulted in the largest ever private donation to an entrepreneurship program. Under his leadership the Spears School of Business also developed the first Executive Ph.D. in business offered by an AACSB accredited school, and expanded partnerships across the Oklahoma State University campus and internationally to create multidisciplinary business degree programs.
Dr. Dooley is the recipient of numerous teaching awards, with a passion for international business education. He has been a visiting instructor at the China European International Business School in Shanghai, and developed international consulting classes with partner companies in Vietnam. In addition to his teaching and international consulting, Dr. Dooley is published in some of the top journals in the field of management including California Management Review, Academy of Management Journal and Journal of Strategic Management. He also actively consults with companies in the areas of competitive strategy and strategic decision making.
A.J. Davis, Former UTC CEO Club President
Alexander Jamal Davis, or A.J. as he is known by many, is originally from Nashville, TN. Upon graduating from Nashville School of the Arts, A.J. attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where he earned a degree in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. While attending UTC, he served as President of the UTC Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization, working to establish the UTC Elevator Pitch Competition. He also sought to connect students wih various resources in the Chattanooga community to further the entrepreneurial spirit on campus. In addition, he served as Resident Assistant to the inaugural class of the Business Living Learning Community. During his studies, he was active in multiple student organizations: CRU (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ), Collegiate 100, Scholarly Men in Action, and Campus Flood Ministries. Upon completion of his Bachelor's, A.J. decided to further his education by pursuing a Master's of Divinity from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. As a current student at SBTS, he has sought to implement his undergraduate degree by serving the local church in various capacities as well as co-founding a student organization focused on racial reconciliation. After A.J. completes his Master's, he hopes to return to the business arena to work with start-ups and eventually transition into full-time vocational ministry as a pastor.
Dr. Shelley Prevost, TORCH
Shelley is a psychologist, nationally syndicated columnist, TEDx speaker, and mother of three. She is a partner at venture capital firm Lamp Post Group and the JumpFund, an angel fund investing in female-led startups with high growth potential. Shelley writes about her work on purpose, relationships, and leadership in columns for Inc., and The Huffington Post, and her work has also been featured in Time, Yahoo Business, Fast Company, LifeHacker, and Business Insider. She started Torch with a mission to bring balance and safety to the wild world of technology for our children. She loves that her kids are creative masterminds with technology, but she also wants them to read books, make eye contact, and play outside.
Lisa Flint, Footprint Foundation
Lisa has a unique combination of corporate, academic, and non-profit experience. At Turner Broadcasting System in Atlanta, GA, she began her career in corporate marketing representing the Turner networks (CNN, TBS, Cartoon Network, Turner Classic Movies, etc) to the nation's top cable providers including Time Warner Cable and Comcast. Lisa held leadership roles in the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's College of Business where she was named the first Assistant Dean of External Affairs. At River City Company, she played a key role in the development of new downtown programs including Art in Motion, Clean & Green, and the Urban Design Challenge. As Executive Director of the Chattanooga-based Footprint Foundation, Lisa is responsible for foundation operations, community relations, and grantmaking that fosters meaningful and inclusive connections to place.
Dr. Philip Roundy, UTC College of Business
Dr. Philip T. Roundy (the other "Dr. Phil") is the UC Foundation Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC). Prior to coming to UTC, he was a Postdoctoral Scholar in the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. He received his Ph.D. in Corporate Strategy from the University of Texas at Austin. His research focuses on understanding how entrepreneurship can be used as a tool for economic and community development. Through his research and consulting he has interviewed and worked with over 200 entrepreneurs and investors across North America. He has published over a dozen articles on entrepreneurship, strategic management, and organization theory and serves on the editorial boards of multiple journals.
Abby Garrison, Causeway
Abby is the Executive Director of Causeway. In addition to her role as chief curator, Abby also designs new programs with a focus on social innovation and civic engagement.
Before coming to Causeway, Abby was the Chief Operating Officer of Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise (CNE), a neighborhood revitalization and community development organization in Chattanooga. During her time there, she established the organization’s Pocket Park initiative, reinvigorated the rehab lending program, and facilitated a public design process for the St. Elmo neighborhood. Before CNE, Abby worked as a performance consultant with Community Impact of Chattanooga and gained nonprofit experience at the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, DC, and River City Company in Chattanooga.
She serves on the Board of Cornerstones historic preservation organization and the City of Chattanooga’s Community Development Advisory Board.
Marco Perez, LAUNCH Chattanooga
Marco Perez is LAUNCH Chattanooga’s VP of Operations. Marco has close to 17 years of experience in nonprofit and corporate management in both national and international markets. He has an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management, and an MA in Ministry Leadership from Crown College. A native Costa Rican, Marco moved to Chattanooga in 2011, working as the Director of Finance and Operations for an international development organization. He came to work at LAUNCH due to his belief that the sustainable economic growth of a city needs to be inclusive of the entire population, including microbusiness startups amongst minority and female owners. His role, in addition to overseeing the operations and finances at LAUNCH, is to mentor and train business owners especially in areas of financial management and growth strategies.
Ryan Russell, Ryan Russell Marketing
A six year veteran of social media and digital strategy, Ryan Russell has extensive experience crafting powerful digital strategies, growing active online communities with engaging digital content, and implementing targeted digital paid search campaigns. With both agency and brand experience, Ryan has guided B2B and B2C brands through all stages of development, from startup to established brands.
Ryan is currently an Adjunct Professor of Digital Marketing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and also works with both agencies and brands to develop and implement their online and offline strategies as founder and President of Ryan Russell Marketing.
Stefanie Crowe, Stone Bridge Asset Management
Stefanie is a wealth advisory and banking veteran, an entrepreneur and an angel investor. She serves as Director of Wealth, Knowledge & Happiness for Stone Bridge Asset Management based in Chattanooga, TN. Additionally, she is co-founder and general partner of The JumpFund, a southeastern angel group investing in female-led start-ups. Stefanie is a frequent presenter on topics related to wealth-building, entrepreneurship, leadership and community-building.
Cory Allison, Jump Fund
Cory Allison is the Founder & CEO of Rezli, Inc., developing a comprehensive social networking and career building platform that empowers creative technologists to turn their passion into a career by building their digital portfolio/resume, connecting with others with similar interests and, exploring educational and career opportunities in the industries they love. She is also a general partner of the JumpFund, an angel investment fund focused on female led start-ups. A true entrepreneur at heart, she successfully founded Cory Allison Consulting, a management consulting services company catering to a variety of businesses, and WiggleWorm, a premier children’s boutique in Chattanooga, TN, which she sold in 2011 after seven years in operation. Prior to starting her own businesses, Cory worked at various organizations in technology related areas. She earned a BS from Washington & Lee University and an MBA with a concentration in Information Systems from Georgia State University’s Robinson School of Business.
David Belitz, Chattanooga Renaissance Fund
David Belitz currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of The Lupton Company, LLC. Mr. Belitz joined the Company in 1997 and served as the controller and CFO before being appointed as the CEO in January of 2012. In Mr. Belitz’s role for The Lupton Company, he has engaged in the roles of both an investor and an operator. As such, Mr. Belitz has invaluable experience in the full spectrum of issues that emerging growth companies experience as they develop into sustainable business models.
Mr. Belitz is a partner in XMI High Growth Fund, LLC a TNInvestco based in Nashville, TN. In addition Mr. Belitz is a founding general partner of the Chattanooga Renaissance Funds (I and II) a series of angel funds investing in seed and early stage businesses in Chattanooga and the surrounding regional area. Mr. Belitz was the chairman of The Company Lab Board of Directors. The Company Lab continues to be the front door for entrepreneurs in Chattanooga. Mr. Belitz is also chairman of the Board of The Enterprise Center, a public-private partnership formed to promote entrepreneurship and innovation in Chattanooga
Sheldon Grizzle, Spartan Ventures
As a serial entrepreneur, Sheldon is focused everyday on finding ways to create a more robust and dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem in Chattanooga. Sheldon is passionate about creating communities that apply entrepreneurial principles to all aspects of business and civic life. He has founded or co-founded several companies and social ventures including Spartan Ventures, Blank Slate Ventures, The Company Lab, CO.STARTERS, GIGTANK and Chattanooga Football Club. He also serves on the boards of The Company Lab, Chattanooga Football Club, Tennessee Aquarium and Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau.
One of Sheldon's entrepreneurial and motivational mantras is: "If at first you don't fail, you're not trying hard enough."
Matt Jannerbo, Miller & Martin PLLC
Matt Jannerbo, Vice Chair of Miller & Martin’s Corporate Department and Chair of Miller & Martin’s Emerging Business Group, focuses his practice on start-up and emerging companies, venture capital, mergers and acquisitions and general business representation. He advises companies raising capital by way of private securities offerings and venture capital financings. He has assisted companies in a number of industries which include: software applications, software services, gaming, social media, banking, furniture, restaurants, biodiesel technology, environmental clean-up technology, information technology and real estate. He has also assisted a number of private equity funds, hedge funds and investment partnerships with respect to their private capital raising efforts.
Robert Grajewski, Vanderbilt University
Robert Grajewski is a serial entrepreneur and investor who is best known for his expertise in building businesses and leading high-performing teams to achieve outstanding results. Robert has a passion for identifying, fostering, and developing innovation while motivating others to pursue projects that transform the way we live.
As the Evans Family Executive Director of the Innovation Center at Vanderbilt University, Robert’s main purpose is to foster a culture of exploration, innovation and “making.” Prior to joining Vanderbilt, Robert served as President of Edison Nation Medical, a healthcare innovation marketplace and incubator dedicated to bringing innovative healthcare inventions and startups to life. Due to its success, Edison Nation Medical was recognized in 2014 by TEDMED as one of the Top 40 innovative healthcare startups in the world.
Robert has also cofounded two successful startups, Heritage Handcrafted, a specialty furniture and gift manufacturer, and PRO-Techs, an antimicrobial supplier, which continue in operations today. In addition, Robert spent 8+ years as a growth equity and venture capital investor across a variety of sectors.
Michael Bradshaw, Jensen Hughes
Mike Bradshaw is the Director of the JENSEN HUGHES Academy, a position he recently assumed after serving as the Executive Director of CO.LAB. Mike cofounded the startup in 2006, which was acquired in 2009. It is now a division of the largest privately-held life-safety engineering company in the world, JENSEN HUGHES. His entrepreneurial experience began when he became involved in the D.C. restaurant scene in the 1980s, where he worked his way from the kitchen to an owner. He then left the restaurant business and went on to join a startup that was an early producer of CD-ROMs in the 1990s. Simultaneously, Mike studied Complex Adaptive Systems - a science he uses today to study entrepreneurial ecosystems like Chattanooga--at Georgetown University, where he graduated first of his class. Mike came to Chattanooga in 2003, began volunteering with CO.LAB in 2011 and joined as Executive Director in 2013.
Danny Mastronardo, Nardo's Natural
Danny Nardo is an entrepreneur who took $6,000 and turned it into a thriving global company. His unique story is not only inspiring, but is educative and provides worldly knowledge to offer listeners a head start to success. Danny and his three brothers embarked on a journey from making skincare products in the kitchen to striking a deal with multi-millionaire partner on ABC's hit show, Shark Tank. His company, Nardo's Natural, was once a name created in a house and has transformed into what is now a household name. His insightful speaking engagements invite listeners to interact while applying necessary topics such as Growing a Business, Developing a Brand, and unique Marketing Strategies.
Greg Compton, Variable
Greg Compton is the COO of Variable Inc. His 20+ year career has been spent almost exclusively working within startups as a founder, executive, investor, or consultant. A native of Kentucky, Compton was a member of the Kentucky Air National Guard 123rd Civil Engineering Squadron from 2001-2009. He holds an MBA (Marketing and Entrepreneurship) from University of Tennessee Knoxville and a BS in Accounting from Eastern Kentucky University.
George Yu, Variable
George Yu is the founder and CEO of Variable Inc., the maker of COLOR MUSE, a digital tool that revolutionizes and accelerates the way color inspiration and product specification can be managed, organized and shared. Yu is responsible for the overall strategic management of Variable, including product design, software and hardware engineering, and all functions related to sales, marketing, supplier relationships and personnel.
Prior to founding Variable, Yu served as the CEO of Genel Systems Inc. from 2007 to 2011. During his tenure, Yu was responsible for developing an electrochemical DNA microchip and supporting hardware and software for Georgia Tech.
Yu's expertise has made him a sought-after commentator who can provide thoughtful insight on topics related to business, engineering and R&D. A featured TEDxPeachtree speaker, he has been quoted or featured in media outlets such as Forbes, CNN, BusinessWeek, Popular Mechanics, NBC News and multiple others.
Will Harper, Like Humans
Will Harper is the founder and CEO of Like Humans, a firm that facilitates dramatic increases in organizational effectiveness by improving the quality of collaboration. Previously, he was the COO of Blank Label, an award-winning, tech-enabled custom menswear brand. He began his career as a management consultant for Bain & Company in Mexico City where he was also a Fulbright Scholar.
Daniel Taylor, Advanced Inventions
Daniel Taylor graduated December 2016 with a double major degree in Entrepreneurship and Marketing. He is from Jackson, TN. While at UTC, he was extensively engaged in the College of Business and a variety of other UTC clubs and organizations, on and off campus. Most notably, Daniel participated in several elevator pitch competitions hosted by the Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization, on a university, regional, and national level, and won the UTC CEO Elevator Pitch Competition in 2014. He interned for Branch Technology, a company with the world's largest freeform 3D printer, working on market research and business planning. Daniel has paid his way through college via his exterior cleaning company and is well known for the Ladder Levelizer Venture he started May of 2013.
Daniel plans to continue pursuing his entrepreneurial passions by running his exterior cleaning company and growing the Ladder Levelizer venture until it has sufficiently grown to be his sole focus. He aspires to be a successful serial entrepreneur.
Andrew Byrum, Get Seated
Andrew Byrum is the Founder and CEO of Get Seated, a mobile app that tells restaurant wait times. He graduated in Spring of 2015 from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in Entrepreneurship and Marketing. Andrew resides in Chattanooga and actively participates in the city's startup scene.
D'Anna Farrar, Chattem, Inc.
D’Anna Farrar is an MBA student at the University of Tennesee at Chattanooga and Assistant Marketing Manager at Chattem, Inc. where she markets the company’s Skin Care brands including GOLD BOND® and Cortizone 10®. Originally from Buffalo NY, D’Anna graduated from Canisius College with a B.A. in Economics and began her marketing career at The Mentholatum Company where she managed and launched several new Skin Care products. D’Anna is also an aspiring entrepreneur and recent winner of the 2016 CEO Elevator Pitch Competition at UTC. She also enjoys being an active participant in Chattanooga’s Junior League and Toastmasters International.
Rebekah Marr, CoStarters
During the "Get Started" workshop, you'll have the opportunity to understand what's driving you, to explore your idea through the CO.STARTERS Canvas, and refine your model by learning ways to get meaningful customer feedback and start pursuing your idea today.
Rebekah Marr is the co-founder of CO.STARTERS, a program that equips aspiring entrepreneurs with the insights, relationships, and tools needed to move from idea to action. In just under three years the program has a global reach with over 70 locations in the United States and New Zealand. Building on over a decade of experience in community leadership and philanthropic support, Rebekah works at CO.STARTERS to build the most effective and intuitive platform to support startup communities of all kinds and help organizations increase their impact.
Cameron Doody, Bellhops
Cam Doody is Co-founder and President of Bellhops, the largest and fastest growing tech-enabled platform in the $20B+ moving space. Cam has been responsible for raising over $21m in venture capital from some of the most prestigious investors in the world and was recently awarded the 2015 Young Entrepreneur of the Year by his Alma Mater, Auburn University.
EPB Pitch Competition Judges
Lynn Chesnutt, Semi-Final Round Judge
Lynn is the Managing Director of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center in Chattanooga covering nine counties in Southern Tennessee. Their mission is to contribute to the growth of the area's economy through consultation, education, referral and support services. Lynn is a native of Cleveland Tennessee and worked in the banking industry for 32 years. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga as well as an honor graduate of the Southeastern School of Banking at Vanderbilt University. Lynn has served as a board member of the United Way of Franklin County, Franklin County Chamber of Commerce and South Central Home Builders Association. He also served as an Area Community Advocate for the American Cancer Society.
Troy Bage, Semi-Final Round Judge
Troy graduated from the Medical College of Virginia in 1994 with a Masters of Science degree in Physical Therapy and received his Masters of Business Administration and DPT from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2008 and 2011, respectively. He has spent the majority of his career working in physical therapy on both the clinical and leadership aspects of practice. Most recently, he served as the President and Chief Operating Officer of BenchMark Physical Therapy and Upstream Rehabilitation in Chattanooga, TN. Upstream has over 320 outpatient clinics and management agreements in 21 states. During his time, Troy led the creation of Web Outcomes, a clinical outcomes system used by hundreds of practices across the country and Therapy Direct, a Workers Comp specialty Network. Currently, Troy is the Executive Director of the Alliance for Physical Therapy Quality and Innovation. This organization advocates for physical therapists and the profession through multiple channels. He is also the owner of three Workout Anytime franchises and a partner in Medport, a lien funding company.
Joseph M. Thrash IV, Semi-Final Round Judge
Joe earned a Bachelor's Degree in Management from Georgia Tech and his MBA from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He is currently the National Retail Relations Manager at McKee Foods, makers of the country's number one snack cake brand, Little Debbie. Prior to this role, Joe served as the Category and Shopper Development Manager with McKee. In his career, Joe has held roles in management, operations, marketing, and analytics with several national brands and companies in the financial services, retail and restaurant industries. Joe has also owned and operated a number of small businesses throughout his career, and has served as an adjunct professor at UTC.
Richard Becherer, Final Round Judge
Richard Becherer, D.B.A., held the Clarence E. Harris Chair of Excellence in Business & Entrepreneurship at the UTC College of Business until his retirement in 2016. A seasoned entrepreneur, he started one of the first for-profit and publicly traded HMO's in the U.S. He possesses 18 years of experience in the academy and has published research in several leading academic journals including Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice and The Journal of Small Business Management.
Liza Soydan, Final Round Judge
Following several years in management consulting, Liza Soydan launched Visionario, a boutique business research firm, in 2015 to provide clients with insights to inform strategic-decision making and action. Her work at Visionario draws upon her professional experience across industries and sectors, which includes leadership of partnership development efforts at a nanotechnology start-up that facilitated the transfer of promising technologies from university labs to the commercial marketplace. Before joining a Birmingham-based management consulting firm that focused on change management, Liza also informed strategy development at The Foundation for AIDS Research by leading a first-of-its-kind study of the domestic nonprofit response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
As an adjunct instructor, Liza teaches undergraduate and MBA students at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga how to identify, understand, and evaluate opportunities in the marketplace and guides the students' application of this new knowledge in their consultative work to meet the business research needs of small businesses in a nine-county area surrounding Chattanooga, Tennessee. Liza holds a Bachelor's degree in Marketing and an MBA, both from the University of West Georgia.
Jonathan Bragdon, Final Round Judge
Jonathan Bragdon is a Partner at Spartan and enjoys being a catalyst, coach, problem solver, advisor, investor and connector for early stage entrepreneurs and growth companies. Active in the fast-growing Southeast startup community for more than a decade, Jonathan founded or co-founded six companies in multiple industries and two non-profit organizations. His work has been recognized by CNN, Business Week, Governor of Tennessee, Smithsonian Institution, British Parliament and the Prince of Denmark. However, he claims his best advice originates directly from his "unintentional non-profits".
To help create and connect business talent regionally, he has served on the boards of the Southeast AeA, CreateHere, the Chattanooga Technology Council, and the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce. He also engages with other local impact organizations including CO.LAB, GigTank, UTC Entrepreneur Forum, Seed Project, Chattanooga Renaissance Fund, LAUNCH Chattanooga and Chattanooga 2.0.
Jonathan holds an MBA from Vanderbilt University and also attended Georgia Tech and Covenant College.