We have the best mentors in the world. Just saying.
Deeply committed to the success of each start-up founder they work with, it’s not a role they (or we) take lightly. They have been there, done that and will ask tough questions (sometimes making you squirm), while at the same time providing guidance and words of encouragement.
In keeping with the mountain climbing analogy, our mentors fall into three categories of engagement: Lead Climbers/Belayers, Trek Guides and our MAG Team. Visit our list of mentors below to learn about all the different areas of expertise we’ve got covered.
Looking for dedicated leadership and fierce encouragement? Look no further. Our Lead Climbers are ready to take you from where you are, to where you truly desire to be in your business. Assigned to a single company, they offer growth and development through industry connections, personalized strategies and will act as a soundboard for your business. They’re here to help you map out the path to success, avoid unnecessary pitfalls, and cheer you on as you accomplish greatness.
With experience and expertise in everything from Aerospace to Apparel our 40+ Lead Climbers are ready to help your business develop and grow.
Carol Adams has 40 years of experience in business and technology, primarily with the IBM Corporation. Carol began her career helping small and mid-sized businesses improve their business outcomes through implementation of IBM’s midrange computers and industry applications. Her career spanned multiple IBM divisions and focus areas, including enterprise software sales, sales training, performance analysis, and business process management, with the last 14 years centered on management of IBM business partners selling software and services across the U.S.
Carol holds a B.A. in English from Wake Forest University and has recently returned to Winston-Salem after spending most of her career in Atlanta, GA.
Roberts Bass’ career includes two years at the US Treasury Department, five years as CFO of a diversified business, and twenty eight years in corporate and investment banking at Wachovia and BB&T. Roberts has an extensive experience with public and private debt and equity transactions, capital strategy, financial forecasting, and international commercial transactions. Which led him to his current endeavor, a non-profit CFO, angel investor, and start-up business mentor. Roberts holds his BS in Commerce from UVA and an MBA in Finance from WFU.
Carol holds a B.A. in English from Wake Forest University and has recently returned to Winston-Salem after spending most of her career in Atlanta, GA.
MICHAEL B. BAUGHAN
Cindy Bay-Wall spent twenty-five years growing her career and expertise in Management, Operations, Training and People Development. Cindy began as a Manager Trainee with McDonald’s Corporation in 1981 and From 2003-2006 she was Vice President of Operations, Training and Franchising in the Great Southern Region. Born and raised in Missouri, Cindy’s career lead her all around the United States eventually moving to Winston-Salem when she joined Krispy Kreme in 2008 as Senior Vice President of Company Shops. In 2011, she took on the additional responsibility for North American Franchise Operations and Real Estate. Cindy retired from Krispy Kreme in 2016 and we like to think that mentoring with Winston Starts is the frosting on the doughnut of her retirement!
Richard Browne’s career includes 30 years of delivering global growth for Fortune 500 firms, including Danaher and Stanley/Black & Decker. As a fractional CMO, Browne works with small and mid-cap founders and boards to develop and implement product, commercialization effectiveness and process strategies to enable investors to achieve their goals.
Senior Packaged Goods and Apparel Executive expert in all facets of General Management with a focus in Sales and Marketing. Expertise in: Sales, brand management, go to market strategies and tactics, establishing and achieving short and long term goals, turning around and enhancing performance of branded companies. Successfully established strategically aligned partnerships with external customers and suppliers. Pat received his Bachelors of Arts from Boston University and his MBA from Wake Forest University.
Greg Campana holds a rich background in marketing communications with over thirty years of advertising, marketing, and branding experience. He has worked with advertising agencies including Della Femina, Ogilvy & Mather, McKinney, and Mullen, while also having spent time marketing for Walt Disney World, Phone Tree, and Wray Ward. Greg studied at Purdue University where he earned his BA degree in Mass Communications, and it shows. His communication skills are totally BA.
David began his career at a large national bank where he held positions in sales, sales management, marketing and advertising. With a desire to run his own business, he left the bank to found CCL Branding, a regional brand development and advertising agency and managed that business profitably for over 30 years until he sold his interest in 2019. Recently, David founded Black Swan Strategies, a consulting company focused on strategic marketing, branding, culture development and business development for corporations and large non-profits.
Rick Chilton holds the executive position of Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. Rick is an accomplished executive that builds responsive organizations that enhance customer experience while building process and technology that secures the enterprise. His extensive background offers C-level roles in enterprise information security, vulnerability assessment, risk management, security architecture, security engineering, infrastructure & operations, business continuity & disaster recovery, service management, and program delivery.
Rick has over 25 years of experience in technology. He is BCBSNC’s spokesperson for cybersecurity and interacts with customers, auditors, regulators, and government officials on a routine basis. Rick holds Certified in Risk Information Systems Control (CRISC) and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certifications. Under Rick’s leadership, BCBSNC received the CSO50 award in 2015, 2017, and 2019 in recognition of security initiatives that provide outstanding business value and thought leadership. Rick was selected as the NC Technology Association’s 2018 CISO of the year.
Dan Cohen excels as an educator in the fields of entrepreneurial theory and practice. Beginning his career by co-founding AquaGuard Waterproofing Corporation, Dan has since taught undergraduate and graduate courses in entrepreneurship, business strategy, and start-up strategy at Cornell and Wake Forest University. He received a PhD in Management and Entrepreneurship as well as a DM in Management from Case Western Reserve University, and an MBA from Johns Hopkins University. In 2015 Forbes ranked Cornell as the #4 Most Entrepreneurial University pretty much because of him.
Innovative, strategic and bi-lingual leader with an international profile and over 20 years of experience working as an executive and consultant in both the public and private sectors. Exceptional people builder and manager with a commitment to ethics, social responsibility and inclusion as foundational principles. Strengths in strategy and planning, corporate social responsibility, sustainability, social risk management, inclusive business strategies, stakeholder/community engagement, multi-sector collaboration, social entrepreneurship and project management.
John Craig has 40 years of experience in strategic marketing. For the last 15 years, he has been a co-founding partner for Windward Group, a strategic consulting partnership, with clients include Crate&Barrel, Godiva Chocolatier, Nationwide Insurance and Barnes and Noble, among many others. He has also spent much of his career at Sara Lee, where he had P & L responsibility for two apparel brands: One Hanes Place and Just My Size. Then he led the marketing function for Kaplan Early Learning Company; where he launched innovative state based target marketing campaigns. He holds an BA in Journalism from the UNC Chapel Hill, a MS in Education from Indiana University, Bloomington and an MBA in Marketing from UNC Chapel Hill.
Tony DiBianca is an accomplished developer, holding multiple patents, who is passionate about entrepreneurship. He worked for Xerox and DuPont-Xerox Imaging before founding PhoneTree at age thirty, which led to his assistance in the creation of both SchoolMessenger and CallPointe. Tony’s degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute include Acoustics, Robotics, and Management. And he’s in a band. It’s okay, he’s cooler than us too.
Joy’s diverse experience and extensive skills made her a “Swiss army knife” for business. Joy garnered 20 years of cross-functional experience in CPG and healthcare industries. She held various leadership responsibilities in sales and marketing, eCommerce, web development, supply chain management, project management, strategic planning, international business development, foreign direct investment, and M&A. Joy also established an extensive customer portfolio including top national retailers and healthcare companies. This unique makeup of experience developed Joy’s specialty from forming effective strategy to implementing operational plans. Joy previously served as Senior Vice President of Sales and Retail Strategy at Amoena GmbH, a German medical device company. Prior to Amoena, Joy held various roles in Sales and Supply Chain at Hanesbrands. Joy holds a BA in Business from Salem College and an MBA from Wake Forest University.
Owner/Principal at DiBella Consulting Group, LLC
Rob grew up in the Philadelphia area and moved to the south after high school to go to Wake Forest University. He graduated from Wake Forest in 1988 with a BA in Economics and again in 1997 with an MBA. Rob and his wife and long-time residences of Winston Salem with two rambunctious Shetland Sheep dogs and enjoy the active community life growing in downtown Winston Salem. Rob is a mentor for ambitious small business owners at Forsyth Tech’s Small Business Center, and works with undergraduate and master’s candidate business students at the Wake Forest School of Business. Currently, Rob is Board Chair at the Community Care Center of Forsyth County, a medical nonprofit that provides medicine and care for underrepresented, uninsured citizens in Forsyth, Davie and Stokes Counties.
Eva Doss is the President and CEO of The Launch Place (TLP), a venture development organization located in Danville, VA and in the Research Triangle Park, NC. The Launch Place invests in innovative start-ups with a potential to create economic impact in the Dan River Region from its pre-seed and seed investment funds. In addition to the investments, TLP provides business consulting, training, mentoring and office space to entrepreneurs. Eva has over twenty years of experience in business consulting, business development and pre-seed and seed investment fund establishment and management both in the United States and in Europe. Eva has worked with Booz Allen, RTI International, and the U.S. Agency for International Development in Washington, D.C. Eva has a MBA and BS in business administration, a post-graduate Executive Certificate in Management and Leadership from MIT Sloan School of Management, serves on several corporate boards in North Carolina and Virginia, and speaks several languages.
Hal Eason is a serial entrepreneur and investor whose ventures have included biotech startups, software companies, and a rental real estate business. He has a passion for coaching and developing entrepreneurs and emerging leaders. He holds an M.B.A. with High Distinction from Harvard Business School, a Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a B.A. from Vanderbilt University. Hal currently serves on the executive teams of Foenestra Corporation, a technology spin-out company from Wake Forest University, and Vertigo Media Inc., a Charlotte-based mobile app company.
David Evans is an independent marketing strategy consultant with extensive experience across various consumer products categories. He has held VP Marketing positions at Sara Lee and Sealy, and most recently was VP Pricing Strategy at Inmar Intelligence. Earlier in his career, David was a management consultant for Oliver Wyman and later for Evmark Partners, a business he launched to help midsize and Fortune 500 B2B and B2C clients develop and implement profitable growth strategies. David has taught Marketing Analytics at the Wake Forest Univ. Schools of Business, and served on the Board of Directors for Kindermusik. He has an MBA from Stanford University and B.S. with honors from the Wharton School at the Univ. of Pennsylvania.
Vance Faulkner is a freelance full stack software developer with extensive experience working with startups. His core expertise is web and mobile app development as well as CTO guidance. Additionally, Vance can provide support in product design, web analytics, customer discovery, agile development, and launch strategy. Vance has also worked with a number of larger organizations including Blue Apron, Ford Motors, IDEO, and Westfield Insurance.
Louis Foreman is founder and Chief Executive of Enventys Partners, an integrated product design and engineering firm. Over the past 20 years he has created 9 successful start-ups and has been directly responsible for the creation of over 20 others. He is the inventor of 10 registered US Patents, and his firm is responsible for the development and filing of well over 700 more. Louis is an adjunct professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, at Johnson & Wales University, Central Michigan University, and an adjunct professor and the Entrepreneur in Residence at The McColl School of Business at Queens University. Louis served for 7 years on the Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC) of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, including the last two years as Chairman.
Alyson Francisco is a professor of management and entrepreneurship and director of the Salem Academy and College Center for Women in Entrepreneurship Business where she fulfills her passion for advancing and empowering women. She has more than twenty-five years experience in industry holding executive level positions in finance and customer operations. She is a graduate of NC State University and holds an MBA from Duke University. She has served as a board member and startup mentor for the Center for Creative Economy for more than five years, and is an active member of the Triad’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem. She was recently recognized by the Triad Business Journal as a 2019 Outstanding Woman in Business.
David is a serial entrepreneur, writer, adviser, and early-stage fund manager with over thirty years of experience in creating and building software technology companies. After failing at retirement twice, David became the Triangle’s most active angel investor spending his time as a volunteer coach and mentor to startup founders and managing a free accelerator he sponsors with the Town of Cary. To combat the lack of early stage capital in NC, David created and runs Cofounders Capital, a $12M seed fund, the success of which led to a second $31M fund. As an entrepreneur, David was the founder or co-founder of seven companies including PeopleClick (purchased for $100 million) and Report2Web, which sold for $12M in less than eleven months from inception. As a writer, David is author of a popular book on entrepreneurship called The StartUp Hats.
Timothy J. Gardner retired as an Executive Vice President of Illinois Tool Works Inc. (ITW), a Fortune 200 diversified manufacturer of highly engineered components and industrial systems and consumables. With $14 billion in revenues, ITW is a multinational manufacturer of a diversified range of value-adding and short lead-time industrial products and equipment. The Company consists of 7 strategic operating segments in 60 countries and employs some 60,000 people.
Samy has over 20 years of experience in Lifesciences and Healthcare. As a seasoned entrepreneur, he previously built technology platforms, operated multi-million dollar investment syndicate portfolios, and turned-around a multi-million dollar home health franchise with successful exits. Samy also has big 4 consulting experience – executive level Advisory & Strategic consulting, support to Fortune 50 global organizations. He successfully implemented innovation centers/labs, center of excellence units using industry best practices lean project portfolio management, Agile and Design thinking principles, Governance models and Change Management processes. Currently, Samy is President & CEO of Health Kinect, a boutique management consulting firm.
Steven is a lifelong technologist which began with intermittent employment at a semiconductor manufacturer, now part of TI, while in college. Upon graduation his technology skillset acquired through employment opened opportunities to apply for positions at established computer companies. Steven worked in product development and management at NCR, Data General and Prime Computer and then served in executive roles at engineering and manufacturing companies that included Bytex Corp., StrataCom Inc., Cisco Systems and Juniper Networks. Over the past twenty years, Steven has served as an advisor and board member at numerous for profit and charitable entities. He is an active investor at pre-seed, seed and Series A funding stages both directly and as an LP through VC and PE funds. He enjoys working with entrepreneurs in assessing and preparing for what is next, including broader market adoption, revenue acceleration, scaling operations along with identifying and mitigating operational and market risks.
As a fractional CFO, Harrison enjoys working alongside the creative energy of entrepreneurs, supporting them with his 15+ years of financial and operational experience. Harrison has worked with high growth companies whose customers include the majority of the country’s largest retailers, including Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Walmart, Costco, Kroger, Aldi, Home Depot and Amazon. He created financial models that facilitated profitable new product introductions and worked with lenders and investors to secure the necessary financing. At Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Lucy’s and other organizations, Harrison led teams in FP&A, accounting and finance, HR, IT and risk management, and mentored financial analysts and accountants who have gone on to take significant leadership positions. Harrison has an MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden School, a BA from Emory & Henry College and is a Certified Public Accountant (inactive). Harrison has served on the board and as chair of the finance committee of HabitatForsyth, a Habitat for Humanity affiliate. Harrison enjoys the outdoors, and is an avid runner and triathlon participant.
Dennis G. Hatchell, currently serving on the Board of Weis Markets, has a long history in the food industry. He was the CEO of the Pantry, COO of Alex Lee Inc, and also served as President for them, Merchants Distributors Inc, Institution Food House, and Lowe’s Foods. Dennis graduated from the University of Colorado before launching his career with Western Grocers and as Chairman of the Wake Forest Undergrad Business School. He hands down has the best snack drawer you’ll ever find.
Brent Hilleary has held executive leadership positions in start-ups, turn-arounds, and international companies. His experience in strategy, marketing, supply chains, and finance have led him to his current position as the COO at Royce Too. Brent graduated from Davidson College with a degree in Economics, obtained a Masters Certificate in Business Analytics from Michigan State University, and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School. Like for real, he never puts it down.
Natalie Jensen-Noll is a retired business owner, a current mentor and board member for Winston Starts, and a board member of the Crosby Scholars. Prior to her company’s sale in 2016, she was an owner and COO of SSRN.com, the largest open access repository of scholarly research in the social sciences and humanities. She was formerly a Principal with Mercer Management Consulting where she advised Fortune 500 companies in a variety of industries. Natalie holds a BA in economics from Swarthmore College and an MBA from Harvard University.
Mr. Johnson currently is Vice President at Salem Investment Partners. He is responsible for deal origination and portfolio monitoring with 8-10 companies within his portfolio, a $170MM SBA-licensed investment fund focused on providing mezzanine debt to the lower-middle market across the eastern US. Prior to working at Salem, Will led investments for Rocky Point Ventures in Austin, TX. Will has a passion for investing in private companies including seed stage through leveraged buyouts as well as private equity and VC funds.
Jill Kaplan enjoyed a corporate career focused on technology sales and marketing. She began her career as a semiconductor engineer for IBM but moved to the sales and marketing side early in her career. She held several executive positions at IBM and Cisco Systems where she focused on Go to Market and pipeline creation and conversion. Jill now focuses her efforts on developing and investing in the next generation of entrepreneurs. She is on the executive committee of xElle Ventures, an early stage fund for women founders; and a member of Triangle Angel Syndicate. Jill is also on the board of the University of Vermont Health Network Home Health and Hospice and the Alternative Investment Committee. She holds a bachelor’s in electrical engineering from Tufts University and a master’s in material science from The University of Vermont. She divides her time between Burlington, VT and Pittsboro, N.C.
Peter Kramer has built his career in medical manufacturing, investment banking, and healthcare information technology. He is the founder of three companies, one of which, Providigm, he currently serves in the positions of President and COO. Peter is a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a BS degree in Chemistry. Just be warned, he has a lot of bad chemistry jokes. He says all the good ones Argon.
Paula completed her undergraduate at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. She then attended the Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine where she earned her podiatric medical degree. At Wake Forest Baptist Health, she has had the chance to establish her career at a health system which centers on patient focused care through cutting edge technology. Paula has been able to develop a new practice and inpatient consult service at Lexington Medical Center which has allowed for numerous opportunities to grow as a physician, teacher, researcher, and individual. As the Research Director of the Podiatry section, she works to train residents in surgery and promote interdisciplinary collaboration and guidance to residents and colleagues to advance foot and ankle research opportunities at our institution. She welcomes the opportunity to work with entrepreneurs and curious minds to advance their projects and cultivate a space for learning.
Rick Leander spent 30 years building and running technology based businesses for some of the worlds largest financial institutions, including the strategic technology group at Bank of America and a series of transaction and trading businesses in London, New York, and Tokyo for Citibank. He was the CEO of a fintech company in New York before fintech was a thing. For much of the last 9 years he has leveraged cutting edge research in Behavioral Science to help large and small companies improve their connections with customers, employees and investors.
Jeff Livesay has more than 45 years of experience in advanced technology and business, starting with work in Artificial Intelligence during its infancy in 1977. He has made impacts in various sectors including healthcare, supercomputing, energy, telecommunications, defense, education, credit, and supermarket/retail while working at companies including IBM, MITRE, MiHIN, Absoft, Sprint, and Inference Corporation.
Jeff serially founded/co-founded numerous companies including Wellbid/Wellogix, MiHIN, Velatura, A.J. Goodware, and Execution LLC, generating combined investments, revenues, grants, and other income totaling more than $300 million. He has authored more than 30 patents and has been an invited/keynote speaker at numerous national conferences and events. Jeff has worked with numerous startups and incubators including Ann Arbor’s SPARK, is in his third year as a mentor with Winston Starts and is also a repeat mentor with Nordic Amplify. Jeff’s latest startup, CopyForward Inc., is a Winston Starts cohort company and NC IDEA SEED grantee. CopyForward enables future royalties for creators and collectors on their assets.
Jeff has a B.S. in Engineering and AI from Michigan State University and completed work for his M.S. in Computer Science and AI at N.C. State University. He likes green and red, obviously!
Senior Finance Executive, Administration Manager and Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with 11 years in public accounting and 15 years within a large financial institution. Expert at building processes and procedures to achieve desired internal controls and effectively manage risk. Proficient at coaching and mentoring complex teams through process improvement initiatives that focus on analyzing financial data and build best-in-class financial modeling. Recognized for utilizing entrepreneurial mindset to leverage opportunistic investments in real estate and business startups. Proven success developing enhanced financial processes to drive business critical decision making with appropriate internal process controls. Proficient in Excel, QuickBooks, SAP, AFS, Cognos BI.
Trinity Manning is an accomplished programmer, mentor, and entrepreneur. While currently working as CEO of his cofound company, OnceLogix, Trinity started his career by creating the award winning ShareNote.com in one night. His degrees in Communications and Business were received from Wake Forest University in 2002. If the Matrix was real, he’d be the Architect.
Bruce is a Fractional CFO specializing in startups. He has helped more than 135 companies to get organized and funded, mainly in Silicon Valley, but as far afield as London, Tokyo and Hong Kong. He has deep expertise in venture finance and has personally raised over $83 million in startup funding. He is a specialist at building financial simulations for startups in order to optimize their go-to-market strategy and minimize the amount of capital that has to be raised. Bruce is an entrepreneur himself. In 1992, he founded Positive Communications, grew it to over $40 million in annual sales and 450 employees, and sold over a million pagers. Bruce holds a BA from Swarthmore College and an MBA from Stanford University.
Red Maxwell, the CMO for Bigfoot Biomedical. Bigfoot designs, develops, and operates a software and medical device ecosystem for insulin-therapy. Prior to Bigfoot, Red served as Chief Marketing Officer of AvidXchange and helped grow the Charlotte based FinTech to “unicorn” status. Red has also filled the Chief Marketing Officer role for the SilkRoad Equity family of companies in the HRTech and Public Safety sectors. He lectures at the Wake Forest University School of Business and serves on its Charlotte Executive Board. Red was a contributing author to The Wall Street Journal Business Bestseller, The Big Moo.
DR. JOHN MCCONNELL
Dr. John McConnell’s string of accomplishments in the medical field, such as receiving the Barringer Medal and Fuller Award, make him a valuable resource in the fields of research, education, and consulting. He is currently the Executive Director of Wake Forest Healthcare Ventures, after previously serving as the CEO of Wake Forest Medical Center and Executive Vice President for Health System Affairs at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Dr. McConnell’s experience has led to his publishing of more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and ten books. Pretty imPRESSive, don’t ya think?
An executive with consulting, business development, fundraising, and international experience in Higher Education and Consumer Goods. An adjunct professor with experience teaching online and in the classroom in strategy, marketing, analytics, and consulting skills curriculum. Shannon has specific expertise in managing relationships, developing strategy, corporate relations, and leading.
Jane McCracken is the Assistant Director of the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), the state of Georgia’s technology business incubator. The ATDC helps entrepreneurs launch and scale technology companies across the state. Jane has had an extensive career as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist. She founded and served in the C-suite of a number of technology companies including those in healthcare, software and e-commerce. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University and her master’s degree at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
A financial executive with over 25 years of experience in finance, mergers and acquisitions, financial analysis and strategy, risk management and leadership. After graduating from Virginia Tech, he spent several years at EY within the audit advisory practice focusing on entrepreneur-led and public companies. After EY he worked with several start-up and public consumer product companies, lastly serving as the CFO of Primo Water Corporation, a publicly traded company with sales over $300 million. David provided strategic financial leadership and played a critical role in ensuring the company strategies created shareholder value. In March 2020, David played a lead role in the successful sale of Primo for $775 million.
David has extensive experience working closely with institutional and individual investors, sell-side equity research analysts, bankers, insurance brokers, external legal counsels, external auditors and tax advisors. In addition, David has managed all aspects of finance, investor relations, legal, risk management and human resources.
Mike Mitchell holds over twenty five years of experience in the enterprise technology industry as a product and operations executive, services leader, management consultant, and entrepreneur. In recent years, he has been advising software developers on innovation, product management, and operations strategy. Prior to that, Mike served as COO and Head of Product for MissionMode, and received his Bachelor’s in Computer Science and Engineering from MIT. It takes a lot of skill to make MIT the ps statement of your bio!
Ben Noland is an experienced business operator and strategist, general manager, entrepreneur and brand builder. He built a profitable consumer apparel company, Pesca Muerta, from the ground up, and led a successful exit within three years of launch. Ben also has over 11 years of experience as a risk management professional in the financial services industry. He currently serves as the President of Mainline, a startup turnkey solutions provider for outside plant fiber optics construction and infrastructure installation. Ben earned a BA from Dartmouth College and an MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business Administration.
John has spent the last 39 years tackling large scale IT and supply chain projects for a wide range of corporations. Along the way he held numerous IT and non-IT jobs, including Director of Planning and Distribution for Sara Lee’s 400+ retail stores, serving as the logistics partner to Wal-Mart, and CIO of Champion Products. In 1994 John left Sara Lee to found Sunrise Technologies, an award winning global company focused on the Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP solution
John holds a degree in Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Economics, with Highest Honors from the University of California, Santa Barbara, 1979.
DALE M. POLLOCK
Dale M. Pollock was the chief film critic for Daily Variety and moved on to be the chief entertainment correspondent for the LA Times, where he won the Best Feature Writing award and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. He joined A&M Films and later became president of the organization, going on to produce such films as The Beast, A Midnight Clear, House of Cards, and Set It Off. He started his own film company, Peak Productions, and eventually began teaching at the University of North Carolina where he won the UNC Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching. He’s kind of a big deal.
PRECIOUS WILSON PULLEY
As a professional “dot connector”, with over 10 years of experience in strategic development, partnerships, and product management Precious Wilson Pulley is extremely passionate and energized about problemsolving, and providing the insights, access, and processes needed to transform minority communities. In fact, Precious claims her ‘expertise’ is primarily: disrupting the mentalities that keeps entrepreneurs and corporate professionals ‘stuck’.
Colt is a serial entrepreneur with deep experience in mobile technologies & international business and a track record of developing, deploying, and integrating products into large enterprises & retailers. He has served in various leadership roles with a focus on product design, strategic account management, and global business & supply chain development. He has successfully exited two technology companies he has founded, the first at age 21.
Colt holds several Apple certifications, is a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), a member of Forbes Technology Council, and a founding member of The Business Journal Leadership Trust. In 2019 Colt was named 40 under 40 by the business journal and was the youngest recipient at 25 years old.
Lizzie Ward Roediger
Lizzie Ward Roediger most recently served as CEO of Sunshine Beverages, an early-stage beverage company based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina that manufactures and sells better-for-you energy drinks and sparkling energy waters.
In her time with Sunshine, Lizzie grew the business from a small, locally distributed beverage brand with three flavors to a portfolio of 10 core SKUs, an owned and operated direct-to-consumer platform and placement in over 5,000 retail doors. In 2018, Lizzie spearheaded R&D that led to the reformulation of legacy products to reduce sugar content, a new package size aligned with consumer preferences and a zero-sugar line of functional seltzers.
Lizzie began as one of the first fulltime employees for Sunshine and hired and trained the team that continues to grow Sunshine today. The strong company culture helped the business to receive recognition as one of the Triad Business Journal’s “Best Places to Work” in 2020.
Prior to Sunshine, Lizzie was part of the investment team at Teall Capital, a private equity fund with investments in the sports, entertainment and lifestyle spaces. She transitioned in to lead the Sunshine business after Teall invested in the Triad-based beverage company in 2017.
Lizzie joined Teall after earning her MBA from Emory University Goizueta Business School in Atlanta, where she also spent a year in Strategic Marketing for The Coca-Cola Company. In her time with Coca-Cola, Lizzie oversaw the development of partnerships and programming in the gaming, entertainment and emerging technology space across the company’s portfolio of brands.
Lizzie began her career in sports and entertainment marketing, including time with Octagon, a global sports and entertainment agency, where she managed activation and programming for Sprint’s title sponsorship of the NASCAR Cup Series, followed by IMG. In her time with IMG, Lizzie was based in New York City and led brand strategy and activation for National Sales.
Lizzie holds an MBA from Emory University Goizueta Business School and a BA from Wake Forest University. She lives in Winston-Salem with her husband and one-year-old son.
Jay Robinson is a Senior VP and General Manager for the Performance Division at Renfro Corporation. He leads the Brand Marketing, Merchandising and Design strategies for Technical and Performance Brand segments including Carhartt, Merrell, New Balance, Dr Scholl’s, Copper Sole. Jay has 32 years of experience in Retail. He has created over $300,000,000 in new value in both Branded and Private Label Programs. Jay has led development on more than 20 Top Brands and Managed Relationships with the top Retail Organizations – from Nike, Smartwool, Carhartt, Fruit of the Loom, John Deere, Haggar, and Dr Scholl’s to Walmart, Target, JCPenney, Kohl’s and others.
Jay holds a BSc in Marketing from the University of Santa Clara with additional program certification from the Retail Management Institute (RMI) – a leading retail studies program at University of Santa Clara.
Jose Rodriguez currently works as the Partner in Charge & Executive Director of KPMG’s Audit Committee Institute, where his primary role is to drive long term value and enhance investor confidence. Previously, he was the COO, global audit, office managing partner for KPMG’s Global Services Center, and was a member of their U.S. and Americas Board of Directors; a role for which he was listed on NACD Directorship magazine’s top 100 most influential people in the boardroom community. Jose holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Miami. You didn’t even know there was a top 100 most influential people in the boardroom community, did you?
DR. BILL SATTERWHITE
Bill Satterwhite, JD, MD, practiced outpatient pediatrics for sixteen years, holding multiple administrative and advisory board positions, and is now a pediatrician and Chief Wellness Officer at Wake Forest Baptist Health. Prior to his medical career, Dr. Satterwhite was a lawyer with Johnston, Allison & Hord in Charlotte, NC, specializing in healthcare law and closely held corporate law. He received his bachelor’s degree in History from Davidson College, his law degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law, and his medical degree from Wake Forest University School of Medicine. And to think, we used to be impressed if someone was a doctor or a lawyer.
J. Michael Schafer has spent his entire career as an active early-stage venture capital fund investor and manager of emerging technology companies. He currently splits his time between managing the closure of venture capital activities of New Mexico Community Capital (“NMCC”) and identifying/evaluating new solutions to the problems associated with future resource scarcity and climate change. As an early-stage investor, Mr. Schafer has been the first institutional venture investor in the majority of his investments and served/serves on over twenty boards of directors. He is a graduate of Davidson College and earned his MBA from the University of Michigan.
Bob Seehausen is an entrepreneurial healthcare executive with extensive experience at the intersection of payor strategy, provider revenue, and incentive models. He is well-versed in payor-provider revenue models, pricing strategy, value-based care, insurance and regulatory issues. Bob challenges the status quo and is energized when he has the opportunity to build strategies for business growth, new models of care, and joint ventures.
Bob led the team at Novant Health that developed payor relationships to become the largest ACOs nationally for UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare Advantage ACO and Cigna’s commercial ACO. He is a respected thought leader in ACA exchange strategies and in pricing strategy. Bob is a sought-after speaker and advisor on complex healthcare market issues and was a member of both the Cigna and United Healthcare national provider advisory boards.
Most recently at Novant Health, a $5.6b health system, Bob was SVP, Business Development and Sales (2001- 2020). He held full responsibility for negotiation and management of all payor relationships for facilities and over 2,500 employed providers including commercial, Medicare Advantage, Exchange and Medicaid market segments. His team developed pricing strategy and established charges for all facilities. Early success at Novant saw Bob leading physician network development, corporate strategic planning as well as certificate of need activities. He provided guidance to the CEO, CFO and the executive team in business development opportunities.
Malay Shah is a seasoned investor with specific expertise in alternative assets, including early-stage ventures, private companies and real estate. Malay co-leads VentureSouth Piedmont, part of the VentureSouth network of over 350 angel investors spanning the Carolinas. He has raised and managed private equity funds investing in startup companies, residential real estate and commercial real estate. Malay’s experience includes roles in management consulting, project management, product marketing, policy development and corporate finance. He holds a BSE in Biomedical and Electrical Engineering and MBA from Duke University.
Daryl is the founder and Chief Creative Strategist of Royalty Marketing. Shaw has more than a decade of experience in integrated marketing, creative strategy and product / category management. Shaw has managed several Fortune 500 and corporate brands including Hanes, Dial Soap, Right Guard, Renuzit, Wrangler, Soft Scrub, Harley Davidson, Wells Fargo and Jersey Mike as well as entertainment industry clients such as Kevin Hart, Kelly Rowland and Shaquille O’Neal. Shaw is a graduate of Wake Forest University. In addition to serving on multiple boards such as Habitat for Humanity, The Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce, and Smart Start of Forsyth County, Shaw is a dedicated community member and leader and takes pride in using his personal and professional experience to mentor startup businesses. Shaw is a dedicated husband and father and enjoys photography, music, fashion, world history and looks forward to someday traveling the world to capture the lifestyles and cultures of various societies.
DR. JANE SHEN
Dr. Jane Shen’s career as a clinical researcher has led her to numerous roles focused around clinical program design and development, strategic planning, corporate operations, pharmaceutical business activities, and mitigation of operational & development risks. She worked as a Clinical Trial Leader at Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, Senior VP of Clinical Operations at TransTech Pharma, Head of Innovation at PMG Research, and now works at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Dr. Shen earned her Pharm.D. at the University of Southern California, completed her post-doctoral research fellowship with Rutgers University, and her clinical training at the National Cancer Institute. Don’t worry, we’ve asked her to push herself a little harder so we could write a more impressive bio.
Dan Sims is the founder of DN SIMS Group, LLC and has thirty years of business experience in manufacturing, operations management, product development, engineering, and business development. He also has ten years at the President and Executive VP level of a publicly traded Aerospace company and co-founded JEKA Group, an acquisition and growth company. Dan has a BS in Industrial Engineering from NC State University. If you’re reaching for the stars, he’s your man.
Julia is a strategic, visionary and high energy leader with 30+ years of experience in the apparel and consumer goods spaces across many iconic brands including. She has a proven track record of developing, motivating and leading skilled and passionate teams in the areas of strategic planning, marketing, e commerce, sales, merchandising, and design. She is recognized for her consumer‐centric approach and for success in taking brands to the next level by creating compelling brand experiences and engagement. Her passion for building companies, brands and teams and engaging all stakeholders is infectious.
Healthcare and financial services executive and former practicing attorney who creates and executes privacy and data protection strategies that anticipate risk, meet changing regulatory requirements, and support business growth. Proven success in developing privacy policies and systems in the absence of legal and regulatory precedent. Curious and collaborative problem-solver who clearly communicates risk, opportunities, and obstacles across multiple disciplines. Tucker is adept at forging and growing strong cross-functional and regulatory relationships to ensure transparency and garner support. He builds and leads teams that adapt quickly to change and challenge existing practices to identify and incorporate best practices.
Jay holds an MBA from Wake Forest University and BS from Virginia Tech. With 27 years’ experience as a marketer, portfolio manager and business transformer at Hanesbrands, Jay has launched numerous consumer relevant innovations and marketing campaigns including Hanes Tagless T-shirts, Hanes Lay-flat Collars and Bali Easy Lite. Jay has experience with brick and mortar and digital sales and has a transparent leadership style that creates and empowers high performing teams.
Keith Vest is Chairman of The Variable, Partner at 100watt and Founder of Sunshine Beverages. After starting and running a design firm for twelve years, Keith co-founded The Variable in 2011. Keith has made a career out of helping major brands grow and evolve, including Krispy Kreme, Lowes Foods, Wells Fargo, Hanesbrands and Planters Lifesavers. Using these guiding principles, he co-founded Sunshine Beverages in 2013 and, in 2017, helped launch 100watt, a business incubator and accelerator that helped start ROAMD, Kabook!, Peanut Better and Patch.
Jason is an entrepreneurial executive that loves the challenge of building, improving and fixing businesses. He has a strong background in sales and finance while leading organizations as CEO, President, COO, and CFO. Jason has broad industry expertise from SaaS, medical device, manufacturing, telecommunications, consumer products, marketing agencies, etc. He is passionate about developing high-performing teams and creating alignment between people and strategy and building strong cultures
He has successfully delivered results – raising capital ($1 – $5 million each) for five early-stage companies as part of the management team, managed an $11 million PE backed management buyout of a SaaS company in 60 days, turned-around two companies, led the sale of three companies to strategic buyers, and has yielded exceptional returns to investors – one over 10x return to investors.
He has invested in and been a board member in several private companies over his career. He is a father of 7 children – so spends most of his non-work time driving, cleaning, coaching, teaching and refereeing sibling disputes… He is active in his local church.
Ron Wellman served as Wake Forest’s athletic director from October 1992 until his retirement in April 2019. During his 27 years, Wake Forest won 24 ACC Championships and 5 NCAA team championships as well as seven individual national titles. Under Wellman’s leadership, Wake Forest produced 10 national players of the year, four national freshman of the year awards, and 189 first team All-Americans. Wellman oversaw 655 first team All-ACC selections, 45 ACC Players of the Year and 40 ACC Coaches of the Year, 40 ACC Freshman of the Year awards, 21 ACC Tournament MVPs, and 27 Academic All-Americans. A former president of the Division I-A Athletic Directors’ Association, Wellman served on the NCAA Diversity Leadership Strategic Planning Committee. Under Wellman’s watch, Wake Forest invested $250 million into athletics construction projects since 2008 ranging from McCreary Tower at BB&T Field, to the purchase of David F. Couch Ballpark and the LJVM Coliseum from the City of Winston-Salem.
Kim is the founder and former Chief Executive Officer of KeraNetics, LLC. KeraNetics is a biotech company focused on the development of products made from purified keratin proteins for use in advanced wound care and regenerative medicine. Mr. Westmoreland is also the former Assistant Dean of the Wake Forest University Graduate School of Business and Executive Professor of Entrepreneurship. He also has over 30 years of experience as a serial entrepreneur and has founded 6 start-up companies. He holds a BA from Duke University and an MBA from Wake Forest University.
Terry Williams works with Wake Forest Baptist Health with responsibilities in Strategic Planning, Network Development, Clinically Integrated Network formation, Business Health Solutions, Faith Health and Clinical Business Development. He has held various positions for medical and IT based organizations, including roles as Chief Strategy and Growth Officer, Executive VP of Organizational Transformation, and VP. Terry received a Graduate Diploma in Economics at the University of East Anglia in England and an MBA from Emory University. He’s got more connections than a server room.
Lee Woodard is a results-driven supply chain executive with extensive experience in leading organizations and teams to achieve success. He has over 25 years of senior level expertise in Operations, Distribution, Global Logistics, Transportation and Customer Service – with significant P&L responsibility, general management experience, and customer-facing activity. During his career, Lee has served as Vice President of Global Logistics & Distribution at Hanesbrands, Director of Operations at New Breed Logistics, and most recently Vice President Operations & General Manager at Pacific Highway Wines. Lee has a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Virginia, and resides in Winston-Salem, NC.
Doug Young is a serial entrepreneur and Angel investor, specializing in the design, development, and application of disruptive technologies. His technology companies were all acquired by the Fortune 100/500 companies such as 3M Corporation, MCI Telecommunications, Salem Communications, Landmark Media Group and Cox Communications. He was an Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist in 1995, was selected to The Triad’s Most Influential People, and made The Business Journal’s “Fast 50” lists. Go read that again… “his companies were all acquired”.
Learn how our mentors are shaping start-ups right in your backyard.
Learn how Winston Starts helped Jeanna Carr grow her business from start-up to scale-up.
They’re specially trained in subject-specific knowledge. Our Trek Guides are here to assist your vertical ascent and growth! Whether it be developing financial proformas, coding software or your brand marketing strategy (and many other specialty skills), these Trek Guides provide our founders with world-class expertise. They are passionate about working hand in hand with start-up teams on the journey to scale-up and success!
Our trek guides are mentors whose deep skills are available for multiple companies as needed.
Mike Buckovich is the Founder and CEO of VerticalCurve Consulting, an independent web technologies and web integration firm dedicated to taming technology to liberate organizations’ time, money and energy, enabling them to concentrate their efforts on their next great idea.
Mike has led and developed digital strategies for a variety of Fortune 500 firms ranging from apparel, financial services, B2C, B2B, and start-ups from Chicago, New York, Washington, Atlanta, and most recently North Carolina. He has been assisting startups, accelerators, private equity groups, and enterprises with 30+ years of experience in the advertising, marketing, and development world.
TIMOTHY J. GARDNER
Timothy J. Gardner retired as an Executive Vice President of Illinois Tool Works Inc. (ITW), a Fortune 200 diversified manufacturer of highly engineered components and industrial systems and consumables. With $14 billion in revenues, ITW is a multinational manufacturer of a diversified range of value-adding and short lead-time industrial products and equipment. The Company consists of 7 strategic operating segments in 60 countries and employs some 60,000 people. Timothy hasn’t slowed down after retirement and continues to utilize his expertise to serve as a mentor with Winston Starts and a board member for several organizations. Are you starting to see why we claim to have world-class mentorship?
Coding & Software Development Guide
Balint Gaspar grew up in Budapest, Hungary and lived in the Triad since 2001. He is an accomplished serial entrepreneur and the current CFO of Sightsource, LLC, a “bleeding-edge” custom software development company, which he co-founded in 2009. He has a decade of corporate experience, primarily focused in the financial services industry. Upon earning his MBA from Wake Forest, he launched his first business with a group of colleagues and friends in 2004, importing and distributing winery equipment throughout North America. Other endeavors involve(d) commercial real-estate; SaaS; consulting and even working with independent publishing companies. More recently, Balint was one of the organizers of the 2018 Empower software developer course and has mentored startups in the Launch Challenge and the Creative Startups accelerators.
AR/VR, Strategic Growth & Scaling Leadership Guide
Ryan Schmaltz is an entrepreneur, technology executive, and startup advisor From San Francisco, California and based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He is the founding Director of the Media and Emerging Technology Lab at University of North Carolina School of the Arts which harnesses technology for the purposes of storytelling and content creation. Ryan is also the founder of Peeks Technologies, a seed-stage startup that integrates with online clothing retailers to help shoppers find the perfect fit and discover new styles. Previously, Ryan was Executive Vice President at Blippar, a world leading augmented reality and computer vision company. Ryan was also an early leader at Uber where he led strategic initiatives for Uber’s executive leadership focused on growth, strategic partnerships, and scaling global operations. He has also held roles at Microsoft, Adobe, and Deloitte where he designed and managed intellectual property and licensing programs. Ryan holds a Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems and Supply Chain Management from California State University, Chico and an MBA from Johns Hopkins University.
Marketing Trek Guide
Doug has spent a career utilizing his creative skill-set in branding and marketing strategy. Whether launching new brands or repositioning those already nationally established, he facilitates growth. His experience is broad and diverse, spanning from consumer packaged goods to brands in the retail, service, and non-profit sectors. RJR Nabisco, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Hershey’s, NC Tourism, and many others have seen profitable successes through Doug’s strategic marketing leadership and passion. Yours will too when you have him by your side.
Bobbie Shrivastav is the co-founder and chief product officer of Benekiva, a software company intended to bridge the gap between life insurance companies and their intended beneficiaries through claims transformation, beneficiary and policyholder management, and asset retention. Bobbie is an award-winning serial entrepreneur, author, and technology and digital transformation expert whose unwavering innovative, customer-centric approach and continued success has earned her a reputation as an industry leader.
Cynthia is Professor of Practice at the Wake Forest University School of Business, teaching managerial accounting. She is former Chief Executive Officer, President and Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Financial Officer of Inmar, Inc., now known as Inmar Intelligence. Prior to Inmar, Ms. Tessien worked at Ernst & Young, now EY. Ms. Tessien has over 30 years of experience in accounting and finance, mergers and acquisitions, product development, competitive strategy, leadership and mentorship. She volunteers as a member of the Board of Trustees at the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. She holds a BS from Wake Forest University. She and her husband Bill are avid hikers and travelers, and have three children.
When it comes to our admission process, we make sure to have the best of the best ready to vet our applicants, to help every founder we accept grow to new heights. The MAG team meets monthly to carefully review every application and determine the level of startup maturity vis-a-vis our Basecamp, Ascent, and Summit curricula. MAG members are comprised of C-Suite level executives with an average of 30+ years of executive experience running Fortune 100 companies. Some members have even started companies themselves.
Neal Simpson & Sara Simpson – Conventional
Kevin Clark, Point Motion
The mentors have been absolutely invaluable. They have introduced us to people that really care about what we’re doing and where we want to go. The experience as a whole has been tremendous.
Neal Simpson & Sara Simpson – Conventional