Mentors


  • Dave Heilmann Dave Heilmann

    Bio: Dave Heilmann is the Chief Operating Officer of SparkPeople.com, the internet’s biggest diet and fitness site, headquartered in Cincinnati. Dave has been with SparkPeople since its founding in 2001 and enjoys helping lead SparkPeople as a 35-person company, plus helping the millions of SparkPeople members reach their goals. Prior to SparkPeople Dave worked for eBay in product development and in GE Capital’s management training program. Dave holds a Bachelor of Business degree from UC and a MBA from Xavier.


  • Candace Klein Candace Klein

    Bio: My mom had me when she was 17, and we lived on welfare, in a trailer park, for the first five years of my life. I like to tell this part of my story because my mom is now an executive at P&G, managing multi-brand marketing, without a college education (she worked her way up through customer service)

    . She is an amazing woman, and my role model. I am one of five children, and my mom is one of eight, so we have a very large family. I was the first to go to college in my family, and received four bachelor degrees from Northern Kentucky University (Marketing, Management, Communication, Political Science), in four years, with a 4.0 GPA. I planned to go to law school after graduation, and was accepted to Boston University and the University of San Diego. I chose San Diego for the weather (and joint JD/IMBA program), and packed up my Geo Metro to drive across the country, but was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in April, 2003. I had to stay home to go through surgery and treatment, and had to move back in with my parents (major blow to the college grad ego). All of my money went toward medical bills, so I could no longer afford to go to law school. I began working as a lobbyist for the Northern Kentucky Chamber, and went to my boss to ask for help with law school. When he told me that he wouldn't offer tuition reimbursement, I said, "You don't have to pay, I just have to go for free. Let's figure something out." He then set up a meeting with the President of my undergrad university, Jim Votruba, who introduced me to a woman on their Board of Regents, Alice Sparks. Alice is good friends with the Clintons and Obamas, and is committed to promoting women. We met for lunch, and I told her my life story. She asked what I planned to do with my life, and I told her I intended to change the world. When she asked how I planned to do this, I told her that I would 1) learn the law; 2) run a successful business; and 3) run for Governor of Ohio in 2027. She agreed to pay $40,000 for my law school education that day. When I asked Alice how I could ever repay her for such an amazing gift, she told me to "find a way to invest in women." I went to law school at night, and worked first as a lobbyist (for the Chamber and then for United Way) during the day, but then a volunteer of mine, Tom Neyer (a venture capitalist), offered me a job. I went to work for him, leading the Communities Practice for one of his startup companies, Property Advisors, with the title of "Maven" and the job description, "run and think." While working for Tom, I read an article about a non-profit in Washington D.C., Social Compact, that had developed an alternative to the census for understanding population and buying power in the urban core. I called them and told them how important it was for them to do this study in Cincinnati, but was told that they were not interested in our market. I simply responded that no was not an answer, and asked them what their criteria was, and if I could come to them to make a pitch for my city. John Talmage, the CEO (friends with Ben Bernanke and the CEOs of every US national bank), changed his mind upon my presentation, and hired me to help him lead the study in Cincinnati in 2007, which eventually led to the first successful census challenge for the city in 2008. This study also led me to create the "Communities" practice at my company, where Mayor Mallory and several other mayors became clients of mine. I helped them to use this new data to attract retailers, and helped them to pitch Nordstrom, Target, Costco and other major retailers. This consulting work then led me to begin doing work for Target, helping them to pitch to planning commissions and elected officials when attempting to move into a new community. I graduated in 2008, and began practicing corporate law for Greenebaum Doll & McDonald, with a focus on real estate and government affairs. All of my clients (at the time) were woman-owned businesses. I was laid off in June, 2009, set up my own law practice, and all (13) of my clients came with me. Because they saw me struggling financially, they became more open about their own financial situations. They told me that they had maxed out their personal credit cards and taken home equity lines of credit out on their homes, but that the banks wouldn't lend to their businesses. They were faced with closing their doors. That year, I became obsessed with alternative forms of lending, trying to find a way to get money into the hands of my legal clients. I researched Grameen Bank and Dr. Yunus, Opportunity Fund, ACCION USA, Kiva.org, Prosper.com, LendingClub.com. I simply wanted to find the right resource for my clients. I quickly realized, however, that none of them were quite enough. My clients needed more than money. They didn't understand debt, and needed education first. So, I launched Bad Girl Ventures in March, 2010. BGV is a highly localized micro-finance organization (501c3) focused on educating and financing woman-owned startup companies in a local geographic region. We provide $25,000 low interest loans (0-6%), but in order to be eligible for our financing, the women must first complete and 8-week long curriculum. We teach them 1) how to understand their personal credit score; 2) the components of the business plan; 3) legal structuring (and provide limited free legal services); 4) marketing; 5) social media; 6) pricing; 7) accounting from startup to cash flow; and 8) financing options. They have to complete homework each week, and by the time they graduate, they will have completed 1) a business plan; 2) a marketing plan; 3) an operating budget; and 4) an SBA loan application. To date, in Cincinnati we have received 300 applicants for our program, we have now educated nearly 250, and we have financed 24 with $650,000. We expanded to Cleveland in Fall 2011, and plan to expand to Columbus in January 2012. I then launched SoMoLend this March because I was unable to find financing for the remaining 276 companies who applied for BGV, and wanted to find a way to help them as well. SML is a highly localized web and mobile-based peer-to-peer lending technology, allowing individuals to borrow from, and lend to, other individuals, and in doing so, seek a small return. This technology will allow a business borrower to raise friends and family capital through an easy to use website, and allows those friends and family members to secure a dependable payment method and interest rate for their investment.


  • Tony Alexander Tony Alexander

    Bio: Tony is the co-founder of Traveler’s Joy and SimpleRegistry, two of the leading gift registry sites on the web. More recently, he helped start SmartyTags, a 2D barcode analytics platform. He likes to structure his businesses to allow him (and his partners) to work from anywhere. Though based in Cincinnati, during the past few years he has spent extended time working from New York, San Francisco, Shanghai, Florence, London, Nairobi, and Tbilisi. Tony has a business degree from Miami University and spent 4 years at Accenture managing ERP implementations for multiple Fortune 500 companies.


  • Keith Schneider Keith Schneider

    Bio: Keith serves as the Managing Director for bioLOGIC Corp, a life science accelerator in Covington. He is focused on building an innovation-based culture around life sciences in Northern Kentucky through the build out of lab and office space in Covington, fund raising for client companies and a health/life science investment fund, mentoring growing companies launching new innovations, and recruiting innovative companies to the region with a focus on health/life science Keith was formerly the Commercialization Director for the Northern Kentucky ezone, a division of the Tri-County Economic Development Corporation. For 4 years at Tri-ED and nearly 8 years in Kentucky\'s Innovation and Commercialization Center Network, Keith served as a catalyst for Knowledge-Based economic growth and development with a focus on new products and technologies. He managed a portfolio of more than 70 companies along with a program that has brought more than $66 million in investments to Northern Kentucky while assisted clients in achieving more than 40 awards for over $2 million dollars in state funding. Keith is a northern Kentucky native and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He also received his MBA from Xavier University. He joined the NKU Entrepreneurship Institute in March of 2004 as the Innovation Center Director and soon after began teaching courses in New Venture Management and Marketing Strategies for the Entrepreneurship Institute.


  • Nancy Greene Nancy Greene

    Bio: Nancy is a CPA with over 28 years of experience in public accounting, publicly traded companies and closely held businesses. Nancy has spent much of her career working all facets of real estate including land development, homebuilding, commercial development and property management. She was the Senior Controller for Gulfstream Land and Development that held over 18,000 acres in Florida. In recent years, she has branched out as Chief Financial Officer for start-up and closely-held companies in diverse industries including a multi-million dollar web-based sales and distribution firm, a commercial property management company that owned and managed over 5M square feet of space and an innovative foods start-up assisting all with operations, structure and financing. As a CFO with the CFO Resource Group, works with several technology companies, including, a manufacturer of ceramic nanofibers, a virtual engineering solutions firm, a health insurance information company and a social enterprise. Nancy holds her undergraduate degree in accounting from the University of Miami, her CPA, and an MBA from Nova Southeastern University. She taught accounting for the University of Cincinnati for over eight years.


  • Rob McDonald Rob McDonald

    Bio: ROBERT W. MCDONALD is an attorney in the Business & Finance Practice Group at Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP. Rob’s practice at Taft is focused on corporate, securities, and sports law work. He assists both private and public company clients with a variety of corporate and securities related matters, including mergers and acquisitions and offerings of securities. Rob also assists start-up and emerging companies through business formation, early-stage investments, and other issues that face entrepreneurial businesses. Rob serves as a Co-founder and Board Member of The Brandery, as the Chair of the Boy Scout\'s Professional Leadership Network, as a Board and Executive Team Member of the Dan Beard Council (Boy Scouts of America), as the Co-Chair of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Encore Committee, as a Board Member of Lead PAC, and as Board of Associates Member of the Cincinnati Opera. Rob received his bachelor\'s degree in public policy with a minor in political science and markets and management from Duke University. At Duke, Rob chaired the Honor Council. In 2003, Rob studied comparative law at New College, Oxford University, where he was a Lord Rothermere Scholar. Rob earned his Juris Doctorate at Washington University School of Law. During his last term of law school, he worked full-time in the Division of Enforcement at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He grew up in the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Japan, and Belgium.


  • Joshua Johnson Joshua Johnson

    Bio: Joshua Johnson is a southern California native and currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife and three daughters. He has made his life about family, faith, innovation, and web startups

    . He is an advisor, mentor, partner, and connector for those looking to get their digital ideas off the ground. Over the past two and a half years, Joshua has worked with over 30 startups from San Francisco to New York - most being Midwest entrepreneurs looking to innovate using web and mobile technology. Joshua is the founder and CEO of Mindbox Studios, an agency focused on providing a one-stop-shop solution for new companies and their founders. Mindbox Studios is a highly specialized group that crafts a product development plan for each startup based on their specific business model, fund raising goals, and exit strategy. Mindbox has employees based in Cincinnati, Portland, and Seattle, doing everything from software planning, design, user experience research, web or mobile development, and fund raising. Joshua’s passion for web entrepreneurs led him to begin Continuous Web in 2009. Continuous Web started as just a simple meet-up that has turned into a thriving startup community and now has 1,000 members in three cities. Recently, Continuous Web launched a chapter on the campus of Miami University (Ohio) where the student-led group has a vision of starting three to five new web companies each year. Joshua hopes to see Continuous Web in every major city and college campus with the intent on co-creating better web innovation and inspiring more people to turn ideas into great businesses. It was through the growth of Mindbox Studios and Continuous Web that led Joshua to start an incubator, called the Launch Factory. This incubator will focus on early-stage ideas that will provide capital, technology services, legal services, office space, and year-round mentoring – helping web entrepreneurs quickly get their ideas off the ground. Finally, Joshua is involved in a few other ventures, most noably: • Partner at Be Creative Group, Inc. • Organizer for the 2010 and 2011 Continuous Web Startup Showcase • C-CAP Mentor (Morning Mentoring) • Lead Panelist for the 2011 Startup Summit led by U.S. Congresswoman Jean Schmidt You can connect with Joshua Johnson via email at Joshua@mindboxstudios.com or through Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


  • Jessica Goldberg Jessica Goldberg

    Bio: Jessica Goldberg is the co-founder of Roomations, an innovative site that connects homeowners with interior designers for custom 3D room designs and shopping lists online. She launched Roomations in 2008 with the support of the Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Michigan, and has seven years experience in marketing and new business development. Currently in the New Business Creation group at Procter & Gamble, Jessica helps assess opportunities and develop go-to-market strategies for the Home Care business. Prior to this, she led new product development and market research at Round Table Pizza, where she developed the first organic pizza available in a quick-service restaurant. Jessica has also led business analysis and financial planning for the sweater department at Target Corporation. Jessica holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Michigan, where she completed a thesis on irrationality in spending behavior and graduated with honors, and an MBA from the University of Michigan. She is an alumni of the Bad Girl Ventures - Cincinnati chapter and is active in the Greater Cincinnati entrepreneurial community. Her company, Roomations, has been featured in numerous publications, including Tech Cocktail and CincyChic.


  • Bill Cunningham Bill Cunningham

    Bio: Bill Cunningham recently finished his one-year term as professor and director of Northern Kentucky University’s Entrepreneurial Institute. Prior to that, Bill was an Executive-in-Residence with CincyTech Ventures, and CEO of Diamond Fiber Composites. Bill worked in sales for Apple Computer, Data General and AT&T, and is a veteran of five startups. Bill’s first startup, CollegeView, focused on bringing college admissions offices and high school students together via electronic media and creating better college to consumer relationships. Bill has coached hundreds of companies during his term as director of Xavier University’s Entrepreneurial Center. Bill advised Blue Chip Venture Company during this time providing due diligence on startup companies in the consumer and technology space. He won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, and serves on the advisory board of Hamilton County Business Center, InOneWeekend, CEO for Cities and the Greater Cincinnati Venture Association. He holds a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and an MBA from the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration at Dartmouth College.


  • Justin Thompson Justin Thompson

    Bio: JustinThompson is a Senior Analyst for CincyTech. He identifies and evaluates regional Information Technology startups for potential investment. He manages deal screening, company and industry due diligence, valuation, and modeling in IT and health care IT. He also works closely with companies. Prior to joining CincyTech, he was a business development analyst at a life sciences startup, where he worked on the development of intellectual property portfolio and strategy, new products, and strategic partnerships. Justin received his master’s in finance from the University of Cincinnati and his bachelors in finance and marketing from Washington University in St. Louis.