The Boxcar Millionaire®️, Owner of Tom Black Center for Excellence
Sales, Team Building, Business Funding
In college, Tom worked for the Southwestern Company of Nashville, Tennessee. Southwestern employs thousands of college students each summer to sell books door-to-door. Based on his success in sales (number one for three successive summers), Tom became a sales manager at Southwestern.
Tom then joined FISI*Madison Financial and successfully ran the sales organization. Tom grew sales to over $350 million.
Tom left FISI*Madison to start Private Business, Inc. Under his leadership as CEO, Private Business grew into the country’s leading provider of accounts receivable programs for community banks. Tom served as CEO for six years and took the company public in May of 1999. Tom was the first employee and the only CEO until the company was sold.
In January 1999, Tom purchased Tecniflex/Bancsource, Inc. Tom formed a sister company, Imagic Corporation, that develops and supports check-imaging systems to community banks. As CEO, Tom expanded both companies from small regional providers to national sales and service organizations. Imagic grew quickly, merged with OSI and went public. Under his leadership, Tecniflex/Bancsource has gone from 27 employees to almost 500 serving 4,000 banks in 49 states.
7 years ago Tom cofounded Ncontracts, now the leading provider of vendor compliance and risk management for financial institutions. Ncontracts serves over 700 financial institutions nationwide.
More recently, Tom has founded the Tom Black Center for Excellence. The Tom Black Center for Excellence, a member of the National Speakers Association (NSA), offers customized sales training and coaching services to national clients of all sizes in a wide range of fields. www.tomblack.com
Education- Missouri State University
Bachelor of Arts, Rhetoric and Public Address
Community Service- Chairman of the Nashville Wine Auction raising $2.2 million for cancer-related causes
Chairman of the Library Foundation Book Campaign raising $5.4 million for books
Founders Club of the Nashville Symphony
T.J. Martel Co-Chairman of “Best Cellars” for 16 years
Numerous donations to Boy Scouts of America, Association of Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Counselors, Frankie Lemmon School and Developmental Center, Education Equal Opportunity Group, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, St. Jude for Children’s Research and more.
Branding, Fashion, Raising Capital
Tony Drockton is the energetic force behind Hammitt handbags and accessories. Tony’s unlikely path to a fashion empire began at his father’s grocery store in Ohio, where Tony learned the value of fostering relationships that put customers first. Following in his father’s footsteps, Tony soon began a lifelong entrepreneurial journey, beginning with an MBA from Bowling Green University. With a business degree under his belt, Tony hit the road for sunny Southern California. Here, he started his first two businesses, skyrocketing to success in construction and finance. Not only did these ventures bring financial success, but they also laid the foundation for relationships with lifelong business partners and friends. After the 2008 recession prompted a resilient financial reinvention, Tony felt his creative side calling. Serendipity stepped in as he crossed paths with Stephenie Hammitt, who had recently caught lightning in a bottle with her handmade leather clutches. From that moment forward, Tony committed himself to unleashing Hammitt’s lightning as a great American handbag brand built on European values. Today, you can still find him soaking in the warm community of Hermosa Beach, California, or traveling the country building the same intimate relationships he learned in his father’s neighborhood store.
Owner, Morro Capital
E-commerce, software, warehouse logistics, and acquisitions in the e-commerce space.
They say hard work pays off, and Joel Gandara is the definition of this statement. Born in Cuba, he came to the U.S. in 1980, arriving on an overcrowded boat full of hopes and dreams.
Joel grew up with a work ethic that was unmatched. While other kids were handed money, Joel had to go out and earn it…and that he did, netting $30 a day by organizing his own arbitrage operation. As a fourth-grader, he would buy things like stamps and trading cards and sell them to his classmates.
The hustling never halted, in fact, it did quite the opposite. After high school, Joel worked up to 109 hours a week, leaving himself just enough time each day to eat and sleep. Joel went on to start his own apparel company, where he was able to turn a profit at flea markets and eventually on eBay. His business, however, was not enough to count on, and Joel found a steady job with Carnival Cruise lines. Joel enjoyed his job and was on a clear path to a promising career, but felt that something was missing.
Joel’s entrepreneurial spirit spoke to him, and he made a life-altering decision. Joel decided to go full steam ahead with his apparel company. The decision was risky without a steady income, but this never stopped him.
Joel found a brand from Mexico who offered him distributor pricing, which helped his bottom line tremendously. He would take samples to Las Vegas and began doing trade shows, offering products to various companies. Over the years, Joel built a following and began increasing his sales. After years of selling other people’s brands, he successfully created his own underwear brand. Within his first 13 months of business, the brand retailed $1,000,000.
From that success, he and his growing team continued to create and develop more brands. Today, they own 21 men’s apparel brands. In October of 2013, Joel made another impactful decision. His company began to acquire their ecommerce customers and competitors and pivoted from a wholesale company to a direct-to-consumer brand. Now, forming his own capital company, Morro Capital has acquired 9 businesses to date and is in talks to procure more.
They say hard work pays off…and Joel has proved that time and time again, ultimately with creating a company that profits over a million dollars a year, whose inception was in a flea market!
Joel and his wife Jessica married in 2002, and together have four children and live in Weston, Florida. After achieving semi-retirement, Joel now has time to do the things he enjoys, such as lifting weights, running, and continuing his education.
Nutrition, Peak Performance, Strategic Planning
Gerry is an energetic entrepreneurial leader dedicated to enriching lives by making people healthier and happier. Gerry founded NutriScience Corp in 2003 as a platform to build, grow and acquire nutrition products brands with the potential to lead their categories. Gerry is the CEO of EnergyFirst, an industry-leading natural products company ranked by Inc. magazine as one of the fastest-growing private companies in North America. He is also CEO at Greens Plus, an industry leader since 1989 with over a million customers.
Gerry holds a Masters of Science in Nutrition with Honors along with an Executive MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management. He is a graduate of the MIT Entrepreneurial Masters Program and earned a Bachelor of Science in Entrepreneurship with Honors from the University of Arizona.
On the non-profit side, he was recently named Rotarian of the Year for the Manhattan Beach Rotary Club and is a Manhattan Beach Planning Commissioner. Gerry is Past-President of the Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO) in Los Angeles, Past-President and Chair of the Greater LA Area Council of the Boy Scouts, and a chapter board member of YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization), a premier peer network of chief executives and business leaders.
Gerry is a veteran of four Ironman Triathlons (including Hawaii), over thirty marathons (including Boston), the Catalina Classic 32 mile paddleboard race, and numerous other top athletic competitions while leading a thriving family life as a husband and father. He completed the 230 mile John Muir Trail in 7 days. He is a private pilot, ship captain, and licensed real estate broker. Gerry is an expert in the fields of entrepreneurial leadership, nutrition, peak performance, and non-profit governance.
Founder, The Virago Skin & Body Studio
Beauty, Nutrition, Branding
Jennifer Carrasco Founder of the Virago Skin & Body Studio’s with a 21 year experienced medical esthetic background in which Jenn’s vision Created V Skincare Line. Jennifer realized that on a daily basis, society shows us numerous “flawless” people through social media platforms and magazines. We are also overwhelmed with new skincare routines, new workouts, and the best “new diet.” Jennifer strives to break these norms, which is why she has spent more than the last decade perfecting physically and mentally what it truly means to be beautiful.
Jennifer Carrasco’s mission in life is to help as many people as possible become the most elite version of themselves in business and in beauty.
Jennifer is a top contributor to Medium Magazine and is in the process of publishing her first book on reality of The beauty within Metabolism and weight loss. Jennifer mentors the Elite who now represent what winning looks like. She is currently a top Apex Executive Coach in BreakFree Academy. Jennifer is a full-time investor who has ownership in many companies ranging from Skin into Electrical Contracting. She is also a loving Mother and proud grandma and lives in Rocklin California.
Accomplishments: Contributor to medium Magazine, Chicago weekly, vent magazine, IFBB PRO Fitness Athlete, #WeAreApex, Apex Executive Coach Founder Ryan Stewman with BreakFree Academy, JennCarrasco.com Programs Launched and Sold, Arete Syndicate Leadership Circle
Business Holdings: Roseville rockline Electric Inc., J & C Medical Day Spa Inc., KJMA Holding Montana, KJMA, Holdings Wyoming.
Founder and CEO, Identified Talent Solutions
Talent Acquisition, Team Building, Company Culture, Entrepreneurial Mindset
Paul David is the founder and CEO of Identified Talent Solutions, an Irvine, California-based staffing and talent acquisition consulting firm.
Born in Manila, Philippines, Paul immigrated to the United States at the age of five. Raised in Orange County, California, he graduated from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Ca, and attended California State University, Fullerton. He earned his bachelor’s degree along with his MBA at the Pepperdine Graziadio School of Business and Management. From 2005 to 2014 Paul worked in the field of talent acquisition and recruitment. He worked for large organizations such as Cox Enterprises, First American Title, and ADP.
In 2007 Paul married his wife, Desiree and in 2010 they had their daughter, Chloe. During the time of their marriage, Paul and Desiree experienced the most difficult times of their lives from losing their jobs to homelessness to eventually the death of Desiree from a four and half year battle of breast cancer. Desiree died at the age of 36 and Paul was widowed with their four-year-old daughter. Buried in $150,000 of debt and no longer being able to travel for work to care for Chloe, Paul founded Identified Talent Solutions and turned to entrepreneurship to change his life.
Today, Identified Talent Solution has been named one of the “Best Places to Work” by the Orange County Business Journal and listed on the “Inc. 500” by Inc. Magazine as part of its annual list of “America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies.” Paul employs 20 internal employees and over 50 field-based staff.
Paul remarried in 2017 and his wife Kathie legally adopted Chloe later that same year. In 2005, Kathie was Paul’s manager when he was a loan officer. Paul saw a recruiter opening at the company they worked for and Kathie wrote a recommendation for him. This was the start of Paul’s recruitment career. Kathie also wrote his recommendation to business school. They stayed friends throughout the years which eventually brought them full circle.
Between 2009 to 2013 Paul completed two Ironman Triathlons which is a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and a full 26.2-mile marathon. He has done over 10 marathons and raced in several 200-mile cycling events. In the process, Paul completely revamped his life and lost 92 pounds, and stopped smoking a pack a day. Paul no longer races and puts most of his attention on his family, business, and helping others succeed through his mentorship.
CEO and Co-Owner, Guardian Security
Security, Long Term Strategy, Internal Processes
Daniel Truex is the CEO and co-owner of Guardian Security, a company that provides over 2,500 hours a week of physical security and operates primarily in Central Kentucky. Dan’s focus is vision and internal processes at Guardian Security. Dan has recently founded Night Shift Nutrition, a group dedicated to helping those who work nights live happier, healthier, lives.
In addition to his business background, Dan has 23 years of military experience, primarily in the National Guard where he rose to the rank of Command Sergeant Major. Dan is a 2017 graduate of the United States Army Sergeant Major’s Academy. Dan has deployed multiple times and earned the Bronze Star Medal and Army Commendation Medal with Valor among others.
Dan also has 15 years in law enforcement where he has served in numerous positions including as a detective and supervisor in the Special Victims Unit, Violent Crimes Unit, and many more.
Dan’s areas of expertise are building discipline, time management, and physical security. He built these skills through decades of experience in the military as well as through helping build a multi-million dollar business while simultaneously working a full-time career and serving in the National Guard.
Dan and his wife, Melissa have been happily married since 2010. They currently reside in Kentucky with their two daughter’s Olivia and Amelia. In his free time, he enjoys reading, travel, exercise, meditation, and spending time with his family.
President & CFO, Integrated Fire & Safety
Big Business, Government Agencies, Fire Integration and Safety
As a woman-owned small business, Shelley Merrell’s company knows the territory of oil platforms, big business, and government agencies, and how to fight and prevent fires. Her company deals with special hazards such as protecting vulnerable computer networks and marine systems. Her background in fire and safety was in developing the government contracts and relationships that continue to sustain the business. Now, she is being considered as a sole source supplier for contracts which takes a lot of expertise in the world of government contracting.
Shelley has been tested by fire and offers her own experience to others. If you create a business that’s process-driven, you can take risks with clarity. She became a believer when she learned the hard way not to take your eyes off the daily operations. Now she audits and updates processes continually. She also shares the importance of sticking together with like-minded people and finding opportunities and insights from women’s business networks, entrepreneurs, and small business owners who can share mutually beneficial growth. Opportunities are risks that you can learn to navigate.
Inc. 5000 serial entrepreneur, author of Honest to Greatness, TEDx Speaker
Peter Kozodoy is the award-winning author of Honest to Greatness, an Inc. 5000 serial entrepreneur, TEDx speaker, and business coach who works with organizations and their leaders to help them overcome self-limiting bullsh*t and use honesty to achieve greatness. His articles on leadership and entrepreneurship have appeared in Forbes, Inc., HuffPost, PR Daily, and more. He holds a BA in economics from Brandeis University and an MBA from Columbia Business School. To strike up an honest conversation, visit PeterKozodoy.com
Founder and CEO of Efficience, Inc
Mobile apps, eCommerce, and integration development planning
Greg D’Amico is the founder and CEO of Efficience, Inc., a software company that develops technology solutions for regional and national companies in retail, manufacturing, distribution, food service, high-tech, healthcare products, training, and higher education.
D’Amico is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, with a B.A. degree in Finance. While still working on his degree, he began his professional career by working in financial planning. He started his first mutual fund in 1995. In the next five years, the firm assets would grow to more than $1 billion and become recognized as the number one growth fund over three- and five-year periods.
He continued to innovate in finance, starting the “iFund,” which used a collective intelligence approach to determine what it bought and sold. The iFund required a specialized web application to operate, so he began working with April Cox, who would become his partner in Efficience.
In 2004, D’Amico and Cox noted the growing demand for connectivity between companies and their customers. They started Efficience that year, setting up operations in the U.S. and India. Of its initial hire of six developers, four are still with the company 15 years later.
Today, Efficience works with companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500 corporations including Coca-Cola. The firm has developed exceptional expertise in the Janitorial/Sanitation Services Industry, creating custom applications for web and mobile devices that allow companies to more effectively communicate with customers. Efficience now operates U.S. offices in Knoxville, TN, and Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
D’Amico has been a member of the Entrepreneur’s Organization since 1999.
When he’s not working, D’Amico passionately enjoys travel and boating. He considers himself a lifelong student of business and always in search of solutions that make life better for all.
Co-founder and President, Payne Capital Management
Wealth Management Specialist
Entrepreneur that specializes in developing creative solutions to scale your business to the next level of success. He is an expert in the fields of investing, financial planning & business development from the ground up
Specialty: Financial Planning, Business Development, Media Training, Scaling Your business
Ryan Payne is an Inc. 5000 entrepreneur, host of the No Payne No Gain Financial radio show on New York City’s WABC, and frequent market commentator on CNBC, Fox Business, Yahoo Finance, TheStreet.com, and Cheddar TV. Ryan is the co-founder and President of Payne Capital Management, a wealth management firm with offices in New York City and Philadelphia. He heads the firm’s business development and co-designs Payne Capital’s financial planning and investment strategies. He is a member of both the Young President’s Organization (YPO) the Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO).
Prior to launching PCM, Ryan spent close to eight years as a top financial advisor at Merrill Lynch. He earned his undergraduate degree from Villanova, where he competed on the varsity track and cross-country teams as a Division I athlete. In his free time, Ryan is an avid reader, enjoys traveling, and a devoted musician, who has played guitar in musical acts from New York City to as far away as Eastern Europe.
President of Kramer Communications, Executive Director of the Private Investors Forum, Founder of Consulting University USA
Developing business, operating, and sale & marketing plans
Marc Kramer is president of Kramer Communications, providing business, marketing, financial, and operational plan development and implementation for family and private businesses and is the executive director of the Private Investors Forum, which runs the Angel Venture Fair, bringing together the largest gathering of Angel Investors and entrepreneurs in the Mid-Atlantic region. As Executive Director of the Private Investors Forum, Marc has worked with almost over 1000 companies from all over the world making introductions to Angel investors all over the US. Marc is also the founder of Consulting University USA, which teaches aspiring consultants how to start a practice and works with ongoing consultants to help them reach the next level.
Marc was on the cover of Profit magazine along with being featured in Inc, Entrepreneur Magazine, and other publications for starting the country’s formally organized investor angel’s network, the Pennsylvania Private Group. The Wall Street Journal selected Marc to be one of their main speakers on early-stage investing at their national conference in Atlanta in 1994.
He was project faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, Global Consulting Practicum and Executive Education an adjunct professor at Drexel University, adjunct professor at Temple University, mentor faculty at the National University of Singapore, and a professional speaker and lectures on topics such as Internet marketing, marketing, sales networking, corporate entrepreneurship and turning around distressed companies.
Marc, who has been writing on angel investing and entrepreneurship for 30 years as a national columnist for the American City Business Journal chain and columnist for SmartCEO magazine, has written for Forbes.com and TheStreet.com, the world’s top online service for money managers, company leaders and individuals that manage their own money and was a columnist for Philadelphia’s third-largest daily The Bulletin. Marc also provides a one-minute entrepreneurial commentary for KYW News in Philadelphia.
“Power Networking”, published by NTC Publishing in 1997, a division of McGraw Hill, was a Success magazine, NBIA Book Club, Human Resource Book Club, and Right Management (largest outplacement firm in the world) selection.
“Small Business Turnaround”, published by Adams Media in 1999, was named one of the 30 Best Business Books in 2000 by Executive Book Summaries.
“Financing & Building an E-Commerce Venture” published by Prentice Hall in 2001, was an Ingram, NBAI Book Club, and California CEO magazine selection. Two leading regional business publications, Eastern Pennsylvania Business Journal, and the Times Herald, have contracted Marc to write a monthly business column on Internet and small business.
“Web Sites Built to Last” published by Adams Media, released 2002.
“Consulting” published by Entrepreneur, released 2003.
Marc has received such awards as the Race for Peace in 2017, Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year, American Electronics Association Spirit of America Award and was three years in a row named one of the Top Five Business Leaders Under Age 40 in the Philadelphia region by the Philadelphia Jaycees and won the Small Business Journalist of the Year by the Center City Proprietors Association of Philadelphia in 2006.
Marc is a former trustee of Cheyney University, the oldest African American University in the U.S., and was on the board of the Entrepreneurs Forum of Philadelphia and the Technology Resource Alliance. Marc has a Master’s in Management from Penn State University and a BS in journalism from West Virginia University.
CEO, MVP Interactive
Technology, Consumer Engagement
Prior to founding MVP Interactive, James held successful management positions for small and mid-sized financial firms, leading teams to launch new products and deploy market strategies that helped grow the companies beyond expectations.
Striving for a more creative outlet, James left the finance world for Advertising where his zeal for imagination and passion for sports and technology led to the formation of MVP Interactive.
James’ vision in linking technology to consumer engagement has been paramount to the growth of MVP Interactive and along with his team, James’ passion to innovate, buck trends and embrace technology worldwide, has led MVP to develop prototypes and inventions into useful marketing products for some of the worlds largest brands and sports teams.
Scaling Up Certified | Entrepreneur Coach
Leadership, Team Building, Business Strategy
JT is a big believer in earned trust and the power of planning, and he’s put both into action in his own life and career. In 2001, after ten years as a professional musician, JT founded event rental company Music City Tents and Events LLC out of his home and grew it into an industry innovation leader and the largest of its kind in the Southeast. Earning the Nashville Business Journal’s Best in Business award and listing on the Inc. 5000 list three years in a row, JT attributes MTC’s recent success to the company’s work with Petra Coach and the adoption of the Rockefeller Habits. After five years following Petra’s plan, JT and his business partners were able to sell the company to a private equity group at a 5X multiple. JT is now thrilled to be on the other side, coaching and engaging businesses to help them uncover opportunities, create strategies, and get focused!
CEO and Founder of The O’Connor Group
Human Resources and Talent Acquisition Solutions
Marcia Zaruba O’Connor is CEO and Founder of The O’Connor Group, a leading provider of Human Resources and Talent Acquisition Solutions for the life sciences, healthcare, professional services, and manufacturing sectors based in King of Prussia, PA. The O’Connor Group is also a Top 100 Woman-Owned Business and has been certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. The O’Connor Group recently won the Philadelphia Business Journals’ Best Places to Work and Healthiest Places to Work in 2020.
Currently, Marcia is on the Board for HealthWorks Academies and is the Chair of the Engagement Team for the Philadelphia Chapter for the Entrepreneur Organization. She is also the Membership Board Chair for the Alliance for Women Entrepreneurs and the Vice-Chair for Programming for Women in Bio.
Marcia earned her MS degree in Human Organization Development from Villanova and her BS degree in Accounting from Widener University. Marcia is also a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10K Small Business Program. She and her husband live in King of Prussia and her son is a sophomore at Penn State University.
Founder & CEO, Your Outsourced CFO
All things financial, strategy
The modern CFO is even more critical to manage the intersection of financial strategic planning and growth milestones for a small to medium-sized business. Jeff’s first-hand experiences as a leading figure in a multi-million-dollar acquisition of a two-store furniture dealer network in NYC in 2010, as the Finance & Business Development Manager for two smaller companies, and as a Financial Advisor at Wells Fargo have helped to give Jeff a clear understanding of how to manage people’s expectations and many of the financial and operational hoops that small businesses must jump through to achieve growth in their competitive markets.
Jeff is a happily married, father of three (one boy and two girls). Not only does he come from the Entrepreneur world himself, but continues to manage his growth along with determining the needs of the many small business owners day to day. In our world, being there for family is even more critical as the pressure of being judged day in and day out is ever more real. The psychology of this truism topped with the growing intensity of managing the growth of a business is a critical part of the WHYs of these owners. Jeff founded YoCFO with the goal of not only supporting the financial goals of the owners but making sure to tie in all of these pressures for their decision-making.
Founder & CEO, Outsource Access
Growth Hacking, Outsourcing, Virtual Assistants
Brad Stevens is a lifetime entrepreneur having built multiple 7 figure businesses in domestic and international markets with distribution in 18 countries. His current company is Outsource Access, an offshore virtual assistant and outsourcing firm in the Philippines, that he grew to over 100 staff in less than a year that serves small to medium businesses worldwide.
He walks the walk every day with expertise on scaling, automation, outsourcing, and high-performance virtual teams.
For his work with startups to $100 million firms and strategic advisory to civic leaders including Martin Luther King III, he has been featured in Inc Magazine 3 times, the EO Global Innovation Forum, the Wall Street Business Network, and was featured on the cover of Small Business Magazine. He is also a recipient of the Top 40 Most Innovative Businesses Award in GA.
For his philanthropic efforts, a documentary film featured his business and he was selected to run a think-tank on Economic Growth and Decent Work for All at the United Nations.
Brad is also a global advisor and keynote speaker on agility and adapting for rapid change for CEO peer groups, universities, and business organizations including Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), John Maxwell Ambassadors, SCORE, SIOR, Women Presidents’ Organization, International Entrepreneur Summit, Growth Hacking Conference, Life by Design Summit, Vistage, TAB, and the CEO Brain Trust.
Brad is incoming President of the Atlanta Chapter of the Entrepreneur’s Organization and served on the EO East Coast NERVE Committee. He has also served as a board member for Startup Atlanta.
Brad attended Harvard University and graduated from the Wharton Business School with concentrations in finance and marketing.
He lives in Atlanta, GA with his daughter Ella, son Brayden and wife Cindy.
Entrepreneur, thought leader, and investor
Visionary leadership, business processes, automation, M&A
Dan Abbate is an entrepreneur, thought leader, and investor with a career-long focus in business process optimization and automation through the use of advanced technology, organizational development, and improvement. Dan has a heavy transaction background including startup financing, mergers and acquisitions, and turnarounds.
In the late ’90s, while he was still in college, Dan started an internet company which serviced and eventually sold to Wall Street-funded .coms. Between the years of 2003 and 2013, he started/developed or acquired/ improved and then sold eight companies serving various markets and industries with a total market value over $100,000,000 and were funded using private and public capital markets. He has experience in both B2B and B2C companies and enjoys advising on high-level operational initiatives, including infrastructure design, process re/engineering, and reorganization. As a silent and lead investor in a number of technology startup companies, and with a focus on cryptocurrencies and underlying blockchain technologies, Dan has a unique leadership position in the cross-section of technology, finance, and business.
Dan holds a degree from DePaul University in Philosophy and Business, has studied Operations and Financial performance at The Wharton School and Math and Physics at the University of New Mexico will graduate with a Masters in Finance from Harvard University in 2021, presented his prophetic talk “How Not To Be Replaced By A Robot” at TedXBoca in 2015, and his book “Automation Manifesto” was published and is available via Amazon and other retail book outlets.
Founder, Ace Heating and Cooling
Startup Strategy, Growth Hacking
Nick Berendt is a self-professed Guns N’ Roses fan with tattoos and RV mud in his blood. He built his Rheem HVAC business out of sheer force and determination. But, then he discovered something more powerful than force and quickly tripled his sole proprietorship into a full-fledged, thriving business. “I can easily help other small service businesses get that first step into the 500 – 750k area.”
Nick compares business to playing hockey. It looks like force, but when you play it, you realize it’s a mental sport. You just need sharper tools. Most people don’t lack talent or skills. What they need is a better business foundation to understand how to determine where the most profitable customers are from, where the marketing dollars could be better spent, how to keep track of customers, and build a good CRM. Learning these kinds of tools from other successful people was the lightbulb for Nick. Now he’s turning on the light for others to grow their businesses.
Your opportunity guide
Operations, strategic planning, and business planning
Starting with just $10,000, Edwin Deras quickly grew into more than $6 million in banking services, jewelry, and a recent expansion into e-commerce. He is a product of the American Dream. His business journey began at the age of ten, working with his mother in her jewelry business. Edwin saw the challenges faced by hard-working people who just needed access to financial services.
His own business journey began with a breakdown that led to a breakthrough. He was depressed after a long-term relationship ended and some setbacks in life. That’s when his mother offered him a hand up through a Tony Robbins seminar. Robbins had been her inspiration that helped build her success. That led Edwin to use his resources to help provide financial services to underserved communities like where he and his mother once came from. He absorbed all the knowledge and resources he could find to spread the wealth of “psychological” coaching to other entrepreneurs. He shows others that the land of opportunities lies within.
CEO and Co-founder, GreenPal
Digital Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Selling A Business
Bryan Clayton is CEO and co-founder of GreenPal an online marketplace that connects homeowners with Local lawn care professionals. GreenPal has been called the “Uber for lawn care” by Entrepreneur magazine and has over 200,000 active users completing thousands of transactions per day.
Before starting GreenPal Bryan Clayton founded Peachtree Inc. one of the largest landscaping companies in the state of Tennessee growing it to over $10 million a year in annual revenue before it was acquired by Lusa holdings in 2013.
Bryan‘s interest and expertise are related to entrepreneurialism, small business growth, marketing, and bootstrapping businesses from zero revenue to profitability and exit.
President, Turtlehut Internet Marketing
Meet Jim Mitte, your expert in the world of internet marketing.
Jim Mitte is a business and internet marketing professional with a steady focus and drive to help businesses become great successes. He graduated at the top of his class from Central Michigan University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and Advertising.
To kick off his career, Jim began investing and partnering with various organizations, helping him learn the dynamics necessary for businesses to thrive. With the knowledge from his own successes and failures, Jim discovered his true passion– helping small businesses flourish.
With his profound experience and diverse set of marketing skills, Jim established his own marketing company in Brighton, Michigan called Turtlehut. This successful internet marketing company has been growing and evolving for the last 10 years. As the founder and President of Turtlehut, Jim helps businesses to not only generate leads but rapidly increase sales. In addition to a background rich in a variety of marketing aspects, Jim and his team provide the most effective internet marketing strategies and products to help benefit each individual client.
Jim specializes in optimization, Search Engine Marketing, and numerous other marketing skills to help entrepreneurs and franchises reach their business goals. He holds a great passion for watching his team and clients succeed. In his free time, Jim enjoys spending quality time with his wife and two children, along with snowboarding and boating on the open water.
CEO, SecuTix Americas
Strategy, People, Technology
Eric Rozenberg is CEO of SecuTix Americas, the most advanced ticketing engagement platform, and President and CEO of Event Business Formula, the first online platform dedicated to helping event business owners manage and grow their business and get a Life.
Eric is an entrepreneur, speaker, podcaster, and Amazon bestselling author. His podcast “The Business of Meetings” is the first podcast in the Meetings & Events Industry dedicated to business owners. His book, Meeting at C-Level – An Executive’s Guide for Driving Strategy and Helping the Rest of Us Figure Out What the Boss Wants is the first book on the « Why ? » of a meeting. It has been endorsed by 20 of the most influential leaders from the corporate and association worlds.
Eric has helped thousands of entrepreneurs grow and manage their business better. For two decades in a previous life, Eric has consulted with Fortune 500 companies and produced conferences in more than 50 countries across diverse industries. He believes organizations must create meetings and events that are not only breathtakingly memorable but which bring corporate strategies to life and amplify team motivation/performance.
Originally from Belgium, Eric was the first European to become Chairman of the International Board of Meetings Professional International (MPI), the largest professional association in the Meetings and Events Industry.
Eric lives in South Florida with his amazing wife, fabulous daughters, and cute dog. Connect with him on LinkedIn
Founder, Natural Life
Brick & Mortar Retail, Franchising, Art Gallery & Studios
Gabriel Suarez is a remarkable professional and a tenacious entrepreneur. The founder and president of the Natural Life Franchise Corporation, Suarez’s achievements in his industry have made him a visionary with significant contributions. A South American native, he started his career in the corporate world more than 14 years ago and multiple businesses including a glass art gallery, glassblowing studios, wholesale distribution center, smoke shop, and the Natural Life Franchise with a growing chain of all-natural wellness stores. His background includes a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Florida State University that he then parlayed into hands-on experience as an entrepreneur. This combination gives him a full understanding of aesthetics and puts him in the best position to design the most attractive and successful retail establishments.
A founding member of The Florida Hemp Council and franchisor of Natural Life stores, Suarez has the unique ability to build and maintain an incredible working relationship that sets him apart from the competition. He attributes his success to effective and efficient communication, attention to detail, time management, and making sure that he always brings his best self to the task with a positive attitude. An action-focused individual, Gabriel is a force in the retail industry.
A proud Seminole, Suarez is a Tallahassee resident. On the off chance, he is not working, Suarez loves flying wing suits as a licensed skydiver. He also likes skateboarding and finds spending time with his wife and son most fulfilling. Motivated by the desire to become a global leader in his field, he continues to stay current with industry news and continuously educates himself.
His motivation? To build stronger & healthier communities. This simple, yet effective advice motivates Suarez to achieve his full potential and help others do the same. About Natural Life: Natural Life is the first chain of retail stores that specializes in all-natural alternatives such as Hemp cannabidiol (CBD) products, as well as other holistic plants such as kava, kratom, turmeric, akuamma, ginseng, ashwagandha, mushrooms and so much more. Founded in Tallahassee, Florida by Florida State University graduate Gabriel Suarez who wanted to help members of the community find wellness alternatives. Six stores are currently in operation, three under construction to open in Q2 2021, and 12 more in early negotiations for Q3&4 of 2021. Natural Life is one of the three founding members of The Florida Hemp Council, a nonprofit that works collectively to advance the Florida Hemp industry through education, resources, and industry oversight. For more information, visit Shop Natural Life and Natural Life Franchise.
Founder, Accelerators Organization and Ask A Millionaire
Sales, Leadership, Vision
Shawn, known on social media as @askamillionaire and The Original Live Stream Mentor®️, is the quintessential entrepreneur.
Never one to let fear of the unknown stand in the way, at the age of 18, Shawn left a small town in Alaska where he grew up to move to sunny California. His dream as a kid was to become a rockstar and travel the country as a singer and get on MTV.
Within 3 years, while working 2-3 jobs and going to college full-time, Shawn auditioned for a boy band and out of over 10,000 kids, Shawn was chosen to be in N/MOTION.
N/MOTION, signed to Warner Bros. Records, traveled the USA by train as a headlining act with Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey Circus. Shawn accomplished his dream and appeared on MTV and played Madison Square Garden.
After the gig was finished, like many, Shawn decided to forego going back to college and set out to be an entrepreneur.
Ten lost years later after many failed attempts, Shawn founded Uniguest, a computer sales, and service company. As CEO, Shawn grew the company to over 100 employees and $20,000,000 in annual sales and ultimately sold the company to a private equity group in December of 2013.
After taking a few years off, Shawn started Ask A Millionaire to mentor start-up entrepreneurs. Shawn now mentors hundreds of thousands of people through his daily live streams on Instagram and has created a world-class mentoring program known as Most Won’t I Will where he brought on other successful, proven business leaders to share their personal experiences and mentor those in the tribe.
Shawn is a wine enthusiast, world traveler, animal lover, and avid foodie.