2021 is the time to rebuild. Learn more here.

The Founder Institute's four-month curriculum covers everything you would expect from an early-stage startup program, including topics like "Startup Legal and IP” towards the beginning, to “Fundraising” near the end. What makes the curriculum special is the Mentors that teach it, whose passion, feedback and support helps our companies avoid rookie mistakes and set the foundation for a meaningful and enduring company. 

The Founder Institute carefully recruits approximately 25 Mentors per Semester, who are normally the CEO or founder of a successful startup. Rather than specialists or consultants, we prefer Founders and CEOs to give our companies "the entrepreneur's perspective." The mentors share their experiences, best practices, and mistakes, while also providing specific guidance and feedback on the Founder companies. 

In addition, the Founder Institute's unique Graduate Liquidity Pool allows our mentors to share in the equity of companies formed in each program - and, their share is based solely on the anonymous ratings they receive from the Founders both during, and after the program. In this way, the Founder Institute incentivizes mentors to take a special interest in our startups, and provide as much assistance as possible after the program. 

We have a great lineup of Mentors confirmed for the Spring 2013 Tampa Founder Institute, including many from out of town. See the full list below.

Abhi Lokesh

Founder & CEO, Fracture

Founder & CEO of Fracture. Abhi is all business, some of the time. When he's not acting as Fracture's secretary, accountant, book keeper and resident Indian, he's most likely watching ESPN or the Food Network. If you want to talk about tennis, biotechnology, start-ups, or entrepreneurship, he's all ears. If you want to attract his attention, use peanut butter. Works like a charm.


Adeo Ressi

CEO, TheFunded.com

Adeo Ressi is Founding Member of TheFunded.com, an online community of 17,000 CEOs to research, rate, and review funding sources worldwide. Adeo also runs the Founder Institute, a mentoring program that helps entrepreneurs launch hundreds of world-class companies each year. The Institute is the eighth start-up that Adeo has founded or built, four of which were acquired and three of which are still operating.


Agapitus (Augi) Lye

Founder & CEO, Trendy Entertainment

Augi Lye is a serial entrepreneur located in Gainesville, FL. He’s dabbled in a bit of everything: from playing violin & cello in a rock band to being lead engineer in a camera-based vision processing system. He currently acts as CEO of ToneRite, a company whose device, which Augi invented, ages any string instrument as well as CEO of Trendy Entertainment, which recently received $18M in venture financing.


Ashok Kartham

Founder & CEO, Mize

Ashok Kartham is the Founder and CEO of Mize, Inc. Ashok Kartham is a successful and Serial Entrepreneur with 15+ years of experience as CEO of software and high tech companies. Ashok founded 4CS, the leading warranty and service lifecycle management software acquired in 2011 by Parametric Technology Corporation (PTC). Ashok also founded Mize, Inc in Tampa, FL in 2012 to create the platform for connected, mobile and social consumers to access product information, support and services from brands and social networks. Ashok holds Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from JNTU, India.


Brent Britton

Chair, Emerging Business & Technology, GrayRobinson, PA

Brent Britton chairs the emerging business and technology law group at GrayRobinson in Tampa Florida. He is also a founder of the Gazelle Lab startup accelerator in Tampa as well as the Equity LLP startup accelerator in San Francisco. Brent has founded several startup companies and has been practicing technology law for nearly 20 years in Silicon Valley, New York, and Florida.


Bruce Bennett

CEO, Mad Mobile, Inc.

My name is Bruce Bennett, I'm the Founder/CEO of Mad Mobile, Inc. and I'm a sadistic serial entrepreneur. My LinkedIn profile will give you a better understanding of the 6 tech companies I was founder/investor and the associated liquidity events. My first sale was to a multi-billion dollar NYSE company. What I learned gave me the strength and confidence to do it again and again. Why would I repeatedly put my hand back in the meat grinder? When you meet me you can ask for yourself.


Dave Parker

Owner, DKParker, LLC

Dave is serial entrepreneur and Director of the Founder Institute Seattle. He's on the Board of Directors for five mid-market companies including OneAccord Partners, a consulting firm he co-founded in 2005. He's on the advisory board of more then a dozen company and he's always incubating new various tech projects. Over the last 20 years Dave's career success has included both product and service industries, selling both tangible and intangible products predominantly in the technology market, including hardware, software, and wireless. For the last 13 years he has held founder and executive positions in services, software distribution and hardware development companies as well as developing joint ventures in Japan and China. He has also served as an Entrepreneur in Residence for Mitsui & Company's $250M technology fund.


David Whitney

Director, Investment Banking , Duncan-Williams

David Whitney is a Director of Investment Banking at Duncan-Williams. Whitney also serves as the Entrepreneur in Residence in the University of Florida’s College of Engineering and teaches a graduate course on innovation. Whitney was the founder and Managing Director of Energent Ventures, a private equity investor in early stage technology companies. Prior to forming Energent, David was a Senior Manager in Deloitte’s Venture Capital practice in Silicon Valley. "Whit," as he is known, will focus on the topic of fundraising and best practices for pitching investors.



Geoff Wilson

Co-Founder & President/CEO, 352 Media Group

Geoff Wilson is President and CEO of 352 Media Group, the company he started more than 15 years ago out of a dorm room at the University of Florida. 352 Media Group is a Web design and internet marketing agency with 60 employees and offices in Atlanta, Tampa, and Gainesville, Florida. 352 Media Group’s clients include Microsoft, Wells Fargo, CNN, Super Media, American Express and Tech Data. Because of 352 Media Group’s success, Geoff was recognized as one of America’s Top 30 Young Entrepreneurs by INC Magazine in July, 2006. Geoff is also an owner of other startup ventures, including the leading social media management tool in the journalism industry, SocialNewsDesk.


John Spence

Managing Partner, John Spence, LLC

John Spence is currently the managing partner of John Spence LLC, and has owned or been CEO of 10 companies. John has twice been recognized as one of the top 100 business thought leaders in America and also as one of the top small business influencers in the country along with Seth Godin, Malcolm Gladwell and Apple. John was named CEO of an international Rockefeller foundation at the age of 26, CEO of an international strategy / sales strategy firm at 32, and for the last 16 years has traveled upwards of 200 days a year worldwide to help businesses and individuals achieve more success. He is the author of "Excellence by Design: Leadership" and "Awesomely Simple: Essential Business Strategies for Turning Ideas into Action" and has been a guest lecturer at more than 90 colleges and universities including Stanford, Harvard, and the Wharton school of business. John is also a lead instructor at the Entrepreneurial Masters Program at MIT and the Director of Best Practice Innovation at the Best Practice Institute.


John Morrow

President, Morrow Consultants, LLC

John Morrow is the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the SEI Alliance College of Business, USF. He is the Co-Author of Tampa Bay's 6/20 Plan, a Founder of Gazelle Lab, and the former CEO of Morrow Technologies Corporation. He currently works with startups and growing companies to help them grow their businesses.


Kirk Burton

Chief Innovation Officer, Innovation & Technology Solutions LLC

Kirk is the Founder and Chief Innovation Officer for Innovation & Technology Solutions LLC. After a career in the Army, he worked to improve tech development efforts for military and first responder customers using custom market research, rapid prototyping, and access to entrepreneurs. Kirk was the Director of Engineering & Technology for a startup accelerator in Tampa Bay and later Vice President of CTC Tampa Bay Inc. where he helped clients discover technology solutions for complex problems. He also serves on the board of the Small Business Technology Council. When he isn’t working with government or entrepreneurs you will likely find him with a fly rod in hand, stalking the local fish population.


Kristen Hadeed

Owner, Student Maid

Kristen Hadeed, Founder of Student Maid, started cleaning houses in college to put herself through school. Four years later, Student Maid now employees over 350 college students during peak seasons, all who must meet a minimum 3.5 GPA requirement. Kristen is currently working on expanding the Student Maid brand to college towns across the country in addition to co-founding a tech company in 2012 to revolutionize scheduling software for the cleaning industry. Kristen has used technology to automate and scale what has traditionally been a manual, labor-intensive business. Kristen was recently named one of thirteen movers and shakers under the age of 30 by Gainesville's HOME Magazine and was also named one of the “25 Most Interesting People in Gainesville” by Insite Magazine. She is a guest lecturer at the University of Florida and was honored to be a TEDX speaker in February 2012. She is a professional speaker and frequently travels to share her story with others.


Laurence Liebson

CEO, i-Netix, LLC

Seasoned technology and services-oriented, CEO with a depth of experience in startups, IPOs, MBOs, and turnarounds in both private and public companies with worldwide operations. Prior to founding i-Netix, Mr. Liebson led a management buyout of Harris Corporation’s Electronic Design Automation Division (a Division of a Fortune 500 Company renamed Xynetix Design Systems and currently a division of Synopsis). He served as their CEO for four years and Chairman for six years until their acquisition. Previously, he founded two high-tech companies (Xylogics, Inc. and Xyvision, Inc.) that grew rapidly and were NASDAQ-listed. Mr. Liebson also has prior work experience at the NASA Electronic Research Center and Bell Laboratories. He holds an MS from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was an M.I.T. Sloan Fellow, has done graduate work at Harvard University in the Division of Engineering and Applied Physics, and has a BS in engineering with an emphasis on computer science. He serves and has served on more than a dozen private and public company Board of Directors. Mr. Liebson enjoys skiing the back bowls of Vail and windsurfing in Aruba.


Marc Blumenthal

CEO, Intelladon

Marc Blumenthal joined Intelladon in 2003 as its Chief Executive Officer and part owner. He is responsible for formulating the company's strategic direction. Previously, he was the founder of Progressive Business Solutions, one of the largest systems integrators in the Southeast. He is an angel investor for several national businesses that got their start in Tampa, including Tribridge and Ideal Image. Blumenthal served for many years on the board of Metropolitan Ministries, a local charitable organization that serves the poor, hungry and homeless in the Tampa Bay area. He is also active in the Tampa Bay Technology Forum.


Mark Swanson

Co-Founder & CEO, Telovations

Mark Swanson is the Co-Founder & CEO of Telovations (recently acquired by Bright House Networks) and the Managing Director of Lane Five Ventures, a seed-stage private equity firm. Mark has been starting and building Information Technology companies 1992.



Michael O Donnell

Founder & CEO, Leaves.com

Michael O'Donnell is a tech entrepreneur, angel investor and adviser to early-stage companies. He founded Ask-Me Multimedia in 1985 and sold it to a publicly-traded company in Seattle in 1995. He was on the management team that built and launched SPRYNET, one of the first national Internet Service Providers (ISP). He founded iCopyright.com in 1998, raised $30M, and served as the company's CEO for 12 years. O'Donnell is the author of two best-selling books on business planning and marketing planning, curates StartupBiz.com, and is a frequent speaker at events for startups. In addition to serving as the Co-Director of the Founder Institute in Tampa, O'Donnell is also working on launching a Facebook Timeline app called Leaves.com.


Peter Quintas

Co-Founder & CTO, Nomi

Co-founded Nomi and serves as Chief Technology Officer. Nomi provides Omni-Channel Engagement software that helps brands listen to what is happening in their stores, learn who their customers are and engage them across every channel that matters - online, in-store and in between. Previously Chief Technology Officer of Retail Business Development and Silkroad Technology. Over 15 years of proven experience building startup and technology businesses driving all aspects of sales, marketing, product management and development, and service and support. Represented in technology standards committees (Web Services, OASIS), public speaking engagements (COMDEX, Supernova), and live network news interviews (Fox News, “Eye See You”, 1.4 million viewers).


Randy Wadle

CEO, NetWise Technology

Randy Wadle founded NetWise Technology in 1999 and has served as the CEO since its founding. He is responsible for the overall growth and operations of the company. He is actively involved in business development as well and manages several key client accounts. He founded NetWise after a successful career as an IT manager, consultant, and software engineer with Arthur Andersen and Electronic Data Systems. Randy earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from the University of Florida. He is active in the community serving on the Board of Trustees of Bayside Community Church, leads the Manatee Kids Wrestling Club, and is an active member of the CEO Council of Tampa Bay. He has been married to his wife, McKenzie, since 2002 and is the father of four wonderful children. He is an avid marathon runner, enjoys scuba diving and spearfishing, traveling, and is a bit of a fanatic Florida Gator football fan.


Ron Hollis

Founder, President & CEO, Quickparts.com

Ronald L. Hollis, Ph.D. is the Founder and former President & CEO of Quickparts.com, Inc. He founded the company in 1999 with a new approach toward procurement in product development design and manufacturing. He and his companies have received many awards and recognitions including: 2004 INC 500 company; 2007, 2006, and 2005 Deloitte Fast 500; 2004 Ernst & Young Finalist Entrepreneur of the Year; 2004 “Innovator of the Year” by Catalyst Magazine; Top 50 Entrepreneurs of Atlanta by Catalyst Magazine; Hot 100 List from Entrepreneur Magazine and others. He is also a patented inventor and author of a business book on product development He is a graduate of the MIT/INC Birthing of Giants, the former President of the Atlanta Chapter of Young Entrepreneur’s Organization (YEO), a member of Young President’s Organization (YPO), and involved in other philanthropic and entrepreneurial activities.


Scott Kurland

CTO, Leaves.com

Scott Kurland is a serial entrepreneur with extensive experience in product development. He is currently the Interim CTO of Leaves.com and the CTO of PointOS Professional. He was a technical consultant of Veri, a post-TechStars startup working to change the way people learn. He developed The Wishing Fund and JoeHero, two social impact sites. He is up to date on all the latest development stacks and lean startup methods.


Sri Sridharan

CEO (retired), Ultramatics

Sri Sridharan has more than 35 years of global business experience in developing and successfully executing both corporate and startup strategies. Sri successfully led multiple startups throughout his career. As a business executive within IBM's Global Network organization, he implemented the division's business plan and go-to-market strategy that offered network-based applications on a subscription basis, now widely accepted as the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model. In the late 1990s, Sri led ServiceNet, a Virginia-based company, later acquired by Accenture. Most recently, he built a very successful services business for Stratus Technologies that included a multi-million-dollar, multi-year managed services contract with one of the world's largest financial services firms.


Steve Tingiris

Founder, Enthusem

Steve Tingiris is the CEO of Prospect Smarter, Inc., a leading provider of technology-driven marketing systems and serves as one of the founding board members of The Tampa Bay WaVE, a non-profit organization that helps early-stage technology companies find funding and peer support. Steve is also the founder of enthusem.com a turnkey cross-channel marketing system that helps brands like National Geographic, Home Shopping Network, MacWorld, The Colts and hundreds more of the World’s savviest marketers connect with their most valuable prospects.


Thomas Cardy

Vice Chairman, Treasurer & CFO, Matrix Healthcare Services

Thomas Cardy is the Vice Chairman, Treasurer & CFO of Matrix Healthcare Services, Inc. He is a Board Member & Tampa Bay Membership Chairman of New World Angels, serves on the Board of Directors and is Program Committe Co-chair of the Tampa Bay chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth and on the Executive Committee of TBTF's Emerging Companies Network. Mr. Cardy has also served as CFO of Preview Travel, a publicly traded online travel pioneer later sold to Travelocity; as EVP & Managing Director, COO and CFO of Communications Equity Associates, a media and entertainment focused investment bank with operations in the US, Europe and Asia; and as a Managing Director for Hyde Park Capital Advisors a Tampa based middle market investment bank. Tom is a Certified Public Accountant who began his career in the audit and tax practice at Arthur Andersen & Co. He earned his degree in Business Administration and Accounting with high honors from the University of Florida.



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