Mentors a critical to the success of the Startup Quest program. They are successful business people and entrepreneurs – often serial entrepreneurs, motivated to engage in the program for several reasons:

1) Give back to the community and encourage entrepreneurship

2) Network with fellow entrepreneurs/CEOs/Executives who are also mentors

3) Work with a university- or federal laboratory-owned technology or other intellectual property in the industry and scientific area of expertise of the entrepreneur

4) Engage in friendly competition with other entrepreneurs and teams in a hypothetical investor presentation contest

5) Develop or strengthen relationships with technology licensing offices of universities and federal laboratories that may lead to future licensing opportunities.

Mentors will act as their team’s CEO and serve as a guide to help their team navigate the Startup Quest training. As a mentor you will:

1. Work with the RPM to select a technology from the Startup Quest web site listing

2. Attend a Mentor orientation session

3. Attend each of the Startup Simulation Laboratory Sessions;

4. Act as virtual CEO for your team throughout the Startup Simulation Laboratory Sessions as they create a hypothetical company and learn about the steps required to transform an invention or discovery into a commercial product;

5. Contribute knowledge and experience as needed to support the curriculum topics and the Training Facilitator;

6. Share expertise and insights with participants during team working sessions as part of the training experience;

7. Guide the team to create business plan and investor pitch deliverables;

8. Coach the team for the Pitch Competition

Please contact Clay Gambetti at more information on becoming a mentor

Mentors from Program 3

Brian StephensBrian Stephens

Mr. Stephens is the Senior Manager of Strategic Business Development, Marketing and Analysis for Legacy Venture Group. Mr. Stephens has many accomplishments including successfully leading an Education-Focused advisory, research, sales and acquisition firm for multi-million dollar companies, creating and facilitating educational seminars for over 450 CEOs, analyzing financial and business operations data to determine value, risks & strengths of over 300 organizations. He earned his MBA from Loyola College in Maryland.

Technology: A Nanotip Array Based on Biological Pathogen Sensor: FIU


Dan Caccamo2Dan Caccamo

Mr. Caccamo currently serves on the Non-Profit Board of Directors at The Edible Peace Patch Project, and The Tampa Bay Network to End Hunger, is an Executive Committee Member of Florida Action for Healthy Kids, on the Wellness Committee at The Tampa Bay Health Collaborative, and The Wellness Council of Tampa Bay. He is also a Certified Focal Point Business Performance Coach & Speaker. Prior to this current involvement, Dan worked at Proctor & Gamble, where he received the “Best of the Best” Leadership Award at Clorox in 2003. He has also worked with Florida Dairy Farmers as the Director of Innovations and Insights.

Technology: Neural Studio: An Artificial Neural Networks Simulator: FIU


Charles CaroCharles Caro

Charles Caro has over thirty years experience as a business executive and consultant to management with both domestic and international companies. He has worked in many industries with experience in every role within an organization from CEO to entry-level clerk. He has launched more than one startup business, and worked in key management roles with several other rapidly growing businesses. Besides the US Charles has worked in Japan and Saudi Arabia. In addition, he has presented seminars and done business in ingapore and China. Through the years Charles has been an exhibitor and speaker at some of the largest computer trade shows in the world, including COMDEX, PC Expo, and InternetWorld. Charles is also a globally recognized LinkedIn expert, and is the #1 contributor for the LinkedIn Help Forum. Charles is a Vietnam-Era Veteran and served with the US Army Security Agency. He has earned both a MA and BA from the University of South Florida.

Technology: Virtual Router for a Robust Wireless Multi-hop Highly Mobile Communication Network: UCF


Trudy DanielsTrudy Daniels

Ms. Daniels is the founding president of the Greater Tampa Bay chapter of Women In Defense. She has a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and an Executive MBA from the University of Florida and currently serves on the university’s Industry Advisory Board for the College of Industrial and Systems Engineering. Ms. Daniels has held senior leadership positions in public, private and nonprofit companies in the manufacturing, professional services and product development sectors. Previously, she was instrumental in establishing a new regional office for Concurrent Technologies where she established a new line of business which achieved $35M in revenue in its first 4 years.

Technology: Selective Serotonin of  5HT2 Receptor Modulating Compounds for the treatment Obesity, Addiction, and Neuropsychiatric Disorders: UF


Matt DanielsMatt Daniels

Matt Daniels, soon after graduating, began his career as an entrepreneur. He owned and operated a rental photography studio and dark room facility.  His client base extended to 25 Florida counties.  After 10 successful years, he began work for a Fortune 500 technology company where he led teams to develop global software solutions for its customers.  He took his development knowledge and worked in the company’s consulting practice and later in internal audit for its Central American subsidiaries.  Mr. Daniels has a broad knowledge of technology development and an extensive background in project management.  Today, he spends his time consulting for smaller firms looking to grow their brand, develop or extend a technology, or reshape their business model to address changing customer needs.  Mr. Daniels is an active supporter of Junior Achievement and volunteers with Career Source Tampa Bay as a facilitator for their professional job clubs.

Technology: Interocular Foreign Body Basket: USF


Russ BarnesRuss Barnes

USAF Colonel (retired)

Colonel Barnes served 27 years on active duty in the United States Air Force as an aviator and staff officer.  He flew combat missions during Desert Storm and held leadership positions at Air Combat Command Headquarters, The Pentagon, US Strategic Command, US European Command, and US Central Command.  He has been awarded the Legion of Merit, Air Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal and more than 20 other decorations to include the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor device and Liberation Medals from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. After retirement from the military, Col Barnes established himself as a business owner in the local community, taking a small company from zero to profitability in less than three years.  Colonel Barnes is Founder and CEO of Systro Consulting, an organization development practice helping enterprises of all types with strategic planning and organization design. Colonel Barnes received his Bachelor’s Degree from Manhattan College (NY), his MBA from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and his Master of Science degree in Strategic Studies from Air University.

Technology: RDSS—Rapid Deployment Shelter System: Y-12 


Rob PierceRobert Pierce III

Rob brings passion, strategic decision making, vision and mature judgment he gained during his 20+ years in the financial services industry. His experience in retail banking, small business lending, insurance and niche product sales across the United States and Canada has afforded him a diverse perspective on business profitability, growth and leadership effectiveness. He is known by colleagues as a big picture thought leader that constantly challenges himself and those around him. Rob has a B.A. from Wittenberg University and an Executive MBA from Walden University.

Technology: Transfemoral Prosthesis with Altered Knee Location to Reduce Mass and Adapt Dynamics: USF


John HamerlinckJohn Hamerlinck

John Hamerlinck is currently owner/principle in three start-up organizations, International trading, Cyber Security, and Strategy Consulting.  John has over 35 years of experience in fortune 100 companies including RJR Nabisco, Johnson & Johnson, and Cox Enterprises with roles ranging from engineering, operations, to marketing and sales.  From 2009 through 2014 John served as a senior civilian advisor for the US Department of Defense in Iraq and Afghanistan promoting foreign direct investment, including the formation of the first Information Technology incubator in Iraq in partnership with Google and IBM.

John holds an Electronic Engineering degree and MBA from Lewis University.  Having mentored more than 50 startups in conflict areas and started six companies of his own, he has some keen insights on meeting the challenges of small business.

Technology: System and Methods for analyzing and modifying passwords: FSU

Mentors from Program 2

Brian StevensBrian Stephens

Protein Kinase-C as a Target for the Treatment of Respiratory Syncytial Virus(retired)

Mr. Stephens is the Senior Manager of Strategic Business Development, Marketing and Analysis for Legacy Venture Group. Mr. Stephens has many accomplishments including successfully leading an education-focused advisory, research, sales, and acquisition firm for multi-million dollar companies. Mr. Stephens has created and facilitated educational seminars for over 450 CEO s and analyzed financial and business operations data to determine value, risks & strengths for over 300 organizations. He earned his MBA from Loyola College in Maryland. Connect with Mr. Stephens via LinkedIn:


Jim GossettJim Gossett: 

System and Method for Evolving Music Tracks

Mr. Gossett is a senior executive for an entrepreneurial Houston-based risk mitigation company in the petrochemical vertical.  As COO and CTO, his focus on operational excellence and cultivation of a sustainable ecosystem has resulted in product/service innovation, consistent organic growth, and expansion into new markets. Leveraging his progressive executive leadership experience in Fortune 1000 technology and business service organizations, Mr. Gossett, blends business process focus and technology automation to deliver value in turnaround and fast-paced M&A environments.  He earned his MBA from the University of South Florida (USF) and is a member of the USF Connect Council of Professionals. Connect with Mr. Gossett via LinkedIn:


Greta KishbaughGreta Kishbaugh

Advanced Video Editing Software

Ms. Kishbaugh is a full-time instructor for the College of Business at St. Petersburg College, where she teaches management and business. She is also the owner of a marketing consultant firm and helps young entrepreneurs bring their products to market. She is currently working on her PhD in Management and Organizational Behavior; her specialty is management with a focus on leadership. Her dissertation is on strategy and she hopes to help organizations develop and implement their strategic plans. Ms. Kishbaugh is also an accomplished fundraiser and has worked with many nonprofit organizations in the Tampa Bay area. She has lived and worked in the Tampa Bay for over 30 years, she has a husband and two young boys. Connect with Mrs. Kishbaugh via LinkedIn:


Paul Lemieux2Paul Lemieux

Optimizing Performance of Location-Aware Applications GPS Auto Sleep

Mr. Lemieux is the former President and CEO, and currently Director of Pro-Link, a national, member-owned association providing sales, marketing and business support services to independent distribution companies.  Under his leadership, Pro-Link grew dramatically in size and scope, delivering sophisticated products and programs to member companies, and improving their effectiveness to their customers, while helping them build more profitable business models.  He brings extensive experience in finance, general management, and strategy, with a focus on manufacturing and distribution in small, entrepreneurial and closely held businesses.  He earned an MBA from Suffolk University, certificate in Corporate Finance at the Harvard Business School, and taught Economics at Becker College.


Dean ParsonsDean Parsons

Fast, Single, Camera System for Real-Time Monitoring of Driver Fatiguep

Mr. Parsons has spent the majority of his career in high technology and telecommunications companies.  He has held leadership positions in both finance and operations at companies like Unisys, Getronics (Vice-President), and GoSolutions (Vice-President). Mr. Parsons experience includes developing business plans as well as evaluating businesses for potential acquisition. He holds an undergraduate degree in accounting and finance from The Ohio State University and an MBA from La Salle University in Philadelphia, PA. Connect with Mr. Parsons via LinkedIn:


Marc Monday

Ground Lightning Monitoring System

Mr. Monday currently holds a senior alliances and channels role at VMware where he was responsible for launching VMware’s IaaS offering (vCloud Hybrid Service) and building out their channel strategy.  He is also co-owner of FinnHill Ventures a consulting and technology advisory company.  He has been very active in a variety of entrepreneurial activities including mentoring programs at TechArb in Ann Arbor, Michigan; and is currently an advisor to several Seattle area start-ups. Mr. Monday spent nearly 12 years at Microsoft Corporation building and driving new business development, sales and partner marketing teams. He led the Microsoft US Distribution team with over $1B in channel sales accountability.


Dennis MitchellDennis Mitchell

Fluid Measurement

Mr. Mitchell is an active volunteer with several diverse organizations. He is a certified mentor with Score, a resource of the SBA that helps with the creation and mentoring of small businesses. He is also a senior partner at Big Cat Rescue and also serves as the outreach ambassador for this non profit. He founded and developed several successful companies including a rep company in Taiwan where he lived for 5 years. He saw that Taiwan was where many US electronic firms were setting up manufacturing operations, so he had the vision to follow that market. After successfully selling his Taiwan company, he returned to the States and settled in Tampa. He then started another rep organization, which is now run by his son.


Russ Van ZandtRuss Van Zandt

System and Method for Evolving Music Tracks

Mr. Van Zandt is currently serves as Chair of VISTAGE in Tampa Bay, where he works to put together the right mix of CEOs, so that they are able to become dynamic, integral and focused on contributing to each members organizations. Along with his work at VISTAGE, Mr. Van Zandt serves as a SCORE mentor. Previously he was CEO of Ela Medical, a medical device manufacturing company. Mr. Van Zandt has also worked as Division President for C R Bard and Datascope. He earned an MBA from Florida Atlantic University and a Doctorate of Business Administration from George Washington University.


Dan CaccamoDan Caccamo

The RFID Tagging System

Mr. Caccamo currently serves on the Non-Profit Board of Directors at The Edible Peace Patch Project, and The Tampa Bay Network to End Hunger, is an Executive Committee Member of Florida Action for Healthy Kids, on the Wellness Committee at The Tampa Bay Health Collaborative, and The Wellness Council of Tampa Bay. He is also a Certified Focal Point Business Performance Coach & Speaker. Prior to this current involvement, Dan worked at Proctor & Gamble, where he received the “Best of the Best” Leadership Award at Clorox in 2003. He has also worked with Florida Dairy Farmers as the Director of Innovations and Insights.


Robert GravesRobert Graves

Substitute Mentor

Mr. Graves has trained clients in the highly effective Sales Success course, as Director of Business Improvement for Dale Carnegie Tampa Bay. He also trains in Leadership, Presentation and Human Relations courses. He was selected Dale Carnegie Business Consultant of the Year, making the prestigious Dale Carnegie International $300,000 Sales Club. Previously, he worked for Computer Associates, where he was twice #1 in Stand Alone Sales; and at Allied Telesyn, where he increased SMB sales by 363 percent in one year. He is a graduate of the University of South Florida, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and an MBA with a focus in Finance and Marketing.


Bill MellonBill Mellon

Substitute Mentor

Mr. Mellon has recently worked for Maximo Partners, Computer Sciences Corporation and Capgemini at the Principal Consulting levels. With these firms, he led several sales pursuit teams in estimating and presenting large scale proposals. Previously, he worked at director levels for several Fortune 50 to 200 companies, including Oshkosh Truck, Lockheed Martin, and Walter Energy. His expertise cover IT department management and project management. He holds degrees in business, computer science, and engineering, as well as an MBA.


John RenslowJohn Renslow

Bond Enhancement for Underwater Pile Repair

Mr. Renslow has had a successful career in the finance industry as an accounting and finance executive working for  companies such as Sprint and PwC.  With his Management background spanning both public and private companies, he is a strategic minded business leader who drives financial excellence and builds cross-functional relationships in complex global organizations. Mr. Renslow received his BS from the University of Florida and his MAcc from the University of Virginia.


Pat SmolenPat Smolen

Novel Therapeutics in the Treatment of Cancer

Ms. Smolen is a strategic human resource development professional with a successful record of leading performance improvements over a broad range of businesses with a demonstrated ability to deliver strategic, financial and operational excellence while restructuring and building strong, motivated teams. Prior to starting her own business, Pat held the position as the SVP of AML Global Ops and Training with Citigroup where she built a cohesive and efficient global training team from three diverse teams.  Pat was with PSCU Financial for 18 years serving as the Director of Knowledge Management, operating as a strategic partner, project manager, and technology liaison for new products and services.


Drake CarlisleDrake Carlisle

Radiographic Thickness Measurement Method

Mr Carslisle has experience as a small business executive, both private and public. He served as the President of Eternalloy and Eternal Wear Science Inc. for 8 years. His expertise is enhancing the performance of mechanical parts and has significant experience with Thermochemical diffusion, platings, heat treatments, ceramics integration, cryogenics and CVD, PVD, vacuum processes of thin film solid state techniques. For the last few years Mr. Carslisle has devoted his time as a research and development consultant. Mr. Carslisle studied marine transportation at Texas A&M University at Galveston.


Dick KaneDick Kane

Training Facilitator

Mr. Kane is a CIO/COO with a unique combination of Fortune 100 experience (Procter & Gamble, Fidelity Investments and The Washington Post Companies) and as a technology entrepreneur.  Living in Cincinnati, Ohio for 20 years, his own companies focused on warehousing, inventory and distribution technologies primarily supporting enterprises connected to the automotive industry.  Mr. Kane is presently devoting his time to a new start-up that will bring to market a complete solution for the real time tracking of both employees and valuable corporate assets.  Mr. Kane holds an MBA from Indiana University.