The Visiting Entrepreneur Series

This series was hosted by the Nathan M. Bisk College of Business and the Women’s Business Center. This program is designed to spread the spirit of entrepreneurship. Accomplished business leaders are brought to campus to share real-world knowledge, experience, and insights in starting and managing a successful business enterprise.

Join us for inspiring talks on business development in our highly-competitive, global marketplace. You will become engaged in critical thinking about career goals and aspirations in entrepreneurship.

Past Visiting Entrepreneurs

On Friday, September 12, 2014, Rick Rowe presented on the topic of "Changing the World One Invention at a Time".  Rick started his career in the USAF at Homestead AFB and received his first US Patent before the age of 20. Over the next 30 years he went on to work as an engineer, manager, and executive at a number of corporations including: Watkins Johnson Company, Lockheed and International Game Technology. He taught computer science in the evenings at Mission College in Santa Clara, CA for over twelve years.

In 2008 he started his own intellectual property consulting and development company and co-founded a next generation city transportation corporation in Nice, France. He is a named inventor on well over 100 patents and a registered patent agent.

Today, Rick provides consulting for a number of startups and continues inventing, patenting and starting new businesses to bring innovations to market. He has degrees in Avionics Systems Technology, Computer Science, an MBA, and FINRA licenses: Series 7, 24 and 79. Rick is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.

 

On March 17, 2014, Kevin Menard was our visiting entrepreneurial speaker. Kevin Menard came to Florida Tech in the fall of 1997 from Atlanta, Georgia to study Marine Biology. While studying at FIT, Kevin joined the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and served as Vice President, Pledge Educator and several committee chair positions including recruitment. Kevin also worked with the Florida Tech orientation team for two years before completing his time at FIT in the spring of 2002.

While attending FIT, Kevin took a job at a local Pub & Bistro and quickly became enamored with the business. Starting as a server, Kevin was promoted to bartender within the year and eventually manager before moving on to three other restaurants and bars, with a new found goal of starting his own restaurant.

Kevin’s love of cooking started late, while in college; BBQ was a natural fit for his burgeoning cooking skills, and with the help of his father who had been bitten by the bug a decade earlier, Kevin’s BBQ started garnering a reputation. For the next several years Kevin slowly tested recipes at gatherings hosted at his house, building a menu with various seasonings, sides, sauces and entrees. In the fall of 2008 he found his location and signed a lease, began construction and The Broken Barrel Tavern was open for business in April 2009.

 

On Thursday, January 23, Mr. Howard Preissman presented on the topic "Sometimes it's Better to be Good than Lucky". With formal training in biomedical engineering and “on the job” training in business, Howard quickly learned that planning and research where clear methods of increasing entrepreneurial success. Howard shares an entertaining look at his experience building two biomedical engineering companies from scratch. He also shares his walk from the humble beginnings of tinkering in the garage to exiting a $28 million venture. Howard concludes with an upbeat and optimistic assessment on how innovations can become reality.

 

 

On Wednesday, October 30, 2013, Mike Valletutti, the co-founder and visionary of Applied Global Technologies (AGT), an industry leader in Managed Services in the Video Conferencing industry. Mike developed the strategy behind bundling technology with professional services and custom software, as well as led the creation of key partnerships with large companies and manufacturers. The presentation will discuss how his small business was successful with Federal and Fortune 1000 companies, licensing software to partners, and recognizing business opportunities within an industry's ecosystem.

Mr. Valletutti will also discuss leading change within a company as it navigated through different economic cycles, customer trends, and market dynamics.

 

On Wednesday, September 25, 2013, Mr. Daniel J. Devine, Former Chairman & CEO, Compass Knowledge Group (Embanet Compass), discussed "What Does it Feel Like To Be An Overnight Success? And the Long Road to Get There …". Mr. Devine was the visionary founder behind the Compass Knowledge Group’s strategy of partnering with esteemed higher learning institutions to satisfy working professional students’ demands for innovative learning options providing accredited degrees while ensuring that university standards, tradition, identity, and integrity are not only preserved, but enhanced. In 2010 in response to the rapidly growing and changing market for online degree programs, Mr. Devine merged Compass Knowledge Group with Embanet, another leader in serving the not-for-profit online higher education market. The adventure for Mr. Devine began in 1993 and ended November 2013 with the sale of the company to Pearson. At the time of the sale, the company was serving 15,000 working professional students through 45+ university relationships with over 600 employees.

Before founding Compass Knowledge Group, Mr. Devine was employed by Harris Corporation where he held positions in engineering and business development.   In 2009, he was named a finalist for the Ernst & Young Florida Entrepreneur Of The Year Award, and won the prestigious award in 2010 in the technology category, evidence that others outside higher education recognize his extraordinary business acumen and entrepreneurial spirit. Other honors include the University of Florida College of Pharmacy Outstanding Service Award. 

Mr. Devine currently serves on the boards of Esperanza International (www.esperanza.org), a microfinance organization based in the Dominican Republic, Lighthouse Works (www.lighthousecentralflorida.org) which supports job growth of the visually impaired, and both the University of Florida’s College of Pharmacy and the College of Public Health and Health Professions Advisory Boards.

 

On Friday, August 30, 2013,  Mr. Anjan Ghosal, President and CEO of Diametriq, discussed the "Anatomy of an Acquisition and a Successful Exit".   The market meltdown of 2008 created opportunities for entrepreneurs who were willing to take the chance. Azaire Networks, a VC backed startup in Silicon Valley, had been working on the idea of seamlessly moving data traffic between WiFi and Cellular networks. As data usage on mobile devices grew, this would be a great way to manage traffic. They had invested over $50M in developing the intellectual property and productizing the concept. However, being ahead of the times, they were fast running out of capital. Anjan stepped in and acquired them in 2008 against fierce competition from much larger suitors. In his presentation,  Anjan will talk about his journey of acquiring Azaire Networks, managing it through turbulent times and successfully selling the business to Ruckus Wireless generating a return of over 40X on the initial investment – all in a period of three years. Ruckus Wireless has since generated a market capitalization of over $1B in a public offering in 2012. Anjan decided to turn down an offer to move to the Valley and is building another startup right here in Brevard County.

 

On November 29, 2012, Peter Dyson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Modus Operandi, a software technology company serving the U.S. defense and intelligence community. The company develops software to unravel hidden meaning and relationships in data and provides expert engineering and management services. In his presentation entitled “Secrets of a Perpetual Entrepreneur”, Peter shared the Modus Operandi story, from its formative roots as Software Productivity Solutions, planned in a Florida Tech MBA New Ventures Classroom, through nearly 3 decades of entrepreneurship. To read more, click here.