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Meet the Director
Michael R. Bowers is Professor and Founding Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship in the O’Maley College of Business at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, in Daytona Beach, FL. In this role, Dr. Bowers has created several programs/workshops employing the business model canvas with particular emphasis on customer discovery/value creation. Since 2014, over 100 ventures have gone through these programs resulting in several successful companies, including but not limited to Censys Technologies and Sensatek Propulsion Technologies. The Center has sponsored three Embry-Riddle teams through regional I-Corps programs at University of South Florida and the University of Central Florida. Read Bowers' full bio
Board of Advisors
Luis de Bono Paula
Co-founder and General Counsel, Spirit Monkey
Luis de Bono Paula
Mr. de Bono Paula is a retired Air Force officer and a successful entrepreneur. He served in the Navy during Desert Storm, and was a combat aviator in the Air Force where he landed the first aircraft in Afghanistan on the opening night of Operation Enduring Freedom. After leaving military service, Mr. de Bono Paula was a flight instructor for Lockheed Martin.
Mr. de Bono Paula’s entrepreneurial work began as the co-founder of a consumer products development and licensing company. Within five years he helped grow sales to over $5 million and established distribution to national retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target, Michaels, Hobby Lobby, and QVC.
He later became Chief Operating Officer for Trinity Laboratories, Inc., where he transformed the company from a Research and Development laboratory into a revenue-generating company. He was responsible for bringing Trinity’s first product to market and obtaining a private label agreement with Texas's largest grocery chain.
After leaving Trinity, Mr. de Bono Paula and his wife co-founded Spirit Monkey. Within four years, Spirit Monkey reached #134 on the 2015 Inc. 500 list of fastest growing private companies in America and was the #1 fastest growing company in San Antonio. Spirit Monkey has expanded to 48 states and 6 countries and corporate customers include Chevron, USAA, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, The American Heart Association, Spurs Sports and Entertainment, McDonald's, Papa John's and HEB. There are also 7 astronauts that fly Spirit Monkey products to the International Space Station.
Mr. de Bono Paula has been a semi-final judge with the University of Texas at Austin’s Texas Venture Labs since 2009 and has helped raise millions of dollars in venture capital. Texas Venture Labs is considered the “Super Bowl” of graduate entrepreneurial competitions with competitors from top universities around the world.
Mr. de Bono Paula is a licensed attorney in the State of Texas. He earned both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, a J.D. with honors from St. Mary’s University School of Law, and an M.B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin.
Chief Technology Officer, OneSky Flight
Managing Partner and Cofounder of VenVelo
Richard Licursi is Managing Partner and co-founder of venVelo, a fully committed early stage venture fund located in Winter Park, Florida. Prior to venVelo, Mr. Licursi was a co-founder, President and CEO of MeshNetworks Inc., which became recognized as the global leader in mobile mesh networking technology. Upon Motorola’s acquisition of MeshNetworks, he held the position of Vice President and Director of Operations for the Mesh Network Product Group at Motorola.
Mr. Licursi has worked with early stage companies for most of his 35-year career. He has raised more than $70M from venture capital investors and has provided those investors over 8 times the return on their capital. He has successfully exited 4 Companies, 3 of which he co-founded and 4 of which he was president and CEO.
Mr. Licursi is an EIR (Entrepreneur in Residence) at Arsenal Venture Partners and currently serves on the Boards of 6 early stage companies. He is a graduate of St. Peter’s University. He and his wife Frieda have two grown children and reside near Orlando, Florida.
Spaceline Maintenance Program Manager, Virgin Galactic
Kyle Slover has 25 years of experience in aerospace operations, specializing in entrepreneurial ventures involving business aircraft. Currently Mr. Slover is the Spaceline Maintenance Program Manager for Virgin Galactic, where he is responsible for ensuring the operational readiness of the company’s spaceflight vehicles. Prior to joining Virgin Galactic, Mr. Slover served as a Director for the global private aviation firm Gama Aviation, where he led fleet planning and technical services execution for Wheels Up, the disruptive category leader in private aviation travel solutions. Previously he was the Chief Operating Officer for Volo Aviation, a privately-held, vertically-integrated aviation services firm. As part of his duties, Mr. Slover oversaw an asset portfolio for a group of institutional investors that included aircraft, FBO’s, and other airfield real estate interests valued at $250M. Earlier in his career he founded an aviation maintenance services company and co-founded a technology company that created an online marketplace for buying and selling aircraft charter services.
Mr. Slover earned a B.S. in management from Embry-Riddle (Worldwide), and holds FAA ratings as a commercial pilot and an airframe and powerplant mechanic. He previously served on several industry committees, including as co-chair of the National Business Aircraft Association’s TRACS Committee that organized and distributed scholarship funds for candidates pursuing careers in aviation maintenance technology
Partner and Chief Innovation Officer, Health Innovation Partners
David Whitney is an experienced management consultant, business strategist, investment banker, and investor. David is Partner and Chief Innovation Officer at Health Innovation Partners, a healthcare consultancy. Whitney’s expertise involves helping companies of all sizes improve operating performance, achieve ongoing profitability, commercialize new products and services, and develop leadership teams. David creates measurable value for companies by leveraging a skill set that reflects 35+ years spent in company operations, sales management, manufacturing, business development, finance, and executive leadership.
Whitney is a licensed investment banker (Series 7 & 63) and works with growth-stage ventures raising investor capital. These companies have commercialized products and services featuring innovative, problem-solving solutions; they are companies led by experienced entrepreneurs and proven innovators who deploy investor capital to grow product lines and extend service offerings. Health Innovation Partners’ role as an Independent Sales Organization accelerates revenues for its client companies.
Besides his marketplace activities, Whitney is a teacher. In previous positions held, David served as the Assistant Director of the University of Florida's Engineering Innovation Institute and taught courses in innovation and entrepreneurship to undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Florida. Since 2010, Whitney has taught courses and delivered guest lectures at universities in Colombia, New Zealand, Poland, and the USA.
Venture Partner, IDEA Fund
Richard Fox has thirty years of experience in the creation of new companies from defense and aerospace technology. He is a Venture Partner in the IDEA Fund, and is active in the formation and growth of innovative companies in Central Florida.
Richard and two partners took an operation of Westinghouse private. In that company, Richard led a team to develop one of the first machine vision systems, and sold that business to Gould Modicon. Richard repeated that cycle as the President of the Central Florida Innovation Corporation, where he guided the launch of several companies in the image processing and telecommunications industries.
Richard frequently is a coach to new high-growth companies. He served on the Florida Seed Capital Board and has been a member of several task forces for the State of Florida on venture capital and seed capital investing. He was an executive member of the board of the National Association of Seed and Venture Funds, and is an active reviewer of SBIR proposals for the National Science Foundation. Recently, Richard has been quoted in Nature magazine, Entrepreneur magazine, and the New York Times.
Richard is a frequent speaker on the subject of new company creation by professional teams. He earned his B.S. degree in physics from M.I.T., and holds 14 patents on the application of computers to industrial processes, and on medical devices.
Senior Corporate Counsel, Legal Services, Halifax Health
Ms. Kurak is Senior Corporate Counsel to Halifax Health. Prior to serving in her in-house role with Halifax Health, she was
a partner with the law firm of Cobb Cole, where her practice focused in the areas of corporate and business law, including business organizations, mergers and acquisitions and commercial finance. She enjoys guest lecturing in the College of Business at ERAU on the topics of entity selection and business start-up issues .
A fifth generation native of Washington, D.C., Ms. Kurak now proudly makes her home in Southeast Volusia County.
Jim Zucco - Chair
Chairman, CEO, and Founder of Corente
Jim Zucco - Chair
Jim has over 35 years of tech industry executive experience in software, security and communications. Most recently, he was Chairman, CEO and founder of Corente which was acquired by Oracle (ORCL) in March 2014. Corente’s Cloud Services Exchange platform provided highly secure applications delivery for customer locations in more than 63 countries across a broad array of industries from securities trading, electronic medical records, banking, manufacturing and hospitality. In addition to his private company advisory roles, Jim recently joined the board of directors of Minneapolis-based Datalink Corporation (DTLK) and became an operating partner at Cloquet Capital Partners.
Jim’s broad-based industry experience includes senior executive roles in two global communications providers, a successful turnaround of a public company, and active board and investment roles with leading emerging growth companies, both public and private. Jim's executive experience includes Senior Vice President and CIO/CTO of the MCI Corporation (MCIC-VZ), where he led product development and systems engineering. At AT&T (T), he served as VP and General Manager of the Business Communications Group and led the launch of their first IP network and Internet hosting businesses. At Lucent Technologies (LU), he served as Vice President and General Manager of the North America, and President of the Communications Software business units. As Chairman and CEO of Shiva Corporation (SHVA), an early leader in security and distributed networking, Jim executed a turnaround strategy that returned profitability within 18 months and resulted in a successful sale to Intel Corporation. He served as Executive-in-Residence at Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers.
Earlier in his career Jim led a security auditing and control practice for the Inspector General’s Office of the Department of HHS and then served in a variety technology consulting and strategic advisor roles with Wall Street firms such as Solomon Brothers, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Guaranty and Trust. Jim received his BA from Western Maryland College and his MBA from Loyola University.
Managing Partner, Cobb/Cole Attorneys at Law
Ms. Vargas is the managing partner at Cobb Cole and has been practicing intellectual property law in the community since 2000. Her intellectual property practice centers on registration, licensing, administrative dispute proceedings, and litigation related to trademark and copyright matters. She also advises clients in connection with website, e-commerce and technology law issues, including compliance with federal privacy, antispam and copyright infringement laws. Ms. Vargas has written several articles about intellectual property issues for local publications, and regularly presents to community and business groups about intellectual property protection and enforcement. Ms. Vargas is board-certified by The Florida Bar in intellectual property law and is AV Peer Review
Rated by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest rating possible. She has been named a Super Lawyer in Intellectual Property Law from 2015 through 2020. Ms. Vargas was also a member of the Intellectual Property Law Certification Committee from 2014 through 2019, serving as Chair for the 2017-2018 year, is serving on the Executive Board of the FUTURES Education Foundation, and is a member of the Board of Advisors for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's Center for Entrepreneurship.
In addition to her intellectual property practice, Ms. Vargas has been assisting business owners and individuals with estate planning and probate matters since 2010. Her estate planning practice centers on the analysis of a client's assets and family situation to determine the type of estate planning that will best serve the client's needs, including business succession planning, avoidance of probate and planning for nontraditional families.
Ms. Vargas is a native of Daytona Beach. After receiving her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Richmond, she practiced law in California before returning home in 1999.
Ms. Vargas was actively involved in the capital campaign to build the STAR Family Shelter for homeless families with children and served as the president of the STAR Board for the first three years of operation.
Executive Director at Starter Studio
Executive Director at StarterStudio (StarterStudio.org)
Prior to StarterStudio, Lilian co-founded EconomyFour, a social enterprise that helps organizations rethink and reset for a future of long life. The work of the organization includes methodologies and workshops for shedding bias using data and insights to map organizational strategies, programs, products, and services to newly emerging wants and needs of adults over 50 around the globe. Myers spent four years at IBM, most recently as the Global Leader for Ageing and the Longevity Economy, where she worked as a subject matter expert and product manager in countries throughout Asia, Oceania, Europe and the Middle East, consulting, speaking, publishing and sponsoring research in the domain. Her previous 25 years in technology began at Microsoft and led her to co-founder and executive roles with companies in health and ecommerce acquired by Siemens Healthcare, Aetna, and Google in leadership roles in corporate development, marketing, product management and internationalization along with experience raising venture and strategic capital. Lilian also coached and mentored startups as Associate Director at the University of Central Florida Venture Lab. She serves as an advisor at the Guidewell Innovation Center in Lake Nona and the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Center for Entrepreneurship. She’s a staunch supporter of tech founders and the opportunities that tech startups create for local economic vibrance.
Founding and Former Board Advisors
Peter McAlindon, Ph.D.
Peter McAlindon, Ph.D., is a 1989 MAS graduate of Embry-Riddle here in Daytona. Dr. McAlindon is the founder and chief executive officer of Blue Orb Inc., a technology company that develops computer technology for persons with disabilities. Blue Orb Inc. created and now markets and sells the orbiTouch Keyless Keyboard. The orbiTouch is a patented computer keyboard and mouse that requires no finger or wrist motion to operate.
It was developed for people who do not have the finger or hand dexterity to use a regular keyboard or mouse. The orbiTouch has received numerous industry awards and the top honor for accessible technology at the Consumer Electronics Show.
Through Blue Orb, Dr. McAlindon has successfully secured three rounds of funding from the National Science Foundation’s SBIR program and more than $5,000,000 in angel investor funding. Dr. McAlindon is in the process of completing a three-year National Science Foundation grant to help people with disabilities become entrepreneurs.
Dr. McAlindon is a co-founder of venVelo, Florida's newest business accelerator and seed capital fund. Pete is currently Entrepreneur in Residence at the Rollins College Crummer Graduate School of Business. He also serves as a faculty advisor to Rollins students through the Entrepreneurial Scholar of Distinction (ESD) program, mentoring teams of students as they find commercial applications and develop paths to market for technologies developed by NASA.
Mark R. Mohler
Mark Mohler concentrates his practice on the representation of technology companies through all phases of their life cycle — from startup phase through liquidity event. He represents companies, owners and outside investors in business transactions, contractual matters, entity formations, venture capital and private equity financing, project finance, joint ventures, technology acquisitions, university licenses and public offerings. He has a long history in the representation of Cleantech Companies and served as general counsel to a public company Cleantech Venture Capital fund. Mr. Mohler holds a LLM in Taxation.
Mr. Mohler works closely with his clients in setting strategic direction and structuring mission-critical business transactions. He has acted in a multitude of roles in companies beyond outside legal counsel — including as a member of boards of directors in both executive and independent roles. Mr. Mohler was a co-founding entrepreneur of a venture and private equity-backed, multi-national Cleantech Company and is a serial entrepreneur.
Mr. Mohler has acted as a legal advisor to companies with respect to subsidiaries, project operations and joint ventures in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Central and South America, Africa and Australia.
Education: LL.M Taxation, University of Florida 1998; Juris Doctorate, University of Florida 1994; B.A. Political Science, University of Florida 1992
Activities & Interests: Founding CEO of Sprigster, crowdfunding platform; Founding Partner at LaunchPad40 Captal Advisors; Volunteer and Mentor at TrepHub, Inc.; Curator of Startup Digest Melbourne; Organizer of Startup Spacecoast
UpStart Hangar Hours
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- The John Mica Engineering and Aerospace Innovation Center
- CEO - The Club for Entrepreneurs at ERAU
- 1 Million Cups Daytona Beach
- ERAU Alumni Entrepreneurs
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