MELISSA KRINZMAN is managing partner of Krillion Ventures, a $50 million Miami-based venture capital firm that actively invests in seed and early-stage technology companies in the financial services, real estate and healthcare sectors. Her fund has invested in 18 early-stage companies, nine of which have South Florida roots. Krinzman also founded Venture Architects, a business-planning firm that positions early- and growth-stage companies for success in the capital-raising process. She returns to the Herald’s entrepreneurship challenge as community coordinator and adviser. Finalists in the five community track verticals will have the opportunity to practice their pitches with Krinzman prior to their presentation before the judges.
COMMUNITY TRACK - FINTECH VERTICAL
MARCELO CLAURE is a Miami-based entrepreneur who founded Brightstar cellphone distribution company before becoming president of Sprint. He is now executive chairman of Sprint and chairman of Miami Beckham United MLS franchise. He also serves as COO of SoftBank Group Corp and CEO of SoftBank Inernational, a Japanese multinational conglomerate with a multibillion-dollar technology investment portfolio. He also serve on fthe board of Arm, a leading chip technology developer.
OTI ROBERTS is a managing director and senior private banker with Deutsche Bank in Miami. He and his team are responsible for serving ultra-high-net-worth clients in the U.S. Previously he was a managing director and senior private banker with JP Morgan Private Bank. When he was growing up, he lived in Nigeria, Wales, London, Kuwait, Bahrain and Riyadh. He has a BBA in international finance and marketing from the University of Miami. He is a board member for the I Have a Dream Foundation of Miami, and serves on the United Way of Miami’s Alexis de Tocqueville Society.
JORGE VILLACAMPA, South Florida region bank president, Wells Fargo, is responsible for 68 Wells Fargo branch locations. A 40-year banking veteran, Villacampa has worked in asset-based lending, commercial banking, branch administration and retail banking. Previously he worked with Southeast Bank and Wachovia. He is a graduate of Waynesburg University and The American Bankers Association Commercial Graduate Lending School at the University of Oklahoma. Wells Fargo will act as mentor for the winner in the Financial Technology vertical.
COMMUNITY TRACK - HEALTHCARE / BIOSCIENCEALLAN DAISELY
ARJUN “J.J.” DESAI is chief strategic innovation officer of Miami’s INSIGHTEC., a Miami medical device company. Previously he was vice president of innovation at Johnson & Johnson, Chief Operating Officer at JLABS and Chief Operating Office at the Center for Device Innovation. He also teaches at Stanford University.
NORMA SUE KENYON, Ph.D., is Vice Provost for Innovation at the University of Miami and Chief Innovation Officer of the Miller School of Medicine. Under her leadership, the U Innovation team has increased the number of licensing agreements and startups emanating from faculty innovations across the university’s 11 schools and colleges. Together with community partners, Kenyon leads a master planning process to develop an innovation district around UM’s life science park and heads up planning for a hemispheric innovation hub across the university. She is also a professor of surgery, microbiology & immunology and biomedical engineering at the Diabetes Research Institute. The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine will act as mentor for the winner in the Financial Technology vertical.
FRANK STESLOW, president of Miami’s Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, has more than 30 years of experience in science-based organizations. Steslow holds a master’s degree in environmental health and science from the University of South Florida and a bachelor’s degree in microbiology from Pennsylvania State University.
COMMUNITY TRACK - TRADE / LOGISTICS
DESMOND ALUFOHAI is the Director of Protocol & International Airport at Miami International Airport. Previously, he served as senior international trade coordinator for Miami-Dade County’s Office of Economic Development & International Trade (OEDIT). He is also a Certified Meeting Professional and a board member of the World Trade Center of Miami. In addition, he is an inductee into the 5000 Role Models of Excellence and was awarded International Trade Advocate of the Year by the Minority Business Development Center for the U.S. Department of Commerce in 2015.
BOB BRUNN is vice president of investor relations, corporate strategy and product strategy for Ryder System. In this position, Brunn is the primary channel of communication with the equity analyst community and is responsible for developing Ryder’s strategic agenda as it relates to all business segments, product lines, functional areas, and geographies. He is also responsible for identifying and developing the business case for new products throughout the company. Brunn joined Ryder in 1988 as staff analyst of acquisitions of Ryder Public Transportation Services. Since then, he has held numerous positions in financial planning, corporate strategy, acquisitions, product pricing, field finance and treasury.
Ryder System will act as mentor for the winner in the Trade and Logistics vertical.
RAUL MOAS, Miami program director for the Knight Foundation, is focused on strengthening Miami’s startup ecosystem. Previously he was managing director of AGP Miami, an angel investor network for tech startups that has invested more than $7 million in 24 South Florida companies over the past four years. Before joining AGP, he was executive director of Roots of Hope, a nonprofit focused on youth empowerment, entrepreneurship and social ventures in Cuba. He is also a member of the Global Shapers Miami Hub, the young professionals wing of the World Economic Forum and a member of The Miami Foundation’s Miami Fellows program.
LORETTA MCNEIR, aviation expert. McNeir’s career includes 36 years of service with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Transportation Security Administration, most recently as the TSA Attache for West Africa based in Dakar, Senegal. Prior to that appointment, she served as TSA Representative for the Caribbean, working with ministers of transportation and other senior government officials to ensure effective air carrier safety and airport security. She was involved with security, coordination and transportation for special projects including the Safe Skies for Africa Assistance Program, Aviation Security for the Olympics, the Pan Am World Games and World Cup Cricket Games. Following her retirement from government, McNeir joined The Wicks Group as senior aviation adviser.
COMMUNITY TRACK - TRAVEL / TOURISM / HOSPITALITY
BOB DIENER is the co-founder and President of getaroom.com. He also co-founded Hotels Reservation Network, which became Hotels.com, taking the company public in 2000; it merged with Expedia in 2003. As a travel industry expert, Diener is a frequent source for major news organizations and guest on radio stations including NBC, CNN and Fox News. He is the author of two books — “Biblical Secrets to Business Success” and “Savvy Traveler.” A lawyer by training, Diener has taught at Cornell Law School and been a scholar in residence at the University of Florida Entrepreneurship program.
MARCO GILBERTI is a media, events and internet entrepreneur whose live events have sold to Reed Exhibitions, Pearson and Liberty Media. He is founder and CEO of Vesuvio Ventures, which provides access to coaching, partnerships, advisory services and capital for early-stage entrepreneurs. Giberti graduated from Harvard Business School and worked as an executive at Apple. He is a co-founder of LAB Ventures.
JASON LIBERTY is executive vice president and chief financial officer, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Since joining the company in 2005, Liberty has held several senior management positions. Today he oversees the company’s treasury, accounting, corporate, strategic and revenue planning, corporate development, information technology, supply chain, risk management, legal, port operations, deployment, internal audit and investor relations. Before joining Royal Caribbean he was a senior manager with accounting firm KPMG LLP. Royal Caribbean is the world’s second largest cruise company and owner of Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara. Last year it acquired majority ownership of luxury line Silversea. Royal Caribbean is mentor for the winner in the Travel and Tourism vertical.
COMMUNITY TRACK - REAL ESTATE
DANET LINARES is vice chairman of Blanca Commercial Real Estate, Inc., a Miami-based commercial real estate services. During the past two decades she has been involved in some of the region’s largest commercial real estate transactions and has worked with entities including New York Life, Lincoln Property Company, Codina Partners, TA Realty, FECI., The Miami Foundation, Knight Foundation, Endeavor Miami, and ParkJockey.
JAY PHILLIP PARKER has served as the chief executive officer of Douglas Elliman’s Florida brokerage since 2013. Since then, he has grown the presence of the luxury provider of real estate services to a total of 18 offices across the region and more than 1,000 agents. The firm marked a banner year in 2017 with $3.6 billion in closed transaction, up 34 percent over the prior year. He holds degrees from the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, and the University of Miami School of Law. He recently was accepted to the Forbes Real Estate Council. Douglas Elliman will act as mentor for the winner in the Real Estate vertical.
CARLOS ROSSO is president of the Related Companies’ condominium division. Since joining the company in 2002 he has developed more than 16,000 units, honing his depth of experience in construction, project financing, land acquisition and sales and marketing. Prior to joining Related, he worked as vice president of real estate development for Investment Properties in Boston and 10 years as project director for Besix International, overseeing the development and construction of over ten million square feet of multi-family, hotel and office buildings in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He graduated summa cum laude from the Universidad de Buenos Aires with a Master’s degree in architecture and holds a Master’s degree in real estate development and finance, with the highest honors, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
TIGRE WENRICH is CEO and co-founder of LAB Miami Ventures, based at The LAB Miami in Wynwood. The “venture builder” aims to create new digital businesses and hosts tech-focused events in travel, real estate and logistics; it has launched businesses including MyRentHero.com, Orderout.co and Partsium.com. He is also an active angel investor and serves on the board of Miami Angels. Previously he was founding COO and CFO of Open English, the leading online language school in the Americas. He also worked as a strategy consultant with Boston Consulting Group.
SHERI COLAS-GERVAIS is vice president economic development and urban initiatives at the Miami-Dade Beacon Council, where she serves to stimulate job creation, investment and prosperity building, with a focus on our small to mid-sized businesses and urban communities. Activities include business assessments and assistance in the areas of site selection, access to capital, tax incentives, talent pipeline, procurement, business continuity, and guidance to technical assistance and business resources; across all industries. Colas-Gervais’ track record includes growth achievements in both the entrepreneurial and corporate sectors in the U.S. and in the Caribbean. Sheri held national and regional leadership positions for Fortune 500 corporations and brings P&L management expertise for business development, brand management and strategic planning; with extensive background in the consumer products and manufacturing space.Prior to working in entrepreneurship, Colas-Gervais worked on business development for global consumer products corporations.
ORLANDO ESPINOSA is co-founder of MIami’s Emineo Media. His passion for education has afforded him opportunities to counsel countless individuals and groups on higher education, presented to public and private business organizations, and has traveled nationally to conduct workshops on financial literacy, leadership, entrepreneurship, branding and marketing. Espinosa helps educate and train businesses on the importance of a solid business structure and the implementation of an effective marketing strategy. He also speaks on brand building, entrepreneurship, leadership and sales & marketing. Emineo Media’s goal is to help businesses find the hidden gems their company possesses by evaluating their overall business structure. Espinosa sits on various community and advisory boards. In addition, was a recipient of the U.S. Small Business Administration South Florida District and State of Florida Small Business Advocate of the Year for 2016 & 2018.
ANNA ETIENNE is program director of the food incubator at Startup FIU, which seeks to partner with local food entrepreneurs perusing sustainability and a scalable business model. Prior to joining Startup FIU, Etienne helped launch the first and subsequent cohorts of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program at Miami Dade College, where she served as the program manager for three years, connected over 200 graduates from among Miami’s local business owners. Etienne spent the past several years in various roles working within the local South Florida business community, college students, and institutional leaders. Currently a doctoral student studying Organizational Leadership at Northeastern University, Etienne is also an alumnus of Florida International University with a Bachelors in Business Administration and a Masters in Higher Education Administration.
SEEMA PISSARIS, clinical professor of management at FIU, holds a Ph.D. in business management with a concentration in strategy. She was a founder of the FAU College of Business and former president and CEO of Games Trader Inc.; she was also the Toronto founder of Big Ticket Video. She is also an avid entrepreneur responsible for launching numerous successful companies, one of which became a publicly traded company on the Toronto Stock Exchange. She enjoys working with students on their ventures, and empowers them to become agents of change and to launch ventures that also achieve a social good.
RICARDO WEISZ is founder and administrator of Interim HealthCare, founder and president of NorthVest and a consultant with Florida SBDC at FIU. A versatile C-level executive expert, Weisz had extensive experience in raising equity capital, finance, marketing, startups, turnaround management, content, brand development, licensing and marketing of products and services. Weisz has headed various ventures with successful exits. During his tenure with The Walt Disney Company, he launched operations in multiple countries, was a Zone vice president and general manager, and headed a Latin American small-business unit. He is an early-stage investor and syndicator of projects. He has held a number of board positions, including Ogangi Corp., Consult A Doctor, NIP/The Winner’s Circle, Miami Innovation Fund, New World Angels and the Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center at Florida International University. He currently serves as administrator/CEO of Interim Healthcare of Miami, a home healthcare provider. Weisz is a frequent speaker and panelist at industry events, serves as a consultant for the Florida Small Business Development Center at FIU, and is a member of the Small Business Committee of the Miami-Dade Beacon Council.
JACQUELINE BUENO SOUSA is regional director of Florida Small Business Development Center at FIU. Before joining FIU, Sousa was a director with an international business-intelligence and strategic-advisory firm, advising multinational companies with business intelligence needs related to new market entries, regulatory issues and competitive analysis. Previously, Sousa was a reporter with the Wall Street Journal, an executive editor with American Lawyer Media, and editor of The Miami Herald’s Business Monday magazine. She also launched and operated a regional media company. Sousa earned a master’s of public administration, with high honors, at FIU, and a bachelor’s in journalism, with honors, from the University of Florida. She is a certified business growth curve specialist and is CIP-I-certified as a strategic and competitive intelligence professional.
ROMI BHATIA is executive director of the Idea Center at Miami Dade College. Following a 17-year career in international development, Bhatia joined Miami Dade College as executive director of the Idea Center, the college’s innovation center, in 2017. He has extensive experience in microfinance, small enterprise development and impact investing through his work at the United States Agency for International Development. As a Fulbright Scholar, he conducted research on microfinance in India. He has a masters in international affairs from Columbia University with a concentration in International Finance and Business.
STÉPHANIE SYLVESTRE is chief programs officer/chief information officer of the Children’s Trust, where she manages a $150 million trust portfolio. Leveraging expertise honed at Subway and Burger King, Sylvestre has launched nontraditional initiatives around collaboration and innovation to address services in childcare, healthcare and insurance, among others. She has advanced degrees in development economics from the University of Southern California and the University of Miami.