SMALL BUSINESS INNOVATION SYMPOSIUM
Forging a Strong, Equitable Path in Innovation and Inclusion
The planning committee will not be hosting Vision in 2022. However, you can still view past Vision content on this website. We also encourage you to support other great St. Louis ecosystem events and stay connected to other entrepreneurs and community leaders.
Emerging Wisdom LLC, InPower Institute
Rebeccah Bennett is Founder and Principal of Emerging Wisdom LLC and its subsidiary, InPower Institute. Launched in 2006, Emerging Wisdom is a forward thinking social enterprise that helps individuals live empowered lives; leaders build impactful organizations, and communities advance brighter futures. At Emerging Wisdom, Rebeccah and her team conduct personal and professional growth programs, organizational improvement efforts, and multi-stakeholder social transformation initiatives. Within these focus areas, they help clients experience growth and deepen their impact through an array of offerings, including consulting, training, facilitation and planning, coaching and professional speaking.
In 2010, Rebeccah opened InPower Institute, a division of Emerging Wisdom that serves as a center for community healing and optimal living. Through InPower, she has formed an alliance of healers, change agents, activists, educators, faith leaders and wellness practitioners who co-create healing spaces that advance both self-actualization and community transformation. Annually, InPower offers hundreds of programs and events that spur human growth, creativity and recovery from trauma. Participants are supported in unleashing their personal power and in using this power to create extraordinary lives and a more just and vibrant world.
Through Emerging Wisdom and InPower Institute, Rebeccah has helped tens of thousands of people and countless organizations effect positive change in the areas of organizational and community leadership, economic development, racial equity, public health and safety, environmental sustainability, diversity and inclusion and girls and women’s and empowerment. Though her areas of interest and expertise are wide-ranging, her work is singularly focused on elevating the human condition. Rebeccah is supported in this work by corporate, non-profit and government clients, including Anheuser-Busch InBev, Wells Fargo Advisors, MasterCard Worldwide, the MO Department of Mental Health, the Deaconess Foundation, Focus St. Louis, the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, the Ferguson Commission, For the Sake of All, and Hazelwood School District.
In addition to her professional activities, Rebeccah currently serves as Co-Chair of the board of Forward Through Ferguson (the successor organization to the Ferguson Commission) and as Chair of the board of Generate Health (formerly the St. Louis Maternal Child & Family Health Coalition).
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT ROUNDTABLES
New/Existing Business Owners (Business is 1-3 years old)
Minority & Woman Business Enterprise Certification
LUZCO Technologies, LLC
Lus Rondón-Haberberger, a Venezuelan-born American, holds an engineering degree from the University of Texas, a master’s degree in engineering from California State University and an MBA from UCLA. Lus is a certified Professional Electrical Engineer and Project Management Professional. Lus launched LUZCO Technologies as a result of a dream of creating a different innovative top notch engineering firm that valued both diversity and work-life balance. LUZCO delivers world-class engineering services with a boutique feel to electrical utilities like Ameren. LUZCO received the 2018 Hispanic Emerging Business of the Year, 2019 SBA’s Start-up of the Year in the Midwestern region and is now one of the 50 fastest growing companies in St. Louis.
Women's Business Development Center
Jacinta L. Witherspoon serves as the Associate Director of Certification for the Women’s Business Development Center’s (WBDC) St. Louis satellite office. In this role she specializes in WBE and WOSB certification and works with women business owners providing them education, information and resources to operate as successful business owners. As an entrepreneur herself, Jacinta is passionate about connecting business owners, community resource partners, corporate and government supplier diversity and procurement professionals for opportunities to learn, grow and spur economic development. With every connection, she shares the importance of learning, transferring knowledge and resources which support local economies.
Her extensive background includes over 15 years of experience and demonstrated success in financial services, management, nonprofit leadership and entrepreneurship. She has led teams through organizational change, program, policy and process development and implementation. Jacinta has a passion for learning and holds small business trainings to assist business owners with communication, meeting and event planning, and maneuvering the small business eco-system.
Jacinta is an alum of FOCUS St. Louis’ Leadership St. Louis (LSL) program (2013-2014), St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative’s Fellow Class Cohort 9 (2014-2015) and FOCUS St. Louis’ Inaugural Class of Impact Fellows (2016). She holds degrees from Webster University Walker School of Business & Technology (MA) and the University of Akron (BS).
Steps To Strong Sales
Sales Acceleration Group
Kristie is the go-to expert in the Midwest for SaaS startups. Founders hire her for her willingness to get her hands dirty and her “take no prisoners” approach. Her 19+ years as a sales leader in the SaaS space fuels her passion for helping boot-strapped or VE/PE funded founders increase revenue and retain customers.
Kristie helps companies build, train, and scale their SDR, Account Executive and Customer Success teams by focusing on helping companies with sales process, strategy, and scalability. This includes everything from implementing sales enablement tools to hiring, onboarding and training new hires to sales training and coaching of existing teams.
Kristie is also passionate about helping women and minorities land technology sales jobs. When not helping startups, Kristie can be found on the tennis court.
Save the Girls
In July 2017 Two of Tami’s 3 daughters lost their cell phones in the same week. One dropped her phone in the toilet and the other at a state park. At a reunion that weekend she was telling her sister in law about the incident when surprisingly her sister in law pulled the phone out of her bra while saying she never lost her phone. Her sister in law had breast cancer! That day Tami decides to go to work for a solution to lost, broken, put in the wrong place phones. Save the Girls was born!
Tami is here to tell you the story of how her idea turned into a useful product that has exploded into the marketplace.
Data Driven Decision-Making
Finance executive with passion for working with innovative companies and entrepreneurs to build successful companies and create an ecosystem for technology companies to thrive in St. Louis.
Problem solver from the school of hard knocks (74 companies before age 40), now a national speaker, entrepreneur, CEO and in the top 100 St. Louisans to Know to Succeed in Business.
Building & Developing Your Bench: Workforce Talent
Bing is a results driven, strategic senior HR leader. She is strong in employee retentions, performance evaluation/management, succession planning, employment law and organizational change management. She is highly skilled in cross-functional department communications, training/development, restructuring and AAP/EEO/Diversity Leadership.
Keep The Money Train Rolling: Sources of Capital
Jeff is the Founder of Rezilient, a health-tech startup that allows doctors to remotely control robots that deliver virtual care in real life and has raised $1.1MM to-date.
Shawna came to Justine Peterson in January of 2015 and has extensive banking background from spending over twenty years in the industry. Mentoring clients as well as a personal pledge of attention to each client's needs is what helps start up businesses and some existing businesses succeed or fail. Shawna tries to encourage anyone with a concept or a passion to become an entrepreneur and do your research for what is a need that can be fulfilled.
Building A Well Oiled Machine: Systems & Operations
The SAVA Group, LLC
With over 20 years of administrative experience, Shequana Hughes married her love for helping others and entrepreneurship and launched The SAVA Group Virtual Assistance Agency in 2016. She now has a team of Executive Virtual Assistants who provide time-saving, stress-less support to small business owners all over the United States.
I started working with Tallyfy about an year ago. I got involved with Tallyfy due to my interest in startups and our shared goal of making the world a more efficient place. Since graduating, I was attracted to the startup environment - I prefer the dynamic, ever growing world that was full of unknown possibilities. My roles in Tallyfy include quality assurance, programming, and customer technical support.
The Power of the Business Model Canvas
Over the years, Quentin has been involved with numerous entrepreneurial ventures and organizations. Currently serving as the Square One IT Track Leader, Vice President of Lumate Inc., and Entrepreneur In Residence for the ITEN organization, Quentin is passionate about improving processes, growing companies, negotiating fair business deals, and seeing new thought leadership applied to organizations of all sizes. These passions have lead Quentin to his current roles which allow him to have the most positive impact possible on multiple organizations.
Quentin received his MBA, a degree in Management and Information Systems, and a certification for Sustainable Business from Missouri University of Science and Technology.
Purpose First Advisors
As founder and President & CEO of Purpose First Advisors, Christy is deeply committed to working with entrepreneurs and the organizations that serve them to build profitable ventures that create generational wealth for founders and their families. Purpose First Advisors is particularly focused on helping women and entrepreneurs of color – those visionaries who are typically underrepresented and under estimated – accelerate business growth and transformation. Her specialties include new product/service development and market validation, financial modeling, buyer profiles and core messaging alignment, business development strategies, operations, strategic business planning, and management/leadership coaching.
Defining Your Company Culture
Judy Ryan is CEO of LifeWork Systems, founded in 2002. She is an author, columnist and recognized thought leader on workplace culture transformation.
The Peepul Tree
Bijal Desai-Ramirez is on a mission to build a world that values and includes everyone. She sees a world that is full of inequity and still believes that – with the right solutions in place – it doesn’t have to be.
Bijal has spent 20 years helping organizations solve problems with creativity, divergent thinking, leadership, and a relentless focus on people. She has also designed and built the foundations, systems, processes, and relationships that organizations need to start strong or grow stronger.
Bijal is currently launching Mixxed, a startup that helps multiracial, multicultural, and multifaith families find the community, information, resources, and vendors they need to celebrate life. She is also working on The Peepul Tree to help startups and entrepreneur support organizations design, articulate, and operationalize human-centered cultures with an early focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Bijal’s family lives between Los Angeles and St. Louis’ University City.
Financial Operations 101
Diego Abente is Vice President of Economic Development of the International Institute and President of the International Institute CDC. In his capacities with the Institute he plans, monitors and evaluates the agency’s economic development services, including a micro-lending fund, small business development, Individual Development Accounts, and an urban farm.
Diego also leads the International Institute Business Solutions Center (IIBSC), which provides interpretation and translation services, as well as cultural competency trainings. Diego regularly speaks to and trains community members in the corporate, non-profit, and government space to identify, learn from, and leverage the rich cultural diversity of our society.
Diego has a degree in Law, a Masters in Governance and International Development, and an Executive Masters in Business Administration from Washington University in St. Louis. Prior to joining IISTL, he spent several years managing non-profit programs in Africa and Washington D.C.
Lynette Sledge Watson
MO Small Business Development Center
Lynette Watson has over 20 years of experience assisting small business owners at all phases of their business, beginning with innovation and ending with exit strategy implementation. Her expertise is strategic management, financial modeling/analysis and SBA loan products and programs. Lynette received her M.B.A. in Finance from Webster University and her Bachelor's in Economics from Spelman College in Atlanta, GA.
She is a certified Economic Development Professional with the National Development Council. She also holds certifications from The Blue Mesa Group for Transformational Coaching and Intuit QuickBooks as a certified ProAdvisor. In addition, she completed the extensive Stratygyzer Business Model Training in Boston.
Lynette is passionate about what she does and is committed to serving the community. She is a graduate of the CORO Women in Leadership program and VISION St. Charles. She is a long-term board member of Habitat for Neighborhood Businesses, an ambassador of Community Women Against Hardship and serves as a mentor to the National Black MBA Association. She is also very active with her college alumni association, National Alumnae Association of Spelman College, where she chairs the Leadership Development Institute.
In addition, Lynette lends her expertise at local colleges, she speaks nationally on the subject of “Turning Your Passion in to Profit” and she mentors those interested in her career path.
Lynette co-owns an event planning business NcreDaBle (pronounced incredible) Kreations, St. Louis Accounting and Bookkeeping and LSW Strategic Management and Consulting. She is married to Tony and they have sons: Drake, Blair and Nigel.
The Many Paths to Funding your Company
BRAND of St. Louis
BRAND of St. Louis is a management consulting firm helping to create innovative solutions for small businesses and organizations to build capacity.
Mary Louise Helbig
Mary Louise joined ITEN as an Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR), and became the Executive Director in 2017. Mary Louise has a great love for St. Louis.
And in her current role, she offers over 25 years of corporate and startup experience to support the development of St. Louis’ tech entrepreneurs and growth of our innovation ecosystem which deliver positive economic impact to our region.
Mary Louise received her BA in Communications from St. Louis University, an Executive MBA from Washington University and completed Mediation Training at St. Louis University Law School. She serves on the board of directors for Calhoun Community Foundation, is a passionate supporter of Marian Middle School, and a recipient of a Leaders in Technology Award | Small Business Monthly, 2015 and Most Influential Business Women | STL Business Journal, 2019.
Navigate the Legal Documents and Steps to Launching Your Business
Faro Law, LLC
Mike runs his own boutique business transaction law practice and works with clients across industries, from photography to retail to artificial intelligence.
St. Louis Regional Chamber
Lakesha is the Director of the St Louis Regional Chamber Diverse Business Accelerator. Lakesha is also an entrepreneur. She and husband own, LIST Towing Service.
Libraries: The Hidden Resource Gem for those Launching a Business
University of Missouri
Jamie Kleinsorge, MS, is a Senior Project Coordinator at the Center for Applied Research and Engagement Systems (CARES) at the University of Missouri. Jamie has trained thousands of organizations, community-level professionals, government agencies, and healthcare systems on the use and application of data and GIS for community assessment, programming, and evaluation. Jamie has a Master of Science in Rural Sociology with an emphasis in community development from the University of Missouri and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Western Illinois University.
St. Louis County Library
Worked in advertising. Owned a business. Now loves assisting startups and entrepreneurs with using FREE library resources to grow their businesses.
One-On-One Coaching with Community Resource Navigators
SELF CARE BUSINESS STRATEGIES
Dr. April Warren-Grice
Dr. April researches equity and access, using her findings to create culturally relevant programs and wellness offerings for communities of color.
Networking for Introverts
LaShana M. Lewis
L. M. Lewis Consulting
LaShana Lewis is a technologist working in the diversity space with over 20 years of experience. She is currently the CEO of L. M. Lewis Consulting.
The Gift of "Yes, and" (Improv games for entrepreneurs)
Well Beings, LLC
Colleen wants to give you some breathing room! Well Beings, LLC was created to offer conference goers welcome relief from the rat-race of talking, listening, learning, networking and socializing! You can only smile and focus for so long, before you need a break, right? Well Beings facilitates break-out sessions that lead you to move (yoga), relax, meditate, laugh, play, and decompress. After a Well Beings session, you’ll be ready to take on the world again!
Colleen is a graduate of Urban Breath’s 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training program and a graduate of The Improv Shop’s Long-Form Improv training program. She also holds an MBA degree that was a lot less fun to achieve. A St. Louis native, she loves helping STL small businesses as an SBDC Business Counselor and as the Client Support Manager for the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership.
A Healthy Mind, Body & Business
HD Fitness, Midwest Fitness Management
DeAnthony is currently A managing partner at HD Fitness/Midwest Fitness Management & specializes as a Natural Bodybuilding Coach & Weight Loss Expert with an expertise in Nutrition Science & Metabolic Fat loss management.
As a bodybuilding coach DeAnthony has coached 60+ athletes and has over 100 top 5 finishes of which 17 have earned pro cards including 2016 IPE world champion Andrea Ferguson. In 2006, DeAnthony was selected as one of top trainers in the country by FHM magazine in a nationwide search & subsequent weight loss contest in which the top 5 trainers were featured in the magazine.
DeAnthony has always prided himself on giving back, and spreading the message of health & self-care throughout the community & was awarded the 2014 NAACP Hometown Champion award for community involvement.
Be Bold. Be Brave. Be Self-Confident.
Aimee Muirnin Dunne
The Coras Group
Aimee believes a well-documented process is a thing of beauty, but is only effective when connected to those you serve. She delights in making initiatives accessible and bringing people on board in a way that allows teams to grow stronger together.
Just Breathe: Chair Yoga Basics
Elemental Integrated Healing Arts Designs
Eileen is a 200 hour foundation trained Yoga Instructor with focus in Hatha, Yin and Qi-gong, a nationally Registered Art Therapist and Licensed Professional Counselor. Specialities include: mindfulness techniques including guided visualizations and social dreaming. Using Relational-Cultural approaches to wellness, youth empowerment, LGBTQGNC issues, mental health awareness and group therapy. Her artistic concentration is in printmaking, photojournalism, book arts, fiber sculpture and mixed-media painting.
She is currently developing a consulting project to offer art therapy, mindfulness and yoga as an integrated healing art practice to support professionals workng in caregiving and social justice fields.
KEYNOTE: Cedric Cobb
We are delighted to announce our keynote speaker, Cedric Cobb. A St. Louis native, Cedric successfully pitched the investors on ABC’s hit show Shark Tank and received $200,000 for his business, Best Wardrobe Solutions.