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Catalyst Speakers

Make connections, gain insight and get motivated to grow your business at CATALYST, a one-day-only workshop sponsored by the Henrico EDA, October 16, 2014.

Tim MacAleese, CFO
Elephant Insurance Services, LLC

Tim is a founding member of Elephant Auto Insurance. In late 2008, he helped build the business case for Elephant—a startup direct-to-consumer auto insurance company based in Richmond, VA. In January 2009, Elephant launched its insurance product in the US. Since that date, Tim has helped lead the growth of the Elephant “herd” from 3 employees to over 250 today, while also building the infrastructure and operations required to support (ultimately) millions of US auto insurance customers. On October 2, 2009, Elephant officially launched and began selling and providing auto insurance coverage in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Prior to joining Elephant, Tim led the US consulting practice for the high-tech & telecom vertical at Gartner, Inc. Collectively, Tim has over 10 years consulting experience advising business clients across numerous industries, on sales and marketing strategy as well as general business operations. Tim began his career as a CPA, with four years of public accounting experience at Coles & Bodoin, LLP—a Boston-based regional firm. Tim holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Accounting, with honors, from Babson College in Wellesley, MA and a Masters of Business Administration degree from the Darden Business School at the University of Virginia. Tim and his wife are residents of Glen Allen, Virginia where they busily raise four children. Tim is an avid Red Sox fan, and enjoys coaching youth lacrosse and field hockey in his free time.

Nick Bawa, Partner

As partner & CTO of Covintus, Nick leads a team of world-class developers and designers on providing software solutions from multinationals to startups. Having worked for large organizations such as Owens and Minor and IBM Global Services, plus several years of functional and technical consulting, Bawa has successfully served major clients such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), NASA, VDOT, and Northrop Grumman, Sealed Air and UPS. 

David Bender, CEO
Weeded! Lawn Service

For almost 14 years, David has been leading his team at Weeded! Lawn Service to provide customers with exceptional lawn care. A graduate of Cornell University, David is very active in the local business community. He currently serves on the advisory board for the Virginia Council of CEOs.

Laura Boone, Principal
Titan Group, LLC

At Titan Group, LLC, Laura is part of a team of experienced human resources consultants who partner with small business leaders on strategies to increase organizational effectiveness and address a range of HR solutions. She has more than 25 years of experience in executive coaching and organization and leadership development. She received her Bachelor of Science from Purdue University and her Master of Education from VCU in Adult Education and Human Resource Development.

ACe Callwood, CEO
Painless 1099

ACe Callwood started Painless 1099, an online banking solution that automatically withholds taxes for freelancers and independent contractors. Prior to Painless 1099, ACe co-founded Coffitivity, an ambient sound website and app that was named one of TIME magazine’s Top 50 Sites of 2013. He has served as Entrepreneur in Residence at the VCU School of Business and is the vice president of Venture Forum RVA.

Duke Dodson, Co-Founder

Duke Dodson is the co-founder of Gather, a community workspace that offers startups, freelancers and entrepreneurs affordable office space and amenities. An expert in real estate, property management and development, he is also founder of Dodson Property Management. He is currently the president of the state chapter of the National Association of Residential Property Managers.

Karen Elliott, Member
Eckert Seamans

Karen Elliott is committed to providing practical legal advice to employers of all sizes and industries. She works with her clients to create reasonable business solutions, from drafting of employment contracts to resolving issues relating to the numerous federal and state employment laws. Karen has been selected for inclusion in Virginia Super Lawyers, Virginia Business’s “Legal Elite” for Labor/Employment and Best Lawyers in America for Employment Law.

Avrum Elmakis, CEO
TDBBS, LLC/Best Bully Sticks

Avrum Elmakis grew his home-based startup, Best Bully Sticks, to a company with almost $20 million in annual revenue by 2013. The company’s rapid growth was recognized when it was named one of Inc. Magazine's 5000 Fastest-Growing Private U.S. Companies, and it won Elmakis Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award in the Emerging Company category in 2013. Avrum enjoys sharing his experiences with the next generation of entrepreneurs and is committed to being active in the community.

Jim Fitzgerald, Founder and CEO

Jim Fitzgerald founded Taradel, LLC, in 2003. Taradel provides marketing solutions directly to small businesses and through its network of partner companies like FedEx Office and Canada Post.  In just a little over a decade, Jim has grown Taradel from a home-based startup to one of only 238 companies in the US to reach Inc. 5000 list for eight consecutive years. Taradel was also recently named to the annual RVA 25 list of fastest growing local companies  for the second consecutive year. Jim currently serves  on the advisory board for the Virginia Council of CEOs.

David Ingram, President and CEO
Capital TechSearch, Inc.

David has built, managed and grown Mid-Atlantic and national commercial and federal software sales organizations, and understands all the nuances of being a hiring manager and working with external recruiting firms. He is a native of the Northern Virginia area and currently serves as the board chairman of the Virginia Council of CEOs.

Chris Leone, COO
WebStrategies Inc.

Chris Leone’s passion for business and digital media ultimately led him to join WebStrategies Inc. – the only Google Certified AdWords and Analytics Partner in Virginia. His work in custom web analytics implementation has been featured on numerous web publications, including the Google Analytics blog. He is also a regular columnist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch Business Section.

Mike Meyer, President and CEO
NetSearch Direct

Mike Meyer founded NetSearch Direct in 2006 when he saw a need in the Richmond market for high-quality online marketing services at reasonable rates. A little over five years later, the company was named by Inc. Magazine as one of the 5,000 Fastest-Growing Privately Owned U.S. Companies. Mike is also a published author and has written or contributed to several books on topics that include franchising and SEO.

Keith Middleton, Co-Founder
The Fahrenheit Group

Keith is a seasoned corporate finance executive who helped launch The Fahrenheit Group, a full-service advisory firm that helps organizations overcome business hurdles from financing to staffing. His love for entrepreneurism has helped him grow the company to include Fahrenheit Finance, Fahrenheit Advisors and Fahrenheit HR. He also serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors for the March of Dimes Virginia Chapter and is a member of the Medical College of Virginia Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

Linda Nash, President
Linda Nash Ventures

Linda Nash is an experienced entrepreneur who knows how to identify opportunities and grow a business. She is responsible for starting the the first childcare program exclusively for school-age children in Richmond, creating the Compass School and opening PartnerMD. Today, she runs her own consulting firm and helps startups and small businesses get to the next level.

Bobby Ukrop, President and CEO
Homestyle Foods

From working as a courtesy clerk in high school to leading Ukrop’s Homestyle Foods – the prepared foods and baked goods business born out of the former retail grocery store – Bobby Ukrop has spent over 45 years helping grow his family’s businesses. He is actively involved in the community: He co-founded Sports Backers, was the founding chair of Communities in Schools of Chesterfield and currently chairs the boards of the Greater Richmond Partnership and SwimRVA. He is also on the boards of the Greater Richmond Fit4Kids Foundation, Collegiate School, Salvation Army, and The First Tee of Richmond and Chesterfield.

JJ White, Franchise Owner and Master Trainer
Dale Carnegie Training

JJ joined the Dale Carnegie organization as a franchise owner in 2000. He is a Certified Master Trainer and holds certification in the Sales Effectiveness, Leadership, Team Engagement, Presentation Effectiveness and Process Improvement curricula. His recent accomplishments include induction to the Dale Carnegie 2010 Millennium Group, a collection of the top 20 franchises in the world. JJ is an active member of the Virginia Council of CEOs. He also serves as president of the International Dale Carnegie Franchisee Association.