Luminary Lunches

GW Summer Startup Accelerator

Each week, the participants in the GWSSA are invited to attend one or more 1-hour, noon time discussions with a successful entrepreneur. These entrepreneurs typically give a short introduction and history of their entrepreneurial journey, but most of the session is devoted to interactive discussion. The sessions are not recorded so as to encourage an open and free-flowing exchange of ideas.

The Luminaries who spent time with the participants in the 2020 GWSSA were:

Michael Armani 2

Michael Armani
Founder & CEO, M3D

While attending the University of Maryland, Michael led many technology projects, which include patenting a microfluidic cell control system (2002), founding a DARPA Grand Challenge team (2004), an indoor hydroponic light company Edentro (2008), and a solar thermal company CloudSolar (2010). In 2014, he co-founded M3D to make innovative, affordable, and even bleeding-edge offerings in the 3D Printing field. As CEO, Michael has raised over $8M in crowdfunding alone, and led M3D to develop 7 product lines and sell over 100,000 printers worldwide.

Mitch Blaser

Mitch Blaser
CEO, Ironshore Bermuda

Mitch Blaser is an accomplished senior executive with extensive insurance industry experience leading finance, strategic planning, and technology organizations. He is a high energy, strategic and bottom-line oriented executive with a 40+ year track record of delivering innovative, profit-driven solutions.

Mihir Desai

Mihir Desai
Founder and CEO, Dexis Consulting Group

Mihir Desai is founder and CEO of Dexis Consulting Group, a foreign assistance focused consulting firm with active personnel presence in 80 countries. Mihir was a finalist at the Smart CEO awards in the $100+ million annual revenue category and was selected by American Express as a Big Rock Leader in its global firm leader series. As a former World Bank investment officer, Mihir believes passionately in locally-led, principal-centered and commercially-sound social solutions and has personally put his passion to work in over 40 countries.

Greg Gianforte

 

Greg Gianforte
Congressman (R-Mont.)

Greg spent his entire career focusing on creating jobs and opportunities. He founded five different startup companies. He's worked to improve Montana's economy through the "Better Montana Jobs" project. He also launched scholarship programs to help low-income students and veterans pursue the education and training they need to start a career in Montana. After spending 34 years in the private sector, Montanans entrusted Greg to be their voice in Congress.

Ximena Hartsock

Ximena Hartsock
Co-Founder, Phone2Action

Ximena Hartsock is the Co-founder of Phone2Action, a private equity-backed grassroots advocacy and public affairs technology company based in Arlington, Virginia. Prior to founding Phone2Action she was a member of the executive cabinet of former Washington, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty, serving as Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation, and later as the Chief of Staff for the City Administrator.

Shane Kemp

Shane Kemp
Founder & CEO, Vaulted Vinyl

GW grad and former professional baseball player in the Pitssburgh Pirates organization turned entrepreneur. Started Vaulted Vinyl (a D2C brand in the collectibles market) in July 2018 and has experienced strong growth since then with a passionate and loyal customer base. Had the opportunity to participate in the GWSSA in 2019. Skilled in product development, sourcing, branding, and marketing.

Todd Klein

Todd Klein
Partner, Revolution Growth

During his 20-year career, Todd has been involved in financing and building over 150 venture and growth stage companies in the media, consumer, technology, education, and healthcare sectors. He has served on more than 30 corporate boards, including current Revolution Growth companies CAVA, Echo360, Resonate, and TemperPack and is an observer at Optoro and Bedrock Manufacturing. He is also a board member at MyOwnMed and the George Washington University Board of Trustees.

Anirudh Kulkarni

Anirudh Kulkarni
Founder and CEO, CVP

Anirudh founded CVP in 2003 to serve our nation's critical interests in health, citizen safety, and national security through innovative technology-enabled solutions. CVP holds nine Inc. 5000 awards and maintains 100% customer retention. Anirudh serves on the Dean's National Advisory Council at the GW School of Engineering and Applied Science, is an inductee into its Engineering Hall of Fame, an AFCEA Industry Leader of the Year, and a venture partner at NextGen Venture Partners.

Amy Millman

Amy Millman
Co-Founder and President, Springboard Enterprises

Amy Millman is a passionate advocate for women entrepreneurs building Big Businesses Starting Small. In 2000, she co-founded Springboard Enterprises, to accelerate the growth of entrepreneurial companies led by women through access to essential resouces and a global community of experts. During her career in Washington, DC, she serrved as a lobbyist for several industry groups and was appointed as Executive Director of the National Women's Business Council from 1993-2000.

Nate Morris

Nate Morris
Founder and CEO, Rubicon

Nate is the founder of Morris Industries, a Lexington, Kentucky-based conglomerate that is reimagining the industria economy. His passion to solve the environmental threats posed by global waste was pivotal in his founding of Rubicon, a software company focused on waste and recycling, and the signature asset of Morris Industries. A ninth-generation Kentuckian, Nate was born in Lexington, is an Army veteran, and former President of United Auto Workers Local 862.

Andrew Parker

Andrew Parker
CEO, Papa

Andrew has spent his career focusing on healthcare technology and service. In late 2017, Andrew founded Papa, a company that offers "Family On-Demand!" by connecting older adults and families to college students for companionship, assistance, and transportation. He started the company to support his own grndfather, whom he endearingly addressed as "Papa".

Andrew Perlman

Andrew Perlman
Co-Founder and CEO, North Equity

North Equity, a private equity vehicle dedicated to acquiring brands and digital media assets, closed its first acquisition in November of 2018, thanks to the co-founder and CEO, Andrew Perlman. Prior to this, Andrew served as the CEO of XpresSpa, the world's largest airport spa company. He previously held positions running business development and digital licensing at EMI Music Group and Classic Media.

LaJuanna Russell

LaJuanna Russell
Founder/President & CEO, Business Management Associates, Inc.

LaJuanna Russell is driven by her deeply held belief in the tremendous value of the human spirit. She dedicates her energy and passion for business not only to growing her own company but also to reaching out, around, and behind her - to extend a helping hand so that others will succeed.