Finding good mentors is essential and can greatly increase your startup’s chances for success. TechFarms’ highly experienced team of mentors can help you determine if your ideas have value, and if so, help you and your team formulate and execute your business plan. Our mentors will share their knowledge and experience, assisting you as you strive to build a successful business.
Steve Millaway is TechFarms’ founder and CEO. He graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Electrical Engineering and started his career in Arizona as a semiconductor “chip” designer for Burr-Brown Corporation. In 1994 he founded Gain Technology Corporation, a semiconductor design firm that developed the USB 2.0 chip. The product was licensed to Intel and others and has since been used in over 500 million PCs and peripherals worldwide. In 1996 he formed Gain Communications Inc., an Internet service provider that designed and deployed the nation’s first broadband wireless Internet service – a service that eventually became known as Wi-Fi. In 2007, Mr. Millaway returned to his hometown in Panama City, Florida where he now helps other entrepreneurs pursue their startup dreams. He serves on various corporate boards a well as the District Board of Trustees at Gulf Coast State College. Most recently, he has launched and angel fund called TechFarms Capital that will invest in startups in Florida, Alabama and Georgia.
Laura Nelson is founder and owner of A-List Accounting. She has two wonderful children. She has a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University and an MBA from Florida Institute of Technology. She enjoys helping others and learning new things. A-List Accounting serves the accounting needs of small businesses located in and around Panama City Beach, FL and the surrounding Panhandle cities in Florida. She takes pride in creating a customized accounting solution for each client, based on their individual needs. Laura offers bookkeeping, payroll, tax return preparation services, QuickBooks consulting and training, and Xero consulting and training.
Dr. Len Eichler has a Master’s Degree in Business and a Doctorate in Higher Education Administration with a concentration in entrepreneurship. He started one of the first Angel networks in the Midwest and has worked with many companies in the high-tech industry, assisting them with business development and startup financing. Dr. Eichler has experience in strategic planning, product distribution and financial projections as a certified business growth consultant. He works with the Panama City, FL SBDC and VBOC to grow small businesses in the area.
Dr. Stephen Dunnivant is currently the Dean of Business, Industry, and Technology at Tallahassee Community College. Recently, he played a lead role in the planning, launch, and operation of Gulf Coast State College’s $35M Advanced Technology Center. Originally from Upstate New York, Dr. Dunnivant has been a resident of the Florida panhandle for almost 40 years. He has presented at numerous national conferences on education and entrepreneurship, and is the creator of the nation’s first “pledge model” Fab Lab for entrepreneurs. He serves on the board of the National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers and is a member of the Association of University Technology Members (AUTM) and USA FabLab Network. He is also co-author of “Technology for Teachers: Mastering New Media and Portfolio Development,” published in 2005.
Dr. Emmanuel Hernández is an Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at Gulf Coast State College. He works with students in the entrepreneurial program to build businesses while pursuing their education, giving them both the knowledge and experience for career advancements. Prior to his position at Gulf Coast, he was the Associate Dean at Ana G. Mendez University. Dr. Hernandez is the founder of Mindhatch Ventures, a virtual accelerator entrepreneurs and startup enterprises.
Tony Lopez-Baquero created and runs Florida’s first Unmanned Vehicle Systems A.S. degree program at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City, where he is also Program Coordinator/Assistant Professor. A retired U.S. Army Engineer Diving Supervisor, Tony has a BS in Law Enforcement Intelligence From FSU and a MPS in Geospatial Intelligence from Penn State University. He has earned two professional certifications; Geographic Information Systems Professional (GISP) from the Geographic Information Systems Certification Institute and Geospatial Intelligence Professional (GEOINT) from the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation. After his time with the military, Tony served as a Regional Director for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University before taking on his current position at Gulf Coast State College.
Rick Hurst is the founder and CEO of Hive Technologies. Before his success with Hive, he was the lead Product Manager / Software Engineer for the recently acquired medical tech company iSirona. He has more than 10 years of development experience in the full software / hardware development and a background in cyber-security and cognitive ergonomics. Hurst also works at Florida State University as a Computer Science instructor. He has the experience to show his students how classroom knowledge can help them pursue business technology.
David Steere is former Commanding Officer of the Naval Support Activity. He has more than forty years experience in research, operation, design, and program management of high tech naval systems. He attended Carnegie Melon University and Duke University to study Business Management. Mr. Steere has ten years experience in business management as founder of Bay County Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE). He is also president and CEO of Allison Campbell, Inc.
Hank Picken is president, founder and CEO of Beaumont Products in Kennesaw, GA, a maker of various eco-friendly consumer products: Citrus Magic, Clearly Natural, and Veggie Wash. Mr. Picken earned a MBA in Marketing & Finance at Dartmouth College and afterwards served as Infantry Captain in the US Army in Vietnam. He has held various senior executive positions at companies such as Pfizer, Lever Brothers and Colgate-Palmolive, and is a non-practicing CPA. Mr. Picken serves on various boards and has 50 years’ experience in management, marketing, finance, and accounting, including international, small business, turnaround and acquisitions.