The Richard M. and Helen DeVos Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation is dedicated to developing best practices in entrepreneurship education and community engagement that enhance and impact the creation of new ventures and opportunities.
Vice President of Global Innovation & Technology – R&D – Ranir
Kim Babusik is Vice President of Global Innovation & Technology - Research & Development at Ranir, who is a global leader in private label and branded consumer oral care products. Kim has 25+ years of R&D, New Product Development, Technical Service, Project Management and Manufacturing experience at several billion dollar plus companies in the consumer and healthcare products industries. She has previously worked for Nice-Pak Inc, Energizer Personal Care, Covidien Healthcare and other major companies. She holds several patents in personal care products and is a Black Belt in Design for Six Sigma. Kim and her husband recently relocated to Grand Rapids where they are really enjoying getting to learn about their new home.
Owner and Founder - Shannon Cohen Inc.
Shannon Cohen is the founder and principal of Shannon Cohen, Inc. She is an award-winning industry leader and sought-after strategist, innovator, and inspirational leader. Shannon has been an active member of philanthropic and community development efforts for the past eighteen years. Shannon is a W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Leadership Network Fellowship alumnus and Encore Innovation Fellow alumnus of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation. She has received several awards for her work and service including the 2018 ‘50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan’ Award from the Grand Rapids Business Journal. Shannon is an adjunct faculty member for the College of Community and Public Service and the School of Public, Nonprofit, and Health Administration at Grand Valley State University. She is passionate about empowering emerging and existing leaders to be transformative in the communities they serve. Most recently, Shannon birthed ‘Tough Skin, Soft Heart’. Tough Skin, Soft Heart is a movement specializing in empowering today’s overextended leader to navigate the emotional, mental, and, physical strain that that often accompanies a life committed to being a difference-maker.
Attorney at Law - Miller Johnson
Erik Daly is a corporate attorney and a member of Miller Johnson’s business section. He has been practicing corporate law since 2007 and focuses his practice on mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, corporate financing, restructurings and securities law matters. Mr. Daly has been recognized by Chambers USA for Corporate/M&A since 2014 and was identified as a “Rising Star” by Michigan Super Lawyers from 2014-2017. Mr. Daly is also recognized by Best Lawyers for Mergers and Acquisitions Law and Securities / Capital Markets Law and was named as Best Lawyers 2020 Grand Rapids Lawyer of the Year for Mergers and Acquisitions Law. He is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, the State Bar of Minnesota, the State Bar of Illinois and the American Bar Association (ABA). In addition to legal practice, Mr. Daly is a member of the Boards of Directors of Special Olympics Michigan, the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum and the Friends of the East Grand Rapids Library.
Managing Director – The Grand Angels Venture Fund II and Fund III
Paul is the Managing Director of the Grand Angels Venture Fund II, Grand Angels Venture Fund III and Trout Creek Ventures. As Managing Director, Paul has been involved in more than 90 venture capital rounds investing over $17 million and syndicating more than $300 million. Paul is also an active angel investor with several angel groups in the Midwest. Paul holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, and a Masters of Business Administration with an emphasis on M&A and analytical decision modeling from The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston. Paul currently serves on the board of directors of Grand Angels, Change Dynamix, Tetra Discovery Partners, CertifID, Ryvit, and Reconstruct Inc. Paul has a strong background in business finance including private equity, venture capital, accounting, information technologies, and statistical modeling. Technology background in financial/IT systems integration, and Monte-Carlo pro-forma analysis.
Assistant Vice President | Business Banking Relationship Manager - Huntington National Bank
Daaron was raised in West Michigan and currently lives in Grandville with his wife and three children. He is a graduate of Jenison High School, Grand Rapids Community College, and also Grand Valley State University. Mr. Fleeger has spent more than 20 years in banking and financial services most recently as a Vice President on Commercial Lender in Huntington Banks Business Banking Group. Daaron is passionate about working with business owners and helping them to achieve their best. Daaron has a well established network in Michigan and aggressively advocates for his client.
Principle at Bush Fischer Mack Forward
With over 20 years’ experience as a strategic leader of sales and operations for Fortune 500 and multi-million dollar corporations, achieving optimal performance and tremendous savings and profits for organizations. With a Bachelor’s degree from Aquinas College and a Master of Business Administration, Wendy hit the ground running. She embarked early in her career by successfully running several businesses, including several of her own. Currently she focuses on ways to give back to West Michigan. She’s an active Angel Investor and sits on several BOD within the community.
President – GVSU’s Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization
Timothy Meyers is a Junior at Grand Valley State University double-majoring in Entrepreneurship and Marketing. He currently serves as President of the Collegiate Entrepreneur's Organization at Grand Valley. Tim has knowledge of collegiate startups from his experiences with founding the Michigan Left Clothing Company, a custom clothing startup, to Off the Dock, where he directed all marketing operations. He currently works within the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Grand Valley where he helps students formulate their entrepreneurial ideas, and help plan events such as Idea Pitch, a shark tank style pitch competition for students, and our National Conference trip.
President and Owner – Olvera Enterprises
Javier Olvera is a graduate of Ferris State University. He is married to Kerry and they have four kids. He delved into entrepreneurship when he and his associates purchased their first supermarket in 2006. He is President and Shareholder of Olvera Enterprises, which consists of Hispanic grocery stores and real estate. With 13 years of business experience, Supermercado Mexico has had multiple nominations for work in the community and in business. In 2013, Supermercado Mexico won the Michigan Top 50 Companies to Watch. Javier is a Board Member for Sister City – Zapopan, Mexico, serving a second term as a board member for the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, is a member of the City of Grand Rapids Sustainability Advisory Committee, and a former board member of the Hispanic Center of West Michigan. He was the 2017 Recipient of FSU’s prestigious Pacesetter Award. In his spare time, Javier likes home brewing beer, trying new restaurants and playing basketball.
Chief Sales Officer - Amway
John Parker is responsible for the company’s global sales strategies and operations. In this role, he oversees distributor incentives and recognition, field leadership development, global training and education and the XS Energy and XS Sports Nutrition categories. Parker serves on Amway’s Global Leadership Team. He also serves on Amway’s Executive Staff comprised of cross-functional executive leaders focused on enhancing company culture, talent capabilities and global market needs. He joined Amway in 1993 as a Distributor Relations Sales Manager and later became Director of Sales for North America. He was later named Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Amway North America and, in 2003, he became Chief Marketing Officer for Amway globally. In 2007, he was named President of Amway Japan. He returned to Ada as Chief Sales Officer in 2013. Parker earned a bachelor’s in business administration with a concentration in finance from the University of Notre Dame.
Partner - Wakestream Ventures
Kim Pasquino is a Partner at Wakestream Ventures, a venture capital firm based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Currently, Kim sits on the board of the Michigan Venture Capital Association. She sits on the boards of the following companies: Shoulder Innovations, Inductive Intelligence and Allie Burke, and is a board observer for Modalyst and Work Truck Solutions. Kim has a background is marketing, sales and business development, and has strong relationship development skills. Prior to her seven years of experience in venture investing, she operated a business she launched and later sold.
Vice President - Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council
Andrew serves as Vice President, Central & Western MI, Marketing & Communication for the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council. The MMSDC is a non-profit organization promoting the economic growth of our corporate members and the minority-owned businesses that serve them. He is a natural visionary who connects well with people. Outstanding negotiation and communication skills with performance driven tendency and able to thrive in fluid and dynamic environments. Skilled at leveraging resources and talent for outcome optimization. Prior to this position, Sims most recently was Director, DWH. DWH is a group of highly accomplished financial and business specialists helping small and mid-size companies in many different industries maximize value, opportunities, and business outcomes. Sims has been a small business owner in multiple companies for over two decades. In addition, he has served as Nation Builder for a multi-state mentoring program, SIMBA Circle, Junior Achievement of Michigan and business coach for several small & med-sized companies. He earned his Bachelor of Administration degree in Accounting from Baker College. Sims is also a graduate of Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth Executive Leadership Program.
Founder & President – VNN
Ryan Vaughn is the founder and President of VNN Inc., the nation's premier high school sports software company. VNN provides comprehensive communication solutions to more than 20% of US high schools, allowing schools to easily engage their communities around sports. Prior to VNN, Ryan founded West Michigan Allstar, Michigan's largest high school sports publication. Ryan holds a MA in Communications from GVSU and a BFA in Creative Writing from WMU.