Each founder will have an opportunity to network, learn, and grow by working with our entrepreneurs-in-residence, lead mentors, and subject matter experts.
Ameren Corporation, Edward Jones, and Express Scripts have each named an entrepreneur-in-residence to amplify their sponsorship of this accelerator by providing founders with a single point-of-contact to facilitate possible connections, counsel, and liaison with the corporation.
"As a critical part of our responsibility to Sustainability in our company as well as in our communities, Ameren is committed to building pathways to economic opportunity, particularly in vulnerable communities. Small businesses can provide one of those pathways, but whether they thrive or flounder many times is tied to access to supportive services and capital. We are excited to be a part of the DE&I Accelerator infrastructure, to provide tools that can truly ensure the success of these entrepreneurs. It fills a void to address a population of aspiring business leaders that might otherwise be left behind."
-- Gwen Mizell, VP, Sustainability and Electrification, Ameren Corporation & Former Business Owner
"It is imperative that people of color and minority founders get equal access to capital and opportunities for their businesses. I look forward to coaching and mentoring UMSL Accelerate participants to share and apply the experiences I've had as a leader of digital products, business development, and as an engineer."
-- Zar Toolan, Principal, Digital Products and Programs, Edward Jones
"We believe USML’s Accelerate program can be a powerful catalyst for change to reframe conversations, drive innovation, and create a healthier and more equitable future for underserved and marginalized communities. We’re pleased to continue our partnership with UMSL through this program, especially as we expand our Building Equity & Equality program and continued commitment to supporting communities of color. Overall, we’re optimistic about a future where entrepreneurs are unencumbered to realize their passion and spark positive transformation within St. Louis and beyond."
-- Kwana Cannon, Senior Diversity & Inclusion Advisor, Express Scripts
Throughout the cohort, lead mentors act as accountability coaches and help guide founders to maximize this experience.
Prior to the cohort, we hosted an event during which each founder pitched their business, each mentor shared their experiences, and we facilitated additional opportunities for founders and mentors to get to know one another. Afterward, both founders and mentors ranked their preferences, and we matched up founders and mentors accordingly.
Lead Mentor to DEMIblue Natural Nails
Spielberg brings vast experience in manufacturing, sales engagement, business operations, and business development to his role at Cambridge. As the former CEO of BCI Packaging, Spielberg’s primary focus at Cambridge is on building relationships and connecting opportunities with existing and future customers.
Spielberg is no stranger to the world of business development. During his tenure at BCI, he helped to grow the company in a way that created meaningful work for its employees, both driving growth in the community and increasing revenue. Prior to that, Spielberg provided extensive leadership and strategic planning expertise to companies throughout the St. Louis region.
As a lifelong businessman, he has helped to start and grow multiple companies throughout his career. His success will no doubt continue by helping provide visibility on the factory floor for manufacturers while building bridges for Cambridge Air Solutions.
Mentor to Flipstik
After launching one of the Internet’s first recognized e-commerce stores – PC Flowers – Ron co-founded pioneering Internet fan club experience, UltraStar with rock legend David Bowie. UltraStar clients included the Rolling Stones, Sting/The Police, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Who, AC/DC, Madonna, Tim McGraw, and Mariah Carey to mention just a few. UltraStar also managed all Internet assets and e-commerce for dozens of NFL and MLB teams (including the New York Yankees), MLB Players Association, WTA, NASCAR and all of Minor League Baseball. UltraStar expanded to manage over 45 affinity-based online fan clubs, e-commerce stores, “first-in-line” ticketing and VIP experiences before being sold to LiveNation.
In 2008 Ron created America’s only Rock ‘n Roll wine company - Wines That Rock. Partnering with The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Sting/The Police, The Grateful Dead and KISS, Wines That Rock positioned itself as a fun, lifestyle wine brand that has multi-generational appeal. In 2012 Wines That Rock introduced 2 more lines of wines – Downton Abbey and Fifty Shades of Grey wines – both selling over 100,000 cases that year. That same year WTR added subscription wine clubs to their portfolio and currently operate co-branded clubs and retail distribution with NPR, Turner Classic Movies, Discovery Channel, The Hallmark Channel, Star Trek, ABC’s The Bachelor, WWE, and others. In 2017 Wines That Rock partnered with Virgin Wines for global distribution and is now one of the 10 largest wine club businesses in the U.S.
Ron is also a partner in America’s first and 2nd largest non-alcoholic craft beer venture – WellBeing Brewing Company. In just 3 years – WellBeing is now sold in over 1,800 retail locations and is the #1 non-alcoholic craft category leader on Amazon, Shopify and Google Shopping .
He is an original mentor and advisor at St. Louis-based Stadia Ventures which invests in start-ups focused on sports, e-sports, and e-commerce. Since 2006, Ron has been an adjunct professor at Saint Louis University teaching digital transformation in their MBA program plus a mentor and competition judge at Washington University in St. Louis thorough their Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurship.
Mentor to Heru Urban Farming
Oscar Berryman is a retired corporate executive from the Monsanto/Bayer Corporation. He retired in early 2020 after 38.5 years of service with the company.
Oscar is a 1981 graduate from the University of Missouri – Rolla with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering.
During his career, he held a variety of leadership roles for the company in Agriculture Manufacturing and Corporate Operations with direct responsibility for Ag Manufacturing; Facilities Management; Environmental Safety and Health Services; Global Security; Global Real Estate; and Global Aviation Operations. He provided strategic direction for safe, secure operations driving operational excellence improvements to deliver reliable high quality agriculture products and services.
Oscar is active in the community supporting a number of non-profit organizations. He is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Urban League of Greater St. Louis, a member on the United Way Alexis de Tocqueville Campaign Cabinet and a volunteer for the FIRST International Youth Organization. He recently completed Board of Directors terms for St. Luke’s Hospital and the Better Business Bureau.
Oscar is a native of St. Louis and since retirement, has an opportunity to spend more quality time in the St. Louis area with his family and friends.
Jeff Gamble, PhD
Mentor to Hire Henry
Jeff is is Founder and CTO of Rezilient Health, a Techstars-backed company that has raised $2M to bridge the convenience of telehealth with the broad scope of in-person care by offering neighborhood hubs where families can get virtual access to their doctor, as well as physical exams, labs, and imaging.
The importance of healthcare access and continuity became very apparent to Jeff while growing up a military brat, having lived in 10 different states, some urban and some rural, by the time he finished college. While building his first health-tech company, SnapPEAS, and working in a product development role at a VC-backed human-machine interface company, Neurolutions, Jeff met his Rezilient co-founder, Danish. Watching Danish juggle medical residency and caregiving for his medically-complex father inspired the Rezilient concept, and the two of them haven’t looked back since.
Jeff holds a PhD in biomedical engineering from Washington University in St Louis and his BSE in biomedical engineering from Duke University.
Mentor to St. Louis Assembly Pros
Scott is an Adjunct Professor for Sports and Entertainment Marketing at Webster University. He also serves as a mentor for Stadia Ventures. Previously, he worked at Coca-Cola North America as a Marketing Activation and Partnership Manager. As a member of the region commercialization team, he bridged national brand marketing plans to local execution with regional partners across the NFL, MLB, MLS, and NCAA. He worked for the St. Louis Cardinals in corporate sales and marketing where he managed, sold and executed sponsorships. He enjoyed a multi-disciplined career in college athletics administration at the University of Missouri-Columbia where he also earned his Master’s degree in Public Administration. During his tenure at Mizzou, he led the CHAMPS Life Skills program which was recognized as a Program of Excellence by the D1A Athletic Directors Association. He transitioned from student-athlete services into suite operations and development overseeing the Tiger Scholarship Fund and all premium seating at Memorial Stadium and the Mizzou Arena. Scott owns a diverse collection of experience in marketing, brand execution, project management, organizational design, sponsorships, media relations, and hospitality.
Mentor to The Fattened Caf
Laura Burkemper is a business owner, startup investor, and adjunct professor who serves as a Partner & CEO of CARTEL Strategies, LLC. At CARTEL, we Build Brand Capital by aligning business, brand, and marketing strategies to build brands, raise funds, and scale businesses.
At the core of everything Laura does is a desire to help elevate and connect with people. Her passion is in building brands and companies. She has also held senior leadership roles in corporate strategy, brand, marketing and innovation for three of the world’s largest “start-ups turned grown-ups” including Express Scripts, McDonald’s Corporation and Coca-Cola — elevating organization, people and product performance. Additionally, she held senior-level positions for two privately held global companies GROUP360 Worldwide (marketing services) and HAVI (marketing analytics, packaging and supply chain).
Laura earned her MBA in international business from Saint Louis University, where she is also a Senior Adjunct Professor enjoying her tenth-year teaching graduate courses in “Corporate Innovation”, as well as, “New Venture Feasibility” (think TV’s “Shark Tank”). In 2021, the graduate entrepreneurship program was named 10th in the nation of 2,600+ programs by U.S. News World Report. In June of 2019, Laura was selected to be a visiting instructor at Columbia University in NYC, teaching the graduate course, “Strategy & Analytics – Storytelling with Data.”
Lastly, Laura is an investor in 50+ global startups and serves as a lead mentor for Stadia Ventures and judge for Arch Grants. She serves on the University of Missouri-St. Louis alumni governing and executive boards and has had the pleasure of representing the alumni association giving the commencement speech in both 2015, and, most recently honoring the 2018 class and its’ 100,000th graduate. Laura has been featured in INC Magazine, Shareholder Magazine, The Business Journal, Entrepreneur Quarterly and NPR to name a few. Overall, Laura is dedicated to the growth of individuals, businesses and the entrepreneurial spirit.
Subject Matter Experts
We have grown a deep bench of successful UMSL alumni and community leaders who will meet with founders, share their experiences, and determine if there are opportunities to connect founders with larger networks or advise founders on specific areas of expertise.