It’s no secret that mentors are the driving force behind the success of our program and our startups. Mentors meet with our companies, make referrals & key introductions, invest in, and otherwise contribute their knowledge & expertise to support our teams.  Many do this because they understand the challenges of growing a startup and like to give back.  Some become a mentor because they are interested in retail-tech and enjoy being a part of our growing network. Sometimes it’s a combination of personal and professional reasons, but we’re sure that all of our mentors join RevTech Ventures because they believe in what we’re doing and they know they can make meaningful contributions to an exciting theme within our community.

The RevTech Ventures mentor opportunity is invite only.  Over the last 5 years, we have worked hard to surround ourselves with the right people; key players comprised of successful entrepreneurs, industry insiders, and investors.  Their time is valuable and that’s why our ask of our mentors is small but powerful; at least a couple hours of their time every year in referring, vetting, and mentoring deals.  Sometimes just brief phone call or an email introduction can help an entrepreneur launch a new pilot, close a new client, or raise a funding round.  And while all of our mentors are committed to our ask, a few go above and beyond for us and our teams and we are excited to recognize 10 mentors who go the extra mile by awarding them the title of Sensei!

20160626_174307_resizedFrom the Japanese for “Teacher,”  the Sensei Award is in direct recognition of their contributions to our program and our teams.  Our recipients were announced at the annual RevTech Ventures Kickoff on Sunday.

We are excited to now share with you our first group of Senseis!

Mike Whitaker–  Mike has been with us from day one.  He helped launch our program back in 2012 when we began in Oklahoma as “VentureSpur” and has since helped us transform our program into RevTech Ventures.  A successful entrepreneur and investor, Mike currently serves on our board and has been very active in helping drive the success of many of our companies.  This year, he will be the Lead Mentor for our newest portfolio company Arcade.

Cary Turner–  Formerly a Senior VP & long-time CFO at Pier 1, Cary Turner joined as a mentor in 2015.  Since then, he has used his wealth of experience and industry knowledge to consult with and make valuable connections for our teams. Now the chairman at Hawthorne Turner Investments, Turner now serves on our Advisory Board and is the Lead Mentor for 2016 company Dor Technologies.

Tom Gaunt–  Tom is a serial entrepreneur and is currently the CEO and co-founder of NQuotient. He has been an executive in the software business for over 25 years and has managed exponential growth at early stage companies, such as Macromedia. Tom offices with his team out of the DEC; regularly joining in for many of our events & activities, he is consistently available to lend his expertise to us and our teams.

Mark Clark– A Senior Partner at o2Works, Mark has supported our efforts on all fronts since becoming a mentor. Always making time for a quick meeting or phone call, Mark has been an invaluable asset to our accelerator and teams.  o2Works has also been a sponsor of our program for the last few years- helping to fund all of our events and activities.

Gab Goncalves– An entrepreneur himself,  Gab has a successful track record of starting and exiting technology ventures. PeopleAnswers, his most recent startup, was acquired by Infor after 40 consecutive quarters of revenue growth.  Currently serving on our advisory board, Gab has been a huge asset in helping to vet deals for our program, host workshops and events, and troubleshoot growing pains with our company and teams.

Joel Fontenot – If you need someone who will tell it like it is, you ask Joel.  As a partner with the most active venture fund in Dallas– Trailblazer Capital, Joel has helped fund our program and deals.  He also provides critical feedback from a VC perspective for our startups and has been a key player in helping shape their pitches in preparation for Pitch Day.

David Evans– A recent addition to our RevTech Ventures mentor roster, David is the President of Geode Software.  The company provides technology solutions that solve operational bottlenecks and improve profitability for small to medium businesses.  He is currently an Entrepreneur in Residence with us at the DEC and is the Lead Mentor for 2016 company Xclaim Mobile.

Sascha Jamall- Sascha is currently the VP of Global Sourcing at Michael’s and as led transformative change across E-commerce, traditional Retail and Wholesale supply chains.  Having joined as a mentor in 2015, Sascha has been a valuable resource as an industry insider and has been actively involved in advising 2015 company Everthread.

Steve Dennis– The President of Sageberry Consulting, Steven Dennis is a trusted advisor, thought leader, and has an extensive background in retail including holding high-level positions with Sears & Neiman Marcus.  Steve currently serves on a number of Advisory Boards (including our own!) and has been a valuable contributor to our program by helping us understand current market trends and referring promising startups to our accelerator.  Steve is also the Lead Mentor for 2016 company Find Mine.

Wade Nicolas-A successful entrepreneur and investor, Wade was previously the Co-Founder & President of Enkitec, an IT services firm specializing in the Oracle platform. Wade has been a mentor since 2013, and has used his spare time over the years to meet with our teams over a cup of coffee, lead workshops, and provide valuable advice for our teams in the areas of Goal Setting and Sales.

Please join us in congratulating these 10 individuals as we celebrate their outstanding contributions to our program! You can read more about all of our mentors here!

Photo*  Mentors celebrate at our annual Kickoff Reception.  4 new Senseis pictured (from left to right) Mark Clark, Gab Goncalves, Mike Whitaker & Joel Fontenot