PHOTO: The James River

Our exceptional team of mentors have started, grown, and sold companies across a range of industries. They provide specialized coaching at every stage in the startup process, helping our members face challenges with confidence and find solutions with ease.

What It Means to be a Mentor


Mentors are at the heart of the Startup Virginia experience, acting as a guiding light during the entrepreneurial journey.

Our mentors come from a wide variety of professional backgrounds, representing an array of industries and offering unique viewpoints. Members are paired with mentors who have the skills and expertise most relevant to their individual business or business challenge.

Because mentors are a vital part of our culture, we hold them to the highest of standards. We select those who have the professional credentials, as well as the time and dedication to devote to our members. They are special individuals with a lot to give and who help drive our members to success.

Startup Virginia Mentor Guidelines

Being a mentor is about much more than simply offering advice. It's about cultivating a deep relationship with someone in order to help them grow as an individual, as well as a business. By taking a vested interest, providing support, and being a steadfast resource throughout the process, you become an invaluable part of our members' journey.

In order to ensure a successful mentor/member relationship at Startup Virginia, below is an outline of our expectations:

  • Allocate at least 3 hours of mentorship office hours each month
  • Come prepared by doing your research and be thoughtful with your questions
  • Serve as a trusted partner who can empathize and offer guidance
  • Share knowledge in confidence and give back without expectations
  • Be intentional, honest and direct with your ideas and feedback
  • Remain professional and respectful of time by not arriving late or running over
  • Take initiative in building the mentor/member relationship
  • Practice active listening and refrain from dominating the conversation
  • Understand that the value of mentorship is not monetary
  • Schedule all meetings and offer feedback after each session using Union, our mentoring platform

In addition to helping our members, there are many benefits of being a mentor. You can stay updated on the latest startups and ideas, gain access to networking and exclusive events, and take pride in the fact that you are contributing to the startup ecosystem in Virginia, driving the success of the next generation of business pioneers.


"Startup Virginia is an exceptional environment. A group of passionate entrepreneurs and thought leaders coming together in concert to make exceptional tools to better the world. Startup Virginia is a catalyst organization fueling the future of the MidAtlantic entrepreneurial ecosystem. I am proud to be a part of it."

– Jeff Palumbo

“Being a Mentor at Startup Virginia is both rewarding and fun!"

— Michael Saxon


“Richmond is an amazing place because of its incredible creative energy.   It is energizing to work with highly-skilled, mission-driven entrepreneurs  who are making a difference by building companies that improve tomorrow.”

— Cliff Fleet

“Being a Startup Virginia mentor has been a very rewarding experience and has given me the opportunity to meet and work with several founders on their successful journey to launch their companies.  It is very exciting to be a part of Startup Virginia in its leadership role in the growing Richmond Entrepreneurial Ecosystem."

— John Kemper

I always feel like I'm getting the better end of the bargain in learning about a startup business from an industry I likely know nothing about. Great learning for me, and fun to share my startup experiences with them!”

— Brad Cummings

“I enjoy working with the variety of startups and am so excited to see the talent and ideas coming out of Richmond! I have been lucky to do what I do and live and Richmond and enjoy sharing my experiences with the growing community here.”

— Mike Lambert

"I have volunteered as a mentor with Startup Virginia since early 2017. I have had several mentors over the course of my own career who have helped me tremendously. They have been generous with their time and selfless as they have invested in my development. Being able to pay that gift forward with many of Richmond's startup CEOs has been a great way for me to invest in the community." 

— Dave Wasik

“I eagerly anticipate my Startup Virginia office hours each month. I leave each session inspired by the inspiration and determination of the founders."

— Scott Ukrop

"Assisting entrepreneurs to achieve their "Big Ideas" brings me full circle on two quotes that impacted me but I believe them too. The first, "Your life is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life"-Steve Jobs and a quote from Reid Hoffman-"An entrepreneur is someone who jumps off a cliff and builds the plane on the way down."

— Rafe Wilkinson

Current Mentors

A Subject Matter Expert offers deep industry or functional expertise and coaching in a specific area (e.g. finance, marketing, sales, strategic planning, technology, etc.)

Entrepreneur Mentors, in addition to being a SME, have been directly involved in founding a startup


Arnold Kim

Entrepreneur Mentor

Kendall Morris

Entrepreneur Mentor

Doug Nunn

Subject Matter Expert

Maria Pahuja

Subject Matter Expert

John Kemper

Entrepreneur Mentor

Tanya Cummings

Entrepreneur Mentor

Dan Morrison

Subject Matter Expert

Scott Ukrop

Subject Matter Expert

William Byrd

Subject Matter Expert

Paul Nolde

Subject Matter Expert

Scott Green

Subject Matter Expert

Rafe Wilkinson

Entrepreneur Mentor

Mike Lambert

Subject Matter Expert

Mike Broggie

Entrepreneur Mentor

John Polk

Subject Matter Expert

Michael Saxon

Subject Matter Expert

Jeff Palumbo

Entrepreneur Mentor

Eric Glymph

Subject Matter Expert

Edwin Huertas

Entrepreneur Mentor

Dave Wasik

Subject Matter Expert

Cliff Fleet

Subject Matter Expert

Charles Valentine

Entrepreneur Mentor

Brad Cummings

Entrepreneur Mentor

Sid Tanu

Subject Matter Expert

Elizabeth Roark

Subject Matter Expert
Chris Forstner, Mentor

Chris Forstner

Subject Matter Expert
Greg Owens, Mentor

Greg Owens

Subject Matter Expert
Jim Woodward, Mentor

Jim Woodward

Subject Matter Expert
Mike McCollum, Mentor

Mike McCollum

Subject Matter Expert
Ned Freeman, Mentor

Ned Freeman

Subject Matter Expert
Scott Walker, Mentor

Scott Walker

Entrepreneur Mentor
Sean Ducharme, Mentor

Sean Ducharme

Subject Matter Expert
Todd Nuckols, Mentor

Todd Nuckols

Entrepreneur Mentor
Tom York, Mentor

Tom York

Subject Matter Expert
Whitney Forstner, Mentor

Whitney Forstner

Entrepreneur Mentor
Earl Cox, Mentor

Earl Cox

Subject Matter Expert
Dan Henderson, Mentor

Dan Henderson

Subject Matter Expert
Christopher Gatewood, Mentor

Chris Gatewood

Entrepreneur Mentor
Mark Rausch - Mentor

Mark Rausch

Entrepreneur Mentor
Dave Maraghy - Mentor

Dave Maraghy

Entrepreneur Mentor
Joe Kunkel - Mentor

Joe Kunkel

Subject Matter Expert
Edward Cook - Mentor

Ed Cook

Subject Matter Expert
Chip Gerstenmaier - Mentor

Chip Gerstenmaier

Subject Matter Expert
Rachel Scott Everett - EVERGIB

Rachel Scott Everett

Subject Matter Expert
Brian Gibson - EVERGIB

Brian Gibson

Subject Matter Expert

James Edge

Entrepreneur Mentor

Jeff Segal

Entrepreneur Mentor

Jeff Keeling

Subject Matter Expert
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Phil Conein

Entrepreneur Mentor