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 and help drive our members to success. Our mentors come from a wide variety of professional backgrounds, representing an array of industries and offering unique viewpoints. Members are connected to 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.

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' journeys.

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 quarter
  • 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
  • If a meeting is scheduled outside of Union, please let us know by sending the name of the participants, the date, and the time of the meeting to: contact@startupvirginia.org 

In addition to helping our members, there are many benefits of being a mentor. You can stay updated on the latest startups and ideas, be invited 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 (SME) 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 an SME, have been directly involved in founding a startup.

William Adams

Amanda Aghdami

Russ Bencks

Zac Blanco

Boz Boschen

William Byrd

Mike Broggie

Doug Carleton

Chiedo III

Phil Conein

Ernie Connon

Ed Cook

Earl Cox

Brad Cummings

Tanya Cummings

Stephen Drake

Sean Ducharme

James Edge

Michael Falcone

Cliff Fleet

Chris Forstner

Whitney Forstner

Ned Freeman

Daniel Fry

Chris Gatewood

Chip Gerstenmaier

Brian Gibson

Eric Glymph

Scott Green

Leslie Griles

Rebecca Gwilt

Kyle Hawke

Jon Heckel

Dan Henderson

Edwin Huertas

Rick Jones

Richard Kannan

Arvinder Kaur

Jeff Keeling

John Kemper

Arnold Kim

Dave Klein

Justin Knight

Jonathan Kuhn

Joe Kunkel

Steve Kyryk

Mike Lambert

Kimmie Lockett

Dave Maraghy

Mike McCollum

Joel Mier

Michael Mitchell

Kendall Morris

Dan Morrison

Paul Nolde

Adam Northup

Todd Nuckols

Doug Nunn

Kristin O'Connor

Marc Oosterhuis

Greg Owens

Maria Pahuja

Jeff Palumbo

Nikhil Parekh

Steve Parker

John Polk

Brian Powers

Mark Rausch

Elizabeth Roark

Michael Saxon

Rachel Scott Everett

Jeff Segal

Jason Seibel

Sid Tanu

Rad Tollett

Charles Valentine

Scott Walker

Dave Wasik

Louise Welch

Andrew White

Rafe Wilkinson

Jim Woodward

Scott Ukrop

Tom York

David Abbey

  Danny Ansell

Gary Armstrong

  M.H. Bartzen

  David Beeghly

Michael Beller

  William Benton

  Kyle Benusa

  Karen Booth Adams

  Bryan Bostic

  Shawn Boyer

  Jon Brew

  Ashley Brooks

  Aaron Bumgarner

   Patrick Carroll

  Anne Chamberlain