Startup Grind is one of the biggest communities of entrepreneurs. Our mission is to help every entrepreneur in the world. We do so by hosting a monthly recurring event to inspire, educate, and connect entrepreneurs.
DOUGLAS VIGLIOTTI is a writer that didn’t know he was a writer. He’s authored two books, The Gap and The Salesperson Paradox, and one ebook, Pumpernickel & Peanut Butter. He also writes about life, ideas, and music at DVWriter.com and curates a monthly newsletter called Sunday Dinner. He currently lives in New Haven, CT.
We're giving 3 entrepreneurs an opportunity to pitch their idea/startup! The pitch competition is designed to help local entrepreneurs with early-stage companies (or even an idea) to gain exposure and experience when it matters most. The judges will be the audience who will vote live at the end of all three pitches. Each pitch is two minutes followed by a 4 minute Q&A.
5:00 PM Pitch Competition
5:45 PM Fireside Chat w/ Rob Wise
Well, I don’t have a PhD. Nor did I build a multi-million dollar startup. I didn’t go to an Ivy league school, either. In fact, I barely made it through undergrad. It took me six and half years to graduate from Southern Connecticut State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management. I wasn’t a bad student or anything. I just preferred working. Here’s the irony. I actually love …
Well, I don’t have a PhD. Nor did I build a multi-million dollar startup. I didn’t go to an Ivy league school, either. In fact, I barely made it through undergrad. It took me six and half years to graduate from Southern Connecticut State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management. I wasn’t a bad student or anything. I just preferred working. Here’s the irony. I actually love learning. I just didn’t realize it until about 2015.
I’ve worked face to face with customers in pretty much every job I’ve ever had. This ended up teaching me a lot about people. I’ve sold things for the majority of my career. I’ve sold jewelry. I’ve sold payroll, tax filing, and human resource services. I’ve sold financial and banking services. I’ve sold software and web development services. I’ve sold pharmaceutical products and medical devices used in orthopaedic surgeries. I’ve sold for big companies, small companies, and I’ve sold myself.
In 2016, I started a consulting firm to help business owners improve sales performance. This led me to writing my first book, The Salesperson Paradox. It’s basically my take on how to sell. You replace selling with helping. You don’t sell. You help. You solve problems and provide solutions people actually want. Something miraculous happens when you give people what they want. They buy those things. But I’ve since stopped taking new consulting clients. Why?
I fell in love with writing. I fell in love with the process of writing. I fell in love with the pain and agony of writing. I fell in love with the joy and delicacy of writing. The alone time. The wasted time. The thoughtful time. The research time. The time beating myself up, only to end up, right back where I started. I fell in love with being able to express my ideas to world. This presented a strange problem for me. I didn’t identify as a writer. I was sales guy with a sales consulting company who wrote a book about selling.
Industry people kept telling me, “Ah, so you wrote a business-card book.” That’s what they call a book used to aid your business. This left me conflicted. I was like, “No, you don’t understand it’s a good book, too. I promise. It’s well-written. It’s designed impeccably. And I cared for every word, sentence, and concept.” While I still believe all that to be true, the reality was they were also right. It really started to bother me.
At the end of 2017, I decided to double down on the best writing advice I could find—write more. I’m more concerned with finding the emotional vein of whatever I’m trying to say. Always serving intention over technicality. Grammar? That’s what editors are for. I learn something new every day. A process I know will never end, but oddly, I kind of enjoy it. As a lifetime lover of storytelling, my journey has led me to writing my first novel and hopefully I’ll find a home for it soon. But whether it’s 200 or 60,000 words, fiction or nonfiction, honesty is the thread that holds it all together for me.
Dima Ghawi, LLC
Keynote Speaker & Executive Coach
Founder & Keynote Speaker
CEO & Co-founder
CEO & Co-founder
CEO & Co-founder
Through keynote speeches, workshops, executive coaching, and her online global community, Dima shares her unique leadership journey with one goal in mind: motivate and activate those around her to reimagine their potential and grow into leaders.
Dima draws from two decades of corporate experience leading global teams and developing future leaders worldwide. She has worked across the United States, Europe, Asia, Middle East, and Africa for several Fortune 100 companies including IBM, Merrill Lynch, and Intuit. She has honed a keen expertise in developing leaders to meet the demands of the global workforce.
In addition to her global empowerment work, Dima serves on numerous nonprofit boards. She has been recognized for her services with the 2014 President of the United States Bronze Volunteer Service Award, the 2014 Baton Rouge Business Report’s “Forty Under 40” Award, and the 2016 Louisiana State University “Esprit de Femme Award.” She has been featured in numerous publications for her professional and philanthropic work.
Mallory Whitfield is an accomplished New Orleans-based artist, performer, and keynote speaker. Through her signature keynote performance, Towards Together, she is redefining what "normal" means, reimagining how we relate to other people, and guiding us along the path to a kinder, more inclusive world.
She has spoken at numerous conferences and events and worked with organizations like Vanderbilt University's Owen Graduate School of Management, West Texas A&M University, Louisiana Small Business Development Center, Creative Education Foundation, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, Alt Summit, and many more. In 2016, she was named one of Gambit’s 40 Under 40, which salutes the brightest innovators, artists, and professionals in New Orleans.
As Director of Marketing at LookFar, she spearheaded the expansion of the 3rd & 4th annual Ada Lovelace Awards, which honors women in technology from across the Gulf South region. She also curates and publishes LookFar’s Southern Startup Report, a twice-monthly newsletter covering the latest tech startup happenings in the American Southeast.
With over 7 years experience in healthcare industry as an entrepreneur, Vishal has demonstrated the ability to grow healthcare companies from startup to multi-million dollars in revenue in less than 24 months. With a passion for technology and healthcare, Vishal brings a unique perspective to digital health solutions for medical practices.
Prior to Relief, He started an urgent care company, Patient Plus Urgent Care, that grew to 4 locations with over $4.0m in revenue in less than 18 months. This experience give Vishal an advantage on identifying the paint points of a medical practice and building a product to address them.
Prior to Patient Plus Urgent Care, He acquired and tripled revenue of a health services company within 24 months.
Vishal graduated Loyola University – Chicago with a Master’s in Business Administration and the University of New Orleans with an BS in Finance.
Four years ago, Matthew Armstrong and his wife moved into a lower income neighborhood in the city to help build relationships and find practical ways to serve the community. Armstrong, who moved to the Capital Region to help found Antioch Community Church, saw how overgrown lots and blighted properties were not only dragging down property values, but the morale of the neighborhood as well. He began mowing yards around his neighborhood to help and collaborated with Jacob Jolibois, former principal and director of digital at MESH, in early 2018 to see whether they could launch a service. The duo, who met through church, was impressed by the gig economy—the idea they could hire people who needed flexible work hours and still help fix blighted properties. Last September, they decided to pull the trigger and pursue an on-demand lawn care app, where customers could hire mowers from a smartphone. They officially launched the company in January, and in April—exactly 13 months to the day of Armstrong’s initial idea—Block Lawncare cut its first yard.
Chris believes that B2B technology today parallels the early transportation industry in the late 1800's and early 1900's. It wasn't until the creation of the assembly line and the low cost automobile that we as a society could achieve efficient interstate travel and safety. Today there are competing technology platforms and concepts (Early automobiles, Bicycles, horse and buggies) struggling to solve specific processes leaving disjointed and disconnected methodologies of "work". Microsoft's 100% market-share and file stroage structure is also handicapping efficiency and collaboration. Today almost every process ends in a file created, attached, and then "fired over the fence" with email in hopes of receipt and returned action.
In stark contrast, we now see with the creation of Electronic Medical records (a pure data eco system under government mandate) Microsoft has no market share, and the industry now offers doctor/patient portal experiences instead of email, and shared records across providers creating enormous amounts of visibility, security, and efficiency. This concept created the blueprint for the next generation of B2B collaboration: Portals, Data, and a Network!
Omnidek was created to be the second mover to Microsoft Office (Outlook, Word, Excel, Pdf's, SharePoint, Folders, etc) where companies can dynamically create their own Intranet/Extranet Portal for managing their unique processes for any industry, and then allowing customers and vendors to come into their portal and participate in collaborative and secure work processes such as approvals, data collection and secure signatures. We call this #DoWorkTogether.
Omnidek's network architecture (just like facebook) allows for overlapping of relationships to scale to function similarly to social platforms. Rather than a comment on your picture, it's a comment on a payment application or request for signature. To add even more significance, your Omnidek profile serves as your BlockChain wallet and creates a secure and verified "work credit score" sourced from your actual work product we call "Work Tokens". We believe Microsoft was the first mover, but Omnidek is the next. A global business network, built for Blockchain and the future.
Rob Wise is a self-proclaimed entrepreneur since his early days of washing cars, cutting grass, recycling cans, and setting prices or selling items at garage sales. As a boy, Rob enjoyed doing hard work, leaving something better than he found it, and helping people. As an adult, he manages to find the same fulfillment in business by impacting and inspiring those around him at ITinspired where he is the CEO and co-owner.
In seven years, ITinspired has grown to a staff of twenty people and hit several milestones along the way. Notable achievements include ranking 2,584th on the Inc5000 list in 2018 as one of the nation’s fastest-growing companies, Inc.'s Best Places to Work in 2018 and 2019, the 2019 and 2020 Louisiana Growth Leader Award, and LSU's Top 100 Tiger Led Businesses of 2019.
Rob serves on non-profit boards for Junior League of Baton Rouge, Leadership Baton Rouge Alumni, Manfulness Living, and the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge. He's been honored as a member of the LSU L-Club, Baton Rouge Business Report's 2018 Forty Under 40, 2017 Leadership Baton Rouge class, 2019 Leadership Louisiana class, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses graduate & alumni ambassador, and the Young Entrepreneur Academy of BR mentor ambassador.
He enjoys working on his self-development and business leadership skills in programs such as the LED CEO and SEBD Roundtables, Economic Gardening, Leadership Baton Rouge, Leadership Louisiana, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, American Academy of Entrepreneurs Mentor program, and the Louisiana Growth Leader Network. Rob is also a volunteer for Junior Achievement of Greater Baton Rouge & Acadiana, Nepris Inc., and Red Cross.
He is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a bachelor's in ISDS and a minor in Electronic Media. Rob is a former LSU Cheerleader and Mike the Tiger mascot. He met his wife Michelle, a former LSU Tiger Girl, on a bus ride to a collegiate dance and cheer camp in San Marcos, TX. Rob and Michelle are happy parents of two beautiful children and are proud to call Baton Rouge home.