Join us as Startup Grind Lansing brings together regional leaders for a real-time roundtable discussion where no questions are off-limits!
Harrison Leffel-Jones (LEAP) kicks us off with a presentation on opportunities available through the Lansing Regional SmartZone, which provides the support services needed to build high-tech companies and to empower entrepreneurs to build successful technology businesses.
The "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) panel discussion will also include Patrick Gallagher (Co-Founder, CEO of GridPane.com), Tom Stewart (Assistant Director of Venture Acceleration, Spartan Innovations), and Reuben Levinsohn (Washington Avenue Advisors + Ventures), moderated by Julie Holton (mConnexions).
Stick around after the event for a networking and social hour with food and drinks. RSVP Now!
Lansing Regional SmartZone
Assistant Director of Venture Acceleration
Startup Grind Lansing
Harrison Leffel-Jones serves as the Development Director for the Lansing Regional SmartZone. In his role, he focuses on delivering and coordinating services to help businesses grow within and out of the East Lansing Technology Innovation Center (TIC) in coordination with LEAP, the City of East Lansing, the City of Lansing, and the MSU Foundation.
Harrison got his start in economic development as an intern at LEAP in 2015 while he was a student at Michigan State University studying Comparative Cultures and Arabic. After graduating, Harrison went on to work in international trade and global economic development, first working in international freight before going back into economic development.
In his economic development career, Harrison was part of the founding team that opened the Midwest regional office for London & Partners (the Mayor of London's promotional and economic development agency), where his role was to help businesses open and expand operations to London. In addition to his work in the US, Harrison moved to London to support the Mayors International Business Programme, which focused on assisting fast-growing London-based companies in expanding operations to China, India, the EU, and North America through fundraising, corporate innovation programs, and mentorship.
Most recently, Harrison served as Chief of Staff at May Mobility - a Series C, 200+ person company in the autonomous vehicle space based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is incredibly proud to be returning to LEAP and supporting the growth of the Lansing region and the future of the SmartZone.
Tom Stewart is a professional manager and business coach, with primary expertise in organizational design, program design, and operational strategy. Over the last decade, he has provided consultation to hundreds of organizations in a wide range of industries.
Tom is responsible for identifying and evaluating investment opportunities, structuring and negotiating transactions, managing due diligence, and working with portfolio company management teams to execute strategic growth initiatives. Tom’s efforts have resulted in nearly $25M in new client revenues, 500+ new jobs, and over $50M in external funding for his portfolio.
By providing management, tools and resources, Tom helps entrepreneurs make the most of the innovation they already possess – transforming their ideas into profitable, sustainable, and socially responsible organizations.
Tom believes that entrepreneurship is a path to social justice, and should be fostered at all levels of our culture and community. When individuals and organizations realize their full potential and add their unique talents and resources to the market, they enrich both the market itself and the community as a whole.
Tom currently manages portfolio and community relations at Quantum Medical Concepts, a pre-seed fund for medical startups. He also operates Michigan State University's business accelerator, Conquer, in East Lansing. He was the winner of the Lansing Regional Chamber’s 10 Over the Next Ten award in 2010, was named MLive’s “Ones to Watch in 2013,” received the Young Alumni of the Year Award from Michigan State University in October 2015, and was inducted into the 4-H Emerald Clover Society in 2016.
Tom has formerly served Downtown Lansing, Inc., the REO Town Commercial Association, the Capital Area United Way's Young Leader's Society, the Board of Directors for the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Capital Area United Way, and the Lansing Symphony Orchestra.
Reuben Levinsohn has been a business man and entrepreneur since his early twenties. While studying Business Finance at Michigan State University, Reuben bought a national home improvement franchise which he built up from scratch to over 40 employees and one of the largest painting companies in Michigan. While running his business he also began acquiring commercial and residential real estate investment properties.
Understanding the importance of financial planning, and having a very positive experience with his own financial advisor, he sold his franchise and became a financial advisor with the goal of having a positive impact on others.
Reuben provides solutions for businesses in the area of health and ancillary benefits, retirement plans, key person protection, business buy-sell funding, and owner and partner financial strategies.
He is also an investor and co-founder at Blue Owl Coffee in REO Town. His role is focused on brand and location expansion strategy, real estate, and space negotiations.
Another startup he is investor and co-founder at is Lingco. It is an adaptive / individualized, web-based language learning platform, custom tailored for university level language instructors. His role is CFO, handling financials, legal, funding, and putting together additional team members.
Reuben is also an investor and advisor at WiGo trips. WiGo is a platform where anyone can organize and post their dream trips. He advises on financial matters, funding strategies, etc.
Other business ventures include securities trading software company Su2Systems; automotive suspension and air pressure technology company, AKTV8; REO Town Ventures; RAM Properties; and LRS Properties.
When he is not spending time on one of the above ventures he is usually with his family (wife Rachel, daughter Victoria - studying abroad in S. America, son David - freshman at EL Highschool, son Joseph - kindergarten), ultra light backpacking in some crazy place with his fly rod, or flying his single engine plane as a private pilot.
I’m the co-founder and CEO of GridPane.com, a SaaS hosting solution built for serious WordPress professionals. We currently help thousands of people, in over 100 countries, power over 100,000 WordPress websites, in over 50 datacenters all around the globe.
We've raised very little money - just a handful of angel checks - we're funded almost entirely by our customers, all of whom have to come us from outstanding word-of-mouth. We're very small fish in a very big pond... but we regularly piss off all of the whales and sharks.
More importantly than all of that: I'm a father to three amazing daughters, a husband to a brilliant wife, I've constantly got my head in a book, and I can keep a round of golf in a respectable two digit range.
Startup Grind Lansing
As Co-Director of Startup Grind Lansing, Julie connects founders and entrepreneurs to the resources they need to launch and grow. As a consultant and coach, she has worked with a number of startups, helping to secure tens of thousands in funding to expand sales nationally and globally.
Her own path took her from an Emmy award-winning career as an Executive Producer in TV news to small business owner and successful entrepreneur, named one of Lansing’s “10 Over the Next Ten” by the Chamber of Commerce in 2017.
Julie launched her own agency full-time in 2018, growing mConnexions to six figures within six months.
During the Pandemic, she continued to scale her agency while locking arms with other entrepreneurs to help them weather the economic storm. Her Facebook live series, “Expert Connexions” became so popular that it launched as a TV show on the Lansing ABC station, where it aired following Good Morning America every Monday for a full year before going digital in 2022.
You can also catch Julie hosting a podcast for women, called Think Tank of Three, and leading the Legal Marketing Association’s Voices & Strategies digital content hub, as co-editor.