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The Entrepreneurial Summit

Presented By:

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Hosted By:

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Silver Sponsor:


The Entrepreneurial Summit, hosted by BizTech and WBCNA, is designed to educate, inspire, and engage entrepreneurs. Over 2 days, learn how to transform your idea into reality and then into success. Then learn where to find the funding for your journey.

Over 30 presenters will share their firsthand knowledge about their experience and success in addition to giving expert advice on how to launch your business to the next level. Come for one day, come for both days, come just for the Entrepreneur Awards, or come to just network. Just make sure you come - there is something for everyone.

Entrepreneurial Summit Agenda:

Day 1 – Tuesday, May 3rd - “From Idea, to Reality, to Success”

8:30am - 9:00am  
Registration / Open Networking

The Story: From Zero to $232.5 Million

From mechanical engineer to entrepreneur, Paul Gierow took a leap of faith in 2004 and left an executive position in aerospace to start his own business, GATR Technologies. Since then, a lot has happened for him and GATR: 

  • Listed on Inc's 500/5000 list of the nation's fastest-growing private companies
  • Winner of a Popular Science invention award
  • Named the Chamber’s “Technology Small Business of the Year”
  • Named the Chamber's “Entrepreneur of the Year”
  • Awarded at least 4 patents with others pending
  • Published more than 20 technical papers

Then in December 2015, GATR sold for a reported $232.5 million dollars. Come hear the story of GATR, as told by Dr. Larry T. Lowe, Vice President of Engineering, and what it takes to go from zero to $232.5 million.

I've got an idea. Now what?
Presenter: Bradley Arant Boult Cummings

Moderated By: Frank Caprio


  • Hall Bryant (Corporate/M&A)
  • Jennifer Brinkley (Government Contracts)
  • Stephen Hall (Intellectual Property)
  • Warne Heath (Labor/Employment)

This dynamic session covers a wide cross section of legal questions and issues faced by entrepreneurs, start-ups, and small business owners.

  • Tackling corporate topics: When should you officially form a company, defining the different types of entities (LLC, S corporation, C corporation, etc.), and deciding which entity is right for raising capital.
  • Protecting your intellectual property: Identify the various forms of intellectual property protection, learn the most common intellectual property mistakes, and take proactive steps to maximize the value of your intellectual property.
  • Government Contracting: Examining the entrepreneur considerations in the government contracting field and labor/employment issues that are important to understand.


I've got an idea. Now who?
Presenter: David Kingsbury, BizTech

Do you know the one person you need to focus the majority of your time on for the greatest chance of success?  It's not your engineer, software developer, lawyer, or accountant. It's your customer.  Don't leave the customer out of the conversation until you're ready to make the sale. In this session, learn how to succeed by engaging with your customers as soon as possible and as much as possible.




An Entrepreneur's Journey to the Top

As a forward-thinking and decisive e-commerce leader Dan de Grandpre, co-founder and CEO of DealNews, is known for his ability to foresee and monetize shifts in consumer behavior. In 1997, Dan abandoned his doctoral studies and pioneered the aggregation of “deals” to start up DealNews. Join this lunch session to hear how Dan foresaw the shift to mobile, and how he has propelled DealNews to one of the top e-commerce businesses.  



The Entrepreneurial Showcase

 What does an organic recycler, a chocolate lover, a cybersecurity thought leader, a goat cheese maker, and a university drive sharer have in common?

They are all entrepreneurs. 

They chose not to be common, but to be uncommon;

They sought opportunity and didn’t settle for security;

They took calculated risks to dream and to build;

They preferred the challenges of life to a guaranteed existence;

They preferred the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of Utopia;

They faced the world boldly and said: “This is what it means to be an Entrepreneur.”


  • Roo White, White's Environmental Solutions
  • Caitlin Lyon, Pizzelle's Confections
  • Jamie Miller, Mission Multiplier Consulting
  • Tasia Malakasis, Belle Chevre
  • Terrel Davis, Rideversity




What's it worth?

Presenter: Gary Saliba, Saliba Asset Management

Before you can even think about approaching an investor, you have to know how much your idea or company is worth.   Do you know how to calculate that?  In this session, you will learn how a business is valuated from a subject matter expert who has spent the last 25 years valuing businesses. Our session leader is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), an Enrolled Agent (EA) with the Internal Revenue Service, an Accredited Senior Appraiser (ASA), and also holds a MBA.



Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Studies have shown that entrepreneurs are most successful when they have access to the human, financial and professional resources they need.  This network is described as the entrepreneurship ecosystem. We will hear from seven local support organizations that can help you get started, grow, raise capital, and some other incredible resources – all available right in your own backyard.


  • Larry Lewis, The Entrepreneurial Center (TEC)
  • Antonio Montoya, Rocket Hatch
  • Joanne Randolph, WBCNA
  • Brandon Kruse, Huntsville West
  • Amy Sturdivant, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology
  • Marcia Freeland, Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment
  • Pammie Jimmar, Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County

Firkin Innovation - at Yellowhammer Brewing @Campus 805

Hosted By:

leadership huntsville

Close out the day networking in style at Firkin Innovation, hosted by Leadership Huntsville/Madison County.  Enjoy some Firkin beer, some great conversation with the area’s brightest entrepreneurs and recharge your batteries before Day 2 of the Entrepreneurial Summit. 

Event is open to the public, and cash purchases are encouraged for a wide selection of beverages at Yellowhammer, pizza from Earth and Stone, music provided by Alan Little, and on-site printing of Firkin Innovation t-shirts from Green Pea Press.


 Day 2 – May 4, 2016, Wednesday - “Show Me the Money”

8:00am-9:00am Registration/ Open Networking

Show Me The Money: Four Ways to Raise Early-Stage Capital

Presented By: InCrowd Capital - Phil Shmerling & Eric Grigorian

As an early-stage entrepreneur, raising capital can be the difference between the success or failure of your company.  Many entrepreneurs go into business thinking they can get money from VCs or angels, but in many cases they must get access to early-stage capital through other means.  In this session, you will learn what source of capital is right for your company – Venture Capital, Angel Groups, Angels, Crowdfunding and Bootstrapping will all be discussed.

Funding Your Journey

Entrepreneurs are full of great ideas and powerful ways to implement them, but like anything in life, starting a new business requires money.  Your fantastic business idea won't mean much if you don't have the funding in place to not only make your business happen, but succeed.

There are quite a few different ways that you can go about funding a small business, so in this session you will hear from a banker, a microlender, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), a local angel investment group, and a state pitch competition.

  • Beth Sippel, First Commercial Bank
  • John Thornton, Neighborhood Concepts, Inc.
  • L.D. Ralph, SBA
  • Bob Thurber, Angels of North Alabama (ANA)
  • Mary Hope Garmon, Alabama Launchpad

The Entrepreneurial Awards

Presented By: Alabama Media Group 

Hosted by WBCNA, the inaugural Entrepreneurial Awards will honor the skill and courage it takes for entrepreneurs to create a business out of an idea. We will not only celebrate entrepreneurs, but to highlight their importance to our region’s economy.  Here’s to the risk takers and history makers!

The seven awards are:

  • Entrepreneur of the Year
  • Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year
  • Creative Entrepreneur of the Year
  • Intrapreneur of the Year
  • People’s Choice
  • WBC Entrepreneur of the Year
  • Entrepreneur Champion of the Year

For more information on each award, click here.



Tuesday, May 3, 2016 & Wednesday, May 4, 2016
8:30am - 8:00pm Tuesday
9:00am-1:00pm Wednesday

Campus 805
2620 Clinton Ave
Huntsville, AL 35805


Full Summit - $129 ($139 at-the-door)
Summit & Entrepreneurial Awards (May 4) - $79 ($89 at-the-door)
Entrepreneurial Awards Lunch Only - $50 ($60 at-the-door)
Scholarships available by request
Click here to download a brief WBCNA scholarship application










Cancellation policy: Cancellations must be received no later than 24 hours before the event.  If you are unable to attend and do not cancel by the deadline, you will not be eligible for a refund.
All WBCNA and SBA programs and services are provided to the public on a non-discriminatory basis.
Accommodations will be provided to clients with limited English proficiency when requested at least two weeks in advance.
Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance.
If you have a complaint or EEO-related questions, please contact Joanne Randolph, WBCNA President & CEO, at 256-428-8190.




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