ABOUT THIS YEAR'S EVENT
Since 2011 the Entrepreneurs Forum has brought entrepreneurs, business owners and influencers together to network, share ideas and discuss the issues that matter most to business owners. The forum provides numerous opportunities for learning, growth and connection. This year's event will feature world class speakers, quality networking, exhibitors, breakfast buffet and lunch. Our theme is Resilience, defined as the ability to withstand or recover quickly from difficulties. Content will focus on the latest trends in marketing, funding and technology with the goal of providing attendees with the tools to develop and maintain resilience in today's ever changing marketplace.
Full conference registration $97. NEA member discount available with promo code. Parking is free.
2023 Keynote Speaker & Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient
Michael McFall, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of BIGGBY COFFEE
Topic: The Biggby Coffee Story
Michael McFall is the co-founder and co-CEO of BIGGBY COFFEE, the U.S.’ third-largest coffee franchise. Having originally started with BIGGBY in 1996 as a minimum-wage barista, Mike has held just about every role within the company over the last 26 years. Mike has been on a transformational journey from that of a bootstrapping entrepreneur to a leader of a sophisticated organization. The backbone of that transformation has been learning the value and power of authentic relationships within the organization. Two decades later, BIGGBY COFFEE has over 330 stores open across 12 states. Mike is the author of the Inc. Original book, Grind, and the second book in his trilogy series, Grow, will be released this June. Mike lives in Ann Arbor with his wife Elizaveta and four children.
Greg Kelser, Detroit Pistons Broadcaster & Former NBA Player
Topic: How to be a Champion in Business
Greg Kelser, the son of military parents graduated from Michigan State University and along with Earvin “Magic” Johnson captained the Spartans to the 1979 NCAA basketball championship. That same year Gregory was named Academic All-America 1st Team, the first in MSU’s basketball history. He would become the fourth player selected in the 1979 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons and played six years. Gregory has served as a television broadcaster for the Pistons since 1988 and the Big Ten Conference since 1987. This tremendous experience provides the cornerstone for the principles Gregory stresses to help people in their own personal journey. Standing 6’8’’ tall, Gregory’s engaging personality and unique story-telling of lessons learned while ascending to the top as a student, athlete, broadcaster and entrepreneur will certainly inspire and motivate his audiences to ‘think on a higher plane’ and perform like CHAMPIONS...
Conference Kick off Speaker
2022 Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree
Linda Schlesinger - Wagner
After more than 30 years in the apparel industry, Michigan native Linda Schlesinger-Wagner, was inspired to create a brand that filled a void she felt existed in the women's apparel industry. In 2009, skinnytees (TM) started with a single one-size-fits-most silhouette, the seamless camisole. Schlesinger-Wagner didn't stop there and quickly rolled out a complete line of essential styles that helped redefine the smoothwear industry. Through the years, skinnytees has grown, and is now firmly rooted in the belief of offering a product for all women, all sizes, all colors, and all ages.
Prior to the launch of skinnytees, Schlesinger-Wager successfully ran several fashion brands. Through her dedication, skinnytees was named to Corp. Magazine's Economic Bright Spot Award in 2017, Inc. Magazine's 5000 Greatest Entrepreneurs of 2017, MichBusiness's Retail Sensations of 2018, and has made numerous appearances on Good Morning America's Deals & Steals. Schlesinger-Wagner is a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program and the Edward Lowe Foundation. Schlesinger-Wagner is also a longtime advocate for women's and children's charities, actively working with a multitude of nonprofits such as The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, Super Saturday, and the Make-a-Wish Foundation. She has served as a Co-Chair for Jewish Vocational Services: Women to Work Program since 2017.
Topic: The Secret to My Success
*Conference attendees will receive a complimentary skinnytee in their conference tote bags. One per guest and limited to the first 200 guests.
Register Now and You'll Be Entered into Our Grand Drawing to Win a Brand New
Dell Computer and Other Cool Prizes!!!!!!
The Resilient Entrepreneur Panel Discussion: 5 Ways to Bounce Back from a Set Back
Panelists: Angela T. Moore, Lisa Howze, Monica Morgan, Lydia Michael, Kim Boudreau Smith
Summary: Resilience has been identified as one of the neccessary character traits of a successful entrepreneur. Leading entrepreneurs discuss their biggest challenges and the strategies they used to overcome them. You'll walk away inspired to move past your challenges and strengthen your resilience.
Key Take Aways:
An in depth understanding of resilience in entrepreneurship
The ability to reframe failure and refocus on success.
Effective strategies to build your resilience.
Panel: The Best Small Business Funding Sources in 2023
Speakers: Michael Wynn, Tina Williams, Meghan Storey, Latifa Bradwell
Summary: A panel of financial professionals discuss a variety of funding sources for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Key Take Aways:
How to identify funding opportunities
How to prepare your business for funding
The latest in small business grants
Think BIG: How to Work with Corporations
Speaker: Natasha Lee, Visionary, Business Consultant, CEO of MYDCT Corp and That Girl
Summary: Long time entrepreneur Natasha Lee discusses how she obtained partnerships with some of the largest organizations in the country including Wix, Detroit Pistons, Brainz Magazine and more.
Key Take Aways:
Learn why corporations want to work with you (entrepreneurs)
Discover who to contact and how to apply for opportunuties
Learn how to create your own opportunities
The Secret Power of Mentoring
Speaker: Latonya Garth, Motivational Speaker and Founder of Imagine Mentoring
Summary: You'll learn how receiving mentoring from the right professional can shorten your learning curve, improve confidence and increase business exponentially.
Key Take Aways:
An understanding of what mentoring is and is not.
How mentoring can improve your chances for success.
How to find the right mentor for you.
How Artificial Intelligence will Change the Future of Entrepreneurship
Speaker: Nick Mattar, MBA, Founder and CEO of Digital Detroit
Summary: Artificial Intelligence is changing the way entrepreneurs do business in HUGE ways from automating routine tasks to creating content to supply chain management. You'll learn the latest developments in this technology.
Key Take Aways:
Learn the advantages and disadvantage of using AI.
Discover how the business world is being impacted now and in the future.
Obtain resources to expand your use and knowledge of AI.
Overcoming the 3 Biggest Challenges Women Entrepreneurs Face
Speaker: Bernadette Johnson, Melissa Wilson, Deondra Parks
Summary: Women start almost 50% of new businesses in the US yet women earn less revenue. This discussion will focus on the biggest challenges female founders face and provide solutions.
Key Take Aways:
Funding opportunities for female founders.
The ability to prioritize and balance effectively.
Strategies to address imposter syndrome.
Do It Yourself Video Marketing to Enhance Your Business
Speaker: Van Allen, Founder of Van Allen Video and Audio Productions
Summary: This session will focus on how entrepreneurs can create professional looking video content easily and effectively at little to no cost. Bring your smart phone.
Key Take Aways:
Benefits of using video marketing.
3 ways to use video marketing to grow your business.
How to produce your own video.
Going Viral: How to take your Social Media to New Heights with Tik Tok
Speaker: Jack and Josh Youngblood, Founders of Youngblood Media
Summary: Tik Tok has become a global phenomenon that has allowed professionals from various industries to gain greater exposure and reach their target audiences. Find out if Tik Tok is for you.
Key Take Aways:
A greater understanding of Tik Tok and its uses.
How brands leverage Tik Tok for business.
How you can use Tik Tok to market your business.
Optimize Your Website for Success
Speaker: Britti Abiolu, Founder and CEO of Venture Hue
Summary: Are you getting the most out of your website? Learn easy ways to customize your website to your audience so that you stand out, increase traffic and convert more leads.
Key Take Aways:
Getting the most out of your design.
The importance of a strong navigation strategy
Creating content that connects with your customers.
ZaLonya Allen, PhD
President/CEO of National Entrepreneurs Association
Dr. ZaLonya Allen is President/CEO of the National Entrepreneurs Association, a 501c3 non-profit corporation created to empower entrepreneurs to grow and sustain successful businesses through monthly networking events, training conferences and educational programs. In partnership with Comerica Bank and Dell Technologies, NEA offers the only national entrepreneur certification program of its kind led by experienced entrepreneurs and college professors. As a speaker/trainer Dr. Allen has delivered hundreds of presentations for organizations throughout the country with a focus on leadership and entrepreneurial development. Dr. Allen is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Wayne State University and North Central University. She holds degrees in industrial relations, sociology and two degrees in psychology. She has served on numerous boards and committees. Her goal is to help entrepreneurs achieve economic empowerment and longevity. To learn more visit zalonya.com.
CONFIRMED SPEAKERS & BIOS
Nick Mattar, MBA
Faculty at WSU School of Business & Founder/CEO of Digital Detroit
Nick Mattar is active in Michigan's digital marketing community, wearing many hats and constantly working to stay on top of new trends. He teaches digital marketing at multiple colleges and universities, including Wayne State’s Mike Ilitch School of Business in Detroit. Additionally, he is the founder and CEO of Digital Detroit, working with businesses to upskill their marketing teams and consult on all things digital marketing. Nick published his first textbook, Content Marketing Strategies: Planning, Creating, and Distributing Content in 2021 and is currently writing his second textbook, Digital Marketing: A Practical Approach, to be released in 2024. Recently, Nick has taken an interest in generative AI programs and websites, using them to save time and resources for his own small business. He has tested and used more than 100 AI programs since the start of 2023 but still believes he has barely scratched the surface of this budding new industry.
Angela T. Moore, B.A., M.A., LLPC, NCC
NASM Master Trainer & President of The Body Principle
Angela T. Moore is a business owner, integrative health expert, keynote speaker, wellness blog contributor, fitness and health presenter and radio show host. For over three decades, Angela has provided wellness education and programming to individuals, companies, and organizations. She is the Founder and Owner of The Body Principle, an integrative health organization that provides fitness programming, mental health and nutrition counseling, and empowerment coaching in-person and on-line. Angela is also the creator of the Propel℠ Youth Empowerment Program designed to improve the self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-efficacy of youth. Her radio show Empowered on 910 AM Superstation inspires individuals to live an Empowered Life a life of mental, nutritional, and physical wellbeing. During the weekly live broadcast, she interviews medical and mental health professionals, experts in wellness and prevention, advocates and activists, educators and motivators to help people live an Empowered Life.
Author, Speaker, CPA, and Professional Strategist
Lisa Howze is an author, speaker, CPA, and professional strategist, who has positioned herself well as a venerable leader and ambassador for the accounting profession. As the founder and CEO of The Lisa Howze Experience, LLC – a professional development and educational consulting firm, Lisa is committed to helping career professionals and students bounce back from setbacks using time-tested principles and proven strategies that produce next-level results.
While she has received many accolades including Outstanding CPA in Government, Woman to Watch – Experienced Leader, and Notable Woman in Education Leadership awards, Lisa is no stranger to struggle. Thrust into adversity at birth, she could have easily been written off as a mistake. However, Lisa’s incredible journey is proof that “Everything happens for a reason!” Therefore, in her flagship book, Candy Girl Mentality, Lisa compels readers to live life on purpose while illustrating the importance of investing in themselves, taking calculated risks, and exercising patience and forgiveness to achieve remarkable success.
Motivational Speaker and Founder of Imagine Mentoring
Latonya Garth is a visionary, who is dedicated to helping people become the best versions of themselves. She holds two degrees from Michigan State University, and has compiled a long list of notable achievements. Through IMAGINE Mentoring, she empowers young people (girls) to make better decisions and find their voice. As a motivational speaker, she ignites the hearts and minds of audiences from all walks of life. As an author, she uses the power of perspective to guide her readers from pain and struggle to power and victory. As a multifaceted entrepreneur, Latonya makes dollars make sense, not only for herself, but for the communities in which she does business.
Visionary, Business Consultant, CEO of MYDCT Corp and That Girl
Natasha Lee is a Visionary, Business Consultant, CEO of MYDCT Corp, Co-Founder of Rohn's Community Development Corporation, Founder of Being That Girl and Lead Representation and Ambassadors for corporations globally. Natasha has taken the business world by storm. She has been featured on such prominent media outlets such as: ABC, NBC, CBC, FOX News, Detroit News, Women Essence Magazine, Detroit CEO, Lives in the D, The Female Magazine, Michigan Chronicle, Michigan Citizen and Crain's Detroit. Natasha attended Lawrence Technological University where she pursued a career in Computer Engineering with a minor in Business. She started Make Your Dreams Come True (MYDCT Corp) as a BPO firm in 2006, at 23 and during a recession, after working in corporate America for nearly ten years, becoming the youngest and only African American woman to own a Call Center based industry in Michigan. Natasha makes business dreams a reality from conception to reality!
Founder of Pathway X Events
Melissa is a professional event planner, founding and operating Pathway X Events, focusing on training and speaking to construction companies about creating sustainable, hands-on, inspiring events to encourage a younger workforce to join the industry after high school graduation. She speaks about the importance of showcasing high-need industries to youth through more intimate and experiential events as well as to female entrepreneurs, finding alignment with your desires to resolve an issue and how to run a business. Her podcast, Event Planning: Unmasked! encourages inexperienced event planners to explore the industry with joy and flexibility. She interviews established event business owners and event planners who share their unique career paths and how they hire. Launching in June 2023, she will simultaneously release a course and mastermind class series on event planning with Pathway X Events.
Founder and CEO of Venture Hue
Brittni Abiolu is a serial entrepreneur, investor, and Founder & CEO of VentureHue, a tech-enabled resource center that specializes in helping startups and small businesses get more customers, capital, and build wealth. Founded in 2013, the company’s mission is to help businesses scale and increase their valuation by getting more funding and leads that turn into sales on a regular basis. Brittni has 16 years of experience helping aspiring entrepreneurs start new businesses, obtain capital, acquire new customers, and get connected to the resources they need to grow and thrive. She has a Bachelor of Science in Computer & Information Systems from the University of Detroit Mercy and a Master of Entrepreneurial Transactions from Central Michigan University. She also has certificates in SEO, social media management, business plan writing, business loan packaging, and credit building as well as a life insurance agent license in Michigan.
Owner of Blended Collective, Speaker & Author of Brand Love
Lydia Michael is an entrepreneur, speaker, consultant, and author. She works with companies and organizations to develop inclusive brands and marketing strategies. Lydia is the founder and owner of Blended Collective, a multicultural marketing and brand consultancy. Her work has been recognized with several diversity and marketing-centered awards. Her first book Brand Love – Building Strong Consumer-Brand Connections is now available for pre-order and available in July 2023. In this book, Lydia breaks down the process of building emotionally strong, long-lasting consumer-brand relationships. Offering insight into the use of emotional and rational drivers, she introduces a "brand love" model designed to inspire brand loyalty and advocacy. For more please visit www.blendedcollective.com.
President and CEO of The RFC Group
As President and CEO of The RFC Group, excellent administrative support outsourcing is what Deondra Parks delivers best. Deondra Parks has serviced many of the largest Fortune 500 companies in the capacity of executive administrative support. With thirty plus years of experience, her extensive knowledge and hands-on experience are fundamental in outsourcing exceptional support personnel and resources. A proud native of Detroit, Michigan, Deondra developed a strong interest in clerical office support during her adolescent years. She has been successful in rebuilding her first love of staffing, and has now become an excellent staffing resource in the community.
Van Allen is a lifelong entrepreneur. He began his career in investing over 25 years ago. His primary investments include real estate and blue chip stocks as well as numerous entrepreneurial ventures. He is an award winning motivational speaker and former cable talk show host. He has received numerous speaking awards including first place in the District 28 World Championship of Public Speaking Contest for Toastmasters International. His signature presentation “Are You a Winner” encourages audiences to step out of their comfort zone to reach their true potential. He attended Henry Ford Community College and Wayne State University. He is a Master NLP Practitioner and founder of Van Allen Productions which specializes in video & audio projects.
Founder of Van Allen Video & Audio Productions
Jack and Josh Youngblood
Founders of Youngblood Media
Jack and Josh are two brothers who have been exceptionally close throughout their lives. But, for most of that time, they were also on two very different life paths. Jack pursued a career in basketball, while Josh wanted to work in the field of physics. Plans have a habit of changing, however. Jack soon realized that content creation interested him more than the college and professional world of basketball. Josh, after spending some time in college, realized that he belonged more in the marketing world than the engineering world. In 2022, Jack and Josh decided to combine their skills and interests and started Youngblood Media. Currently, Jack is 21 years old and Josh is 18 years old. They offer social media marketing services for companies looking to expand their online presence and gather more customers through social media. Some of the platforms they offer services for are TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. In addition, they have a podcast called The YoungbloodSquared Podcast where they delve into various topics.
For over three decades, Monica Morgan has been Living Life Though The Lens of a Camera as an International Photojournalist traveling the world, documenting historical events, icons and celebrities such as Prince Charles, Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali, Aretha Franklin, Prince, Sophia Loren, Barack Obama, Muammar Ghadhaffi, Rosa Parks, Shirley Chisolm, Thurgood Marshall, Bishop TuTu… and now she’s also speaking about it, motivating and sharing lessons learned. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Morgan earned her communications degree from Wayne State University, where she had a full academic scholarship. During her college years she interned with both WDIV and WQBH.
Speaker, Author and Leadership Strategist
Bernadette Johnson is recognized nationally and internationally for transforming and leveraging the way leaders lead and how they learn. In her practice, Inspired Action Motivates, she helps organizations to leverage their return on leadership. Bernadette successfully partners across numerous industries, (for profit, for purpose, chambers, and associations), guiding leaders to anchor transition, stimulate innovation and to be a catalyst for breakthrough and sustainable results. Bernadette is the founder of the LinkedIn group LEADing from the MIDDLE, author of Waves of Influence: Your Expanded Guide and Insight to Your Highest Self, as well the upcoming book, Waves of Leadership: An Inspiration for Those Leading from the Middle.
Speaker, Author and Habit Success Strategist
Michael Wynn is a habit success strategist, author, and speaker, with a background that includes experiences in financial auditing, business compliance, and grant monitoring. His inspiration led him to get certified as an authenticity coach, financial literacy trainer, fraud examiner, and recently a NEA Certified Entrepreneur to empower individuals to be accountable and consistent with habits. He is the founder and CEO of Wynngate Associates, LLC and Coach Win, LLC, where he teaches, consults, and trains both individuals and business teams on financial literacy and professional development. Michael learned how to overcome many obstacles by using a “Habit Matrix” in which he shares with many to identify positive habits, energy, health, and wealth management for long-lasting stability and pathways to financial freedom. This also uniquely qualified him to write two bestselling books “Habits Don’t Lie” and “The Habit Effect” that provides creative solutions on winning.
Kim Boudreau Smith
Speaker and Coach
Kim Boudreau Smith is passionate about helping high-achieving leaders to speak up and influence (and use!) their bold voices. A born entrepreneur with 25 years as a leader in Corporate America, Kim rocks at showing female entrepreneurs and high-performing professional executives how to develop their confidence and level up their executive presence in high-stakes conversations, presentations, and leading teams, to increase their profitability and visibility. Kim’s raw, slightly rebellious, and always riveting speaking style makes her a go-to speaker for business and professional conferences, associations, employee resource groups, and podcasts. Prior to launching her career as a professional speaker, and leadership coach, Kim was the first woman to pioneer an internet radio station and, for 25+ years, ran a thriving fitness business. Kim is also the co-author of several Amazon bestselling books.
Founder and CEO of QT Business SolutionsSpeaker and Coach
Tina Williams, BAA, MBA, is the Founder & COO of QT Business Solutions. She is a former Banker with Chase and Fifth Third Banks. She is also a Board Certified Master Financial Professional and Chartered Asset Manager. She started the business while working full time at Chase Bank. During her time at the bank she noticed that the majority of entrepreneurs and small business owners who applied for financing were unprepared. They had no business plans and many of them didn’t fully understand the banks’ approval criteria for business financing. This resulted in many of them being denied for business financing. This is how she came up with the idea to start QT Business Solutions, created to help entrepreneurs and small business owners properly prepare for business financing.
Michigan Director of Small Business Banking, SVP at Comerica Bank
Meghan Storey is the Michigan Director of Small Business Banking, SVP at Comerica Bank. Meghan is responsible for building out and leading the Small Business Banking team in Michigan. Meghan is an accomplished leader, with more than 20 years of Small Business and Business Banking experience in the local Michigan market. Meghan held senior roles at Fifth Third Bank and RBS Citizens Bank, serving as a Business Banking Market Manager, Business Banking Regional Sales Manager, and as a Sr. Relationship Manager.
For the past seven years, Meghan has volunteered as a mentor for at-risk high school students, with Women of Tomorrow Mentor and Scholarship Program. Meghan enjoys giving back to her community by volunteering with; Forgotten Harvest, and Gleaners Food Bank, by raising awareness for those affected by food insecurity throughout Southeastern MI. Previously Meghan has been a panelist for various financial literacy programs. Additionally, Meghan is passionate about supporting and serving small businesses within the region, encouraging others to ‘shop small by shopping local’. Meghan is based in Downtown Detroit.
Lender Relations Specialist, SBA Michigan District Office
Latifa joined the SBA Michigan District Office’s Lender Relations team in 2015. Latifa educates and inform the lending and small business community of SBA’s lending products and services. She also serves as the liaison for the district’s SCORE chapters and is the program manager for the district’s microlenders. Latifa has over 20 years of experience in the economic development environment. Prior to joining the SBA, Latifa held positions as the Deputy Director of the Tejara Global Business Development Center, a business incubator and accelerator in Dearborn, MI and as a Senior Business and Growth Consultant for the Michigan Small Business Development Center, a national program funded by the SBA. Latifa earned an MBA from Eastern Michigan University and a BS in Accounting from Wayne State University.
Venue: Hollywood Casino Hotel at Greektown
Address:1200 Saint Antoine Street, Detroit, MI 48226
With a beautiful skyline and river view, this is the perfect venue for an entrepreneur conference.
Stunning Guest Rooms
Fitness Center with Gym
Bar / Lounge
CONNECT WITH OUR EXHIBITORS AND VENDORS
Pictures from previous NEA conferences.
2023 Exhibitors Include:
Comerica Bank: Financial Services
Eye Candy Eyewear: Eyewear
Fathers Justice Law PLLC: Legal Services
National Entrepreneurs Association: Non-Profit
Real Living Kee Realty: Real Estate
Rebel Nell: Mission Driven Jewlery Company
YTI Office Express: Office Supplies
QT Business Solutions: Grant Writing
Virtual Real Estate Services: Real Estate
Walsh College: Education
Coach Win, LLC: Self Help
The Moulden Allstate Agency: Insurance
Attention entrepreneurs and professionals! Don't miss the opportunity to connect with our amazing exhibitors and vendors, representing a variety industries with awesome products and services. Some are experts that provide services to support your business while others are entrepreneurs that you can support in their professional growth and development. Make sure you visit them in the main hall outside of the Grand Ballroom.