Mentors: BUSINESS DEVELOPMENTSALES

Paul Cassimus

Paul Cassimus

Summary of Qualifications Paul is the local River City King with King of Pops. Armed with just a cart and some handcrafted ice-pops, he started slinging pops to the good people in Richmond in 2012. Since then, the business has grown to 10 carts, 3 full-time employees and 25+ part timers in the summer. Paul’s unique perspective comes from having done every job within the business possible; from making pops, to selling on the sidewalks, to accounting, training employees, social media, marketing and advertising… he’s done it all and he sees how everything works together to achieve his business goals. Having a business that relies heavily on customer service and interaction, he began to see the close relationship marketing has with management. He understands how to fully exploit both to create a fun, awesome culture for his employees to then create the fun vibe King of Pops is known for. Paul once said “numbers kick ass” which could be an odd thing for a person who self-proclaims that he “isn’t a numbers guy.” It was in reference to how his business shifted dramatically and positively once he started managing his business according “buzz-word” things like Key Performance Indicators or metrics. Paul says it is the “least sexy” part of a business, but it is the “most important” part if you want to be successful and not “work insane hours the rest of your life.” Also a former teacher, he’s seen countless lessons he learned teaching students overlap “almost identically” with challenges he’s seen in the business world with managing employees, customers, and himself in the workplace. Random achievement: He once...
Sydney Lester

Sydney Lester

Summary of Qualifications Sydney Lester is a personal stylist with over eight years in the fashion industry. She is the founder of Chic Stripes, a popular blog and business. In 2009, Sydney launched Chic Stripes, her personal style blog that focused on creating individualized style by shopping second hand first. She parlayed her blog into a successful personal styling business where she now works one-on-one with clients and focuses on giving women confidence through their wardrobes and teaching them how to create a timeless, personalized style and sustainable wardrobe that work for them, not against them. Sydney has been featured on numerous television segments, worked with local and national brands, was named Richmond’s Top Fashion Blogger in 2015 by Richmond Magazine, and continues to be the area’s go-to style expert. Sydney is a graduate of the Los Angeles-based School of Style, holds dual masters degrees in Social Work and Christian Education, and currently lives in Richmond with her husband and three cats. Want to meet with this mentor? Talk with your Lead...
Rebecca Thomas

Rebecca Thomas

Summary of Qualifications Rebecca is a veteran entrepreneur with experience in real estate, retail and most recently, restaurants. She is the founder of kybecca, a 150 seat restaurant and was a partner in a real estate firm. Rebecca opened kybecca in 2005 as a small retailer focusing on small production wine and beer. Over the years that expanded into a wine bar, and then a small restaurant. Today, kybecca is 150 seat restaurant with a craft cocktail bar. Through these various incarnations and receiving mentorship of her own, the concept continues to grow and evolve to meet the needs of her clientele and fill a distinctive niche in the market. Restaurants, in particular, are challenging due to the volume of moving parts and decisions that each affect the bottom line. Her experience in building the business from the ground up, sustaining it and evolving it to meet a changing marketplace has enabled her to understand how important it is to set your enterprise up correctly. Structure sets success. She can provide mentorship in all aspects of understanding your business: each component, how they work together and where to focus your efforts to ensure profitability and steady growth. While not a specialist in marketing, working with Rebecca can improve your marketing efforts. Often businesses aren’t sure where profitability lies within their offerings. Narrowing what the customer wants and how to tell them about it has the result of quickly improving the bottom line. Rebecca has developed real estate for specific use both in residential and commercial, worked with cities to secure incentives, scouted locations, created a concept and brought it to...
Robin Green

Robin Green

Summary of Qualifications Robin Green is the owner of Ascend Performance, Inc., an authorized Sandler Training Center. He has led high-performing sales team across multiple industries for more than 20 years. Robin believes that salespeople are not born but made. Regardless of personality or experience, business owners and entrepreneurs need not fear sales activities. Through a systematic approach, any motivated professional can master the science of selling in an authentic, dignified way. Before starting his own company, Robin had a long and successful career with Pfizer. In 2013, he served as the Sales Director at Royall & Company, where new sales grew by 94% during his 3-year tenure. Prior to entering the business world, Robin was a college baseball coach and admissions director. Robin earned the Master of Science degree from the University of Tennessee, where he was named his department’s “Outstanding Graduate Student.” He lives in Chesterfield with his wife and two kids. He likes to read, run and has always enjoyed a good baseball game. Want to meet with this mentor? Talk with your Lead...
Grant Mizell

Grant Mizell

Summary of Qualifications Grant is a Fractional Product & Marketing Manager, specializing in small to mid business growth through customer engagement and product innovation. Grant Mizell’s career spans traditional advertising, PR, community management, digital strategy, SEM/PPC and product development. Most recently, acting as Head of Product, he oversaw the transformation of PartyRVA, a successful and award-winning prototype e-marketplace for group planners, into OccasionGenius, overhauling the customer conversion funnel, shifting the business model and repositioning for national scale. A graduate of VCU’s Advertising program, he uses a foundation in conceptual thinking and design as a heightened UX perspective in targeting business growth opportunities through user-centered engagement and innovation. In 2013, he traded in 7 years of Adjunct instruction at VCU Advertising, for a leadership role on the Byrd Theatre Foundation. Grant serves as Vice President and Programming Chair, where he applies lean startup mentality to marketing and new program development, in support of the 87-year-old institution’s evolution into a center for film and film literacy. Want to meet with this mentor? Talk with your Lead...