Mentors: MARKETING

Doug White

Doug White

Summary of Qualifications Doug is a veteran entrepreneur and consultant whose experience focuses on strategy, operations, analytics, and finance. He is a founding partner and owner of Gather, whose coworking spaces provide a community to more than 200 entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small business people. Doug White spends his time solving business problems for entrepreneurs and their organizations. His background in physics, math, engineering and business gives him an ability to go beyond the easy, surface solution; to dig deeper and find unique answers to the problems that plague small businesses. He has a talent for making the complex simple and guiding others to see and understand the key that will solve their puzzle. He helps organizations develop strategies to take them to the next level, grasp what their financials are really telling them, develops metrics to keep track and measure what is important and fixes operational issues by finding the root cause of the problem. Doug has successfully led start-ups and turnarounds. He has been a part of executing acquisitions on both the buy side and the sell side. He has worked successfully in fields ranging from heavy duty manufacturing to sales and distribution, from consumer lending to investment brokerage. The common thread through each assignment is that Doug has been the catalyst for creating significant bottom line value and he can teach you his methods. He has specialized in taking businesses that were broken and fixing them or taking businesses that were successful and raising their performance to the next level. Currently, Doug works with his wife Polly at Whitestone Partners, their full-service small-business consulting firm. Together, they...
Brooke Schmerge Robertson

Brooke Schmerge Robertson

Summary of Qualifications Brooke is a proven entrepreneur and business strategist. She helps entrepreneurs of all types to start, grow, and save their small businesses. Brooke works with entrepreneurs to achieve optimal success in both their business and their lives. With experience in all types of businesses and roles, she can help you create a plan to save, grow, or launch your business. Unlike other consultants, Brooke focuses not only on setting up businesses for success, but also the success of the entrepreneurs running them. She evaluates everything from overall business strategy, to sales efforts and processes, to customer service and retention, as well as explore and implement solutions to let you work “on” your business instead of “in” it. In addition to her own knowledge and network, Brooke can educate you on grants, resources, and services that are available at little to no charge to entrepreneurs in the Richmond area. Whether you are struggling to solve one problem within your business, or would like to evaluate and grow all aspects of your business, Brooke can help you achieve optimum success, growth, and balance as a business and an entrepreneur. Brooke graduated Summa Cum Laude from Middlebury College in 2001 with degrees in Philosophy and Spanish. For the past 15 years, she’s gained experience and expertise in many areas of the business world, from sales to operations to process improvement, for all types of industries and companies. Through her experience at companies like UPS, Duncan-Parnell, and LeClair Ryan, Brooke has been exposed to and learned about many types of operations and management styles, which allows her to be flexible and...
Polly White

Polly White

Summary of Qualifications Polly is a veteran entrepreneur and consultant whose experience spans all industries and whose expertise focuses on people. She is a founding partner and owner of Gather, whose coworking spaces provide a community to more than 200 entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small business people. In 2002, Polly left the corporate world to start her first consulting business serving large and Fortune 500 companies in the areas of leadership and organizational development. Her business continued to grow in both size and capabilities over the next several years adding services in HR, compliance, strategy and workforce development. In 2009, she joined forces with her husband, Doug, to form Whitestone Partners, a full-service small-business consulting firm. Together, they work with clients across all industries and have extensive experience in real estate, construction, the trades, professional services, non-profits, advertising and marketing, manufacturing and financial services. They help businesses that want to get to the next level as well as those needing to get back on track. Today, Polly is recognized as a small business expert, successful serial entrepreneur, angel investor, and founding partner of Gather, coworking spaces that create community for more than 200 entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small businesses. She writes weekly columns (with her partner, Doug) for both RTD Business and Entrepreneur.com. She is a best-selling author, sought-after speaker, and business consultant. Want to meet with this Lead Mentor? Schedule an...
Brian Beard

Brian Beard

Summary of Qualifications Brian Beard is the founder of River City Food Tours. He spent 4 years working at Capital One as an analyst, and the last 3 years running his own business, currently ranked the #1 Tour in Richmond on TripAdvisor. Brian moved to Richmond in 2009 to work as an analyst at Capital One for operations and marketing teams. His role was to use data to drive decisions that would influence the way customers interacted with their credit card company. Seeking a change (and a move away from a traditional 9-5) he founded River City Food Tours. For Brian, starting RCFT was a way to move out of a desk job, and into something more fun, but he had no idea just how awesome it would be! The business has allowed Brian to get involved in Richmond in so many ways – he gets to show off the city to food tour guests, and he gets to work with other small business owners every day. Brian has also joined BreakawayRVA as one of its founding members. One of the challenges of working in small businesses is the lack of data compared with the abundance available in his former role at Capital One. As a result, Brian has fine-tuned his intuition when it comes to business strategy, marketing plans, and the execution of both. Want to meet with this Lead Mentor? Schedule A...
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...