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HEI Advisors

Kylen Blom: As a recent Hope graduate with degrees in Business Management and Communications, Kylen already has a few years of entrepreneurship under his belt. An interest in the 2011 Startup Weekend ignited his excitement about startups, and he hasn't stopped pursuing his many ideas since. During the HEI summer program, Kylen experimented with automated corporate invoicing. After a major pivot, the company began consulting for manufacturers in the fields of online marketing and business development.

Often thought of as an idea guy, Kylen turned a new leaf with the launch of My Great Lake in December of 2011. He currently runs this company and plans on continuing this brand. He is also doing freelance digital design and social media management.

Drew Born: Drew Born is the founder of,, Born Essentials, and 1034 Media. When Drew was 8 years old his father passed away. Drew remembers spending much time with his father on the water and in the field, everything from fishing salmon in Lake Michigan to shooting sporting clays at the local sportsman’s club. Drew strives to live out his father's legacy.
Drew is blessed to have many family members and friends to follow and learn from. He has learned to take the knowledge and wisdom of many different professionals and apply that wisdom to his own adventures.

Drew participated in the HEI program in 2010. He created Born Bucks which took off to more that 50,000 visitors a month within two months after launch. Since then he has used his experiences and knowledge from others to help him launch and grow other businesses. Drew specializes in lean start-ups, seeing the big picture, facilitation, and getting things done.

Veronica Bosgraaf: In 2006, Veronica Bosgraaf, (’92) foundeda company born out of a desire to feed her family right. The trigger came when her oldest daughter declared herself a vegetarian at the age of 6, propelling Veronica into the kitchen to create healthy, balanced, vegetarian fare. A result of this newfound creativity was Pure Bar; a wholesome snackbar packed with vegan protein that her children actually thought was a treat. Veronica has since grown into a true “Mompreneur,” simultaneously balancing a busy household and a flourishing a lifestyle brand.

Veronica and Pure Bars have been featured in media publications such as O, The OprahMagazine, CNN, AOL, MSNfitbe, Health, Shape, Redbook, Women Entrepreneur, Woman’s Health and many more. Veronica has created dozens of healthy, simple recipes for newsletters, blogs and television appearances. As a writer she has contributed to The Wellness Advisor magazine and the book Mom Energy: A Simple Plan to Live Fully Charged.When not busy being a mom/wife or running her company, Veronica finds time to paddleboard, practice yoga and play the piano. Follow Veronica and the Pure Bar at or on .

Amanda Chocko: Amanda is the Program Director for the Grand Rapids seed accelerator, Momentum where she is responsible for marketing, recruitment, event planning, program design and execution. Prior to working with Momentum she was the Director of Entrepreneurial Development at Lakeshore Advantage where she managed their technology business incubator, The Lakeshore Business Garden. Amanda has over 15 years of entrepreneurial, business management and event planning experience. She is a certified small business advisor and has played a key role in helping to cultivate the West Michigan startup community.

Jim Cnossen: Jim has extensive experience within the Automotive Industry, a proven track record of leadership within the Information Technology field, and unique experiences as an entrepreneur implementing ideas and solutions within a for-profit environment. Jim has expert knowledge and senior level management experience in strategic IT leadership, business process re-engineering, and manufacturing operations all within an international context. He is recognized as a visionary and a results-oriented leader with strong communications and people-related skills.

After 30 years with Ford followed by several years of Management Consulting, Jim brings a distinguished record of providing solutions that address strategic business needs from within Fortune 5 corporations. Drawing from his automotive and manufacturing experiences, these solutions typically are an effective blend of people, process, and technologies.

Jeff Disher: Jeff Disher, owner and president of Disher Design & Development, is a 23 year veteran of new product development. After starting his business in Holland, MI in January of 2000, he is realizing his passion to create a different brand of product development firm based on innovation, technical discipline and great customer service. Mr. Disher led the growth of Disher Design & Development to over 75 developers currently. In October of 2008, he was selected as the Small Business Person of the Year by the Holland Area Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Disher holds a Bachelor of Science from Hope College and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan. He also is a certified Professional Engineer in the State of Michigan.

Lee Eilers: As President of TwistHDM, Lee Eilers is dedicating his energies in advancing “LimeLight” – a wireless mesh network lighting solution dedicated solely to the parking industry. An entrepreneur by nature, Lee has been involved in numerous successful start-up ventures, including a financial services firm in Naples, Florida and an independent distributorship of Herman Miller, Inc.’s commercial furniture products in Dallas. He was later recruited to serve on the executive leadership team at Herman Miller, leading the operations of its captive leasing subsidiary and owned-distribution network.

Virgil G. GulkerVirgil Gulker: Dr. Virgil Gulker is a social entrepreneur whose work engages church volunteers in the lives of at-risk children and families. In 1995 he founded KIDS HOPE USA, an innovative mentoring program that has trained over 700 churches in the United States and Australia to engage their members in one-to-one, I believe in you relationships with 10,000 at-risk elementary children.

Prior to his involvement with KIDS HOPE USA, Dr. Gulker founded numerous other award-winning programs. LOVE INC (1978) mobilized over 300,000 volunteers from 9,000 churches to respond to over 1,000,000 needs in 2008 and is active in two other countries. Love Our Kids (1990) provided mentors for inner-city children in three cities; Love For Children (1991), funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and World Vision, linked church volunteers with children and families in the federal Women, Infants and Children and Head Start programs. He also administered the first two-year college education program in the United States to award academic degrees to inmate students in a maximum security prison.

Dr. Gulker has received the Mustard Seed Award for Creativity, was the recipient of the 2001 Grand Valley State University Distinguished Alumnus Award, and has written numerous articles and books on volunteerism, including "Help Is Just Around the Corner" and "Helping You is Helping Me".

Stith Keiser: Stith Keiser, a 2007 graduate of Hope College, is the Director of Career Development and My Veterinary Career for the American Animal Hospital Association.  My Veterinary Career, founded by Stith, is a veterinary matchmaking firm matching veterinarians and practice managers, at no charge, with all types and sizes of practices across North America.  Stith’s industry experience includes facilitating workshops at conferences, publishing articles, and writing for websites. Stith is a member of VetPartners and serves on the American Animal Hospital Association’s New Graduate Task Force.

Wayne B. Kidder: Wayne began a 30 year career with General Motors as a co-op engineering student at Kettering University (formerly GMI). He earned a patent award based on his undergraduate research thesis on an emission device, later used on nearly 10 million vehicles. At GM, he held numerous engineering, sales and manufacturing positions including a position in GM’s Worldwide Planning Group as a key strategist and Corporate Director of Capacity (Assembly Plant) Planning. In that role he was instrumental in developing the plan for the GM Joint Venture in California known as NUMMI, followed by several other successful ventures and innovative new assembly facility plans.

Wayne resigned his executive position at General Motors, forming a management consulting practice he continues to operate, concentrating on helping manufacturing companies achieve productivity improvements in manufacturing and management practices. Using problem solving skills developed in engineering, sales and planning, he also assisted in several start-ups, and was retained to work through two bankruptcies—learning to manage the intricate corporate finance and legal problems required to manage the issues.

These experiences fueled his interest to start an energy technology company followed by a capital management company specializing in lending and leasing equipment to small /medium business, and later, a wholesale electronics distribution company, which was eventually divested.

In addition to his undergraduate degree, Wayne has graduate degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan and Business Administration from Western Michigan University.

Dr. David Lowry: David Lowry, MD is the physician co-founder of TransCorp Spine (Ada, MI), and practices neurological surgery at the Brain + Spine Center in Holland, Michigan, which he started in 2005. His interest in medical devices began when as a medical student at Johns Hopkins he worked in the laboratory of Henry Brem, MD, a pioneer in using biodegradable polymer wafers to deliver drugs and other agents directly to the brain while bypassing the blood-brain-barrier. While at the University of Pittsburgh following medical school, Dr. Lowry completed his neurosurgery residency, obtained his MBA, started doing consulting for venture capital funds, and co-founded three life science companies: Vertis Neuroscience (Seattle, WA), Northstar Neuroscience (Seattle, WA) and LaunchCyte (Pittsburgh, PA).

Tracy McMichael: Tracy is a graduate of Hope College with a BA in accounting. She earned her MBA at George Washington University in Washington, DC. She started her career in Chicago in public accounting and earned her CPA, before becoming a manager at Oracle where she led global implementations of accounting systems. Then she moved back to DC.

Tracy considers it a privilege to have had the experience of working for the General Counsel of the Air Force at the Pentagon, the National Security Agency and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Washington, DC.

In 2008, Tracy and her husband Tim chose Holland, Michigan as their home to raise their young family and sail on Lake Michigan. She is currently a Senior Manager at Herman Miller.

Tracy enjoys teaching and volunteering her time with the Center for Faithful Leadership. She has a passion for international travel and looks forward to exploring the world with her two young sons.

Brad MacLean: Brad MacLean is an entrepreneur at heart. Over the years he has started many ventures, from selling home-made peace signs in grade school to starting a painting company in college. Currently he is the Founder and CEO of Creative Byline – a company that develops online tools for managing creative content. To launch Creative Byline Brad raised over $750K in capital from groups such as the Grand Angels, the State of Michigan Pre-Seed fund, the Lakeshore Advantage Seed Fund, and numerous West-Michigan-based private investors. Brad holds a patent on the technology that is the foundation for Creative Byline.

In addition to Creative Byline, Brad also runs BWM Consulting LLC, which provides services at the intersection of technology, strategy, and innovation for both large and small companies in West Michigan. Assignments include implementing online behavior and analytics tools, online advertising and marketing effectiveness, and project management for large systems implementations.

Brad was also a corporate guy for a while. Prior to founding Creative Byline in 2007, Brad spent 12 years in a variety of leadership positions at office furniture innovator Herman Miller, including as Vice President of Product Development. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering from the University of Michigan, and a Bachelor of Arts from Calvin College.

Konrad Marcus: Kon Marcus is an accomplished innovator. The holder of numerous patents, he served as the Vice President of Design and Product Development for Prince Corporation, as an industrial engineer in product development for Donnelly Corporation, and as a control chemist for Citgo Petroleum. He has served on many boards, such a Hilton Head Christian Academy, Luke Society, and Water Missions International. He is also co-founder of Marcus Automotive. His many interests include golf, tennis, sailing internationally, science projects, machine design, and working with students on ideation of all kinds. He is also a private pilot.

Stephanie Milanowski: Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Stephanie attended Ottawa Hills High School and Grand Rapids Junior College (GRCC) at the age of 14. Stephanie received a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, RI in 1990, received a MFA from the University Michigan and in the Summer of 1995 Stephanie studied under legendary designers Paul Rand, Armin Hofmann and Wolfgang Weingart at Yale University in Brissago, Switzerland. At present Stephanie teaches graphic design at Hope College. A sample of Stephanie's work to date—designing on a line of women's sleepwear sold in stores across the country, creating educational endangered species lunch bags for children from concept to distributing around the world and handmade books she bound for Oprah Winfrey.

Tressa Mills: Tressa Mills is the owner of Focus Marketing, a local Holland restaurant menu marketing company. A graduate of the the Michigan State Hotel Restaurant school, and a 20 year veteran of the foodservice industry, Tressa left a 13 year career with Sysco Corporation to start Focus in June of 2001 as a 3 person Michigan marketing company. 10 years later her company works with customers throughout the US & Canada with a technology web solution that they developed with the 22 person team that makes up Focus Marketing today.

Garrick Pohl: Garrick is the Founder and CEO of Zipments, an online marketplace for local delivery services. Zipments helps individuals earn income as part-time and full-time couriers and helps businesses save money with a convenient and affordable logistics solution.

Prior to founding Zipments, Garrick spent five years as CEO of Crayon Interface, a company he co-founded in 2005. Crayon Interface, a mobile application development firm, was the recipient of several industry innovation awards and in 2007 was one of “Michigan’s Top 50 Companies to Watch.” Crayon Interface’s mobile applications were featured in three separate iPhone commercials. In 2010, Crayon Interface’s “Connected Home Services” business was sold to Ingersoll Rand and its “Connected Vehicle” applications were sold to several parties, including one of the largest insurance companies in the U.S. Prior to Crayon Interface, Garrick worked eight years at Johnson Controls where he held positions in both finance and business development.

Scott Ryan: Scott is in-house patent counsel at Genetx, where he manages the electrical, mechanical, and fire protection patent portfolios. Prior to working at Gentex he was in private practice where he concentrated primarily in the area of electrical patents. His litigation experience includes lawsuits dealing with patent infringement and validity, copyright infringement, unfair competition, and trade secrets. Prior to joining Price Heneveld in 2006, he gained valuable experience as a Law Clerk and an Associate at an intellectual property law firm in Auburn Hills, Michigan, an intern for the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan, and a Law Clerk for the 7th Judicial Circuit Court of Michigan. Scott received a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Michigan State University in 2002, followed by a J.D. degree with a concentration in Intellectual Property and Communications Law from Michigan State University College of Law in 2005. While attending law school, he also served as the Vice President of the Intellectual Property Law Society. Scott is registered to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and is admitted to the State Bar of Michigan. He is also admitted to practice before the Federal District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan and the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Scott is a member of the American Intellectual Property Law Association, Michigan Intellectual Property Law Association, the Grand Rapids Bar Association, and the IP Section of the Michigan Bar Association.

Greg Smith: Greg Smith is a prolific writer, editor, and public speaker. More than a storyteller, Greg understands how and why stories work, and how to harness their power for books, brands and businesses.

After growing up in Huntington Beach, California, he graduated from the University of Colorado in Boulder. He has a masters degree from Calvin College, and went on to study marketing at UCLA. Over his career he has worked in the non-profit sector, marketing for technology and architecture firms, and in publishing.

Greg has written, co-authored or edited almost two dozen books, including fiction and non-fiction on subjects as diverse as business management, history, contemporary events and religion. He is in demand as a ghost writer, collaborator and freelance editor. He is the owner and Chief Creative Officer of Black Lake Studio and Press.

Thomas Smith: Professor Smith began his career at Data General Corporation serving in various management positions including materials planning and manufacturing production before beginning his academic career at Hope College. He has published a variety of articles in periodicals. He also serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Operations Management. Tom speaks regularly at professional conferences including the Christian Business Faculty Association and the Production and Operations Management Society. He serves as an independent consultant regarding areas of strategic and tactical operations as well as the role of leadership in project management. His past clients include Allen Extruders, Double Eagle Steel Coating Corporation, EDS Corporation, Herman Miller, Inc., Life Savers Corporation, and SPI Corporation.

Phillip Torrence: Mr. Torrence is a Partner in Honigman’s Corporate Department. He represents both public and private companies in a wide range of industries, including the medical device, life sciences, and financial services industries. He advises individuals and corporations on regulatory and enforcement issues, mergers and acquisitions, capital markets and corporate governance, acquisitions, and hostile takeover transactions. In addition, he advises venture capital-backed technology companies in connection with their sale transactions. Phil's professional involvements have included the American Bar Association Business Law Section, the Member Negotiation Acquisitions Committee, the Venture Capital and Private Equity Committee, the State Bar of Michigan, the Kalamazoo County Bar Association Board of Directors, and the Pro Bono Committee. His community involvements have included the Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts, the Kalamazoo Civic Theater, Zion Lutheran Church, and the Kalamazoo Chamber of Commerce.

Vicki R. TenHaken Vicki TenHaken: Vicki TenHaken has been teaching Management at Hope College since 2000 and is an advisor for Hope’s Baker Scholars, a select group of Economics, Management and Accounting majors who seek to develop their leadership potential. She is a Fulbright Scholar who spent her 2007/08 sabbatical at the Cracow University of Economics in Poland and has returned there to teach in their Executive MBA program. Prior to entering academia Vicki worked for over 25 years in leadership positions at General Electric and Herman Miller, Inc. She has experience at the executive level in marketing, R&D, strategic planning and new business development as well as professional experience in human resource management. She was the founder and general manager of Herman Miller for the Home, Herman Miller's successful consumer retail business. Her most recent corporate position was as Executive Vice President-Strategic Planning and Chief of Staff at Herman Miller.