Meet the Volunteer Coaches Behind InnoVentures

March 11, 2018

The goals for InnoVentures are simple. Incubate businesses, increase the competency and confidence of our entrepreneurs when speaking about their businesses, and build community support for micro-enterprises. We’ve designed the InnoVentures process to include six business coaches to work with contestants on a weekly basis to provide ongoing feedback. These volunteer coaches do more than help our contestants hone their pitch through constructive feedback- they are their cheerleaders. They are great listeners, ask open-ended questions, inspire and motivate others, and meet our contestants where they’re at.

We are so grateful for all of the time and energy they’ve invested the last few months into making this a successful program. Their dedication and support have been invaluable to Ventures and our business owners. Thank you, InnoVentures coaches. Join us March 26th at Lagunita’s Brewing to see the culmination of all of their and our entrepreneurs’ work.

Tove Hoyer

Tove Hoyer is of Norwegian descent and has her degree in International Business. She received her MBA at the UW and decided to make Seattle her home. Her career has been in high tech market research analysis and product marketing. Tove has a passion for helping people implement workplace programs to improve balance and happiness. Her core values are purpose, authenticity, and connection, and these values shine through in everything she does. Read more about her experience coaching here.

Why are you volunteering?
“I am passionate about using my business background to help people improve their lives.”

Why are you excited for the final event?
“All the contestants have worked very hard throughout this process and I can’t wait to see the incredible final pitches.”

Mohammad Jama

Mohammad Jama is a Sourcing Engineer for Cameras at Microsoft (Surface, HoloLens, etc.). Outside of work, Mohammad enjoys learning more about education, engineering, and technology, and business models.

Why are you volunteering?
I enjoy applying entrepreneurial thinking and hope to both learn from and help Ventures entrepreneurs think through how to pitch their respective businesses.

Why are you excited for the final event?
“I am excited to celebrate the culmination of the InnoVentures process alongside Ventures entrepreneurs, volunteers, staff members, and community partners.” 

Rachel Star

Rachel Star recently moved to Seattle from Chicago to join the Corporate Strategy team at Nordstrom. Previously, she travelled the country advising businesses as a consultant for McKinsey & Co. Rachel has a degree in Manufacturing Engineering and loves to build things in her free time.

 Why are you volunteering?
“I’m excited to get more involved in my new community and put some of my business knowledge to work helping people.”

Why are you excited for the final event?
“I’m looking forward to see these entrepreneurs speak from their hearts and share their passions – it takes a lot of bravery!”

Harsha Srinivas

Harsha Srinivas was born and raised in Nashville, Tennesee. He’s always been passionate about entrepreneurship and business. Harsha attended Indiana University in Bloomington and studied Finance and Economics. For the past five years, he’s worked at KeyBanc Capital Markets where he advises technology companies on mergers, acquisitions, and financings. Outside the office, Harsha loves to go on hikes, dog-sit, try new restaurants and travel.

Why are you volunteering?
“This program connects my background in investment banking and my passion for entrepreneurship with my desire to give back to the Seattle community and support local entrepreneurs.”

Why are you excited for the final event? 
“I’m excited to be a part of the final event because it’s a chance to celebrate all the success that the participants have accomplished while promoting the Ventures name in the community and learning about new products/services that I’m eager to try!”

Henry Burton

Henry Burton has been a long time volunteer mentor and coach for Ventures. He is a serial entrepreneur having owned two retail and two service businesses – some successful and some not so successful. He is currently an independent small business coach assisting business owners with strategy and planning.

Why are you volunteering?
“I attended the InnoVentures final last year and was blown away by the quality of the presentations and knew that I wanted to be part of that his year. “

Why are you excited for the final event?
“Given the quality of the businesses and presentations that are competing for spots in the finals it seems like it will be an even better event this year.“

Julie Monahan

Julie Monahan is a Special Projects Manager at the Washington State Department of Commerce, where she works directly with small businesses to help them grow their sales internationally as well as in the U.S. Her portfolio includes consumer products companies, professional services firms and rural businesses. It has been her honor and pleasure to meet and support so many passionate, creative entrepreneurs since starting as a Ventures volunteer business coach in 2014 for the Business Basics and Advanced Marketing training classes.

Why are you volunteering?
Being an entrepreneur means leveraging every opportunity that comes your way, and volunteering for InnoVentures lets me be part of that opportunity and support the initiative and tenacity of new entrepreneurs their exciting journey!”

Why are you excited for the final event?
The moment of truth for these entrepreneurs! Competition has brought out the best in all of them through quarter-finals and semi-finals—we’ve seen them get better and better each time. Can’t wait to see who the judges say is BEST!”