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Hours with Experts

Working on a new venture and have questions? Get advice from peers and professionals on how to take the next step.  Areas of expertise include how to to “plug in” and get started at the Apex Center, next steps in building your company, and introductions to alumni-mentors.

About this program

Hours with Experts puts students in a room one-on-one with peers or professionals to answer your questions about starting a new venture.

Hours with Experts are held on-demand using automated calendar scheduling through StartupTree.  Students book a slot and come with questions.

Meet our Experts

Benjamin Butler

Marketing Consultant – Startup Hokies

Ben Butler

Ben is a junior majoring in Business Information Technology (BIT) with minors in Data and Decisions and Digital Marketing Strategy in the Pamplin College of Business.  In his role as a Startup Hokies Consultant, Ben works with student startup teams on product messaging and copy writing.  He currently serves as an undergraduate data science researcher and as an Advising Ambassador for Virginia Tech Academic Advising Initiatives.

Ask Ben about:

  • Marketing Messaging (Features & Benefits)
  • Digital Marketing Strategies

Schedule time with Ben

Jonathan Kebede

Startup Hokies Ambassador

Jonathan Kebede

Jonathan is a sophomore majoring in Finance in the Pamplin College of Business. He has been a Junior Analyst at Commodity Investing by Students (COINS), where his role is to assist in investing up to $1M on behalf of the Virginia Tech Foundation for the nation’s only student-run commodity trading group diversified in futures-based ETFs, ETNs, and covered call options since 2020.  In his role as a Startup Hokies consultant, Jonathan works with students to help get started on their entrepreneurship journey with the Apex Center. He also currently serves as a Student Ambassador for The Morning Brew newsletter.

Ask Jonathan about:

  • Getting Started with the Apex Center
  • Plugging into the Startup Hokies Community
  • Creating a new profile in Startup Tree

Schedule time with Jonathan

Shannon Kelly

Marketing Consultant – Startup Hokies

Shannon Kelly

Shannon is a senior majoring in Marketing Management with a minor in Global Business Practices from the Pamplin College of Business. She has worked as a Social Media Strategist and Digital Marketing Coordinator for two Blacksburg businesses, a Communications Lab Assistant Instructor at Virginia Tech, and a Marketing Intern for a Wall Street Investment Banking Firm.  In her role as a Startup Hokies Consultant, Shannon works with student founders to hone their digital marketing strategies and test campaigns. 

Ask Shannon about:

  • Social Media
  • Digital Marketing Strategies

Schedule time with Shannon

Jacquelyn Young

Data Consultant

Jacquelyn Young

Jacquelyn is a senior majoring in Business Information Technology (BIT) with a minor in Science, Technology and Law (STL) in the Pamplin College of Business. She has been the President of the Pamplin College of Business Peer Advising, a Student Ambassador for the College and working as a tutor for Student Athlete Academic Support Services (SAASS) since 2019.  In her role as a Startup Hokies Consultant, she works with student founders on competitor (market) analysis and data analytics. 

Ask Jacquelyn about:

  • Data Analytics
  • Database Management

Schedule time with Jacquelyn

Paul Lombardi

Apex Center – Lead Entrepreneur in Residence

Paul Lombardi

Founder and CEO of TeraThink Corporation (TeraThink), a well-recognized mid-tier consultancy that delivered value through pedigreed service offerings to the U.S. Government.  As CEO Paul led the acquisition and merger of Dominion Consulting.  Following the merger and through integration and sale, he served as the chairman of the board.  Paul now serves as the lead Entrepreneur-In-Residence for the Apex Center. Additionally, Paul is the founder of Cerulean, LLC which provides strategic guidance to small and mid-tier companies in the GovCon sector and serves on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee for the VT Athletic Fund, the Apex Center for Entrepreneurs, and Boulder Crest Veterans Initiative.

Ask Paul about:

  • Careers in Entrepreneurship
  • Entrepreneurship as an Engineering major
  • How to set started with alumni mentors (Venture Mentors program)

Schedule time with Paul

Sean Collins

Apex Center – Managing Director, Startup Hokies


Sean is passionate about building technology products, teams and organizations that create value.   His diverse background includes stints at early-stage companies and operating roles in training, product development, technology, marketing and sales.  In his role at the Apex Center, Sean builds and runs rock star programs such as the Startup Hokies incubator & accelerator.

Ask Sean about:

  • early-stage ventures
  • multi-sided platforms (dual-sided marketplaces)
  • customer acquisition

Schedule time with Sean

Questions?  Don’t see who you are looking for?  Swing by our co-working space at 432 North Main Street in Blacksburg,  Email us or give us a call (540)231-1328

Reserve time with an Expert:

  1. View our individual experts profiles below
  2. Click the “schedule time” link to reserve a 30 minute session
  3. It’s fast, easy and free!

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