Our Team

Michael Zaharios III
Program Director

Michael is a third-generation entrepreneur and native Floridian having grown up in Daytona Beach. He is passionate about his work, community and family. Acting on his passions, he gives back through volunteering as an organizer for 1 Million Cups, Startup Weekend, Elevate and as a board member of the Leadership Daytona Alumni Council. As the Program Director for FLVEC, Michael works tirelessly to promote and connect Florida's entrepreneurship ecosystem. He believes everyone is an entrepreneur and that the only way to do great work is to love what you do.
Art Zimmet
Program Manager

Art is an innovation ecosystem architect. Deeply knowledgeable in ecosystem best practices, Art has founded and co-founded innovation initiatives such as Trep Factory, 1 Million Cups, and Elevate Daytona. In addition to building innovation ecosystems, Art has also contributed to them as a mentor and advisor. He served on the Volusia County Board of Advisors to the UCF Business Incubation Program in Daytona Beach, as a board advisor to the Cairns Foundation, and as a coach at Startup Weekend Daytona Beach. As the Program Manager for FLVEC, Art promotes Florida entrepreneurs and fosters connectivity within innovation ecosystems statewide.


Entrepreneur Feedback

Shailesh Patel
Dredging & Marine Consultants
Port Orange

FLVEC has been a tremendous partner in providing excellent visibility to our firm. They are a partner with an earnest interest in seeing not just startups, but also small businesses such as ours, have support and visibility. More importantly, they are exactly what our county needs to connect focused entrepreneurial assistance to startups that is vital to their success.
Monica Stynchula
St. Petersburg

Our FLVEC company profile really increased our exposure to angel investors in Florida. I am so pleased I got the opportunity to join this statewide directory. Thanks FLVEC! Here's to accelerated growth in the future!
Darryl Keys
Zypha Corporation
Port Charlotte

FLVEC is an invaluable one-stop shop for all Charlotte County businesses and is a huge productivity resource. Instead of wasting valuable time searching the web for business advisory services or networking organizations, just go to FLVEC and links to all of these can be found in one place. A further advantage is that these resources are optimally presented for each stage in the business growth cycle, so FLVEC is relevant for any entrepreneur from the Idea, Formation, Launching, Growing and Optimizing stages, providing a helping hand each step of the way.
Joy Randels
Citizinvestor, Inc.

Joy Randels, co-founder of Citizinvestor, is a prolific serial entrepreneur, with key roles in launching more than 89 companies, raising more than $375 million in venture capital, leading 17 acquisitions and two successful IPOs. "I started selling as a 9-year-old and started my first real business at 18," she said. "I have launched businesses outside of tech but my true passion is in technology. One of my earliest positions was at Apple Computer working for Guy Kawasaki." In addition to her leadership in several other ventures and in Florida's entrepreneur ecosystem, Randels is the CEO of Citizinvestor, a civic engagement and crowdfunding platform. "We fund projects that are for the civic good, and require a government entity to be involved," she explained. "We allow public private partnerships to participate as well. We don’t transfer money to private individuals. We can do matching projects and phased projects. It can be a project or an ongoing program. Funds transfer directly to the bank account of the government entity, and our fee is 5 percent. We provide tools for funders to help them be successful which are completely free." Citizinvestor also licenses the platform to give government entities the ability to create their own crowdfunding platform. The license is based on the size of the municipality or organization. While other crowdfunding platforms see a 40 percent success rate of projects getting funded, Citizinvestor's success rate is double that, with 80 percent of its projects receiving full funding. Additionally, while its competitor's average project size is $700, Citizinvestor's average project size is $10,000 with projects having been completed up to $1 million. Randels' advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to conduct product/market-fit research early on by engaging with customers and potential customers. "Know who your customer is, who you want to target and talk to that person," she said. "First go interview 25-50 of those people, and see if what you're bringing to market is what they want. If you just ask questions and listen, you'll find out. It will help you refine your product and improve how you market it. People don’t listen to their customers often enough."
Blair Barbour

The exposure that the FLVEC has given Photon-X helped our company find its place in the community and facilitated partnerships that contributed to Photon-X's growth. The FLVEC has provided numerous networking opportunities for Photon-X, including nominations and awards that Photon-X has received during our short time in Florida. Photon-X has been able to get our name and technology out to the community faster, enabling Photon-X to work with other companies in order to expand our workforce and develop technology here in Florida. The partnership between FLVEC and Osceola EDC would amplify the coverage that Photon-X has already received. Photon-X fully supports and looks forward to this partnership.
Wendy Taylor
Strategic Online Marketing

The FLVEC is of value for entrepreneurs as it heightens the awareness of its member services in the Lake County area. Networking with other entrepreneurs has opened doors for future referral opportunities.
Paul Glenister
2G Energy
St. Augustine

Thanks to the entrepreneur profiles on the St. John's County page, I learned about a local company that I feel we may use for future business as we may have video production requirements for promotional needs. If not for the FLVEC featuring the profiles of local entrepreneurs, I may not have become aware of the company right here in my own backyard.

Partner Feedback

Florida makes it easier than most states to do business and we do our part in Flagler County to help small-business owners take advantage of the wealth of resources and support available to start or grow a business. The Flagler County Department of Economic Opportunity partners with FLVEC to help make that connection. We want to ensure entrepreneurs know Flagler County is a great place to take the next step in business and we will help them do it.

In Indian River County, well over 90 percent of our businesses are considered small — they are the backbone of our local economy. We encourage our small-business owners and entrepreneurs to take advantage of the wealth of resources and support available to them. The Chamber’s Economic Development office partners with FLVEC to help make that connection. I’m excited that several of our local entrepreneurs are already featured on the site! We want to ensure that all entrepreneurs and start-up businesses know that Indian River County is a great place grow their business — and we can help them do it.

The entrepreneur center is an excellent resource not only for entrepreneurs, but any company that provides business services. Updated constantly, I encourage all Lake County business owners to acclimate themselves with this new tool.

We recognized the need to provide a resource kit to help our City’s budding entrepreneurs. We are very pleased that the FLVEC provides just that, and more. Besides being a repository of available resources, the FLVEC enables us to showcase our small business entrepreneurs. We think the entrepreneur profiles FLVEC prepares and showcases are a great way to show our appreciation for home-grown businesses. These profiles also provide encouragement for aspiring business owners in the City. Thank you FLVEC!