Innovation PortAL is an innovation and entrepreneurial hub accelerating startup growth in southwest Alabama and the central Gulf Coast through targeted programming, funding opportunities, networking and community events. Innovation Portal provides entrepreneurs access to expertise, resources, and funding, allowing them to rapidly scale their ventures to regional, national, and international markets.
Michelle has been a startup cheerleader for over 15 years. She has focused her career on entrepreneur support, startup facilitation, business development, and organizational improvement. She has provided mentoring and coaching to entrepreneurs of all types, in various sectors, and across multiple subjects. Most notably, she has provided investor pitch coaching to early stage startups, but has also provided other leadership, organizational structure, HR, funding, and fundamental startup support.
Originally from Mobile, Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Management with a major in Marketing from the University of South Alabama (USA). She spent the last 13 years in Colorado working to support entrepreneurs and early-stage startups. Michelle earned a Master of Business Administration from the University of Colorado at Denver (CU Denver). Soon after graduating, she became the Program Manager for the Bard (now Jake Jabs) Center for Entrepreneurship at CU Denver. While in this position, she helped to support Denver’s inaugural Startup Week, which is now the largest in the world. After moving to Colorado Springs, Michelle became the Executive Director of Peak Startup, an entrepreneurial hub that is cultivating the city’s startup ecosystem. Michelle also served as a Program and Operational Specialist at Exponential Impact, a 14-week accelerator for tech startups.
Michelle’s role as the Executive Director of Innovation PortAL allows her to utilize all of her experience in program development, resource curating and connecting, non-profit management, and startup community building to fulfill her passion of fostering economic vitality in her hometown.
Corey James is a New Orleans native who currently serves as Director of Operations of Innovation PortAL. Corey’s role within the organization includes overseeing program development, startup consulting, community development initiatives, marketing, and communication. He manages Innovation PortAL’s network of mentors and subject matter experts as well as assists with investment reviews and fund execution for the PortAL Fund.
Within the community, Corey volunteers with the facilitator and organizer networks for Techstars’ Startup Weekend and also serves as an instructor for the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps program. He is also an active member of the steering committee for the Gulf Coast Tech Council.
Corey graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy (concentration in Society & Law) and Theological Studies from the honors college of Saint Louis University. While there, Corey co-launched with Belizean cacao farmers a chocolate social enterprise entitled Magis Chocolate. Beyond work, Corey’s areas of interest and research include social ethics in business movements, philosophical economics, emerging technologies, and rock climbing.
Mike is an experienced general manager with a track record of success in growing businesses – both start-ups and established companies. He has deep expertise in both consumer products and B2B marketing and sales.
At Wahoo, Mike took a company from one employee with a single beta product to 130 employees with over 20 products, an established brand, and a global distribution network, including the Apple Store, REI, Best Buy and Amazon. He leads a team responsible for all aspects of growth – strategy, sales, and marketing – plus part of the team managing the business and a capital raise. Wahoo Fitness is a leader in wearable and smartphone connected consumer devices focused on the bike, running and gym markets.
Before Wahoo, Mike spent 15 years focused in strategy, sales and marketing. Highlights include:
Mike is a graduate of Darden School of Business (MBA 2001) and Duke University (BA 1995).
Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce
University of South Alabama
Adams & Reese
Alabama Pipe Welders Academy & Scottsman Tools
Small Business Development Center, South Alabama
University of Mobile