Accelerator Guelph Mentors

The Accelerator Guelph Program utilizes a number of professionals – often with their own consulting businesses – who have worked through the ups and downs of business growth in the past. They help our entrepreneurial teams to maintain momentum, avoid costly mistakes and meet their milestones.

Our Mentors

Doug Knox headshot

Doug Knox

Agri-food technology specialist

Cara Loncar headshot

Cara Loncar

Sales and marketing specialist

Don Thompson headshot

Don Thompson

Product management specialist

Ellyn Winters-Robinson headshot

Ellyn Winters-Robinson

Marketing and communications specialist

Ian McGuinty headshot

Ian McGinty

Human resources strategy specialist

Kevin Boon headshot

Kevin Boon

Business and strategy specialist

Kevin Hood headshot

Kevin Hood

Business development and sales specialist

Gary Svoboda headshot

Gary Svoboda

Market research and strategy specialist

Rob Farnham headshot

Rob Farnham

Lead generation and growth specialist

Frank Erschen headshot

Frank Erschen

Pitch coach and funding specialist

Jagruti Bhikha headshot

Jagruti Bhikha

Pitch coach and technology specialist

Shannon Clement headshot

Shannon Clement

Digital marketing and content specialist

Frank Dion headshot

Frank Dion

Marketing and sales strategy specialist

Robert Kinch headshot

Robert Kinch

Marketing and sales strategy specialist

Melissa Durrell headshot

Melissa Durrell

Pitch coach, PR and communications specialist

Sima Gandhi headshot

Sima Gandhi

Innovation and entrepreneurship specialist

Mark Goldberg headshot

Mark Goldberg

Scale-up of innovative tech business specialist

Dana McCauley headshot

Dana McCauley

Food trend and innovation specialist

David Hobson headshot

David Hobson

IP and entrepreneurship specialist

Jackie Lauer headshot

Jackie Lauer

Leadership and workplace culture specialist

Tim Nelson headshot

Tim Nelson

Business development specialist

Daniel Richter headshot

Daniel Richter

Business development specialist

Lisa Sommers headshot

Lisa Sommers

Business development specialist

Saskia Brussaard headshot

Saskia Brussaard

Public relations and communications specialist

Diane Richard headshot

Diane Richard

Product development and product execution specialist

Bob Campagnolo headshot

Bob Campagnolo

Technology development and adoption specialist


Jagruti Bhikha

Trained as a software engineer Jagruit has spent her career dedicated to achieving targets for business development, networking, relationship management, ecosystem diversity, and innovation using networks, data, and metrics. Jagruti also has her own coaching practice.

Connect with Jagruti on LinkedIn

Kevin Boon

For close to 10 years, Kevin has been part of Ontario’s innovation ecosystem assisting startups, small to medium-size businesses in their efforts to start, grow and scale. With over 25 years of industry experience, he provides mentorship, business planning, B2B sales strategy and global market expansion insights. His industry background ranges from software technologies, advanced manufacturing, MedTech and Social Innovation. Kevin is passionate about helping Canadian businesses become more competitive and thrive in the global marketplace. With his connections into academia, government programs and funding, he helps his clients connect and find meaningful solutions as they grow.

Connect with Kevin Boon on LinkedIn

Saskia Brussaard

President and Founder of Crave Consulting + Communications – a boutique public relations and marketing firm that specializes in food, agriculture, ag-tech, food literacy and nutrition, health and sustainability. Saskia is an entrepreneur and independent business consultant with 20+ years of experience in marketing and communications. Areas of focus include strategic internal and external communications planning; media, influencer and stakeholder relations; issues/crisis management; events and sponsorships; key message development; and spokesperson identification and media training.  

Connect with Saskia on LinkedIn

Bob Campagnolo

Bob has over three decades of experience in the IT sector in Canada, the US and Europe. He has research, product management and commercialization expertise working with large corporations, startups and universities and recently Bob has taken a deep dive into the opportunities in urban agriculture and climate change adaptation. The resulting startup, with a female co-founder, and first-hand experience of the ups and downs of his spouse's entrepreneurial journey, brings insight and empathy into the unique challenges faced by women entrepreneurs.

Connect with Bob on LinkedIn

Shannon Clement

As the owner and digital strategist at Engagement Marketing, Shannon Clement works with organizations to build their brand story and communicate it online effectively to generate leads and sales. She’s worked with some of the top incubators in Canada such as MaRs and Velocity to train teams on content strategy and execute content marketing campaigns. In her 15 plus years as a digital marketer and content strategist, Shannon's ideas and leadership have created successful digital content solutions to surpass the objectives of numerous clients.

Connect with Shannon on LinkedIn

Frank Dion

Frank is a proven senior sales executive with over 40 years of experience. From his humble beginnings at Xerox, he progressed through the ranks to lead organizations at Savin Canada, Computerland Canada, and as VP of Toshiba Canada.  In every leadership role, he had to turn around a failing division or company. He left the corporate world to launch his own internet start-up and took it to IPO where he was the first to bring TV to the internet. Frank can help you set up your company for growth and establish the strategies and processes necessary for creating consistent, predictable growth for your business.

Connect with Frank Dion on LinkedIn

Melissa Durrell

Melissa Durrell has been actively involved with the startup scene working with entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and angel investors across North America. As one of Canada’s few female pitch coaches, she's known for her unique storytelling skills; honed at her former career as an award-winning broadcast journalist. She successfully worked with dozens of CEO’s as they developed their pitch running up to Demo-Day. Currently, she is President of Durrell Communications, leading one of the top PR and Communication teams in southwestern Ontario.

Connect with Melissa on LinkedIn

Frank Erschen

Frank is a well-known coach/mentor who helps develop and refine business plans and pitches. He uses The Artful Science of Business Planning™, The Artful Science of Pitching® and VEGaS™, methods he created based on his roles as an investor, entrepreneur, educator, and advisor/director in the start-up space since 2006… backed by 25 years of corporate experience.  He has worked with startups from every continent with permanent human inhabitants.

Connect with Frank Erschen on LinkedIn

Rob Farnham

Rob Farnham is a Digital Traffic Mentor and has extensive experience in digital demand generation. From on-page and off-page Search Engine Optimization to pay per click channels like Google Ads and Facebook Ads Search Engine Marketing (ranking websites). He has built out large social networks, viral native advertising websites, traffic arbitrage sites and leveraged affiliate networks. Driving traffic and then optimizing the monetization of that traffic.

Connect with Rob on LinkedIn

Sima Gandhi

Sima has a varied background in private sector startups, spanning several industries including manufacturing, education and construction. As the senior manager of MaRS’ Entrepreneurship Programs Sima facilitated and managed relationships with Regional Innovation Centres and Campus Linked Accelerators to make MaRS educational content and experiential workshops accessible.

Connect with Sima on LinkedIn

Mark Goldberg

Mark is an experienced entrepreneur who has founded, grown and sold businesses by applying over 25 years of leadership experience in biomedical research, academia and regulatory consulting. Mark has utilized vision and strategic leadership skills to effectively grow businesses that overcome a wide range of complex issues impacting both public and private interests.

Connect with Mark on LinkedIn

David Hobson

David provides support, guidance and management expertise to inventors and entrepreneurs at the University of Guelph who are interested in commercializing their technology. David started his career in the pharmaceutical, engineering, veterinary, and consulting industries with a passion for new technology and entrepreneurship, before joining academia. Specifically, he helps to protect and patent novel research and technologies and enable these to be de-risked to attract industry collaborations and commercial opportunities.

Connect with David on LinkedIn

Kevin Hood

Kevin Hood, BA, is a Sessional Lecturer at the Conrad School of Entrepreneurship and Business. He is currently the President of Market Access Corporation and previously was the Special Assistant for the Minister of Science and Technology. Kevin earned his BA from the University of Western Ontario.

Connect with Kevin Hood on LinkedIn

Robert Kinch

Rob’s history in sales, sales management and leadership spans 30 years. As a senior sales executive with fortune 500 companies at IBM and Microsoft, he has launched new international channels and built sales teams from scratch. For the last 8 years he has been an entrepreneur. Launching 3 companies, he understands the challenges of start-ups and the constant battle between cash-flow and the plan for revenue. Rob can help you set up your company for growth and establish the strategies and processes necessary for creating consistent, predictable growth for your business.

Connect with Robert on LinkedIn

Doug Knox

Doug Knox has over 35 years of experience as a senior-level executive establishing and managing international partnerships, technology licenses, acquisitions and strategic alliances. Doug has managed both large corporate product divisions and developed small technology-based businesses. He was the senior analyst at Bioenterprise Corporation as VP Technology for over 14 years. Doug spent 11 years with Unisys Corp. in the program management group where he held worldwide responsibility for the Education Line of Business “Computers in the Classroom.”  Doug has been an advisor to a variety of technology companies including e-commerce, RF Wireless, RFID, 3-D graphics, internet software, underground radio, broadband on copper, internet training, precision laser manufacturing of electronics, cleantech and alternative energy. Most recently with several sensor and precision agri-tech and food-tech companies.

Connect with Doug on LinkedIn

Jackie Lauer

With nearly 20 years as a change management consultant and leadership coach, Jackie’s mission and passion is to help create healthy, thriving, high-performance workplace cultures by helping leaders tap into the strengths of their people, aligning their values and goals and creating an environment that fosters success from the inside out.

Connect with Jackie on LinkedIn

Cara Loncar

Cara is senior sales lead with a powerful and diverse skill-set with proven leadership in product commercialization from concept to store shelf. She is experienced at Foodservice and Export business development including sales, project management and product marketing.  Her extensive industry experience includes sales of CPG branded and private label products, Fortune 500 companies (nationally and internationally) such as Loblaw, Sobeys, Kroger, Target and Wal-Mart import/export, healthcare, work with quota systems and supply chain experience in Master Data Management and Data Sync. Cara is known as a "Super Connector" because of her love to bring people with common needs together and positively impact organizational effectiveness.

Connect with Cara on LinkedIn

Dana McCauley

Dana has a nose for the new and throughout her career she has combined an interest in food and insights on global food trends to bring profitable concepts that fulfill unmet consumer needs to market. As Director of New Venture Creation Dana’s mandate is to enable Canada's smartest agri-food researchers to transform their insights into commercial value. Dana was recognized as one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner in 2017, an honour celebrating female leaders who inspire others.

Connect with Dana on LinkedIn

Ian McGinty

Ian has operated as a senior executive and manager in multiple sectors (including automotive, healthcare, energy and consumable beverages) with global, national and provincial mandates. He works with teams to optimize organizational performance - harnessing the contributions of people to achieve organizational objectives.

Connect with Ian on LinkedIn

Tim Nelson

Tim is an experienced Chief Executive Officer with a demonstrated history of success working in agribusiness and agricultural research. He has worked in many agricultural sectors as a business developer, owner, CEO and general manager, project manager and mentor, predominantly in livestock in the UK, Australia, and Canada.

Connect with Tim on LinkedIn

Diane Richard

Diane has over 25 years of experience leading large organizations during her tenure at DuPont and PepsiCo Foods. She is currently supporting a number of multi-generational family businesses and new enterprises taking on the challenge of innovation and organizational development to generate sustainable business growth. Diane is a certified Board Director (C.Dir).

Connect with Diane on LinkedIn

Daniel Richter

Daniel is a multi-lingual and forward-thinking, strategic, hands-on and growth-oriented International Business Development professional that is focused on bringing the correct solution to the right customer. In his work with environmental technologies, food service, and retail consumer goods he has proven his ability to identify and drive new market segment growth utilizing strategic thinking and leverage corporate relationships to attain new lines of business.

Connect with Daniel on LinkedIn

Mike Skinner

Having actively led teams through several organizational transformations in the Canadian Food industry, Mike brings a broad scope of business and technology insights and skills to business turnarounds, strategy and process improvements for a digital world.

Connect with Mike on LinkedIn

Lisa Sommers

Lisa is a multi-faceted professional who has straddled both the entrepreneurial world and the private sector, and now most recently, the not-for-profit realm. With many years of experience in procurement, distribution, collaborating on new food products, key account management and coaching in the market research, food, franchise and wellness industries, Lisa brings a unique perspective to her passion for innovation in the food industry and in helping others. Being involved in charitable boards for the arts and the fitness industry in Canada has also broadened her stakeholder engagement, fundraising and leadership skills with a wide variety of people and organizations.

Gary Svoboda

Gary is the founder and CEO of Adventus Research and Consulting Inc. – a market research/strategy and management consulting firm with a focus on performing primary market research to validate client value propositions and provide invaluable market data directly from customers and other market stakeholders. Gary’s 30 years of experience in performing hundreds of market research projects for clients across many industries gives him the key perspective and expertise regarding the optimal methodologies required to obtain key market information

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Don Thompson

Don is an inquisitive product executive who thrives in a fast-moving, performance-driven environment. Having spent the last 20 years managing and developing new products with top-performing organizations he has developed advanced expertise in the areas of business case development, new product introduction (NPI) and product lifecycle management. With a passion for innovation, he is focused on delivering great new solutions for customers year after year.

Connect with Don on LinkedIn

Michael Van Belle

Michael Van Belle is the President and Manager – Corporate Innovation Programs at Adventus Research and Consulting. With over a decade of corporate marketing management and market research experience in the financial sector, where he executed on 7-figure budgets Michael understands first-hand the issues and demands of today’s corporate innovation environment.

Connect with Michael on LinkedIn

Ellyn Winters-Robinson

With over 10 years’ experience in senior marketing management, 15 years of team leadership experience, and 25+ years in technology public relations, Ellyn brings a breadth of knowledge about outbound and inbound marketing strategy, planning, and execution. Ellyn specializes in high growth technology companies, startups, and the business-to-business enterprise software sector.

Connect with Ellyn on LinkedIn