The Solano SBDC is staffed with experienced leaders who assist SBDC clients grow and develop their businesses.
Tim has well rounded business experience as the former Director of Global Sales at FedEx and from starting, building and selling two companies of his own. Having been a small business owner hmself, he knows how valuable the services of the Small Business Development Center can be to entrepreneurs who are charged with leading and growing their business. Tim is passionate about serving and providing high quality services to small business owners throughout Solano County.
Blair Abee is president of the Strategy Development Group, a private consulting firm that specializes in 1 and 3 year action planning, marketing strategy, and financial management. Prior to moving to California two years ago, Blair was the Greensboro Regional Center Director for the Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC) in North Carolina.
In his 19 year career at the North Carolina SBTDC, Blair worked with a broad range of clients from early stage and startup companies to existing firms that were trying to survive and had potential to grow. His areas of expertise include start-up support, strategy development, marketing, financial management, and leadership development. He also has experience working with small- to medium-sized manufacturers to help them develop their management capacity for growth.
In addition to his private consulting practice, Blair works with both the Solano and Contra Costa SBDCs as a business advisor. Prior to his private consulting and his work with the SBDC, Blair owned several successful construction-related businesses in the Berkeley area. He is also a budding author, with two books ready for publication and three in the works.
Blair’s education includes a Bachelor of Arts (BA) from Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina, and a Master of Public Administration (MPA) from Golden Gate University in San Francisco, California.
Stephen is a highly experienced and versatile business leader who brings with him a broad range of experience in a variety of specialties and industries. In a career spanning 30+ years, he has held a variety of senior and executive level positions, has worked internationally, owned several businesses (including a franchise) and has helped many small businesses improve their operations and profitability.
Stephen’s early background includes senior level corporate financial positions at Xerox and Charles Schwab Inc. He also served many years as the CFO/COO of the largest and most influential open-access scientific publisher, PLOS Publications, where he was instrumental in guiding the company from start-up to over $50MM in annual revenue. He now focuses his time on using his experience to help businesses grow and succeed.
Stephen brings with him a broad skill set in finance, operations, and strategy. He is a self-proclaimed “quant” and loves building complex financial models, doing financial analysis and budgeting. He is also well versed in operational management, including streamlining operations and building infrastructure to scale for growth. Having owned several businesses, he is very familiar (and empathetic) with the challenges of small business owners and this drives his passion to help small business owners succeed and thrive.
Stephen’s education includes a Bachelor of Science (BS) from Rochester Institute of Technology and an Masters of Business Administration from the University of Rochester.
Paul Bozzo is a scalable entrepreneurial and technology ventures expert in the San Francisco Bay Area. Paul’s background blends over 25 years of professional experience in start-up strategy, angel and venture capital financing, strategic planning, and SBA lending. His specialty is working with entrepreneurial ventures to refine their business model, create an investment-driven business plan, and prepare an effective funding presentation. He also advises CEOs and founding teams on these common start-up issues: legal entity selection, equity financing structures, financial forecasting, and exit strategies. Paul is an adjunct faculty member in both Sonoma State's Executive MBA program and Dominican University's Green MBA program.
Tom Camerato has been a private consultant, a business owner, and an investor for nearly 20 years. Tom calls himself a "Financial Strategist," one who integrates Business Strategy with Financial Management. In private practice, Tom's early focus was on the Pharmaceutical and Biotech industries and their growth strategies through acquisition, licensing, and partnering. In recent years, clients have covered a range of industries and sizes, and include business expansions (both organic and through acquisitions), start-ups, and turnarounds. Tom’s work history includes more than 10 years commercializing biological technologies in the very early years of the Biotechnology Industry and has two Master’s Degrees: one in Biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley and the other in Business Administration from Carnegie Mellon University.
Sarah is a first-generation farmer in Vacaville, where she raises nationally recognized dairy goats, chickens, various fruit trees, annuals, California native plants, and (intermittently) honey bees. She has a background in public policy implementation and has worked for the US Senate and two Contra Costa County Supervisors as a special assistant/community liaison between several county departments and the public. She also has experience in communications for both a non-profit and an insurance company. In 2004, she started her own skin care company utilizing farm raised ingredients – providing her hands-on experience with product development, packaging, marketing, wholesale accounts, retail sales, and numerous area farmers markets. Sarah was also a founding member of Solano Grown, a local 501c(6) and participated in the establishment of the online marketplace. She has been a member of the Solano Agricultural Advisory Board since 2014 as the Small Farms Representative.
Victor Johnson (Vic) is a Professional Civil Engineer who has 45 years of experience in the Sales and Marketing of Professional Services. He has specialized in growing small businesses into large businesses. He was Senior Vice President (and part owner) of two firms that went public: one went on the NYSE and the other, NASDAQ. He has spent the last 15 years providing engineering, sales, and marketing services to three national environmental engineering firms. He has provided those services through his own firm, Engineering Pathways.
Additionally, Vic has written six books and owns a publishing firm. This experience has broadened his sales and marketing experience in relationship to other types of products and services.
See engineeringpathways.com for his detailed resume and information on his publishing firm (EP Press).
As a life-long entrepreneur Mark has been at the right place at the right time a couple times over his 25+ year professional career. He was an early adopter in multiple industry segments. His success has been achieved with a combination of knowledge, relationships, persistence, timing, and luck. Mark's first company was in the early days of video security services for financial institutions like Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Chase Bank. He expanded the company to service hundreds of branch banks and then sold out to a large international organization.
The next chapter in Mark's career brought him into the world of business consulting where he has successful in helping to bring 3D cinema technology to the market for the former George Lucas ILM studios in San Rafael. (the studio where "Star Wars" and Pixar where born). Mark's company IM3D was successful in securing financing to bring ILM's technology to market. Additionally, Mark has been engaged to consult with large corporations, entrepreneurs, and well-known entertainment industry personalities.
Mark enjoys creating solutions that help others do what they do at a level above their competition, his true passion is helping entrepreneurs and organizations reach their full potential.
Luis Nanez studied Business Administration at San Marcos University in Lima-Peru. His career in sales and small businesses has lasted more than 20 years. He has been a small business owner and service industry entrepreneur for 17 years and a real estate professional for more 14 years. Currently, he shares his extensive knowledge in classrooms all over the Bay Area. Luis combines classroom teaching, a “business-like” setting, an emphasis in student participation, and a good sense of humor to help students experience first-hand the excitement and reality of opening small businesses, learn about the possible challenges and obstacles they might face running their own business, and how to avoid them. He worked as a facilitator, master trainer and business consultant at Women’s Initiative in the North Bay region (2008-2012). Luis brings vast experience in small business operations, business planning, marketing and community outreach. In his spare time he likes to play tennis.
John Smulo is the CEO and founder of the highly successful Purple Cow Agency, an innovative marketing firm that has worked with hundreds of businesses across multiple sectors and industries to develop specialized websites, create targeted marketing strategies, and implement best practice digital marketing systems and processes. He has also been involved in multiple startup tech companies, including most recently the restaurant tech startup, Feast.
Working from the perspective that marketing and sales are essential to one another, John walks clients through the thought process of discovering their ideal customer, and analyzing their needs and values as consumers.
Utilizing his extensive business experience, John has taught courses such as the New Ventures business planning course for the Contra Costa SBDC. He has also shared his expertise as a guest lecturer on digital marketing strategies for JFK University, as well as Berkeley City College. His primary focus is assisting his clients with the growth of their revenue streams through targeted marketing strategies, and ultimately the successful continuation of their businesses.
In 1990, Cindy Turner started her own private consulting practice, Turner & Associates, where she helped her clients increase their sales from 20 to 75 percent. Concurrently, Cindy has worked as an advisor with two Bay Area SBDCs, meeting thousands of clients resulting in hundreds of new business start-ups and hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales.
Knowing the inside-out of business start-ups and business planning, and using her distinct competency in market research techniques, Cindy helps her clients determine the feasibility of their ventures and guides them in the creation of effective marketing and business plans.
Cindy’s small business management instruction includes previous tenures as an adjunct faculty member with U.C. Berkeley and JFK University and as a business trainer for Contra Costa SBDC. Since 1991, Cindy has served a business professor for Berkeley City College.
As a columnist for the Contra Costa Times Family of Newspapers and Costco Connection, Cindy has shared her expertise with thousands of readers over a four-year span. She is also involved in community work and is on the Board of Directors for the Concord Chamber of Commerce, Private Industry Council and Mt. Diablo Region YMCA.
Cindy obtained her B.S. and M.B.A. in New Ventures and Small Business Management with a double option in Marketing as an M.B.A. student. She is also a graduate of the Leadership Concord Program and is a certified NxLevel Training Network.
With over 21 years of sales, marketing, branding, and advertising experience gained at prestigious companies -- LA Times, Fremont Investment & Loan, Deutchebank, RO-Studio-the design firm who created the Tesla car brand, Velocify, a leading CRM system, and Minoa Marketing, founded by the former VP of Marketing for 1-800-Dentist, Onna provides considerable insights into B2B and B2C revenue production.
During her years working for lenders, she received a PhD’s worth of financial analysis training while analyzing the financial lives of roughly 250,000 customers. This experience provided a deep dive into financial sociology, financial habits, credit best practices, along with lendability standards. Through her experience with branding and stratetic marketing analysis, she offers businesses a comprehensive roadmap that allows businesses to attract more customers. As a former CRM system architect, she is able to help businesses become more efficient. Her ability to help businesses identify key initiatives, to find areas of improvement, and to avoid costly mistakes makes working with her invaluable.
Citlalli Flores Zepeda
Citlalli was born in Mexico and is the founder of Alfa Entrepreneurs, a bilingual branding agency helping businesses build strong brands and reach the Spanish speaking market. Her education includes a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Business Administration from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education Campus Colima Mexico, and additional schooling through the Advertising Specialty Institute, the Promotional Products Association International, Google, Facebook and H&R Block.
During her 14 years in business, Citlalli has been able to help non-profits, small business owners, and corporations. Her areas of expertise are strategic planning, branding, marketing, social media and taxes for sole proprietors.
In addition to her private consulting practice, Citlalli is currently serving as the president of the Solano Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and as an ambassador of the Fairfield Suisun Chamber of Commerce.
Citlalli is passionate about speaking up for those in need, while being honest, fair and respectful to people. Her purpose in life is to empower women to reach their highest potential and to contribute to the economic development of her community. She believes that if every person has access to the right tools and resources, they can achieve success in life.