April 9th, 2019

What’s it like starting a business and how do you market it? Whether you’ve already begun or are toying with the idea of building your own, this panel discussion will be your chance to ask questions, get answers, hear ideas, and spark innovation. At a minimum, you could at least get some validation that you’re not alone in your struggles, because growing pains are not uncommon.

We’ve gathered four local entrepreneurs for a panel discussion. Each entrepreneur has one or more businesses in the marketing space – between creative services, promotional products and/or displays, and strategy and management services.

Meet the Panel

Jonathan Dodge

Freshwater Digital, Executive Vice President

Jonathan Dodge has well over 15 years of digital marketing and entrepreneurial experiences in paving new industry opportunities. He has co-founded successful start-up companies (including one of the first online food ordering platforms), served on a board of directors at his alma mater Michigan State University, consulted for several large web publishers, led the creation of the digital advertising department at Meijer, and managed digital strategy for Jack Morton Worldwide. He is currently EVP of Business Development for Freshwater Digital, a 9-year-old company in which he is a partner and joined as employee number two.

Chris Ake

Grand Apps, Co-Founder and Operating Partner

Chris Ake and another founded Grand Apps in 2011, a mobile app development company. The company’s reach began locally in Grand Rapids, MI but soon expanded its mobile marketing services and began serving clients globally. As Chris grew this company over the past several years, he began investing in and launching more businesses. Currently he owns 6 companies, 4 are service-based companies and 2 are investments. Entrepreneurship and building companies are his passion and he is constantly sharing his journey. 

Erik Lauchié

Carbon Stories, Founder

Erik Lauchie is a young entrepreneur. He Founded Carbon Stories, a Michigan based creative agency in 2015 at the age of 19. Carbon tells its clients’ stories and shares experiences through numerous media forms, including; photography, videography, graphic design and print media. Since the start, Carbon has traveled around the world telling stories and sharing experiences. Erik’s motto is Create Daily.

Karen Scarpino

Green Giftz, President and Owner

Karen Scarpino is the President and Owner of Green Giftz and Promotional Impact, a certified woman-owned business. Green Giftz is a high-design and eco-friendly branded merchandise company servicing clients like Steelcase, Herman Miller, Haworth, Stiles, Herman Miller, Chrysler and more. She is a member of the Chamber of Commerce CEO Round Table, a recipient of the Grand Rapids Business Journal Top Woman-Owned Business and West Michigan Women Brilliance Award Entrepreneur Award Winner. Karen has mentored students at Grand Valley State University and presented to the Michigan Diversity Council on onboarding and employee retention through successful branded merchandise programs.

Submit Questions Ahead of Time

Have any specific questions you’d like the panel to answer? There is a section to input your question during the registration process. Or, email us anytime before the event at info@amawestmichigan.org with your question.