May 19, 2020

PFG's top entrepreneurs to watch in 2020

Ronnie Midlash
10 min
PFG's top entrepreneurs to watch in 2020

Top Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2020

It's 2020, and the entrepreneur pool is only getting bigger. There is so much interest in starting a new business, as well as side hustlers taking their once part-time gigs to new full-time heights with their own brands. With so much shuffle going on in the business world, it’s hard to know what advice to take a leave. We feel that experience trumps all.

We spoke with various entrepreneurs with experience in an array of industries such as fitness, tech, and lifestyle. Here’s their advice for those looking to scale their business this year.

Emily Vavra

Emily Vavra is a renowned speaker, health and wellness entrepreneur, and expert network marketer. Emily provides people with the training, tools, and support to create residual income and find financial freedom. Her reach extends far beyond business, as she is also involved in charity. Emily recently traveled to Uganda with Just Like My Child Foundation, in a collaborative effort to improve healthcare, education and to establish empowerment programs for young women and children. 

“Get crystal clear on what it is that you want to do, and why you want to do it. Keep in mind that the obstacle is the way and you’re going to have a lot of things come up. What decides if you're going to make it through is how strong your vision is and how big your why is.”


Heather DeSantis

Heather DeSantis is the CEO and Founder of Publicity For Good and Press Demand. She was also Miss Ohio International and a Forbes 30 under 30 nominee. For 2020 DeSantis will be taking PFG on the road with her Airstream around the US so she can create media mixers, get involved in influencer meetups, and meet with clients one on one.

“Becoming more than the product you sell is imperative for scaling up. (What's your story? Why are you an expert? Why should I buy from you? How is your company giving back? Are your ingredients ethically sourced?) All of these questions are human connection marketing tactics that must be followed in 2020. With over 627,000 businesses being launched every year businesses must enhance their brand with social media posts and media interviews that contain content that is deeper than the product itself. Adding Thought Leadership as seen with media features  will support every business with scaling up.”


Megan Yelaney

Megan Yelaney is a business coach and strategist for online entrepreneurs. She helps entrepreneurs start and scale their businesses to six and multiple six figures focusing on client attraction, social media strategy, launch strategy, and client retention.

 “One of my tips to scale in 2020 is to hire the right help! I scaled my business drastically in 2019 and it was hands down because I outsourced a ton and was able to purely focus on my zone of genius. This not only let me show up more fully for my clients and audience, but saved me time and energy, all while increasing my revenue.”


Isabella Silverio

As the CEO of Guava Empowerment, Isabella Silverio is a business and CEO Embodiment coach who helps women circumvent the uncomfortable pressures of running an online business by guiding them through my unique framework: Foundation, Innovation, Generation. She helps women narrow down their messaging to attract qualified leads online through social media - so that they may monetize off their own expertise. 

“If you are an entrepreneur who is looking to scale their business in 2020, then it's time to play a bigger game. Diversify your offerings so you can help more people and then leverage your clients results to grow exponentially by converting them into evangelists for you and your company. Hire and lead a team that is motivated to grow your business for you.”


Melissa Ruiz

Melissa Ruiz is a Registered Yoga Teacher, Mindset Expert, and Online Soulprener Business Coach. After working as a TV producer for 13 years, she left everything behind to pursue her passion and purpose. Melissa quit her 6 figure job, got a divorce and now helps other women move past their own fears so they too can build the life & spiritual businesses they desire.

“Make personal connections with your ideal clients. In order to scale your business in 2020, it’s going to take personal connections and branding to really scale and sustain. What makes you different is what will set you apart in 2020.”


Evelyn Huynh

Evelyn Huynh is the founder of the E.V.O.L.V.E Method and CEO of EH Fitness. She is a business and life coach hybrid for her clients -- with fitness, health and wellness aspects. Evelyn has been able to overcome body dysmorphia, bullying, anxiety and depression, and turned it into a multiple 6-figure coaching business supporting other women that have experienced similar challenges in life.

“Stay in your own lane, because there will be many people and things along the way that will distract you from attaining your goals and dreams. It’s crucial that you define YOUR own version of success because if you are focusing on what everyone else's idea of success is, you'll never achieve it and you’ll never feel fulfilled.”


Dre Fox

Dre Fox is a business coach that teaches influencers how to monetize their message on social media channels.

“The challenge that Instagram entrepreneurs make, is not creating scalability in their business. They hold their phones from sun up to sundown, trapped in an endless hamster wheel. Those that are most successful with scaling, have implemented tools and systems like onboarding automation, speaking one to many and creating teams with digital employees. Once the business begins refraining from trading time for money and looking beyond what’s in front of them, it’s easy to see a wider path ahead. With new systems and higher-priced offers, Insta businesses are able to rapidly scale and grow their business.”


Cole and Sonja Hatter

Thrive is an experience designed to inspire attendees to pursue success with greater enthusiasm than they ever have before, with the end goal not being a large houses and exotic cars (those can be by-products along the way), but living a meaningful life to create a positive impact, making their lives and the time they have truly matter. 

“We believe that money is a utility, not a destination; so, work hard to make as much money as you can then use it in an influential manner.”


Jeff Fenster

Jeff Fenster is the CEO and Founder of craft superfood chain, Everbowl. Jeff was named a top 100 Entrepreneur in America under the age of 35 in 2013 by Empact, named a Top 40 Executive under 40 by the Business Journal in 2019 and was also recently a finalist for CEO of the year (2019).

“There are 3 main things you should focus on to quickly scale your company in 2020. The first is all about making friends and having fun! The second is to leverage your ‘relationship capital’. Lastly, make sure you are the dumbest guy or girl in the room within your company.”


Jason Greer

Jason Greer is the president of Greer Consulting, Inc. (GCI). GCI is a labor and employee relations management firm that focuses on helping companies solve issues that keep executives up at night. 

“In terms of scaling for 2020, businesses need to focus on tapping into the core strengths of their employees. So often Companies will outsource to compensate for perceived needs when the reality is that their employees understand the business needs just as well, and at times better, then they are given credit for. Employees want to contribute to the success of a company but they often feel as though their voices do not count.”


Sid Clevinger


The Better Leads Institute is a place to come and build a highly converting marketing system of clients that stay, pay and refer. They focus on five specific steps to selling more of their client’s stuff online and those are lead generation, lead flow, emotionless sales process (ESP), Transactional Zones and Retention. Their goal is to give every entrepreneur, coach, and agency an opportunity to discover how to rapidly grow online without spending a lot of money. 

“I believe in any advertising or marketing you have to go where the eyes are. In 2018, there were more eyes looking at social media advertisements than television advertisements and projects say that will continue to increase heavily in the upcoming years. With this, I believe it is essential now more than ever to create positioning online in a target-rich environment so you can be where the eyes are who are looking for your stuff, and that’s online on social media.”


Matt Sweetwood

LUXnow was created to provide the best of luxury on one convenient platform - a secure and transparent peer-to-peer marketplace to access and share exotic and luxury autos, homes and yachts - when and where you want it. Through Android and iOS apps, website and concierge services, LUXnow combines community and technology to provide an intelligent way to experience luxury. 

“Scaling your business requires a specific, realistic goal and a clear understanding of what it takes to achieve that target. Saying I want to ‘grow big’ to sell my company is not going to scale anything. Setting a goal of say, $5M in sales, knowing that number is what it will take to get significant financing, and knowing that you will have to hire two people for your marketing department, three for your sales department in the next 60 days, and spend $500,000 in advertising dollars is the kind of thinking that leads to scale.”


Giridhar Akkineni

AkkenCloud is the most comprehensive, enterprise, cloud-based platform available for staffing and recruiting agencies, built to streamline front office, middle office, and back-office workflow. With the use of the AkkenCloud platform, customers have seen an increase in efficiency, placements, and profitability. 

“It’s important for users and agencies to improve brand awareness, leverage social media to reach your target candidates, and convert site visitors into leads. This visibility will lead to increased discoverability by potential prospects via search engines and social media.”


Ben Walker

Transcription Outsourcing, LLC provides high-quality law enforcement transcriptionlegal transcriptionacademic transcription, financial and business transcriptionmedical transcription, and general transcription services to clients across the United States.

“Make 2020 the year you ‘do’ stuff instead of just ‘talk’ about stuff. So many people put things off and say they are going to start the addition on their house, lose weight, start a new company and they never actually do it.”


Drew Canole

Organifi is a superfood company, committed to making health convenient and accessible to its clients. They distribute throughout the world, the highest quality superfood ingredients possible.

“2020 is the year of omnipresence. Once you get a traffic source our two working - how can you be everywhere your avatar is? Furthermore, understanding the buying decisions of your confined will set you apart from most other online retailers.”


William Alfred

MusicDigi allows musicians to release unlimited album or songs on the world's largest digital platforms like iTunes, Spotify, TikTok, Amazon, Tidal, and many more, all for just $39.99 a year.

“Listening to music in the office has been proven by science to reduce stress and increase the productivity of workers. Nothing scales your company faster than happy and highly productive employees. Invest in great music for your office and watch your company growth begin to soar.”


Dan and Casey Fleyshman

Elevator Studio has spent more than anyone on influencer marketing and they’re able to do this because they pay so many influencers on salary every month. Influencers love them because we pay them consistently and brands love them because they get influencers at great rates.

“A tip for how to scale in 2020 would be to make sure your brand is Omnipresent and can be found somehow across all platforms.”



Brandon Steven

Brandon is the founder and CEO of Steven Enterprise, LLC. Brandon is a philanthropist and successful serial entrepreneur with a focus on the automotive industry. Brandon has often said he is in the team building business and see this positive team environment as the reason for this success. Brandon employes over six thousand people in Wichita, Kansas, and spends about 35% of his time on philanthropic endeavors.

“Rocketship off today. It’s great to have long term goals, but at the end of the day, you have to get going. Don’t look at the big picture every single day. Get your morning off with a win, get your day going by checking something off your todo list.”

For more information on business topics in Canada, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief Canada.

Follow Business Chief on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Share article

Jun 13, 2021

Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl

Kate Birch
5 min
Former CMO for IBM Americas Maria Bartolome Winans was recently named CMO for Kyndryl. Maria talks about her new role and her leadership style

Former Chief Marketing Officer for IBM Americas, and an IBM veteran of more than 25 years, Maria Bartolome Winans was recently named CMO for Kyndryl.

Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.

With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.

You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?

I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.

We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.

What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?

I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.

The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.

I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.

What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?

When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.

What does success look like to you?

I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.

What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?

I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.

Share article