Keynote Speakers

Steve Somers Sr.
Owner and President
Vigon International

Keynote Title – Entrepreneurial Passion – Fulfilling Your Dreams


Steve Somers is the owner and President of Vigon. With an MS in Analytical Chemistry, he began his career on the technical side of the flavor and fragrance industry, eventually ending up at Givaudan. Steve moved rapidly up through the organization, being appointed as the Business Director of Givaudan’s Fragrance Ingredient Division and soon after promoted to Director of Sales for North America.

In pursuit of his vision of creating a unique and progressive company, Steve purchased Vigon International in 1998. Under Steve’s leadership, the company has since become one of the industry’s fastest growing companies.

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Kristan J. Wheaton, JD
Mercyhurst University

Keynote Title – The Myth and Mysteries of Crowdfunding
Some people look at crowdfunding as a money machine and some look at it as a scam. It is neither, of course, but it can be an alternative financing option for everyone from pre-entrepreneurs to seasoned professionals. Kris Wheaton will boil down his nearly a decade’s worth of experience running (and backing) crowdfunding campaigns into three secrets to crowdfunding success.

Kristan J. Wheaton (Kris) is a professor at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania.

He runs Mercyhurst’s Quickstarter Project which is designed to help entrepreneurs use crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo to fund their projects. Funded by the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority’s IgniteErie Grant and in partnership with Penn State Behrend, Quickstarter has worked with over 160 local entrepreneurs and has a 90% success rate in crowdfunding campaigns it has supported.

Kris is an entrepreneur himself and is the owner of Sources and Methods Games, a company that designs educational games for the intelligence community. His games are used by a number of agencies and organizations including the FBI and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.

He holds a Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina, an MA (Russian and East European Studies) from Florida State University and a BBA (Accounting) from the University of Notre Dame. He is the recipient of the CIA Seal Medallion and the State Department’s Superior Honor Award and is a member of the South Carolina Bar.

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Kathryn Bondi
Posture Interactive

Presentation Title – Blow Up Your Brand

What defines a brand? Is it a logo? A slogan? Maybe a color palette? Believe it or not, a brand is an entire experience made up of a variety of components developed for a very specific target audience. From your initial product or service all the way to the consumer’s home (and wallet), there must be a carefully crafted brand experience present throughout in order to hook your audience in. In this fast-paced workshop, we’ll uncover that formula and discuss how to execute in real life situations.

Kathryn is currently a digital designer at Posture Interactive, a full-service digital advertising agency that focuses on website development. A Bethlehem, PA native, she graduated from Marywood University with her BFA in Graphic Design and now spends her time in the Marywood classroom as adjunct faculty in the design department. Her previous background as a designer and Creative Director at Net Driven helped build up her love for the world of web design and UX/UI principles.

Kathryn has served on the board of directors for the American Advertising Federation of NEPA since 2011 and is currently Vice President of the board for 2016-2018. She also consults on the board of directors for the NEPA Design Collective and the Advertising Advisory Board at the University of Scranton. Kathryn has been involved as a speaker on several branding and design topics at other conference events such as 2014 TEDxScranton, the 2016 TecBridge Entrepreneurship Institute, and 2017 BlogCon. In her “spare” creative time, she is involved with performances at the Diva Theater where she occasionally acts or designs sets for their productions. She also creates light and branch sculptures/jewelry under her brand “BrokenTwig.” Kathryn is a lover of all things art and branding, plays the piano sometimes and has become quite the craft beer snob (on top of being a cheese snob.)

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366952-7d75687c-56d8-332b-1_speakerMandy Pennington
Net Driven

Presentation Title – Improve Outcomes & Experiences with Customer Journey Mapping

Imagine knowing your customer so well that you can anticipate her next move – and delight her in the process.

Deep dive into customer journey mapping in this workshop and discover how it can help your company drive better experiences, improve customer loyalty, and turn strangers into your most loyal brand advocates.


Mandy Pennington is an online marketer, writer, and teacher with a passion for storytelling. She is the Director of Internet Marketing at Net Driven and is an adjunct instructor at Marywood University in the Communication Arts Department. Mandy loves to laugh, enjoys cooking, and believes that community change is always possible.
In 2012, she co-founded NEPA BlogCon, a regional blogging and social media conference dedicated to community-based education. Mandy is also the co-founder of Squirrel Girls Tech Camp, a non-profit program to educate girls in grades 4 through 6 on topics ranging from technology and leadership to creative problem solving and careers in STEM.
When she’s not being a tech butterfly, Mandy is an award-winning actress and flexes her creative muscles as a member of The New Vintage Ensemble. She’s a storytelling alum from Scranton StorySlam, CASE District II Accolades Award panelist, Northeast PA Business Journal Top 20 Under 40 recipient, 2016 SAGE Award nominee, and a proud recipient of Marywood University’s Recent Alumni Award for Professional Achievement.
Workshop Title – Customer Journey Mapping (no content yet).

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366952-a1430d62-b937-5510-8_speakerJerry Lisman
Lisman Holdings

Workshop Title – Simplifying the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) Challenge

What should I include in my cost of goods? Sounds like a simple question!! It can be, but it can also be a very complex question depending on the business you are in. What is included can as simple as your invoice cost to as complex as building a Bill of Material (BOM) which includes labor, component parts, packaging, etc. The workshop will focus on brick & mortar retailers; online retailers; assembled product distributors and manufacturers and how each have their own unique issues in determining their TRUE Cost of Goods.

Jerry Lisman is Chief Executive Officer of Lisman Holdings, is a three platform operating company focused on medical products, online retailing and business strategies in addition to investments in children’s winter wear accessories, web page hosting and several consumer products. Jerry has over 35 years of sales, marketing and operational experience with several large medical and distribution companies.
Jerry is an Executive Business Mentor at the Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship at Wilkes University, mentoring students, faculty, and staff to develop and own companies from inception to commercialization. He also works with a fee for service clients of the center on specific projects. Giving back to the community is important to Jerry and he serves as Chairman of the Board of Junior Achievement of Northeastern Pennsylvania, serves on the advisory boards of several startups and early-stage companies in the region and is a Director Emeritus of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Bridge.

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366952-fe4d8365-e40d-36e9-4_speakerLaura Novakowski
720 Thinking

Workshop Title – Building an Entrepreneurial Culture

So what is culture and why is it important to entrepreneurs?

In late 2014, Joshua Rothman, The New Yorker archive editor wrote The Meaning of Culture. In his words, “Culture …, in its way, a wish. The wish is that a group of people might discover, together, a good way of life; that their good way of life might express itself in their habits, institutions, and activities; and that those, in turn, might help individuals flourish in their own ways.”

What can be more important to entrepreneurs from all walks of life than to wish to have a great way of life that is expressed in all thoughts, habits, and actions that help them to flourish? We have two major choices with culture – We can choose to consciously and collaboratively build a culture that we want. Or, we can choose to live with the culture we get. The choice is yours.

If you are interested, please consider joining in these interactive sessions where we will explore and share some of the many factors that positively and negatively affect our ability to build a flourishing entrepreneurial culture. The end game is to walk away with some tips that we can apply to our own entrepreneurial experience.

Laura Novakowski, RN, MBA is a Change Agent and Executive Coach. She facilitates professional and personal growth. A former senior executive herself, Laura initiates Culture Change at all levels of an organization: large healthcare systems, governmental departments and agencies (e.g., Department of Defense, US Marine Corps, US Navy, and US Air Force), and Fortune 500 Companies.

As Founder and President of Positive Power Strategies, Inc, Laura developed the ACTS© in-depth process. The ACTS© tools create clarity around vision, culture and strategic thinking and ultimately impact sustainable results, transforming collaborative experiences and generating a framework to continually measure and monitor success.

Laura is often asked to provide keynote experiences to inspire people and companies to shine the light on their own power, potential, and passion to achieve extraordinary results.

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366952-2f59ad47-83b7-7156-5_speakerMarty Wolff – Co-Presenting with Bob Courtright
Executive/Business Coach, Business Builders Show Podcast.

Marty Wolff is a serial entrepreneur, business coach, and business journalist. In addition to his coaching and consulting practice, Marty hosts a regional radio show, Business Leaders Radio and a nationally recognized podcast, the Business Builders Show. Marty’s skill in securing well-known guests for his shows are a direct result of his skills as a master networker. Marty is on the board of the Northeast PA Networkers.

366952-4d5a8104-dd50-d76c-9_speakerBob Courtright Co-Presenting with Marty Wolff
Courtright & Associates, Inc.

Robert J. Courtright is President of Courtright & Associates, Inc., a retained executive search consulting, business development & outplacement firm, located in Scranton, PA. Mr. Courtright founded the firm in 1989. He also offers business, Networking & Linkedin consulting services. He is Chairman of the Northeast PA Networkers.

Workshop Title – Intentional Networking

It has become obvious to students who are graduating high school and/or college that a diploma is no longer a bridge to a successful life or career. The ability to understand and implement networking skills are vital for personal and professional success. This also pertains to individuals already in the workplace who want to do better where they are at now or to move on to a new opportunity. This workshop is designed to go beyond fundamental networking and will teach you how to not only connect with people but positively influence them.

Learning Sessions

Wendy Koba Esq.
Learning Session Title – Confidentiality Agreements – It’s A Secret!



Wendy Koba has over thirty years of experience as a patent attorney, the last fourteen in private practice. Prior to that Wendy worked as a patent attorney with AT&T Bell Labs for nineteen years. Wendy focuses her practice on the preparation of patent applications, and the development of patent portfolios for a variety of clients, including start-up companies, individuals, and corporate clients. Wendy works with Pennsylvania’s Ben Franklin Technology Center and Keystone Industrial Zone organizations, assisting their various new venture clients in obtaining patent protection.

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366952-f5d54dfd-5af4-8763-c_speakerKenneth Okrepkie
Ben Franklin Technology Partners of NEPA

Learning Session Title – 10 Startup Mistakes

We all make mistakes. Entrepreneurs seem to make some of the same ones over and over again. Join this breakout session to explore some of the most common entrepreneurial mistakes and learn from others on how to avoid pitfalls that can derail your success.

I’ve been afforded numerous opportunities working in higher education, managing non-profit organizations and enjoying the world of the entrepreneur.

Now, I’m putting to use all of my experiences facilitating technology-based economic development in Northeastern Pennsylvania among the region’s fourteen colleges and universities. I previously established and managed the Keystone Innovation Zones for Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties returning more than $10M to early-stage companies. Additionally, I serve on the board of directors for the region’s five business incubators.

As a resource for local entrepreneurs, I work with our state and federal legislators to bring opportunities to the region. I currently hold a position with Ben Franklin Technology Partners of NEPA where we provide funding and support to start-up companies and established manufacturers.

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Gerard Durling
Coal Creative

Learning Session Title: Video Marketing – The Entrepreneurial Way

In this session, Gerard will discuss ways that you can leverage video marketing on your own without the expense of hiring a video marketing company.

Gerard Durling is the founder of Coal Creative – an internet marketing agency based in Downtown Wilkes-Barre. After watching video begin to expand on Social Media, the company made significant investments into offering video marketing to clients including the expansion of their office into a Live Streaming Video/Audio Production Studio. Aside from offering video marketing services to clients, Durling is also the President and co-founder of Powerbomb.TV, a video streaming subscription service.

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Michael Cangiarella

Learning Session Title – Getting Your Business Online
Join this learning session to gain valuable insights on bringing your business online in a safe and efficient manner. Learn about domain name and web hosting basics, the importance of a professional email address, ecommerce requirements, Search Engine Optimization and security.

Originally from the Philadelphia area, Michael Cangiarella relocated to Northeastern Pennsylvania 15 years ago. He has spent nearly 10 of those years with in Drums where he presently serves as Director of Customer Service. Michael is a tech-industry enthusiast with 25 years of either personal or professional IT-related experience, becoming a hobbyist with online technologies before the dawn of the world wide web. Michael pursued a degree in Psychology while attending Rutgers University in Camden NJ before revising his professional ambitions and setting off on a service and technology career path. He currently resides in Mountain Top with his wife and two teenage sons.

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Colin Devroe
Condron Media

Session Title – Social Media Metrics That Matter

Using three disparate businesses as a lens, we’ll see that not all social strategies should include the same cookie-cutter processes.

Colin has an insatiable passion for the web. Has two decades of experience founding technology companies, internet marketing, and the social web. Past endeavors include the 9rules Network, Viddler, and Plain. He’s currently Senior Vice President at Condron Media in Scranton, PA and is an avid blogger at

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Aaron Rosenberg
Quality Rockets



Aaron Rosenberg is Founder and Senior Partner of Quality Rockets, a project management startup based in Brooklyn and NEPA. With 20+ years experience in software development and program management, Aaron currently dedicates his time to designing and managing programs for Fortune 500 clients across retail, healthcare and financial industries. As a former software engineer turned UX/usability junkie, Aaron’s main focus is on building teams and products that bring together technical, design and strategy disciplines in the name of consumer and client needs.

Prior to Quality Rockets, Aaron spent most of his career in E-commerce overseeing major global initiatives for Gucci, Adidas, AnnTaylor, Godiva, Kraft and other major US retailers. Aaron also has a significant pharma background and has launched numerous Cannes Lions award-winning omnichannel brands, mobile products and campaigns for Allergen, Astra-Zeneca and Pfizer.

Aaron splits time between Brooklyn and Northeast Pennsylvania along with his wife, 3 year old son, a Corgi-Rottweiler dog and an overly active espresso machine.

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Frouke de Quillettes
Assistant Teaching Professor
Penn State Wilkes Barre



Frouke de Quillettes is an Assistant Teaching Professor at Penn State Wilkes-Barre. She has been teaching in higher education since 1992. Frouke’s background in Education and Computer Science has led her to believe that everyone is able to learn how to code, no matter which systems they would like to create. Her passion is coding. This combined with her ability to create a fun and relaxed class environment for students from all majors, allows a student to enjoy strong hands-on learning methods. This results in many students creating projects that mimic real world applications. Good examples are integrating software on old and new machines and mobile computing.

Frouke also teaches non-programming courses like gaming. Penn State Wilkes-Barre now offers a Gaming Minor. Her role in this minor is to teach fundamentals of creating board and card games that will help as a good foundation when developing digital games.

She recently began to teach an introductory course in Information Technology to high school students.

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Jason Washo
Founder and Chief Architect
Sho Technology



Jason is the founder and Chief Architect for Sho Technology. Jason received Bachelor of Science Degree in Information Technology from Keystone College and his Master’s in Software Engineering from the University of Scranton. He’s proud to have worked with clients ranging from “Mom & Pop” shops to Fortune 100 companies. It’s all about the customer!

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Tony Bartocci
Posture Interactive



Tony is a Principal in Posture Interactive – a full service web design and development firm. I’m passionate about people – clients, friends, family – they make what we do at Posture go round.

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BPC Teams

Cracked Innovations
Fader Plugs
My College Roomie