Hall of Fame

Every year the Strome Entrepreneurial Center recognizes life long achievements in entrepreneurship. Below is a complete list of members of the Strome Entrepreneurial Center Hall of Fame.

2019 Hall of Fame Members

Ajit Prabhu is the Chairman and CEO of QuEST Global, which he co-founded in Schenectady, NY in 1997. Ajit played a significant role in establishing a scalable and sustainable company, an institution that he hopes will outlive him. This phenomenal growth within a short span of 22 years can be attributed to Ajit's entrepreneurial spirit and passion for organization development. What started as a 2 person operation currently employs over 12,500 professionals across 65 engineering centers across 14 countries.

He has been recognized by industry bodies and universities for his outstanding achievements as a passionate entrepreneur. In 2017, Ajit was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Department of Mechanical Engineering of Old Dominion University, his alma mater. Ajit has also received Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2014 in the Services category. In 2014, he was also recognized by Singapore-Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) for his achievement as an outstanding entrepreneur. Ajit is also the recipient of the prestigious Young Investigator Award, conferred by International Association for Dental Research during his studies at RPI. He is frequently invited to speak in global industry forums as well as educational institutes in US, UK, Singapore and India.

Having begun with a humble background, Ajit nurtures his passion of giving back to the community with specific interest in less-privileged children's education. He continues to support his alma mater and QuEST's adopted Government schools in Bangalore and Hubli, believing that 'Education' plays an inevitable role in shaping children's future and the society at large. He has personally pledged to support college education expenses of one thousand students by 2035 and profusely donate towards this cause. (Ajitprabhufoundation.org) Currently 202 students have benefitted via this foundation.

Prior to founding QuEST, Ajit's career began at GE's Corporate R&D Center as a contract engineer, in Schenectady, NY, while working on power generation, aircraft engines; appliances and locomotive related engineering problems. Ajit holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the Karnataka University, India, a MS in Mechanical Engineering from Old Dominion University, Norfolk VA and, a MS in Biomedical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic, Troy NY.

Drew Ungvarsky is the Founder and CEO of Grow, one of the top digital agencies in the world. Under Drew's leadership, Grow has created innovative digital experiences and marketing campaigns for leading brands like Google, adidas, Spotify, and EA Games. Drew and his company's work have been recognized by The New York Times, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Adweek among many others. They've also been celebrated by the industry's top award shows, including the Cannes Lions, CLIOs, and Webbys.

Drew is also the founder and CEO of Assembly, an iconic building campus and community of creators and technology innovators coming to Downtown Norfolk. The development is an adaptive reuse of three historic department stores, and will soon be home to the region's leading creative and technology companies, startups, and freelancers.

A 2002 graduate of Old Dominion University, Drew is an active community advocate and civic leader in Norfolk. He serves on the board of the Downtown Norfolk Council, where he's helped create the successful Vibrant Spaces program and the Selden Market. He's also a founding board member of the Elizabeth River Trail Foundation. He's previously served on the boards of Re:Vision Norfolk, StartWheel, and RISE.

Renee Warren-Mebane is co-founder of Noelle-Elaine Media, Inc. (NE) and the president of Arielle-Wren, Inc. (AW). Renée celebrated her 26th year as an entrepreneur with her best friend and business partner, Kirsten Poe Hill this past October at Noelle-Elaine Media, Inc.. This dynamic woman has been able to incorporate all of her passions, from real estate to event planning to mentoring and teaching young minds -- she manages it all between her two companies. And, most recently, launching The Tea Standard - another passion of hers.

Under her two nationally recognized firms, she has worked with: Ariel Mutual Funds, BET, Charles Schwab, Citibank, Corporate Governance, Cricket mobile phones, Black Enterprise magazine, Essence, Joint Center Health Policy Institute, IR magazine, MONEY magazine, Disney & Disney Channel, L'Oreal, NAACP, The National Association of Black Accountants, The National Cancer Institute, The National Association Black MBA Association, The National Urban League, Pepsi, Porter Novelli, The SCOOTER Store, The Steve Harvey Foundation, UNCF and Williams Capital Group to mention a few. In addition to her national experience, she has worked on the four continents (North America, South America, Europe and Africa) producing large-scale events. She says it feeds her curiosity for learning.

Prior to creating her companies, she worked for CNBC, Dow Jones & Company and locally here at CBS affiliate WTKR-TV and local papers The Daily Press and The Virginian-Pilot; additionally, she often wrote for Black Enterprise and Essence magazines.

She is the co-author of You Buy the Peanut Butter, I'll Get the Bread, The Absolutely True Adventures of Best Friends in Business, worked as an Adjunct/Assistant Professor at New York University for 15 years where she taught Social Media & Event Public Relations. She is currently working on her second book.

Mike Zeiders is Founder and Chairman of Zeiders Enterprises, Inc. With over 1,000 employees, Zeiders Enterprises provides quality of life support programs to military service members and families worldwide.

In 2007, Mike and his wife, Charlotte, founded the Quality of Life Foundation, a charitable organization that supports caregivers of severely wounded, ill, and injured veterans nationwide. He serves as President and Chairman.

In 2013, he founded the Zeiders American Dream Theater, known as The Z. The Z is a charitable organization founded on the belief that imagination, passion, and the discipline of creation are universal requirements for all successful endeavors - artistic and otherwise. The Z's mission is to introduce new works and emerging artists, present unique artistic experiences, and inspire creative growth in our community. He serves as Chairman.

Mike has served as Chairman of the Northern Virginia Workforce Investment Board and is the author of the book, Entrepreneurship, The Art of Succeeding in Business.

Mike graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1975 and was awarded a Master's degree in Business Administration from George Mason University in 1984. In 1997, he was a state finalist for the Virginia Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Past Members

Travis Priest currently serves as Entrepreneur in Residence for Vocap Investment Partners, providing strategy and growth consulting to its portfolio companies. Mr. Priest is a serial entrepreneur, having founded, grown, and exited several companies in his career.

After graduating from Old Dominion University with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science in 1993 and serving as a computer systems analyst at NASA Langley Research Center, Mr. Priest co-founded URLabs. Symantec Corporation acquired URLabs in 1999, and the technology developed by URLabs still sits at the core of some of Symantec's consumer and enterprise products today. In 2010, Mr. Priest founded Sundrop Mobile, which was acquired in 2012 by the company that is now Worldpay, the world's largest payments processor. In 2015, Mr. Priest founded Obsidian Networks, whose technology has recently been acquired in a private transaction.

An innovative business leader, Mr. Priest identifies marketplace gaps and creates practical, dynamic products to satisfy the market and drive business growth. Mr. Priest is a financial technology (FinTech) expert with three FinTech patents. Many of Mr. Priest's product creations, some dating back to his early career two decades ago, remain in market today and have been used by millions of people. Mr. Priest spends his personal time mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs.

Jim Cheng has over 25 years' experience as a technology entrepreneur, angel/private capital investor, business leader, and senior state government executive. He is a Co-Founder of CAV Angels, an Angel Investment Club for University of Virginia alumni, a member of and advisor to several Angel Groups and private equity firms/groups; and is Of Counsel to the firm of Lee & Hayes PLLC. He is also an Executive Lecturer of Entrepreneurship at the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Previously, Mr. Cheng served as Secretary of Commerce and Trade for the Commonwealth of Virginia, from 2010 to 2014. As a senior member of the Governor's cabinet, his portfolio included thirteen state agencies with a focus on business, economic development and entrepreneurship. Before serving in State Government, Mr. Cheng was a tech entrepreneur in the government IT contracting industry, building his company to close to 600 people before successfully exiting in 2005.

Mr. Cheng holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science from Old Dominion University, an MBA from the University of Virginia Colgate Darden Graduate School of Business, and a JD from Georgetown University Law Center.

The Honorable Jeffrey L. McWaters is the Founder, Chairman, and CEO retired of Amerigroup, a managed health care organization launched from Virginia Beach in 1994. The company focused on meeting the healthcare needs of low-income families and individuals covered by state Medicaid programs. Under McWaters' leadership, the organization saw major growth and success and filed for their Initial Public Offering in 2000, moving from NASDAQ to the New York Stock Exchange. In 2012, WellPoint, Inc. - now Anthem, Inc. -- acquired Amerigroup for approximately $4.9 billion.

Mr. McWaters is also a former member of the Senate of Virginia, where he represented the 8th District here in Hampton Roads from 2010-2016. During his tenure in office, he focused on healthcare, military, education, transportation and jobs and economic development. Among his many Board and community leadership roles include serving as Vice Rector, Board of Visitors, the College of William and Mary. His early career began with CIGNA Healthcare and Ernst & Young. He continues today to advise entrepreneurs and investors.

Mr. McWaters graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from the University of Kentucky and was inducted into the University of Kentucky's Gatton College of Business and Economics Hall of Fame in 2003.

Angela D. Reddix PhD, currently serves as the President & CEO of ARDX, an award-winning healthcare management and IT consulting firm headquartered in Norfolk, VA. She is also Founder, Chairman and CEO of Envision Lead Grow, a Norfolk-based nonprofit organization aimed at aspiring girls of all ages to chart their destinies by teaching them the critical skills and dedication needed to accomplish their dreams through entrepreneurship.

As a trusted community leader, Dr. Reddix serves as a board member and trustee to various local organizations, including the United Way of South Hampton Roads Foundation, the YWCA of South Hampton Roads, Junior Achievement and the Hampton Roads Chamber Regional and Trustee Boards. Dr. Reddix has been honored with various awards for her work in entrepreneurship, including the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities Humanitarian Award, the Old Dominion University Women of Achievement Award, the Still Hope Foundation's Entrepreneurial Excellence Award, the US Chamber of Commerce's Big Blue Ribbon Award, Inside Business' Women in Business Award, and many other notable achievements.

A committed lifelong learner, Dr. Reddix received her bachelor's degree in Business Administration in Marketing from James Madison University, a master's degree in Organizational Development from Bowie State University, and her PhD in Business Administration from Oklahoma State University.

Inducted 2017 Adriane Brown is Senior Advisor and former President and COO for Intellectual Ventures (IV), an invention capital company. With a portfolio of homegrown and curated high-tech patents, her leadership and business acumen served as the cornerstone for building strong, global performance for IV. Prior to IV, Ms. Brown spent 10 years at Honeywell where she served as President and CEO of the $5B Transportation Systems group. Before that Ms. Brown spent 19 years at Corning in a variety of roles from shift supervisor to corporate officer. Ms. Brown earned a reputation for driving business results, pushing innovation, strengthening customer relationships, and inspiring and developing talented people.

Dr. Brown holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Health and a Doctorate Degree in Humane Letters from Old Dominion University. She holds a Master's Degree in Management from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she was a Sloan Fellow.

Dr. Brown serves on a number of boards including Allergan plc, and advises two Seattle based start ups. Dr. Brown, a public speaker and advocate for young people, is recognized for coaching and mentoring emerging talent of all ages, from all walks of life.

Inducted 2017 Brian Holland graduated from Old Dominion University with a Bachelor of Science in business administration and finance in May 1993. He entered the mortgage industry in 1993 and founded his own mortgage brokerage company, Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group®, just three years later. The company's first branch opened in 1997 in Virginia Beach. Atlantic Bay transitioned from brokering to mortgage lending in 2004.

Under Brian's leadership, Atlantic Bay overcame the industry challenges of 2007-2008 and continues to prosper and grow. The company now has nearly 1,000 associates and has been recognized as a Top 100 Mortgage Company in America, Best Mortgage Company, and Most Enjoyable Place to Work.

Atlantic Bay has donated more than $2 million for humanitarian causes and has helped over 115 organizations and charities. Brian's personally served on many boards including the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Old Dominion Athletic Foundation, Young Presidents Organization, Young Entrepreneurs Organization, Bayville Golf Club, and Tidewater Drillers Baseball. He was also past president of the Virginia Mortgage Bankers Association. Brian's wife Jennifer has been a key influence in his success. Together they have three children, who are active in athletics.

Inducted 2017 Göran Elovsson graduated from Old Dominion University with an MBA degree in Corporate Finance in July 1984. Elovsson has over two decades of experience in the manufacturing industry in a wide range of industries. He began his career as a sales & marketing manager at Warner Lambert Parke Davis, then continued as Vice President & General Manager for J.P Stevens, followed by President of the Moore Company Textile Group, until he left corporate America to start his own business in 2008.

Elovsson has started several new businesses in the USA, Mexico, Central America and Sweden. He currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Additive Innovation and Manufacturing Sweden AB (AIR Sweden AB), a serial 3D printing company located in the heart of Sweden. The company's focus is to provide individually designed implants in metal, industrial components in both metal and plastic, and other complex product structures that are possible to manufacture using this technology. AIR Sweden AB has a leading position and offers 3D printed parts in the medical and industrial segments in titanium and stainless steel.

Inducted 2017 Walter Jones Ewell, founder of FranchiseRepublic, a franchise development company, has 40 years of experience as a corporate and franchise development specialist, having helped build seven of the top 50 worldwide franchise companies. He began his career developing franchise plans for Econo Lodges of America and consulting in hotel franchises, including Super 8, Radisson, Omni and others. He developed the franchise plan that put the storefronts of the income tax preparation firm Jackson Hewitt in nearly every city across the country. Since then he has worked for Ben Franklin - the oldest active franchise business in the United States - Liberty Tax, Zero's Subs, Geeks On Call, Mosquito Joe, and many others highly successful franchisors. His roles include Founder, President, Board Member, CFO directing public offerings, VP of Development, and Consultant. He has also provided consulting services to a wide variety of clients in other industries, including: Airlines, Banking, Education, Contractors, Technology, Accounting Services, and Condo Management.

Mr. Ewell's most recent successes Geeks On Call and Mosquito Joe have received national media attention including: The New York Times, Fortune Magazine, Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur Magazine, Franchising World, NBC News, ABC News, Tech TV, PBS Money Matters, and CNBC. Ewell's development strategy for these two franchise opportunities resulted in Entrepreneur Magazine ranking both companies #1 among new franchise companies and among the top 30 in the Entrepreneur 500.

Ewell is a Certified Franchise Executive through the International Franchise Association and has a Bachelor's Degree in Finance from ODU.