About

Where New Ideas Spark Everyday

IgniteHQ, in partnership with Kennesaw State University and in collaboration with the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, is north Georgia's entrepreneurial headquarters dedicated to helping inventors and problem solvers ignite transformative solutions on a global scale.

Offerings

As a hybrid of a modern-day business incubator and a coworking hub, IgniteHQ meets the needs of inventive entrepreneurs by providing:

  • Office spaces of all sizes
  • Common areas and special event spaces
  • Dozens of free, educational programs and training opportunities
  • Access to experienced mentors and advisors
  • Directory of partner service providers and capital investors
  • Special resources including a machine shop, 3-D printing lab,
    and fluids lab space

IgniteHQ targets and recruits early-stage startups and entrepreneurs in a variety of fields including:

  • Agritech
  • Biotech
  • Cleantech
  • Cyber Security
  • Energy
  • Engineering
  • Food & Life Sciences
  • IoT
  • Technology

Members

We provide our inventors and problem solvers a collaborative ecosystem with the office spaces, resources and special facilities they need to launch successful ventures.

Advisors and Mentors

Interested in paying it forward? Join IgniteHQ by serving as a mentor to a bright entrepreneur. IgniteHQ relies on our community of seasoned entrepreneurs to work closely with resident investors to provide mentoring, oversight, strategy and more.

Partners and Sponsors

Partners and supporters are essential to helping the IgniteHQ ecosystem thrive. By becoming a sponsor of IgniteHQ, you will play a vital role in empowering North Georgia's most inventive entrepreneurs.

IgniteHQ Staff

Mark Hubbard

Mark Hubbard

President & CEO

IgniteHQ

A well known mentor and investor, Hubbard brings decades of management and capital markets experience to his role as President & CEO of IgniteHQ. During more than twenty years serving at the highest levels of some of the world’s largest investment management companies, Hubbard directed billions of dollars of capital and launched one of China’s most success asset management joint ventures. Known as an adept strategist and operator, he also founded a global private equity firm and has been a leader on the vanguard of Impact Investing, Social Entrepreneurship, and sustainable Nonprofit management.

Catherine Pearson

Catherine Pearson

Chief Operating Officer

IgniteHQ

Catherine manages and executes external programs, events and services for IgniteHQ's entrepreneurial community. This includes member recruiting, facility tours, application and interview process, on-boarding of tenants, on-site social activities and more. She is also responsible for developing, implementing and overseeing internal facility vendors and projects.

Rumana Sultana

Rumana Sultana

Marketing Strategist

IgniteHQ

Rumana develops and executes the strategic marketing initiatives for IgniteHQ. Her work includes brand development, identifying potential member clients and opportunities, managing the digital space and building out the strategic marketing and communications plans to further IgniteHQ's mission. Rumana brings impressive experience as she has worked on campaigns with Chick-fil-A, Estee Lauder Companies and Former First Lady's administration.

Board of Directors

Gary Bottoms

President

The Bottoms Group, LLC

Full Bio

Gary Bottoms

President

The Bottoms Group, LLC

Gary Bottoms is President of The Bottoms Group, LLC and a Principal of TBX Benefit Partners, a subsidiary of The Bottoms Group focused exclusively on the unique employee benefit needs of employers with more than 5,000 employees.

He is a graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology. He also holds the Chartered Life Underwriter designation and the Chartered Financial Consultant designation from the American College.

Professional Involvement

  • A past president of the Atlanta Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. From this organization, he received the Harry I. Davis Award which is given to one member annually who represents the highest ideals and principles of the financial services profession. Gary is one of only 40 other Atlanta professionals who have achieved this distinction over the years.
  • A member of the Association for Advanced Life Underwriting, which is an invitation only organization, composed of professionals serving the high-end marketplace. For this group, he serves as a key liaison with two members of the United States Senate.
  • A past board member of the Atlanta Estate Planning Council and past president of the North Georgia Estate Planning Council.
  • Author of “Getting It Right”, a book about estate planning, life and relationships.

Community Involvement

  • Gary has served as the Chairman of Cobb Community Foundation, The Cobb Schools Foundation, the WellStar Foundation, The Center for Family Resources and President of the Rotary Club of Marietta.
  • Gary is a member of the 2015 Board of Directors for the Cobb Competitive Edge and Reach Out Ministries. He is a former member of the Board of Trustees for the Cobb County Government Employees Pension Plan. Gary is also a former member of the Board of Trustees of the Georgia Tech Alumni Association and a recipient of the Volunteer of the Year Award.
  • He has been involved in numerous other civic, church and community endeavors and was selected to be the 2012 Marietta Citizen of the Year.

Gary and his wife, Melissa, are graduates of Leadership Georgia. They have been married for 41 years and have three adult children and three grandchildren. They attend City Church Marietta in Marietta.

 

David Connell

President & CEO

Cobb Chamber of Commerce

Full Bio

David Connell

President & CEO

Cobb Chamber of Commerce

David joined the Cobb Chamber of Commerce in November 2010. Today, the Cobb Chamber is recognized as one of the most influential business advocacy organizations in Georgia, the 7th largest Chamber in the Southeastern United States (approximately 2700 businesses), and a 5 Star Accredited – a designation of distinction (top one percent) by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. During 2012 and 2013, the Cobb Chamber was named as one the top 10 fastest growing Chambers in the U.S. At its Annual Conference in July 2013, the ACCE named the Cobb Chamber as one of the top 3 Chambers in the nation in the largest chamber category.

David’s focus is to strengthen the economy and quality of life so Cobb’s 56,000 plus businesses and a community of over 720,000 citizens. The Cobb Chamber’s Board of Directors has charged David and his team with providing strong leadership to focus the Chamber’s resources to achieve five major outcomes:

1. Create jobs and drive economic development to new levels.

2. Strengthen the community and the region so Cobb is a great place to live, work, play, and learn.

3. Grow member businesses by providing direct member services and enhancing the overall business climate in Cobb and the region.

4. Nurture leadership in the private, public and non-profit sectors.

5. Build unity in Cobb and the region by connecting and convening business, government, non-profits and the community in general.

Under his leadership, the Chamber played a leading role in new businesses locating in Cobb such as Vonage, Greenway Technologies, the Atlanta Braves, and major expansions for Home Depot (IT Center and on-line sales organization), Genuine Parts, and many others.

Previously, David served as the regional executive for Georgia Power’s Metro West Region (Cobb, Cherokee, Paulding, and Douglas counties). David retired November 2010 to assume his current role after a 40 year career with Southern Company and its subsidiaries, which included serving four years as a base civil engineering officer in the United States Air Force. In addition to Georgia Power, David has held senior positions at Alabama Power, Southern Company and Southern Company Services.

David has served and chaired dozens of non-profit Boards and initiatives including the Cobb County Public Schools Educational Foundation, United Way, The Center for Family Resources, Boy Scouts, WellStar Health System’s Foundation, Theatre in the Square, etc. David currently serves on the Board of the Council for Quality Growth, the Board of Chattahoochee Technical College, the President’s Advisory Council at Kennesaw State University as Chairman, and the state-wide Department of Driver Services (DDS) Board to which he was appointed by Governor Perdue in 2007.

David Duley

Founder & CEO

iCanFixAmerica

Full Bio

David Duley

Founder & CEO

iCanFixAmerica

David Duley, originally from Flint Michigan, has called Atlanta his home since arriving to attend school at Oxford College of Emory University and Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business. David’s first entrepreneurial adventure started during the dot.com boom when he tossed his hat in the ring by starting The Handyman Network, Inc., a unique service that would allow customers to find qualified contractors for their home improvement projects with just the click of the mouse. While at The Handyman Network, David invented “Handyman In a Can™,” the first way home improvement retailers could sell installation services as a product right off their store shelves.

After The Handyman Network, David began consulting for small and medium size corporations. While technology sales slipped globally, David helped develop a new sales platform for a local start up company that increased sales by over 100%. In 2003, David started Triad Ventures, LLC, a real estate investment firm specializing in the investment of bank and government owned assets.

David also founded PEARL Protected, a company that brought to market the worlds first permanent escape ladder system for 2 and 3 story residential homes, apartments, condo’s as well as student and military housing. The PEARL escape ladder has been featured on The Today Show, Good Morning America, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and numerous other national media outlets. PEARL has also won the Home Safety Council Award for product Innovation, LBM magazines top 20 new building products of 2006 as well as Building Magazines 2006 product of the year award.

On July 1, 2009 PEARL was sold to Werner Ladders to bring our permanent escape ladder to the masses. Werner Ladders (http://us.wernerco.com/en/ ) is the world’s largest ladder company with roughly 75% market share in the US with growing markets in the European Union, Australia and South America. Until their partnership with PEARL, Werner ladders had never had an escape ladder product. By working with PEARL Protected, Werner launched the Werner Fire Escape ladder system with Home Depot, Lowes, and various other big box retailers.

David is also co-owner of a successful restaurant in midtown Atlanta called The Nook, on Piedmont Park. The Nook’s patio was ranked #2 by Creative Loafing magazine Atlanta. In addition to a nice patio, The Nook has brought to market many innovative dishes that have reached acclaim such at Totchos™ (Nook tater tots covered in goodness), the “Bloody Best” (named top 10 Best Bloody Mary in America) and the various “Stuffed Burgers”, that have been winners of the 2010, 2011 and 2012 Atlanta battle of the burgers.

David’s latest project is I Can Media, LLC. In 2012, the published book titled “I Can Fix America: 52 common sense ways YOU can make the United States great again” arrived online and in bookstores across America. This book and subsequent website has helped empower Americans with simple tool and ideas that can help restore America for generations to come. Since the release of the book, David has appeared on numerous national talk radio and TV shows. Additionally, he has teamed up with New York Times bestselling author, Robb Wolf, to create The Controversial Truth Podcast available on iTunes and Stitcher.

Throughout all of David’s ventures, he has been a strong proponent of the creation and protection of intellectual property. He has written, bought and licensed numerous patents, trademarks and other innovative designs and content in order to create maximum value for his enterprises as well as create competitive advantages within the marketplace.

In 2012, David was named by the Atlanta Business Chronicle as one of the “40 under 40” in business and community leadership. Currently, David serves on the Board of Counselors for Oxford College of Emory University where he is Vice-Chairman of the Scholarship Committee. He was also appointed by City Council to serve on the Board of Ethics for the City of East Point, GA in from 2009-2012 and previously served of the Board of Directors for Jerusalem House in Atlanta Georgia (www.jerusalemhouse.org ) which houses over 50% of permanent housing for the homeless living with HIV/AIDS in the Atlanta metropolitan area.

Earl Ehrhart

Co-Managing Member and Co-Chief Executive Officer

LakePoint Land, LLC

Full Bio

Earl Ehrhart

Co-Managing Member and Co-Chief Executive Officer

LakePoint Land, LLC

Over the past thirty years, Earl has led organizations in both the public and private sectors. Earl began his career as a young entrepreneur. At age 21, Earl co-founded, The Marble Craftsman, a marble and granite subcontracting company, which he grew from a backyard business to over $2 million in revenue when he sold the company in 1995. While successfully leading The Marble Craftsman, Earl was also elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1988, and continues to serve today as one of the State’s longest serving elected officials. Earl has served as CEO and Chairman of the Board of several public and private corporations and nonprofits.

From 1995 – 2008, Earl served as Executive Vice President of Facility Group, an international design and construction company with eight U.S. offices and two European offices in The Netherlands and the Czech Republic . In this role, Earl served as the company’s Chief Strategist, developing and implementing company-wide strategic growth initiatives in five vertical sectors: Food & Beverage, Education, Municipal, Hospitality & Entertainment and Retail Distribution. During Earl’s tenure at the firm, the company grew from six employees and $25M in revenue to over 500 employees and more than $600M in revenue.

In 2003 Earl was the original organizing director and vice chair of the board of one of the most successful startup community banks in Georgia History. Georgian Bank was cumulatively profitable inside 13 months and grew from an original capitalization of $7.5M dollars to over $65M. In his capacity as original director and vice chair Earl supervised all aspects of this very successful financial endeavor. In 2006 as a result of this success, Georgian Bank was sold for a premium to an investor group who eventually grew the platform to over $2.1B in assets.

During his twenty-five year tenure as a state representative, Earl served eight years as the Minority Whip and five years as the Rules Committee Chairman. In 2005 Earl was elected as the National Chairman of American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the nation’s largest nonpartisan organization of state legislators with over 2,400 legislator members from all fifty states and 97 alumni members in Congress. He served as a member of this board for over 20 years and as its chairman and member of executive committee for over 5 years. Earl’s political efforts have received national media recognition in the New York Times, The Economist, CNN and The Fox News Channel. In addition, the National Federation of Independent Business named Earl the “Guardian of Small Business” and he is the recipient of “Champion of the Free Enterprise System Award” from the Associated Builders and Contractors of Georgia.

As a businessman, elected official and single father, Earl is passionate about furthering the
potential of America’s youth. Youth sports have been a part of Earl’s life for more than twenty years. He has organized summer leagues, tournaments and showcases as a Coach and Athletic Director; and he has raised millions of dollars benefiting youth athletic foundations and organizations throughout Georgia. In addition, Earl championed state legislation that established a state-wide school scholarship fund to provide financial aid to disadvantaged youth. Earl serves as the CEO of one of the state’s most successful funds serving this community today.

As Co-CEO of LakePoint Sports Development Group and Managing Partner of Sports Parks of Georgia, LLC, Earl will draw on his diverse background and experience in business, politics and youth sports to develop, grow, manage and operate America’s Premier Sports Vacation Destination.

Mark Lytle

High Demand Career Industry Liaison

Board of Regents University System of Georgia

Full Bio

Mark Lytle

High Demand Career Industry Liaison

Board of Regents University System of Georgia

In his role with the Board of Regents-University System of Georgia, Mr. Lytle is responsible for identifying and enhancing access to the research and economic development assets of all 31 institutions of the University System of Georgia and for utilizing those assets to create an ecosystem of innovation, discovery and entrepreneurship to create new businesses and support Georgia’s early stage companies, existing industries, communities, researchers, students and faculty.

Prior to joining the University System of Georgia in April 2013, Mr. Lytle was the Division Director for the Georgia Centers of Innovation, a division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. In that role he had overall managerial responsibilities for Georgia’s Six Centers of Innovation, connecting Georgia businesses with university researchers, essential contacts and matching grants to help companies grow.

Before managing the Centers of Innovation, Mark held several positions within the Georgia Department of Economic Development including Director of Foreign Investment Projects, Director of Statewide Projects, Manager of the Kia Supplier Initiative and SMark has also been the president of a nationally recognized heavy industrial contracting business, has worked in Georgia QuickStart (Georgia’s globally recognized workforce development organization) and has owned and operated a small business.

Mark has also been the president of a nationally recognized heavy industrial contracting business, has worked in Georgia QuickStart (Georgia’s globally recognized workforce development organization) and has owned and operated a small business.

Mark is a member of Georgia Economic Developers Association, and holds a B.S. in Architecture from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He and his wife live in Brookhaven and have two adult children.

Madhu Menon

Global Head – Influencer Relations

Infosys Operations

Full Bio

Madhu Menon

Global Head – Influencer Relations

Infosys Operations

Madhu is responsible for analyst, deal advisory and alliance partnership relations at Infosys BPO. He also heads the southeast regional operations for Infosys in the United States. His key strengths are relationship management, tonality management and enabling new capabilities through strategic analyst intervention. Madhu brings agile alliance partners to collaborate on creating zero distance to value for clients and their end users. As an ambassador of Infosys in the US region, he has influenced several companies to anchor their operations in Atlanta, collaborated with leading NGOs and education institutions to invest in K12 education and amplified Infosys brand presence in the local community.

Madhu has been instrumental in getting Infosys BPO invited to large multi tower advisor led pursuits and establishing Infosys operations delivery presence in Asia and North America. An early member of Infosys BPO, his expertise lies in setting up transformation Centers of Excellence (CoE), which are focused on process optimization and automation, developing global delivery solutions, managing a culturally diversified workforce, among others.

He has been with Infosys for over eleven years. Prior to joining Infosys, Madhu was General Manager at a world leader in technology and outsourcing services, in which capacity he played a key role in a US$1.3 billion transformation deal. Overall, Madhu has 18 years of experience in industries like services, retail and ITeS. He is a member of the pioneer group responsible for establishing the ITeS industry in India and has successfully executed multi-million dollar transformation engagements.

He is a member of the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals, North America; Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce; and on the Board of Advisor for Cobb County Chamber of Commerce. He was awarded the Global Impact Award 2013 for foreign direct investment hosted by the City of Atlanta and International ICT Awards 2010 – Most Innovative BPO Company of the Year, Philippines.

He has been a resident of Cobb County since 2010.

Madhu holds a bachelor’s degree in accountancy, a dual master’s degree in business administration with specialization in marketing and general management.

Samuel S. Olens

Samuel Olens

President

Kennesaw State University

Full Bio

Samuel Olens

President

Kennesaw State University

Samuel S. Olens became Kennesaw State University’s fourth president on Nov. 1, 2016. Olens was elected Georgia’s 53rd attorney general in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. In his role, Olens worked with the governor and legislature to strengthen the penalties for sex trafficking and protect the victims. He also guided a comprehensive revision of Georgia’s sunshine laws and led the effort to stem the epidemic of prescription drug abuse. Additionally, in cooperation with the Georgia Food Bank Association and Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar of Georgia, Olens established the Georgia Legal Food Frenzy, which has collected the equivalent of over 5 million pounds of food for Georgia’s youth.

Prior to being elected attorney general, Olens was chairman of the Cobb County Board of Commissioners, serving from August 2002 through March 2010. He previously served as a county commissioner from 1999 through June 2002. He also served as chair of the Atlanta Regional Commission from December 2004 through 2009, and as vice-chair of the Metropolitan North Georgia Water District from 2005 through March 2010.

Olens is the recipient of numerous awards and honors for leadership and service. In 2016, Georgia Trend magazine named him the Georgian of the Year, and he has been listed among the publication’s “100 Most Influential Georgians” for 12 consecutive years. In 2015, Olens received the Charles L. Weltner Freedom of Information Award, and in 2013, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Emory University School of Law. Additionally, in 2011, the Cobb Chamber of Commerce honored Olens for his dedication to community and philanthropic service by naming its annual community service award the “Sam Olens Business Community Service Award.”

He recently served as vice president of the National Association of Attorneys General, having previously served as chair of the 13-state Southern Region both in 2013 and 2015. Olens is a registered mediator/arbitrator with the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution and has been admitted to practice law in Georgia and the District of Columbia.

Olens received his juris doctorate from Emory University School of Law, and holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from American University in international politics.

He and his wife Lisa have two children, Lauren and Jonathan.

Dr. Dan Papp

Retired University President

Kennesaw State University

Full Bio

Dr. Dan Papp

Retired University President

Kennesaw State University

DANIEL S. PAPP is the retired President of Kennesaw State University (KSU). Located outside Atlanta, KSU offers a full range of bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees. During 2013-2015, Dr. Papp led the consolidation of Kennesaw State University and Southern Polytechnic State University, making the new KSU one of the fifty largest public universities in the United States, with 32,000 students, 1,500 faculty, and 1,500 other employees.

Since becoming president of KSU in 2006, Dr. Papp has led the creation of three KSU strategic plans; expanded the university’s emphasis on global and international education and engagement; implemented a new university governance structure; directed KSU’s first comprehensive capital campaign, a successful $75 million effort; overseen KSU’s re-accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools; initiated the university’s first doctoral programs; increased the number of bachelor and master degrees; improved the university’s visibility and standing within the University System of Georgia and with Georgia’s General Assembly; accelerated the expansion of KSU’s facilities including new residence halls, classroom buildings, laboratories, parking garages, a dining hall, and an 88 acre Sports and Recreation Park with an 8,300 seat stadium; expanded the university’s emphasis on research, on-line degree programs, and experiential education; and guided the university into NCAA Division 1, including the beginning of an intercollegiate football program to begin in 2015.

Dr. Papp from 2000 to 2006 was Senior Vice Chancellor for Academics and Fiscal Affairs of the University System of Georgia. Before this, Papp was Director of Educational Programs for the University System’s Electronic Design Project, which focused on hiring nearly 100 electrical engineers and computer scientists at seven universities across the state. Earlier, Dr. Papp was Interim President of Southern Polytechnic State University (1997-98); Faculty Executive Assistant to the President at Georgia Tech (1994-97); Founding Director of Georgia Tech’s Sam Nunn School of International Affairs (1990-93); and the Director of Georgia Tech’s School of Social Sciences (1980-90).

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Dartmouth College, Dr. Papp received his Ph.D. from the University of Miami. Dr. Papp’s academic specialties are international security policy, U.S. and Russian foreign and defense policies, and the impact of information and communication technologies on national security. He authored or co-authored seven books on U.S. and Soviet foreign policy, and edited seven other books including former U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk’s autobiography, As I Saw It. He also published over 70 journal articles and chapters in edited books.

Charles Ross

Vice President of Economic Development and Community Engagement

Kennesaw State University

Full Bio

Charles Ross

Vice President of Economic Development and Community Engagement

Kennesaw State University

Mr. Ross joined Kennesaw State as the university’s first Vice President of Economic Development and Community Engagement in July 2015.  As KSU’s chief economic development officer, Mr. Ross provides campus-wide leadership in deploying university resources to support northwest Georgia’s economic development efforts and engaging off-campus communities.  Mr. Ross chairs the KSU Economic Development Task Force, is KSU’s chief liaison to the Cobb County Competitive EDGE Project, and oversees KSU’s Offices of Community Engagement and Government Relations.

Ross came to KSU after 10 years of service in university-based economic development.  Prior to his current position, Mr. Ross held several positions with the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2) at the Georgia Institute of Technology.  During his tenure at EI2, Mr. Ross was responsible for executing growth opportunities that expanded the scope and reach of EI2’s programs and provided leadership for several nationally recognized programs focused on technology, rural, and minority entrepreneurship.

Prior to the Enterprise Innovation Institute, Mr. Ross was a Vice President of the Telecommunications Development Fund where he sourced, structured, and managed investments in several early-stage communications companies.  Additionally, Mr. Ross was a Director of Ameritech’s venture capital division where he identified and executed strategic technology investments.  During these assignments, Mr. Ross served as a corporate director and observer for several early-stage technology companies and participated in investment exits via initial public offerings and strategic acquisition.

In addition to his technology entrepreneurship experience, Mr. Ross has over ten years of business development and engineering management experience acquired through several assignments within Ameritech’s cellular, telephony, electronic commerce, and IT business units.

Currently Mr. Ross is a director with the International National Business Innovation Association, an organization focused on supporting entrepreneurship and the business creation process in communities throughout the U.S. and abroad.  Mr. Ross is also a director of The Center for Working Families, an employment and asset-building initiative to improve the economic well-being of inner city residents within the city of Atlanta, and Neighborhood Nexus, a regional collaborative to enable data-based decision making for community-focused organizations

Mr. Ross holds an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from Marquette University and a MBA from Indiana University.

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