May 8, 2024

GrowFL Celebrates Induction of Members into Prestigious Mentoring Program


GrowFL - Taking Successful Companies to the Next LevelFlorida’s entrepreneurial landscape gets a boost as GrowFL inducted its fourth class into the prestigious American Academy of Entrepreneurs (AAE) program on May 6, 2024.

GrowFL is Florida’s leading organization dedicated to empowering second-stage companies. We achieve this by providing them with the focused resources and connections they need to thrive. Through our programs, second-stage companies gain access to a network of experienced leaders and industry professionals, along with the tools and guidance to navigate growth. GrowFL is committed to fostering a vibrant second-stage community that fuels Florida’s economic diversification and prosperity. Second-stage companies, as defined by GrowFL, are those with at least 6 employees, and $750,000 in revenue, and a desire to scale beyond second-stage.

A program created by the Edward Lowe Foundation, AAE was launched in 2020 in partnership with GrowFL, to empower the next generation of business leaders in the state of Florida. Through the support of Stankowski Advanced Strategies, the American Academy of Entrepreneurs offers a unique opportunity for a select group of second-stage business owners. Participants benefit from personalized mentoring by experienced entrepreneurs, comprehensive business management education, and exclusive leadership development opportunities.

The American Academy of Entrepreneurs, a testament to the enduring legacy of Edward Lowe and GrowFL’s commitment, is dedicated to fostering the success of Florida’s second-stage businesses. The culmination of the six-month program is marked by a prestigious induction ceremony, celebrating the participants’ achievements and the strides they’ve made in expanding their businesses. This event officially inducts participants into the American Academy of Entrepreneurs, recognizing them as a select group of business leaders endorsed by GrowFL and the Edward Lowe Foundation for their dedication to their businesses and entrepreneurship in Florida.

Edward Lowe believed America was built on the backs of entrepreneurs and was passionate about supporting them. As an entrepreneur himself and the inventor of Kitty Litter, Lowe understood first-hand the challenges entrepreneurs face. He and his wife, Darlene Lowe, launched the Edward Lowe Foundation in 1985 to provide entrepreneurs with greater support and resources.

Profile photo of Barbara Stankowski

Barbara Stankowski

“Stankowski Advanced Strategies is proud to partner with GrowFL and the Edward Lowe Foundation to support the American Academy of Entrepreneurs program,” said Barbara Stankowski, CEO of Stankowski Advanced Strategies.

“As an entrepreneur myself and an AAE inductee, I am thrilled about the achievements of these entrepreneurs. Their induction into AAE is a testament to the tireless spirit that defines the entrepreneurial journey. Along with GrowFL, I celebrate your ingenuity, tenacity, and unwavering belief in the power of ideas.”

This esteemed group of five mentors and mentees join others inducted into the Academy from Florida, Louisiana, and Michigan.

To participate as a mentee, you must be a second-stage business owner with at least 6 employees and $750,000 in revenue. For mentors, you must currently be or have previously owned and exited a second-stage business and are willing to sponsor a mentee to participate. Mentors and mentees who qualify for the AAE program have previously participated in programs of GrowFL and/or the Edward Lowe Foundation and successfully completed the application process.

Owner of Tank Wizards, and 2021 GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch Honoree, Wendall Stroderd notes that “The mentors in the American Academy of Entrepreneurs program are business owners, or former business owners, who just want to give back, and share their experiences and talents to help other entrepreneurs to flourish rather than flounder.” Furthermore, Founder and CEO of Impresiv Health and 2020 GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch Honoree, Marcus Fontaine, encourages other CEOs to participate, “Anyone who is the founder and CEO/President of a second-stage company would benefit from the program as long as they put the effort into what they expect to receive.”

Profile photo of Pete Previte

Pete Previte

GrowFL is thrilled to celebrate the induction of our 2024 American Academy of Entrepreneurs class – both esteemed mentors and inspiring mentees. These talented individuals are vital in propelling Florida’s entrepreneurial ecosystem forward,” stated Pete Previte, Board Chair for GrowFL and Commercial and Investment Banking M&A, CRES Corp International.

“The mentors bring invaluable wisdom and guidance, while the mentees represent the future. This exchange of knowledge and experience fuels innovation and sets the stage for continued growth.”

The American Academy of Entrepreneurs proudly welcomes the following accomplished Florida business leaders into its esteemed ranks:


  • Bill Zachary, Zgraph (Daytona)
  • Jeremy Valverde, Affinity Tech Solutions (Eustis)
  • Jonathen Warren, Critical Frequency Design (Melbourne)
  • Marcus Fontaine, Impresiv Health (Longwood)
  • Nancy Crews, Ph.D., Custom Manufacturing & Engineering (Pinellas Park)
  • Wendall Stroderd, Tank Wizards (Melbourne)


  • Ashley Schappert, MG Business Consulting LLC (Ocala)
  • Barbara Stankowski, Stankowski Advanced Strategies (Orlando)
  • David Hartmann, TheSilver Logic (Boca Raton)
  • Jayson Meyer, Synergy Billings (Holly Hill)
Profile photo of David Hartmann

David Hartmann

“I have mentored for multiple organizations and enjoy guiding other entrepreneurs on their journey to help avoid some of the pitfalls and detours I’ve taken over the last 12 years,” mentor, past GrowFL Company to Watch nominee, and CEO of The SilverLogic, David Hartmann, told South Florida Tech Hub.

“There are so many details to pay attention to that can be tremendously helpful to have someone to talk to about. Plus some topics, it takes a fellow entrepreneur, as talking to your team how to make payroll or how to structure benefits might not feel as comfortable. Since I discovered the value of peers and mentors for myself, I give back whatever my time allows to similarly help others.”

To apply as a mentor or a mentee for future programs, visit