Team

Bob Cohen, Business Advisor

Bob Cohen, Business Advisor

Bob Cohen has been at Braintree since 2004. He is a Certified Business Advisor (CBA®), a Certified Global Business Professional, and completed the Incubator Management Certification Program of the International Business Incubation Association. Bob has a Ph.D. in Higher Education from Ohio University, an MBA from Franklin University, and a B.A. from the University of Akron. His entrepreneurial background is in insurance and broadcasting.

Bob spent ten years working as regional manager for a Washington-based international business development agency and one year as operations manager for a micro-enterprise program. He has served on the faculty of Ashland University and The Ohio State University.


Tom Hickox, Business Mentor

Tom Hickox, Business Mentor



Thomas Hickox is a business advisor that works with startups in our StartupNEO program as well as existing businesses in our Scaleup program. He has a real appreciation for the entrepreneurial spirit
and is particularly proud to have been a co-founder of Mansfield Design, one of the first resident companies of the original Mansfield Richland incubator.

He has more than 30 years of success in sales, marketing, business development, and operations, and an extensive business background that encompasses startups, acquisitions and divestitures across a range of challenging industries including office equipment, ERP software and hardware, surgical equipment, print and internet-based yellow
pages, and digital marketing. He has international experience developing offshore outsourcing partners and negotiating marketing
licensing agreements for software.


Jack Stewart, Legal Mentor

Jack Stewart, Legal Mentor

Jack Stewart is a practicing attorney, a CPA, and a financial planner in Ontario. He advises Braintree clients on business structure, legal compliance, contract law, distributor agreements, and other decisions and basic legal concerns for startups and relatively new businesses.


Jake Ward, Intellectual Property Mentor

Jake Ward, Intellectual Property Mentor

Jake Ward is a registered patent attorney in Tiffin. He is admitted to practice in Ohio, Michigan, before the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and as a non-resident agent in Canada. He is also the founding author of the Anticipate This!™ | Patent and Trademark Law Blog, which provides light commentary on the practice of patent law, trademark law, and science & technology. He works with Braintree clients who need to make decisions about the intellectual property challenges that startups face.


Bill Harvey, Accounting and Tax Mentor

Bill Harvey, Accounting and Tax Mentor

Bill Harvey is a partner with Whitcomb & Hess in Ashland, joining the firm in 1983. He specializes in financial accounting, corporate and personal income tax preparation, and product costing for manufacturers. He has taught accounting classes for Ashland University, North Central State College in Mansfield and The Ohio State University Mansfield. Bill works with Braintree clients to set up their accounting systems and comply with tax and other regulations.


Willie Davis, Marketing Mentor

Willie Davis, Marketing Mentor

Willie Davis of Mansfield, mixes fifteen years of criminal justice experience with twenty-eight years of marketing practice. He specializes in education-based marketing. He is a skilled copywriter who has written and developed successful radio, TV, direct mail, and print campaigns. He has taught marketing seminars, been published in national trade magazines, and key noted national conventions. Willie works with Braintree clients to simplify the complex world of marketing.


Jackie Sommers, Market Research Mentor

Jackie Sommers, Market Research Mentor

Jaclyn works with entrepreneurs to validate product and target market assumptions across varied industries and technologies. She assists Braintree clients in planning and conducting both primary and secondary market research. She also works closely with internal stakeholders across the organization as well as external customers, clients, and partners to understand, document, and analyze data. She has been with StartupNEO since 2015 and holds a BBA in marketing from Cleveland State University.


Gene Groys, Information Technology Mentor

Gene Groys, Information Technology Mentor

Gene Groys is a regional Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) at Startup NEO. He served as the CEO of Carelntel, which created a technology to manage the continuity of a patient’s clinical data as they transitions across different care environments, and was the founder of OnShift, a JumpStart portfolio company that today has grown to over 50 employees and provides staffing and labor management software to long-term care and senior living providers across the U.S.. Gene works with Braintree clients in the IT sector, helping them on technical issues, business valuation, and funding sources.


Bob Sopko, Information Technology Mentor

Bob Sopko, Information Technology Mentor

Bob Sopko is also a regional Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) at Startup NEO, specializing in mentoring Information Technology startup entrepreneurs throughout northeast Ohio. He also works for Case Western University where he can give Braintree clients an opportunity to work in "think[box]" which is a “maker space” on the campus of Case Western Reserve University. Sopko got into the startup world himself after CVS bought his former employer, Revco. In 1998, he joined 1-Jobs.com, which ran career fairs and websites for recruiting. He briefly worked for Things Remembered and OverDrive before joining Case’s information technology department in 2003.


Russ Donda, Bioscience & Medical Device Mentor

Russ Donda, Bioscience & Medical Device Mentor

Russ Donda is a regional Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) at StartupNEO for medical device and bioscience technologies. He has more than 25 years of management experience at both executive and entrepreneurial levels. As an EIR, he helps Braintree clients assess the commercial feasibility of their technology; with that feasibility confirmed, he assists in creating and implementing their development plan and ushers them through the local seed funds. Russ was the founding CEO and chairman of the board for ViewRay Incorporated, (www.viewray.com), a company developing a novel form of radiation therapy.