The Judges for the 2017 Entrepreneurship Competition are:
Megan Dowdy is a seasoned real estate broker, educator, and entrepreneur. A native of Orlando, she attended Lake Highland Preparatory School, obtained a business degree from The Calloway School of Business at Wake Forest University, and then obtained her Masters in Hospitality and Tourism Management from The University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality. When she isn’t representing clients in the purchase of real estate, Ms. Dowdy is giving back to her alma mater and is teaching, as an Adjunct Instructor, at Rosen College. Ms. Dowdy is a Founder, Board of Directors President, and Hospitality Committee Chair of The AutoNation Cure Bowl. She also maintains strong relationships with each of her pre-higher education alma mater, holding a position on the Alumni Board of Directors at Lake Highland Preparatory School in downtown Orlando. Ms. Dowdy is also the founder and creator of a unique miniature golf attraction, Lost Caverns Adventure Golf, featuring two 18-hole courses, scavenger hunts, and private event space. In both of the businesses Ms. Dowdy provides superior client care.
Gregg Hopkins is a successful business development and marketing professional with over 30 years of varied international experience in hospitality and technology. A co-founder of Libra OnDemand, a hospitality-specific CRM solution, Gregg has worked with various hospitality enterprise property management, sales and catering, CRM, central reservation system providers, online travel agencies, and destination vacation portal solutions. He is also involved on committees or as a board member of select industry associations
Global Brand Ambassador
Established in 2011, BurgerFi is among the nation’s fastest-growing restaurant chains, with 81 U.S. locations currently open and expansion underway now in Mexico, Panama and the UK. The better burger concept was founded by gourmet chefs committed to serving fresh food of the highest quality. BurgerFi uses only 100% natural Angus beef patties and ensures no steroids, antibiotics, growth hormones, chemicals or additives are ever used. BurgerFi’s made-in-house menu favorites include the Vegefi burger, Vienna and Kobe-style hot dogs, hand-cut fresh fries and onion rings, frozen custard, and natural sugar cane sodas. BurgerFi has been recognized as #185 on Inc. 500 List of “Fastest-Growing Private U.S. Companies,” Top 50 “Movers & Shakers” by Fast Casual.com, “Top Brands of 2014” by Fast Casual.com. Less burger joint, more five-star restaurant, there are no shortcuts at BurgerFi. All recipes are created from natural, fresh ingredients that require team members to cut chop, mix and prepare daily.
Marco A. Manzie
Founder and President
Paramount Hospitality Group
With over 38 years in the hospitality industry, Marco Manzie epitomizes strong leadership. Known for his “hands-on” style and managing successful properties with respected hotel chains such as Park Hyatt, Stouffer, Hilton and Sheraton. Mr. Manzie is a Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA) and Condominium Association Manager (CAM) Licensed in the state of Florida. He is an active Board-member for The University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management since 2013. He also served as an active, appointed member of the Tourism Marketing Advisory Committee of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, which determines the marketing dollars spent on tourism for Broward County. Various distinctions have accompanied the success of PHM including: Floridays Resort being rated the #1 Family-friendly hotel by TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice in the entire USA for 2013 & 2014. As Co-Founder and President of Vacation Break Management, a subsidiary of the publicly traded company, Vacation Break USA, Mr. Manzie was responsible for all aspects of design, development, the resorts’ operations and financial success. Under Marco’s leadership, the company expanded to six award-winning properties, prior to being sold to Fairfield Communities (now known as Wyndham). Mr. Manzie continues to be recognized for his hospitality accomplishments, as an active member of the Les Aimes d’Escoffier Society of Chicago & Orlando and the Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs in Fort Lauderdale.
Founder and CEO, Integrated Insight
Joni Newkirk is CEO of Integrated Insight, Inc., an analytics consulting company recognized as one of the Inc. 5000 fastest-growing private companies in America for three consecutive years (2014-2016). Clients include well-known brands such as Universal Studios, Carnival Corporation, and the Atlanta Falcons among others. Prior to founding Integrated Insight, Joni was SVP of Business Insight and Improvement for Disney Parks & Resorts worldwide, with responsibility for managing $8B in revenue through forecasting, pricing, revenue optimization, capacity planning, and research. She has BS in Statistics from the University of Florida, and a MS in Industrial Engineering from UCF.