Here are the people behind MIN and in front of the action!
Jeff Malec- President
Jeff brings over 32 years of engineering, product development and Program Management experience. For the past 3 years Jeff has been the Technical Director and Territory Manager for RMS Inc. They are a sales portal for a unique group of technology and product development companies who customers span from “Entrepreneur to OEM”
Julie Burrell - Vice President
Julie Burrell is the owner of Pumpndo LLC. She is a married, thirty something mom of 2, wine lover and avid breastfeeding supporter. She became an accidental inventor in 2015 and turned her passion into an entrepreneurial adventure.
Rick Smith - Chairman, Product Reviews
Born and raised in Muskegon, Rick has over 20 years’ experience growing startup companies to successful enterprises. Rick specializes in commercial disruptive technologies. He successfully grew a photonics company 200% in a 5 year period. In addition, he joined eV Products Inc, where Rick ascended to run the company comprising of nearly 60 employees. He then orchestrated the merger of the company to a British venture capital backed startup, and 6 months later, Rick helped to take the company public on the London Stock Exchange and raise over $24 million.
Rick has now returned to the Muskegon area where his entrepreneurial spirit compelled him to start and operate his own companies.
Orville is a past owner and founder of Klever Innovations which manufacturers and markets utility box and package opening tools, as well as other innovative new products. As a lifelong entrepreneur Orville is named on five patents. Mr. Crain serves on the Innovation Committee of the Muskegon Chamber of Commerce and is a co-owner of Submersive Solutions, an alternate energy company that uses moving liquid to generate electricity.
Joe Finkler is President of Michigan Inventors coalition. Past President of Grand Rapids & Muskegon inventors Network and Investment Advisor by trade, Joe has been involved with inventors, marketers and entrepreneurs for over 17 years! Joe got his start Co-owning As seen on TV stores in Muskegon and Grand Rapids. Finkler isn’t an inventor himself, he says, but he harbors a passion for novel products and cutting-edge technology. In addition to his myriad inventors-network duties, Finkler has also worked with local WZZM 13 to develop the “Try It Before You Buy It” segment, local radio show Try It Tuesdays, and has been a Keynote Speaker at many events around MI. Joe loves to have gadgets that are unique and inspiring to people. Joe Finkler is married to Becky and has 2 kids Hannah & Hunter Finkler.
Marty is a sales and business development professional with a wealth of experience in digital technology and professional services. Much of this work has involved partner/channels strategy and management. The last decade has centered on digital products/services, web applications, ecommerce and digital marketing. This experience includes Lean Startup and Design Thinking approaches for helping startups go-to-market and new product development.
After 15 years at Hewlett Packard Merty discovered his passion for start-ups and innovative technology. This entrepreneurial work brought innovative technology to market including: Ecommerce, Smart Grid IT, BPO Outsourcing, Web Services/Applications. Plowing new ground is his passion.
Thomas serves as the Associate Director for Business Development at the Hub, helping businesses turn bright ideas into marketable products and services. With a background in product development and a Six Sigma Black Belt, Thomas whips business visions into shape, bridging the technical side of development with big-picture business goals.
He has served as the co-inventor on several patents, brought successful new products to market, and developed new business processes that saved millions of dollars. Prior to joining the Hub, Thomas directed product development at Exide Technologies in Germany . Thomas holds a bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics and a master’s degree in product development. Outside of the Hub, you can find Thomas spending time with his family in Michigan’s great outdoors or reading up on the latest science discoveries and current events.
Kevin drives the vision of the Hub and is responsible for the overall management of the organization. His team-first attitude and extensive background in economic development give him the unique understanding of what it takes to help businesses and entrepreneurs thrive in Michigan. Prior to joining Grand Valley State University, Kevin served as Allegan County’s Director of County Development where he managed economic development, brownfield redevelopment, parks and recreation, and tourism.
Kevin is a horticulturist at heart with a passion for business, holding a bachelor's degree in natural resource management from the University of Michigan and a master's degree in business administration from Eastern Michigan University. A proud Muskegon native, Kevin sits on the Downtown Muskegon Now board of directors and is a member of Rotary. Outside of the Hub, you can find Kevin enjoying staycations with his family at the Lakeshore, conducting horticultural experiments in his yard, or raucously cheering on the Michigan Wolverines.