“In today’s information-rich world, context is critical and insight is invaluable.”

Sara Hand

Spark Growth Founders

Sara Hand

Sara Hand

Chief Executive Officer, Visionary Leader, Spark Growth 

Sara Hand is a visionary leader with a strong and diverse business development background spanning the innovation value chain from idea stage to exit. She is experienced across public and private sectors, industry clusters and early stage investment. Sara finds and leverages unique value propositions to create synergistic partnerships and is widely recognized for driving action-focused agendas for business and community development using agile strategies. Her motto is “Think Bigger. Keep it Simple. Make it Happen.”

As the CEO of Spark Growth, she believes that people and businesses thrive in communities. Sara has developed a global community of thought leaders which has led to opportunities with the State Department, the United Nations Launch of WED, the 2015 Harvard Future-Ready Economies Summit, International Strategic Doing Leadership Conference, Startup India Rocks 2016, co-production of Smart Cities Innovation Accelerators, the 2018 CEED Global Conference in Tunisia and Program Chair for TiECon Florida 2020 and 2021.

Over most of her career, Sara’s client base has been composed of individuals with discretionary income, accredited investors and ultra high-net worth individuals. As chapter president of an angel investor network, Sara grew and expanded the network and significantly increased investor engagement and deal flow. For a 2nd generation comprehensive wealth management firm, she facilitated the transition into a new geography, overhauled their brand and messaging and managed the launch of a new website. Whether streamlining workflows to optimize margins, scale revenues and shorten time to exit for a materials company or adjusting revenue models and expansion strategies for a federal procurement consulting firm, Sara’s work is about facilitating growth and increasing opportunities.

Sara’s personal mission is to spend her life working with cool people on cool projects that make a difference. She is close to and loves spending time with her family. Developing real and lasting relationships that empower herself and others to continue to grow into potential are a priority in Sara’s life. Appreciating the past, anticipating the future, and yet living in the present as a person of faith is something she reaches toward daily.

Key skills:

  • Business, Organizational and Community Development
  • Speaker, Trainer, Workshop Facilitator: Leadership and Sales
  • Community Ecosystem, Funding Continuum, Entrepreneurship, Goal Setting

Sara identifies what makes an entity uniquely valuable in the marketplace and drives key strategies for growth.

Stan Schultes

Stan Schultes

Chief Innovation Architect, Spark Growth

Stan Schultes is an engineer and professional technologist with global experience in advanced manufacturing, technology commercialization and tech transfer. He is a boundary-spanner working at the intersection of Business, Technology and Community – across the silos of public, private and independent sectors, entrepreneurs, industry clusters and focused on driving economic development.

He has led organizations through scale-up and globalization using collaborative and agile strategies. Stan guides Smart Cities projects and works on developing Innovation Districts around economic clusters. He has recently launched Toward Smarter Communities – a statewide initiative in Florida to help city and county decision makers increase their “smart readiness,” setting initial strategies for digital transformation, and developing new business and funding models for cities. 

Leadership Achievements:

Recognized as Microsoft RD (Regional Director) and awarded Microsoft MVP for 15 years

Synapse Summit Tampa co-Located “Smart Cities” content and launch of Toward Smarter Communities 2019

Development of Smart Cities Accelerator Series for the Innovator’s Forum, an initiative of the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard 2017-2019

Knight Cities Challenge Finalists 2016 – top 120 of over 5000 national applicants

US State Department Friends of Global Entrepreneurship Program 2016 International Business Innovation Association (InBIA) – Leadership Retreat 2016

Purdue Agile Strategy Lab – Leadership Retreat 2019, 2016

Canadian Association of Business Incubation (CABI) – Agile Strategy Workshop 2016

International partnership development with US State Department SBNA program

Digital Cities Latin America 2016

Florida High Tech Corridor Core Council 2012-2015

Key skills:

  • Business & Technology Architecture
  • Speaker, Author, Educator & Facilitator 

Stan is a boundary-spanner, working at the intersection of business, technology and community.

 

“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”  

Wayne Gretzy, Hockey Legend