12 Pentagons

Origin: MO | Grant Awarded: 2023 | Status: Active

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What is 12 Pentagons?

12 Pentagons sells experimental, hand-crafted soccer balls and makes content about it.

Company Leadership



Allison has over a decade of experience telling stories for brands both big and small. With a degree in Marketing from UIUC College of Business, she sharpened her skills at AB, managing brand strategy for Budweiser and Michelob ULTRA at the regional level. Allison started 12 Pentagons with Jon-Paul to bring his bespoke designs to market. She’s even made a few footballs herself.Connect on LinkedIn →



Jon-Paul is a product-focused founder. He immigrated from England to San Francisco for his first company, later moving to St. Louis in 2014. He has had multiple previous exits. His first company, DailyBooth, was acquired by Airbnb. Jon-Paul is an obsessive ball designer and shares his process at @jonpaulsballs on social media. In his first year making content, his videos were viewed over 100 million times and worked with brands like adidas, FIFA, MLS, and St. Louis City SC.

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Origin: MO | Grant Awarded: 2022 | Status: Active

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What is WingXpand?

WingXpand is the most simple and powerful drone solution of its size. It combines the small size and simplicity of a quadcopter with the horsepower of airplane wings.
– Wings expand from pack to 7ft wingspan in < 2 min

– Flies 5x longer and carries 10x more pro tools than a small quadcopter

– White glove services for professional drone operations

Company Leadership

Michelle Madaras

Chief Customer Officer & Co-Founder

Michelle spent the first part of her career as a top ranked on-air television news reporter, culminating at Fox 2 News, St. Louis. She is an expert at product marketing and go-to-market strategy derived from her strong analytical and communication skills. She also founded and led a public relations and marketing firm where she gained experience with businesses ranging from startups to 100M+ non-profit where she was the senior executive responsible for all aspects of marketing, communications and campaign strategy.
— University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Bachelor of Science of Journalism, Minors in Informatics and Political Science

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James Barbieri

Co-founder & CEO

James Barbieri (CEO): Aerospace industry expert who spent 10 years at Boeing and the U.S. Intelligence Community in a wide variety of roles spanning engineering, corporate strategy, business development and senior R&D leader responsible for executing a $6M+ portfolio of innovations.
— Washington University in St. Louis, Olin Business School, Master of Business Administration (MBA), Entrepreneurship Focus
— National Intelligence University, Master of Science & Technology Intelligence
— Saint Louis University, Parks College of Engineering, Aviation, and Technology, Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering, Certificate of Asian Studies

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Bold Xchange

Origin: NC| Grant Awarded: 2020 | Status: Active

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What is Bold Xchange?

Bold Xchange is the most convenient way to buy black online. The platform emphasizes ease, vetting brands with on-camera product reviews, and guaranteeing fast shipping for every order. With a curated collection of products from black-owned brands, Bold Xchange takes the guesswork out of supporting black businesses.

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Company Leadership

Danielle Deavens

Co-Founder & Co-CEO

Danielle Deavens is the co-founder of Bold Xchange, a platform that is making it easier to find and shop black-owned brands. She was a 2018 Venture for America fellow in Charlotte, where she worked as Director of Customer Success for a local shopping app. Danielle went to Elon University and prior to the VFA fellowship she was on the editorial teams at Brides and Food Network Magazine in New York City.

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doug spencer

Co-Founder & Co-CEO

Doug Spencer is cofounder of Bold Xchange. He holds a BA in Business Management from Elon University. After graduating in 2016, he worked in marketing at both a Fortune 500 telecommunications company and an impact investing startup. He is now in his third and final year at Georgetown Law School, learning about the intersection of law and social impact.

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