Who We Are

Our core collaborators of business coaches and facilitators are made up of lifelong learners with solid business skills.

Each person here has taken their own entrepreneurial journey; they haven’t been afraid to get messy, and they’ve gained great insight from their own challenges. But they also know that there’s always more to learn. They are deeply invested in their own personal and professional development and are always eager to connect with new people and their stories. They truly show up, listen, and are honest communicators with their clients’ best interest at heart.

With varied backgrounds, the Birds Eye team is able to offer a comprehensive array of tangible business skills. Some coaches specialize in big-picture visioning, others in laser-focused financial analysis. Coaches and facilitators are custom matched to each client, ensuring that the client’s needs are balanced by the team member’s special knowledge base.

Most importantly, none of us would be doing this if we weren’t having fun. We love sharing in our clients’ entrepreneurial journeys, and all of the celebrations and concerns along the way.

Below you will see a sampling of the collaborators who have been working with us to bring your visions into fruition.

We look forward to working with you!

 

 

Annie Milroy Price

Founder of Birds Eye Business Planning and Consulting, Annie is an entrepreneurial learning facilitator, trainer, coach, and consultant. She engages the dual forces of grounding and launching, depending on the needs of her clients and is proud of the broad capacity of the Birds Eye team to comprehensively assess the needs of their clients and assist them in moving forward with solid plans of action. While maintaining a small private client base, Annie’s core responsibilities include building the capacity of the Birds Eye team, generating and piloting content for Birds Eye courses and collaborations, and leading Birds Eye customized retreats.

Annie’s passion and background lies in working with socially-driven ventures. She has worked simultaneously in both non-profit organizations and small businesses for the past 2 decades, with particular focus in the areas of local and international arts and craft, health and wellness, and food systems. She has served as a Business Developer with Mountain BizWorks since 2007. She brings a global perspective to her client work from her extensive international experience and educational background in Cultural Anthropology. When called upon, Annie draws from her yoga training to assist clients in reducing stress and gaining clarity.


 

Sheila Ostroff

Originally from Davis located in Northern California, Sheila has built her career in North Carolina based on her love of nature, respect for local communities and her desire to build sustainable connections between people and place. Her sense of curiosity and adventure led to her immersion in China, India and South America working in outdoor education, social/environmental activism and ecotourism.

Over the past decade, Sheila has worked with environmental nonprofits such as Appalachian Voices and Oxfam International Youth Project in varied positions including grassroots organizing, event logistics and legislative advocacy. She has also led Environment North Carolina Research and Policy Center in building public awareness of statewide threats to water quality as the Executive Director of their Asheville office.

Graduating with a self-designed degree in Sustainable Outreach and Community Development, along with completing a Business Foundations course through Mountain BizWorks, Sheila has used her international relationships and vast interdisciplinary knowledge to create Ayni Designs. This social enterprise markets wearable art made by indigenous communities from the Andes to the Amazon. Sheila’s passion in this endeavor is to help support gender empowerment, create social capital and promote awareness of maintaining cultural identities.


 

 

Jodi Rhoden

Jodi Rhoden is a writer, baker, activist and entrepreneur. Jodi is the founder and former owner of Short Street Cakes in West Asheville and the author of Cake Ladies: Celebrating a Southern Tradition, and she uses her 10 years of small-scale business experience to mentor entrepreneurs through Vision + Vocation, Birds Eye Business Planning and Adventures and Mountain Bizworks. Jodi loves to travel, aspires to keep chickens, bees and is currently writing a memoir about her life in cake.


 

Lisa Zahiya

Lisa Zahiya travels nationally and internationally as an award-winning performer and in-demand dance instructor, workshop and event facilitator, and speaker.
Lisa is based in Asheville, NC where she is the founder & owner of Studio Zahiya, four time winner of “Best Place to Take a Dance Class” in Asheville, NC.  She also owns Asheville Bachelorette Parties and Zahiya Bellydance.

As a movement instructor, she travels, teaching workshops, performing and developing curriculum. She has taught and performed in New York, NY, Las Vegas, NV, Austin, TX, Baltimore, MD, Washington, DC, Montreal, Southern France and more.  She also specializes in women’s empowerment workshops and as a teambuilding facilitator.  She is the winner of the 2008 Bellydancer of the Universe.

At home, she has taught at the University of North Carolina, Asheville, Warren Wilson College and Western Carolina University. She serves as an Ambassador for ​​Lululemon Athletica, Asheville.

In 2015 she launched her coaching business, offering high performance habits and small business development for female entrepreneurs.


 

 

Matthew Abrams

Matthew supports entrepreneurs and leadership teams to clarify what it is they want and activate a plan to achieve it. He has facilitated hundreds of entrepreneurs and leadership teams in offsite retreats and through EOS.

Matthew has delivered keynote talks at Sustainable Brands,The Innovation Exchange, TEDx conferences. He has facilitated hundreds of workshops at universities, companies and conferences. His writing on innovation, education and business has been published in The Stanford Social Innovation Review, The Guardian of London, The New York Times, GOOD Magazine, The Matador Network and others.

  • By starting and growing 3 companies over 15 years, he has built his skill sets as an entrepreneur.
  • In traveling to 3 dozen countries over 7 years, he has deepened his sense of the world and himself.
  • By earning a Master’s Degree in Leadership & Management, he has rounded out his experience with an academic foundation.

Matthew considers himself blessed to have worked on many amazing teams whose projects have been covered by: US NEWS, USA Today, Matador Network, Fast Company, GOOD Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor, Bloomberg Businessweek and others.


 

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Barry Gupton

Barry has 10+ years of experience in construction management with a family owned and operated business that has adapted and grown over multiple decades and generations. He lived and worked full-time in Spain over the course of 2 years as a volunteer service missionary for his religious organization, which not only enables him to speak Spanish fluently, but gives him a distinct ability to assist others in reaching their goals. He graduated with an MBA from Western Carolina University and has experience in property management, mortgage lending, eco-agriculture, quick books/accounting, financial analysis and loves excel spreadsheets.

Barry tiene más que 10 años de experiencia in administración empresarial de construcción en un negocio familiar que ha cambiado y crecido por varios años y generaciones. El vivía y trabajaba en España por 2 años como un misionero para su iglesia, esa experiencia no solo le da la capacidad de hablar el idioma española, pero una habilidad a ayudar a otros alcanzar sus sueños y metas. Él se graduó de La Universidad de Western Carolina con una Maestría en Administración de Empresas y también tiene experiencia con administración de propiedades, prestar hipotecas y la agricultura.


 

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Carol Lynn Jackson

Carol Lynn is a local food system advocate and owner of Manna Cabanna in Historic downtown Saluda. Manna Cabanna bridges the marketing and distribution gaps for WNC food producers lending administrative support and “social capital” to the producer while educating community about the power and wealth of a local foods system.

From both an academic and experiential standpoint, Carol Lynn has a wealth of knowledge in business planning, networking, and marketing and has an extensive background in mass communications, including radio and TV production, fundraising events and public relations. Co-founder and founding president of Slow Food Foothills in 2011, Carol Lynn went on to become a Mountain BizWorks Business Developer in 2012 and became the FARE teams Marketing Coordinator while teaching business and marketing courses.

Her passion is to play the role of game-changer for sustainable community and local economic development, particularly in helping build an agricultural-based local economy for Western North Carolina.


 

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John Bonham

John is a business consultant in Asheville with 15+ years of professional experience. He has a master’s degree in Agricultural and Applied Economics from Virginia Tech and has worked in mutual fund accounting, for American Red Cross, and in agricultural economic development. John’s diverse experience reflects his appreciation for a triple bottom line—people, planet, profit.

John views his role as supporting entrepreneurs as they pursue their vision. His objective is to help business owners make informed decisions. Combining his analytical skills with creative thinking and a sense of humor, John works through complex scenarios to reach practical solutions.


 

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John Woods

John has 25 years of marketing and sales management experience in packaged goods corporations such as Ralston-Purina, Cadbury-Schweppes, Block Drug and Carnation. He also brings 20 years of small business consulting experience, mostly in the area of strategic planning and training/teaching. This is overlaid with a private practice psychotherapy specializing in mid-life issues including career planning. John’s areas of specialty include new business start up assessment and execution, strategic planning, marketing planning, and sales planning/training.


 

Russ Towers

 

Russ Towers

Russ has over 25 years of commercial and investment real estate experience, including assisting dozens of Asheville clients to secure locations for their businesses. He is the founder and co-owner of Second Gear, a consignment shop that opened in 2004, specializing in outdoor gear, clothing and accessories. Russ is a graduate of Leadership Asheville and has served on the boards of the Southern Conference Basketball Championships, the Mountain Sports Festival and the West Asheville Business Association.


 

Ravi Gaikwad

 

Ravi Gaikwad

Ravi has over 42 years of corporate experience in strategic planning, business and financial planning, market and marketing planning, product marketing, management, and development, and customer operations with global multinational companies like Siemens AG India, Philips NV, AT&T, and BellSouth International. He has been counseling, mentoring and coaching entrepreneurs since 2011 in various aspects of business. Ravi migrated to the U.S. with his wife and 9-month old son in 1979 and has made Weaverville, NC his home since 2007.

He has a BS in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (Bombay) and an MBA (Finance concentration) from Texas A&M University.


 

Franzi Charen

 

Franzi Charen

Specializing in social enterprises and mission driven businesses, Franzi can help you dive deep into intentional growth. By utilizing personality assessment tools in her practice you gain a rooted understanding of your leadership style. Her guidance to ground your path from a core sense of self will help you achieve your personal goals and unveil strengths to overcome your challenges.

Franzi has been an independent business owner in Asheville, North Carolina for 14 years and co-owns Hip Replacements clothing store. From small manufacturing, retail, festival and non-profit work, she is well versed in the diversity of businesses needed for a community to thrive. As founder and director of the Asheville Grown Business Alliance and the Love Asheville, Go Local Campaign, she assembled a team that promotes the independent spirit of Asheville through design, community networking and public events. Under her leadership, Asheville’s alliance has created a remarkable level of community-wide awareness and engagement in support of the local economy.

Areas of focus: Business Development & Transitioning, Marketing, Strategic Design, Financials, Open Book Management, Social Enterprises, Event Planning