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The Power of Ownership

FUEL is a community of entrepreneurs, investors and advisors who support the holistic growth of high-capacity CEOs and their businesses, for the benefit of the greater good.


For high-capacity visionaries who are teachable, passionate and hungry to create lasting change, we offer:

  • A dedicated team of strategic advisors committed to the ongoing holistic health of the CEO through mentoring and discipleship, as well as technical and operational oversight
  • Best-In-Class curriculum and training
  • Access to our national impact investor network, accelerating the pitching and fundraising timeline


For impact investors who revere fiscal discipline, social impact, strong leadership and revenue potential, we offer:

  • Access to businesses that have proven growth potential and are on a path to financial self-sustainability, led by high-capacity leaders
  • Rigorous due diligence process in order to reduce risk for company performance and your investment
  • Optimized multiple returns (financial, cultural, Kingdom)


For proven servant leaders and subject-matter experts who are personally committed to growing great companies and owners, we offer:

  • Connection with a community of peers and business leaders, along with an elevated visibility of your brand and skill set
  • Meaningful contribution to the growth of emerging leaders and companies
  • Potential profit via options based on your contribution to each company’s success
  • Garrett Cooper
    Garrett Cooper (Founding Partner)

    Gary is a Founding Partner of FUEL. He has a background in overseeing investments and acquisitions, and is focused on developing high-capacity leaders. Most recently, Gary served as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Strategist for Ambassador Enterprises, a for profit philanthropic private equity company. He holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation and led a team responsible for the investment and risk management of portfolios exceeding $40 billion for the Lincoln Financial Group. He and his wife, Jennifer, have been married for 40 years; they have three grown children and five grandchildren.

  • Dick Gygi
    Dick Gygi (Founding Partner)

    Dick is a Founding Partner of FUEL. He has served as a President of a number of consumer products companies for over 40 years, most recently as the President of PlusMark, a subsidiary of American Greetings, the world-wide leader of seasonal gift wrap. As a co-founder of ThriftSmart and founding Board Member of the Nashville SEA, he has been active in Social Entrepreneurship since 2005. Married to Bonni for 49 years, they have four adult children and seven grandchildren, and together actively serve with Built2Last as Marriage Coaches.

  • Ben Cooper
    Ben Cooper (Director of Operations)

    Ben came to Nashville in 2003 to pursue an Audio Engineering and Entrepreneurship degree at Belmont University. Since graduation in 2007, Ben has been making music full time as a songwriter and producer. Having just completed a challenging entrepreneurial MBA program at Acton School of Business in Austin, Ben is excited to be back in Nashville with his wife, Brittany, and their two kids, Eleanor (4) and Calvin (1½). He is eagerly looking forward to participating in the work God is doing through business leaders and investors/advisors in the Nashville area and beyond.

  • Margaret Morford
    (Advisory Board)
    Margaret Morford (Advisory Board)

    Margaret is CEO for The HR Edge, Inc., an international management consulting and training company. Her clients have included Lockheed Martin, Chevron, Time Warner, HGTV, Nationwide Insurance, Homeland Security, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Vanderbilt University, among others. Previously, Margaret has worked as an attorney, specializing in employment law. A published author and an industry thought leader, she has been quoted in publications including Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Entrepreneur.

  • Brian Church
    (Advisory Board)
    Brian Church (Advisory Board)

    Brian has participated in several successful start-ups that have been sold with significant return on investment. Mr. Church has a history of success in intellectual property incubation as well as a productive history in the Financial Services and mergers/ acquisitions space. Brian has a B.A. degree in Economics from Hampden-Sydney College, holds a Certificate of Financial Planning from Belmont University and is a Registered Principle with series 24,7,6,63,65 qualifications. Brian lives with his wife Kimberly and their son Brian Timothy Church II in Franklin, TN. Brian loves golf, traveling and serving in his local Church.

  • John Gonas
    (Advisory Board)
    John Gonas (Advisory Board)

    John an Associate Professor at Belmont University, teaching Corporate Finance, Investment Portfolio Management, and Economics. Dr. Gonas joined Belmont’s faculty in 1998 after working in the investment banking industry for eight years. His research interests include asset pricing efficiency, investment portfolio performance, social entrepreneurship, and the economics of charitable giving – publishing in The Journal of Corporate Finance, The Financial Review, and The Journal of Financial Planning. Dr. Gonas has stewarded hundreds of students in the development and implementation of social entrepreneurial business models, one of which (Spring Back Recycling) is celebrating 5 years of sustainability and is licensing across the U.S.

  • Michelle Burgess
    (Advisory Board)
    Michelle Burgess (Advisory Board)

    Michelle has 28 years of business experience, having founded Guidant Partners with her husband Steve. With an emphasis on value-based leadership, her areas of expertise span leadership development, operational efficiency, strategic judgement and whole life balance. She is a certified Harrison Assessments Distributor (a talent evaluation tool). Whether as the mother of two children (now grown) or working extensively with college students and young adults for over twenty years, the spiritual and mental growth of individuals has always been her passion.

  • Steve Burgess
    (Advisory Board)
    Steve Burgess (Advisory Board)

    Steve is a serial entrepreneur who, with his wife Michelle, started Guidant Partners 28 years ago, an IT Managed Service company in Nashville, TN. Steve has great experience leading teams, especially through seasons of transition. He is passionate about helping Michelle impact businesses through the “SIMPL” model (Strategy, Implementation, Money, People and Legacy).


FUEL Operations and Investment Model


Qualifications for Entrepreneurs and Advisors


FUEL Core Beliefs and Principles



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