Who we are
CEO & Founder
Sean McIntosh is a former Navy SEAL and the founder of Foothold Labs. He has been a serial entrepreneur in Kansas City since leaving the active duty Navy in 2013. He spent 14 years as both an enlisted Navy SEAL and SEAL officer. Sean completed five combat deployments and was hand selected for several high-visibility assignments during his career.
Sean has been recognized as one of the technology industry leaders in Kansas City by the Techweek KC Technology Conference, the Kansas City Business Journal, and the Top Gun KC 40 Under 40 publication. He is frequently asked to speak as a leading veteran small business owner and emerging defense technology expert.
Sean attended the University of Kansas from 2005-2007 as part of the elite Seaman-To-Admiral enlisted commissioning program and graduated with a BS in Political Science and Minor in History. While in college, he also learned Modern Standard Arabic and taught concealed carry course through his first small business. Sean and his wife Jessica currently live in Lawrence, KS and have two children.
Shari Coulter Ford
Shari has a diverse background as an equity investor, entrepreneur, C-suite executive, and board member. She led healthcare-related investments for a private fund in NYC and was CEO of New York’s first VC-backed accelerator for emerging tech companies. She is adept at forming and leading complex organizations in dynamic environments requiring instinctive navigational skills and has built an extensive international business network through her diverse roles. Shari is a graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (WMP) and the University of Missouri (BJ). Shari and her husband are devoted cyclists having logged more than 30,000 miles together on roads and trails.
Analytical Chemistry & Bioengineering
Matthew Ferris, PhD
Dr. Matt Ferris is a bioanalytical chemist and serial entrepreneur with a diverse experience set. Following his PhD work at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and his postdoc in the biosciences division of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Matt began his professional career by leading the instrument development team for InDevR. After helping commercialize that startup’s first two instruments to market, Matt shifted his career to more commercial roles in larger corporations. Matt led marketing operations teams for Thermo Fisher Scientific’ molecular biology business on two different occasions and served as Director of Portfolio management and Customer Care for GE Healthcare’s gene modulation and editing business.
Product Design & Engineering
Cormac has been developing products for over 20 years. He has led teams of designers and mechanical engineers to deliver consumer and industrial products for Fortune 500 companies as well as early stage startups with an eye towards design and user experience in addition to pragmatic considerations like functionality, manufacturability, and cost.
Dr. Joshua Sestak
Dr. Joshua Sestak currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer of UI Pharmaceuticals. Most recently he served as the CEO of Orion BioScience, a biotech start-up developing novel autoimmune therapeutics focused on re-establishing tolerance in early-stage patients with autoimmune diseases such as Type-1 Diabetes and Neuromyelitis Optica. Joshua earned his Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Kansas and holds a B.S. in Chemistry and Biochemistry from Gonzaga University.
Sr. Technical and Business advisor
Kevin E. Howard, PhD
Dr. Howard received his PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Following a postdoctoral appointment in Ceramic Engineering and The Beckman Institute, Kevin began a 30 year career in Corporate R&D at The Dow Chemical Company. Following his retirement in 2019, Dr. Howard and his wife, Kelly, established Good Harbor Beach Consulting LLC. In the ensuing 2-3 years, Kevin has become a well-recognized consultant to the chemical and materials industries, as well as in the areas of biotechnology and biosensing. Currently, he serves as a Senior Technical and Business advisor to Foothold Labs.
Senior Science & Technology Advisor
Dr. J. Ambrose Wolf
Ambrose Wolf is a Physicist. He currently works as a Principal R&D Scientist and is the Technology Consortium and External R&D Leader at the Kansas City National Security Campus (KCNSC), managed by Honeywell FM&T. At KCNSC he has performed research, development, and application of thin film technologies, and more recently has been participating in technology strategy and leadership, as well as external technical R&D collaboration leadership. Prior to joining Honeywell in 2004 Ambrose was a tenured Professor of Physics at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, MN, and tenure track Professor of Physics at the University of Missouri – Columbia. Before that, he completed two postdoctoral fellowships as a National Research Council (NRC) Research Associate at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Washington, DC, and as a Research Associate at the University of Basel in Switzerland. Ambrose has a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree and a Master of Science (MS) degree in Physics from the University of Münster, Germany, and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Physics from the University of Köln, Germany. He completed his MS and PhD experimental research and thesis work at the Research Center in Jülich, Germany, working with Dr. Peter Grünberg, who later received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2007. Ambrose’s thesis work focused on the structural and magnetic aspects of thin magnetic films and multilayers. He has continuously added to the scientific community with numerous peer reviewed research publications, patents and scientific presentations.
Phil Dillard is an entrepreneur, executive and educator with expertise in finance and strategy. A Philadelphia native, now living in San Francisco, Phil completed his BS in General Science, U.S. Naval Academy. After spending nearly 7 years on active duty with the US Navy, he completed MBA in Finance and Strategy at the Chicago Booth Business School. After several years as a corporate strategy consultant, manufacturing executive, and corporate strategy/innovation consultant, Phil embarked on his entrepreneurial career. He leveraged his experience from multiple industries to launch a small wind CleanTech company, serve as an advisor to a BioPlastics company and lead as CFO of a marketing automation company. Currently, independent consultant and trainer with the Lean Startup Company, Phil helps early stage and growth companies develop and implement strategies and processes that build a foundation for profitable growth. He is also an adjunct MBA professor of Negotiations and Entrepreneurship at Golden Gate University, adjunct professor of Finance at Palo Alto University, and a board member at CiviCorps in Oakland California.