Crummer Student Comes Full Circle with Integrated Capstone Experience

This article appears in the June 2020 Center for Advanced Entrepreneurship newsletter. 

This month, we’re shining a spotlight on Lightning Partners and analyst David Neitzel ’17 ’19MBA.

Lightning Partners is an investment bank offering independent M&A, strategy services and capital raising advice to entrepreneurs and growing technology companies. With over two decades of experience, the team has closed more than 150 transactions valued at over $20 billion. Their success is predicated on a combination of their mission of “People, Positioning and Process.”


One of the people who contributes to the success of Lightning Partners is David Neitzel `19MBA. With concentrations in finance and entrepreneurship, David took advantage of opportunities to expand his knowledge and skill base.

He served as the CEO of the Rollins Moving Service, a student-run organization which provides moving and storage assistance to the Rollins community; was an Entrepreneurial Scholar of Distinction, where he had exposure to entrepreneurial ventures through venVelo, a Winter Park-based venture capital firm and business accelerator; and held an internship in a local investment banking firm.

As a student, David participated in the NASA track of the immersive Integrative Capstone Experience. In the NASA track, his team’s task was to search NASA’s IP database to identify a piece of technology, conduct research, and develop a commercialization plan.

They identified advanced sensor technology and analyzed a wide range of potential use cases, ultimately settling on the detection of PCB chemicals in soil and water. With a robust team which included two Ph.D.’s in the STEM field, they were able to collaborate with alumni working in environmental markets, NASA researchers and administrators, and real estate stakeholders with a vested interest in remediation to refine a plan for commercializing the technology through a network of R&D and customer partnerships.

Having been impressed by the experience, David approached Lightning Partners’ Founder and Managing Director Dan Williams to have the company participate as a host company in the Integrated Capstone Experience program. Dan agreed.

In the spring of 2020, the company had a Crummer team of its own. Four students were given the task of analyzing the impact of AI in their target markets. The team conducted research, analyzed the results, and presented the company with recommendations.

“We were very pleased with the analysis. Ideally, we would like to continue to work with the Integrated Capstone Experience and eventually gain some long-term employees,” said Neitzel. “The program provides visibility for a number of industries. In our case, the sooner the students know about investment banking, the sooner they can get involved in the industry. The program offers two-way engagement; there are better outcomes for the business community and the students get exposure to real world projects.”

For David Neitzel, he has come full circle from student to business advisor.

If you are interested in learning more about Lightning Partners, please visit their website.


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