About Tom

TomPanaggioHeadshotI have enjoyed a thirty-year entrepreneurial career as cofounder of two successful direct marketing companies. As a result, I can give a true perspective on starting and running a small business. My practical approach to business concepts and leadership is grounded in the belief that success is the result of a commitment to embracing risk as a way to ensure opportunity.

In 1983 I cofounded Direct Mail Express (DME) in Daytona Beach, Florida, with my siblings Mike and Kathy. DME has always been on the leading edge of marketing technology and is still recognized as an industry leader in personalized digital marketing.

As CEO of spin-off RME in Tampa, Florida, I headed a company that created the most effective lead-generation program in the financial services industry. RME revolutionized financial services marketing with its Seminar Success program, a marketing system that has created billions in sales for our clients.

Originally from Rochester, New York, and a 1980 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, I have always been involved in athletic competition. With my father, Mauro, being a successful basketball coach, that game has always played an important role in my development. I was also a member of the St. Bonaventure varsity soccer team.

I was introduced to the idea of embracing risk as a young commodities broker in the highly speculative world of futures trading. Before packing my belongings and relocating to Florida, I worked a season in minor league professional basketball where I learned the value of maximizing resources and being able to take on multiple roles within an organization.

In Daytona Beach, I was introduced to sports car racing while attending an event at the Daytona International Speedway. I was immediately drawn to the excitement and competitive nature of car racing and obtained my racing license. Even while pursuing this new passion my entrepreneurial instincts played a role. I recognized a unique opportunity and started a company that rented race cars to those who wanted to race but lacked the skills and time to prepare and maintain their own car. I have had the privilege of participating in two of the great sports car races in the world—the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring—as well as the Sports Car Club of America’s national championships.

Today I live in Tampa with my wife, Shemi. When I’m not speaking or advising entrepreneurs and small businesses, I’m spending time with my family—my three daughters, Ashley, Christine, and Elizabeth, are all pursuing their college degrees—or I’m out on a racetrack.