Startup accelerator names Art Espey to role

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Richmond, Va. – April 10, 2023 – Lighthouse Labs is pleased to announce Art Espey as the new Managing Director, effective April 17. Art will replace outgoing Managing Director Paul Nolde, who will assume a similar role at Norfolk’s 757 Collab and 757 Angels organizations.

Art has long been involved with Lighthouse Labs, having previously served on the organization’s Board of Directors as Founding Vice Chair (2015 to 2018) and recently rejoining the Board. A serial entrepreneur, he has extensive experience in the full life cycle of startups, including scaling one of his ventures into a top 100 company in its industry with a staff of 500+, and gaining domestic and international leadership experience with an Inc. 500 company. His background includes work in healthcare, analytics, manufacturing, and construction, with significant experience in strategic leadership, private equity, diversity consulting, mergers and acquisitions, and business development. He holds degrees from the United States Merchant Marine Academy, Eastern Michigan University, and the University of Virginia. A former USMC Officer and Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) member, Art has authored multiple books and taught a college-level course in change management. He currently sits on the Virginia Bio+Tech Partnership Authority Board of Directors and was formerly the Vice Chair of the American Red Cross in Southeastern Michigan. His wealth of experience will help Lighthouse Labs extend a record of success built on more than ten years of Investing in the lives of founders™. 

“After a decade, Lighthouse Labs is at an inflection point, with an opportunity to think big and reinvent our work with founders, investors, and the area’s innovation ecosystem,” Art shared. “I’m pleased to have the chance to build on the work previous leaders and the team have accomplished and look forward to continued success. I envision new and creative partnering opportunities with Paul and 757 Collab to foster innovation across the entire RVA757 megaregion.”

Nolde will continue with Lighthouse Labs through the end of the current cohort (May 30), and Art has already begun working with the team to ensure a smooth transition. Joe Kunkel, Lighthouse Labs Board Chair, stated “Lighthouse Labs has gained a stellar reputation and remained relevant by constantly refining our work to better support founders and their startups, and we are excited for the next chapter under Art’s leadership.”  

About Lighthouse Labs

Lighthouse Labs is a Top 20 venture accelerator in the Global Accelerator Network and the premier nationally-recognized startup accelerator in Virginia. Lighthouse has accelerated more than 100 companies, investing over $2M to date. The eleven-week program for high-growth startups helps founders move fast, expand their market, and test their business with the support of mentors, industry experts, investors, support services, office space, and $20,000 of seed funding at 0% equity. For more information or to make a donation Investing in the lives of founders™, visit



Kristin Berrier | 804.310.5433