Founder and CEO, Xponent21 | Founder, Richmond Water
With an entrepreneurial journey that began at the age of 20, Will Melton has founded and led businesses in industries including technology, marketing, and consumer packaged goods. At the heart of his endeavors is Xponent21, a thriving Richmond marketing and branding agency serving global clients and local nonprofits. Under Will's leadership, Xponent21 has become a trusted partner for companies seeking to elevate their sustainability stories and gain a competitive edge in today's dynamic business landscape.
Will has been an avid advocate for the strategic integration of technology overall and, specifically, Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the business landscape. He has also been an early adopter of AI to drive innovation in his own businesses. Xponent21 began exploring generative AI for content development in 2022 and was an adopter of ChatGPT at its inception. In January 2023, Will embarked on a new venture by founding Richmond Water, a local sustainable bottled water brand. His strategic use of AI chatbots has played a pivotal role in streamlining development and facilitating market entry with the goal of advancing sustainability and driving positive environmental impacts.
After a trip hosted by two regional chambers of commerce to visit elected leaders in Washington D.C., Will was inspired to assemble a group of Richmond leaders in business, academia, and media focused on the impact of artificial intelligence on economic development. In their biweekly meetings, the group’s collective insights shed light on the transformative potential of AI in shaping the future of business and the region.
Beyond entrepreneurship, Will holds positions on the boards of Housing Families First, Leadership Metro Richmond, and ChamberRVA, organizations dedicated to improving outcomes in Greater Richmond. He applies lessons from the business world to accelerate positive community change, emphasizing the impact of local solutions on global change.