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Our Mentors

Mentors are what make SVI unique and each SVI program unique. The success of our community is a direct result of the generous contributions of mentors.


Serdar Turac

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Serdar Turac​, is the Founder and CEO of Silicon Valley Ignite (SVI) Academy and Business Development (BD) Partners. A passionate leader with first class networking and organizational skills, he now focuses on helping international entrepreneurs to succeed at the global stage. Combining his doctoral level expertise in Finance and Business Administration with 10+ years of field experience in Wall Street, NY and most recently Silicon Valley, CA. Serdar has a track record of successful planning as an emissary for international investors and partners within the local business community to develop long-term business relationships.

Before founding SVI Academy and BD Partners, he was the Strategy & Operations VP at Hack Temple Entrepreneurship Center for a year after serving as the Founding CEO of Innowest Incubator in Silicon Valley. In both roles, he successfully engaged international investors and partners with local business communities, by not only defining strategies but also through hands-on tactical implementation. His 5 years of high-level service as a financial advisor in his home country at the Office of the President not only gave him a hands-on experience of dealing with international investors, but also ignited his passion to support the growth of local and international startups in the Silicon Valley, where he saw the ideal ecosystem for the most efficient birth and growth of bright ideas. With his skills and expertise in investment, startups, international relations, community development and project management, he is passionate to drive customized programs for founders and investors based on their backgrounds, needs, and industry.


Behzad Nasre

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Behzad Nasre​, Global business leader with 30 years of executive experience and deep expertise with proven track record in business and strategy development, strategic planning, general management of large scale, cross cultural and global organizations at one of the largest technology companies, Intel corporation, as well as a fast growing startup company, Endura Technologies. Managing Director Business Development for Intel for more than 10 years. Multiple achievement awards for leading deals with $1B+ value to Intel corporation. 20+ years of executive management & global organization development experience.15+ years of business and strategy development, equity investment and M&A strategy development.


Gerry Bananano

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Gerry Baranano brings over 25 years’ experience in new product introductions and traditional sales and marketing with deep expertise in launching new innovative products and services into established industries, both domestically and internationally. Gerry played a key role in selling an early stage technology company for $3.2 billion. Gerry brings a comprehensive understanding of all the elements necessary to start a successful technology company from his experience as founder and CEO of several startup companies. He has hands-on experience in launching products and services in the telecommunications, computer manufacturing, software, hardware, and green/clean tech industries. Gerry earned a B.A. from Yale University and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.


Lynn Nichols

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Lynn Nichols​, is the CEO of X Intellectual Property. Formerly a professor of linguistics at Harvard University and UC Berkeley for 14 years, Lynn has deep expertise in how we use names, the form and meaning of words, and the intuitions behind language. She serves as an advisor on name strategy and brand development at Stanford’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Alchemist Accelerator, and incubators, seed networks & VC mentors for startup. Her work with startups and established businesses includes name development, strategic name positioning, branding, brand positioning, brand core, brand strategy, and messaging. Lynn’s experience includes consumer tech, B2B tech, medtech, biotech, senior care tech, finance, real-estate, nonprofits and PR in Silicon Valley and globally.


Jenz Weitsel

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Jens Weitzel​, is a seasoned Technology Executive, Advisor and Mentor with over 20 years of software and technology experience – gained from B2B and B2C businesses in enterprises and startups. Jens mentors and consults with early-stage technology startups in Silicon Valley and Mentoring start-up founders participating in the Stanford University accelerator program (STARTX) and serving on their advisory board. In his engagements with technology startups, he focuses on strategy development, business development, go-to-market initiatives, and strategic partnerships. Prior to joining ParkWhiz, he was Vice President of Business Development at Swiftpage and was instrumental in selling its Saleslogix CRM business to Infor. Previously, he held various executive positions at SAP in Palo Alto including leadership roles in SAP’s partner organization and its Sustainability incubator where he focused on Connected Car initiatives. Prior to SAP, he was a management consultant with Deloitte Consulting and KPMG Peat Marwick, and managed an e-commerce start-up in Hong Kong.


Mark Klop

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Mark Klopp is an independent consultant who serves as a board member and business advisor for several private ventures. Mark is a former Board Member of the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) and served as Chairman and founding member of the Corporate Venture Group. Formerly Managing Director of Eastman Ventures, Eastman Chemical Company's corporate venture capital arm, Mark started up and led the company's efforts to invest in and partner with private companies. He and his team forged relationships and co-investments with premier venture capitalists and corporations. Eastman invested with a top-quartile IRR track record in 25 ventures and 5 venture funds spanning Information Technology, Life Sciences, Advanced Materials and Clean Technology.

Mark developed extensive operating experience in international business management, sales and marketing while with Eastman. Previous assignments included: Assistant to the CEO and Chairman; Regional Business Manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa and several Marketing and Sales executive positions. Mark earned a bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering from Virginia Tech and an MBA in Management from Roosevelt University. Specialties: Venture capital, private equity, business development, corporate development, licensing, entrepreneurship, acquisitions, operations, financing, board of directors, investing, sales, marketing, strategy, investor relations, medical devices, chemicals, advanced materials, cleantech, energy, life sciences.


Paul Kallmes

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Paul Kallmes​, Independent technology professional with a focus on foreign start-ups coming to the US, with a specialty in the strategic management of intellectual property. Mr. Kallmes has extensive experience in the field of strategic IP management in numerous fields. He managed the extensive IP portfolio for Color Kinetics, where he helped to create the industry's primary licensing platform. He served as a General Manager of the Custom Solutions Business Unit at Lighting Science Group Corporation. He served as an Intellectual Property Strategist of Lighting Science Group Corporation.


Roy Terry

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Roy Terry, Founder of The Primal Pitch. Roy Terry is a professional pitch coach who has served numerous startups here in Silicon Valley. Mr. Terry has been training and coaching communication in the Silicon Valley since 1995 and his past clients include Hewlett Packard, Oracle Corporation, Talentoday, Pageyourself, Price Match and many more. Mr. Terry is trained as a public speaker, NLP practitioner and also incorporates knowledge and practice from stage acting and hypnosis.


Vera Shokina

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Vera Shokina​, is a Managing Director with Silicon Valley Bank's Global Gateway group. In this role she assists international venture capital funds and global innovation companies with their US and international market expansion. Prior to joining SVB, Vera was a Partner, CFO and COO of Runa Capital, a $200MM venture capital fund, where she was responsible for all finance, legal, operations and investor relations functions. Prior to joining Runa in 2010, Vera spent five years as a VP with Silicon Valley Bank where she was responsible for building relationships with technology start-ups and supervised a $50M USD venture debt portfolio for early-stage VC-backed software and services companies. Additional Silicon Valley experience included work at GE Capital and Goldman Sachs & Co. Before moving to the US, Vera worked for Citibank Moscow, where she managed a portfolio of loans and traded Russian equities for institutional foreign investors.

Vera holds an MBA from the Moscow Finance Academy and a bachelor’s degree in foreign languages from Moscow State Linguistics University.


Pavel Cherkashin

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Pavel Cherkashin​, is a managing partner of GVA Capital. He is a Russian entrepreneur and venture capitalist and was named “Russian Entrepreneur to Watch For” by Mashable. Previously, he was with Microsoft, where he led the consumer and online department in Russia. He also established and managed offices for Adobe in Russia and CIS. Earlier in his career, he founded several IT companies, including Sputnik Labs (now part of TechnoServ Group), AdWatch (now part of AEGIS/Isobar), and Actis Systems (now part of Wunderman).


Riaz Karamali

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Riaz Karamali​, Corporate Partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP a top ranked international law firm. He is known for his expertise in corporate law, venture finance, private equity, strategic mergers and acquisitions and technology transactions. He has worked with hundreds of start-up and emerging companies and their investors, guiding them from their pre-founding stages through their angel and venture capital financing rounds, significant commercial contracts and strategic alliances to their ultimate exit transactions.


Sam Macafee

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Sam McAfee​, helps companies build and scale new digital products, find and master product-market fit, and improve software development process and teamwork. Sam has helped numerous technology product teams to be successful and deliver meaningfully for their business. He has participated directly in six startups, and has coached and advised countless others. He recently published the book, Startup Patterns. He uses a structured framework that combines the best practices of Design Thinking, Lean Startup, and Agile development into one seamless process. These days he primarily coaches enterprise (Fortune 500) product teams how to innovate like a startup.


Jeff Faust

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Jeff Faust CVA (Certified Valuation Analyst) is the director of valuation services at Abbott, Stringham and Lynch. Jeff has extensive experience in the valuation of startups / private companies for various purposes: fundraising, mergers/acquisitions, stock options grants (IRC § 409A) and more. He has provided valuation expertise to startups of all sizes and stages of development and in a wide variety of industries including hi-tech (software, SaaS, mobile, telecom, social media, cloud, data, etc), bio-tech, manufacturing and many more.


Michelle Tsing

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Michelle Tsing earned her JD from the University of Santa Clara School of Law and her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley. During her time at law school, she structured and negotiated IP, marketing and e-commerce transactions at Cisco, eBay, Samsung and Apple legal departments. At Sunrise Telecom, she handled all legal matter with the General Counsel including SEC compliance, stock distribution and setting up businesses worldwide.

Michelle worked at PayPal for more than six years as an attorney helping PayPal, Bill Me Later, Where and Zong close business deals. She sits on multiple boards and is an avid social media early adopter and a big supporter of the startup community.


Sophie Alcorn

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Sophie Alcorn founded Alcorn Immigration Law in Mountain View, California, to focus on the U.S. immigration law needs of Silicon Valley. She obtains visas, green cards and citizenship for startup founders, investors, tech talent and their families. Sophie has represented individuals and corporations on hundreds of cases, including H-1B, O-1, PERM, I-140, and Adjustment of Status.

Sophie is a California native and first came to the Silicon Valley when she attended Stanford University and studied International Relations. She received her J.D. cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law, and was awarded the National Association of Women Lawyers Outstanding Law Graduate Award and the Equal Justice Works Award. Sophie is admitted to State Bar of California, the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Third and Ninth Circuits, and the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Sophie was chosen as "Top 40 Under 40" by the National Advocates and as "Top Attorney in Orange County" by Orange County Metro Magazine. Her rating on is 10.0 Superb, where she is also listed as a Top Attorney in Immigration. She is currently serving as the Treasurer of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Santa Clara Valley Chapter.


Rana Gujral

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Rana Gujral is an Entrepreneur (founder, ​InsureHound​), Turnaround CEO and an Investor. Rana founded a leading enterprise SaaS startup TiZE. Rana serves as a contributing writer at TechCrunch and Forbes and advises several startups. Rana was recently listed among Top 10 Entrepreneurs to follow in 2017 by Huffington Post.

In his role as Founder and CEO of TiZE, Rana raised the initial round and led the company through its formative traction. Prior to TiZE, Rana was recruited to be a part of the core turnaround team for Cricut Inc. At Cricut, Rana led the initiative to build a first of its kind, innovative products for the DIY community and affected the turnaround of Cricut’s EBITDA position from bankruptcy to profitability within a span of 2 years ($100MM loss to profitability in just 2 years). Previously, Rana held leadership positions at Logitech S.A. and Kronos Inc. where Rana was responsible for the development of best-in-class products achieving billions of dollars in revenue and contributed towards several award-winning engineering innovations. Rana has earned a variety of personal and product awards throughout his career and has been featured in TechCrunch, Forbes, Inc magazine, Huffington Post, Fast Company, NBC, Fox and CBS.


Jie Zhu

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Jie Zhu​, has been with Petrinovich Pugh & Company since 1999 and was admitted as a Partner in June of 2013. Jie received her Bachelor of Arts in International Business from Xiamen University in China, and her Bachelor of Science in Accounting from San Jose State University. Her specialties include assisting international start-up companies with accounting and tax needs, helping international investors with tax planning and compliance, estate and gift tax planning, and trust and probate accounting. Her love of accounting and enthusiasm for cultural exploration has fueled her interest in, and extensive knowledge of, international tax. She is Chair of the Firms’ International Tax Practice Group and the Education Committee.

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Christine Redfield

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Christine Redfield focuses her practice on strategic international brand counseling and protection, including the development and management of international trademark portfolios, creative brand enforcement strategies and trademark rights online. She advises clients on the availability, use, registration, and enforcement of trademarks in the United States and worldwide markets.​

Chris also counsels clients on a variety of trademark related issues including trade dress infringement, trademark dilution, and acquiring domain name registrations. She represents clients before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, and resolves rights to disputed marks by negotiating licenses, assignments, and coexistence, settlement and transfer agreements. Redfield received her B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles, and her J.D. from Santa Clara University School of Law.


Christina Tsakona

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Christina Tsakona is an international startup lawyer with significant professional legal experience in both the U.S. and Europe. Her corporate legal counsel focuses in entity formation, venture capital financing, cross-border transactions, and commercial agreements for startup companies in the US and globally. Christina has assisted and consulted over 40 U.S. and international startups and more developed companies through all sensitive points of related financing and transaction processes.


Bill Reichert

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Bill Reichert ​- Managing Director, Garage Technology Ventures. Bill spent most of his early career as an entrepreneur and operating executive. Since joining Garage in 1998, Bill has focused on early-stage information technology and materials science companies. Bill and Garage have helped many great companies get their start, including Pandora Media, LeftHand Networks, Kaboodle, and Tripwire.

Bill has been a board director or board observer at CaseStack, WhiteHat Security, ClearFuels Technology, Simply Hired, MiaSole, D.light Design, ThermoCeramix, and VisaNow, among others. He is a co-founder of F50 and TimeJoy, and is an advisor to Playlist. Prior to Garage, Bill was a co-founder or senior executive in several venture-backed technology startups, including Trademark Software, The Learning Company, and Academic Systems. Earlier in his career, he worked at McKinsey & Company, Brown Brothers Harriman & Co., and the World Bank.

Bill earned a B.A. at Harvard College and an M.B.A. from Stanford University. He was a founding board member and served as chairman of the Churchill Club.


Christina Tsakona

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Daniela Busse (Ph.D.), Director at Citi Ventures’ Global Innovation Network, focuses on breakthrough innovation in labs across the US, Asia, Israel, and Europe, with deep expertise in Design and User Experience Research. Throughout her career, she has been continuously analyzing, envisioning, and redefining the role of technology in people’s everyday lives. Prior to joining Citi she held roles as director-level Design Futurist and innovation team lead at Samsung Research America (SRA), as UX Director/Chief UX Architect in Hasso Plattner’s innovation team in SAP’s Office of the CEO, and as Design Researcher at Microsoft’s Office Design. Through her award-winning work, she has been defining ground-breaking new uses and designs for technologies and devices, led multi-disciplinary UX innovation projects for future roadmap ideation, and researched and incubated breakthrough new product concepts and experiences. She received her Ph.D. in complex systems analysis & design from Glasgow University’s Department of Computing Science (Scotland, UK), and also her summa cum laude degrees in both Computing Science and Psychology. She holds multiple patents and has published frequently in the field of UX Design, Research, and Innovation.


John Racioppi

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John Racioppi​, ​20+ years of experience in Enterprise Software, focused on development tools, middleware, and infrastructure, and more recently, social media. Experience building sales organizations from the ground up or managing large existing sales groups. P&L responsibility for $100M + business. General Management skills in budgeting, HR, finance, and software development management. Experience creating strategies for a variety of startup businesses. Specialties: Enterprise software sales management, P&L experience in publicly traded software companies, international business development, social selling, sales process.


Ben Toker

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Ben Toker​, ​is the Founder & CEO of Checkup, data-driven health management company that provides smart phone based testing, monitoring and interpretation. Prior to that he worked with organizations like U.S, Department of Health & Human Services, Google, Cisco. He has been in Apple ecosystem for over 15 years and launched one of the first apps in AppStore which reached 110M+ users. He serves on the board of AGBU-Silicon Valley, AVC and HyeTech as well as advises and mentors successful startups. His areas of expertise include ​mobile apps product strategy, development and marketing. mHealth, Mobile commerce, e-commerce, SaaS and cloud strategies, interactive marketing, branding and identity, B2B customer development and retention.


Alex Ermolaev

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Alex Ermolaev has 20 years of experience in the software industry, including AI-related experience at Bell Labs, Microsoft, several startups and most recently, Nvidia. Alex is currently leading AI software alliances and developer relations and working with incredible software companies implementing groundbreaking AI solutions across many different domains.


P.K. Agarwal

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P.K. Agarwal​ serves as the Dean and CEO of Northeastern University–Silicon Valley. He also serves as the Chairman of Future 500, a Bay Area-based pioneer in the area of global sustainability. Formerly, he was the CEO of TiE Global, an organization dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship across 61 cities in 18 countries. Prior to TiE, P.K served as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Chief Technology Officer for the State of California. He has also been in executive and management roles with ACS (now Xerox), NIC Inc., and EDS (now HP).


Amanda Bradford

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Amanda Bradford​, is the founder of The League, an exclusive dating app that matches smart, busy, and ambitious people together. The goal was to create power couples by matching up highly motivated single professionals. She raised $2.1 million in seed funding in January 2015. Amanda studied at Carnegie Mellon and Stanford, and worked for Sequoia Capital, Salesforce, and Google before launching The League.

After graduating from Carnegie Mellon with a degree in Information Systems, Amanda joined Salesforce as a Sales Engineer. In 2010 she joined Google, where she worked as a product specialist on the DoubleClick team and then moved into New Business Development where she led partnership efforts around the commercialization of Google's BIg Data Infrastructure-as-a-service offerings. Amanda graduated with an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business and is interested in enterprise saas companies, big-data applications, and e-commerce.

In 2014 she founded The League, a new dating app.


Naeem Zafar

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Naeem Zafar​, ​is a serial entrepreneur and currently serves as the co-founder and CEO of TeleSense, an IoT (Internet of Things) company creating solutions for the food safety and regulatory compliance in critical industries. He co-founded and served as the CEO of Bitzer Mobile, an enterprise security and mobility company that was acquired by Oracle in November 2013. Naeem has been teaching at the University of California Berkeley, Center of Entrepreneurship and Technology in 2005. He is also the Professor of the Practice at Brown University. He teaches courses in Entrepreneurship, Technology Strategy, Innovation and New Venture Finance at Brown and Berkeley. Naeem started his own business at the age of 26 and subsequently went on to start, or work at, six startups. His first job out of Brown University with a degree in electrical engineering was to design chips and electronic systems. Naeem has authored five books on entrepreneurship on topics ranging from conducting market research to seeking the right funding to successful ways to start a business. Information can be found on His books including "7-Steps to a Successful Startup" are also available on, Kindle and on the iTunes App store.


Michelle Killebrew

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Michelle Killebrew​, Chief Marketing Officer at Nomiku. Michelle ​is passionate about marketing, especially innovative digital marketing strategies that deliver a superior brand experience—from initial acquisition through to loyal customer—and increase growth and profitability. Fluent in both B2B and B2C marketing strategies, she uses an intense focus on customer needs and expectations to drive growth and results. She believes in measurement and iteration. Michelle has over 16 years of high-tech marketing experience and holds a B.S. in Economics from Santa Clara University.


Eric Save

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Eric Save is a corporate/M&A partner in the K&L Gates Law Firm’s San Francisco office and a member of the firm’s Latin America practice. He has represented clients with respect to a broad range of matters in Mexico, Brazil and other parts of Latin America, including cross-border M&A transactions, joint ventures, venture capital investments, start-up company matters, investments in energy and mining projects, secured lending transactions, and the establishment or sourcing of operations in the region. Prior to joining the K&L Gates, Mr. Save was a partner in the San Francisco office of an international law firm. In addition, he previously worked in Mexico City for four years as an executive and in-house lawyer at a Mexican software company that he co-founded.


Ron Wood

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Ron Wood​, ​has focused for the last 25+ years, on bringing disruptive new hardware and software technologies to the market, word processors, personal computers, digital photography, digital video, AR/VR. Wood is Director of Business Development at Altuit Design. Altuit focuses on Product Visualization and designing new products to bring to market. As VP International at Truevision, he s​old Digital video equipment to Sony Broadcast in Atsugi Japan. Designed a new OEM digital video capture board for the Sony LiveEdit Sports Broadcast instant replay system at Truevision. ​As District Sales Manager for Apple in Houston, the district lead the nation in LaserWriter sales. As MD of Claris Australia, he opened and staffed a new office and implemented several industry-leading site license programs. Most recently, Wood has been focused on Business Development and helping successful international companies enter the US market.


Mike Rogers

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Mike Rogers ​After years successfully crafting a corporate strategy and executing on M&A deals for his employers, Mike found that he could help more than one client at a time - so he went into business for himself, successfully helping multiple companies grow, develop partnerships, and eventually exit simultaneously. In founding The Revenue Group, Mike has made countless connections and lifelong friendships helping cyber security entrepreneurs discover strategic methods for increasing their valuations, as well as developing an actionable roadmap for capitalizing on them. From his Corporate Development experience, Mike learned how to evaluate a company the way an acquirer does, by looking for inefficiencies, and he utilizes that knowledge to identify “easy wins'' as well as long term adjustments to existing business structures that are guaranteed to increase a company’s value.

When he’s not running The Revenue Group, Mike is also an Operating Partner for Sway Ventures and is Managing Director and Mentor for Nex Cubed’s Startup Accelerator Program in San Francisco. He has previously held positions in Strategy and Corporate Development at technology firms such as Lumension, Secure Computing, Cyberguard, and OpenTV, where he's helped each company sell for over $150MM.


Ken Rutsky

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Ken Rutsky helps B2B growth company executives in sales, marketing, and the C-Suite to breakthrough, achieve, and grow market leadership in new and existing markets. His clients not only lead, they improve key sales and marketing metrics like leads to revenue and opportunities to close. Ken has spent 20+ years in B2B marketing roles, launching the Intel Inside broadcast co-op program in 1991 and the Internet’s first affiliate marketing program, Netscape Now, at Netscape from 1995-99; has been CMO at several start-ups; and has run network security marketing at McAfee. In the 7 years of his consulting practice, Ken’s clients – including FireEye, Nimsoft, and others – have generated over $6B of shareholder value through IPOs and acquisitions, while several others have reached private equity valuations of $1B+.


Frank Willemsen

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Frank Willemsen ​is a Board member of Sand Hill Angels, one of the most active Angel Investment organizations in the US with more than 100 Silicon Valley executives that mentor, advise and invest into early stage companies. He is a results-driven leader with sales, channel, marketing, cloud, and Business development and S/W experience within the information technology and telecommunications sector, including leadership roles with Cisco Systems, KPN, Sprint, EDS (acquired by HP). Having worked and lived across the world has given him deep insight into international business and leading diverse organizations, global leadership. He worked and lived in different places in Europe, Asia and is currently based in Silicon Valley, California.


Sal Lucido

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Sal Lucido​ ​is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and Associate Professor at CSU Monterey Bay with over 20 years of experience with founding, building and managing software companies. As founder and executive VP at AssurX, Sal has grown the business with no required investment capital into a profitable, multimillion dollar, international enterprise software company. Sal has also written and marketed several successful mobile apps and advises other entrepreneurs starting up businesses of their own. Sal has a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from Cal Poly SLO and a Masters in Engineering from SJSU.


Britt L. Anderson

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Britt L. Anderson ​has been Partner of Intellectual Property Litigation Practice at K&L Gates LLP since February 2011. Mr. Anderson served as the Head of US Securities Practice for Asia at Norton Rose Fulbright LLP. Prior to joining K&L Gates, he served as a Senior Attorney in the intellectual property groups of two leading national law firms. Before attending law school, he held several executive positions with international companies. From 1992 to 1997, he directed the startup of an international division for a leading U.S. logistics company, opened the company's first European offices and held responsibility for contract negotiations and agency relationships in over 40 countries. His Professional/Civic Activities: American Bar Association, International Trademark Association (INTA) (Model State Trademark Bill Subcommittee, 2006-2007), American Marketing Association and American Business Trial Lawyers Association.Business development and S/W experience within the information technology and telecommunications sector, including leadership roles with Cisco Systems, KPN, Sprint, EDS (acquired by HP). Having worked and lived across the world has given him deep insight into international business and leading diverse organizations, global leadership. He worked and lived in different places in Europe, Asia and is currently based in Silicon Valley, California.


Chien Wei Chou

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Chien Wei Chou ​is a partner in the K&L Gates Law Firm San Francisco office and focuses on intellectual property litigation. He is the former legal director of intellectual property for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company overseeing all intellectual property matters including inter alia, patents and trade secrets. Prior to joining the K&L Gates, Mr. Chou practiced with several law firms in California in the areas of intellectual property and patent litigation. In addition to his legal practice, he has more than 10 years of industrial experience as an engineer and manager in the area of electronics, robotics systems, and computer hardware and software design.


Brian Graham

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Brian Graham ​is a partner in the firm’s Austin office where he concentrates his practice in corporate and investment-based immigration law and is a member of the labor, employment and workplace safety practice group. He is internationally recognized for his expertise in obtaining visas, permanent residency, and citizenship for athletes, entertainers, executives, healthcare professionals, investors, religious workers, information technology workers, professors, and researchers. Mr. Graham regularly advises corporations on immigration compliance issues and developing long-term immigration strategies. In addition, he counsels immigrant investors and developers on the EB-5 immigrant investor program. He works alongside tax and estate planning attorneys to counsel high net worth individuals on comprehensive immigration planning. Before entering private practice, he was employed as Assistant District Counsel for the Immigration and Naturalization Service and worked at the INS Office of the General Counsel in Washington, D.C.


Gary Jinks

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Gary Jinks has spent his entire career in Silicon Valley producing innovative products and getting them into the hands of customers. Gary is the President of GLJ Group, a consulting firm which focuses on strategic planning and new market entry. Their efforts have resulted in over $300M in new business for clients.


Gary is also the founder, managing director and chairman of the board of South Valley Angels, an angel investor group which he launched in 2011. Gary is highly respected and very active in the Silicon Valley innovation ecosystem, regularly mentor entrepreneurs at Santa Clara University, local accelerators, and other investor organizations. In 2015 Gary worked with over 70 startups to establish strategic direction and launch. Previously, Gary spent 20 plus years at Fortune 1000 companies holding key positions in systems engineering, operations, project management, and business development.


Jeri Cafesin

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Jeri Cafesin is a veteran creative director, a Stanford marketing educator, and the founder of IPP Global—educating entrepreneurs in the practice of marketing a business to thrive. A Silicon Valley MarCom specialist since the dawn of the dot-com boom, from Fortune 100s, to seed-funded fledglings, her marketing strategies have aided innovators in turning their ideas, or developed products, into marketable offerings of value. Her campaigns for Stac, MD2, 1928, Bay Networks, Xerox FCU, The Learning Company, and many others, have helped create sustainable companies, some ultimately selling for millions. A 10+ yr university instructor, Ms. Cafesin has also taught hundreds of college students and business owners how to actualize and market their offerings into profitable businesses.


Nitin Vaish

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Nitin Vaish is an advisor in the energy and transportation sector. Over the past two decades, he led products and strategy at SunPower, launch of EV energy storage business at Celanese, and a new start-up within GE. He is an advisory board member and consultant to early stage companies and venture funds in autonomous, connected, electric, and shared (ACES) space. He is also on the leadership team of IITStartups, an accelerator helping early-stage companies founded by IIT alumni. 

Nitin earned his undergraduate degree from IIT Bombay, MS from Northwestern University and MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management.


Roger Royse

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Roger Royse is the founder of Royse Law Firm, PC, a business and tax law firm with offices in Northern and Southern California. Roger practices in the areas of corporate and securities law, domestic and international tax, mergers and acquisitions, and fund formation. His clients include international emerging and middle-market companies and high net worth individuals. Roger has represented companies in a variety of industries, including clean tech, Internet, life sciences, entertainment and new media, sports, real estate, retail and mobile devices and applications. Practicing since 1984, Roger’s background includes work with prominent San Francisco Bay area law firms as well as Milbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCloy in New York City. Roger is an adjunct professor at the Golden Gate University Law School Tax program (Corporate, International, Property Transactions) and is a frequent speaker, writer, radio guest, blogger and panelist for bar associations, CPA organizations, and business groups. Roger is a Northern California Super Lawyer, is AV Peer-Rated by Martindale Hubbell, and has a “Superb” rating from Avvo.


Bill Ahmann

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Bill Ahmann is founder and managing partner of Ahmann Law Firm.

Bill focuses on intellectual property law in the fields of wireless networks, telecommunications, computers, software, semiconductors, electronics, security, business methods, and the Internet.


Other areas of his practice include patent prosecution, licensing, litigation, copyright, trademark procurement, and designs protection. Bill has worked with a number of clients, rendering patent opinions, including invalidity and noninfringement opinions, focusing on patent prosecution and patent analysis, and establishing internal patent procurement programs and competitive analysis.


Bill has drafted, supervised, and/or prosecuted approximately 600 patent applications, and has filed and/or prosecuted dozens of reexaminations. He has been involved in multiple litigations matters and monetization efforts. He also has served as primary counsel in many licensing negotiations.


Bill holds a J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of Law and a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Missouri.


André Gueziec

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André Gueziec is an entrepreneur and executive with a unique combination of product vision, technical depth, and start-up expertise. André founded Beat the Traffic and sold it to the Pelmorex Canadian media group (“The Weather Network”).


André is an angel investor and advisor to selected technology companies. His sweet spot is to be a catalyst in early stage opportunities where it also makes sense for him to actively participate in an advisory role. He has published forty peer-reviewed papers, journal articles and book chapters and is an inventor of about 35 U.S Patents. He also wrote a book entitled “You can be a Silicon Valley Success”.


Edwin M. Oh

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Edwin M. Oh

Managing Director, Infrastructure Group

Edwin Oh is Co-Founder of Infrastructure Group, LLC which has been providing marketing and operational services to early stage startups in Silicon Valley for the past 10 years. He has over 25 years of experience in technology commercialization including as CEO of small public and private high technology companies. He also teaches marketing and entrepreneurship with Stanford University’s Continuing Studies Program, including BUS213: Principles of Product/Market Fit now in its ninth year. Ed received an MS in chemical engineering and an MBA from Stanford and S.B. degrees in chemical engineering and chemistry from M.I.T.


Chuck DeVita

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Chuck DeVita founded and leads Growth Process Group (GPG), a strategic sales & marketing consulting firm that helps enterprise solution providers enter markets and improve sales productivity, revenue growth and profitability. GPG is focused on helping B2B Software as a Service (SaaS) solution providers. 

He has over thirty years’ experience in Sales and Marketing management of technology companies and has been working with SaaS Solutions since 1999. He has developed regional and worldwide sales forces and has extensive international background. Chuck led the growth of two startups and the turnaround of a public company. He has helped numerous Enterprise Software and SaaS solution companies in the U.S. and Europe including serving as interim VP Sales & Marketing for several companies. 

Chuck is a recognized speaker and visionary on sales and marketing management for technology companies. He teaches several courses to executives at Stanford (CSP Program) including “Cloud Computing-Selling & Marketing SaaS to the Enterprise”, “Developing Clear Value Propositions & Pricing Models” and “Sales Management Excellence”. 

Education: B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Santa Clara University 

MBA (Finance) from Stanford University.


James Young

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James Young has been described as an “engaging, innovative design leader.” He’s worked in user experience design for more than two decades, and has demonstrated the ability to build a sustainable culture of creativity and teamwork. Along the way, James has partnered with a variety of forward-thinking, industry-leading organizations (such as Apple, Adobe, AOL, Intuit, eBay and Yahoo!) to optimize their user experiences and increase their market share, revenue, and customer loyalty. James teaches creativity at Stanford and at the California College of Arts. James works closely with internal teams and other partners, sharing customer-centric innovation tools that enable people to unlock their creative problem-solving abilities.


Neil Shroff

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Neil Shroff has over twenty years of middle-market mergers and acquisitions experience and has led a significant number of transactions on the buy-side and sell-side as a private equity–backed CEO, three exits as an entrepreneur, angel investor, mergers and acquisitions specialist, and management consultant.


Ron Schilling

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Ron Schilling, PhD & Director of Strategic Planning for GE has become #1 in the world to set in place the establishment of the 8800 CT. He joined Motorola in their MOS division & later entered the Medical Imaging at GE CT. He also worked as Senior Vice President of Toshiba Medical USA. For the past 7 years, while also bringing Interactive Virtual Reality to the market at EchoPixel, the concept of “Bridging the Radiology-Surgery Gap” was established. Dr. Schilling has achieved over 100 presentations and publications in medical imaging and semiconductors. He as well has taught “Tools for Strategic Management,” and “High Performance Management” at Stanford. His most recent presentation is, “The Intersection of Big Data and Interactive Mixed Reality.”


Eugene Shteyn

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Eugene Shteyn teaches Principles of Invention, Scalable Innovation, and Innovation Timing at Stanford University Continuing Studies Program. He is a Partner, Head of IP, at Zoic Capital LLC, a venture capital fund that invests in early stage medical technology companies. He is a named inventor on thirty-five patents in the technology industry: internet services, media streaming, medical systems, and superconducting devices. He is the co-author of Scalable Innovation: A Guide for Inventors, Entrepreneurs, and IP Professionals. In 2018–19, he facilitated workshops that resulted in more than 100 technology inventions.


David Walling

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David Walling advises startup founders and leaders on persuasion and selling. During his nearly thirty years at IBM, he sold new and established products into emerging and mature segments. As a consultant and coach, he has adapted tested IBM influence skills for new companies. He was vice president of sales at two startups prior to founding his company.


Laura M. Powers

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Laura M. Powers is an international speaker, trainer and coach with over twenty-five years of professional experience at Procter & Gamble, HP,, and eBay, well as several ill-fated start-ups you never heard of. Known for her people-first approach, Laura is committed to growing work environments where teams love what they do and produce extraordinary business outcomes. She is the founder of the consultancy “Powered By Teams,” and holds enough Agile certifications to make a large bowl of alphabet soup – including CSP, CSM, CSPO, SAFe SPC4, ICP-ACC, ICP-ATF, ICP-ALP, and ICP-Mkg. She holds a BS and MS in mechanical engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.


Bret Waters

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Bret Waters has spent his whole career in Silicon Valley as an entrepreneur, investor, and academic. Today he teaches at Stanford University, coaches CEO’s at Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship and does occasional angel investing. He has founded and run three Silicon Valley software companies, raising venture capital and managing exits. He has also run two non-profit organizations and spent six years on the board of the Stanford University Graduate School of Education. He received his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.


Stuart Berkowitz

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Stuart Berkowitz, Ph.D.

Stuart is the Founder and CEO of Out of the Fog Research LLC (OFR) based in Mountain View, CA. He has successfully won, managed, and transitioned over $30 million in SBIR projects.

For the past 12 years, Stuart has led programs at OFR to develop and transition RF Front-end technology for SIGINT systems. Stuart has taken technology from TRL 3 to TRL 9 multiple times. For example, he managed the production of over 60 production cryogenic RF distribution units to the Cryptological Carry-On program. For these efforts in commercialization of SBIR technology, OFR received a 2015 Tibbetts Award from the SBA. He has been principal investigator on contracts from the Navy, Air Force, DARPA, and NIST. He has transitioned technology through Phase II.5, SAT/CPP, and RIF. He is the co-author of over 35 technical publications and has been awarded two patents. For his efforts in commercializing superconductivity, he received the IEEE Council on Superconductivity Rosner Award in 2012. Being a hands-on Founder, he is intimately familiar with all aspects of government contracting as a small business, including government accounting and how to survive a DCAA audit. Stuart earned his BS degree in Physics from NC State University and his Ph.D. in Physics from Boston University.

Stuart also has helped other small businesses from inception through Seed Round investments as an advisor, Angel investor, and Board member. He is currently on the board at Terapore Technologies, Inc.


Henry Wong

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Henry Wong has been a prolific and successful venture investor, serial entrepreneur, and Stanford University Mentor in Silicon Valley during the last 35 years.After working for various Fortune 500 companies, Henry channeled his entrepreneurial spirit to go and “change the world.”After working for various Fortune 500 companies, Henry channeled his entrepreneurial spirit to go and “change the world.” 

Frustrated with existing sloppy edge technologies, Henry founded, seed-funded, and exited five successful startups, including SS8 Networks (ADC Telecom), IP Communications (Nokia), XaQti Semiconductor (Vitesse), CNet Technology (IPO), and Combinet (Cisco Systems). He is always the founder, chairman, first president, and CEO. Realizing that “money makes the world go round,” Henry founded Diamond TechVentures, a Trans Pacific Venture Investment firm. In parallel, he was also the venture partner to Guy Kawasaki’s Garage Technology Ventures, and before that, Crystal Ventures. With the fast growth in Silicon Valley and the ever-changing landscape of technological advancement, a different ecosystem is needed to accommodate growth and accelerate prosperity. To address this, Henry founded TechLAB Innovation Center, where he coined the term, “Find it, Fix it & Fund it.” Pre-qualified startups or companies that Henry continues to start are incubated inside this accelerator under a secured environment. A full-time IP lawyer processes the filing of new patentable technologies on-site. 


Kolja Reiss

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Kolja Reiss is a passionate entrepreneur, consultant, and business development expert with 15+ years of active enterprise sales experience in the hi-tech sector. Kolja has lived and worked in Munich, London, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, and has served as Head of Business Development for a number of tech companies. As chief consultant of Aveliu, he headsStrategic Partnerships, Silicon Valley ​for Bango, a Cambridge/UK-based FinTech company, and advises rewardfx, a Blockchain loyalty platform, on how to expand the business in the United States. Prior, he served as ​CEO USA​for Germany-based mopay and later Austria-based DIMOCO, helping to expand these companies to Silicon Valley, and building sales teams across the globe. Kolja regularly speaks at industry events, and blogs for VentureBeat, Mobile Commerce Daily, and MobilePaymentsToday.


Jason Putnam Gordon

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Jason Putnam Gordon is a results-oriented corporate attorney practicing in the Venture Capital and Emerging Growth Companies group in Polsinelli’s San Francisco office. Jason has a passion for working with experienced entrepreneurs and executives to make their vision a reality.


In his practice, he regularly represents companies throughout their life cycle in matters related to venture capital financing, strategic corporate relationships, corporate formation, complex mergers and acquisitions, sales, and divestitures. With industry focus on consumer goods and technology, because of his broad skill set and deep network, Jason regularly works in a wide array of verticals including artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, video games, software, hardware, life sciences, the internet of things and agricultural technology.


Jason works with companies based locally, elsewhere in the U.S. and internationally. Jason brings a unique skill set to the negotiating table and to litigation-minimization strategies in the boardroom. He started his career as a federal law clerk in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and then continued as a litigator handling corporate, securities, intellectual property, and commercial litigation before establishing a transactional practice.

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