New York State Business Plan Competition

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2012 Judges
The 2012 New York State Business Plan Competition is pleased to introduce the judges that will be evaluating the applications in the first round and the selected teams' final presentations on April 26. The judges are a mix of private and public investors – all of whom have years of experience investing in their respective industries.
  • Michael Castellana, President and CEO, SEFCU
  • Judy Albers, Managing Partner, Neworks
  • Nasir Ali, Co-Founder and CEO, Upstate Venture Connect
  • Stuart Angert, Founder and CEO (Retired), Remarketing Services of America
  • Roy Arad, Vice President of Business Development, Arocon Consulting
  • Mark Austin, Senior Venture Advisor, Bright Capital Cleantech Seed Fund
  • Martin Babinec, Founder and Chairman, Upstate Venture Connect
  • Clayton Besch, Director, Small Business Technology Investment Fund, Empire State Development
  • John Cococcia, Partner and Founder, FA Technology Ventures
  • Brian Cohen, Chairman, New York Angels
  • Al Culliton, Chief Operating Officer, Erie County Industrial Development Agency
  • Dennis DeLeo, Senior Partner, Trillium Group
  • Robert Delman, Managing Director, Golden Seeds
  • Bob Greene, Managing Partner, Contour Ventures
  • James Groelinger, Chairman, President and CEO, Heartland Bridge Capital
  • Kevin Halpin, Managing Director, DeltaPoint Capital
  • David Hessler, Entrepreneur-In-Residence, High Tech Rochester
  • Russ Howard, General Partner, High Peaks Venture Partners
  • Reid Hutchins, Senior Vice President, Advantage Capital Partners
  • Rami Katz, Chief Operating Officer, Excell Partners
  • Michael Lasch, Managing Partner, Pine Street Capital Partners
  • J. Peter Lynch, President, Salem Financial
  • Howard Maier, President, Maier Ventures
  • Brian Model, Managing Director, Stonehenge Growth Capital
  • David Montanaro, President, Strategic Advisory Associates
  • Peter Rothberg, Partner, Reitler Kailas & Rosenblatt
  • Michael Schattner, President, Onondaga Venture Capital Fund
  • Jeffrey Seul, Partner and Co-Chair, Venture Capital and Emerging Companies Team, Holland & Knight
  • Michael Shimazu, Senior Project Manager, Innovation and Business Development, NYSERDA
  • Christine Tate, Investor, ARC Angel Fund
  • Jennifer Tegan, Partner, Cayuga Venture Fund
  • Roger Williams, Chair, New York Angel Network
  • Michael Wu, Founding Board Member, Long Island Angel Network

Michael Castellana
President and CEO

Michael Castellana is President and CEO of SEFCU, the largest credit union in the Capital Region and the seventh largest in the State of New York. Mr. Castellana joined SEFCU more than 22 years ago as a member of the executive management team. During his tenure he has overseen SEFCU's growth in Albany County and expansion into Saratoga, Rensselaer, Schenectady, Broome, Onondaga, and Erie Counties.

Mr. Castellana directs all functional areas of the credit union and is responsible for its business planning and asset management. In addition, he serves as chairman of the SECU Foundation, a non-profit affiliation he formed to pool the time, talent, and financial resources of SEFCU staff in support of children's causes.

He also sits on several advisory boards, including: Big Brothers Big Sisters, Little Sisters of the Poor, St. Anne Institute, the University at Albany MBA Advisory Council, the Dean's Council of the Lally School of Management of RPI and the President's Advisory Council of Hudson Valley Community College.

Mr. Castellana received his bachelor's degree in Accounting and his MBA from the University at Albany in 1984 and 1992, respectively.

Judy Albers
Managing Partner

Judy Albers is one of the co-founders of Neworks, the managing organization for the Pre-Seed Workshop (PSW). The PSW is a 2 ½ day “build-a-company” event which rallies community talent and resources to investigate and transform potentially commercializable technologies (developed primarily at universities and major research centers) into pre-seed stage companies. The PSW is held throughout NYS and is expanding nationally. In addition, for the last 11 years, Judy has held senior level positions at two Venture Capital firms in Upstate NY. She has negotiated many equity investments and managed a portfolio of more than 20 pre-seed and seed stage start-up companies. She is a frequent speaker and panelist at local, regional, and national entrepreneurship conferences, business plan competitions, and venture forums. She is also the author of several studies related to entrepreneurship. Her papers have reached a regional, national, and international audience.

Judy started her career as a research chemist at 3M Company and then become a Chemistry Professor at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. She also worked at the Center for Naval Analyses in DC and served as a defense analyst for the Pentagon and the US Sixth Fleet in Naples, Italy. She holds a BS in Chemistry from Duke, a PhD from Brandeis, and completed her post-doc at Princeton.

Nasir Ali
Co-Founder and CEO
Upstate Venture Connect

Nasir Ali is a resident of Syracuse, NY and the founder and Executive Director of the Seed Capital Fund of CNY, a private LLC whose members are actively engaged in funding and supporting early stage tech companies. He is a Managing Director of the StartFast Venture Accelerator, a key UVC initiative. Ali also serves on the boards of the Upstate Venture Association of New York and Chequed.

Prior to founding UVC, Ali was president of The Tech Garden, a not-for-profit organization with the mission of creating an entrepreneurial culture in Syracuse and the Central New York region. In addition to managing the Syracuse Technology Garden incubator, Ali managed a statewide network of experienced mentors. In 2008, Ali co-taught a course in technology entrepreneurship at Syracuse University, which has since grown into a year-long community-campus collaborative effort known as the Syracuse Student Startup Accelerator. Ali also had responsibility for launching the NYSERDA-funded Center for Clean Tech Entrepreneurship and SATOP, a NASA supported small business technology assistance program.

Ali moved to Syracuse from Washington, DC, where he was an associate at Booz Allen Hamilton charged with helping IRS Commissioners manage over $1 billion in technology modernization and workforce restructuring initiatives. Prior to this, he co-founded New Think (a mobile commerce services firm) and WritersPoint (an offshore technical writing company). Before beginning his career as an entrepreneur, Ali turned around large-scale software, telecommunications, and systems integration projects for Fortune 100 companies. He received his MBA in finance and operations management from Yale University’s School of Management, where he helped initiate a joint master’s degree program in industrial environmental management. Ali graduated from Princeton University with a degree in physics and a concentration in economics.

Stuart Angert
Founder and CEO (Retired)
Remarketing Services of America

Stuart H. Angert is the founder and retired CEO of Remarketing Services of America, a provider of lease portfolio services for the automotive finance industry. Launched in 1991, the business was acquired by Daimler-Benz in 1996, prior to their acquisition of Chrysler Corporation.

Stuart currently serves on the boards of directors/trustees of Independent Health, Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute, Medaille College, Paul Smith’s College of the Adirondacks, Adirondack Park Institute, and Meszaros International Center for Entrepreneurship. He also serves on the advisory boards of KeyBank, University of Buffalo Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL), Canisius College Richard J. Wehle School of Business, and the Advancement Committee, Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. He is a Commissioner, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

Formerly he served on the boards of Amherst Chamber of Commerce, Nichols School, Leadership Buffalo, Everywoman Opportunity Center, Boys and Girls Clubs of Buffalo, Buffalo & Erie County Workforce Investment Board, and the ECIDA, Niagara Region Certified Development Company (NRCDC).

Stuart received his BA from Colgate University and an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business.

Roy Arad
Vice President of Business Development
Arocon Consulting

The modern economy has been drastically reshaped by two main forces, technology and internationalization—two dynamics that Roy Arad knows intimately well. A business development executive and entrepreneurial advisor, Arad is an expert at evaluating market opportunities and putting the plans, resources, and people together to capitalize on these windows of economic potential. Drawing upon dual degrees from New York Institute of Technology and Israel’s Ruppin Academy, he currently serves on the Board of Act for Israel with responsibility for leading the organization’s activities in the areas of Development and Investor Relations.

Arad’s corporate background began on the technical side, working as a Systems Administrator and Information Technology Manager for a key Computer Division of the Israeli Defense Force. His leadership and communication skills, however, quickly drew him into the entrepreneurial world, where he co-founded Tigon Software in 2003 and helped grow the company. This entrepreneurial acumen is also the trademark of his current role as Director of Business Development for Arocon Consulting, where he helps international companies make the right connections to raise funding, gain a foothold in the U.S. market, and localize their products effectively for American consumers.

In addition to the above roles, Arad was also honored with an appointment as Treasury Manager and Procurement Manager for the Government of Israel, where he spent four years overseeing billions of dollars in trade activity between the Israeli and U.S. governments. In this capacity, he worked closely with senior U.S. government officials and Fortune 500 executives from companies such as Boeing, Dell, Lockheed Martin, and IBM, gaining an in-depth understanding of the federal contracting process and the way business is done on a global, government-to-government scale. He also serves as an Advisory Board Member and Entrepreneur in Residence at New York Institute of Technology’s School of Business, where he mentors aspiring young entrepreneurs and plays a role in helping the school deliver cutting-edge business curriculum.

Mark Austin
Senior Venture Advisor
Bright Capital Cleantech Seed Fund

Mark Austin is a senior venture advisor, strategic development consultant, serial entrepreneur and seasoned executive with over 25 years of experience. For the last 15 years, as Managing Director of Chandler Reed LLC, he has provided insight with implementation to the CEOs, Boards and Senior Management of his clients. He combines the talents of a creative strategic thinker and a hands-on executive, with deep cross-functional expertise and breadth of industry experience to deliver practical insights, strategies, plans and follow-through. He serves as a Senior Venture Advisor with Bright Capital, a Board Advisor with iCLEAN, and an Entrepreneur-In-Residence with NYSERDA.

Mr. Austin creates impact to accelerate growth, boost profitability and realize value for cleantech, alternative energy and technology-based companies. Focusing on core drivers of strategy, marketing, finance, business planning, technology commercialization and intellectual property, he helps ventures and growth companies get traction, build momentum and secure sustainable competitive advantage. His work in the cleantech and alternative energy sector has encompassed a broad range including energy storage, fuel cells, solar, nanotech, energy efficiency, green building, composites / advanced materials, hydrokinetic, biomass, biofuels, waste to energy, gasification, water, hazardous waste detoxification, and sustainability. Clients have ranged from start-ups and VC-funded ventures, to public and private growth companies, to divisions of global multinationals and UN agencies such as the Sustainable Energy and Environment Division of UNDP.

Martin Babinec
Founder and Chairman
Upstate Venture Connect

Martin Babinec is a noted Silicon Valley entrepreneur who now serves as a venture catalyst for the Upstate New York region.

In 1988 Mr. Babinec founded TriNet HR Corporation, a technology enabled business service delivering human resource solutions to small and mid sized companies throughout the U.S. Having raised more than $80 million in equity financing over seven rounds, his leadership as Chairman and CEO continued 15 years after relinquishing majority ownership of the company to investors as the company grew to 30 offices, serving 8,000 customers. He remains a Director for TriNet, is active as an angel investor in numerous tech related startups and is a limited partner in several venture capital firms. TriNet’s story has been profiled in a Stanford Graduate School of Business Case study and Martin is a recipient of the Silicon Valley Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Returning to his hometown of Little Falls, NY Mr. Babinec founded and chairs Upstate Venture Connect in 2010 to help accelerate transformational change in the Upstate NY economy by focusing on the creation of new industry jobs that would help retain more of our region’s best and brightest in the area. He serves full time in this role without compensation and has been responsible for initiating several program efforts that have brought entrepreneurial community best practices to the region in areas such as angel investing, startup accelerator programs and facilitating connectivity between high growth entrepreneurs and mentors/resources who can help them.

Clayton Besch
Director, Small Business Technology Investment Fund
Empire State Development

Raised in the Capital Region, he did his undergraduate at Hamilton College in Central NY. After years of advance education in Asia, earning a Masters at Nagasaki University and a PhD at Tokyo University, Clayton's focus turned to finance and investment. Experiencing the growth and evolution in Japan's bubble market and later in the emerging markets, he crossed from equity research to sales to the global investment community. He then moved to the Venture Capital world working with SOFTBANK's worldwide VC network for a number of years. After consulting for funds in the US, Japan and the UK, he most recently ran the Asian office for NYS’s ESDC in Tokyo introducing NYS companies to sales opportunities in Japan and Korea and introducing Japanese companies to strategic opportunities in NYS. Clayton is currently the Director of New York State’s Small Business Technology Investment Fund.

John Cococcia
Partner and Founder
FA Technology Ventures

John is a Partner and a Founder of FA Technology Ventures. He serves on the Board of Directors of Auterra, Autotask, Knoa Software and StreetEasy, is a board observer of CORESense and BinOptics and was previously a board observer on MetaCarta.

Prior to FA Technology Ventures, John was with Gleacher Enterprise Funding (GEF), a public sponsored investment program, where he was responsible for sourcing, negotiating and managing private equity investments whose mission was economic growth. John joined GEF from the equity research group at Gleacher where he was an analyst covering the manufacturing and enterprise software space. Prior to Gleacher, John worked at Ford Motor Company where he was in operations and engineering and then later with Amphenol's Computer and Network Products Division where his responsibilities were in new product development, design for manufacturing and assessment and acquisition of new production line equipment and processes.

John is a founder and Director of the Upstate Venture Association of New York (UVANY), serves as a Judge at various business plan competitions, is a mentor at the RPI incubator program and has been an Adjunct Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Lally School of Management and Technology (Graduate Program) and at the University at Albany. John also co-founded the Eric Evans Memorial Charitable Foundation after Eric's death in the World Trade Center on 9/11, and now serves the Foundation as a Director and Treasurer.

John earned his BS in Mechanical Engineering and his MBA with a concentration in Finance and Entrepreneurship from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Brian Cohen
New York Angels

Brian Shawn Cohen is considered one of the fathers of science & technology strategic communications, having founded Technology Solutions, Inc. in 1983. TSI's client list read like an entrepreneurial who's who list of startup technology companies in computing, communication, software, education, and entertainment. For more than a decade he maintained a broad strategic communications partnership with Sony & IBM Corporation providing counsel to dozens of their intrapreneurial new technology divisions. Notably, TSI received the Gold CIPRA award in 1998 for the IBM Deep Blue/Gary Kasparov Chess Match concept and communications program. In 1996, TSI was recognized as the #1 fastest growing agency in the United States. He later sold the company to The McCann Erickson World Group in 1997 and became the Vice Chairman of their technology group.

As a researcher, Brian created Focus Technology, an organization that provided qualitative research and instituted the RPM model of integrated strategic communications providing ultra-competitive technology clients the ability to quickly discover and leverage their key strengths as well as mitigate their destructive weaknesses.

As a publisher, Brian was a pioneer in the founding of a number of the first computing publications including Computer Systems News and InformationWeek magazine.

As an investor he now serves as the Vice Chairman of the New York Angels who has invested over $35 million into more than 50 early stage technology companies.

As an educator, Brian will be opening the AIMS (Applied Internet Media Studies) Program, a college semester program where students will be rigorously trained to use the internet professionally. He also mentors entrepreneur students at NYU and Columbia University.

As a recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award, he holds a Masters Degree in Science Communications from Boston University's School of Public Communications and currently serves on the Dean's Board of Directors.

Al Culliton
Chief Operating Officer
Erie County Industrial Development Agency

Mr. Culliton is currently Chief Operating Officer of the Erie County Industrial Development Agency. He was the Chief Lending Officer since 1992 and was additionally named its Chief Financial Officer in 2003. As Chief Operating Officer he manages the operations and economic development programs of the Advanced Training Center, ECIDA, Industrial Land Development Corporation, Regional Development Corporation and several other affiliates. Additionally he manages ECIDA's venture capital investments. His prior work experience includes 14 years as a bank commercial lender and manager, 6 years as the Chief Financial Officer for several mid-sized wholesale distribution companies and several years in secondary education.

Mr. Culliton holds a BA and MA in Mathematics from Fordham University and an MBA from Canisius College. He is a graduate of the 1997 Venture Capital Institute sponsored by the National Venture Capital Association and the National Association of Small Business Investment Companies. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Empire State Certified Development Corporation, one of the largest SBA 504 program lenders, and of the New York State Economic Development Council, the state's principal organization representing economic development professionals.

Dennis DeLeo
Senior Partner
Trillium Group

During his tenure at Eastman Kodak, Denny held positions of increasing responsibility. Initially, he was a member of the legal division, practicing primarily patent law. Later, as a Kodak Vice President and Director, Corporate Commercial Affairs, he managed a corporate staff responsible for a wide range of technology-based transactions, including, licensing, business partnerships and acquisition and divestiture of technology, products and businesses.

DeLeo also held Kodak operating management positions as Vice President and General Manager of the Bioscience and Emerging Businesses Division and Vice President, General Manager of the Image Acquisition Products Division. The latter made and sold CCD image sensors, digital camera and image scanners. He also served as President and CEO of Eastman Technology, Inc., a Kodak subsidiary formed to launch businesses based on leading-edge technologies. As chief executive, he had overall profit-and-loss accountability and managed a portfolio of more than a dozen new ventures ranging from under $1 million to over $50 million in annual revenue.

In 1997, DeLeo co-founded Trillium Group, LLC, a regional venture capital and private equity firm based in Rochester, New York. He is the fund manager of the Monroe Fund, an early stage venture capital fund within the Trillium Group fund family.

He holds a B. A. from the University of Rochester, a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School and completed the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard University Graduate School of Business. He is a former member of the Patent Policy Board of the State University of New York and a former Vice Chairman of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra Board. He is a Board member of the Upstate Venture Association of New York and sits on a number of private company boards, including companies in the Trillium Group portfolio and companies unaffiliated with Trillium Group.

Robert Delman
Managing Director
Golden Seeds

Rob is Managing Director of Golden Seeds, an angel investor organization targeting women-led ventures with the potential to grow into multi-million dollar business, and a Partner in the ARC Angel Fund and Canrock Ventures, both of which invest in seed and early-stage companies with high growth potential. Rob is an Advisor, Columbia University Lang Center for Entrepreneurship and has co-taught the MBA-level classes “Introduction to Venturing” and as an executive mentor in “Launching New Ventures” and “The Greenhouse Program.” Rob was previously Vice President, NY for Astia, a not-for-profit organization with a mission to propel women’s full participation as entrepreneurs and leaders in high-growth businesses, fueling innovation and driving economic growth. He currently serves on Astia’s NYC Advisory Board. Rob has also been a mentor for Springboard Enterprises, a leading platform where entrepreneurs, investors, and industry experts meet to build great women-led businesses.

From 1985-2000 Rob was a principal and President of Delco International Ltd., a successful manufacturing and distribution company of tableware products for the food service and transportation industries. Rob earned industry-wide recognition as a business builder, marketing and financial strategist and general operations executive. Rob produced all-time highs in profit and revenue for Delco with a team of 125 direct and indirect staff. This led to the successful sale of the company in 2000 to Oneida Ltd, the world’s largest tableware manufacturer. Rob was asked to stay on as a consultant to the new executive management team and did so through 2003.

Rob holds a BS in Marketing from Syracuse University and an MBA from Columbia University, He is an active member of the World President’s Organization New York City Metro chapter; the Long Island Capital Alliance, the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society; was awarded the Human Relations Award by the American Jewish Committee; is an Outward Bound graduate; and is a Bronze Medal winner in tennis for the USA Maccabi Team. He lives with his wife Lynn and two sons Jeffrey and Jonathan on Long Island.

Bob Greene
Managing Partner
Contour Ventures

Bob Greene is a co-founder of Contour Venture Partners and has been a venture capitalist since the late 1980's. He has invested in all stages of venture capital across several industry sectors. Contour invests in seed and early stage technology companies in the northeast United States with a focus on the financial services, digital media and the internet sectors.

Prior to launching Contour, Bob was one of the three managing partners of Flatiron Partners. Located in New York City, Flatiron was a leading venture capital firm focused on the information technology sector. The firm backed over 50 companies with over $500 million of venture capital.

Prior to joining Flatiron full time in 1999, Bob was a General Partner at Chase Capital Partners, having joined its predecessor, Chemical Venture Partners, in 1994. Bob started and led Chase Capital's Technology and Internet investment practice. He built the technology team and portfolio within Chase Capital, which included launching Flatiron in New York City in 1996, backing Pitango Venture Capital in Israel in 1996, and launching Techfund Capital in Silicon Valley in 1997.

Some of Bob's notable investments during his career prior to Contour include 3Dfx Interactive, Acurian, Agamatrix, Cobalt Networks, Fundquest, iXL Enterprises, GeoCities,, Multex, N*Able Technologies, Resonate, SeamlessWeb,, and Vindigo.

Bob started his venture capital career in 1988 with Prudential Equity Investors (later known as Cornerstone Equity Partners) as a generalist investor, working on venture investments and buyouts in retailing, consumer, media, business services and healthcare services. Prior to this, he was a banker for five years with First Boston and Fleet Financial.

Bob is the President of the New York Venture Capital Association and has been on the NYVCA Board since 1994. Bob has been a guest lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the Wharton School of Business for many years.

Bob received a BS from the Wharton School of Business and a MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Edward Greer
Manager, Ventures and Business Development
The Dow Chemical Company

Edward Greer is a member of the Scouting & Exploration Network at The Dow Chemical Company. He is responsible for finding and evaluating technologies and opportunities that complement Dow's robust Research & Development pipeline and align to the strategic focus of Dow’s Corporate Venturing portfolio. Dow Corporate Venturing practices a variety of open innovation models within its portfolio including joint development agreements, licenses, strategic alliances/joint ventures, and equity investments to generate disruptive growth opportunities to help drive the Company’s long-term success.

Edward has extensive experience in research management, market development, and business development for the Electronic Materials and Advanced Materials markets. He has contributed to advancements in ceramics, displays, organic electronics, optical disks, photovoltaics, and microwave devices. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with Honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He holds a Certificate of Professional Development from the Wharton Executive Education program at the University of Pennsylvania, was co-chair for the Industrial Research Institute subcommittee on Corporate Venturing, and serves as a judge for various business plan competitions including those hosted by Wharton, MIT, and the Cleantech Alliance.

James Groelinger
Chairman, President and CEO
Heartland Bridge Capital

Mr. James Groelinger is an internationally experienced energy expert who focuses on business and technology development and commercialization. Currently, he is:
  • Chairman, President, and CEO of Heartland Bridge Capital, Inc., a publicly-traded private equity fund focusing on, among other things, clean energy technology investments;
  • Executive Director of the Clean Energy Alliance, Inc. and, a rapidly growing national association of clean energy business incubators and related companies focused on providing practices and resources to its members; and
  • Managing Director of Bellegrove Associates, a consulting firm providing strategy and transaction advisory services in the clean and renewable energy arenas.
Previously, he was CEO and President of EPV Solar, Inc., a solar energy technology company that designed, manufactured, and sold amorphous silicon (“a-Si”) thin-film photovoltaic (“PV”) modules and manufacturing facilities for power and BIPV applications. Earlier, he was Senior Vice President for business development for CHI Energy, Inc., a Stamford, CT-based renewable energy company operating in hydroelectricity, biomass cogeneration, wind, and solar. Before that he was a director of Putnam, Hayes & Bartlett, Inc., an international energy strategy firm at which he was involved in numerous activities related to energy and electric industry strategy and restructuring around the world.

Mr. Groelinger started his career as a process engineer for Monsanto Company. He has a BChE from City College of New York and an MBA-Finance from Temple University.

Kevin Halpin
Managing Director
DeltaPoint Capital

Mr. Halpin has over 12 years of experience in private equity, investment banking and finance. Prior to joining DeltaPoint Capital, Mr. Halpin was a member of Capital Formation Group where he serviced clients in the areas of mergers & acquisitions, recapitalizations, restructurings and valuations. Mr. Halpin is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Badger Technologies, Inc., a member of the Board of Directors of IPLogic, Inc., and a past member of the Board of Directors of DynaBil Industries, Inc., a former Fund III portfolio company. He is currently a board member of the Upstate Venture Association of New York. Mr. Halpin received a Master of Science degree from Rochester Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Science degree from State University of New York College at Fredonia.

David Hessler
High Tech Rochester

David Hessler is an entrepreneurial business executive experienced in both operating management and in private equity financing. David has management experience in both large and small technology businesses, and has been a serial “CXO” for several technology companies. In addition, he has financing transactional experience as a Principal of a small venture capital fund, as Managing Director of two middle market investment banking firms, and as an Angel investor.

High Tech Rochester since 2003; “CXO” on an interim basis to build and grow early stage technology companies:
  • 2011 – 2012: Starting new clean tech company in Fort Collis, CO and NYSERDA Entrepreneur-In-Residence.
  • 2010 – 2011: Chief Executive Officer of MicroGen Systems, an early stage technology company developing a vibrational energy harvester with NYSERDA funding at the Cornell Nanofabrication Facility.
  • 2007 – 2010: CFO of PharmaNova, Inc. (specialty pharma), raised $1.5MM in angel capital.
  • 1997 – 1998: Interim CEO of a privately-held manufacturer of products for Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
  • 1986 – 1996: Chairman, CEO, and owner of Information Transfer Inc. (ITI), a privately-held manufacturer of defense electronic equipment.
Previously: Venture Capitalist and Investment Banker. Twelve “fast track” years at Xerox Corporation

David holds an MBA (with honors) from the University of Michigan; an MS in Engineering from the University of Michigan, and a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Clarkson University. He received additional training at the NASBIC Venture Capital Training Institute, and the Xerox/Harvard Executive Program (Exeter). He has held National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) Series 63, Series 7, and Series 24 securities licenses.

Russ Howard
General Partner
High Peaks Venture Partners

Russ is a co-founder and General Partner at High Peaks. He has been in the investment business for more than twenty years and a venture investor for the past fifteen years. Russ joined GE Equity (the venture capital arm of GE Capital) in 1994 as an early member of the group and had the thrill of participating first hand in the internet boom of the late 90’s. Russ then joined The Berkshires Capital Investors, the original venture fund in the Village Ventures Network, as a General Partner in 2000. Earlier in his career, Russ worked in New York City for Equitable Capital Management and Alliance Capital Management and was a strategy consultant with The Futures Group.

Russ focuses his investing activities on financial technologies, tech-enabled services, and has a personal interest in sports-related analytics and technologies. At High Peaks, he has led the firm’s investments in Auterra, Widetronix and Zipmark. While at GE Equity, Russ led or co-led a number of successful investments, most notably CommerceOne ($500MM capital gain) and CyberSource ($275MM capital gain)—both went public in the late 90’s. At BCI, among the investments Russ was responsible for were Optasite (sold to SBA Communications) and Everyday Health (leading online health and wellness web site expected to go public in next 12 months).

Russ is active in both the New York City and Upstate New York markets for High Peaks and also manages the administrative aspects of the firm. He is a graduate of Williams College, where he majored in economics and was a member of the basketball and track teams. Russ also holds an MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden School.

Reid Hutchins
Senior Vice President
Advantage Capital Partners

Mr. Hutchins manages Advantage Capital's New York investment portfolio. His responsibilities include sourcing and structuring new investments, as well as working with current portfolio companies. He currently sits on the Board of the Upstate Venture Association of New York (UVANY).

Prior to joining Advantage Capital in 2006, Mr. Hutchins served as a product development engineer for Advanced Micro Devices and prior to that as an engineer and manager with IBM Microelectronics. Mr. Hutchins brings operational experience in semiconductor design, manufacturing, test and production to the firm.

Mr. Hutchins holds a bachelor's degree in physics from St. Lawrence University. He also holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and a master's in engineering management from Dartmouth College.

Rami Katz
Chief Operating Officer
Excell Partners

Rami Katz is the Chief Operating Officer for Excell Partners, Inc. Prior to joining Excell, Rami served as the Director of Technology Commercialization at High Tech Rochester where he worked closely with entrepreneurs, researchers and start-up firms to evaluate the commercial potential of new technologies. He managed the creation of over 50 business plans that led to raising over $40M in capital from venture capital and angel investors as well as government grants.

Rami is an attorney that led a litigation, banking and corporate law practice in Israel, managing a legal team that directed the restructure of over $14M in corporate and asset backed debt annually, while growing the group’s revenues by over 300%.

After launching his own legal and management consulting practice in Israel, Rami was one the founding members of a seed-stage investment group, investing in seed and pre-seed stage ventures and providing financial and business development management to the startups in the group’s portfolio. The team launched 12 high-tech startups that were focused on advanced materials, internet technologies, consumer electronics and medical devices.

Rami earned his MBA from the University of Rochester and his law degree from the Tel-Aviv University in Israel.

Michael Lasch
Managing Partner
Pine Street Capital Partners

A founder of Pine Street, Mike is actively involved in all activities at Pine Street, including deal sourcing, deal structuring and portfolio management. Mike currently serves as a board observer on Pine Street portfolio company Healthtrax, Inc. He also serves as President of the Upstate Venture Association of New York. Prior to co-founding Pine Street, Mike was a Director in FleetBoston Corporation’s Leveraged Finance Group in Boston responsible for originating and structuring leveraged cash flow transactions for middle market companies. Before starting his banking career, he served as a congressional aide in Washington, DC. Mike earned his MBA from Emory University and his undergraduate degree from Holy Cross College. He is a 2007 recipient of the New York Capital District Business Review’s “40 under 40”award and is active with several non-profit organizations in the Capital Region.

J. Peter Lynch
Salem Financial

Mr. Lynch has worked, for 34 years as a Wall Street security analyst, an investment banker and a private investor in small emerging technology companies. He has been actively involved in following developments in the renewable energy sector since 1977 and is regarded as an expert in this field. During this time he assisted a number of renewable energy companies with private placements and public offerings in the 1980’s, 1990’s and 2000’s and has raised over $600MM for renewable energy companies in the Photovoltaics, Solar Thermal, Wind and Biomass areas.

He was the contributing editor for 18 years to the Photovoltaic Insider Report, the first publication in Photovoltaics (PV) that was directed at industrial subscribers, such as major energy companies, utilities and governments around the world.

He is currently a private investor and has from time to time been a financial/technology consultant to a number of emerging technology and renewable energy companies. He can be reached via email at or at his website for the promotion of solar,

Howard Maier
Maier Ventures

Howard Maier is President of Maier Ventures, a marketing company. Before establishing Maier Ventures, Mr. Maier was President of the Maier Group, which he sold to Time-Warner in 1994. The Maier Group was a producer of non-theatrical videos and was widely known for its Buns of Steels exercise video series. The Maier Group ranked on INC. 500’s list of the fastest growing private companies for four successive years (1991-1994). Mr. Maier was an Entrepreneur of the Year finalist in 1993.

Prior to the Maier Group, he spent fifteen years in senior marketing and advertising capacities at Clairol Inc., Alberto-Culver, and Esquire Magazine. Mr. Maier received an MBA from Bernard M. Baruch Graduate School of Business in 1972 and a BS from SUNY Buffalo in 1968. Mr. Maier has taught marketing courses at Wagner College and Queensborough Community College. Mr. Maier devotes significant time to charitable organizations. He is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County, and is a Trustee of the North Shore/Long Island Jewish Health System.

Brian Model
Managing Director
Stonehenge Growth Capital

Brian Model has twelve years operating experience as a retail executive and entrepreneur responsible for both online and physical retail locations throughout the country. Mr. Model joined Stonehenge in 2000 and manages growth equity investments for the New York funds. Stonehenge currently has 7 active growth equity portfolio companies in New York State. Mr. Model currently serves on the Board of Directors of eHealth Global Technologies, Lumetrics, Knovel (observer), and iCardiac Technologies (observer) and previously served on the Board of Directors of Lorica Solutions, PixFusion and Medidata Solutions (observer).

Mr. Model is active in the regional venture investing community, serving as Vice President of the Upstate Venture Association of New York (UVANY), and speaking at events sponsored by the Business Council of New York, YoungStartup Ventures, FundingPost, the Long Island Capital Alliance, and Columbia Business School. Mr. Model has served as a judge or Advisory Board Member for business plan competitions and venture financing events sponsored by the Council for Economic Growth, UNYTECH, Pre-Seed Workshop, SIIA (Software & Information Industry Association), NY Venture Summit, FundingPost, The Wharton School, and Columbia Business School. In addition, Mr. Model serves as co-chairman of the Columbia Business School Alumni Club of New York’s Ventures Committee and is a mentor for Columbia Business School’s Lang Fund. Mr. Model received his undergraduate degree in Economics from Duke University and has an MBA with Honors from Columbia Business School.

Peter Rothberg
Reitler Kailas & Rosenblatt

Peter handles a wide variety of corporate matters, including private equity, venture capital, mergers & acquisitions, capital markets, joint venture and technology commercialization transactions. Peter has represented several merchant banks, buy out and venture funds, as well as their portfolio companies, in these matters, including Dillon Read, D.H. Blair, NeoNet A.B., National Securities Corporation, Enhanced Capital, Adirondack Ventures, Advantage Capital, Stonehenge Capital, HighPeaks Ventures, Edison Ventures, Rho Ventures, Osage Partners, SJF Ventures, Tribeca Venture Partners, First Round Capital, Borealis Ventures and Village Ventures. During his legal career, Peter has worked at the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, both in Washington, D.C., and at several of the largest law firms in the United States.

Peter received his JD from Georgetown University Law Center where he was an Editor and a contributor to Law and Policy in International Business, the International Law Journal of the Georgetown University Law Center. Peter is the Lawyer in Residence for the New York University Stern School of Business, Berkley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and was named its Mentor of the Year in 2008. Peter is legal counsel to Ultra Light Startups, which operates a monthly series of meetings for the national community of emerging growth companies, and is the author of the Ultra Light Startups website “Legal Q&A” column. Peter is a frequent speaker and panelist on issues related to the venture capital markets and is a frequent guest lecturer on venture capital finance and business organization issues at New York University Stern School of Business and the New York University ITP Program.

Michael Schattner
Onondaga Venture Capital Fund

Mike Schattner is President of Onondaga Venture Capital Fund, a venture capital company located in Syracuse, NY that invests in early-stage companies. Founded in 1986, OVCF has invested in over 40 companies throughout the northeast mainly concentrating in Upstate NY.

Mr. Schattner received his Bachelor of Science degree from University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce. He received a MBA from Syracuse University and has served as an adjunct professor at Syracuse’s Whitman School of Management. Mike is on various corporate and non-for-profit boards in the Upstate NY area.

Jeffrey Seul
Partner and Co-Chair, Venture Capital and Emerging Companies Team
Holland & Knight

Mr. Seul practices corporate law and is co-chair of the Venture Capital and Emerging Companies Team at Holland & Knight, a large law firm with offices in the US and abroad. From 2000 to 2005, Mr. Seul was VP and General Counsel of Groove Networks, a software company founded by Lotus Notes creator Ray Ozzie, who served as Microsoft's Chief Software Architect, the position previously held by Bill Gates, after Groove Networks was acquired by Microsoft in 2005. Prior to Groove Networks, Mr. Seul was a faculty member at Harvard Law School, where he taught courses on negotiation (dealmaking and dispute resolution). He practiced corporate law in San Francisco and Boulder earlier in his career, working primarily with tech companies through all stages of their development and with venture investors. Mr. Seul regularly serves on corporate boards. He was a director of C3 Technologies, a 3D mapping company, until its acquisition in 2010. He currently serves on the boards of Energy Materials Corporation (a solar energy technology company) and Movimento Group AB (a Swedish company providing cloud-based services to the auto industry).

Michael Shimazu
Senior Project Manager, Innovation and Business Development
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)

Michael Shimazu manages several programs in the Innovation and Business Development group at NYSERDA to increase the opportunities for clean technology companies to commercialize new products and grow their business. These include six clean energy business incubators, an Entrepreneur-in-Residence program, and direct funding to innovative companies with promising plans for growth and manufacturing in New York. He has more than 20 years experience in technology commercialization in startup companies, universities and government. He was a co-founder of MOEC, an optical components company, where he raised more than $27 million in venture capital and launched several profitable new products. He has also advised several technology startups as a consultant and Business Development Director at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He holds the S.B. from MIT and M.S. from Rensselaer.

Christine Tate
ARC Angel Fund

Christine Tate is an Investor in the ARC Angel Fund, which is actively involved in early stage and seed investing. She is CFO of the GrandSlam Alley business accelerator based in Troy, NY as well as GP in the GrandSlam Accelerator Fund. She serves on the due diligence committee of the NYC-based ARC Angel Fund and is active in the Upstate New York startup community. She serves as a judge for several pitch events in Upstate NY. Christine is an organizer of Startup Weekend Tech Valley. She is also in the early stages of her own start-up based in the Capital District. Prior to becoming involved in early stage investing, Christine worked for Cargill, Inc. in a variety of executive level positions, including Overseas Business Development based in Asia, Worldwide Audit, Tech and IT Development, and corporate level system and strategic efficiencies. She managed the financial and sales service departments of a $1B telecommunications company and served as Business Development Manager for an Asian manufacturing sourcing company.

Jennifer Tegan
Cayuga Venture Fund

Jennifer Tegan is Partner/Owner of Cayuga Venture Fund (CVF), located in Ithaca, NY. Since starting with CVF in 2002, Jennifer has been working with, supporting and financing entrepreneurs in technology-based companies in the areas of communications equipment, semi-conductors, life sciences, optical switching, materials sciences and CMOS sensors. She most recently served on the board of Allworx, Inc., a telecommunications company, until its sale to Paetec Corporation and represents the fund on the boards of BinOptics Corporation, a semiconductor laser company and Calient Networks, another telecommunications company. She was and is also responsible for setting up and managing the financial and administrative functions of CVF.

Since its inception in 1994, Cayuga Venture Fund and its member investors have invested more than $50 million in technology companies in upstate New York, many of which are based on research performed at Cornell University, and helped to attract more than $250 million of investor capital to technology start-up companies in what is traditionally considered to be a region underserved by venture capital.

Roger Williams
New York Angel Network

In a working career that spans over fifty years, Roger Williams started as a co-op student at General Motors Institute, where he earned a B.S. in Industrial Engineering. Roger has served as Division Manager of a Tier One U.S. automotive supplier and President of North American operations for a Tier One German automotive supplier. In addition to work experience in both marketing and manufacturing operations for large companies, he also owned a small business where he learned a lot about “applied entrepreneurship” and the need for due diligence.

For ten years prior to semi-retirement, Roget worked for New York State supported organizations in economic development and technology commercialization. He worked for the Alliance for Manufacturing & Technology (AM&T), a Regional Technology Development Center in Binghamton, and for the Center for Life Science Enterprise at Cornell. Since leaving the University, Roger is helping to develop a state-wide, sustainable program for Pre Seed Workshops. After organizing several Pre Seed Workshops for Cornell, he recognized the value of the Workshops in the formation and development of research-based high-tech companies. He is also developing a state-wide alliance of angel funding groups, the New York Angel Network (NYAN).

Roger served as Chairman of the Steering Committee for the Finger Lakes Entrepreneurs’ Forum. He helped organize the Cornell Industrial Outreach Group and has served on the Advisory Committees for the SmartStart Venture Forum, the Golden Horseshoe Business Plan Competition, the Syracuse $100K Business Plan Competition, the BRIncubator, the Cornell IDEA Center, the Cornell Center for Materials Research Jump-Start Program, the MDA Regional Alliance, UNYTECH and the Emerging Technology Alliance. He has held leadership positions in several local not-for-profit groups. In 2007, he was selected for the Cutting Award in recognition of his efforts to provide assistance to entrepreneurs in the region.

Michael Wu
Founding Board Member
Long Island Angel Network

Michael Wu has been a venture investor since 2002 focusing on Software, Communications/Wireless IT, Mobile Media, Energy, and Clean Tech. Most recently, Michael was a Principal at Chart Venture Partners, a New York-based $100M early-stage venture fund focusing on dual-use technologies (with both commercial and defense applications) in the areas of Communications & Mobile, Software & Cyber Security, Advanced Materials, Energy and Clean Tech. Michael is also one of the Founding Board Members of Long Island Angel Network, an angel investor network focusing on early-stage technology companies based in Long Island of NY. Prior to that from 2002-2006, Michael raised and managed a seed fund (Blue Angel Ventures) in Research Triangle Park, NC and partnered with first-time entrepreneurs in co-founding or turnaround operating roles. Prior to entering venture capital, Michael held engineering and technology management roles in fiber optics and wireless infrastructure at Nortel Networks and then product management roles in mobile devices and applications at Ericsson and Nextel. Michael earned his MBA from Duke University-Fuqua School of Business, MS in Electrical Engineering and Management of Technology from Georgia Tech, and BS magna cum laude in Electrical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Michael is also fluent in Mandarin, Taiwanese, and German.

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