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Meet the Team

Meet the Team

The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation team is paving the way for Chicago’s entrepreneurial spirit. Housed on a collaborative campus, we are a group of committed professionals dedicated to promoting and supporting students, faculty, staff, alumni, researchers and local entrepreneurs as they navigate the complex process of creating and growing a startup. To see a full list of Polsky Council members, click here. For general inquiries, questions, and feedback about the Polsky Center, please contact us at polsky@uchicago.edu.

Polsky Center Leadership

Balaji (Bala) Srinivasan
Balaji (Bala) Srinivasan

Balaji (Bala) Srinivasan

Interim Head of the Polsky Center

Vice President for Global Initiatives and Strategy
Senior Associate Provost

Edward H. Levi Hall, 522
5801 South Ellis Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
773-795-2901

balajis@uchicago.edu

Executive Assistant:
Anais Daly
773-834-8453
anais@uchicago.edu

Bala Srinivasan, Ph.D. ’95, serves as the interim head of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago which brings together the University’s nationally recognized programs in venture creation and education, technology commercialization, and business incubation, streamlining access to venture support resources for University and community entrepreneurs and corporate partners. Bala has deep roots in the sciences at the University of Chicago, having completed his PhD in mathematics at the University in 1995. He also brings more than 20 years of experience in international private equity investing from his prior work in financial services, most recently at Goldman Sachs and Och Ziff Capital Management.

In his role as University Vice President, Bala oversees the central University’s global engagement activities and management of the University’s international Centers in Hong Kong, Delhi, and Beijing, working to build academic partnerships and research collaborations with international partners, create global education opportunities, and to strengthen the University’s connections to global institutional partners, policymakers, and civic leaders.

Steven N. Kaplan
Steven N. Kaplan

Steven N. Kaplan

Faculty Director and Neubauer Family Distinguished Service Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance

5807 South Woodlawn Ave
Chicago, IL 60637

steven.kaplan@chicagobooth.edu
773-702-4513

Steven Neil Kaplan conducts research on issues in private equity, venture capital, entrepreneurial finance, corporate governance and corporate finance. He has published papers in a number of academic and business journals. Kaplan is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and an associate editor of the Journal of Financial Economics.

Full Bio

Starr MarcelloStarr Marcello
Starr Marcello

Starr Marcello

Executive Director; Adjunct Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship

5807 South Woodlawn Avenue, Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
773-834-2838

Starr Marcello, AM ’04, MBA ’17, oversees the strategic development of the Polsky Center and works with University of Chicago students, faculty, and staff to launch the next generation of high-impact ventures as the Polsky Center’s executive director. She has been with the Center since 2005.

She runs the Edward L. Kaplan New Venture Challenge (NVC), which awards over $500K in funding and services to top entrepreneurial companies each year. This year the NVC is celebrating 22 years and is ranked the #1 university accelerator program in the nation. Since 1996, the NVC has fostered more than 800 startups, with 230+ that are still in operation and growing strong, has created thousands of jobs, and has produced exits of over $13 billion, including Grubhub (NYSE: GRUB) and Braintree (acquired by eBay’s PayPal for $800 million). In 2017, Starr testified before the U.S. Congress’ Committee on Small Business on the merits of accelerator programs for job creation and economic development.

With funding from the National Science Foundation, Starr launched the Polsky Center I-Corps Program and helped designate the University of Chicago as an official I-Corps site in 2014. Through this interdisciplinary program, Starr teaches elements of the customer development process and human-centered design to researchers and technologists on campus with the goal of helping teams test the commercial viability of their STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) projects.

Starr spends her free time teaching entrepreneurship to high school students. She sits on the Executive Advisory Board of TechWeek and is a board member for United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USABE).

Starr holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University and both an M.A. and MBA from the University of Chicago.

Kristin BarrettKristin Barrett
Kristin Barrett

Kristin Barrett

Chief Operating Officer

1452 East 53rd Street, 2nd floor
Chicago, IL 60615
773-834-5641

As the Polsky Center’s Chief Operating Officer, Kristin is responsible for operations and expansion of the Polsky Center as well as overseeing finances, HR, IT, and facilities.

Prior to the Polsky Center, Kristin was vice president of 1871, one of the nation’s largest startup hubs, and led educational content for the organization. Kristin was the COO of Excelerate Labs (now Techstars Chicago), a top-ranked technology startup accelerator, and worked with startups and early-stage investments through Hyde Park Angels.

Kristin started in entrepreneurship while working on new ventures and corporate strategy for Redbox, participating in the company’s growth from 6,000 locations to more than 30,000. She has also worked in management consulting with A.T. Kearney, touching a variety of industries including pharmacy, logistics, and agricultural goods.

Kristin earned an MBA with Honors at University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and her BS in journalism and economics from Northwestern University.

Timothy HonakerTimothy Honaker
Timothy Honaker

Timothy Honaker

Director, Educational Technologies Commerialization

5113 S Harper Avenue, Suite 2C
Chicago, IL 60615
773-834-3203

As Director of Educational Technologies Commercialization, Tim is responsible for guiding educational technology commercialization for the University.

Tim Honaker joined the UChicagoTech as Chief Operating Officer in September 2003. His responsibilities include managing all aspects of the office’s financial and administrative support infrastructure. In addition he provides support and guidance to the office’s efforts in education technology commercialization.

Tim has spent most of his career as an entrepreneur focused on the use of information technology to streamline business processes. He was the Vice-President and General Manager of a Menasha Corporation start-up division that revolutionized the use of logistics technologies to improve supply chain productivity. The business operates today as National Consolidated Services and is a major supply chain partner to Walgreens Corporation. Earlier he was Senior Vice-President of Operations for a management team that purchased and took private a U.S.-based financial publishing and training subsidiary of Pearson. The business was later sold to the Washington Post for a 30-fold return to the original investors and operates today as Kaplan Professional Schools.

Tim received his Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and MBA in Finance from Indiana University and is a Registered Certified Public Accountant in the State of Illinois. He has been an active member of the Association of University Technology Managers, Counsel of Logistics Management, American Association of Publishers, Direct Marketing Association, and Illinois CPA Society.

Alan KoncarevicAlan Koncarevic
Alan Koncarevic

Alan Koncarevic

Director, Industry Relations; Head, Strategic Alliances

5113 S Harper Avenue, Suite 2C
Chicago, IL 60615
773-834-3208

Alan Koncarevic serves as Director of Industry Relations for the Polsky Center, where he leads efforts to develop, manage, and grow strategic partnerships with industry and investors.

Alan has a rich background in innovation management and technology development, with more than 15 years of interdisciplinary experience in basic and translational research, commercial development, partnering, and licensing in corporate, venture creation, and academic settings. Since joining the University in 2011, Alan has contributed to numerous industry-facing initiatives and efforts, including development and management of strategic partnership with AbbVie. Koncarevic works with UChicago faculty, students, staff, and entrepreneurs to identify the highest value industry partners and structure mutually-beneficial collaboration models, providing opportunities for new research partnerships, sharing of complimentary resources, co-location, talent exchange, investments in UChicago startups, and creation of joint ventures.

Before he joined UChicago, Alan held entrepreneurial and business development roles at Enlight Biosciences, a venture creation and investment firm founded by PureTech Ventures (now PureTech Health) in partnership with 7 pharmaceutical companies in Boston, Mass. While at Enlight/PureTech, Alan worked on initiatives to identify and develop various biotechnology R&D opportunities for Enlight’s pharma partners and investors leading to creation of several new companies. Prior to Enlight, Koncarevic worked as a Senior Scientist at Acceleron Pharma in Cambridge, Mass. where he was responsible for preclinical development of multiple compounds across several therapeutic indications. Koncarevic has also provided consulting and volunteer services for various organizations, including Enlight/PureTech, and for The European Union and The World Bank Innovation Fund Project.

Koncarevic has authored multiple peer-reviewed manuscripts, presented at international scientific conferences, and contributed to inventions leading to several patent applications. He holds a PhD from Boston University and a BS from Lock Haven University.

Micheline PergandeMicheline Pergande
Micheline Pergande

Micheline Pergande

Director, Marketing and Communications

5807 South Woodlawn Avenue, Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
773-702-7732

As director of marketing and communications, Micheline Pergande leads the marketing team and oversees the marketing strategy for the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She focuses on defining the brand identity and delivering a consistent experience across all marketing touchpoints.

Prior to joining the Polsky Center, Micheline worked in brand management at Unilever Food Solutions supporting category performance in North America for Hellmann’s, Best Foods, Country Crock, Promise, Becel, and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. Before that, Micheline was the senior manager of e-commerce strategy and digital marketing for Chicago-based Argo Tea where she initiated the company’s first-ever gift box packaging concept, facilitated industry-wide recognition as Nation’s Restaurant News Top 50 “2013 Breakout Brands”, managed the company’s social media engagement strategy across Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Yelp, and completely overhauled the company’s e-commerce website in time for the 2012 holiday shopping season. Before her rewarding stint at Argo Tea, Micheline was named director of product marketing for Publicis Groupe’s VivaKi Nerve Center, the R&D hub responsible for developing next generation advertising solutions during the time when the advertising world embarked upon its digital transformation as social media, programmatic media buying, and audience targeting solutions emerged as new core competencies for agencies. Before becoming a seasoned marketer, Micheline gained technical skills as a web developer in the Bay Area, where she was born and raised. She developed database-driven web applications in PHP and MySQL for her alma mater, Saint Mary’s College of California, before moving out to Chicago in 2006 to attend graduate school.

Micheline earned a B.A. with honors in Communication from Saint Mary’s College of California, an M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications with a specialization in Direct, Database and E-Commerce marketing from Northwestern University’s Medill School, and an MBA with concentrations in Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and International Business from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. She was awarded the Walter Dill Scott Award from Medill faculty. She also earned a Professional Certificate in Web Design from the University of California at Berkeley in 2001.

As a proud daughter of an entrepreneurial family, Micheline is passionate about the Polsky Center’s role in supporting students, faculty, alumni and community entrepreneurs with their entrepreneurial ambitions.  Micheline and her husband, Shaun, a Chicago Booth ’13 graduate, reside in Chicago with their daughter.

Jason ParisoJason Pariso
Jason Pariso

Jason Pariso

Director, Innovation Fund

1452 East 53rd Street, 2nd floor
Chicago, IL 60615
773-834-8112

Jason Pariso is the Director of the University of Chicago Innovation Fund, an early stage fund dedicated to the commercialization of research and technology generated at the University. He also develops strategic initiatives and programming for the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He previously served as the Vice President of product management for Pinpoint MD, a healthcare startup building the first patient-physician engagement platform. Jason built a diverse set of skills while working as a Media & Telecommunications Investment Banker, founding an educational nonprofit, restructuring a textile manufacturer, developing corporate strategy for Dell Financial Services, and launching a SaaS call center telephony startup. Jason earned an MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, holds a BA in Economics from Princeton University and is a Kauffman Fellow.

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