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Meet our Mentors

Meet our Mentors

The mentorship program is a valuable, member only resource offered at the Polsky Center in which members meet one-on-one meetings with industry leaders. Our mentors bring decades of experience in strategy, fundraising, healthcare, technology, sales and marketing, law, insurance, and other more. Learn more about our impressive lineup of mentors below.

Software Development, IT, Project Management //

Anthony Garvan

Anthony Garvan

Anthony Garvan is a full stack web developer and currently the lead engineer for healthcare.govIn 10 years of programming, he’s written code that runs manufacturing tooling, predicts hurricanes, plays poker, searches legal documents, manages employee onboarding, and much more. He’s been meeting with non-technical founders to help them frame their problems properly and answer questions about the process of building software. Aspiring developers are also welcome!

Arin Komins

Arin Komins

Arin Komins specializes in project planning, an essential discipline for anyone trying to execute on their vision. She is a seasoned manager with over 21 years in IT, with experience in managing IT applications and infrastructure, from on-premises to the cloud. She has worked in healthcare and higher education, as well as consulted for the financial and energy sectors. She has managed everything from machines to people, and recently has been specializing in moving on premises solutions to the cloud. She is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), has done project management methodology development, built PM systems, and holds certificates in project management strategy and advanced project management.

David Giard

David Giard

David Giard is a technical evangelist at Microsoft, assisting developers, students, and startups building software applications. Previously, he has served on the board of directors of INETA North America, and worked as the senior manager consultant at Sogeti. David has decades of experience in software development and application architecture, as well as Microsoft technologies.

He’d be happy to talk to you about any of these topics as well as Microsoft programs for startups.

Deborah Brown

Deborah Brown

Deborah Brown has worked for 25 years in all phases of product design, development, and manufacturing. She spent 13 years at a multi-billion, global engineering company, developing products with customer focus while using great engineering processes. She has led multi-functional development teams in China, Europe and Mexico, developing manufacturing expertise and cultural communication skills. She has created and led training classes for engineers and non-technical associates. Deborah has a BS in mechanical engineering from Tufts University, and a journeyman apprenticeship in tool & die making.

She can help product teams with the initial stage of their project, ranging from product design, development and manufacturing. She can also provide advice on cross-cultural communication skills.

Tom Kompare

Tom Kompare

Tom Kompare, is a web applications developer who writes the code that makes things happen after you hit the submit button on a web page. His roots are in the earth sciences, and he came to working on the web by way of a chance meeting where the Mosaic web browser was introduced in 1993. He has not stopped making the Internet a better place ever since. Along the way Tom has worn many hats: network design and security, system administration, database design and administration, web application design and development, API design and development, user experience research, web interface design and development, data visualization, project management, and employee relations and management.

Tom enjoys helping people figure out how Internet technology might fit into their current processes and future needs.

Strategy and Fundraising //

Barbara Goff

Barbara Goff

Barbara Goff is an international human resource consultant, working with companies of all sizes to establish thriving human resource operations positioned to scale as companies expand. She is an expert in creating compensation programs, talent management, recruitment best practices, and identifying systems and tools support sustainable growth. She works with a wide array of clients, including Vail Systems, DomandTom, Relevation Research, Guarneri Hall, Snapsheet, SpiderOak, Raise.com, JBTV, and others. Before leveraging her talents in consulting, Barbara maintained high-profile HR leadership roles with The Warranty Group, Valor Equity Partners, and Synovate, to name a few.

Barbara holds a Master of Science in social work administration, a Master’s Certificate in HR development from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, and a Bachelor of Science in social work and rural health development from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale.

Chris Wu

Chris Wu

Chris Wu is an associate at Impact Engine. Founded in 2012, Impact Engine is an investment firm with a mission to build catalytic investment products that generate strong financial returns and measurable social impact. He helps manage all post-investment support services for the portfolio companies in Impact Engine’s venture capital funds. Services include mentoring and advising for entrepreneurs, help with recruiting/hiring, business development, and support for future fundraising.

Prior to joining Impact Engine, Chris worked for 10 years as an engineering consultant providing structural engineering services for the design and construction of green buildings and infrastructure, including the world’s first skyscraper to earn LEED Platinum certification. He is a licensed professional engineer and a LEED accredited professional. Chris also owned and operated a small business for 2 years.

Chris holds a BS in civil engineering and a MS in structural engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is currently an MBA candidate at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in their part-time program, with a focus on social impact.

Anna Lisa Somera

Anna Lisa Somera

Anna Lisa Somera is an experienced medical device consultant, venture capitalist, intellectual property analyst, technology transfer specialist, biomedical researcher, and entrepreneur specialized in early-stage, cutting edge technology businesses. She also has extensive experience in non-dilutive funding having helped new technology ventures receive over $6M in SBIR/STTR, state and private grants. She is currently a strategy, grants, business development, quality systems, regulatory affairs, and operations consultant to several medical device and therapeutic companies and is a featured columnist on health and medical websites.

She can help you with all aspects of SBIR and STTR grants, from understanding the various agencies to filing and using grants.

Chuck Vallurupalli

Chuck Vallurupalli

Chuck Vallurupalli, MBA ‘05, is a software engineer, entrepreneur, and executive.​ ​He has founded, led and contributed to the success of several early stage, growth and public​ ​software companies. He has worked with over 125 startups and several more entrepreneurs as a mentor, EIR, and investor. He has also helped several corporations on their innovation agendas. Nothing gives him more joy and satisfaction in his professional life than seeing hardworking and committed entrepreneurs succeed.

Chuck holds an MBA from Chicago Booth and a MS in Mechanical Engineering.

As a mentor, Chuck’s goal is to be an empathetic, optimistic guide to entrepreneurs and provide:

  • Feedback to validate and optimize business models
  • Frameworks to achieve product-market fit and faster scale-up
  • Stage-specific strategy and tactics for product, marketing, finance, and talent
  • Suggestions to increase readiness for customer and investor pitches
  • Introductions to prospective customers, partners, talent, and investors

Bernard Gugar

Bernard Gugar

Bernard Gugar is a media/tech executive with extensive investment banking, corporate development and M&A experience. Bernard began his career at a Wall Street law firm in New York, segued into investment banking within the TMT sector at Bear Sterns, and ultimately, as General Counsel, led corporate development for Harpo, Inc., Oprah Winfrey’s company.

Bernard enjoys helping entrepreneurs think through strategy, natural alliances, contracting issues and pitches to prospective investors.

Brigitte Anderson

Brigitte Anderson

Brigitte Anderson, MBA ’08, is a Principal at Orange Vista LLC, a boutique consulting firm focused on market research for growing enterprises. She began her career in the financial services industry and spent nearly a decade with JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Barclays in a variety of strategic and operational roles in Chicago, New York, London, Johannesburg, and Nairobi. Most recently, she has worked in the manufacturing and digital health sectors. Brigitte holds a BA in Anthropology from Princeton University and an MBA from Chicago Booth with concentrations in Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in BioMedical Informatics at The University of Chicago.

As a mentor, Brigitte can work with you to find solutions on issues related to your idea, strategy, market sizing, focus groups, consumer behavior, customer journeys, and growth planning.

Heather Walsh

Heather Walsh

Heather Walsh is the director of external innovation and leads Baxter’s efforts to increase open innovation partnerships across universities, incubators/accelerators, medical centers, and other partners. She supports strategically-aligned transformational innovation for all the global business units and for technology platforms. She previously led technical assessment teams for due diligence of new opportunities for mergers and acquisitions and venture investment at Baxter. She joined Baxter from the University of Chicago, where she was the assistant director and head of business development in the technology commercialization and licensing group at the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She spent nine years developing, protecting, and licensing university-owned intellectual property. In addition to her technology portfolio, Heather supported the efforts of the commercialization team by identifying and managing high-value contacts, coordinating the university’s marketing strategy for the opportunity pipeline, representing the team at multiple partnering meetings throughout each year, and launching a program to cultivate relationships with venture capital groups. She piloted and grew a proof-of-concept fund, redesigned the Polsky Accelerator program and launched several internship programs to leverage the talents of students and postdocs exploring alternative careers. Heather completed a PhD in Neurobiology, Pharmacology & Cell Physiology from UChicago.

Chris Rowney

Chris Rowney

Chris Rowney is a partner at San Francisco-based Mod N Labs, an accelerator and fund focused on enterprise information security and closely allied verticals (including fintech). In addition, Chris deploys his business development and financial expertise in advisory support of ModN’s portfolio of companies. Previously, Chris held leading operational roles and assisted in starting, building, and maturing several pioneering and technologically driven electronic trading businesses in both Europe and the US, several of which were subsequently acquired by leading financial firms. He holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and a BS from Ohio State University.

Chris can help you with formulating and executing go-to-market, business development and fundraising strategies.

Dan Zircher

Dan Zircher

Dan Zircher has been a Chicago-based investment banker for almost 30 years working as a senior investment banker at both large organizations (Merrill Lynch), mid-size (Mesirow Financial) and now has his own firm. He has worked with entrepreneurs from many industries over his career but for the last decade has focused on financial technology, exchanges and asset management businesses. His work included raising private capital, public offerings and extensive mergers and acquisition activities on a global basis.

Dan looks forward to providing guidance to entrepreneurs, early ideas and companies to help shape their strategic direction.

Darcy Bonner

Darcy Bonner

Darcy Bonner is currently a manager of the strategy, innovation, and M&A team for Schneider Electric North America. In his current role, he executes, identifies, and manages research and integration of early-stage and validated innovation, technology, market trends, new business models, and startups linked to short and long-term strategy, while shaping the strategic direction of the long-term innovation pipeline​ for Schneider.​ This includes developing deep understanding and insights of the commercial ecosystem (hardware, software, and services) around critical assets.

​Darcy has a background in investment banking and is passionate about early stage entrepreneurship and growing the Chicago innovation ecosystem. ​He also mentors at mHUB, and can help with product development, business models and fundraising, customer​ identification, sales and marketing, and scaling a business.

Emily Treptow

Emily Treptow

Emily Treptow is the business & economics librarian for instruction and outreach at the University of Chicago Library. Emily helps students and faculty at the University of Chicago with their business research needs.

Emily can help you define your target market through consumer demographics and market research. She can also help you define your competition by helping you locate company information and industry analysis.

Maura Mitchell

Maura Mitchell

Maura Mitchell​ ​is the director of entrepreneurial services at the Women’s Business Development Center. ​She is a ​versatile business and operations strategist with expertise empowering small businesses in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. ​Her joint degrees (MBA and JD)​ and experience​ provider her with the academic grounding and practical insights needed to provide advice in the areas of business plan development, strategic planning, financial management, and legal compliance.

Geraldine Teotico

Geraldine Teotico

Geraldine Teotico, MBA ’07, is the chief photographer, videographer and owner at Life Made Still LLC, a boutique production company based in Chicago. Prior to starting her own business, she worked as a software developer, graduated from Chicago Booth, and worked as a management consultant. While building Life Made Still, Geraldine cofounded three different startups and lived through the challenges around strategy, marketing, and execution.

Speak with “G” if you want to chat about startup woes around product market fit, giving up or not giving up, sweat equity, sales, OR, how you can tell your story better with photo and video.

Howard Males

Howard Males

Howard Males, PhD ’81, is the founder and CEO of Research Pros, Inc., which provides custom research solutions to major corporations, strategy consulting firms, and private equity groups. Howard currently serves as chairman of the Economic Development Advisory Committee for Cook County (EDAC), a member of the board of advisors to the Chicago Innovation Awards, and a member of the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. He received a BA degree in psychology from Drew University, and earned both his MA in psychology and a PhD in social and organizational psychology at the University of Chicago.

Howard can help you with operating and growing your business, achieving returns from cultivating long-term relationships, identification of non-obvious talent, and the nuances of presenting innovative ideas to various interests.

Justin Ullman

Justin Ullman

Justin Ullman is the CEO of RhinoDox, ​which provides an enterprise-wide content management and workflow automation software​ called WorkLight. ​He began programming professionally in 1999 and now works at the intersection of business, technology, and operations. Ullman has an MBA from Loyola University in finance and marketing.

Justin can help with any of the above areas, as well as accountability, communication, and values-based leadership.

Will Colegrove

Will Colegrove

Will Colegrove is responsible for leading the Edwardson Social Entrepreneurship Program at Chicago Booth’s Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation, including cultivating the pipeline for the John Edwardson, ’72, Social New Venture Challenge (SNVC) from across the University of Chicago. Previously, he worked in venture capital, leading diligence and deal sourcing for an early-stage fund in Chicago. Prior to that, he spent several years in New York City government working in legislative and tech policy, as well as municipal finance and grant making.

If you have questions about starting or funding a social enterprise, Will can help you plan and define your idea, as well as connect to resources at the university.

Kristin Barrett

Kristin Barrett

Kristin Barrett, MBA ’12, leads the University’s 34,000 square foot coworking space and educational content for entrepreneurs looking to scale their businesses.

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 from Chicago Booth and a BS in journalism and economics from Northwestern University.

William Robinson

William Robinson

William Robinson is a vice president at Silicon Valley Bank and leads the Bank’s early stage technology practice in the Midwest. Previous to Silicon Valley Bank, he served in Banco Popular’s commercial and SBA credit departments. Mr. Robinson began his banking career at National City Bank. He has gained valuable experience working with small and medium sized businesses.

Aside from a career in banking, Mr. Robinson has also served as an adjunct business professor at Moraine Valley Community College and Harold Washington College. He is currently a member of the Southern Illinois University College of Business’ Minority Advisory Board. Mr. Robinson earned a bachelor’s degree in finance at Southern Illinois University in 1999 and completed his MBA at SIU in December 2000.

Mehul Desai

Mehul Desai

Mehul Desai, has over 25 years of experience in information communication technologies and related applications worldwide, focusing on intellectual property, product development, business development, strategy, and international operations.

Mehul has done pioneering work in the field of secure personalized transactions, with focus on finance, retail, healthcare, and government services for mobile phone users. Mehul is focused on fostering innovation in the areas of technology, new media, and social entrepreneurship through mentorship, investment, and cross-pollination across sectors and markets.

Mehul Desai co-founded C-SAM, Inc., a global pioneer in secure mobile transactions technology, in 1998 and sold it to MasterCard in 2014. As founder and CEO, he built the company’s patents and IP portfolio, products and services, business model and global deployments, operations, and organization and strategic partnerships. In 2011, Mehul became vice chairman of the Board, supporting the management team, focusing on strategic initiatives related to enhancing the company’s intellectual property, product, business development, and new areas of growth.

Mehul Desai has been involved with industry forums focused on developing standards for secure mobile transactions, including the Mobile Payments Industry Workgroup, an industry task force convened by the U.S. Federal Reserve. Mehul is the coinventor of issued patents and pending applications. Mehul often speaks at industry conferences on topics related to mobile commerce and payments, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

He can talk with you about product development, IP, business development, and being a founder.

Mike Leon

Mike Leon

Mike Leon is the founder MMJ Investment Partnership and a cryptocurrency investor passionate about digital assets, cryptocurrencies, and smart contracts. He has over 20 years of experience in the financial industry focusing on portfolio management, hedging, and option overlay strategies for high net worth and institutional clients. Mike’s interest further extends into automated investing, robo advisers, model implementation, investment strategy automation, and product development.

Mike can provide insights on fintech, cryptocurrency, automation, and product development.

Natalie Tessler

Natalie Tessler

Natalie Tessleris a former attorney specializing in tax law and estate planning who left her practice to pursue a long-held dream of owning and operating a business. Using capital raised through a combination of angel investors and an SBA-backed loan, she launched Spa Space, a day spa located in Chicago’s West Loop. The business grew to employ over 75 individuals and expanded to approximately 7500 sq.. ft. of space. After 16 years of successful operations, Natalie sold Spa Space in 2017 to pursue other opportunities. She currently provides consulting services to other start-up businesses and entrepreneurs.

Specialties: management, marketing, customer service, start-up financing, capital raising, deal structuring, general business strategy and problem solving

Rill Hodari

Rill Hodari

Rill Hodari is a market research consultant with expertise in new product development, consumer segmentation, perceptual mapping, product positioning, and brand research. Her 20 year career includes work at Follett, Hewitt, General Mills, and Abbott Laboratories/Abbvie. She also currently leads workshops, consults, and mentors at 1871.

Her specialty is in primary research for overall business strategy, new product development, and concept validation, brand positioning, customer insights and marketing communication testing.

Vivek Chopra

Vivek Chopra

Vivek Chopra is a strategic advisor, board member, technology and management consultant, and a senior executive in the technology industry. He focuses on creating client value through innovative business solutions in transformative technologies such as Workload and Cloud, application services, enterprise security, analytics and data management, workplace mobility, and business process services. Vivek has held multiple senior management roles for enterprises, including HPE, L&T InfoTech, CSC, IBM, and Wipro, overseeing their business across multiple sectors in various functions and management capacities. He has global experience and in-depth knowledge of sales, client servicing, business development, and operations. He was a member of the presidents circle at the Chicago Council for Global Affairs, and was on the board of Mindcrest, a leading legal services company. He is currently on the global advisory council at GLG, an advisor to Partners Group, and a strategic advisor to and on the boards of MintMesh and ForecastEra.

Vivek can help you with strategy, sales, client servicing, and enterprise IT.

Will Gossin

Will Gossin

Will Gossin, leads the Edwardson Social Entrepreneurship Program and Social Venture Funding programming at the Rustandy Center, including the John Edwardson, ’72, Social New Venture Challenge. He advises and trains teams of students and faculty from across the university in mixed-method research, leadership, and design thinking to maximize the social impact of their work. Will can help prepare you and your team for entrepreneurship, make focused plans for defining and refining your idea, and gaining confidence in your roadmap.

Willem Bakker

Willem Bakker

Willem Bakker is a seasoned executive, leader, entrepreneur, technologist, and strategist. He has expertise in public/private partnerships, startups, business turnarounds, and growing enterprises. An engineer and C-level business leader, with a second career in academia and not-for-profits focused on startups and small businesses with intellectual property, Willem has worn many hats, including designer, researcher, inventor, marketer, and executive. As a result, he has a unique set of talents to coach and assist multi-disciplinary teams that tackle complex challenges for businesses and institutions.

His professional passion is launching and building companies/enterprises, major strategic initiatives, and driving innovation. Willem enjoys leveraging institutional intellectual property, developing strategic alliances with revenue and financing, and tackling general business challenges.

Zoe Quan

Zoe Quan

Zoe Quan has spent her career translating between the language of business and the language of technology, having worked in at all aspects of global product management around the world, including strategy, product development, business plan development and execution, and P&L.

She has familiarity with telecommunications, IT, software, life sciences, and nanotech, among other areas. Her experience with both large multinationals and small entrepreneurial ventures enables her to provide outside perspectives, with a view from the marketplace, and an emphasis on figuring out what the right problem is that needs to be solved.

She can help you clarify your goals and strategy, determine where your technology might be most useful, and anticipate pitfalls.

Tony Wilkins

Tony Wilkins

Tony Wilkins, MBA ’86, is an active angel investor. He is an investor and mentor and can advise on raising capital, building teams, and early stage growth. By day, he is a leader in the finance industry.

Kate Khazin and Eugene Khazin

Kate Khazin and Eugene Khazin

Kate Khazin, MBA ’12, is a strategy and operations professional with experience in Real Estate and Financial Services industries. ​A​ Lean Six Sigma Black Belt​, she brings expertise for process design and optimization, M&A integration, change management and prioritization of efforts. She excels at helping organizations launch new products and establish service delivery for B2B companies, particularly those working with the large enterprises. In her day-to-day, Kate finds herself working on a wide variety of initiatives ranging from call center optimization to accounting and financial transformation.​ Kate holds an MBA from Chicago Booth and a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering.

​She can help you determine what to focus on in each stage of a startup journey and ​how to work with enterprise.

Eugene Khazin is​ a serial entrepreneur​ and co-founder of Silent IT, a Chicago-based technology modernization consultancy ​for Fortune 1000 companies. Together, Eugene and cofounder Josh Davidson lead nimble, yet skilled teams of technologists for clients such as Accenture, AJ Gallagher and Evolent Health.

Before he cofounded Silent IT, he was a founder and CEO of Database Edge, a data analytics and performance consultancy, finding new ways to solve seemingly unsolvable problems and then scale those solutions across the enterprise.​ A graduate of DePaul University in Chicago, Eugene holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science.

​He can help with ​B2B services, ​enterprise sales, company scaling, bootstrapping, technology advisory and service delivery.

 

Andrew King

Andrew King

Andrew King works at OCA ventures and is a startup and venture capital-focused attorney with a previous background in sports and finance. He has taught at Virginia Tech, MIT, and George Washington on the convergence of law, venture finance, and startups, and has served as an EIR at Techstars Boston.​ He ​holds a ​JD from Northwestern University and an MBA from Cornell University. Andrew’s personal and professional interests combine in the innovation and startup areas, specifically, in digital media, drone technology, privacy issues, financial literacy, and e-gaming.

Anil Saldanha

Anil Saldanha

Anil Saldanha is an expert in health tech, cloud security, identity and access management (IAM), and secure product development. He advises health tech startups in adopting cloud technologies and establishing security/compliance processes.

His industry experience spans 20 years at companies such as Red Hat, Trustwave, Sun Microsystems, and Tempus. As VP of engineering at Tempus, he was instrumental in building a HIPAA compliant cloud based system for cancer genomics.

He would be helpful if these questions might be true for you:

  • Is your startup operating in a regulated environment such as health tech or finance?
  • Are your investing partners or customers demanding stronger security and compliance for your operations?
  • Are you overwhelmed by Cloud Security?
  • Would you like to build a team of developers who are security conscious?
  • Would you like to incorporate security early on in your product development so as to be compliant in the future?
Food //

Meghan Hurley

Meghan Hurley

Meghan is a senior marketing manager at Trunk Club, leading brand strategy and CRM.

Prior to joining Trunk Club, Meghan worked in marketing across a number of food and retail companies. She has a diverse food category background including retail, cpg and wholesale with a specific focus on premium brands, including Whole Foods Market. Within those roles Meghan developed extensive knowledge in brand strategy, market expansion, and product development and innovation.

Meghan currently enjoys working with local start-ups, restaurants and artists to develop their product, brand strategy, and growth plan.

Alex Funk

Alex Funk

Alex Funk is a food scientist at the Blommer Chocolate Company. She has a BS in food science from Utah State University and has five years of research and development experience from several companies where she launched multiple products. She is an expert in concept-to-manufacturing commercialization, food safety/quality control, regulatory, food processing, contract manufacturing and working cross-functionally with marketing, operations and QC. Prior to working for Blommer, she worked in the nutritional products space in Los Angeles.

Alex is passionate about helping food startups understand the technical and scientific side of creating and launching food products, as well as regulations and protocols for ensuring a safe, consumable product.

Tax, Legal, and Insurance //

Brian Michalek

Brian Michalek

Brian Michalek is an intellectual property attorney and partner at the law firm of Olson & Cepuritis. His practice includes a full 360 degree view of the intellectual property world​,​ including patent prosecution, litigation, licensing, transactions, and strategy. ​Prior to working in his law firm, Brian was a director at an IP startup company managing a team of intellectual property attorneys​. He also advised the board of directors on all things startup-related​,​ including investment, capital raise, and strategy.

Brian can help​ startups​ ​with the if, when, why, and how questions ​related to protecting technology, inventions, or brand name​s​.

Dan Stokes

Dan Stokes

Dan is a corporate law attorney at Dressler & Peters. Dan concentrates his practice on business law, corporate and intellectual property transactions, and securities and counseling for innovative clients and high-growth companies. Dan also has experience in finance and business strategy, and can offer help with cap tables, financing scenarios, stock dilution, business plans, and providing big-picture advice on significant decisions.

Having grown up on a farm and needing to make work whatever resources that were available at the time, Dan appreciates the resourceful spirit of entrepreneurs and engineers. Dan is also the named inventor on a non-provisional patent application, and he loves sharing stories and ideas about technology and finding practical solutions to technical and operational problems.

Matt Meltzer

Matt Meltzer

Matthew Meltzer is the co-founder of law firm Meltzer Hellrung, LLC. He graduated cum laude with a BA in political science from the University of Pennsylvania and earned his JD from Boston College Law School. Matt works with small companies, including entrepreneurs, as well as multi-national corporations. Matt focuses on employment-based immigration and has filed over 1,100 related petitions in numerous visa categories, including: B-1, E-2, F-1, H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, H-3, I, L-1, O-1, P-1, P-3, and TN. In addition, he has filed green card petitions in multiple employment categories, including: EB-1 Extraordinary Ability, EB-1 Multinational Managers, PERM, Schedule A Nurses & Physical Therapists, Schedule A Exceptional Ability, and EB-5 Investors. Matt advises companies regarding employee hiring and I-9 compliance, reorganizations and mergers, and government inspections.

Prior to co-founding Meltzer Hellrung LLC, Matt was a Supervising Attorney with VISANOW, PC.

Matt is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the Illinois State Bar Association.

Bill Pegg

Bill Pegg

Bill Pegg is a Patent Attorney at Waldman Pegg Gatschet Tieff & Knight PLLC. He has worked with large international companies, startups, and university clients in areas such as semiconductors, display and optical systems, biomedical implants, automotive technologies, energy systems, materials, and software. Prior to practicing law, he worked for the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC), where he qualified as a Reactor Inspector and specialized in inspections relating to safety-related motor-operated valves and appurtenant systems, power systems, and instrumentation and control systems.

Bill can help you with all aspects of patent prosecution and counseling including licensing, freedom-to-operate analyses, non-infringement and invalidity opinions, reexaminations, due diligence reviews, USPTO appeals and oral hearings, and development of intellectual property portfolios aligned with business objectives.

Florence Hardy

Florence Hardy

Florence Hardy has been a successful business consultant for over 10 years. She has an MBA with a focus on Entrepreneurship from DePaul University and received a BA from Howard University. She worked for the City of Chicago, DePaul University, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and is currently a business consultant with the Far South Community Development Corporation. Additionally, Florence is an Officer of truCrowd, an equity crowdfunding platform that works with business owners to raise the money they need to start and grow their business.

Florence can provide expertise on business consulting and equity crowdfunding.

Heather Harper

Heather Harper

Heather Harper founded the Startup Legal Shop at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. In this role, she represents startups and growth-stage companies in business transactional matters. The goal of the Startup Legal Shop is to provide high-quality business legal services at an affordable rate and to educate and empower clients to make sound business decisions. She is a mentor at 1871 and active in the startup community.

In her faculty role at IIT Chicago-Kent, she designed, launched, and directs the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic (the “ELC”). Students learn drafting, counseling, and other legal skills while working directly with Chicago’s vibrant startup community. In addition to supervising law students in the ELC, Professor Harper teaches Entrepreneurship Law and Business Entity Formation.

Jessica Ekhoff

Jessica Ekhoff

Jessica Ekhoff, JD ’12, is an attorney focused on trademark, copyright, and advertising issues. Jessica helps companies determine whether the trademarks they want to use are available and manages the application process. She also handles trademark enforcement, including litigation in the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board and federal court. In addition, Jessica counsels clients on advertising claims, copyright questions, rules for sweepstakes and contests, and social media influencer agreements.

Matthew Meltzer

Matthew Meltzer

Matthew Meltzer is the cofounder of the law firm Meltzer Hellrung, and a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the Illinois State Bar Association. Matt works with small companies, including entrepreneurs, as well as multi-national corporations. Matt focuses on employment-based immigration and has filed over 1,100 related petitions in numerous visa categories​, as well as ​green card petitions in multiple employment categories. Matt graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, cum laude, with a BA in political science, and earned his JD from Boston College Law School.

Matt can advise on employee hiring and I-9 compliance, reorganizations and mergers, and government inspections.

Maura Mitchell

Maura Mitchell

Maura Mitchell, MBA ’89, is a versatile business and operations strategist with expertise empowering small businesses in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. With her joint MBA and JD degree, coupled with her experience, she has the academic grounding and practical insights needed to provide advice in the areas of business plan development, strategic planning, financial management, and legal compliance. She has keen analytical talents that complement her consultative and solutions-oriented approach to process improvement and performance measurement. Most importantly, Maura is a consummate relationship-builder and cares deeply about the success of her clients.

Maura is the director of entrepreneurial services at the Women’s Business Development Center. She holds a BA in mathematics/computer science from Saint Mary’s College, an MBA from Chicago Booth, and a JD from DePaul University College of Law.

Perry Gattegno

Perry Gattegno

Perry Gattegno, is an attorney focused on trademark prosecution as well as intellectual property and innovation strategy and counseling. He collaborates with clients on projects in branding, naming, and corporate identity as well as IP evaluation and clearance, filing of registration paperwork with the U.S.P.T.O. and U.S. Copyright Office, and associated transactional and advisory matters. As a former journalist, he retains a rather soft spot for a good story. He likes short sentences and hates legalese.

Perry serves as of counsel to Andresen & Associates, P.C., a Chicago-based law firm that focuses its offerings in the areas of sports law, entertainment and the arts, intellectual property, and internet legal matters. The firm further offers a wide array of legal and non-legal services and consultation to business and corporate clients ranging from small entrepreneurs to multi-million dollar corporations.

Ryan Truesdale

Ryan Truesdale

Ryan Truesdale, JD ’12, is an intellectual property attorney with a practice that focuses on patents, trademarks, and trade secrets, particularly patent and trademark prosecution. Ryan specializes in helping startups secure the protection they need for their innovations before they begin speaking with potential investors, suppliers, and customers. Before becoming a partner at Corridor Law Group, Ryan worked at a large IP boutique in Chicago.

Tom Firestine

Tom Firestine

Tom Firestine, MBA ’09, the cofounder of Calculated Risk Advisors (CRA), a boutique insurance brokerage. Tom has investment and advisory positions in a number of early and growth stage companies focused on technology staffing, consulting, risk management software and commercial insurance lead generation. At CRA, Tom works with tech and healthcare companies to structure risk management programs to match their firm’s life cycle. Firestine received his MBA from Chicago Booth.

Tom is a resource for questions on insurance, risk management, contract negotiation, capital raises, SEO, software development, and bringing innovation to industries that are too boring to catch most people’s attention.

Brad Sarna

Brad Sarna

Brad Sarna is a consultant with over a decade of experience providing financial, strategic, and litigation consulting services related to intellectual property (IP) to Fortune 500 companies, startups, private equity, venture capital, law firms, universities and various lending institutions in the U.S. and internationally. He has been involved in engagements for a variety of purposes including strategic decision-making, market analysis, transactions (M&A, divestitures, joint ventures), license negotiations, IP based lending/financing, and regulatory compliance, among others. His education in law and finance, along with his varied project experience, have given him an understanding of the legal, technical, and financial aspects surrounding both IP and businesses.

His project experience spans a broad array of industries including telecommunications, handheld mobile devices, mobile applications, OLED technology, automotive technologies, computer software and hardware, semiconductors, consumer products, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and diagnostics, renewable energy, wine and spirits, and sports and entertainment, among others. He has worked at both large and small consulting/advisory firms as well as with a startup.

Sales, Marketing, PR //

Alicia Lisowski

Alicia Lisowski

Alicia Lisowski has held leadership roles in some of Chicago’s premier advertising, media and digital agencies, partnering with companies such as P&G, General Motors, and Kraft. She recently founded 874 Ventures, a consulting practice focused on driving success for rapid-growth brands and businesses. Current client engagements include marketing, brand, digital, operations and venture capital strategies.

Alicia graduated from Dartmouth College, double majoring in Art History and Studio Art, and holds an executive development certificate from Chicago Booth. When not working, Alicia is an accomplished artist, doting mother to eight-year-old Jane, and proud third generation Chicagoan.

Greg Janes

Greg Janes

Greg Janes is an expert in growth marketing. Over the past 12+ years, he has helped three startups get to acquisition and has deep experience in SaaS marketing. Greg has experience with early and growth stage startup companies, as well as with larger companies post-acquisition, including a Fortune 15 corporation. He spends the majority of his time working in healthcare, but also works with SaaS companies in various industries. As a growth marketer, he can help you figure out different go-to-market strategies or how you can go about reaching your target audience. He can also help you segment your audience and create messaging to speak directly to them.

Greg got his BA in Marketing from Iowa State University and his MBA in international business & marketing from the Monterey Institute for International Studies. In his professional life, he has focused on defining and tracking the marketing and sales funnel, designing the entire customer experience journey, and developing marketing automation programs with HubSpot.

Jane Marie Andrew

Jane Marie Andrew

Jane Marie Andrew offers help with written pieces that explain your product and the advances that make it possible including R&D highlights, executive summaries, content marketing, blog posts, and the like. For a more productive session, please send draft documents and background info, to Steph Avalos-Bock in advance. Jane can work with you to consider your reader’s perspective, structure data to tell a story, structure text for faster comprehension by busy people, and apply sentence-level principles that make any text more reader-friendly. She has worked as a communicator for a range of research institutions, including Argonne National Laboratory, Brown University, and the University of Chicago. Her current clients include consulting engineering firm RWDI, Inc., and the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics.

Tim Searles

Tim Searles

Tim Searles is a front-end web developer and graphic designer interested in helping individuals and small businesses create a strong digital presence. He has been working in the ad agency space for nearly 20 years and has done work for companies in a number of industries. In 2018, he launched TSS Consulting Co. to help small businesses understand how they can represent their brand digitally. Tim can work with you to find solutions on issues related to website development, graphic design, social media, and how to extend your brand digitally.

Justin Ullman

Justin Ullman

Justin Ullman is the CEO of RhinoDox, ​which provides an enterprise-wide content management and workflow automation software​ called WorkLight. ​He began programming professionally in 1999 and now works at the intersection of business, technology, and operations. Ullman has an MBA from Loyola University in finance and marketing.

Justin can help with any of the above areas, as well as accountability, communication, and values-based leadership.

Anne Hoffer

Anne Hoffer

Anne Hoffer is a 20-year advertising veteran. Her experience started at Leo Burnett in Chicago and wove its way through various marketing and sales roles at companies such as Viacom, ESPN, Apple and Snapchat. She has led multi-million dollar partnerships, developed an entire brand from scratch (espnW)​,​ and built successful sales teams and culture.

Anne can help you with brand strategy and building meaningful relationships with clients and customers.

David Kelbaugh

David Kelbaugh

David Kelbaugh is the founder of Tacklebox, a Chicago-based branding consultancy that works with both startups and larger companies like P&G and Goose Island Beer Co. David has 20 years of branding experience at Leo Burnett, Ogilvy & Mather, and DraftFCB and has had a hand in developing brand strategies and famous advertising campaigns for Marlboro, BP, Sprint, and Allstate.

He can help you think about crafting an inspired brand and developing and testing a brand strategy.

Jeff Davis

Jeff Davis

Jeff Davis, MBA ’12, is the founder and principal at jd2 Consulting Group, has had the opportunity to work in several different roles within sales and marketing throughout his professional career of over 15 years. With rich experiences that range from large global organizations to early-stage startups, Jeff takes an unique approach to revenue growth that focuses on fusing both functions to create the best platform to engage new customers. He coaches companies on how to help Sales and Marketing speak each other’s language, better appreciate their highly interdependent relationship​,​ and more effectively close deals by leveraging each other’s strengths.

Jeff has coached startups on their marketing and go-to-market strategy at Chicago’s entrepreneurial tech hub,​ 1871​,​ and The Polsky Center. He also mentors and speaks at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Jeff regularly publishes articles on sales and marketing alignment strategy on his blog​,​ The Alignment Blog​,​ and can also be heard speaking on podcasts such as The Salesman Podcast, The Quotable Podcast by Salesforce and his own​,​ TheAlignmentPodcast.com. Jeff holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University and an MBA from Chicago Booth.

Kenyata Martin

Kenyata Martin

Kenyata Martin, MBA ’09, is a​ consumer package goods marketing​ executive​ with over 17 years experience working with ​household brand names at the largest global organizations like Proctor & Gamble, Shell Oil, and Nestlé. Martin has seen many businesses at all phases of development and has built deep experience in marketing for budgets and expertise of all sizes. If you need a marketing jolt, don’t have any idea what marketing is, or you just want to meet the Chicago Booth alum, ​he can help.

Kenyata can help with customer discovery, branding, competitor analysis, marketing, and metrics for goal-setting.

Matthew Neff

Matthew Neff

Matthew Neff, MBA ’16, is the finance lead at NowPow, a healthcare technology startup that empowers care professionals to make highly matched social referrals, communicate with people, and track referral outcomes. He oversees establishing metrics, monitoring progress, financial budgeting and planning, cash management, external fundraising, and board and advisor preparation. In this role Matthew is the glue binding a quickly growing company together.

Before NowPow, Matthew spent nearly a decade at Accenture Consulting focused on sales optimization projects primarily in the travel industry. Specific project experience includes developing multi-channel sales strategies, improving customer retention, monetizing loyalty programs, divesting non-core divisions and consolidation during acquisitions. Matthew has an MBA with Honors from Chicago Booth and a BSE from the University of Michigan.

Mary Naset

Mary Naset

Mary Naset, is the assistant director for external relations and communications at the Polsky Ceneter. In this role she serves as the primary point of contact for all press inquiries and external opportunities for the Polsky Center. She is responsible for overseeing all media relations, engaging key stakeholders and managing the Center’s presence across social media channels, and managing the Polsky Center’s high profile events.

Stacey Caldwell

Stacey Caldwell

Stacey Caldwell is a small business consultant with the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. Through individual advising, programs and community outreach, Stacey works to elevate and bring awareness to the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). With over 15 years of experience as a management and business consultant, Stacey brings a rich background in marketing, communications, graphic design, and social media development along with a wealth of insight and expertise as a small business owner herself. Stacey earned both her BBA and MBA from Benedictine University.

She can help with general startup assistance, marketing/social media strategy, and pitching. She is a certified GrowthWheel business advisor for business growth and development. Appointments by request only. >>

Stanley Damanskis

Stanley Damanskis

Stanley Damanskis, is a business relationship manager who works with companies that have $3MM to $20MM in annual sales. Stan is also part of specialty Chase Business Banking team providing financial services to tech related companies. Stan’s role is to provide financial advice to clients with a focus on client experience and risk management. Stan serves as a trusted adviser in delivering comprehensive and customized business banking products and solutions tailored to the financial needs and circumstances of his clients. Stan utilizes an extensive network of financial professionals to provide world class products and services, including treasury, foreign exchange and credit products. As the primary point of contact, Stan ensures his clients have access to the JPMC resources that will help their companies be successful. Stan has over 30 years of experience in the financial services industry. Throughout his career, he has been recognized for developing long lasting relationships and exceeding customers expectations.

Terri Albert, PhD

Terri Albert, PhD

Terri Albert, PhD, is the founder and CEO of Fresh Set of Eyes, LLC. Her experience includes leading experiential learning with recognized business schools (Chicago Booth, Kellogg, NYU Stern). Leveraging her blended background from corporate, consulting, and academics, she works with organizations and teams to identify innovation opportunities for sustainable growth. She mentored a group of corporate executive teams in their internal, Shark Tank-style, competition. Terri co-created and validated a project-based model for experiential learning that General Electric adopted for its incubator that launched over 80 percent of the project recommendations across 10 years. She is an entrepreneur including a social enterprise for business faculty in developing countries.

Her mentoring area of focus is demand-driven marketing. She applies proven, robust research methods into a model for capturing and classifying customer/consumer, competition, and subject matter expert knowledge to quantify decision-making. She applies this model to many areas; one example is her work on Spare Change (a technology-based interaction with consumers).

Healthcare, Licensing, and Tech Transfer //

Matt Neff

Matt Neff

Matthew Neff is the finance lead at NowPow, a healthcare technology startup that empowers care professionals to make highly matched social referrals, communicate with people, and track referral outcomes. He oversees establishing metrics, monitoring progress, financial budgeting and planning, cash management, external fundraising, and board and advisor preparation. In this role, Matthew is the glue binding a quickly growing company together.

Before NowPow, Matthew spent nearly a decade at Accenture Consulting focused on sales optimization projects primarily in the travel industry. Specific project experience includes developing multi-channel sales strategies, improving customer retention, monetizing loyalty programs, divesting non-core divisions and consolidation during acquisitions. Matthew has an MBA with Honors from Chicago Booth and a BSE from the University of Michigan.

Cliff Turner

Cliff Turner

Cliff Turner is the founder and general manager of DNArP Consulting, LLC., which focuses on assisting healthcare and life science startups in sales, business development, and market analysis. He has more than 30 years of experience in sales and business development management within the healthcare and life science market, holding positions of increasing responsibility at J&J-Ortho Diagnostic Systems, Coulter Cytometry, Genzyme, Life Technologies-Invitrogen, Affymetrix, Nanosphere, and NextGen Sciences.

Cliff is an active angel investor, having invested in a number of local startups, served as the executive manager of Heartland Angels, and served on the board of directors of several Midwest-based companies.​ He is also the co-lead for ​the Investment Preparation Assistance Program at the PROPEL-iBIO Institute and a mentor at Chicago Innovation Mentors.

Cliff can help you with sales and marketing, business development, and fundraising in the healthcare and life science industry.

Dima Elissa

Dima Elissa

Dima Elissa is a serial tech entrepreneur with a current focus on additive manufacturing in medicine and biomedical 3D printing. Her experiences traverse numerous technology startups, and nearly a decade working at NutraSweet in new ventures, acquisitions, and international marketing.

Dima can offer you entrepreneurial thinking to vet new business ideas and achieve optimal go-to-market strategies, domestically and globally for product and service businesses.

Kim Arvanites

Kim Arvanites

Kim Arvanites, is a knowledgeable business leader with over 20 years of sales, market development, business development, and product management experience in the life-sciences and molecular diagnostics areas. She is a former leader for multiple Fortune 500 companies including Abbott, Beckman Coulter, QIAGEN, and Sysmex.

She can help you with sales and market development for life science startups.

Cole Johnson

Cole Johnson

Cole Johnson works directly with researchers to evaluate, protect, market, and license technologies arising from research at the University of Chicago. He manages a diverse portfolio of technologies ranging from healthcare imaging to material science to therapeutics. He co-manages the TechStart internship program, which provides students and other trainees experience in positioning technologies for commercialization. Cole is also a mentor to University startups through the Polsky Summer Accelerator and I-Corps Programs.

Cole holds a BS in biomedical engineering from Tulane University, a MS in biomedical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis, and a MS in bioinformatics and PhD in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is currently pursuing his MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Cristi Frazier

Cristi Frazier

Cristi Frazier, PhD ’11, is a senior project manager in the technology commercialization and licensing department of the Polsky Center. Cristi is responsible for evaluating, marketing, and licensing technologies arising from research at the University of Chicago. She develops and licenses University-owned intellectual property in a range of fields, including neuroscience, oncology, and protein engineering, and has experience in academic publishing. Cristi also co-led the creation of the UCGo! Startup License program and helps produce the Polsky Center’s Tech Transfer Newsletter.

David Paul

David Paul

David Paul was the president and cofounder of Precision Biomarker Resources, a contract services lab specializing in genomics and molecular biology. Prior to that, he worked for a startup stem cell company, joining them in the first year of operations. David currently works as a mentor with both the Polsky Center and Chicago Innovation Mentors. David Paul has a BS in microbiology and a PhD in immunology.

David can provide you with insights into new venture formation, general management, business development, and operational issues particularly regarding life sciences and biotech related ventures. Appointments by request only. >>

Eric Ginsburg

Eric Ginsburg

Eric Ginsburg provides guidance to the tech commercialization and licensing team of the Polsky Center and manages the recruitment and retention of talent. He also directly works with researchers at the University to identify, evaluate, protect, and commercialize their inventions. Eric manages a large portfolio of technologies from diverse scientific disciplines including various aspects of chemistry, molecular engineering, and medical imaging.

Before joining the office, Eric worked in research and development at Eastman Kodak and Abbott Laboratories. Prior to working in industry, Eric was a postdoctoral researcher at the IBM Almaden Research Center.

Eric holds a BS degree from MIT and a PhD from Caltech, both in Chemistry. His graduate work focused on the synthesis and characterization of soluble electrically conducting polymers. Eric is a registered patent agent and a certified licensing professional.

Joel Harris

Joel Harris

Joel Harris is the director of Product GlobalVetLINK, the nation’s leader in providing easy-to-use, web-based animal health solutions.

Previously, Joel co-founded Harrisvaccines, which was recently acquired by Merck Animal Health. Harrisvaccines revolutionized the worlds’ animal vaccine industry by providing herd-specific vaccines more quickly, safely and flexibly, improving disease management and animal health. Joel holds degrees from the University of Iowa and Northwestern University.

Joel is available to advise and mentor researchers and entrepreneurs in the healthcare of agriculture technology space. He can help with all areas of growth including fundraising, strategic marketing, and business development. Appointments by request only. >>

Kalpana Punukollu

Kalpana Punukollu

Kalpana Punukollu, MBA ’14, is leading global IT strategy for patient support programs at AbbVie pharmaceuticals. Before AbbVie, she was cofounder of Qubit, which allows enterprises and individuals to optimize their risk based on health score by modeling various social, behavioral, clinical, and financial data from multiple sources. Kalpana was previously the director of global corporate strategy at Alcatel-Lucent and was responsible for efforts including cloud strategy, product management, program management, stakeholder relations, and metrics.

Kalpana started her career at AC Nielson as a consultant and subsequently joined AT&T as an engineer. She has held managerial roles at Lucent Technologies and Alcatel-Lucent in services business development capacity. Kalpana earned her MS in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Chicago and an MBA from Chicago Booth.

Kalpana can help you with startup strategy, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and computer science. Appointments by request only. >>

Mark Peysakhovich

Mark Peysakhovich

Mark Peysakhovich, is the chief operating officer at Open Taxis, Chicago’s centralized dispatch for all city-licensed wheelchair accessible taxis. In this position, he ensures dependable and convenient taxi service for people with disabilities. He is also passionate about solving long-standing, non-emergency medical transportation problems throughout the U.S. healthcare system.

Previously, Mark served as the senior director of government relations for the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association. Throughout his career, he has worked to engage healthcare, business, and civic stakeholders in improving America’s healthcare system through advocacy and policy change at the local, state, and federal level. Mark has over 20 years of experience as an advocate for social services, health equity, prevention, and populations health strategies, with a track record of successfully improving health systems of care and ensuring the best possible outcomes for every patient. He works to accelerate public adoption of innovative new technologies, products, and ideas to improve healthcare for everyone, and serves as an advisor and connector for many health tech startups. Mark lives with his wife and daughter in Oak Park, IL.

Matt Martin

Matt Martin

Matt Martin, PhD, is the microbiome lead for the technology commercialization team at the Polsky Center. In this role, he works with researchers and leads commercial development of discoveries from microbiome research at the University of Chicago and the Marine Biological Laboratory. Matt provides access to the broad set of Polsky Center resources including intellectual property development, venture creation and support, team building, and fundraising. He also identifies and develops partnerships with existing companies to take the next step in commercializing the breakthrough microbiome research at UChicago.

Sean Sheridan

Sean Sheridan

Sean Sheridan, PhD ’08, MBA ’13, is a consultant with over a decade of experience working with various aspects of the intellectual property (IP) value chain. He has provided financial consulting services for a variety of purposes including transaction due diligence, license negotiations, strategic decision-making, and intellectual property related litigation. He has also negotiated numerous licenses and other agreements with companies ranging from Fortune 500 firms to startups.

Sean has engaged with a wide range of industries, including telecommunications, handheld mobile devices, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, biotechnology, automotive technologies, computer software and hardware, paints and coatings, insurance and financial products, and electronic health records. Prior to his role as a consultant, he was an associate director at the technology transfer office at the University of Chicago.

Sean can help you with the development, valuation, commercialization, and strategic management of IP. Appointments by request only. >>

Steve Kuemmerle

Steve Kuemmerle

Steve Kuemmerle, PhD, most recently served as the lead of industry relations for the Polsky Center, where he was responsible for developing and maintaining collaborative relationships with industry partners in the research sector.

Steve Kuemmerle joined UChicagoTech as Deputy Director in January 2013 and became director of the Polsky Center’s technology commercialization and licensing team in July 2016.

Prior to his work at the University, Steve was head of venture investments at Abbott Biotech Ventures, Inc. He was responsible for leading the evaluation and execution of equity investments in emerging pharma and biotech companies of strategic interest to Abbott. From November 2002 until joining ABVI, Steve served as director in Abbott’s Global Pharma Licensing Group.

Steve received his BS in biochemistry from Michigan State University in 1976 and went on to become an analytical chemist for The Upjohn Company from 1977-1981. He received his PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology from Northwestern University in 1988.

Steve Rashbaum

Steve Rashbaum

Steve Rashbaum has worked in sales and sales management for life science companies ranging in size from $100M to over $2B. His formal training is in biochemistry and molecular biology with degrees in biophysics from the University of Chicago and marketing and organizational behavior from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management. He has led cross functional teams consisting of sales, marketing, and R&D in new market development, product development, market evaluation, and product attributes as they relate to customer needs.

Steve enjoys helping new enterprises think about their enterprise from the customer’s perspective and helping them define their market. Appointments by request only. >>

Thelma Tennant

Thelma Tennant

Thelma Tennant, PhD ’03, leads commercial development of oncology-related discoveries arising from research at the University of Chicago. She works with faculty to develop and protect their inventions, and facilitates stakeholder access to the broad set of Polsky Center resources, including intellectual property development, venture creation and support, team building, and fundraising. Thelma also works with commercial partners to license and develop University oncology technologies, and identifies and develops partnerships with existing companies to help researchers accelerate breakthrough oncology research here at UChicago. Her efforts led to the creation and implementation the UChicago-Abbvie relationship, which has fostered significant research collaborations.

Thelma holds a PhD in cancer biology from the University of Chicago, and a BA in biology and english from the University of Virginia. A native of Alexandria, Virginia, Thelma enjoys off-shore sailboat racing in her spare time.

Usha Raj

Usha Raj

Usha Raj, MD is currently the Anjuli S. Nayak Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Previously, she was the head of pediatrics at UIC and the physician-in-chief of the Children’s Hospital at the University of Illinois and chief of neonatology at Harbor-UCLA. Dr. Raj​ ​is internationally known as a clinician-scientist for her research on understanding the regulation of the pulmonary circulations and the mechanisms involved in the pathobiology of pulmonary hypertension​. She takes a major interest in education and mentoring, particularly of students and faculty from under-represented minorities​ and is ​coinvestigator on multiple grants designed to improve care for the underserved pediatric population in Chicago.​

She can help develop innovative methods for healthcare delivery and improving patient outcomes.​ Appointments by request only. >>

Prototyping and Design //

Tim Searles

Tim Searles

Tim Searles is a front-end web developer and graphic designer interested in helping individuals and small businesses create a strong digital presence. He has been working in the ad agency space for nearly 20 years and has done work for companies in a number of industries. In 2018, he launched TSS Consulting Co. to help small businesses understand how they can represent their brand digitally. Tim can work with you to find solutions on issues related to website development, graphic design, social media, and how to extend your brand digitally.

Elizabeth Koprucki

Elizabeth Koprucki

Elizabeth Koprucki manages the Polsky Center’s Fab Lab where she works with entrepreneurs and researchers to create prototypes. She oversees the Fab Lab’s programming and connects Polsky Exchange members with the hardware and software resources and expertise they need.

Steph Avalos-Bock

Steph Avalos-Bock

Steph Avalos-Bock, AB ’12, is a UChicago alumna and hardware entrepreneur. At the Polsky Center, she is responsible for the educational workshops and events and the mentorship program at the Polsky Exchange. She also runs the Polsky Incubator, a program for ambitious startups working full-time out of the Polsky Exchange. Steph offers weekly office hours to advise entrepreneurs on all aspects of starting a startup, from ideas to testing and building products.

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