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SeedCon

SeedCon

Keynote Speakers

Scott Case

Co-Founder and CEO, Upside.com

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Co-Founder and CEO, Upside.com

Scott Case is a technologist, inventor, and entrepreneur well-known as the founding CTO of Priceline.com. As cofounder and CEO of Upside.com, Scott is reinventing business travel for millions of people each year through new software and systems that take an incredibly complex supply chain and simplify it into a smooth, efficient, and rewarding experience.

Ravin Gandhi

Founder and CEO, GMM Nonstick Coatings

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Founder and CEO, GMM Nonstick Coatings

Ravin Gandhi is founder and CEO of GMM Nonstick Coatings, one of the world’s largest suppliers of nonstick coatings to the $10B housewares industry. Its products are found on iconic brands such as Calphalon, KitchenAid, Farberware, George Foreman, Black and Decker, Wilton, Sunbeam, and Pyrex. In 2017, GMM was acquired by SDK, a $9B Japanese conglomerate, in what was the largest buyout in the history of the nonstick coatings industry.

Gandhi is also a venture capital investor. He was the first investor in KeyMe, a manufacturer of robotic kiosks that is revolutionizing the $8B locksmith industry, and was an early investor in Hester Biosciences, an animal health company that has subsequently gone public. Deals that Gandhi has led directly or invested in have raised over $350M in funding. 

Gandhi frequently appears on CNBC, CNN, MSNBC, Fox, and Bloomberg to discuss business and politics, and he is a contributing writer for Fortune Magazine.

He earned bachelor’s degrees in accounting and finance from the College of Business at the University of Illinois, an MBA from Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, and is a certified public accountant. Gandhi serves on the board of Hester Biosciences, City Year Chicago, and is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization.

AI Panelists

Brian Clark, MBA ’17

Founder and CEO, Ascent RegTech

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Founder and CEO, Ascent RegTech

Brian Clark cofounded Ascent RegTech, software that uses artificial intelligence to help customers digitalize and automate their regulatory risk and compliance programs. Clark has a wide breadth of regulatory compliance experience including derivatives exchanges, market investigations, clearinghouse compliance, and registered brokerage businesses. He is a former chief compliance officer and general counsel, and is passionate about entrepreneurship. He earned an undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Illinois, a JD from DePaul University, and an MBA from Chicago Booth.

 

Rob Mitchum, PhD ’07

Director of Communications for the Department of Computer Science and Associate Director of Communications for Data Science and Computing, The University of Chicago

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Director of Communications for the Department of Computer Science and Associate Director of Communications for Data Science and Computing, The University of Chicago

Rob Mitchum serves as the director of communications for the Department of Computer Science and associate director of communications for data science and computing at the University of Chicago, covering research and faculty for the Department of Computer Science, the Center for Data and Computing, and other computational initiatives.

Rumi Morales

Partner and Head of Venture, Outlier Ventures

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Partner and Head of Venture, Outlier Ventures

Rumi Morales is a pioneer in identifying, investing in, and cultivating emerging technologies that will define our economy’s next generation. Morales is both an early specialist in digital currency, blockchain, and distributed ledger technologies, as well as an early leading investor in artificial intelligence, deep learning, predictive analytics, and quantum computing. She is currently a partner at Outlier Ventures and previously led the venture arm of the CME Group. A proven entrepreneur herself, Morales is the founding partner of Chicago Surge, an innovative program that helps startups scale in the Midwest region. She also established the Global Markets Institute during her tenure at Goldman Sachs and launched a leading economic research firm in Singapore. She began her career in venture capital in London, Kuala Lumpur, and New York and has invested across three continents and lived in seven countries. An accomplished and dynamic public speaker, Morales has presented at major conferences globally and has been featured on Bloomberg Television and Institutional Investor magazine. Institutional Investor named her one of the “most powerful dealmakers in financial technology” two years in a row, and Crain’s recognized her in their esteemed “40 Under 40” list. Morales received an undergraduate degree from Wellesley College, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and an MBA from the New York University Stern School of Business.

Maryam Saleh, PhD ’11

Vice President and General Manager of Sales and Partnerships, Machinify

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Vice President and General Manager of Sales and Partnerships, Machinify

Maryam Saleh is passionate about moving ideas into the market, where it can have
impact and improve lives. She is currently vice president and general manager of sales
and partnerships at Machinify, a venture-backed startup that's applying AI to bend the
cost curve in healthcare. Saleh was founding member of Cyberkinetics
Neurotechnology Systems, a medical device company that used brain implants and
machine learning to restore movement in quadriplegic individuals. Saleh was also VP at
MATTER, a business development hub for over 200 cutting-edge startups from around
the world, working together with hospitals and health systems, universities and industry-
leading companies to build the future of healthcare. In 2016, Saleh was recognized as a
Crain’s 40 under 40.

Saleh earned a BS in computer engineering from Brown University and a PhD in
computational neuroscience from the University of Chicago.

Ben Zhao

Neubauer Professor of Computer Science, The University of Chicago

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Neubauer Professor of Computer Science, The University of Chicago

Ben Zhao is the Neubauer Professor of Computer Science at the University of Chicago. He is an ACM distinguished scientist, and recipient of the NSF CAREER award, MIT Technology Review’s TR-35 award (Young Innovators Under 35), ComputerWorld Magazine’s Top 40 Tech Innovators award, Google Faculty award, and IEEE ITC Early Career award. His work has been covered by media outlets such as Scientific American, New York Times, Boston Globe, LA Times, MIT Tech Review, and Slashdot. He has published more than 160 publications in areas of security and privacy, machine learning, networked systems, data-mining and HCI (H-index 64). He recently served as TPC co-chair for the World Wide Web Conference (WWW 2016) and ACM Internet Measurement Conference (IMC 2018). Zhao received a BS from Yale and a PhD from Berkeley.

Cannabis Panelists

Leah Bailey

CEO, Fluresh

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CEO, Fluresh

As CEO of Fluresh, Leah Bailey brings experienced operational leadership, and decades of marketing and general management experience in consumer products. Most recently, Bailey was the president of global beauty for Helen of Troy Limited. Previously, Bailey served as the president and CEO of Paris Presents, Inc., a privately-held marketer of beauty products. Bailey has also held leadership roles at Alberto Culver, GTE Telephone Operations, Jovan, and Quaker Oats, as well as the venture capital-backed startup, Tellaire. She serves on the board of Frontier Co-Op and Scott’s Liquid Gold. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and an MBA from Harvard University.

Helene Servillon

Founding Partner, Greater Holding Company; Partner, JourneyOne

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Founding Partner, Greater Holding Company; Partner, JourneyOne

Helene Servillon has been an investor, advisor, and cannabis advocate since 2017. She’s a partner at JourneyOne, an early stage focused cannabis venture fund based in California and a partner at Greater Holding Company, a strategic advisory firm that builds and scales cannabis and hemp consumer brands in the US and Canada through state expansion and licensing. Her team has worked for notable consumer brands in and outside the cannabis industry such as Old Pal, Grupo Flor, Casper, Snapchat, PUMA, and Reebok.

Outside of cannabis, Servillon is on the advisory board for the Women’s Interdisciplinary Society of Entrepreneurship, and a member of All Raise, Women in Venture Capital, and Declare. She splits her time between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

 

Steve Weisman, JD ’12

CEO, Windy City Cannabis; Chief Strategy Officer, Grassroots Cannabis

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CEO, Windy City Cannabis; Chief Strategy Officer, Grassroots Cannabis

Steven Weisman currently serves as CEO of Windy City Cannabis and chief strategy officer of Grassroots Cannabis, with affiliated enterprises including 60 dispensaries and 7 cultivation and processing facilities across 12 states. Weisman is the cofounder and vice president of the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois, which advocates for positive changes in cannabis policy in Illinois. 

Weisman   has extensive   experience in corporate   governance and management   of entrepreneurial businesses. In his work as an attorney at Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago, he counseled private equity sponsors and their portfolio companies regarding mergers and acquisitions. He also formed, structured, and managed private equity funds.

Weisman previously worked as a capital markets equity research analyst at Lehman Brothers and Barclays Capital, where he developed and supported their proprietary analytical tools.

During law school, Weisman served as the research assistant to Professor William Landes and the Honorable Richard Posner, who is widely regarded as one of the most influential jurists in the United States. 

Weisman received a BS in electrical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a JD from the University of Chicago Law School.

James Yi

Founder and CEO, Leaf Trade

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Founder and CEO, Leaf Trade

James Yi’s background is in building successful technology companies like his prior startup, NextMEapp.com. After being approached by several cannabis businesses, Yi engaged in extensive tech consulting for the industry and gained deep insights into the highly regulated nature of this space. Combining his experience in tech and the cannabis industry, Yi launched Leaf Trade, the leading B2B online ordering platform in the highly-regulated cannabis market that helps licensed sellers of wholesale cannabis create an online storefront.

Impact Investing Panelists

Will Colegrove

Senior Associate Director, Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation

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Senior Associate Director, Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation

Will Colegrove is senior associate director of the Edwardson Social Entrepreneurship Program at Chicago Booth’s Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation. He is responsible for leading the Edwardson Social Entrepreneurship Program, including cultivating the pipeline for the John Edwardson, ’72, Social New Venture Challenge (SNVC) from across the university. He also leads programming on funding social impact, including impact investing experiential learning opportunities like the Steven Tarrson Impact Investment Fund, MIINT, Invest for Impact, and the Total Impact Portfolio Challenge. Prior to joining Booth, Colegrove was principal at Ekistic Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm focused on companies making cities more efficient and equitable. Before that, he spent several years working in New York City government, including as budget director and senior technology advisor to the Manhattan borough president, and director of legislation and budget for a city council member.

David Ellis

Cofounder and Managing Director, Flow Equity

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Cofounder and Managing Director, Flow Equity

Dave Ellis is a cofounder and managing director of Flow Equity and serves as an executive director for its portfolio businesses. Flow Equity is a US-based venture development business focused on developing the traditional, rural poultry sector in Eastern Africa. Its flagship enterprise, EthioChicken, is the market leader in Ethiopia, employing over 1,300 people and reaching over three million smallholder households annually with high yielding chicks and feed. Flow Equity is also replicating its model in Rwanda and Uganda through its business, Uzima Chicken, which has over 200 employees. Ellis started his career with Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core and as a director of Assetmap. He graduated magna cum laude and phi beta kappa from Northwestern University with a BA in political science.

Malini Ram Moraghan, MBA ’06

Founder and Managing Director, Torana Group

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Founder and Managing Director, Torana Group

Malini Ram Moraghan is founder and managing director of Torana Group, an
investment firm that offers business owners alternative capital for responsible
growth and equitable exits. Moraghan has spent years balancing margin and
mission, working at the intersection of food and agriculture, and impact
investments. Prior to Torana, she ran a multi-million dollar portfolio of activity
through Drawing Board and DAISA Enterprises, advising single family offices,
national foundations, regional food system investors and USDA career leaders.
She has worked with a variety of businesses, across a range of investor types
and has focused on integrating financial viability and measurable social impact.

Before she owned farm-grade rubber boots, Moraghan spent a decade in the
private sector. She was an engagement manager with McKinsey & Co., served
her community as an AmeriCorps VISTA, and cut her teeth as an investment
banker at JPMorgan in New York. Moraghan has been nationally recognized as
an expert, speaking at the White House Rural Council ROI Summits, USDA’s
AgOutlook, SSAWG, SAFSF, OFN, and SARL conferences. Moraghan serves on
the Joint Federal Reserve-USDA Publication Advisory Committee. She is
currently on the board of The Common Market, was a founding board member of
Red Hills Small Farm Alliance and a past Board Member of a Feeding America
food bank.

Moraghan earned a BS in chemical engineering from Cooper Union, an MBA from
Chicago Booth, and has passed Level I of the CFA Exam.

Jeff Stine, MBA ’13

Managing Director, VestedWorld

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Managing Director, VestedWorld

Jeff Stine is co-creator and co-managing partner of an investment fund focused on exceptional early-
stage, mission-driven companies in East and West Africa. He serves on a number of startup boards, and is managing director at VestedWorld, a fund-management company. Previously, Stine worked in
investment banking at Lazard, and served in the United States Army as an infantry officer. Stine graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Virginia Tech, and is a graduate of the U.S. Army’s infantry, ranger, and airborne schools, with decorations including the Bronze Star and Combat Infantryman’s Badge. Stine earned an MBA with concentrations in analytic finance, economics, entrepreneurship, and accounting from Chicago Booth, and a presidential leadership scholar.

Jessica Droste Yagan

CEO, Impact Engine

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CEO, Impact Engine

Jessica Droste Yagan is the CEO of Impact Engine, an impact investing firm that manages venture capital and private equity funds. Yagan also serves as managing partner of Impact Engine Ventures. Prior to Impact Engine, she led the creation of McDonald’s Corporation’s global and US sustainable sourcing strategies and worked in the field of urban economic development at the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City. Yagan is currently on the boards of Metropolitan Planning Council, OneGoal Chicago, The Honeycomb Project, the Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation at Chicago Booth, and Fixer. Crain’s Chicago Business named her to its list of 40-Under-40 in 2013 and she served as a 2014 Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow. She is also extensively engaged personally in impact investing and evangelizing on behalf of the impact investing field. Yagan earned a BA from Haverford College, an MBA from Stanford University, and an MPA from Harvard University.

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