What is Launch NY?
Launch New York, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) venture development organization that operates in the 27 westernmost counties of Upstate New York.
Launch NY by the Numbers
Our mission is to identify, support, and invest in high-growth, high-impact companies to create jobs and wealth and catalyze the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Upstate New York. Built on nationally-recognized best practices, we achieve our mission by providing our startup client companies with pro bono mentoring services and access to seed capital.
Who We Serve
Launch NY provides mentorship and proof-of-concept funding to high-growth potential businesses in the following counties of Upstate New York:
Allegany • Broome • Cattaraugus • Cayuga • Chautauqua • Chemung • Chenango • Cortland • Delaware • Erie • Genesee • Livingston • Madison • Monroe • Niagara • Onondaga • Ontario • Orleans • Oswego • Seneca • Schuyler • Steuben • Tioga • Tompkins • Wayne • Wyoming • Yates
Meeting Founders Where They Are
Launch NY is headquartered in Buffalo, NY, with co-location of our Entrepreneurs-in-Residence at partner sites in Binghamton, Ithaca, Rochester, and Syracuse and meeting startup companies one-on-one throughout communities in between.
Pro Bono Mentorship
Launch NY provides individualized coaching through more than two dozen Entrepreneurs-in-Residence at no cost to its client companies using the internationally-recognized Business Model Canvas approach with a goal of helping startups become investment-ready. Our local Entrepreneurs-In-Residence are augmented by a National Mentor Network of more than 2000 business and technical experts who support companies across all industry sectors.
Most Active Seed Fund
Launch NY operates the most active seed fund in New York State and one of the most active seed funds in the entire country. The Launch NY Seed Fund provides $25,000 to $100,000 to support proof-of-concept activities that help startups become ready for investment capital from Launch NY and others. Launch NY’s nonprofit seed fund is now joined by additional sources of financing from its expanded Invest Local financing programs, including its for profit Limited Partner Fund and Investor Network.
Launch NY Industries
Launch NY is proud to support startups from all high-growth potential industries that contribute to growing the region’s new economy. Don’t see your industry on this list? No worries. Contact us and we’ll help you break the mold in your industry.
- Advanced Manufacturing
- Consumer Goods & Services
- Food and Beverage
- IT & Web Technology
- Life Sciences & Pharmaceuticals
- Medical Devices
- Mobile Technology
Meet Our Team
Board of Directors
George Chamoun became CEO of ACV Auctions, a live mobile auction platform for new and used car dealers, in September 2016. Prior to joining ACV Auctions, Mr. Chamoun co-founded Synacor in 1998, helping transform the company from a privately-held start-up to a publicly-traded technology, services and revenue partner of leading cable, satellite, telecom, and consumer electronics companies, in his role as Synacor’s President, Sales & Marketing. As a Syracuse, NY native and University at Buffalo alumnus, Mr. Chamoun became an Upstate entrepreneurial hero due to his early success as founder and CEO right out of college for what has become a top e-communication infrastructure provider in the world.
Mr. Chamoun has been recognized for his accomplishments throughout the cable and telecommunications industry, most notably in 2009 when Multichannel News named him one of the publication's "40-under-40" most influential innovators in the industry, as well as when he was recognized for his entrepreneurial spirit and leadership by Ernst & Young as "Entrepreneur of the Year.” Mr. Chamoun has presented on entrepreneurship, business and technology at conferences, expos and seminars across the country, and participates on advisory boards for tech incubator Z80 Labs and the 43North International Business Plan Competition.
Mel Passarelli, Esq
Mel Passarelli is a partner with Arete Advisory Services after most recently serving as President & CEO of USU Solutions, Inc. (formerly Aspera) for three years. For the previous twelve years he was EVP and GM leading the successful turnaround and growth of Attunity from an early-stage software asset management company to a NASDAQ listed corporation that is being acquired for $560 million by Qlik, a leader in data analytics. Mr. Passarelli’s illustrious career spans over thirty years of leading corporate strategy and growth in several private and public software companies. He spent over thirteen years helping to build Intergraph Corporation into a Fortune 500 company. As a Buffalo expat, Mr. Passarelli's entrepreneurial spirit has led him to give back to budding entrepreneurs through efforts such as judging the annual Henry A. Panasci Technology Entrepreneurship Competition at University at Buffalo, his alma mater. While a resident in the New England area, Mr. Passarelli is a frequent visitor to Western New York for family, professional, and volunteer activities. He serves as a board member for several for profit and non-profit organizations, including the American Heart Association, providing advice and counsel for successful growth. Mr. Passarelli holds a BA and MBA from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and Juris Doctorate from Suffolk University in Boston.
Quincy Allen has over 35 years of leadership experience in the technology services industry, most recently serving as IBM’s Go-To-Market Leader of Cognitive Process Services and Chief Marketing Officer for IBM Cloud from 2015 to 2018. Prior to joining IBM, Allen served as Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer at Unisys Corporation, a global information technology company, and Chief Executive Officer at Vertis Communications, a direct marketing and advertising company. Prior to Vertis, Allen held several leadership positions with Xerox Corporation, including serving as President of the Global Business and Strategic Marketing Group and President of Production Systems Group, as well as Vice President of Xerox Corporation. Currently serves on the board of Office Depot and is and is an advisor for the Ain Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Rochester. Previously served on the boards of Gateway Computers and NCR Corp.
Melodie is the National Policy Director for Just Equations based in Berkeley CA, a Public Health Fellow for the Rockefeller Institute of Government, a Public Research Fellow for the Partnership for Public Good and owns Q&A STATS LLC a research and evaluation company in Clarence NY. She is a nationally recognized education leader and advocate. As a community leader, charter school founder, and program director, she has devoted her career to advancing health and education policies for underserved communities.
Baker has chaired various national, state and local coalitions, including Raising New York, facilitated by The Education Trust-NY, The National Coalition for Community Schools, and the Erie/Niagara Birth to 8 Coalition. She directs the research and evaluation effort for the Rockefeller Institute of Government’s First 1000 Days on Medicaid Initiative, headed by the New York State Department of Health, and was recently tapped to serve on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Reimagining Education Advisory Council to devise strategies for re-opening schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Melodie earned a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from Buffalo State College, a Master’s degree in Executive Leadership and Change from Daemen College, an Advanced Graduate Certificate in Applied Statistical Analysis from SUNY-Buffalo and is currently working on her PhD in Educational Psychology and Quantitative Methods at SUNY Buffalo.
As Chief Network Officer, Maggie Dorn manages and grows The Motley Fool’s unique network of influencers, thought leaders, and businesses. Within their network, she uncovers collaborative opportunities that adds diversity of thought and drives commercial value. She plays an essential role in building brand awareness around The Motley Fool’s leadership, business expertise, and award-winning culture. She is also a Venture Partner in Motley Fool Ventures, an early stage, technology-focused venture capital fund, powered by The Motley Fool’s brand, investing approach, and communities. An advocate of workplace equality, she co-authored “The State of Motley,” The Motley Fool’s first internal diversity and inclusion report, which subsequently led to changes in hiring and cultural practices. Ms. Dorn serves as Committee Chair for The Vinetta Project, a leading global ecosystem that supports high-growth female entrepreneurs as they take their tech businesses to scale. Additionally, she sits on the board of the Boys & Girls Club of Buffalo.
Prior to joining The Fool, Ms. Dorn worked at The Washington Post in their business innovations department. She graduated with honors from Ithaca College (B.S.) and John Hopkins University (M.A.). A native Buffalonian, you’ll find her these days fishing in streams, rivers, and lakes throughout the northeast with her husband Matt.
Tom Lynch is a senior executive with leadership experience in diverse industries ranging from biotechnology to consumer products.
Tom served as President & CEO of Goodwill of WNY for the past 9 years and oversaw the development of new programs focused on assisting clients with disadvantages train for, find, and keep good jobs. Tom held executive leadership roles with Bureau Veritas Consumer Products Services where he led the division’s Business Development and Testing Operations in the Americas and Corning’s global Life Sciences Division where he orchestrated the company’s aggressive move into the biotech industry.
Tom is currently on the Board of Directors of the Veterans One-stop Center of WNY where he was a founding member, is on the Insyte Consulting Board, and was a founding member of the Northland Workforce Training Center where he served as Board Treasurer. In addition, Tom has served on the Dean’s Advisory Councils of the University at Buffalo’s School of Engineering and Penn State-Erie’s Plastics Technology Department.
Tom holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and an MBA from the State University at Buffalo and is currently the Principal & Founder of Swift Cedar, LLC - a business consulting firm focused on change management.
Zachary Shulman is a Managing Partner at the Cayuga Venture Fund, a leading venture capital firm that has raised four funds dedicated to growing promising, innovation-based start-up businesses in the region. Mr. Shulman also teaches at the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University, where he leads the Entrepreneurship@Cornell program. He currently serves as a Director of Primet Precision Materials, Advion BioSciences, e2e Materials, Instinctiv, and CherryPharm. Prior to joining CVF, Mr. Shulman was General Counsel at a technology startup that raised considerable venture capital, and previously practiced corporate law at Ropes & Gray in Boston and Harris Beach in Ithaca. Mr. Shulman serves on a number of advisory boards affiliated with Cornell programs. He earned both his BS in Industrial and Labor Relations and his JD degrees at Cornell University.
Launch NY Team
Ph.D., President and CEO
Dr. Marnie LaVigne has spent more than 30 years in both the private and public sectors creating new products and start-up businesses, driving innovation and economic growth in high-tech industries, such as life sciences, informatics, and advanced manufacturing. Her passion for working with start-ups took root from her experience launching health informatics businesses with colleagues in the 1990’s as she finished her doctoral work at the University of Rochester, which resulted in growing two health informatics companies with more than 100 employees and two initial public offerings (IPOs).
In July 2014, she became the President and CEO of Launch NY, a 27-county venture development organization that she co-founded with other Buffalo boosters and whose mission is to identify, support and invest in high-growth, high-impact companies and catalyze the entrepreneurial culture of Upstate New York. Previously, she led economic development efforts involving work with hundreds of businesses at UB as Associate Vice President for Economic Development from 2012 to 2014 and Director of Business Development from 2005 until 2012 at the NYS Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics & Life Sciences and the UB Center for Advanced Biomedical and Bioengineering Technology yielding economic impact with more than a 60:1 return-on-investment. In addition to her for prfit start-up experience prior to UB, Dr. LaVigne also spearheaded product development initiatives for larger corporations in managed care (e.g., Aetna), pharmaceuticals (Bristol-Myers Squibb), medical devices (Welch Allyn), and medical informatics (Medscape/MedicaLogic, now GE and WebMD).
Dr. LaVigne has a bachelor's degree in neuroscience and a doctorate in clinical psychology, both from the University of Rochester. She is chair of the New York State Economic Development Council (NYSEDC) and a member of the Board of Directors for Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, the State Science and Technology Institute (SSTI), Upstate Venture Connect, Western New York Venture Association, and numerous advisory boards. As lifelong residents of Buffalo, Marnie and her husband, Rob Fohl, are avid downhill skiers and sailors who are blessed with two adult children, a son-in-law, and four grandchildren.
Scott Terhaar, as the Head of Finance for Launch NY, is responsible for finance and grants administration, product development, and related organizational planning. He received his MBA from the University at Buffalo and has an undergraduate degree in Accounting from Binghamton University. A Certified Public Accountant, he is a member of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Prior to joining Launch NY, Scott was Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Orchard-Park-based ValueCentric, a pharmaceutical data management company that sold in 2019 to IQVIA, a global publicly traded corporation. He previously served as US Controller for Uni-Select USA and Chief Financial Officer for Perry’s Ice Cream and Superior Group (now Aleron), after starting his career in finance and accounting at Azerty Inc. and Price Waterhouse LLP.
Senior Operations Manager
Nadia Abdallah provides finance, operations, and project support at Launch NY. Her experience includes finance and operations at D.V. Brown & Associates, a mechanical contracting company. She specializes in minority, women, disabled veteran and disadvantaged business accounting. Nadia earned her Bachelors’ degree in Accounting at Canisius College and completed courses in entrepreneurship at Buffalo State University for young leaders in the Buffalo Area.
Jay Katz, CAIA
Jay Katz, CAIA, is an Investment Associate with Launch NY. He has over 7 years of investment experience, covering alternative and public investments.
He has evaluated and advised on private deals covering investment grade and high-yield transactions in the infrastructure space across the renewable energy, power, transportation, and social infrastructure sub sectors.
Most recently, he served as a Vice President at BlackRock working across two teams – BlackRock Alternative Investors (Infrastructure Debt) and Strategic Client Engagement (Alternative Investments, Fixed Income, and Equities). Jay received his undergraduate degree in Finance from the University at Buffalo, graduating summa cum laude in 2015.
Dustin Wilson, MBA, is a Program Manager at Launch NY. He has over 6 years of experience working within and building startup companies with his expertise in marketing and operations.
As a creative director, Dustin has managed teams working as in-house marketing and branding departments for high-growth startups. As a founder, Dustin has designed impact-driven businesses for the e-commerce, event marketing, and sustainability sectors.
Dustin received his MBA in Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise from Colorado State University (Currently Ranked 5th in Impact Driven MBA programs in the nation.)
Investor Network Manager
Katie Hestor is joining LNY as Investor Network Manager in January 2023 to manage day-to-day responsibilities of the Investor Network, including investor relations, company engagement, and investment transactions working in tandem with the investment associate. For the past 3 years Katie has managed university-based startup programming, provided direct company mentorship, portfolio and IP management, and fundraising support for deep tech, SaaS, and CPG startups, and administered a new angel investor group and its initial investments.
Crystal Wallace is the Project Manager of the Founders Go Big Program at Launch NY
Her 19 years of experience combine work in project management, training, collegiate & adult instruction, business planning& strategy, assessment & testing.
Crystal’s industry experience spans both public & private sectors, and her passion has been the integration of learning, technology, strategy, and entrepreneurship. She has also served her community to raise awareness on the issues of disparity and access through her work with the National Society of Black Engineers, the Face to Face Initiative, Covenant of Grace Ministries and other organizations.
Crystal received her Bachelor of Science in Management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a concentration in Management Information Systems in 2004. She then attended Canisius College, earning her Master of Business Administration in 2007.
She has taught and worked for the University at Buffalo, Canisus College, and Bryant & Stratton College. Crystal was also a member of the 2007 M&T Bank Management Development Program Class.
Mia has a passion for supporting organizations in the areas of client experience and operations. Since graduating Bryant and Stratton College with a focus on bookkeeping, she’s supported some Buffalo area organizations, among which are the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, and Supplemental Healthcare.
Brittany, born and raised in Buffalo NY, loves helping Launch NY work with companies in the Western New York area.
Brittany graduated from Miami University in 2018 with a degree in marketing and interactive media studies. She works part-time for Launch NY helping handle all things marketing. After graduating from college she entered into the agency world specifically on the project management and client communications side. She has worked across a variety of verticals from health care to live sports and entertainment, and everything in between. She is now also getting her MBA from the University at Buffalo with a concentration in Marketing & Operations.
Project Manager and Program Coordinator, ECO Incubator
Danielle Blount is a Project Manager with Launch NY and the Emerging Cleantech Opportunity (ECO) Incubator, Program Coordinator. She began with Launch NY during her MBA studies as an intern in the summer of 2015 through 2016, and joined full time after graduation. Danielle attended University at Buffalo for both her graduate and undergraduate studies, receiving her BA in Political Science and International Studies, in 2013, and her MBA in 2016. Prior to returning to University at Buffalo for her graduate studies, Danielle worked at BlueCross BlueShield of WNY as a Network Development Associate. During this time she received her Master’s Certificate in Project Management from Villanova University in 2014. Danielle currently serves as President of the Plymouth Crossroads board, an Executive Team member of the Mount St. Mary Academy Alumnae Board, in Kenmore, NY, and an Awesome Buffalo Trustee.
ECO Incubator Program Director
Mr. Tyno is a respected energy industry professional who has led multiple energy services companies to become integral resource partners with utility companies, Regional Transmission Organizations, Independent System Operators, program participants, federal and state regulatory agencies, trade associations, economic development organizations, and affiliate service providers.
In addition to his role with the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) as Strategic Advisor for Energy Initiatives, Paul will be serving as the ECO Incubator Program Director. Prior to joining the BNMC in 2014, Paul served in lead roles with REGEN Energy in Toronto, Viridity Energy in Philadelphia, Direct Options in Cincinnati, Constellation Energy in New York, and Energy Curtailment Specialists in Buffalo.
His background includes building, designing and implementing complex demand response/load management programs and related demand side management solutions. Paul is a nationally recognized industry spokesperson and demand response subject area expert. He is the past Chairman of the Peak Load Management Alliance (PLMA), a professional industry organization.
Lindsay Karas Stencel
Primary Legal Counsel
A partner at Thompson Hine LLP, Lindsay Karas Stencel previously served as Fund Manager of Launch NY, where she spearheaded building the LaunchNY Seed Fund LLC into the most active seed fund in the State and one of the most active in the country. She was also instrumental in forming and introducing Launch NY’s for profit Invest Local Financing Programs, including the LaunchNY Seed Fund I LP and Investor Network. Named 2018 Early Stage Dealmaker of the Year and 2019 Investor of the Year by the Upstate Capital Association and 2019 Community Catalyst Award Winner by Upstate Venture Connect, Lindsay continues to support Launch NY’s investment activities.
Prior to Launch NY, Lindsay served as one of the Managing Partners and Chief Legal Counsel for NCT Ventures, an early-stage, technology-focused venture firm in Columbus, OH, where she focused on fund formation, deal structuring, state and federal compliance, limited partner relations and portfolio management. Additionally, she built a burgeoning legal practice, representing venture firms, startups, and small businesses throughout the Midwest.
Lindsay earned her JD/MBA from The Ohio State University, where she also serves as an Adjunct Professor.
Wendy Wojcik is joining LNY as a Program Manager. Her day-to-day responsibilities include project managing federal and state grants, including programming, to support Launch NY’s pro bono mentorship and #InvestLocal seed funding programs. Wendy brings 7+ years of senior positions in program and grants management at the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade—Small Business Development Center. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in International Business and International Relations from Canisius College.
Passionate about people and focused on strategies and actions to boost businesses, Renata Abreu has over 15 years of experience in the fields of communication and marketing across retail and startup sectors. She specializes in customer relations, planning, strategy, and events. At Launch NY, she is responsible for developing and implementing marketing communications and promotion plans, providing project management to reach priority audiences, and supporting organizational goals. Additionally, she engages and coordinates with client companies, Launch NY Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, and ecosystem partners regarding marketing communications and public relations opportunities and needs.
Jerry Adamski has extensive international expertise in service and manufacturing operations, business startups, business development, product commercialization, leadership, coaching and more. His entrepreneurial skills have been developed by working for and with multiple size public, private and not for profit companies including Kodak, Gleason, Gerber Scientific, CP Rochester and hundreds of startup companies. Mr. Adamski is an active coach to a variety of Applied Entrepreneurship and New Product Development collegiate teams.
Launch NY and Southern Tier Innovation Hotspot, Entrepreneur-in-Residence
Brian Bauer is a seasoned international energy industry executive with extensive experience in oil, natural gas, chemicals, and renewables in the United States, Asia, and Europe. Mr. Bauer has a BS in Chemical Engineering from Cornell and an MBA in Operations and Finance from the University of Chicago. Mr. Bauer ran several businesses during a 30 year career in the energy industry and has expertise in operations, strategy, business development, mergers and acquisitions, major project management, corporate governance, and organizational change.
Mr. Bauer recently retired and relocated to Ithaca to build the next phase of his career where he is interested in startups and tech innovation, with a particular interest in the area of energy innovation. Since returning to Ithaca, he has served as an advisor to several startup companies in the energy and consumer services spaces, as well as leading the statewide cleantech business plan competition, 76West, which provides $2.5MM in prizes to a competitively selected group of innovative startups and early stage companies.
Ed Bizari has 30+ years experience at Fortune 500 companies, funded startups, and early stage startup companies in software, telecommunications and healthcare. He’s held executive-level positions around strategy, product management, and sales/marketing and has a comprehensive understanding of business model development, growth strategies, and product commercialization. Ed is currently an entrepreneur-in-residence with Launch NY, an Upstate NY venture development firm that advises and funds early stage startup companies, and Rev: Ithaca Startup Works, a Cornell University-partnered startup incubator in Ithaca, NY. He’s mentored in the 76West Clean Energy Competition, the Grow-NY Food/Agriculture Competition, and is an NSF I-Corps Short Course instructor. He also has the position of Entrepreneurial Fellow and instructor at Hobart & William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY. Ed holds an MBA and BSEE from the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Michael Bovalino is an experienced and successful senior executive with diversified experience. Mr. Bovalino has been the President and CEO of six different companies including both publicly traded and privately owned businesses. Mr. Bovalino's industry experience includes telecommunications/utilities, medical devices, real estate, and consumer goods. He has a unique blend of corporate and field experience with an outstanding P & L track record. He has an extensive background in creating new markets and companies, gaining market share in highly competitive environments, building effective customer and employee relationships, mergers and acquisitions, and implementing processes for change and growth. Most recently, Mr. Bovalino was the President of the medical device manufacturer BioSpherix. Other significant positions include being the President and CEO of the Pyramid Management Group, the largest privately held commercial real estate company in the US. He was the founder and CEO of Energetix, a diversified energy company that grew into a billion dollar business. He has also been an executive officer of both Niagara Mohawk and Rochester Gas and Electric.
Mr. Bovalino has a Bachelor's degree from SUNY Fredonia in accounting/finance and an MBA from Pace University. Mr. Bovalino also has a Master's degree in Information Technology from New York University and he has attended Columbia University's Advanced Management Program.
Kate Brodock is CEO of Women 2.0, a media and tech company focused on gender equality, diversity and inclusion in the tech industry. Serving over 300,000 around the world, Women 2.0 provides content, products and services around parity, and has catalyzed over $90M in funding for female founded companies.
Under Kate's leadership, Women 2.0 has engaged with companies, such as Medium, Adobe, and Airbnb, to educate internal teams about diversity and inclusion. Kate also led the team in several recent product launches, including its Lane recruitment platform and a "Men as Allies" committee, which aims to engage men in diversity and inclusion conversations.
Outside of Women 2.0, Kate has played an active leadership role in the tech ecosystem for more than a decade. She led a global non-profit focused on women in technology and entrepreneurship as its President. Most recently, she was CMO of untapt, an AI-driven tech talent marketplace based in NYC. She held the role of Adjunct Professor in PR and Marketing at at Syracuse University.
Kate is a regular speaker, appearing on stages around the world at SXSW, 15 Seconds Festival, Collision Conference, Fast Company's Innovation Uncensored, and TechStars. She has been featured in the Washington Post, TechCrunch, Al Jazeera, MSNBC, and she's a contributor for Forbes.com She has a BA from the University of Rochester, an MBA from Goizueta Business School at Emory University and an MA in International Relations from the Fletcher School at Tufts University.
When she’s not doing all *that*, she’s a very non-professional (but adventurous!) athlete, an equally as non-professional musician, can be found outdoors in any weather — skiing, biking, hiking, sailing — and lives on a hops farm run by her husband in Upstate NY. She can be found on Twitter at @just_kate
Paul Buckley is an experienced small business professional and was most recently Directory of IT at the Buffalo News, until his retirement in 2022. Formerly he was President of Applied Sciences Group, Inc. from 1997 until early 2018, serving in engineering, administration, operations management, and strategic development areas. Mr. Buckley previously worked in the electronic warfare, aerospace, and telecommunications industries in various engineering and management capacities. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Bio-medical Engineering and a Master’s degree in Systems Engineering from RPI along with post-graduate courses in management, biotech, signal processing, and other non-matriculated coursework.
Mr. Buckley continues to use his expertise in business development to help support the startup, early stage, and small business community with tactical and strategic management and engineering expertise, particularly in the high-tech industries. He continues to mentor and coach grass-roots and high-growth companies through local programs with the University at Buffalo’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL), Pre-Seed Workshops, and several others.
Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Founders Go Big
Crystal Callahan has worked for billion dollar companies and created million dollar companies. She became Co-Founder of Makeur in 2016, a startup studio that helps entrepreneurs launch and grow. With its social impact focus, Makeur is instrumental in bringing new faces, ideas, voices, and business stories to market. Prior to starting Makeur, Ms. Callahan was the Founder of The Worldwide App Inc. ("Worldwide") where in 2013, she became recognized as one of the first women to own her own mobile app company, and the first woman of color to do so.
Ms. Callahan spent most of her career based in major markets: New York. Los Angeles, and Silicon Valley learning business development, marketing, sales, and customer service from working for 35+ companies operating throughout the U.S. and some of their International offices. She is considered a generalist who gained key experience in a number of interesting industries and verticals.
Ms. Callahan is a Dean's List alumna of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and City Honors here at home. She has served on the UVA Alumni Board and was awarded by Innovate NY. Ms. Callahan has several features in the Press, as Keynote Speaker, and Guest Panelist engagements where she speaks to a number of audiences about her professional highlights over the years. In the community, she is very proud of the leading edge work she's done as an Urban League and United Way volunteer.
Frank Codella, is a founding member of Medical Acoustics. He serves as Chief Executive Officer, in addition to his duties as a Director of the Company. Previously, Mr. Codella served as Senior Vice President of Global Sales at Synacor, Inc. (“Synacor”) from November 2001 to April 2010. As a member of Synacor’s founding executive team, Mr. Codella played a key role growing the business from startup phase to a mature enterprise with annual sales exceeding $100MM (IPO, SYNC). Mr. Codella is also a Co-Founder of MedRecovery Management LLC (“MRM”), where he developed the company from a concept to a thriving enterprise. MRM was acquired by HMS, a public company (HMSY).
He has over 20 years of experience in the information technology and telecommunications industries having held numerous sales, marketing, and senior management positions, including Vice President of Sales and Business Development at Global Crossing Ltd, President and Chief Executive Officer at Integrated Personnel & Systems Solutions, Inc, Sales Director at Lucent Technologies Inc, and various positions in the Global Enterprise Division at AT&T. Mr. Codella holds a BS in Economics and Political Science from the State University of New York, College at Brockport and a MBA from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Mr. Codella also earned an advanced certificate from The Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania and is a graduate of the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership at the State University of New York at Buffalo.
Al has a 40+-year business career in leadership and management roles in both the private and public sectors providing financial services and economic development assistance to companies of all sizes and industry types. In response to the specific needs of the Upstate entrepreneurial community, and in addition to his overall management of Erie County Industrial Development Agency’s economic development operations and programs, he co-founded Launch NY and conceived and ran the ECIDA’s Niagara Region Ventures Fund which has invested to date over $9 Million in 34 start-up and early-stage companies and experienced a cash-on-cash return in excess of $13 Million. In recognition of his leadership in economic development, he was named 2011 Economic Developer of the Year by the New York State Economic Development Council. Al worked as a senior loan officer/manager for M&T Bank and Chase Lincoln First Bank (now part of JP Morgan Chase) managing lending teams and providing financial, mentoring and other business services to a broad range of commercial accounts in and beyond Western New York. He was COO/CFO of a wholesale flexographic printing supply company and of a tire distribution company responsible for accounting, banking and finance, HR and insurance, operations, and branch management and customer service. Al holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in mathematics from Fordham University and an MBA from Canisius College. His board service has included director and Chair of Junior Achievement of WNY, director and Vice Chair of NYS Economic Development Council, Treasurer of Western Region Corporation and director of Empire State Certified Development Corporation and the Workforce Development Corporation.
Don De Laria
Don De Laria’s career has spanned a number of industries with a variety of companies both big and small. After investment banking, syndicate, and institutional equity sales, he founded Deephaven Financial Group, where he led investor relations efforts for numerous companies. He later moved into the movie business with Regal Entertainment Group, to a stock loyalty startup, Loyal 3 and to Zep, Inc., a specialty chemical company. More recently, Mr. De Laria has led business development efforts for a specialty chemical distributor and two companies engaged in the field of artificial intelligence.
Mr. De Laria enjoys giving back by mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs through local incubators and accelerators. He mentored at the ATDC in Atlanta, the oldest incubator in the U.S., and has served as a mentor for Launch NY for 5 years in Buffalo. He's also a member of the Western New York Venture Association and Buffalo Angels. He's especially skilled at the LEAN startup method and facilitating and implementing LEAN processes to drive enhanced efficiency. His experience encompasses everything from founding startup’s to business development and enterprise sales for early stage companies to participating on the senior management team (with emphasis on investor relations and communications) for $1B+ public companies.
Rich Delmerico, MS
Rich Delmerico has over 30 years of experience as a top performing technology and business professional, with extensive and successful leadership expertise from startup to Fortune 100 companies in global product and systems development, commercialization, operations, and manufacturing across consumer, commercial, medical, printing, energy storage, and materials products. Mr. Delmerico most recently led an early stage high technology Cornell based materials startup (NOHMs Technologies Inc.) from seed to VC monies while robustly developing and maturing the technology. He also is an Adjunct at the Rochester Institute of Technology’ s Simone Center for Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship, University of Rochester’s Simon School startup coach and currently on-boarding as a NYSERDA Entrepreneur-in-Residence. Prior to NOHMs, Mr. Delmerico was a corporate executive at Kodak, including the R&D Director for the $1B revenue Traditional Consumer Businesses, driving innovation to market his entire career. Mr. Delmerico has a MS degree from Clarkson University in Manufacturing Systems and BS degrees from SUNY Buffalo in both Electrical and Industrial Engineering.
David J. Eilers
David Eilers is an enterprise leader focused on the convergence of technology development, innovation processes, and user engagement. Over the course of his career Mr. Eilers has pioneered new products, opened new international market's and developed new business models in the healthcare industry through his work with the Marmon Group of companies and InterV Medical Group/ Roundtable Healthcare Partners, resulting in a $785MM acquisition. In 2008, he applied his interest in Open Innovation to the co-founding of Blue Highway, LLC, a technology accelerator focused on creating early diagnosis of adverse health conditions. In 2013, Mr. Eilers helped launch the Life Reimagined Institute for AARP, focused on improving the social determinants of health for people 50+ through millions of digital interactions and thousands of live in-person seminars. Most recently, he was asked by leaders at the American Hospital Association (AHA) to co-develop and teach a practical innovation curriculum for AHA’s member hospitals which can prototype novel concepts in a ninety-day period.
Outside of the office, Mr. Eilers is Adjunct Faculty in Syracuse University’s Online MBA program, serves on the Board of Directors for Lexington Wellness Holdings; and is a volunteer Board Member for the Lwala Community Alliance which creates health and wellness programs in rural Kenya. He often speaks to innovation communities and universities interested in the design thinking process and commercialization of emerging technologies.
Launch NY and Southern Tier Innovation Hotspot, Entrepreneur-in-Residence
Tony Frontera is a goal oriented individual with 25 years of sales and management experience in specialty retailing and manufacturing. His work includes leadership roles at McIntosh Laboratory, which is recognized worldwide as the premier manufacturer of luxury consumer electronics products. Also, Mr. Frontera was President and owner of the largest retail photo specialty store in the Binghamton, NY area, responsible for financing, sales, marketing, and strategic planning for nearly 20 years. He holds an MBA and BA from Binghamton University and is a faculty member in the Binghamton University School of Management.
Jay Gmerek is a Senior Business Director with 20 years of comprehensive experience in the Food Manufacturing sector with entrepreneurial sales and marketing experience. Build new markets globally and in the US with a strong focus on strategic planning, team development and leadership as well as driving Innovative new product development. Experience in Foodservice, Instore and Retail Bakery and Industrial.
Brad Gouldthorpe is an innovative and involved business professional with corporate and early stage company experience built from a solid engineering and business education. Mr. Gouldthorpe gained early career experience managing projects that developed and launched products based on disruptive technologies at Eastman Kodak and Xerox. His work included product management, worldwide marketing, finance, engineering, and business development, while commercializing groundbreaking digital photography at Eastman Kodak and then launching new business equipment into new markets while at Xerox.
Mr. Gouldthorpe then became President of NetTogether and was charged with developing and launching an online meeting site. After successfully introducing the service to market, he become a key consulting resource for technology startup companies in identifying and pursuing high-value market opportunities and filled ongoing roles as Chief Operations Officer, Director of Business Development, leadership roles in Marketing, and as interim CEO at early stage technology companies. During this time, he also founded ADispell, a medical technology development company where he was the Chief Operating Officer for a therapeutic development company focusing on high need areas. He has directed the launch and sales growth of more than thirty different products, including entirely new technologies in areas such as imaging, nanotechnology, and medical technology. Mr. Gouldthorpe has an MBA from the Ross School of Business and a BS in Chemical Engineering from The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
With more than 35 years of experience, Holly Hillberg has extensive experience in global business leadership at companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Carestream Health, and Eastman Kodak. She has held a broad range of leadership positions which have included technology development, manufacturing, marketing, business management, operations, global strategy, Chief Technology Officer, and Chief Marketing Officer. Her career has been centered around successfully delivering new innovative products to market across the medical devices, and commercial and consumer business spaces. Of special note is Ms. Hillberg’s experience in leading not one, but two successful multi-billion dollar divestitures, then building the infrastructure to support growth and success for the new stand-alone companies.
Ms. Hillberg is currently the president of Hillberg Consulting. She has successfully advised diverse, innovative businesses, large and small. Ms. Hillberg holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from Michigan Technological University as well as a BS and MS in Electrical Engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology. Additionally, she is a graduate of the Northwestern University’s Executive Development Program and from University of Michigan Management and Manufacturing Executive Program.
Anthony J.M. Jones is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Flextime Nurses and the CEO of TasselDreamers, Inc.. He is an accomplished attorney, serial-entrepreneur and community activist. Mr. Jones brings industry experience in entertainment, media, sports, e-sports, technology, healthcare, fashion, fintech and commodities. As an attorney, Mr. Jones focused his practice on the transactional aspects of entertainment and media law, film production law, sports law, fashion law and advising mid-stage companies and start-up ventures. Mr. Jones' clients have sold a combined 100 million units worldwide, have won Grammys, have been nominated for Academy Awards, won Olympic Gold Medals, NBA, NFL and MLB championships.
As an advisor, Mr. Jones has worked with entrepreneurs and start ups of all types, including: film production and distribution companies, e-sports developers, software developers, magazine and newspaper publishers, recording artists, professional athletes, oil and gas exploration companies and merchandising and retail industries. He has been instrumental in leading capital raising campaigns by drafting and negotiating Private Placement Memorandums for start-ups, drafting convertible debt note arrangements, restructured operation agreements, corporate buyouts, capital contribution agreements and catalog acquisitions.
As a former high school and college basketball star in WNY, Mr. Jones' interest in entertainment and sports peaked as a student-athlete helping his former teammates navigate through the international professional sports landscape as well as helping music acts through a management company he founded. While still a student in WNY, he was successful in launching an independent record label and procuring a international distribution deal with Sony.
Mr. Jones is graduate of Daemen College and University at Buffalo Law School. He has served as a Adjunct law professor at UB and, although he resides primarily in Georgia, continues to support Upstate entrepreneurs.
Siva Kakuturi is CEO of CK Consulting Services and a successful entrepreneur having started, grown and exited multiple businesses in the U.S. and India. Siva’s overall business and technical management experience spans a number of countries and cultures with 25+ years experience in Healthcare, Technology, Finance, Manufacturing, and Government Service industries. He also has extensive government business expertise in program policy, compliance, process reengineering and implementation of large state-wide automated systems with in-depth experience in Education and Health & Human Service programs. Siva has a Master’s degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Troy, NY.
Stephen Leous has over 25 years’ experience in a variety of industries and functional expertise in strategic marketing, finance, and corporate development. Currently a strategic growth consultant, he previously worked at e-commerce pioneer VerticalNet, the world’s largest operator of online industry marketplaces. He launched and managed seven of them and also worked in corporate development.
Mr. Leous was a Senior Marketing Manager with Rich Products, a $2.5B dollar frozen food manufacturer, where he ran a $150MM product group - the largest in the company. He also has extensive experience in international initiatives and with new product, market, concept, franchise, and business development work. Mr. Leous is very seasoned working with cross-functional teams and on a project- basis across a variety of disciplines, including market research, creative and brand development, digital strategy, strategic marketing plans, business, and corporate development planning and organizational structure. He has worked with startups to multi-billion dollar, public companies and everything in between, and has a BA from Williams College and an MBA from Northwestern University's J.L. Kellogg School of Management.
Mike McCourt brings over 20 years of sales & business development experience along with 15 plus years of engineering work. In his latest role as President of McCourt Associates, LLC he works with NYSERDA and Launch NY as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence and has been a member of the teaching team for NEXUS-NY, a cleantech proof-of-concept center for the past five years. He advises many clean energy startup companies in NY State. Additionally, he provides go-to-market consulting to high tech firms nationwide. Prior to forming McCourt Associates, he led Nokia’s solutions sales and partner development efforts in North America. In this role he worked closely with third party software developers and consumer electronics companies to create and introduce new location-based products to the market. Prior to joining Nokia, he served as VP Wireless Business Development at InfoSpace, Inc. Mr. McCourt generated over $10MM in annual revenue by generating new business with many of the mobile operators in the emerging wireless data market.
Previously, he successfully brought Microlytics Inc. through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization through sale of assets to Metro One Telecommunications and a reverse merger of Microlytics’ public shell with a private company providing a positive workout to both shareholders & creditors. He sought and received $2MM in funding to establish and lead Metro One Telecommunication’s Database Division. Before Metro One Mr. McCourt held management and engineering roles in several technology startups. He holds an MBA from the Simon Graduate School of Business and an MS in Electrical Engineering from Washington University.
Beth Mielbrecht is an energy and sustainability expert who leverages over 25 years in clean energy technologies. She brings technical expertise and unconventional perspective to solving sustainability issues through carbon emissions reduction and clean energy solutions. She applies a forward-thinking approach while leading the worldwide ESG Advisory services for Intertek. Beth’s expertise in sustainable engineering is built on a foundation of hands-on high-tech manufacturing, and field research demonstrations of emerging clean energy technologies in the building and utilities sectors.
Elisa Miller-Out is an experienced tech entrepreneur, investor, board director and community builder. She’s currently managing partner of Chloe Capital, a seed stage venture capital investment fund focused on women-led tech companies. She’s also co-founder of PollQ, a chatbot polling tool for higher ed and serves on the board of Women 2.0, the leading media brand for women in tech. She recently had a successful acquisition deal with a division of Singlebrook, a custom software services firm that she co-founded and led as CEO for over 10 years. She is now chair of the board and CFO at Singlebrook. Singlebrook has Fortune 500, higher education and nonprofit clients from all over the world including: Cornell, Yale, Henry Schein, Hitachi, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund and more. Ms. Miller-Out has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, Forbes and other publications, and she speaks about technology and entrepreneurship at events across the country. Prior to founding Singlebrook, Ms. Miller-Out founded two other companies and worked in a variety of industries in New York City. She has also founded several networking groups and regularly serves as a mentor and judge for startup accelerators and competitions. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Barnard College of Columbia University.
National Mentor Network
Jim Murphy as worked in the plastics, chemical and metal processing markets in positions ranging from field sales/product management to senior management to ownership of a $40 million dollar company. He was an owner and leader at Rochling Advent Tool and Mold, where he was responsible for the creation, staffing and execution of strategic plans. Jim also was a senior executive at the turnaround of a family held metal processing company and held various positions at multinational Mobil Chemical Company. He holds a B.S. in Marketing from Boston College, an M.B.A. from Babson College and a Lean/Six Sigma Black belt from Rochester Institute of Technology.
Steve Nicosia is a senior executive with over 27 years of experience in sales management, marketing, strategy, strategic alliances, acquisitions, launching new products/markets, and P&L responsibility. He currently advises/consults with startup software companies and small businesses on starting, growing, and exiting their businesses. Mr. Nicosia spent 16 years in various senior executive roles at Emphasys software, a division of Constellation Software Inc., Canada's largest software company. While at Emphasys, Mr. Nicosia entered new markets, participated in two acquisitions, increased EBITA, managed remote development teams across several states and countries, signed several channel partnerships, launched new software products, and created client retention programs that reduced client attrition by over 50%.
Prior to joining Emphasys, Mr. Nicosia planned and executed an exit strategy for a privately held software company in which he was part owner. His work included obtaining a valuation, marketing the company to potential acquirers, evaluating and structuring the terms of the sale, tax planning, and conducting due diligence. Mr. Nicosia is a graduate of St. John Fisher College and he received his CPA from the state of Delaware.
Deborah O’Shea is a seasoned business attorney and trial lawyer as well as an experienced serial entrepreneur. She is well-versed in business development, including international business, having co-founded a transatlantic initiative that connected business, investart–upand technology opportunities between the NAFTA and European Union economic markets, particularly focused upon New York State and Ireland Ms. O’Shea provides legal and business development counsel, including to startup and early-stage companies and enjoys seeing them reach a level of sustained growth and profitability. Prior to her focus on entrepreneurial activities, she was a trial lawyer for 13+ years handling complex litigation matters including medical matters and product liability. She is an alumnus of the University of Buffalo and also studied at McGill University, Montreal. Ms. O’Shea has had numerous leadership positions and board positions primarily with non-profit/government organizations focused on business or economic development and is pleased to have been recently appointed to the Boards of SmartMPower, MPowerUSA and the Charleville Castle Heritage Trust in Ireland. She also serves on the Governance and STEAM committees of the Willie Hutch Jones Education and Sports Program (under Tre Inc.). She is a member of the Buffalo Canoe Club where she was a Director and Entertainment Chair for 6 years.
Entrepreneur-in-Residence, National Mentor Network
Steve Raines is a serial entrepreneur who brings experience in SaaS, professional services and SaaS to emerging entrepreneurs. A self-trained software architect and developer, Steve is the co-founder of several companies including Algonquin Studios, Field Nimble, and Pointman (acquired by Service Titan.)
Driven by the principle to “just start helping,” Steve advises and invests his time, energy, and dollars in companies with passionate founders who can benefit from his experience in entrepreneurship, customer discovery, requirements analysis, and software product development. He’s passionate about putting the right people in the right seats and giving teams the tools to make something beautiful, meaningful, and wildly successful.
A graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo, Steve is a co-founder of Algonquin Sports for Kids, a not-for-profit providing consistent and safe places for young people to engage in sports and literacy programs. Steve has been active in the Western New York technology community since 1998, serving on the board of Infotech Niagara, as the host/organizer for community startup-events events at VCAMP, and through the University at Buffalo Student Shadow program.
Southern Tier Startup Alliance, Entrepreneur-in-Residence
Ken Rother is a visiting lecturer at the Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management where is teaches several entrepreneurship courses including Designing New Ventures, Entrepreneurship of Physical Products, Product Management, and is also Managing Director of Cornell’s eLab student accelerator program. At Cornell Ken also instructs and coaches in several technology commercialization programs and is an NSF I-Corps Team program instructor. Ken is also Director of Rev: Ithaca Startup Works as well as its Hardware Entrepreneurship programs; Napkin to Prototype, Prototype to Production, and Cleantech Hardware ScaleUp. He is a Venture Partner at Cayuga Venture Fund and on the investment committee of Launch NY. Previously Ken has held multiple senior technical and business positions for organizations such as Discovery Communications, Reuters, Matrox, and the Toronto Stock Exchange. He has direct startup experience having cofounded a software business in Toronto and joining an early stage online media business in New York, both of these startups concluded with successful exists. Most recently Ken was the Senior Vice President of Digital Media at Discovery.
John Seman is a Pharmaceutical Executive with a consistent track record of building teams, solving problems, adapting to changing markets, and establishing long term growth strategies.
Dave is a co-founder with 2 exits from 12 bootstrapped software-powered companies over 22 years with the same team. In 2020 his team sold Pointman, their latest SaaS venture, to ServiceTitan, the LA-based unicorn in the residential HVAC, plumbing, and electrical contractor industry. The story begins in 1998 with the founding of Algonquin Studios, a 50+ consultant custom software development firm that today would be framed as a startup studio. Algonquin concentrated on clients in healthcare delivery and payment, legal marketing, financial services, manufacturing, and non-profit/government. Dave was an engineering leader, consultant, and marketer.
From 2006-13 the team turned around Big Bear, a top-5 apparel decorator, 8,000 SKU fulfillment house, and e- commerce platform with 80 staff serving national brands. Dave acted as Chief Operating Officer. In 2014-16, the team started VCAMP, an accelerator and $5M early stage fund to validate the value of health IT startups with the Upstate NY healthcare system. Dave participated as a Managing Director of the General Partner. When the team chose to focus on just one startup in a venture-ready model, they launched new products within Pointman from 2016-20. Dave led Product Management, Strategic Partnerships, and Learning and Development. In parallel, Dave has taught Lean Startup principles to 500+ founder-curious students in an experiential way with the University at Buffalo's Blackstone Launchpad.
Owner and founder of Launch NY Founders Go Big company Que 42, Bridget Thornton joins the EIR group with experience as a digital Media mentor/consultant, with an expertise in helping tech startups focused on direct attribution campaigns test markets and demographics during proof-of-concept and early stage growth. She leads with analytics and insights to help companies test and refine their Minimum Viable Product to attract seed and early stage investment, with a particular focus on women-owned tech.
Bridget is also the President/Co-Founder at Bar Chord Marketing, which specializes in digital media strategy, execution, performance optimization, and data visualizations.
Launch NY and Southern Tier Innovation Hot Spot, Entrepreneur-in-Residence
Brad Treat is an instructor in Practical Entrepreneurship at Ithaca College and Cornell University. He has also served as the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Cornell University and Launch NY. Mr. Treat was most recently the Founding CEO of Mezmeriz, a high-tech company making interactive projectors and reality capture cameras to embed into mobile phones. Mezmeriz’s cutting edge technology was spun out of Materials Science and MEMS research at Cornell University. Mr. Treat was also the co-founder and CEO of SightSpeed, an innovative video and voice communications company. SightSpeed grew from a university research project at Cornell into the world’s premier video calling software. SightSpeed was profitably acquired by Logitech for $30MM. Earlier in his career, Mr. Treat worked for eight years in the automotive industry in both the US and Spain at Bowles Fluidics and GKN Automotive. Mr. Treat holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from North Carolina State and an MBA from the Johnson School at Cornell.
Jeff is a Fractional Digital Product Manager who helps companies get their sales unstuck. By using a data driven approach to listening and learning from the market, he guides product strategy and execution.
Evin is the CEO and Founder of Belouga, a social learning platform making education impactful, accessible and equitable for the youth of the world through interactive digital content, aimed at providing a global perspective while aligning to everyday school subject areas and student interests. He has 17+ years of overseeing businesses focused on education, social impact and innovation within the Gen-Y and Gen-Z demographic. Evin has created and implemented educational programs and cross-cultural initiatives in all 50 states in the US at the K–12 and university levels, along with consultancy work on six continents. In 2019, he was recognized as one of the Meaningful Business 100, an award honoring global leaders who are introducing new ways of thinking and acting to address the world’s biggest challenges: climate change, pollution, hunger, poverty, education, and health.
Her passion for animal welfare has driven Heather Saffer to become active across several initiatives to save the animals – and the planet – including the creation of Yonderplate, a low-labor vegan and gluten-free menu solution for restaurants and foodservice operators.
A food industry veteran, Heather previously founded Dollop Gourmet, a better-for-you vegan frosting brand, where she was a winner on ABC’s Shark Tank, and from which she successfully exited after establishing a wide following and national retail distribution.
Heather has been featured in Forbes, People Magazine, Huffington Post, USA Today, Oprah, Hallmark Channel, Steve Harvey Show, QVC, Sirius XM and was a winner on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. Heather has also authored two bestselling cookbooks: The Dollop Book of Frosting (Simon & Schuster/F+W Media) and Crazy Easy Vegan Desserts (Sterling Epicure).
Heather is a food industry and pitch consultant and serves as an Entrepreneur-In-Residence at Food Foundry in Chicago and a Business Advisor for the SBDC in California and Indiana.
ECO Advisory Board
Director of Sustainability—Wendel, ECO Incubator Advisory Board Member
Aliesa Adelman is the Sustainable Design Coordinator at Wendel, supporting design and construction sustainability efforts for energy efficiency, natural resource conservation, and indoor environmental quality. She collaborates with the architectural, engineering, and planning teams to analyze opportunities for integrating sustainable design, principles, and technologies into projects. Ms. Adelman is a LEED BD+C Accredited Professional and a Certified Sustainable Development Professional, with additional training as a Building Analyst, Building Envelope Specialist, and Carbon Reduction Manager. Ms. Adelman currently serves on the Board of Directors for the U.S. Green Building Council New York Upstate Chapter, the Western New York Sustainable Business Roundtable, the Partners for a Livable Western NY, and Vision Long Island. She also serves on the Buffalo Niagara Partnership Energy Committee and the American Public Transportation Association Sustainability Committee. In addition to her work in the commercial sector, she has been involved with several regional energy and transportation efficiency planning efforts, with a focus on resiliency, climate mitigation, and adaptation. Ms. Adelman’s projects include facilitation and leadership for municipal Climate Smart Communities Greenhouse Gas Assessment programs and development of a municipal Energy Master Plan for a confidential client. She brings her experience and expertise to multidisciplinary projects to help align client goals with the principles of Smart Growth, Complete Streets, and Green Infrastructure. She is a certified instructor for the Urban Green Council’s Fundamental Green Building certification course and is an educational provider for sustainable development strategies to private and public stakeholders.
President—Energy Solutions Consortium, ECO Incubator Advisory Board Member
Drew Dorn has extensive experience in the North American deregulated electricity and natural gas markets, particularly structuring energy transactions for some of the largest wholesale and retail consumers in the Northeast and mid- Atlantic regions, including regulated utilities, independent power producers, and energy intensive industrials. He founded and was CEO of Demand Response Partners, Inc. (DRP) an energy advisory firm and leading demand response supplier to the PJM Interconnection and New York Independent System Operator which he sold to CPower in 2015. Prior to founding DRP in 2007 he worked for several large energy companies in business development roles. Mr. Dorn graduated from Alfred University with a Bachelors of Science in Ceramic Engineering and earned a Master of Business Administration from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
Head of Energy and Sustainability, Energy Consulting Services—Phillips Lytle LLP, ECO Incubator Advisory Board Member
Director—UB Entrepreneurship Academy & University at Buffalo School of Management, ECO Incubator Advisory Board Member
Mr. Neubert is the Director of the UB Entrepreneurship Academy for the University at Buffalo School of Management. Mr. Neubert is a seasoned serial entrepreneur and educator who transitioned from the pharmaceutical industry. A former research chemist, he managed divisions for companies that include Eastman Kodak, Westinghouse, SmithKline Beecham and Merck & Company, before founding Dakota Services, a prescription sampling compliance systems and salesforce management software company. Since then, Mr. Neubert has founded 7 ventures. He received his Bachelors in Science in Chemistry and Management from Lebanon Valley College, and his MBA from St. Joseph’s University.
Adam Stotz, Ph.D
Chief Technology Officer—TROVE Predictive Data Science, ECO Incubator Advisory Board Member
Dr. Adam Stotz is Chief Technology Officer of TROVE, leading the product vision for the company and its breakthrough predictive data science solution, the TROVE Platform. Charged with making data useful for TROVE's clients, Stotz succeeds by combining his hands-on predictive data science prowess and problem-solving abilities with his inspiring leadership of the entire technical organization. Dr. Stotz attended the University at Buffalo, completing his studies with a B.S. in Computer Engineering and a Ph.D. in Operations Research. He began his career applying these skills as a Principal Research Scientist at CUBRC, a leading data science R&D firm, helping grow his division from 2 to more than 30 individuals while successfully delivering predictive-analytics solutions for the US Defense and Intelligence communities.
Director—Communities and Local Government & New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA), ECO Incubator Advisory Board Member
Ms. Tyler the Director, Communities and Local Government for NYSERDA. Since joining NYSERDA in 2002, Ms. Tyler has lead several economic development initiatives in Buffalo and across the state. Her current role includes collaborating and partnering with municipalities and community stakeholders to proactively address local energy and economic development needs with market-oriented clean energy strategies. Ms. Tyler graduated from the State University of New York College at Buffalo with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Communication and English, and received her MBA from Medaille College.
Bobbie Thoman is a cleantech entrepreneur who has spent the last decade scaling and commercializing greenhouse gas reduction solutions.
She spent her early career focused on food waste diversion practices in Canada and the United States and has a successful track record of identifying waste streams and turning them into feedstocks for commercial and industrial processes. She is passionate about circular economy practices and finding ways to turn waste into a resource using science, technology, and sustainable business strategies.
Thoman has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University at Buffalo and a joint Master’s Degree in US Canadian Studies from Brock University and the University at Buffalo. While completing her master’s program she interned at the US Composting Council, and throughout her career she has volunteered as technical expert on several working groups including the Expert Advisory Group for Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) Oil and Gas Guidance Document and Technical Expert for Canada’s Landfill Methane Recovery and Destruction Offset Protocol.
When she isn’t busy reimaging our waste systems, Thoman enjoys spending time in nature with her young family.
Meet our companies who have used Launch NY mentorship to prepare for investment from the most active seed fund in New York State, the Launch NY Seed Fund, and our new Invest Local financing programs.
Most Active Seed Fund
Launch NY’s mission includes not only helping individual startup companies but also building a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem by working with numerous partners who share our commitment to providing founders the resources they need.
Find out what it’s like to work with Launch NY to make progress on your entrepreneurial journey.