Launch New York, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) venture development organization that operates in the 27 westernmost counties of Upstate New York.
Launch New York, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) venture development organization that operates in the 27 westernmost counties of Upstate New York.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
As a recognized leader in the entrepreneur and investor community, Jordan Levy serves as in multiple roles: Managing Partner at both SoftBank NY and Seed Capital Partners, Co-Managing Partner of Z80 Labs, an Accelerator Fund, Former Chairman of 43North, the single largest business plan competition ever held in the United States. Prior to co-founding Seed Capital Partners, Mr. Levy was co-founder of ClientLogic and President, co-CEO and co-Chair of its predecessor companies SOFTBANK Services Group and Upgrade Corporation of America (now SITEL Worldwide). Previously, Mr. Levy was Senior Vice President of Software Etc (now GameStop GME:NASDAQ). He was also Executive Vice President and co-founder of Software Distribution Services, (now known as Ingram Micro IM:NASDAQ). Mr. Levy currently serves on the Board of Directors or as on Observer of several technology companies including Buzzfeed, Rebelmouse, Spanfeller Media, FieldLens, Shareablee, and Lover.ly. Levy holds a B.A. in Political Science, University at Buffalo.
Jennifer Beckage, Esq. CIPP/US, CIPP/E
Jennifer Beckage, Esq. CIPP/US, CIPP/E is the Managing Director of Beckage PLLC where she leads a team of seasoned attorneys and privacy professionals focused on technology, data security and privacy law and litigation. In 2018 and again in 2019 she was recognized by Cybersecurity Docket as one of the Top 30 data breach attorneys in the United States, making her one of a handful of people to earn the recognition twice and the only Upstate New York attorney to ever receive the honor. Cybersecurity Docket has recognized her one of "the 30 best and brightest data breach response lawyers" and one of the “key players - both in the public eye and behind-the-scenes-in the most significant data breach responses worldwide.”
Ms. Beckage assists clients with regulatory compliance, including with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). She helps clients prepare policies, conduct in-house training, and review contracts where data and technology are involved. She has personally responded to numerous headline-making, national and international data breaches and cyber incidents, providing strategy and risk mitigation advice and interface with regulators. She also represents clients in data security and privacy litigation and class actions.
Ms. Beckage is a Certified Information Privacy Professional/United States (CIPP/US) and Certified Information Privacy Professional/Europe (CIPP/E) by the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP).
Before becoming an attorney, Ms. Beckage was an owner and executive of a fast growing Dot Com technology business, helping to lead its successful sale to a publicly-traded company, which retained her as vice president of operations for technical services and product lines across 11 states servicing Fortune 500 clients. Today she leverages her prior business background in providing legal advice to her clients.
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.
Mel Passarelli, Esq.
Mel Passarelli was very recently announced as President & CEO of Aspera after twelve years as 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.
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 25 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 different firms 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 firms 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. In addition to her for profit 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 an editorial board member for Disease Management, and a member of the Board of Directors for Buffalo Angels, Insyte Consulting, New York State Economic Development Council, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, and Western New York Venture Association.
Chief Operating Officer and Fund Manager
Ms. Stencel, as the Chief Operating Office and Fund Manager for Launch NY. Since joining Launch NY in August 2016, Lindsay has led the growth of the Launch NY Seed Fund, to become the most active seed fund in Upstate NY with a close rate of one investment per month and plays a leading role for co- and follow-on investments in client companies with LNYSF.
Lindsay earned her JD and MBA from The Ohio State University, then served as partner and chief legal counsel for an early stage venture fund in Ohio, since 2008, where she focused on deal structuring, compliance and portfolio management for two funds totaling over $50M. In addition, through her own law firm, she has provided legal counsel for small businesses focusing on start-up stage to $20M/year revenue companies in Ohio and Michigan.
In her spare time, Lindsay enjoys exercising at her CrossFit gyms (CrossFit Westerville and Rust Belt CrossFit) and spending time with her husband, Chris, and dogs, Ogie, Pearl, and Matilda.
Project Manager and Program Coordinator, ECO Incubator
Danielle is a Project Manager with Launch NY. 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 June 2016. Prior to returning to University at Buffalo for her graduate studies, Danielle worked at BlueCross BlueShield of WNY as a Network Development Associate focused on data and incentive reporting for a 500 physician network. During this time she received her Master’s Certificate in Project Management from Villanova University in August 2014. Danielle currently serves as a member of the Mount St. Mary Academy Alumni Board, in Kenmore, NY, where she also served as head and assistant coach of both the Varsity and JV Lacrosse Program from 2010-2016.
Celine is the Marketing Director with Launch NY, joining the staff in 2019. Celine graduated from Niagara University receiving a dual degree in Theatre Performance and Political Science in 2013, and is a recent graduate of the University at Buffalo MBA Program. Prior to joining Launch NY, Celine Keefe worked at M&T Bank in the Enterprise Transformation Office focusing on change management, visual branding, and project development. She has worked with numerous startups during and after her graduate degree where she was selected as a Western New York Prosperity Fellow. Celine currently serves on the Friends of Niagara University Theatre Board and UB’s Young Alumni Leadership Council. She is extremely dedicated to the WNY Region and helping shape the entrepreneurial culture in Upstate New York.
Alex Killian is an Investment Associate with Launch NY. Alex works on investments through the Launch NY Seed Fund along with identifying additional opportunities for financial vehicles to further expand the reach of Launch NY. Alex earned his MBA from the University at Buffalo, then worked as an investment analyst for a private equity firm in Toronto, Ontario. In addition, he works with a family investment office based out of the Greater Toronto Area identifying and investing in operating businesses and real estate.
In his spare time, Alex enjoys the many opportunities for fun that the great City of Buffalo has to offer and he is an avid golfer and Buffalo sports fan.
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.
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 a variety of Startups. Mr. Adamski is an active coach to a variety of Applied Entrepreneurship (RIT) 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.
Edward Bizari has recently served as a mentor/adviser in the Lean Launch Pad program through NextCorps (previously High Tech Rochester), a program designed to help founders vet their business model. He quickly realized how much help these companies need with business learning, advice on decisions, and the preparation and quest for financing. Mr. Bizari also works with other startups in the greater Rochester area, Syracuse, Buffalo, and Ithaca areas and serves as an entrepreneurial fellow assisting budding entrepreneurs at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Over his career, Mr. Bizari has held positions at Fortune 500, small public, and startup companies alike in the areas of software, telecommunications, and health services. His positions were in the area of sales, marketing, and product management, the last 10+ positions at the executive level.
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.
Paul Buckley is an experienced small business professional and was most recently President of Applied Sciences Group, Inc. (ASG) from 1997 until early 2018, serving in engineering, administration, operations management, and strategic development areas. Prior to his employment at ASG, Mr. Buckley 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.
Since passing on the reigns of ASG, Mr. Buckley is using 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, such as medical devices that included embedded software in manufactured products. Prior to joining Launch NY as an Entrepreneur-in-Resdience, he has volunteered as a mentor and coach for grass-roots and high-growth companies through local programs with University at Buffalo’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL), Pre-Seed Workshops, and several others.
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.
For more than 25 years, Margaret Cosentino has provided re-engineered business processes, state of the art technology solutions and results driven organizational design consulting services to a wide array of businesses from IBM, Agilent Technologies, NEC and Xerox to startups (C level positions in both). She has brought best practice results to For Profit and NFPs (WNY HealtheLink, NYS Department of Health) alike. She has managed domestic and international large scale ($20 - $320m) business transformation projects for technology, bio-science, medical and manufacturing businesses. She holds a Bachelors degree from Roberts Wesleyan College with graduate studies at SUNY Brockport.
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’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 recently began mentoring for Launch NY 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 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 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.
Joe Kunkemoeller is the Managing Member of Aurora Capital Partners, LLC. He is an accomplished senior professional with a record of domestic and international achievement as a consultant, entrepreneur and investment banker.
Mr. Kunkemoeller brings industry expertise in energy, advanced materials, financial services, consumer services and retail. He has led capital raising, capital structuring and exit transactions for startup, small cap and growth capital clients. In addition, he has 25+ years experience in management evaluation, management coaching and mentoring (as a principal team member and advisor). He is currently providing commercialization, strategic and capital raising advice to companies in Upstate New York including those emerging from local incubators.
Prior to his return to Western New York and the formation of Aurora Capital, he was a Managing Director at Wedbush Morgan Securities in Los Angeles. He initiated and developed transactions for early stage, small and mid-cap clients in consumer market segments. He was a member of the Los Angeles Venture Association and a moderator and contributor to industry panels in the Southern California market. Prior to locating in Los Angeles, he had his own New York based principal investment and consulting practice providing financial advice to public/private ventures, property development firms and nonprofit organizations.
He began his career in finance in the investment banking business in New York. Mr. Kunkemoeller spent 17 years in the corporate finance group at JPMorgan/Chase, primarily in the Mergers and Acquisitions department and has worked extensively in the US, Europe and Latin America. He received an MBA from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business and an MS at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture. He received a BA (Summa Cum Laude) from Fordham University. He currently resides in Western New York and is former Member of the City of Buffalo Historic Preservation Board.
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.
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, Ms. O’Shea provides legal and business development counsel, including to startup and early-stage companies – particularly in the healthcare, health IT, and energy sectors. She co-founded a transatlantic initiative that connected business, investment and technology opportunities between the NAFTA and European Union economic markets, particularly focused upon New York State and Ireland. Prior to her focus on entrepreneurial activities, she was a trial lawyer for 13+ years handling complex litigation matters. 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 organizations focused on business or economic development and is pleased to have been recently appointed to the Board of directors of EkoGreenPower Ltd, a U.K. energy company that produces energy from recovered resources and Secretary of The Explorers Museum which celebrates the human spirit and drive towards exploratory accomplishment.
Venus Quates-Majors is an Air Force Veteran, International Speaker, proud Nerd, and the President and CEO of LAUNCHTech, whose mission is to Solve the Present and Grow the Future. As an accomplished professional with over 20 years of domestic and international experience, she has acquired a wealth of technical and business development knowledge across a wide range of demanding roles and sectors. Venus has led several engineering and technology initiatives with major Fortune 100 and 500 companies, global banking giants, and leaders in the Intelligence and Defense industries.
In 2012, Venus walked away from everything with only a 38-liter backpack in tow and embarked on an 18-month journey across 12 countries to redefine happiness, educate the masses on the benefits of technology in business, and increase community and economic development abroad. This pilgrimage helped to redefine her personal mission and redirect the trajectory of her life.
As a longtime Catalyst-for-Change for diversity and inclusion in the tech space, Venus knows firsthand that innovation is necessary beyond coding and the keyboard and that she is destined to lead this charge. Armed with unyielding determination and a passion for helping the disadvantaged and underserved reach their full potential, she currently serves on several boards and committees for organizations whose focus is to empower women in leadership and promote STEM education and awareness for girls and minorities. Venus is also an Entrepreneur-in-Residence with the Venture Development Organization (VDO), Launch NY, and a mentor at the Buffalo Veterans Treatment Court.
Entrepreneur-in-Residence, National Mentor Network
Dean Rallo is an experienced and successful senior business leader who excels at helping business grow and maximize profitability. In addition to having a passion for developing highly cohesive and focused teams Mr. Rallo brings with him a broad range of leadership experience and a diverse area of expertise ranging from business development, financial acumen, customer service and operations. Having spent over 20 years with Rosa’s Home Stores, a multi-unit retail business environment specializing in the furniture and major appliance industry in the Buffalo market where he ultimately took over as the company President. Shortly after his time in the retail sector he transitioned his leadership ability into the vertical integrated software space. As the Executive Vice President for Harris Computer systems leading the School Nutrition Solutions division which provided software to over 4,000 schools thought the US. He is currently the Director of Sales Operations for a Buffalo based software company serving the multi-billion dollar industry of food manufactures.
Having the opportunity to share knowledge and mentor teams is a passion and one that Mr. Rallo welcomes the opportunity to be a part of with Launch NY. Prior to starting his working career he graduated from Buffalo State with a BS in Business.
Outside of work he enjoys spending time outdoors enjoying the many great events through Buffalo along with boating and camping. Mr. Rallo lives on Grand Island with his wife Emily and sons Alex and Nicholas.
Southern Tier Startup Alliance, Entrepreneur-in-Residence
Ken Rother is a proven entrepreneur who has built and exited two successful tech/media startup companies. He offers a unique blend of experience leading Web and Mobile technology teams, as well as in‐depth operations expertise in organizations ranging from a few people to a few hundred. Mr. Rother has held SVP positions at Discovery Communications and was responsible for the business and content strategy, programming, and operations for a number of Discovery’s key web properties including; Animal Planet, TreeHugger, Investigation Discovery, Planet Green, and Military Channel. Mr. Rother was CIO/CTO for Bowne Global Solutions (now part of LionBridge), after Mountain Lake Software, a Toronto-based company he co-founded with two partners, was acquired by New York based Bowne. Mountain Lake helped some of Canada’s largest banks get started on the internet. After his second successful exit, he has developed a deep passion for disruptive technology. Mr. Rother has provided mentoring services for Launch NY since its inception and currently also serves as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence trainer and client intake screener. He also leads entrepreneurship classes at Cornell University, the hardware accelerator, and National Science Foundation I-Corps technology commercialization programming through the Southern Tier Startup Alliance.
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.
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
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
Mr. Elsenbeck provides consulting services on a broad range of energy-related opportunities encompassing a forward view of supply, distribution and demand options. In his leadership role with a major U.S. utility for nearly 30 years, he brings to Phillips Lytle insight, analytics and business perspectives on long-term policies and the economic landscape. He assists clients with due diligence and regulatory compliance on energy transactions; regulatory counseling involving Public Service Commission proceedings; energy procurement and utility negotiations involving government entities and municipalities; procurement consulting regarding the reduction of energy costs and review of economic incentives; market driven integrated resource planning, and identifying commercial and technical issues associated with energy-related opportunities. Mr. Elsenbeck helps clients move critical energy projects forward by providing creative solutions and overcoming project challenges. He works to develop the voice of the consumer in energy policy and bill impacts as sustainability becomes a focus of energy policy. Mr. Elsenbeck collaborates with clients in shaping the “utility of the future.” Mr. Elsenbeck is a well-recognized expert in the energy field and is a highly sought-after lecturer on a variety of topics across the U.S.
President—STARK Technologies Group, Inc., ECO Incubator Advisory Board Member
Timothy Geiger, president of STARK Technologies Group, Inc., is a trusted leader with the vision, passion, and commitment to achieving outstanding results. With extensive industrial controls knowledge and experience, Mr. Geiger has an exceptionally strong established network of domestic and international relationships across commercial banking and finance; investment banking; accounting; law; trade organizations; state, regional and local governments; and non-profit organizations. Throughout his career, Mr. Geiger has demonstrated a proven ability to formulate strategy, attract talent, and lead, manage and direct organizations to achieve revenue and profit growth. His leadership skills have contributed to his success in situations requiring rapid change and turnaround, dramatic growth, and sustained performance.
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.
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.