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Christina Bechhold - Samsung NEXT Ventures, Principal

Christina Bechhold is a Principal at Samsung NEXT Ventures, based in New York, focused on early stage investments in software and services, particularly in mobility, IoT and fintech. She is also Co-Founder and Managing Director of Empire Angels, a member led angel group of young professionals investing in technology startups with a focus on supporting young entrepreneurs. Christina is a Regular Contributor for the Wall Street Journal on startups and small business, a columnist for Inc.com, a mentor at The Brandery and Venture for America and a member of VFA’s Rise Committee focused on increasing diversity in entrepreneurship. She is a frequent speaker and panelist at events in the U.S., Europe and Asia, a TEDx speaker, and was recognized by the New York Business Journal as a 2016 Woman of Influence.

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Frank Lin - Silas Capital, Managing Partner

Frank is a founding partner of Silas Capital, a growth equity and venture firm based in New York City, that invests in emerging consumer brands. His investments include growing and established brands like Boll & Branch, Lifefactory, Bare Snacks, and Proenza Schouler, as well as new and innovative brands like Casper, Ringly and Tracksmith. Prior to forming Silas Capital, Frank was a Principal at EuclidSR Partners, a venture capital partnership formed by Euclid Partners and SR One, the corporate venture arm of GlaxoSmithKline, and while there he focused on investments in software, consumer products and healthcare. Before that, he co-founded and led corporate strategy for MatchMetrix, a software company that developed personalized recommendation systems for the consumer web. He began his career working for fund managers at Aberdeen Murray Johnstone Ltd. and Neuberger Berman. Frank is originally a Cincinnati native and graduated from the University of Chicago with an A.B. in Economics.

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Mark Achler - Math Venture Partners, Managing Director

Mark was recently the senior vice president of new business, strategy and innovation at Redbox, where he managed the Company’s long-term planning and expansion into new business opportunities. Achler was featured as a mentor to a tech startup on Bloomberg TV’s “The Mentor.”, and in Inc. Magazine Trep Life series.

Prior to joining Redbox in 2009, Achler co-founded one of the first personal computer retail stores in the country and participated in the launch of the IBM PC in Boca Raton in 1981. He then moved to Apple, where he was the worldwide introduction manager for the Apple //c. Upon leaving Apple, Achler co-founded and served as chief executive officer of the Whitewater Group, a company that specialized in development tools and programming languages and shipped the second application for Windows 1.0. After building and eventually selling the Whitewater Group, he co-founded the video game company, Kinesoft Development, where he served as president. Kinesoft was instrumental in developing the technology that allowed Sega and Nintendo scrolling action arcade games to be played on Windows 95. After leaving Kinesoft, Achler served as a founding general partner in Kettle Partners, an early-stage venture capital fund. While at Kettle, Achler was the lead investor in local Chicago companies such as Surepayroll (sold to PAYX) and Novarra (sold to NOK).

Fueled by a lifelong passion for building new businesses, Achler also has helped to co-found Emmi Solutions, a provider of patient education, where he first served as president and later became chief executive officer. Achler is a frequent speaker, resource and ardent champion for the entrepreneurial community; where he is a mentor for TechStars and the Chicago High Tech Academy. He is also now an Adjunct Professor and Lecturer on Entrepreneurship at Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management.

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Mike Brown, Jr. - Bowery Capital, VC

Mike Brown, Jr. is the General Partner at Bowery Capital based in New York. Prior to Bowery Capital, Brown co-founded AOL Ventures and led investments in over 30 companies primarily focused around the next generation of CMO and CTO spend. Before AOL Ventures, Mike worked for the investment arm of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, helping to invest capital in early stage internet startups on behalf of the British entrepreneur. He began his career at Morgan Stanley. Outside of his professional life Brown serves on the Board of Directors of the National Forest Foundation and co-chairs the Columbia College Young Leaders Council. Mike holds an undergraduate degree from Columbia University. @MikeBrownJr

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Adam Chandler - Kargo, Chief Business Officer

As Senior Vice President of revenue at Rubicon Project, Adam oversees the company’s North American revenue team across all enterprise products for buyers. Additionally, Adam leads many of the company’s strategic channel partnerships. Prior to joining Rubicon Project, Adam was a tenured Yahoo! executive overseeing US revenue teams responsible for over 250M+. 

Prior to Rubicon Project and Yahoo!, Adam has held a number of roles developing and scaling digital, mobile, and programmatic revenue. As head of programmatic global revenue at Millennial Media, Adam helped launch the MMX mobile global exchange which paved the way for Millennial Media’s acquisition of Nexage. As SVP of sales at Jumptap, he expanded the demand for mobile advertising prior to Millennial Media’s acquisition of the company. As CRO of Martini Media, he turned a conventional rep firm into a multimedia platform for brand, performance and programmatic advertising. 

Chandler is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit including Advertising Week, Adexchanger, & Adtech. Adam has taught digital media at the New School University and the Advertising Club of New York and covers digital media for leading advertising trade publications. Adam serves as the Vice Chairman of the UJA-Federation of New York’s Media & Tech Executive Committee, and is on a number of advisory boards including the seed stage start up accelerator The Brandery. 

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Taylor Davidson - Foresight, Founder

Taylor Davidson is the founder of Foresight, which helps entrepreneurs use financial models for business decisions. Through his template financial models and strategic advisory services, he has helped over 18,000 entrepreneurs on financial planning, projections, and fundraising and business strategy. Taylor has also worked with over 90 angel investors and funds on investment strategy, portfolio tracking, capital planning and forecasting, and fundraising. He has lectured at Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, School of Visual Arts (SVA), General Assembly, and numerous startup accelerators in the USA and abroad.

He has invested and advised a number of early-stage startups throughout his career as a venture capitalist, consultant, advisor, and mentor, working with consumer and enterprise businesses in digital media, advertising technology, imagery, mobile, and communications. Taylor was formerly the Director of kbs+ Ventures, the early-stage venture investment arm of the advertising agency kbs. In addition, he co-created and ran an internal educational program called kbs+ Ventures Fellows, which taught kbs+ employees about venture capital and entrepreneurship. He co-curated the book Creative Entrepreneurship to share this educational goal with anyone in the world.

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Michael Docherty - NextBig, Co-founder and Managing Partner

Michael Docherty brings unique perspectives to growth and innovation, having been an entrepreneur, senior corporate executive and venture capitalist. It might explain why he’s passionate about the intersection of corporate innovation and entrepreneurship. He is the author of the recent book Collective Disruption: How Corporations and Startups Can Co-create Transformative New Businesses (Polarity Press 2015). The book provides established companies with a practical playbook for plugging into the startup ecosystem to fuel and incubate new businesses as entrepreneurial ventures.

Docherty is the founder and managing director of Next Big, a unique company that creates and
Docherty is also CEO of Venture2, a growth and innovation consulting firm that helps leading companies transform their innovation capabilities, build innovation
ecosystems and accelerate the commercialization of breakthrough new products, services and business models.

Docherty holds an MBA degree from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School and BSME degree from Drexel University. He is a frequent speaker on innovation and corporate venturing and an active supporter of the entrepreneurial community. Twitter: @medocherty

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Blair Garrou - Mercury Fund, Managing Director

Since the late 90’s, Blair Garrou has focused on funding, operating and incubating startup software companies. Blair is a co-founder and Managing Director of Mercury Fund, a seed and startup venture capital firm headquartered in Houston, Texas. With over $100 million under management, Mercury invests in compelling and novel software and science-based start-up opportunities, focusing on entrepreneurs and innovation originating in the U.S. Midcontinent. Blair is also a co-founder of SURGE Accelerator, a Houston-based, mentor-driven seed accelerator focused on entrepreneurs seeking to solve the world’s energy problems using software. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Management at the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University where he teaches acourse on venture capital. Prior to Mercury, Blair was the CEO of Intermat (NYSE: IHS), a leader in product information management software; a Principal with Genesis Park, a Houston-based private equity firm; helped launch and was the Director of Operations for the Houston Technology Center, where he led the formation of the Houston Angel Network; was an investment banker with BMO Nesbitt Burns; and began his career with Deloitte & Touche. Blair received a B.S. in Management from Washington & Lee University.

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Mark Hasebroock - Dundee Venture Capital, Founder

Mark Hasebroock, President and Founder of Dundee Venture Capital, has several years of experience in the start-up, survival and success of a variety of e-commerce ventures, as well as a background in investment and commercial banking. A graduate of the University of Nebraska, Mark began building his entrepreneurial skill set in college with his first start-up called Bored Feet which sold colorful moccasins to sororities. After graduation Mark worked as a commercial loan analyst and then a commercial lender at First National Bank of Omaha while getting his MBA from Creighton University at night. He then made the natural transition from banking to selling ready-to-eat popcorn as a franchisee and wholesaler of gourmet popcorn. After selling this business, Mark worked as an investment banker at McCarthy & Co for 15 years helping privately owned companies raise capital as well as sell their businesses. In 1998, Mark met Doug Nielsen and Julie Mahloch who were starting GiftCertificates.com and joined them during the early wild-west days of e-commerce growing it to $75 million in revenue. The team left GiftCertiicates.com in 2002 and founded Hayneedle.com, an e-commerce niche retailer of hard to find goods for the home. Today, Hayneedle has 300+ niche stores and $400 million in revenue. These niche stores sell everything from Hammocks to Birdbaths to ToiletSeats. In 2011, Mark started Dundee Venture Capital with the vision to help fund startup e-commerce and internet service businesses get out of the ground and moving down the right path. To date they have invested $3 million in 5 companies in Omaha, Boulder and Austin. Dundee Venture Capital Fund II is closing July 1 with $15 million in new capital earmarked for more investment in startup e-commerce, Internet service and digital media businesses. Mark has served on the Board of Directors of Ballantyne Strong (Amex: BTN) since 2003. BTN designs, develops, manufactures, services, and distributes theatre and lighting systems worldwide. He is also on the Board of Directors of Creighton Prep High School and was the founder and board member of the Nebraska High School Hockey League.

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Rob Heimann - River Cities Capital, Director

Rob is a Director at River Cities Capital. He joined River Cities with operation and investment experience in venture-funded technology companies with particular expertise in M&A transactions, channel development and corporate strategy. Rob’s investment focus is on the IT sector, with a particular focus on Software-as-a-Service.Prior to joining River Cities, Rob was VP of Corporate Development at IntelliSeek, Inc., a marketing services company backed by River Cities, which was successfully sold to Nielsen. Rob managed several acquisitions, the Company’s Series B financing and helped establish several strategic OEM and reseller partnerships. Prior to that, he worked with Arthur Andersen & Co. consulting with new ventures on financing, M&A transactions and other accounting and tax issues.Rob is a member of the Board of Directors of Trax Technologies, Ifbyphone, Perfectserve, MedPlast and PetSuites. He is formerly an observer on the boards of Invivodata and MX Logic. He also serves as a Mentor at The Brandery and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Greater Cincinnati Venture Association.Rob holds an MBS from the J.L. Kellog School of Business at Northwestern University, where he graduated with distinction. He holds a BS from the University of Virginia and is a CPA. Rob is also Director Emeritus for Starfire Council of Greater Cincinnati, and is a member of the University of Virginia’s regional selection committee for the Jefferson Scholarship Program.

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