teaching team


Meet the ASPIRE for SBIR teaching team. Our team, along with a group of angel investors, VCs, and mentors, will work closely with you to provide coaching, advice, and support that is tailored to your venture and your goals.

pitch competitionsEli Velasquez, Director, Venture Development
Eli oversees the development of VentureWell’s new and ongoing early-stage innovator programs, and leads investor network development. Previous to VentureWell, his efforts in Texas led to the founding of a new angel network, and over $20M in funding for startups, entrepreneurship programs, and proof of concept funds. He obtained a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Boston University and a JD degree with an Intellectual Property Certificate from Whittier Law School.


Heath NaquinHeath Naquin, Senior Global and Government Liaison Officer
Heath works on the identification and development of new opportunities and initiatives to support our strategic program goals, with a particular focus on our global and federal funders and partners. As part of this role, he leads the Global Innovation in Science and Technology (GIST) initiative on behalf of the U.S. Department of State and advises the National Science Foundation’s Industry & University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC) program. Prior to joining VentureWell, Heath spent nearly 20 years working in the global startup, innovation, and entrepreneurship field. Most recently, he was Executive Director for the Southwest I-Corps Node at the University of Texas at Austin. Heath holds a BBA from St. Edwards University, an MS in Technology Commercialization from the University of Texas at Austin, is a Certified NSF I-Corps instructor and maintains a PMP designation.


Christina TamerChristina Tamer, Senior Program Officer
Christina oversees VentureWell’s early stage innovator programs ranging from initial customer discovery in E-Teams to investment readiness in ASPIRE. Previously, she worked with a seed-stage impact investment venture fund. The experiences as an investor in addition to countless hours reading grant proposals, building and tracking startup pipelines, and serving as a startup mentor allow her to support VentureWell’s startups with real world examples, lessons, and insights. She holds a BS in Marketing and an MBA from the University of Massachusetts Boston.


Mark MarinoMark Marino, Senior Program Officer
Mark leads the execution of global programs, working with local partners on venture development, ecosystem development, and supporting early-stage entrepreneurs and innovators in emerging markets. Prior to VentureWell, Mark served as the Chief Development Officer for Seed Global Health, the Vice President of Business Development for Planned Parenthood, and a variety of leadership roles at Health Leads. Mark was a Peace Corps Volunteer with a background in molecular biology research and infectious disease diagnostic laboratory testing. He received a BA in Zoology and Neuroscience from Miami University (OH) and a MPH from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.


Wiley Larsen, Arizona State University
Wiley Larsen as Manager of the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs at the Graduate College at Arizona State University.  He is also co-founder and COO of Saccadous, Inc., a startup commercializing eye tracking technology for the diagnosis of neurological disorders.  Wiley recently served as program manager for the ASU’s Venture Development program. While in that capacity, he launched and led several ASU entrepreneurship and innovation programs, including Rapid Startup School, the Arizona Furnace Technology Transfer Accelerator, “Techiepalooza,” the ASU/Department of Defense Center of Excellence in Technology Transfer, and the “TEST-BUILD-SCALE” startup curriculum. Wiley helped spin out more than 70 faculty startup companies. 

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