september 2017 aspire cleantech mentors


Ramphis Castro
Science Vest
Ramphis is the co-founder of ScienceVest, a venture capital fund for hard-tech and life science companies, and Impact Science Angels, an angel group focused on investing in companies that can impact 1MM+ lives. He is a Kauffman Fellow, a community of over 500 innovation investors worldwide representing 160 venture firms and corporate venture groups in 40 countries on 6 continents, that have collectively deployed $200B in venture capital. He is the Co-Chair the NYC chapter of the Society. He is a Founding Board Member for the New York City Innovation Collective – a nonprofit alliance of NYC’s top technology organizations comprised of 70+ accelerators, incubators, and other platforms of innovation working together to support and grow the amazing NYC community. As an entrepreneur, he’s launched and successfully commercialized IP globally.

Seyi Fabode
Asha Labs
Seyi Fabode works on, writes and speaks about the future of technology, innovation, and business. Living, studying and working on three continents give him a unique lens through which he identifies global trends, opportunities and risks.  He’s a partner at Asha Labs, a technology, and innovation consulting firm, which serves startups and global enterprises. Previously, he founded, built and sold a venture capital backed energy technology company in the US. In 2016, Fabode was named a LinkedIn Global Top Voice in Technology. He has an MBA from University of Chicago Booth School of Business and MSc in Manufacturing Systems Engineering from Warwick University, in the UK. He is the author of 40 Semi-Obvious Startup Lessons and writes well-received articles on innovation, technology, and global trends.

Ben Glenn
Shay Glenn LLP
Ben is a partner at Shay Glenn LLP, where he specializes in strategic patents and innovations counseling. He primarily advises venture-backed companies and investors in intellectual property matters arising during investment rounds, corporate formation, and throughout a company’s product development cycle with an emphasis in companies within the medical device industry. Benjamin graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1987, receiving a B.S.E. in mechanical engineering and attended law school at Santa Clara University.

Josh Posamentier
Congruent Ventures
Joshua is Managing Partner and co-founder of Congruent Ventures, an early stage venture firm that backs companies in the sustainable technology ecosystem. Prior to that, he was at Prelude Ventures where he helped build its current portfolio. Before Prelude Joshua was co-founder and CEO of Blipstream, a location services company acquired in 2008.  He also built up National Semiconductor’s Battery Management, Electric Vehicle, and Smart Grid business units, contributing to the company’s alternative energy strategy. Texas Instruments acquired National in 2011. Previously, Joshua held various technical and marketing positions at Intel Corporation and Intel Capital.

Jean Redfield
Jean Redfield is President and CEO at NextEnergy. Redfield previously served as the company’s Vice President, Public Policy Programs, leading public-sector initiatives. Her experience includes multiple leadership roles at DTE Energy as well as consulting roles at McKinsey and Company. Her work has primarily involved strategy development, leading major change initiatives and supporting companies as they transform through major dislocations in their respective industries. She has worked in various industries (investment banking, chemicals, aerospace/defense, pharmaceutical and biotech start-ups, and energy) in the United States, Europe, Brazil, India, and China. She has also served as co-owner and CFO of Fordsell Machine Products, a precision machine products company, from 1994 to the present. Redfield holds a B.A. in biology from Washington University, St. Louis, a B.S. in civil engineering from the University of Memphis, and an M.B.A. from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

Zakaria Shaikh
Entrepreneur, Citrus Ventures
Zakaria was tapped by the national online donation platform, Network for Good, to lead corporate innovation efforts. Prior to Network for Good, Zakaria was an appointee in the Obama Administration where he served as Advisor on small business finance and venture capital at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Before his appointment at the Treasury, Zakaria worked under two Michigan governors to co-manage a $600M technology commercialization grant and early-stage investment fund, overseeing both portfolios for the state economic development agency. Previously, Zakaria was an Associate at an early-stage life science venture capital firm.

Vivek Soni
Boston Cleantech Partners and TiE Boston Angels
Vivek has been engaged in energy and clean technology consulting for the last eleven years after several years in corporate leadership roles across the globe. He has over thirty years of industrial, investment and consulting experience. Through his company, Boston Cleantech Partners, Vivek advises private companies, investors and entrepreneurs to build successful cleantech businesses. He is also the Managing Director of TiE Boston Angels an active Angel investment group in the Boston area. Vivek is an advisor to A.T.E. Group companies in India for cleantech matters. Vivek has been a Venture Advisor to Nomura’s expansion-stage, cleantech venture capital fund which was run from London.
Previously, he served as President, Corporate Technology Strategy and Services at the Aditya Birla Group in India, and Director, Science & Technology at Polaroid Corporation in the US. Vivek started his career at Shell Development Company, a Royal Dutch/ Shell Group Company in Houston, TX.

Mark Zhu
Mark is a Director at Propel(x), a leading online investment platform focused on early stage deep technology companies. Mark is leading the newly created direct investment program at Propel(x) and is working on increasing the participation level of institutional and international investors in the Propel(x) community.
Prior to joining Propel(x), Mark had been an investor with Gibraltar Ventures (Prudential Financial), Connecticut Innovations, and DTE Energy Ventures. Mark had invested over $30 M in approximately 15 early stage companies since 2008. Before starting his investment career, Mark was a controls and systems engineer with United Technologies (UTC Power) and Praxair. Mark was a co-inventor on four US patents. Mark received his MBA from Carnegie Mellon University and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Louisiana State University.

Guest Speakers and Mentors

Elizabeth Fleming
Retired Shell Ventures
Most recently Liz worked as a Principal GameChanger, Global Innovation Manager and Executive Innovation Advisor for Royal Dutch Shell. There she led a successful portfolio of revolutionary innovation for Shell’s highly recognized Gamechanger incubator. She evaluated hundreds of disruptive energy-related ideas from inside and outside of company to accelerate technologies and deliver exponential options to global business. Prior to that, Liz held a variety of leadership positions including Regional CO2 Manager, where she served as corporate spokesperson and initiated work to mitigate CO2 emissions in new and existing assets; Program Manager for Shell’s return to New Orleans post Hurricane Katrina, where she led a broad effort to revitalize the city; Global Portfolio Manager where she pioneered the global standardization of software applications and information management; and Change Manager / Internal consultant, where she was a key architect of Shell’s first global business.

Richard “Rick” Hoeg
The Hoeg Law Firm / Of Counsel, Honigman
Rick Hoeg focuses his practice in the area of general corporate governance with particular emphasis on venture capital representation and mergers and acquisitions. He also works extensively with start-up enterprises, including those in the life science and software fields.
In 2005, Rick joined the Ann Arbor office of Miller Canfield Paddock and Stone, where he worked on venture capital transactions, mergers and acquisitions, and entrepreneurial law.  In 2007, he helped start the Ann Arbor office of Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn, where he continued representing venture capital funds and their portfolio companies, as well as technology and biopharmaceutical spin-offs of the University of Michigan.

Anastasia Minor
DTE Energy
Anastasia Minor is Executive Director of corporate strategy at DTE Energy (NYSE: DTE), a Detroit-based diversified energy company involved in the development and management of energy-related businesses and services nationwide. Minor is responsible for strategic planning and strategic initiatives for DTE Energy and its businesses.
Minor joined DTE Energy in 1997 and was previously executive director of the investor relations and planning governance functions, director of corporate budgeting and management reporting, director of gas sales and marketing, and director and controller for DTE Gas, a subsidiary of DTE Energy and a natural gas utility serving 1.2 million customers throughout Michigan. She also previously served in a variety of progressively more responsible management positions. Prior to joining DTE Energy, Minor worked in the investment banking, commercial banking and leasing industries.
Minor earned a master’s degree in business administration with distinction from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree in economics and business administration from Kalamazoo College. Minor serves on the board of directors of Reading Works, which is dedicated to raising the level of adult literacy in metro Detroit. She is on the advisory board of the DTE Energy Women of DTE and has played significant fundraising roles for Vista Maria, Alternatives for Girls, and The Community House.

Sahar Omrani
University of Michigan
Sahar is pursuing her MBA at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business focusing on finance and entrepreneurship- especially in relation to her hometown of Detroit. At Ross, she currently serves as the Director of Investments for the Social Venture Fund (SVF), investing in early-stage startups that have social or environmental impact tied to their core business. SVF works with many accelerators, venture capitals, and institutional partners to both source and promote startups in the impact space.
Outside of school, Sahar was awarded a Dare to Dream Grant to start her own civic engagement startup called Supper’D, thoughtfully connecting Detroit entrepreneurs to resources and community-minded contacts through more specialized interactions. This summer, she worked at Mission Throttle, an impact advisory and investing firm in Michigan. She also consults for the Innovatrium, helping Fortune 500 companies tackle innovation. Currently, she is helping build a manufacturing accelerate space downtown for one client and piloting startup ideas for another.
Before Ross, Sahar worked as a consultant at PA Consulting Group and Acquis Consulting Group in New York City, focusing on strategy and implementation for clients ranging from Fortune 500’s to startups. She has over five years of experience advising clients on competitive strategies, cost management, and process efficiency solutions.  Sahar received a B.A. in Economics and a B.A. in International Studies from Yale University. She also received a Certificate for Web Development from New York University. Additionally, she was awarded the Ross Scholarship, Forte Fellowship, and named a Zell Lurie Institute Scholar at the University of Michigan.

Jim Saber

Jim Saber is Vice President, Business and Technology Development, at NextEnergy. Saber’s focus is on strategic planning and development to grow and support NextEnergy’s activities across multiple alternative-energy sectors, including smart grid, advanced energy storage, vehicle electrification, power electronics, energy efficiency, and renewables such as wind, solar, and biofuels. Prior to joining NextEnergy, Saber spent more than a decade in the energy-storage industry, where he held product- and business-development positions with Fortune 500 and start-up companies. Jim holds a B. S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Lawrence Technological University.

Jean Shia
The Autodesk Foundation

Jean Shia is the Head of Portfolio and Investment at the Autodesk Foundation where she oversees a portfolio of organizations using design for positive social and environmental impact. Jean has over 15 years of experience working across the public and private sectors in social entrepreneurship, economic development, finance and strategic operations. Prior to joining Autodesk, Jean was the VP of Business Operations at Driptech, a for-profit social enterprise focused on improving smallholder livelihoods through low cost irrigation technologies. She also worked for three years in the investment and development team of a US$100 million real estate fund, Avant Housing. She started her career as a Community Development Fellow at the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development working to revitalize neighborhoods across New York City. Jean received an MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley and a Bachelor of Science with Honors in Urban Studies from Cornell University.

Brian Tolliver
Schneider Electric
Brian Tolliver, Director, Strategy and Business Development, brings more than 20 years of Fortune Global 500 experience spanning energy, high-technology, corporate development, strategy, business development, investment banking, e-commerce, and finance as well as management and P&L responsibility. In his current capacity, he has authored internal studies ranging from strategic growth opportunities and portfolio management to disruptive technologies and business models in the energy sector.
His prior experience includes e-commerce business development and work at Microsoft in corporate development, business development, and finance. Prior to that, Mr. Tolliver worked in Deutsche Bank Alex. Brown’s Technology Investment Banking Group focused on private equity, IPOs and M&A transactions for companies ranging from early stage to blue chip multinationals.
Earlier in his career, he gained deep expertise in software development, consumer finance, and capital markets. Mr. Tolliver is also a volunteer mentor with the Future Founders Foundation, assisting Chicago Public School high school students with their entrepreneurial business plans. He received his BS in Industrial Management and Computer Science from Purdue University, and an MBA in Finance and Accounting from the University of Chicago.

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