winter 2018 aspire cleantech mentors

VentureWell Staff

Jeff Engell
Global Portfolio Manager, VentureWell
Jeff is a speaker and practitioner of entrepreneurship and innovation science. He has conducted lectures, led workshops, and delivered consultancy in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia. His diverse client base has included national science & technology foundations, research universities, private companies, foreign ministries, regional development agencies, incubators, and venture funds. His current focus is on commercialization support and investment capacity building within emerging economies.

Heath Naquin
Vice President Strategic Development, VentureWell
Heath leads the Strategic Development staff and oversees the identification and development of new opportunities and initiatives to drive VentureWell’s strategic growth. 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 as well as a PMP designation.

Christina Tamer
Program Officer, VentureWell
Christina works directly with VentureWell’s early-stage innovators, including a growing portfolio of investments. She helps startups prepare for due diligence and raise their first rounds of equity financing. Previously, she worked at a seed-stage impact investment fund and helped build a portfolio of 18 startups. She holds a BS summa cum laude and an MBA from the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Eli Velasquez
Director of Venture Development, VentureWell
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.


Barbara Araneo
Barbara recently joined the team at USTAR as Program Manager for Technology Commercialization. Barbara most recently served Novo Nordisk, Inc as a Director of External Innovation Sourcing for the company’s Global Research Unit. Barbara served on the faculty of the University of Utah’s Department of Pathology as Associate Professor.  In addition to her academic career, she was Vice President of Development at StemCells Inc., where she was responsible for directing the effort to bring the company’s neural cell-based product candidate from the exploratory and preclinical proof of principle stages into clinical development under the FDA regulatory process. Prior to joining StemCells, Barbara was a scientific co-founder and Senior Vice President of Research and Development at Pharmadigm, a privately held biopharmaceutical company with several products discovered at the company and developed for various stages of clinical development for inflammatory conditions. Barbara obtained her doctorate in Cellular Immunology from the University of Rochester and completed postdoctoral training at Washington University School of Medicine and the Department of Microbiology at UCLA.  In addition to a doctorate degree, Araneo holds certification in US Regulatory Affairs.

Ramphis Castro
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.

Mike Eckert
Mike, a native of Chicago, is a seasoned business executive with particular expertise in the early stage investment eco-system. He has extensive start up experiences as a member of the launch team of The Weather Channel/ where he served as its President and CEO for 14 years, and which brought him to New York City and Atlanta.   He also served as Chairman and CEO of Pathfire, a leading digital video asset management and distribution company.  Mike has been an angel investor since 1997 and currently is Chairman of the NO/LA Angel Network a group of 110 high net-worth individuals that invests in early stage companies.  Mike is also a member of the Board of Directors of the national Angel Capital Association (ACA), which is comprised of over 200 angel investing groups and 15,000 individual investors nation-wide. He has served as Vice Chairman of the ACA and Chair of the ACA’s Public Policy and Strategic Planning Committees.  Mike is past Chairman of the Atlanta Technology Angels, the largest angel investment group in the Southeast, and one of the most active angel investment groups in the USA, and is a former fellow in Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center. . Mike currently is a limited partner in a number of Venture Capital Funds, is on the Investment Committee of the New Orleans Start-Up Fund, the Advisory Committee of the Louisiana Venture Capital Fund and the Advisory Board of the New Orleans Bio-Innovation Center.

Ben Glenn
Ben is a partner at Shay Glenn LLP, where he specializes in strategic patents and innovation 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.

Kris Khalil
Kris currently acts as Managing Director of the BioFund, a life science impact investment firm housed within the New Orleans BioInnovation Center. Before transitioning full-time to venture capital, Kris gained valuable experience working as a risk analyst for multi-national and community-based financial institutions underwriting over $10B in commercial transactions. Kris earned his bachelor’s degree in finance from Louisiana State University and an MBA from Tulane’s A.B. Freeman School of Business with concentrations in entrepreneurship and accounting. He currently teaches venture capital as an adjunct professor at Loyola University’s College of Business.  Kris, a New Orleans native, is very active as a volunteer in the local community and enjoys being a part of the rebirth of the city of New Orleans.

Praful Shah
Praful is an angel investor focused on social impact, and has invested in 75 start-up (includes several Medical Device) companies. He is the Advisory Chairman of Principium Investments, on the Board of Directors for Rockies Venture Club and Impact Hub Academy, a member of Investors’ Circle and Mentor for Watson University students. He spent over thirty years as a scientist and an executive in research and development departments of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. After finishing high school in India, he emigrated to USA and obtained B.S. (Chemistry), MBA (Finance) and PhD in Pharmaceutics.  

Bill Waters
Bill  is currently an Angel Investor and Mentor with a 26 years of prior experience in the Pharmaceutical and Medical Device industries.  Most recently, he was a co-founder and  CFO of Pharmalucence, Inc., a company that manufactures and sells injectable radiopharmaceuticals.
In 2014, he and his two partners exited that business, selling the company to Sun Pharma, a major Indian pharmaceutical company. 
Prior to that, Bill spent 14 years working in Hewlett Packard’s medical device business (which was later sold to Philips Healthcare).  During that period, he held a variety of financial positions supporting the manufacture and servicing of hospital monitoring equipment worldwide.
In his current Mentoring role, he brings experience with financial, regulatory and manufacturing issues of startup businesses.  He holds a BA in Economics from Bowdoin College and an MBA from Columbia University.

Tiffany Wilson
Tiffany has spent over 15 years bringing innovative medical technology from benchtop to bedside. She leads the Global Center for Medical Innovation, a non-profit organization that represents the Southeast’s first medtech innovation center. GCMI is catalyzing a highly capital efficient method approach to move innovation to products that impact patient outcomes, bringing the critical assets, infrastructure, and expertise needed to support entrepreneurs from concept through preclinical testing.
Tiffany joined GCMI from Scientific Intake, where she was VP of Business Development & Strategy.  In 2002, she launched ACell as VP of Corporate Strategy & Finance, leading a broad range of initiatives, including regulatory, reimbursement, and the scientific advisory board. A former consultant & investment banker, she brings considerable experience in strategic planning, business development, operations, and financial analysis.
Tiffany serves as Founding Member of Medtech Women @ SEMDA, was Past-President of the Southeast Medical Device Association (SEMDA), and on the Georgia Bio Board of Directors. She is a Member of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE) at the U.S. Department of Commerce. In 2015 Tiffany received the Georgia Bio Community Award and in 2017 was presented with the Industry Growth Award.  She was recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of “17 Inspiring Women to Watch in 2017” and one of Becker Hospital Review’s “110 Women in Medtech to Know in 2017”.

Ayse Zamboglu
Ayse is an angel investor, a former member and one of the past Co-Chairs of the Device&Digital Screening Committee at Life Science Angels (#1 angel investment group in the US by CB Insights in 2014). Ayse has extensive medical device and pharmaceutical industry experience at start-ups, technology transfer offices and with multiple clients. She comes with a diverse product portfolio history and expat experience.
Ayse advises and mentors start-ups in life sciences, healthcare and digital health. She is also interested in IoT and EdTech companies. Her focus areas are product development and management, fundraising strategies, and helping start-up companies refine their value proposition for the best product-market fit.
She is passionate about empowering underprivileged young entrepreneurs and fostering the start-up ecosystem in Silicon Valley and believes that the know-how generated in this community should be shared with entrepreneurs worldwide. Having been based in San Francisco Bay Area for over 15 years, Ayse actively participates at demo days as a judge and serves as a speaker/panelist/moderator at industry events both in the US and abroad.

Guest Speakers

Mike Beatrice, Ph.D
Independent Regulatory Consultant
With 38 years of experience in both the public and private sectors working with pharmaceuticals, biologicals, nutritionals, medical devices, diagnostic and biotechnology products, Mike Beatrice brings a wealth of knowledge and experience as a former regulator, scientist and industry executive.
Currently head of an independent consulting company , his previous position was president of Validant, a mid-sized global consulting company. Mike also spent 13 years as Corporate Vice President at Abbott Laboratories, focusing on global Quality and Regulatory compliance.  The four years prior to Abbott, Beatrice was a Vice President and a General Manager at Quintiles. (a global contract Research organization). Previous to that, Mike spent 21 years at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and held various executive  management positions including four years as the Deputy Director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) and Chemistry Division Director in the Office of Generic Drugs, CDER, FDA. His government service was as an officer in the United States Public Health Service, attaining the rank of Rear Admiral (Assistant Surgeon General).
Mike served on the Executive Advisory Council of The College of Integrated Science and Technology at James Madison University, the Board of Visitors at the University of Maryland, School of Pharmacy, The Deans Advisory Council of the University of New Mexico, College of Pharmacy, and as a Visiting Professor at University College, London.  He is a charter member of the Food and Drug Administration Alumni Association, and an active member of the Association of Food and Drug Officials.  Beatrice earned a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, and a master’s degree in pharmacy from the University of Oklahoma, Norman, and a Ph.D. in pharmaceutics from the University of Maryland in Baltimore (2001).

Natasha Bond
Nordson Medical Design and Development Group
Tasha is General Manager of Nordson Medical’s Design and Development Group in Boulder, CO.  She has over 15 years’ experience medical device program delivery integrating technical and commercial teams for success.  Tasha has developed programs from concept to launch in a wide range of areas: vascular, venous, respiratory, gynecological, analytical testing and diagnosis and drug delivery.  She also has significant experience in regulatory submission support, due diligence activities.  She most recently worked at IDEV Technologies, a vascular stent manufacturer that was acquired by Abbott Laboratories.
Tasha received her Master’s Degree in Engineering from University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology: Mechanical Engineering with Design, Materials and Manufacture.  She is also a chartered engineer in the UK and a Project Management Professional (PMP).

Ted Jones
Jones Walker LLP
Ted Jones is a partner in the firm’s Corporate & Securities Practice Group and Private Equity team. He advises and works with public and private companies, private equity and venture capital funds, and individual and institutional investors in a variety of transactional and regulatory matters.  Mr. Jones also advises private fund managers, investment bankers and other investment advisors and broker-dealers with respect to compliance under federal and state securities laws and regulations.
Prior to joining Jones Walker, Mr. Jones was an investment banker with the Baton Rouge office of Stephens Inc.  Before returning home to Louisiana, he practiced corporate and securities law in Silicon Valley.  Immediately following law school, he served as legislative counsel to the Honorable W.J. “Billy” Tauzin in the United States House of Representatives in Washington, D.C.


This program would not have been possible without the support of the local innovation and entrepreneurship community. We are grateful for the chance to collaborate with the following partners.

The Shop at CAC

Please join us in thanking The Shop at CAC for being our welcoming host at the winter 2018 ASPIRE cohort. The Shop at CAC is located in a historic former warehouse that now houses one of New Orleans’ most important cultural institutions, The Shop at the Contemporary Arts Center features over 40,000sf of artful co-working space for the creative professional.

The Idea Village

Founded in 2000, The Idea Village formalized in 2002 as an independent 501©(3) nonprofit dedicated to engaging our community to embrace innovation, entrepreneurship, and new thinking. The Idea Village has established itself as a globally-recognized leader in developing place-based entrepreneurial ecosystems. As a result, New Orleans is now in the top 10% of best cities to start a business in the country (WalletHub), with startup activity 64% above the national average (The Data Center). We’ve been called America’s #1 Biggest Brain Magnet (Forbes) and 1 of the 20 Hottest Startup Hubs in America (The Kauffman Foundation). The Idea Village is committed to sustaining the local entrepreneurial movement by providing direct services to entrepreneurs, engaging the community, and supporting initiatives that leverage entrepreneurship to catalyze change.

Emily Egan
I am a firm believer that entrepreneurship and the innovation it brings can solve most problems. That is why I have dedicated my career to supporting and growing the world’s entrepreneurial community. In early 2014, I returned to the New Orleans area after living in Washington DC for 16 years. I immediately sought out roles where I could continue to work on entrepreneurship, and I knew from the beginning that The Idea Village was where I wanted to be. In my role as Director of IDEAVILLAGEx, I manage our programs that provide direct service to the entrepreneurs of New Orleans. My goal is to identify and support entrepreneurs with big ideas who have a strong commitment to New Orleans.

Audrey Voelker
A native New Orleanian, Audrey Voelker is a graduate of the Academy of the Sacred Heart and Boston College. She joins the Idea Village after five years at The National WWII Museum where she managed the Museum’s special events, including three annual fundraising galas, local and national cultivation events, and Museum-wide Grand Openings while developing strategy for cultivating long-term support for the Museum.

The Albert Lepage Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Freeman School of Business

New Orleans is one of the world’s great startup cities, and Tulane is uniquely qualified to help our entrepreneurs thrive. The Albert Lepage Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Freeman School of Business brings together scholars, inventors, investors and students to solve problems and build businesses. Their programs provide direct support for Tulanians, New Orleanians and communities across the Gulf South. The programs of the Lepage Center (including the Tulane Family Business Center, the Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship Research, and the Tulane Business Model Competition) are led by Lepage Center Executive Director Rob Lalka, the staff, and faculty at the A.B. Freeman School.

Rob Lalka
Rob Lalka is co-founder and partner at Medora Ventures. Rob is also Professor of the Practice at Tulane University’s A.B. Freeman School of Business and Executive Director of the Lepage Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Rob previously worked at the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Village Capital, and the U.S. Department of State. He graduated from Yale University and has a master’s degree in global public policy from Duke University.

New Orleans BioInnovation Center

The New Orleans BioInnovation Center is a nonprofit business incubator dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship and supporting Louisiana innovators as they develop life-saving new technologies. The Center was created to harness our state’s life science research strengths for sustainable economic growth. When a Louisiana innovator uncovers a potential new disease diagnostic, treatment, or technology, we help them build a successful business and bring that discovery to the market. Tenant and client companies supported by our program teams include startups developing innovative new medical devices, therapeutics, diagnostics, digital health platforms, clean technologies, and more. These companies are based both at the Center and across the state, and their technologies range from cancer and diabetes treatments to urban farming and water remediation solutions. All promise to improve global health. The facility is housed in downtown’s burgeoning medical district, where more than $2.3 billion has been invested in new hospital and medical research construction. We work with independent innovators and researchers from major institutions including Tulane, LSU Health, Xavier and UNO.

David Bode
David oversees the commercialization program and its consulting team of life science experts, which provides technical assistance and programming aimed at growing the life sciences industry and knowledge-based economy in the region. David earned his MBA from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business and has been working in technology commercialization since 2013. In addition to his entrepreneurial interests, David is an accomplished musician, with a Master’s Degree in Jazz Studies from the University of New Orleans and a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Loyola University New Orleans. David has recorded eight albums with different bands including One Love Brass Band, Doombalaya, and Outer Core, and can be seen performing in clubs and festival around New Orleans.

Michael Landry
Michael provides business consulting services to startups on a wide range of topics, including business strategy, business models, financial modeling, fundraising, competitive analysis, and marketing. He graduated Beta Gamma Sigma from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business with an M.B.A. in Entrepreneurship and Strategic Management & Leadership (2017). He began at the BioInnovation Center as a Commercialization Intern during his M.B.A. Prior to pursuing a business career, Michael obtained a J.D. from Tulane Law School and gained six years of experience in disability and federal administrative law. He is licensed to practice law in NY and DC. Michael also holds a B.A. from Syracuse University in philosophy and economics, with minors in political science and psychology.

Erik Wahl
Erik, as part of the commercialization team, advises clients on a variety of business and legal matters with an emphasis on intellectual property. Erik started at the BioInnovation Center as an Extern while simultaneously pursuing a J.D. from Loyola University of New Orleans and a Computer Science degree from the University of New Orleans. Prior to joining the BioInnovation Center, Erik worked with non-profits and startups in a number of roles including project management, sales and marketing, graphic design and IT. Erik also holds a BA in Film Production from the University of New Orleans.

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