Andrea Belz, Lead Instructor, is the incoming Vice Dean for Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. She serves as the Director of the NSF Innovation Corps (“I-Corps”) funded Innovation Node – Los Angeles and has served as Entrepreneur-in-Residence, with faculty appointments in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering; the Iovine and Young Academy for Arts, Technology, and the Business of Innovation; and the USC Marshall School of Business. She also currently serves as Visiting Professor of Engineering at the California Institute of Technology. Her research focuses on modeling technology-based entrepreneurial ecosystems, particularly in the with an emphasis on the NASA SBIR program, and she has published research in optical systems, nuclear physics, geomicrobiology, and systems engineering. She is the founder and chair of the Technology Transfer and Infusion session at the IEEE Aerospace Conference. Dr. Belz is Managing Director of Kinetic Intelligence, an intellectual property strategy consultancy, and has previously guided strategic planning for world-class innovators including Avery Dennison, BP, California Institute of Technology, CVI Melles Griot, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Occidental Petroleum, Raytheon, SPIE, and UCLA, as well as venture capital firms, university technology startups, and international public-private partnerships supporting technology transfer ecosystems. An active angel investor, she serves on the Board of Directors of Caltech spinoff laser manufacturer Ondax. She holds a B.S. in physics from the University of Maryland at College Park, with High Honors in physics and University Honors in political economics; a Ph.D. in physics from the California Institute of Technology; and an M.B.A. in finance from the Pepperdine University Graziadio School of Business.
Lynore M. Abbott is the Founder of Logical Marketing, which provides technology-centric business development, strategy development, and marketing support to small and mid-size companies. Her enjoyment of Photonics, Technology, Business Development, Sales, Marketing, and Start-ups has taken her from Polaroid Corporation, to a series of small telecom startups (2 of 3 with successful exits), to mid-size companies which executed and integrated multiple international acquisitions. She mentors local startup technology companies in New Mexico seeking venture financing. She holds an S.B. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Materials Science and Engineering, an M.S. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in Polymer Science and Engineering, and an M.B.A. from the University of New Mexico.
Viktor Brandtneris has a diverse financial and general management background from experiences in both corporate and entrepreneurial environments. In his early career he worked in the computer industry in numerous Financial Planning and Modeling roles for companies including IBM and Computervision. His first entrepreneurial endeavor was as co-funder of the Devonshire Trust Company, a boutique money management and mutual fund company in Salem, Massachusetts. After the sale of Devonshire Trust, Viktor stayed active in the financial markets and small business consulting. As Principal of Brandtneris Consulting, he provides business-modeling services centered on the Lean-Start Up Customer Discovery process. Viktor is a member of the national teaching faculty of the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Commercialization program and Director of Ann Arbor SPARK’s Entrepreneurial Boot Camp. He is also part of the teaching team for the University of Michigan, Center for Entrepreneurship’s regional I-Corps . Viktor has an MBA in Finance & Marketing from Boston College and a double major B.A. in Economics & Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania.
Mel Bulu-Taciroglu is a specialist in Finance and Economics education. She has been teaching various classes for the Technology Management Technical Breadth Program at UCLA’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering since 2011. She is also active at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability where she recently developed a new course titled “Entrepreneurship and Finance for Environmental Scientists.” Bulu-Taciroglu continuously collaborates with active entrepreneurs, corporations, as well as non-profit organizations to deliver the most up-to-date information and real-life examples to her classes. She holds a B.S. from the Middle East Technical University in Economics, M.A. from Boston College in Economics, M.S. in Mathematics and Ph.D. (ABD) in Economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Ken Hayes wears three professional hats as a senior business and technology executive: Investor, Entrepreneur and Advisor. In 2014, Ken co-founded Canyon Creek Capital’s Fund II and became Venture Partner in this SoCal VC fund. CCC-II has invested in over 24 tech companies at the late seed, bridge and series A rounds. Ken’s specialty is in sourcing deals, running due diligence, managing investments and working with the limited partners. Ken is a Director Emeritus of the Pasadena Angels, a 100-member investor group supporting start-up companies in Los Angeles. Coming off a three year term on the Board of Directors, he was Chairman of the Operations Committee and Co-Chairman of the Legal / Standards Committee, focused on managing the deal platforms and all technology for the group.
Tommy Knapp is the former Associate Director and an Assistant Professor of Clinical Entrepreneurship in the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the Marshall School of Business. His teachings encompass all facets of entrepreneurial studies including Venture Management, Feasibility Analysis, Business Planning and Launching and the “E”-Challenge. Knapp is a two-time Golden Apple Award winner for outstanding teaching at the Marshall School of Business as voted on by the student body. Prior to USC, Knapp served as President of GSM investments, a wholly owned subsidiary of Billabong International, Inc. Knapp along with partner Randy Blumer successfully created and sold their retail chain of surf shops, Honolua Surf Co, in 2004 to Billabong International, Ltd a leading ASX 100 company. Tommy is a partner in Blue Jay Bay Ventures, a firm that invests and manages multi-family real-estate assets in the Southern California region, a board member of Colony American Homes, and a board member for the Challenged Athletes Foundation, a worldwide non-profit organization whose mission is to help individuals with physical disabilities get active and stay in the game of life. Mr. Knapp graduated from the University of Southern California, with a B.S. and MBA in Business Administration.
Tom McGovern has served as Managing Director of Idealab since January 2012 and sits on various private company boards. Idealab is a Los Angeles based technology incubator and seed stage investor that has started more than 100 companies. Prior to this most recent role, Tom co-founded and led as CEO 3 Idealab operating companies. Tom joined the Idealab family in 1999 from Warner Bros. where most recently he was Senior Vice President of International. In 1996 Tom co-founded the Internet Mall, one of the Internet’s earliest marketplaces which went public as Shopnow. Before Warner Bros., Tom was a management consultant with Management Horizons, a strategy consulting division of PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Tom started his career in the audit division of Price Waterhouse, earning his CPA while serving high technology clients in the San Francisco Bay Area. Tom holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS from the University of Colorado.
Kerry Rupp, Innovation & Strategy Consultant and General Partner at True Wealth Ventures. Leveraging over 20 years’ experience launching and growing startups and new lines of business, Kerry Rupp advises clients on innovation & strategy. She is also a General Partner at True Wealth Ventures, a new early-stage venture capital fund investing in women-led businesses in the sustainable consumer and consumer health verticals. She also serves as an instructor for the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps program. An active start-up coach, Kerry is a frequent speaker on entrepreneurship, innovation and early-stage investing and serves as a judge at startup competitions nationwide. Previously, Kerry was CEO at DreamIt, a top ten US startup accelerator and early-stage venture fund, where she was directly involved with the launch of over 150 companies, now worth over $1B in aggregate. She holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA in Biology from Duke University.
Farzin Samadani has a diverse background in business and technology. His current focus is as a co-founder of a technology startup and also providing consulting services for entrepreneurs and startups using the Lean Start-Up methodology. He also has extensive experience in the corporate environment, both in large and smaller companies. As an executive at XAP Corporation, an education technology company, he was responsible for setting the product strategy, strategic partnerships and company operations. At Coca-Cola, he had a senior role in providing technology solutions to help lean business processes. Farzin volunteers at the Chamber of Commerce events to assist local businesses improve their operations and profitability through lean principles and use of modern technology. He also enjoys mentoring startup technology companies participating in local Meetup Groups. Farzin’s education is in Business Management and Accounting from the University of Maryland.