Through his consulting practice Mark has helped companies learn and deploy new product development processes and practices that have resulted in over $500M in profitable growth. During his corporate career at Kennametal and Milacron, he launched new global product lines with lifetime sales of $1B that serve the aerospace, automotive and manufacturing industries. Mark’s commitment to the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) began in 1998 when he and Milacron won the PDMA’s Outstanding Corporate Innovator award. In 2000 he helped found the Cincinnati Chapter and in 2010 he founded the Pittsburgh Chapter. Mark teaches a graduate biomedical class on new product development at the University of Pittsburgh.
Joe started his career at Goodyear Tire and Rubber in Beaumont, Texas and has spent the majority of his career in and around the chemical industry. Besides Goodyear, he has worked for Rubatex, Deloitte Consulting, Bayer, Matthews International and now he is the CEO of Environmental Services Laboratories (ESL) and Environmental Land Survey and Solutions (ELSS).
Joe has been very active in mentoring small businesses less than $10 million in revenue:
- Pulse+ — startup trying to disrupt the elderly care space by matching families, care givers, and the aged. Initial focus was empowering non-profits (2015 to 2016)
- uTranslate – Blast Furnace startup – assisted in prepping for competitions (2016)
- MATRIC – non-profit providing innovative solutions to the chemical, energy, and public services. Their purpose is to diversify West Virginia’s economy and promote STEM education (2012 to present)
- Azgen Scientific Holding – failed IPO – the model was to buy life and material science companies that had stalled financing in the late stages (2015)
- Environmental Services Laboratories/Environmental Land Survey and Solutions – CEO of two small companies held by a private equity firm, Elk Lake Capital (current) (2016 to present)
In addition, Joe lectures at the Katz School of Business on strategy, supply chain management, executive education and serves as an executive advisor for consulting project teams.
BS Chemical Engineering, Stanford University
MBA, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business
Matt is a 20 year Senior Finance executive with combined experience in industry and BIG 4 Public Accounting. Specific experience includes healthcare, medical devices, SaaS, energy management, data science/predictive analytics, manufacturing, retail, and consumer goods. Matt most recently served as CFO of kWantera, Inc. Matt led the finance, accounting, HR, risk management, and investor relations roles that were instrumental in supporting the kWantera team goals of delivering optimized energy solutions to companies of all sizes. Prior to joining kWantera, Matt spent over 4 years as VP, Finance & Administration for ALung Technologies. Previously, he held a senior finance role with Philips North America after Philips acquired Respironics in 2008. Prior to Respironics, Matt spent 5 years within the audit practices of two Big 4 professional service firms. Matt is a licensed CPA and has a MBA from KATZ School at the University of Pittsburgh.
With over forty years of professional experience within Information Technology David’s responsibilities have ranged from both application and operating systems developer through numerous levels of executive management including chief information officer. Similarly, David’s experience has ranged from large federal governmental organizations and venture capital investment firms to small start-up software development and high technology firms, to large financial institutions. In the early years of his career the focus was upon solutions based upon large computers and corresponding networks such as ARPANet. Since the mid-1990’s, his focus has shifted to solutions presented via the Internet through both distributed and centralized computing systems. Since 2004, David has been involved with Carnegie Mellon University Heinz College as a client, faculty advisor and adjunct professor.
Jim is an accomplished senior executive who enjoyed a 32 year career with the Bayer Group / Covestro and was able to amass a unique blend of experience and expertise in manufacturing operations and general business management leadership roles of various scale. A Bachelor of Science chemical engineer from Carnegie Mellon University, Jim spent the first 19 years of his career in engineering and manufacturing leadership roles with increasing responsibility in various chemical and polymer product lines until he was ultimately responsible for nine world scale thermoplastic manufacturing sites across the globe. Over the last 13 years Jim held executive level business general management roles with 4 years as President & CEO of Deerfield Urethane, Inc., a fully owned subsidiary of Bayer, and the last 9 years as the senior executive leader of a large thermoplastic business unit in North America.
Along the way, Jim completed Executive Programs such as a mini executive MBA from the Bayer / Notre Dame program for Management Development as well as a Leadership Development program from the Center for Creative Leadership. A native of Pittsburgh, Jim worked the first 6 and the last 9 years of his career in Pittsburgh. As a result of his three assignments in Germany, Jim is fluent in German.
Jim has a passion for sharing his experiences, especially his mistakes, as a way of paying it forward to help others to achieve breakthrough performance without having to making the same mistakes themselves. Jim is currently mentoring a start-up that came out of AlphaLabGear called Rapid TPC, a firm who is using a new cost efficient processing technology to produce high throughput thermoplastic composite parts.
Albert Ciuksza (it’s pronounced CHOOK-shaw) is a serial mistake-maker and current co-founder/CEO of PortaBeer LLC, which designs and markets innovative portable draft beverage equipment for hotels, private clubs, event and sports venues, and beverage manufacturers. A 2010 Randall Family Big Idea Competition finalist and 2012 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh Katz Graduate School of Business, Albert is an active supporter of the efforts to enhance entrepreneurship education, and incorporate more alliteration, at the university and beyond. Throughout his career, Albert has been involved in start-up and small business as a co-founder (PortaBeer LLC, Eyenavision, Inc.), adviser/mentor (Idea Foundry), advocate (Allegheny Conference on Community Development), consultant (just trust that you’d be impressed), and educator (adjunct faculty at Saint Vincent College).
Damon is a manager and a motivator with more than 15 years of experience in client services. He is currently serving as the Managing Director of Castus Consulting, LLC which specializes in helping organizations navigate the complexities of international business development. Prior to founding Castus Consulting, Damon worked at the world’s most innovative juvenile products manufacturer, 4moms, where he managed a network of distribution partners responsible for selling product in more than 50 countries and led a team of sales professionals located around the world.
Damon is a graduate of Virginia Tech University and he is guided by the school’s motto, “Ut Prosim” (that I may serve) in both his personal and professional life. He is also a graduate of Leadership Development Initiative (LDI) class XXIII.
Damon is a Pittsburgh native and he enjoys playing golf and running marathons when he is not spending time with his wife and their dog “Captain”.
Greg Coticchia, MBA, PC
Greg is an award-winning technology executive with over twenty-five years of experience in high tech products and services. He has led or been a major contributor in two of the largest and most successful software companies in the world, LEGENT (now CA) and AXENT (now Symantec). Greg has been in fourteen start-ups, founding four, and has held executive positions for better than two-thirds of his career, participating in various size organizations, from $0M to over $1B in revenue. A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh in Industrial Engineering, where he also received his MBA, he currently teaches several courses including B2B marketing at the University Of Pittsburgh Katz School Of Business. He holds certificates in Entrepreneurial Management from Carnegie Mellon University and Professional Coaching from Duquesne University. Greg was named as a finalist three times for the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and for the Tech 50 CEO of the Year. He was also named a 2006 Distinguished Graduate of the University of Pittsburgh (Katz).
Patrick Cox is the founder of the Accelr8 Consulting Group. In this role, Mr. Cox helps organizations across multiple industries to identify and implement strategies to drive profitable growth. Mr. Cox’s consulting work has spanned financial services, capital design and construction, Marketing Services, Software & Shipping.
Prior to founding Accelr8, Mr. Cox served as the Chief Marketing Officer, Memorialization for Matthews International. Matthews International is a publicly traded corporation, headquartered in Pittsburgh PA with $1B in annual revenue. Matthews holds the #1 or #2 position within every segment of the memorialization category.
Mr. Cox is a native of Albany NY, he holds a Bachelor of Science degree from State University of New York at Cortland. He received his MBA from SUNY Binghamton and completed Executive Education in Finance, Marketing and General Management at Carnegie Mellon University.
Greg has consistently delivered sales success over a 30 year career that includes positions selling, building and leading sales operations, and developing marketing strategies for high growth technology firms as well as large publicly traded companies. Prior to starting Hypergrowth Consulting, Mr. Curry was the VP of Sales at First Insight where his efforts at the early market introduction ultimately led to a CAGR of more than 300% over 4 years. Several of the early stage companies Greg has been associated with have been recognized on Inc.’s prestigious list of fastest-growing private companies in America, as well as receiving regional recognition for technology growth.
Mark is an experienced technology entrepreneur. Most recently, he cofounded and was Executive Chairman of kWantix, an energy hedge fund (acquired by Moody Aldrich Hedge Fund). He also cofounded and was CEO of kWantera, a GE Ventures backed energy predictive analytics company. Previously, Mark was CEO of Think Through Learning, a venture-backed online tutoring company (acquired by Imagine Learning) and US Managing Director of ANGLE Technology, PLC, a UK-based venture capital firm and consultancy. Mark co-founded and serves as a director to several other venture-backed tech firms.
In a prior career, Mark was the Director of Government Relations for Texas Instruments and earlier served in policy positions in Washington, DC including as a Senior Policy Analyst in The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the U.S. Department of Commerce, both in the Administration of George H. W. Bush. He previously served on the staffs of the late U.S. Senator John Heinz. Previously, he was also a management consultant with Booz Allen.
Mark is currently an Adjunct Professor at Carnegie Mellon University and has lectured at Princeton University and Dartmouth College. He was previously an Adjunct Professor at the University of Maryland. Mark holds a BA and MBA from the University of Dayton, an MS in Technology Management from The American University and a PhD in Public Policy from George Mason University. Mark is active in Pennsylvania including serving on the boards of several non-profits.
Craig Drinkhall is a dynamic marketing and business development executive who has successfully developed and actualized strategies for telecommunications organizations to promote company growth and expansion. Mr. Drinkhall held several distinct positions within the telecommunications sector – from General Manager to Chief Technology Officer – with companies such as Level 3 Communications, TelCove/Adelphia Business Solutions, Computerm, and the Genix Group, which deepened his background in product/life-cycle management and information technology while supplying a proven track record in building partnerships and launching products to sales channels. With over 30 years of experience in the fiber, telecommunications, data center, and Internet business, he has developed a keen sense for analysis and insights and utilizes a team approach to drive organizational improvements and implementation of best practices. He was named the “Rising Start of Wireline” by Fierce Telecommunications Magazine. Craig is a Pennsylvania State University graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science.
Over the past two decades, Deborah (Debbi) J. Gillotti has held global leadership positions in sales, marketing, and information technology for Starbucks, Microsoft, and Quest Diagnostics. She currently holds a dual role as the Chief Marketing Oﬃcer and General Manager, Healthcare for nVoq
Incorporated, a privately-held provider of cloud-based speech recognition software headquartered in Boulder, CO.
Debbi has received national recognition for her leadership in information technology, including “America’s Best Technology Users” from Forbes, Top 100 IT executives from CIO and Computerworld, and has been a contributor to Harvard Business Review and other publications.
She is an active member of the University of Pittsburgh Board of Trustees, serving as a member of the Budget, Health Sciences, Institutional Advancement and Academic Aﬀairs Committees. Debbi recently chaired the Ad Hoc Committee for Research, Partnerships and Innovation and has also been appointed -chair of the Nursing School Board of Visitors. She has been a long-standing member of the Board of Visitors for the University’s Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.
In addition to mentoring activities with a variety of Pitt departments, in her home region of Seattle, WA,
Debbi has been a mentor for the University of Washington Foster School of Business MBA program since 1998. She has been an active community leader within numerous non-proﬁts including her current role as Vice President, Board of Directors for the Mercer Island Farmers Market. Debbi also has completed the Women’s Director Development Program at Northwestern University.
Debbi and her husband Jay reside in Mercer Island, WA.
John Glicksman has been an Officer and Board Director with publicly-traded, privately-held, for-profit, and not-for-profit businesses. He has worked with technology companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 50 entities as Chief Legal Officer, Chief Administrative Officer, and Chief HR Officer, and he is accomplished in building value in areas including corporate structuring and governance; finance; business development; risk management; human resources; regulatory affairs; and operations. John has worked in multiple economic environments, helping two companies to achieve national market expansions and guiding two companies through successful restructurings. He also has served as a Fund Director for western Pennsylvania’s first purely life sciences-focused venture fund. John also has experience as an Officer and Director with federal and state trade associations; as a publicly-elected Councilman; and as an adjunct professor.
Rich has 33 years of experience as a senior healthcare information technology leader with proven success in general management roles with profit & loss responsibility. Rich possesses functional expertise in sales, marketing, product management, business development, M & A, strategic partnerships and strategic planning initiatives and has experience in the entire spectrum of business lifecycles from start ups to multi national organizations. He is currently providing consulting services as a Director for Karma Health Partners. He earned his BA in Psychology at Yale University and his MBA from Carnegie Mellon University and lives in Pittsburgh, PA.
Darrin Grove, Truefit’s Founder and CEO, is a native Pittsburgher with a passion for innovation, technology, and values-based leadership. Since its bootstrap beginnings in 1997, Truefit’s experience with new, disruptive technologies has positioned the company as a leader in helping entrepreneurs and organizations bring next generation products to market quickly. Darrin and his team reduce risk and build confidence by guiding clients through their proven, proprietary Idea Launch™ process. In addition to his work at Truefit, Darrin is dedicated to sharing his insight in innovation and entrepreneurship with the Pittsburgh community. He leads the Deal Flow Committee for Software and Technology at BlueTree Allied Angels, serves as an advisor to start-up companies at AlphaLab, and is active on several non-profit boards. Most of all, Darrin loves spending time with his wife Chris and three sons, Andy, Tyler, and Ryan, cycling and skiing as a family.
Please send an email to Greg Coticchia for this contact’s email.
Tad has 30+ years leading and managing innovative initiatives. Much of his work has centered on how to best use technology to solve real world problems. Tad founded four startups and played a leadership role in 4 others. He currently advises and mentors several startup companies in Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio. While Tad enjoys mentoring and coaching he wants to continue to be a practitioner. As a result, he is currently leading two social innovation initiatives in Pittsburgh.
Jared has spent the past decade working in the manufacturing and supply chain industries. He has held multiple roles in production, product development, quality, and as a lean consultant. His experience spans the commercial products, architectural products, defense, warehousing, and mining sectors. In every role, his focus is always on developing robust and efficient systems that produce at the most efficient level. His passion for driving improvements and delivering the best product or service to the end customer equals his passion for mentoring and helping others.
Jared holds a B.S. in Industrial Engineering and a MBA, both from the University of Pittsburgh. Additionally, Jared is an ASQ Certified Quality Auditor, Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, and SME Lean Bronze Certified.
Jonathan Hudson, second generation, is a Vice President at The Hudson Companies and focuses on new development activities. He is a graduate of Duquesne University and currently resides in the Greater Pittsburgh Area.
“ At The Hudson Companies, we pride ourselves on team work, innovation, and utilizing an entrepreneurial approach. We look forward to partnering with The Blast Furnace program, as I believe our organizations share many of the same entrepreneurial qualities.”
James B. Kelly
Mr. Kelly is an Executive in Residence at the University of Pittsburgh Katz Graduate School of Business. For three years he was president and CEO of Flight Explorer, a software and IT solutions provider to the global aviation community. A former pilot, Kelly took the company from a significant loss to profitability while doubling revenue and implementing an exit strategy resulting in the company’s acquisition by Sabre Holdings. As the founder of SynXis, a leading hotel reservation management software provider, Mr. Kelly served for eight years as president and CEO. Sabre acquired SynXis in 2005. Kelly is a former Vice President, International, of BDM, an 8,000-person Carlyle technical services firm now part of Northrop Grumman. He previously served as International Programs Vice President at SAIC and before that was Deputy Assistant Secretary, Economic Policy, Africa the Near East and South Asia under Secretary Malcolm Baldrige in the second Reagan Administration. Prior to joining the Administration he held various international engineering marketing positions, worked for several years on Capitol Hill and served six years in the Pennsylvania Legislature. Mr. Kelly is a graduate of Virginia Tech, where he served for ten years on the Pamplin Business School Advisory Board, and the Thunderbird School of Global Management.
I am a first year MBA student from India, studying here at the Katz school of Business; I’m concentrating in MIS and Marketing. I am passionate about technology, especially software applications and have 4 years experience as a software developer.
In my free time, I enjoy reading books and listening to music.
Daniel Lebish has served in multiple executive leadership roles during his 38-year career. Most recently he served as Executive Vice President- Chief Operating Officer for Aflac U.S. in Columbia, SC. In that role he was responsible for all Aflac U.S. operations, had P&L responsibility for Aflac’s Group Insurance products, and was responsible for building and growing Aflac’s broker sales channel in the U.S.
Prior to that Dan served at Highmark BCBS for 16 years. For the majority of his tenure at Highmark he was Chairman and CEO of United Concordia Dental and HM Insurance Group with P&L responsibility for $3 billion in Dental, Medical Stop Loss, Life, Disability, Workers Compensation, and Voluntary Insurance products. During his time at Highmark he also served as Executive Vice President – Integrated Delivery Systems and CFO of Allegheny Health Network where he participated in leading the building of Highmark’s new provider organization and related Integrated Delivery System. In addition he served as Highmark’s Senior Vice President of Business Development for over seven years where he was in charge of developing and implementing plans for market expansion, mergers and acquisitions, strategic partnerships, and new product development.
Prior to Dan’s tenure at Highmark, he was Executive Vice President – Medical Delivery Systems at HealthAmerica/Coventry Health Plans. Dan began his executive management career as CFO and Vice President of Administrative Services at Magee Women’s Hospital for 15 years and a consultant at Ernst & Young.
Dan received his masters in Health Administration from Ohio State University “a long time ago” and his BBA from St. Norbert College prior to that. He has actively served on multiple boards including The Greater Pittsburgh YMCA, Carlow University, and WQED Multimedia. He is married, has four grown children, is an avid skier, and a rabid Pittsburgh Steeler and Penguins fan.
Alan Martello is a life long Pittsburgh native with 4 degrees from Pitt including an Engineering PhD and MBA. He started and ran a software and hardware company for over 20 years before a successful exit to a public company. Today he keeps busy coaching entrepreneurs, mentoring businesses and advising non-profits. He evaluates companies and pitches for investors and regularly provides feedback to startups seeking funding. Alan specializes in facilitating effective decision making, product positioning, customer engagement and team building using design thinking and visual problem solving.
With over 20 years’ experience, Lynn has served in a variety of leadership roles across a number of successful organizations. Her expertise is marketing early stage companies using her knowledge of branding, messaging, and communications. Currently with Sentact, Lynn is responsible for driving marketing strategy, demand generation, and corporate branding. Prior to Sentact, Lynn’s expertise was Director of Marketing for Accruent, Four Rivers Software, and CTR Systems. Lynn holds an MBA from the University of Phoenix and a Bachelor’s Degree from Providence College.
John’s new venture experience as an investor, advisor, executive and board member spans healthcare IT, mobile cloud-based applications, medical device manufacturing and affective computing. His corporate career included functional leadership roles for global medical device and technology firms in corporate development, strategic planning and finance. He holds an M.B.A. from Duke University and a B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh.
Jessica Sinclair is the Director of Pantherlabworks at the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence, an affiliate of the Pitt Innovation Institute. PantherlabWorks assists early stage and established companies with innovation and commercialization. Jessica has over 10 years of experience in concurrent roles as a program manager, research and development manager, and proposal writer and coordinator. Jessica comes to the Institute from a small Pittsburgh-based biotechnology company which originally spun out of the University of Pittsburgh, where she led diverse teams in creating innovative products. Her collaborative efforts resulted in research and development funding awards totaling over $40 MM as well as product contracts in excess of $50 MM.
Michael Stuart is a commercial real estate advisor with CBRE that specializes in helping companies develop and execute customized real estate strategies. With over ten years of transaction experience, Michael has successfully represented emerging technology startups to Fortune 500 companies and the United States government. His primary responsibilities include property site selection, lease & contract negotiation, investment underwriting and asset acquisitions and dispositions. Michael is currently leading the development of CBRE Pittsburgh’s Startup and Technology Practice Group, which provides real estate advisory and brokerage solutions specifically designed for newly-formed and high-growth regional technology firms.
Throughout his career, Michael has consistently been named a CoStar Power Broker for annual leasing volume and his efforts have resulted in a combined sales volume in excess of $300MM. He is also credited with overseeing the national facilities expansion of one of the industry’s largest automotive component distributors. Prior to CBRE, Michael was an Associate Director at HFF. Originally from Pittsburgh, Michael spent the better part of his career practicing real estate in Washington, D.C. and holds a B.A from The George Washington University.
Joanna is a Business Innovation Advisor with Brights Lights Innovations helping small businesses create profitable growth with accelerated times to market. Since 2007, she held various B2B Marketing Executive roles with Westinghouse Electric Company. She helped create numerous business opportunities leveraging a range of advanced technologies. Joanna’s specific expertise includes business model design, product concept development, financial planning, and partnerships with early-adopter customers. Joanna has collaborated with a number of educational organizations on the cutting edge of marketing and innovation, including Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, The Institute for the Study of Business to Business Markets (the only B2B Think Tank) at Penn State’s Smeal College of Business, and the International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State. She has a BA from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.She also earned a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt certification.
Rick has been involved with startup, mid-tier and publicly traded software and consulting services organizations in practioner, leadership and executive positions. He has extensive technology strategy, marketing, product/services development, business development/sales experience, and practice/P&L management. He also serves as a consultant and advisor to numerous software and services companies at the startup and evolving stages. During the course of his 30+ year career, Rick has developed significant award winning expertise in partner/channel strategy, program development and execution, working with tech vendors such as IBM, SAP, CA, Oracle, HP, Microsoft, ServiceNow, and AWS. His skills depth extends to professional services sales and delivery methods and best practices, and team recruiting and career development programs, for teams from 4 to 350 people.
Rick’s experience spans building and leading regional and national business’s and teams in both large enterprises: PWC, CA, Protiviti, Xerox, and small/mid-size entrepreneurial companies; OpenArc, SDLC Partners, Pepperweed Consulting, Diskriter, and CISCorp, servicing cross-industry customers through technology enablement. Rick played key roles in these companies being recognized on numerous lists for regional and national growth and services expertise, including; PTC, Gartner, E&Y, Consulting Magazine, and Inc.’s prestigious list of fastest-growing private companies in America.
John’s 35-year business career has included affiliations with a variety of multi-national large companies, small firms, and start-ups, including AT&T, MCI, XOsoft and McDonald’s Restaurants. As a business owner, senior business development, marketing, and consulting professional, his experience includes initiatives in such diverse markets as Technology, Communications/Media, Consumer/Retail, Franchises, Manufacturing, and Financials. In addition to his mentoring work with the Innovation Institute and Blast Furnace, John is a an Executive Service Corp volunteer at the Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, and resides in Valencia with his wife Linda.
I am Andrew Wells, I am from Ontario Canada. I am completing my MBA as a successful student athlete in one year at the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Graduate School of Business in Strategy and Operations. I am also receiving certificates in New Technology Innovation and Global Supply Chain Management. I had a chance to go to the Olympics but turned it down to pursue my MBA, leaving a successful track and field career breaking 3 track records in the hammer, weight, and the discus throw (one of the longest standing records in Pitt history, Pitt recently etched my name on the varsity walk next to the Cathedral of Learning for my athletic and academic achievements, and will retire as a Canadian National Champion, and All American. Transitioning from track and field, Andrew is heavily involved in the startup community as a Startup Consultant, Blast Furnace Intern, and president of Launch Pitt the entrepreneurship club at KATZ, and the VP of Strategy and Operations in our Consulting club. Andrew recently won the [Space] case competition at CMU, and has developed a passion for solving complex business problems. He one day would like to own his own business but for now he would love the opportunity to help yours.
Henry Wilde worked in the technology sector with sales and sales management positions at Control Data, Wang Laboratories, Digital Equipment, SUN Microsystems, and NeXT Computer. He spent the last 21 years at Four Rivers Software Systems of Pittsburgh as the Chairman & CEO. Henry and his team successfully grew Four Rivers Software into the widely recognized industry leader in the asset management software market with over 1/3 of the hospital marketplace. Four Rivers Software was cash positive, profitable, and growing when it was acquired in 2014. Henry now spends his time enjoying volunteer work.