FIRST TRACK JUDGES
Chris Bailey, CEO
Revio – GearBrake
Chris founded Revio in 2013 after a motorcycle wreck set him on a path to make riding safer. Since then, Chris has gone through the Nucleus LaunchIt program twice, the Velocity IN Accelerator, was one of 4 Vogt Award finalists in 2014 and went on to win the $100K prize at the Vogt Demo Day. He also won the 2014 Venture Connectors Venture Sharks competition and took home both the regional and state Kentucky Innovation Network pitch competitions that year. EnterpriseCorp named his company a 2014 Hot Dozen company. In 2015, his team completed the prestigious Techstars accelerator program in Detroit, rebranded to Revio and built a connected motorcycle IoT platform.
Previously, Chris was an Account Manager at Siemens responsible for $20M in annual accounts, as well as Vice President at Bailey Tools. He received his undergrad in Management from the University of Louisville and his MBA from Bellarmine University. Chris is a professor of social entrepreneurship at Simmons College. He is a lifelong resident of Louisville and regularly gives back through mentorship and teaching at Junior Achievement.
Eugene Bajorinas, Vice President, Operations
Novian Health Inc.
Gene has more than 25 years of healthcare and medical device experience with early stage, rapidly growing and large companies. He is an operations, marketing and strategy executive with a track record of developing high performing teams. At Novian Health, a Chicago-based medical device company that developed an image-guided laser to ablate breast tumors, he leads U.S. and European operations, including clinical trials and helped raise $16 Million.
Previously, he was Vice President Marketing at Norton Healthcare in Louisville, a $2 billion health system, where he led the brand building efforts that established Norton as the market leader. In San Francisco, he led West Coast operations and business development for several publicly-traded Lasik surgery companies. As Lasik Vision’s first U.S. based employee he helped launch its U.S. expansion, responsible for the de novo startup of a dozen surgery centers from Anchorage to Beverly Hills, Honolulu to Las Vegas, and grew his region to $50 million within a year and the Company was acquired. He began his career in Miami leading marketing, strategic planning and international business development for Mercy Health Systems. He earned an MBA from the University of Miami and a B.Sc. from the University of Toronto.
Tendai Charasika, CEO
As the CEO of the fast-growing technology company, SuperFanU, Tendai’s leadership responsibilities include guiding the vision, strategy and execution of value creating milestones including: fundraising, talent acquisition, and business development activities. Prior to joining the Louisville-based SuperFanU team in 2014, he was the Executive Director of Greater Louisville Inc.’s (GLI) EnterpriseCorp, the entrepreneurship arm of the region’s leading economic development agency. Prior to that he worked for the fast-growing, entrepreneurial firm, Summit Energy. Tendai is involved on several boards including Venture Connectors, the Louisville Sports Commission and the Fund for the Arts. Tendai holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering and an Entrepreneurial MBA, both from the University of Louisville.
Justin Delaney, President
Menguin and Generation Tux
Justin serves as President for competing online tuxedo rental companies. Last fall, Menguin was acquired by Generation Tux for $25M. Menguin launched in 2014 and raised about $2.5 M in outside financing from Scott Dorsey, Mark Cuban and several others. Generation Tux was founded in 2015 by George Zimmer of “You’re going to look good, I guarantee it” fame. Menguin grew at a 780% CAGR until being acquired by Generation Tux.
Generation Tux/Menguin is located in Jeffersontown in a 300K square foot facility that ships tuxedos and suits nationwide. Technology is a large focus: RFID chips are used to track inventory, a fit algorithm utilizes cutting-edge machine learning to accurately predict sizes, and the warehouse runs on an internally built software platform. Both brands focus primarily on wedding customers who are ages 24-36. Tuxedo/suit rental is a $1.5B industry and still dominated by brick and mortar stores. Menguin and Generation Tux are excited about shifting most of that market online over the next decade.
Justin has worked as a travel writer, derivatives trader, bartender, airline revenue manager and entrepreneur. Prior to Menguin, Justin worked for AOL, Delta Air Lines and received his MBA from Indiana University in 2013. Outside of business, Justin is obsessed with writing and travel. He is currently on a quest to visit every country in the world and is writing a book about startup life. Justin and his family have moved 5 times in the last 5 years and are excited to be settled down in Prospect, KY.
Trisha Finnegan, Vice President of
Mission & Impact
Community Foundation of Louisville
Trisha brings nearly 20 years of multi-functional experience identifying and capitalizing on opportunities to create meaningful results. Her experience includes two Fortune 100 corporations, nonprofit organizations and a technology-based social enterprise.
Currently, Trisha is focused on crafting and executing efforts and strategies that create sustained, positive impact across our community. Previously, Trisha was the Managing Director of Biometrac, an organization increasing access to and improving healthcare in developing countries. A Louisville-native, Trisha holds a B.S. in Business and Organizational Behavior from Miami University in Oxford, OH where she graduated magna cum laude. Trisha is an active Board member of the Louisville Urban League and of Awesome Fund Louisville.
Maggie Galloway, CEO
Inscope is a medical device company that is developing and commercializing a novel laryngoscope system that combines several devices into one, improving patient safety and saving costs for hospitals. Before founding Inscope Medical, Maggie was an Innovation Consultant at Humana, Inc. Maggie specialized in clinical product development from user research to concept development to product scale. During her time at Humana, she developed several new innovations for diabetes that aimed to slow progression of the disease in Medicare patients. Maggie received her B.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and MBA in Entrepreneurship from the University of Louisville.
Steve Huey, CEO/Co-Founder
Capture Higher Ed
Steve is the CEO of Capture Higher Ed, an industry-leading technology firm that provides predictive modeling and marketing automation software to university recruitment offices nationwide. Capture uses narrow AI and machine learning to provide its partners with extraordinarily accurate enrollment and financial aid data. Steve is a huge promoter of gaining higher education as he believes it provides the knowledge and inspiration that is needed to help influence our future.
At Capture, Steve has built a stellar culture that aims to align personal and professional goals so that employees can achieve their dreams too. While maintaining fast growth, 3-years on both the Inc. 5,000 Fastest Growing US Companies and Louisville’s Fast 50 Companies, Capture has also been awarded Best Places to Work both in Louisville and nationally through publications like Inc. magazine, where they were given a prestigious Top 200 Best Culture’s to work for in 2017.
Steve is a passionate entrepreneur that has experienced success on both coasts, and believes that Louisville has what it takes to be a hotbed of innovation. Featured in Forbes’ Built to Sell and ranked in Insider Louisville as Louisville’s #1 “Startup Standout” you can find Steve mentoring dozens of startup CEOs across town. He is also actively involved as Chairman or on Board of Directors in several organizations like GLI EnterpriseCorp, 1804 Entrepreneurial Center, Louisville LaunchIt, and Louisville’s IMBA Program.
Angelique Johnson, CEO
As CEO/founder of MEMStim, Dr. Angelique Johnson has raised nearly $2.5 M in non-dilutive funds for the medical device start-up. An expert in Lean Startup Methodology, she has educated students on building successful companies. With a doctorate in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan, she is an authority on innovation and entrepreneurship. Dr. Johnson delivered a congressional briefing on Capitol Hill, served as a speaker for the eighth district of the Federal Reserve, and delivered several international talks. She has been featured on NBC Universal, National Public Radio, The Root news site, Louisville Insider, Business First and other media outlets.
Ross Jordan, Principal
Ross joined the Yearling Funds, an early-stage venture capital firm, as an Associate in September 2012, and was promoted to Senior Associate in January 2015. He performs due diligence for prospective investments and assists existing portfolio companies with fundraising, business strategy, financial modeling, and general corporate structuring issues. With his legal background, Ross is deeply involved in the document drafting phase for new and follow-on investments. Prior to joining the Yearling Funds, he spent two summers as a Summer Associate with Stites & Harbison, a large Southeastern law firm with offices in five states. While at Stites & Harbison, Ross worked on a range of legal projects, including both corporate and litigation matters. Ross received his BA from Xavier University and his JD/MBA from the University of Louisville. He is a member of the Board of Directors for Venture Connectors and is a licensed attorney with the Kentucky Bar.
Greg Langdon, Angel Investor, Startup Advisor
Greg is an experienced executive with a background in corporate and product strategy for technology businesses. He has a range of experience in executive management, business development, M&A, product management, marketing and product development. Greg was a senior member of the management team that led Efficient Networks from a venture-funded startup into a market-leading position in broadband equipment, an initial public offering, acquisitions of several smaller firms, and subsequent acquisition by Siemens AG. He serves on the investment committee of an angel fund, is a board member for several early-stage technology companies and is a member of the Board of Advisors for GLI EnterpriseCorp and Venture Connectors. Greg has worked closely with numerous startups in over a dozen accelerator programs. He is a cum laude graduate of Vanderbilt University with a degree in Electrical Engineering, and is co-author of three patents.
Jake Miller, CEO
Jake is the CEO of Toggle Health, a medical device company that aims to dramatically reduce surgical errors by providing surgeons with a wireless, sterile controller to access their patient data during surgery without having to leave the sterile environment. Jake started Toggle Health in December 2016 and was awarded a $75K grant from Nucleus and won the Venture Connectors Sharks competition in 2017. Previously, Jake was a retail health executive with Target, Walgreens and Humana where he launched dozens of successful new products and businesses. Jake is active in the local entrepreneurial ecosystem as a coach for the LaunchIt program and as a mentor for XLerate Health. He holds a B.A. in Chemistry from Bellarmine and an MBA from Vanderbilt University. Jake is on the board of Louisville-based New Roots, working to create affordable access for farm-fresh food.
Brett Moreno, Director of New Programs Development, Cuddle Clones
Brett has a background in business to business marketing. He’s worked at several start-ups helping to successfully grow their base and strategic partnerships. He is currently with Cuddle Clones, a growth stage company in Louisville that creates high-quality, custom products designed to look like people’s pets. At Cuddle Clones, Brett is responsible for growing and managing their partnership program with other pet-related businesses. Before joining the company, he marketed technology-based inventions at the University of Louisville Research Department. In addition to Cuddle Clones, Brett is a business coach at LaunchIt, a lean start-up training program designed for start-ups and early-stage companies. Brett received both his MBA and Bachelors degree in marketing from the University of Louisville.
Hank Paxton, Ph.D., Research & Development Engineer, Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research
Dr. William (Hank) Paxton is a research and development engineer with the Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research at the University of Louisville where he focuses on the development of novel technologies that can be readily translated to the commercial sector. In addition to this work at UofL, he has served as a manufacturing consultant for several private companies and is currently facilitating the establishment of a $300M CAPEX advanced materials fabrication facility in the State of Kentucky.
Prior to joining the University of Louisville, Dr. Paxton co-founded an R&D company (IOP Technologies, LLC) to advance a diamond-based, direct thermal-to-electrical energy conversion technology he patented as a graduate student. Paxton has been awarded numerous federal and state grants to advance his innovative approach to Thermionic Energy Conversion (TEC), from both NASA and NSF. IOP is currently in talks to license their intellectual property.
Dr. Paxton is a native of Kentucky, having been born and raised in Paducah. He obtained his bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt in 2009, majoring in Engineering, Physics, and Mathematics. He then chose to remain a Vanderbilt where he completed both an M.S. (2011) and Ph.D. (2013) in electrical engineering.
Jeff Shrensker, Vice President
Jeff Shrensker has been with BB&T since 1995 and currently serves as a BSO-Portfolio Manager Team Leader within Kentucky’s Regional Corporate & Commercial Banking teams, which involves extensive credit underwriting and risk and portfolio management, along with relationship support for BB&T clients and prospects, as well as leading a team of portfolio managers within the Kentucky region. Past roles within BB&T included retail branch management, small business relationship management, and credit portfolio management for middle market and corporate clients.
He has been a judge for the University of Louisville’s Cardinal Challenge business plan competition since 2009 and is a frequent presenter to undergraduate and graduate Capitalism classes at Uof L about the importance of corporate culture. Former board membership includes The Metropolitan Business Development Corporation (METCO) for the City of Louisville, Seven Counties Services, Inc.(k/n/a Centerstone) and The Venture Club of Louisville, Inc. Mr. Shrensker graduated from the University of Louisville in 1995 with a major in finance and a minor in political science, and graduated from the school’s Professional MBA program in 2009.
Jennifer Williams, CEO
Cuddle Clones, Cartoonize My Pet
Jennifer is the founder and CEO of Cuddle Clones, a startup company that creates soft and adorable plush versions of people’s pets as well as other custom pet products. She has a BS in Mathematics and Business from the University of Puget Sound and an MBA from the University of Louisville. Jennifer spent 10 years as a benefits consulting actuary and her last job before making the entrepreneurial leap was with PwC. She is actively involved in the entrepreneurial community in Louisville and periodically develops financial models for other startups in the area. Cuddle Clones recently acquired Cartoonize My Pet, an online customization engine in which people can pick from several hundred base pets, tweak every little detail from eye color to socks on the paws, to create their one-of-a-kind cartoon version of their pet. After adding accessories and themed backgrounds, the design created is then projected onto Zazzle’s product line which includes over 250 custom products such as gift wrap, apparel, stationery and pet bowls.
Jackie Willmot, CEO
XLerateHealth and Venture Consultant
Jackie has more than 30 years of experience in the healthcare industry including executive positions in the Life Science, Payer and Healthcare Service space. Her experience also includes 9+ years working directly with and for healthcare start-ups. Jackie is the CEO of XLerateHealth (www.xleratehealth.com), a Louisville based healthcare accelerator. XLerateHealth accepts applications on a rolling basis (https://gust.com/programs/xleratehealth-2018).
Jackie volunteers her time in the start-up community and has served as a judge for the annual Invention and Innovation Awards competition, the Brown-Forman Cardinal Challenge and the European MBA challenge. Jackie also coaches healthcare startups via the LaunchIT program and works closely with Coulter, ExCITE, and iCorp funded companies. She is a Master’s prepared Perinatal Clinical Nurse Specialist and holds an MBA from the University of Louisville’s entrepreneurship program, a Master’s of Science from the University of Pittsburgh and a Baccalaureate Nursing degree from Villa Maria College.
Jeff Ames, Founder, Bluegrass Barrels
VP Commercial Relationship Manager, Stock Yards Bank
With a BS in Finance from Virginia Tech, Jeff bolstered his education by graduating from the University of Louisville’s IMBA program in 2011. A commercial banker by day at Stock Yards Bank, Jeff also founded Bluegrass Barrels, LLC in January 2011. Bluegrass Barrels has sold more than 40,000 mini-bourbon barrels since inception. Jeff has served on several volunteer boards, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, YPAL, and the St. Xavier Business and Professional Association.
Chris Blakely, Founder and CEO
Chris is the Founder and CEO of Credit Fair-e. Credit Fair-e is a socially responsible lender that leverages advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning to help low and middle-income families break their cycle of debt by providing them with fair, affordable small-dollar loans. Chris received a BS in Business Administration and an MBA in Entrepreneurship from the University of Louisville.
Jacy Cruz, Customer Experience Manager
Student Loan Hero
Jacy Cruz has spent the past several years helping support and grow Louisville’s entrepreneurial community. In 2011, she co-founded US Chia, where she helped commercialize a patented chia seed technology. In 2013, she was a founding Director of the region’s first healthcare accelerator, XLerateHealth, and later served as Operations Director of Velocity Indiana, an entrepreneurship center that offered co-working space and an accelerator program. She has since worked with several local startups, most recently as Head of Experience for MobileServe, a volunteer engagement platform. Jacy is currently the Customer Experience Manager for Student Loan Hero, where she helps guide the company’s business strategy based on customer feedback. She received an A.B. from Princeton University and an Entrepreneurship MBA from the University of Louisville.
David Gollinger, Lead Accountant
David is a Lead Accountant at Brown-Forman, one of the largest American-owned spirits and wine companies. He is a licensed CPA with over 14 years of experience in industry and public accounting. David has a BSBA in Accounting and Finance from The Ohio State University and an Entrepreneurship MBA from the University of Louisville where he graduated with distinction. While at UofL, David co-founded DV Tech, a rubber recycling concept company which he and his MBA team presented at seven business plan competitions, concluding with winning the Edward H. Molter Memorial Prize for Best Presentation at the 2016 Rice Business Plan Competition. David and his wife Amy’s most recent new venture is their daughter Ava who was born in 2017.
Kela Ivonye, CEO, MailHaven Inc.
MailHaven is building infrastructure for the future of delivery. Our first two products; an iOS package tracking app and the Haven smart mailbox helps homeowners avoid missed deliveries and stolen packages, providing convenience and accountability at the last mile of delivery.
Prior to MailHaven, Kela founded Arrow Food Couriers, an on-demand delivery service. Kela has a B.Sc. in Geographic Information Systems. He is a champion for the United Nations Climate Neutral Now Initiative and has published works for the US Housing and Urban Department as well as Recode magazine. Kela is interested in nascent technologies in delivery and eCommerce infrastructure and has a passion for building technology that reduces carbon emission in traditional industries. When he is not problem-solving, he enjoys reading, watching soccer and playing volleyball.
Vik Chadha, Managing Director of
Vik is the co-founder of a number of high-tech companies such as Backupify, a leading backup provider for cloud-based data; GlowTouch Technologies, a six-time Inc. 500/5000 software and services company with 1500 employees; and Scalable Ventures, an early-stage startup investment and operating firm. From 2001 to 2010, he served as a Managing Director of the EnterpriseCorp in Louisville, where he managed a portfolio of over 100 client companies and helped them raise $120 million in funding. Prior to EnterpriseCorp, he worked as the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at bCatalyst, an early-stage business incubator. Vik holds a B.S. degree in Electronics & Communications Engineering from the Manipal Institute of Technology and has an M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Virginia Tech.
Kenneth Gardner, Founder/CEO
Ken is CEO and founder conDati, Inc., a new company using data science and machine learning to build next generation marketing analytics. He has more than 40 years in the enterprise software industry. He is a seven-time entrepreneur having previously been the founder and Chairman of SOASTA (acquired by Akamai in April 2017); founder and chief executive officer of Istante (acquired by Oracle in December 2004); Sagent Technology (IPO in April 2000); ReportSmith (acquired by Borland in March 1994); and ViewPoint Systems (acquired by Knowledgeware in June 1992). His first startup, in 1985, was Tesseract Corporation, where he was senior vice president of technology. From 1978 to 1985, he worked in R&D at Tymshare. He holds more than 20 granted patents in the fields of real-time analytics and visualization. Gardner is a 1972 finance graduate of the University of Louisville. He was selected as an Alumni Fellow in 2000 and was elected to the College of Business Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame in 2013. He lives in Menlo Park, California.
Bob Saunders, General Partner,
Bob is a General Partner at OCA Ventures (a leading Chicago venture capital firm), a Founding Partner of Saunders Murdoch & Associates (Louisville/Boston) and is Chairman of XLerateHealth (Louisville).
He is an active investor in several healthcare and technology startups. Bob was a Managing Director and General Partner at Chrysalis Ventures (1997 – 2009). Bob was a founding board member of MetaCyte Business Lab, the University of Louisviille’s life science incubator. He is also a co-founder of XLerateHealth, one of the leading healthcare accelerators in the US. Over the last 30 years, he has invested in dozens of startup companies (several of which have gone public or been acquired by large strategic investors) and has mentored 100+ startups. Bob worked for several years as a strategy consultant with both The Boston Consulting Group and Bain & Co. before becoming a professional venture capital investor. Bob received a B.A. from Stanford University, an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics and an M.A. from Harvard University. He was both a Marshall Scholar and Fulbright Scholar.
Viji Evers, Technology Vice President, Solution Engineering
Viji is an executive responsible for crafting the vision and delivery strategy of cutting edge, mission critical applications to support Humana’s core domains such as Product, Pricing, Sales, Enrollment, Billing, Wellness and Messaging. Her geographically diverse IT teams build technology solutions that enable end-to-end enrollment support for Medicare, Individual, and Commercial consumers.
Viji’s 24 year IT career includes technology leadership for Fortune 500 companies such as Bristol Myers Squibb and Kraft Foods. She is active in the Louisville entrepreneurial community, and enjoys applying her business process streamlining expertise on a variety of entrepreneurial ventures in the capacity of investor and strategic partner. Viji completed her MBA in Entrepreneurship from University of Louisville and holds a Master of Management Studies degree from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, India.
John Wechsler, Founder of Launch Fishers and The Indiana IoT Lab
John has founded, co-founded or served in C-level roles in several high-growth and venture-backed startups including Formstack, Formspring, DeveloperTown, Vontoo, Wishoo and beenz. In 2012, John founded Launch Fishers, a 52,000 square foot launch pad for start-ups and high-potential enterprises with the goal of being a catalyst for economic development. In 2014, John founded the statewide entrepreneurial mentorship initiative Launch Indiana; he continues to serve as an active advisor to entrepreneurs and startup teams. In 2017, John founded The Indiana IoT Lab in Fishers (IndianaIoT.com), a 24,000 square foot innovation and commercialization hub for Internet of Things (IoT)-related enterprises scheduled to grand open on March 21, 2018.
John has been a lifetime volunteer with community and nonprofit organizations and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce where he co-chairs the Technology & Innovation Council.
John started his career at IBM where he managed the global account plans for multiple Fortune 500 clients and achieved membership in the Golden Circle- recognizing the top 1.5% of the IBM sales force. Prior to joining IBM, John earned a marketing degree from Indiana University where he participated in the School of Business Overseas Study Program in Maastricht, the Netherlands. John is currently pursuing his Masters Degree in Emerging Media Design and Development at Ball State University. John also served in the US Army where he learned the art of rappelling from helicopters as an Air Assault-Qualified Combat Engineer in the First Cavalry Division at Ft. Hood, Texas!
Douglas F. Cobb
2017 KY Entrepreneur Hall of Fame honoree
Douglas Cobb is a life-long entrepreneur. In the past he’s served as CEO of Appriss, Greater Louisville Inc., and The Cobb Group, and as a director for a variety of companies including Summit Energy Services, Genscape, and Golden State Overnight. Currently, Doug serves as Entrepreneur in Residence with Chrysalis Ventures, and serves on the boards of several companies, including CompleteSet LLC and EDJ Analytics.
Doug is a three-time Inc. 500 CEO, and a three-time Kentucky Entrepreneur of the Year. Doug and his wife Gena are members of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, where he teaches the Word by Word Adult Bible Fellowship class and serves as an elder. He is active in a variety of Christian ministries, including Streams in the Desert, an indigenous Nigerian ministry, and the Issachar Initiative.
Doug and Gena have been married for 37 years and have three grown children and one adorable grandson.