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ben-blanquera  Ben Blanquera

  Expert Advisor

Ben Blanquera is husband, dad, thought leader, entrepreneur, geek, wanna be jock and unabashed advocate for technology and entrepreneurship. By day he is a strategic transformation advisor and execution accelerator to CEO's and CIO's. In 2011, Ben was named by Computer World to its Premiere100 list of top IT leaders nationwide. Senior leadership roles previously held by Ben include  VP of IS for Progressive Medical, Director of the Columbus Technology Council, and Director at Owens Corning.

As a thought leader Ben facilitates the Central Ohio agile executive forum, is the founder of TechLife Columbus , writes a blog chronicling the Columbus Tech community and is the curator of the Columbus Startup Digest. He is a frequent conference speaker on agile development, project management, and high performance teams. Ben resides in Dublin with his wife Sandy and his 4 daughters.

Ben Lachman  Ben Lachman

  Expert Advisor, Speaker

Ben Lachman has started a new venture with Nice Mohawk and has an extensive background in building and developing beta prototypes. He was responsible for principle, mac and iphone software development at Acacia Tree Software from May 2006 to the Present. His other ventures include working as an Engineering Assistant at Sunpower, Inc., freelancing as a mac software developer and becoming a serial entrepreneur. He is also a graduate of Ohio University, receiving his B.S. in Computer Science.

Benedict "Bick" Weissenrieder


Benedict "Bick" Weissenrieder serves as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Hocking Valley Bank, Athens, Ohio.Mr. Weissenrieder serves as a Director of The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. He serves as a Member-at-Large of the Bankers Advisory Board at Conference of State Bank Supervisors. In his community, Mr. Weissenrieder is Chair of the O'Bleness Memorial Hospital and Board member for the Community Improvement Corporation. He is also an member of the Ohio Commodore Association.

brooke-paul  Brooke Paul

  Expert Advisor, Speaker

Brooke Paul founded his first company in 1993 and has continued to build new companies and consult with many emerging companies in the Internet technology, software, and IT security industries.

He has served as a CEO, CTO, CISO, a founder, and an investor for several technology companies and has helped numerous early stage companies raise capital, grow revenue, develop products, and successfully exit.

He provides business strategy, product management, and investment to high potential start-up companies. Most recently he founded Founders Factory, an Internet start-up accelerator established to help early stage companies rapidly become viable and sustainable businesses.

KleinC-portrait  Candace Klein


Candace Klein is the founder and CEO of two successful startup companies: Bad Girl Ventures and SoMoLend. Candace launched Bad Girl Ventures in March, 2010. Bad Girl Ventures is a non-profit, micro-finance organization focused on educating and financing woman-owned startup companies. In its first two years of operations, BGV has received over 400 applicants, has educated over 250 businesses, has financed 26 women with $700,000, and has created 154 jobs across Ohio.

Candace also launched SoMoLend in May, 2011. SoMoLend offers new solutions for small businesses to get the money they need to launch and sustain their operations. SoMoLend is new technology platform that connects business borrowers seeking loans of $1,000,000 or less with lenders looking to make a return on investment, doing well by doing good. To date, SoMoLend has partnered with KeyBank, who has committed to lending at least $1 million on SoMoLend, and up to $50 million, in the first year of operations.

wilhelm  David Wilhelm 

  Expert Advisor, Speaker

David Wilhelm is the Founder and President of Woodland Venture Management, a company that raises and invests private equity in parts of the country that are underserved by the nation's financial industry.  Woodland has become one of the nation's leading sources of capital in the Midwest and central Appalachia.

In that capacity, Wilhelm founded Adena Ventures, a venture capital fund targeting central Appalachia, which includes the southeastern Ohio area in which he was raised.  Wilhelm is a partner and member of the fund's investment committee. Wilhelm also founded a second fund, Hopewell Ventures, which brings investment dollars to entrepreneurs in the nation's heartland, specifically a seven-state region stretching from Ohio to Nebraska.

Wilhelm is best known for his political work, which has included managing campaigns for President Bill Clinton, Senator Paul Simon, Senator Joe Biden, and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.  In 1993, he became the youngest ever Chair of the Democratic National Committee. Wilhelm holds degrees from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government (MPP) and Ohio University (BA), and recently served as Chair of the Ohio University National Alumni Board.

david-woll  David Woll

  Mentor, Speaker

David Woll, president of Woll Enterprises, Inc., is an expert in entrepreneurial finance, fundraising and consulting. Functioning as advisor, fundraiser, and mentor, Woll works with startup and early-stage companies and individuals to find funding for the creation and development of consumer and industrial products, renewable energy, software, medical devices, small-molecule drug development, and advanced technology and manufacturing. In addition, he develops business plans, feasibility studies and product analysis.

He is involved in consulting and raising funds for university spin-off companies, i.e., licensees of major, nationally-recognized research universities. His fundraising connections include individual angel investors (accredited investors) and clubs; venture capital firms; federal, state, and local governmental agencies; foundations; banks and other financial institutions. Woll also facilitates mergers, acquisitions, and restructurings, and he develops partnerships and joint ventures of privately-held companies in the same fields.

Ed Burghard  Ed Burghard

  Mentor, Speaker

Ed Burghard is a retired Procter & Gamble Harley Procter Marketer, a competitive designation awarded to P&G's top brand builders.In his 33-year career at P&G, Ed launched and managed a number of highly successful brands ranging from $200 million to over $1 billion in sales.At Governor Taft's request, in 2005 Ed started and became CEO of the Ohio Business Development Coalition, a 501 c(3) company to brand the state of Ohio. He managed that company through 2011. Ed is the creator of the Strengthening Brand America Project, an initiative to teach economic development professionals how to reapply product and corporate branding to help make their communities more competitive for capital investment. He is a founding Board member of the Nemacolin Energy Institute and a Fellow at Cleveland State University. Ed and his wife Claudia live in Loveland, Ohio.

EY-150x150  Ercan Yilmaz

  Expert Advisor, Speaker

Ercan Yilmaz is a business and technology leader active in the start-up scene with global experience. Most recently, he was leading international biz dev and marketing for Argela, a leading provider of mobile marketing, OTT video and small cell solutions. In this capacity, he spearheaded Argela's international expansion by driving targeted areas of growth and focusing on global markets, partners and strategic alliances. A native of Turkey and long-time resident of Cincinnati, OH, Ercan previously held leadership positions in operations, product development, M&A and big data analytics at NCR and AT&T in North America, EMEA and Asia. With an extensive background in consumer, telecommunications and financial industries along with a sharp focus on e-commerce, mobile and smart grid, he has a passion for working with entrepreneurs and investors to help grow the start-up ecosystem for the collective good of all stakeholders.

shermanh  Hugh Sherman


Dean, College of Business, Corlett Chair & Professor of Strategy Senior Economic Policy Fellow, Voinovich School for Leadership & Public Affairs (August, 2007 to Present). Provide oversight of College programs, 88 faculty and 25 staff members. Continue to provide strategic oversight of economic development programs that we founded at the Voinovich School, which provides a continuum of business technical assistance programs and early and traditional stage equity funding for high growth businesses located in the Appalachian Region of Ohio. College of Business, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio (September, 1995 to July, 2006) Positions held include: Associate Dean, Operations and Strategy Assistant to University Provost, Strategic Planning Associate Director, Voinovich Center for Leadership and Public Affairs Chair, Management Systems Assistant Dean, Director of Graduate Programs Director of Athens Based full-time MBA program.

jeff-doose  Jeff Doose


Jeff Doose is a Partner of Adena Ventures and a member of the fund's investment committee. He serves on the Boards of Directors of BestTransport, Inc. and Visum, Inc.

For the past 24 years, Jeff's career has included roles as an entrepreneur, venture capitalist and college professor. He has managed a venture capital fund and worked in high growth enterprises, development banks, and educational institutions in rural development contexts as diverse as the Mississippi Delta, the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas and Native American communities in Minnesota. Jeff holds degrees from Southwest State University (BA), the University of Colorado (MA) and the University of Denver (JD).

Jeff Harper  Jeff Harper


Jeff Harper is the CEO and Co-Founder of Duet Health. Duet is a mobile software products company with patient experience solutions in health care that cover education, engagement, and communication. We have a product that improves patient outcomes, while providing new tools, utilities, and effectiveness to points in the doctor-patient experience.

The first iPhone was released in 2007, and the initial company my partner and I founded, eProximiti, was founded shortly after, in 2008. eProximiti still exists, and still serves clients in the consumer mobile space, Duet Health is our specific focus in the healthcare space. Our team is focused on building industry leading mobile tools that use technology to deliver customer focused experiences to any business. Every piece and part of every eProximiti Application is built by our team members in Ohio.

As experts in mobile communication, we are experienced in every phase of the Solution Process. From white board design, to creative, to business modeling, to prototype build, to testing and deployment – our team has extensive experience in what is needed to create scalable and successful products that are on time and budget.

Prior to starting eProximiti, I was one of the Principal Consultants of The Harper Group. With experience in staffing and relocation focused on technology and financial services operations, I offer a broad range of services to assist companies in "maximizing their human assets" - to use these valuable individuals for their greatest advantage.

JPF2011  Joe Flynn

  Mentor, Expert Advisor, Speaker

A Senior Executive who builds award-winning organizations and is passionate about people. Recognized for innovative program design, implementation and staff development initiatives. Integrated organizations with different cultures and missions to achieve shared goals and objectives. Led management information systems development and implementation teams.

john-beck  John Beck

  Mentor, Expert Advisor, Speaker

John Beck is alumnus of Ohio University's Scripps College of Communication and co-founder and CEO of a top tier game development studio, WayForward.  Beck is also an advisor to the GRID Lab and sponsors an annual game production intern from the School of Media Arts and Studies.

WayForward has developed over 100 retail products in its 20-year history. Early efforts were directed to 8 and 16 bit console games, CD-ROM products, and online. WayForward later extended service to platforms including Nintendo DS (NDS), Wii, Xbox 360, and PS3. We are probably best known for our ability to revive classic intellectual property in games, and for our outstanding art and character animation capabilities. Recent products include Contra 4 for the NDS, A Boy and His Blob for Wii, and Shantae: Risky's Revenge that is available now on DSiWare. Game Developer magazine rated WayForward as a top 30 studio in 2011.

John BowditchJohn Bowditch


John Bowditch is the Director and co-founder of the Game Research and Immersive Design (GRID) Lab in the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University. The GRID Lab was founded in 2004 with a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission. In 2011, a commercial wing of the GRID Lab was formed with TechGROWTH Ohio and the Ohio University Innovation Center to foster digital media focused startup companies founded by current and former students. As of 2012, four companies have joined this digital media incubator. John completed his undergraduate and graduate work in film, video, and multimedia at Ohio University's School of Media Arts and Studies (School of Telecommunications at the time). John has produced several award winning films, animations, games, and simulations over the last decade.

Professional Research highlights include funded projects from the National Institutes of Health, Department of Labor, Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, Ohio Board of Regents, and other private entities. In 2008, John was the lead designer and inventor of the Immersive Video Intel Network (IVIN), a multi-tiered imaging technology that has patents pending. In 2011, IVIN received money from TechGROWTH Ohio spinout of the university. While not integral to the day to day operations of IVIN3D, John has a super- shareholder stake in the company. In addition to IVIN3D, other privately owned startups founded by John include the high-end multimedia studio Kosada, Inc. with Steve Mokris in 2004, and defense games and simulations studio Ludobase Limited in 2008. John is also the lead game design and development instructor in the School of Media Arts and Studies Games and Animation program. He has held this position since 2007.

KarlElderkin  Karl Elderkin


Mr. Elderkin, 54 years, founded Athenian Venture Partners in 1997 and serves as its Managing Partner. Active in both the IT and the Healthcare investment practices, he has 23 years of venture capital experience in both sectors. He currently serves on the boards of Manta Media (director) and Comet Solutions (observer); and previously Phobos, StorageApps, Chaparral Network Storage, Alloptic, Pain Therapeutics, CancerVax and others.

With expertise in strategy, manufacturing, capital planning and financial structuring, Elderkin has led, co-led, and participated in numerous IPOs and strategic acquisitions, and over 100 financing transactions.

Kevin  Kevin Dwinnell

  Mentor, Expert Advisor, Speaker

Founder and Chi-EO of, Kevin has a history of driving product innovation, testing nascent business markets and forging robust client relationships to boost top-line revenue. With more than 15 years in the interactive and digital media space performing work for leading brands like AOL, HP, Netscape and Sony to emerging media companies like Brand Thunder and Flip Video, he offers insights and perspective that will minimize missteps and improve the chances for success. His experience in launching and growing new business in both B2B and B2C categories also include efforts for Hanna-Barbera, Liebert/Emerson Network Power and Turner Broadcasting.

Never seeming to have the luxury of significant marketing budgets, Kevin honed his skills at taking a strategic vision, translating it into actionable steps and executing them in the most efficient manner available. His work helped a startup attract more than 300 brands and millions of downloads to the brands' end users – with almost no marketing spend. He's created product extensions and new markets for existing properties by leveraging the power and resources of strategic alliances and affinity groups. Kevin received his B.S. in Marketing from George Mason University and his M.B.A. from the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University.

Kevin Gadd Hi ResKevin Gadd

Kevin Gadd is the founder and CEO of Venture Highway, an online provider of world-class entrepreneurial education, tools and resources.  Venture Highway was founded in July 2010 as Kevin prepared to leave his role at TechColumbus.

From September 2007 to August 2010, Kevin Gadd was the Director of Information Technology Commercialization at TechColumbus, a nonprofit incubator and early stage fund in Columbus, Ohio responsible for 15 counties in central Ohio.  In this role, Mr. Gadd was responsible for finding, funding, mentoring, coaching, and incubating startup IT products companies in the region.  Mr. Gadd advised well over 200 companies on growth and commercialization strategies and helped his client companies raise over $5 million. Mr. Gadd also co-founded and served as Chief Operating Officer for Aurum IT from 2002 until it was acquired in 2005. Prior to founding Aurum IT, Gadd was a founding member of SubmitOrder, a venture backed e-commerce fulfillment and customer service company in Columbus, Ohio.

Mr. Gadd began his entrepreneurial career in 1997 when he left his IT management position with a division of The Limited to co-found The Prometheus Group, an IT services company in New Albany, Ohio.  Mr. Gadd led the consulting side of the business where he was responsible for selling, managing, and delivering IT projects.  Digital Storage Inc acquired the Prometheus Group in 1999.

Kinross  Kevin Kinross

  Expert Advisor, Speaker

Kevin Kinross is a member of Bricker & Eckler's Business, Tax & Estates group. He represents publicly and privately held companies and tax exempt organizations in matters involving corporate governance, securities, capital raising and formation issues.

He regularly provides counsel on issues including board governance and direction, investigations of defects in internal controls and disclosure controls, violations of law, breaches of fiduciary duties and illegal activities; public reporting and disclosure responsibilities of boards and executives; and Director and Officer insurance, indemnification and other protection against board and executive liability. Kevin also regularly assists clients with board evaluations, audits of governance practices and board training.

Kevin is co-editor of the website and the newsletter Acredula, both of which focus on issues of importance to governing board and officers, and is the editor of The Corporate Governance Blog. He is a frequent speaker in Ohio and nationally on corporate governance topics and has authored articles on corporate governance for Acredula, Nonprofit Advocate, Business First, The Corporate Board, Midwest In-House, LexisNexis Corporate Goverance Report, Law360 and others.

Wallinger  Mark Wallinger

  Mentor, Expert Advisor

Mark Wallinger is the Founder of Wallinger Consulting. He has more than 20 years experience helping companies leverage branding to grow. Additional information and his network of contacts and recommendations can also be found at Areas of expertise include brand building, channel and direct marketing, alliance and relationship management for B-to-B and B-to-C models. He’s also certified in Solution Selling methodology. His strengths include strategic thinking, long-range planning, communications, creative team building, measuring return on marketing investment and cost-effective marketing solutions. 

While a VP at the headquarters of Grey Advertising in New York City Mark Wallinger was part of a new business team that won seven accounts with IBM (including the IBM Olympic account), M&M Mars, the launch of the Nissan Infiniti, Pizza Hut and many more. Individually, he used his new business skills at GCI (the public relations subsidiary of Grey) to develop and generate new accounts including two divisions of BASF, the NBA, 3M and Norsk Hydro. As a consultant, he’s worked with Nabisco, The Limited, Bath and Body Works and Cardinal Health, as well as numerous start-up (he’s joined two) high tech companies and software companies. As an officer at privately held Macola Software (since sold to Exact in 2001), he served as Executive Vice President of Marketing dealing with accounting, manufacturing and e-commerce software for growing businesses. He also managed the Microsoft and IBM relationships while at Macola. A former award-winning reporter, he's been involved with high tech start-ups and acquisitions; large publicly-traded companies and small growing companies; individuals looking to organize and network and groups and associations looking to streamline communications and work smarter.

mary-strother  Mary Strother

  Expert Advisor

With Athenian Venture Partners, a coast-to-coast boutique venture capital firm investing in early through later stage IT and Healthcare companies, Mary is involved in the firm's investor relations, fundraising, and marketing & PR activities; as well as the deal flow, investment screening, and due diligence process.

Prior to Athenian, Mary's professional career spanned over 17 years in finance, healthcare, and higher education. She has 14 years of financial sales and marketing experience and 16 years of institutional and high-net-worth-individual investor relations and fundraising experience in a Fortune 100 company and with a university foundation endowment.

mike-blackwell  Mike Blackwell

  Expert Advisor, Speaker

Mike Blackwell is a visionary leader, experienced technology executive, and seasoned entrepreneur. He is the CEO of Groova LLC, a rapid prototyping and web design company which is one of two companies he has founded.He is also known for his roles as an Internet Executive at AOL, CompuServe, and is the former CEO of ShareThis.

He guided the successful creation and launch of ShareThis then redirected the product towards publishers. As a result, ShareThis is now on nearly 1 million sites.While at AOL he led the Search Technology organization which experienced unprecedented usage and revenue growth fueled by a partnership with Google.

His goal is to help people or companies easily and quickly build products that inspire people. Groova helps large or small companies, in a lean startup way, to easily and quickly communicate the essence of their product to the world to see if it will work.

mitch rosich  Mitch Rosich

  Mentor, Expert Advisor, Speaker

Mr. Rosich began consulting for Athenian Venture Partners in 2000, joining the firm as a partner in the IT investment practice in 2002. In addition to a decade of technology venture capital experience, Rosich has over two decades of industry experience in product and engineering development, and in the management of 3 start-up technology companies, including Omnia, which Rosich and his team sold to CIENA for $498M. Currently, he represents Athenian as a director on the boards of Manta Media and Comet Solutions, and as an observer on the board of Sendio. Previously, he served on the boards of Chaparral Network Storage and Candera. Rosich holds BS (with Distinction) and MS degrees in Electrical Engineering, both from Cornell University, and an MBA with High Honors from Boston University.

photo  Neill Lane


Neill Lane is the CEO of Global Cooling, Inc. in Athens, Ohio. Mr. Lane holds a Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa and has worked in the clean energy field his entire career. He served as the President and CEO of Sunpower, Inc. for 10 years and led the development of Sunpower's in house manufacturing process. Mr. Lane also assisted in establishing worldwide licensing activities for Sunpower, Inc. Previously Mr. Lane was the President of Blight to Bright LLC, an Ohio developer of large-scale solar installations, and an Executive in Residence with TechGROWTH Ohio, a pre-seed fund providing funding and assistance to early stage, innovative technology companies.

Nick Henderson  Nick Henderson


Nick Henderson is the Managing Partner and CEO for Applied Biomolecular Technologies (based in Columbus, OH) and he also serves as the CEO for Molecular Technologies Laboratories, an Athens, Ohio based company. He sits on the Board of Directors for the Economic Community Development Institute (ECDI). Prior to his current role, Nick was the founder and President of Signature Medical Direct which he sold to an industry leader in 2010. He has extensive entrepreneurial experience having started and grown 8 new ventures and one foreign (GmbH) operation.

His M&A experiences includes company integration, buy side, and sale side deal flow. In the mid-1990s he served as the Director of Acquisition Integration for Cardinal Health integrating over 6 companies with valuations ranging from $70M to $1B. His next role was as the CFO for the fastest growing privately held company in Central Ohio (per Business First) where he installed an Acquisition Department resulting in 9 deals closed. As the founder and President of a national mail order medical supply company, Nick acquired 2 companies and exited with the sale of his company to an industry leader in 2010.

His passion is helping entrepreneurs successfully launch and scale new ventures. Nick received his Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from The Pennsylvania State University and his MBA from The University of Dayton.

paul_benedict  Paul Benedict 

  Mentor, Speaker

Paul Benedict is the senior vice president of business development for ED MAP. Prior to joining ED MAP, Paul was a senior associate with Adena Ventures – an early stage venture capital fund investing in technology firms located in central Appalachia. Paul was with Adena for nearly 10 years and served on the boards of directors of Threewide, Inc., Toobla, and Global Cooling. He was an observer on the boards of ED MAP and Mersive Technologies, named a Red Herring 100 Most Promising Tech company in 2009.

 In 2010, he was instrumental in selling Threewide to (NASDAQ:MOVE) for $13 million in cash. Paul also ran the fund’s $7.5 million operational assistance program and led $3.1 million in financings. Prior to Adena, Paul was Rev. Jesse Jackson’s speechwriter at the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. He earned his MBA from Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business and his bachelor’s degree in political science from Ohio University’s Honors Tutorial College.