Meet our all-star team of Startup LAunch Program advisors! They're entrepreneurial vets spanning a spectrum of industries and specialty areas.
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Mackenzie is a CPA-turned-entrepreneur. She is the founder and managing director of Square Root Financial, a financial services firm that provides CFO, accounting and bookkeeping services to early-stage technology and other high-growth companies. Mackenzie is also a founding board member and treasurer of imagine1day (USA), the brainchild of Lululemon's founder, Chip Wilson, and his wife Shannon. imagine1day currently works in partnership with 227 schools in Ethiopia and is helping educate more than 100,000 children each year.
Previously, Mackenzie was VP of technology and venture banking at Grandpoint Bank where she sourced and structured venture financing deals between $500K - $3M. Previous to that, she was a co-founder of wmbly, inc., a social platform for live and on-demand video content. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Mackenzie audited public and emerging companies at Deloitte & Touche. Mackenzie has a B.A. from Claremont McKenna College and a master's degree in each accounting and business taxation from USC's Marshall School of Business.
Adam Chapnick is a globally recognized serial entrepreneur known for disrupting long-established industries with tech-supported new model approaches. He is a prolific thought-leader on rewards-based and equity crowdfunding, having presented at hundreds of events around the world and dozens of verticals since 2010.
Adam was a principal at Indiegogo, which he helped build into the world’s largest crowdfunding platform, with over 200,000 campaigns, users in over 175 countries, operating in 4 languages and 5 currencies. Adam also founded Distribber.com, the new-model flat-fee distribution service, and has proudly served on the board of directors of the International Documentary Association since 2009. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two daughters, is an avid sand sculptor, and sings when he probably shouldn’t.
Eugene Chi is the general manager of small and mid-sized business distribution for the U.S. west region at Microsoft, and is based in the Los Angeles area, at the Irvine office. Eugene brings more than 22 years of experience and success as a people-oriented, collaborative sales leader.
In his 12 years with Microsoft, Eugene has held a number of diverse sales leadership roles, including district sales director in the Southern California and Southwest regions. He was responsible for a $600 million enterprise business focused on sales operations and management and licensing for key strategic commercial customers in the U.S.'s southwestern region. Prior to that, Eugene managed sales teams in Houston for six years: a $100-million global oil and gas business and a health care team in the Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas markets. Other roles at Microsoft include chief of staff for Enterprise & Partner Group (EPG), and regional sales vice president and Business Productivity Advisor (BPA) Solutions Specialist (SSP) during the early inception of the Small, Mid-Market Solutions & Partners (SMS&P) business.
Previous to Microsoft, Eugene worked in California’s Silicon Valley for five years at software and internet companies such as Oracle Corporation, where he was a director of global e-sales market development; Update.com, a Sales Force Automation/CRM company; and Lycos.com as a business development manager. Other work experiences include sales positions at GTE (now Verizon) and as a strategic business planner for Walt Disney Motion Pictures & Television Group.
JULIE THORNE ENGELS
Julie Thorne Engels is a lifelong visionary, strategist and entrepreneur with a passion for employing creativity to drive business and social change. As Tribemint’s CEO, Julie has merged her talents to launch a creative marketing agency that truly believes in the power of building Millennial “tribes” around companies and brands that allow them to thrive. She has a proven track record of executing consumer activation strategies across a multitude of platforms with measurable results for clients such as FX Networks, Nikon, ABC Entertainment, Topline Game Labs, USA Networks and DreamWorks. A passion of Tribemint is to assist entrepreneurs at all stages of the start-up life cycle to strategically grow their company’s brand presence and connect with other trusted resources within the tech community.
Before starting Tribemint, Julie founded Bettyvision, an online vision board platform empowering women to visualize their dreams and make them a reality with community support. Julie is an active member of TuesdayNights, Pink51, and Chicklauncher, all of which support women in developing high-growth businesses. She is an adviser to Silicon Beach startups Enrou and Tacit.
Eric Garcia started his career as a ride mechanical engineer at Walt Disney Imagineering, the design and engineering business unit of the Walt Disney Company. Within the next five years, Eric co-founded product company California Crowd Control, that designed and engineered an innovative stanchion, and engineering service company CG3D, that provided various design services to the themed-entertainment industry. Thereafter, Eric pivoted to law where he now focuses on intellectual property. Eric has significant experience in counseling early-stage companies on all matters relating to patents, trademarks, licensing, joint development, IP strategy and litigation. His previous clients include numerous Fortune 500 clients and his work experience involves technology related to a wide variety of mechanical, software, and electronic arts.
In addition to his legal work, Eric is a community activist and elected member of the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council where he represents the interests of the diverse residents of the Historic Core. He graduated from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo with a B.S. in mechanical engineering and a law degree from Pepperdine University School of Law.
Jocelyn's career has spanned the globe, including work at HSBC Bank in Mexico and Samsung in South Korea. She founded a biomedical research editing and translation business based out of South Korea, and has since transitioned it to a passive income source. Jocelyn appreciates living in L.A., where she can still speak Spanish and Korean regularly.
Jocelyn serves on the Peer Review Committee at The Arroyo SECO Community Revolving Loan Fund as a peer adviser for its Local Economy Incubator for environmentally sustainable and employee-owned businesses. She leads the LA Civic Data Analysis Team at Los Angeles City College as well as periodic data science meetups. Her company, Proficia, provides training for job-seekers from underrepresented groups in tech through a Department of Labor non-traditional apprenticeship grant.
Jocelyn has successfully navigated the path from academia to business owner, herself a beneficiary of Small Business Development Center advising. She enjoys guiding others who dream of owning a business through the process of envisioning, launching and growing their own enterprises.
Lindsey Heisser is the managing director of Tribemint, a Los Angeles-based creative marketing agency. Lindsey specializes in campaign ideation and execution, marketing and communication strategies and technology development. Lindsey brings her entrepreneurial spirit and innate curiosity of today’s trends to deliver Tribemint’s clients with fully integrated campaigns that turn consumers into brand loyalists. Prior to joining Tribemint, she was part of the founding team of Bettyvision, an interactive vision board platform, which sparked her passion for start-ups. In her role as product manager, she was able to marry her extensive marketing background and enthusiasm for innovation to ignite the brand from the ground floor up.
Lindsey's excitement for marketing began during her collegiate days at California State University, Long Beach and quickly turned into a career path when she landed an internship at a consumer engagement agency, The Regan Group. It was during her 5-year tenure at the agency that she met Tribemint CEO Julie Thorne Engels, and together they shaped the company culture and drove the agency’s most profitable years in business.
Stephen León Kane is a small business and startup attorney who also has real-world experience as an entrepreneur and small business owner. He represents a broad spectrum of clients in contract drafting and review, labor and employment counseling, formations and disputes. In addition to his legal work, Stephen advises legal tech companies and is involved in a variety of grassroots downtown Los Angeles causes, including efforts to jumpstart the downtown tech/creative ecosystem. Stephen attended Stanford University for his undergraduate and law degrees and is a die-hard Lakers and Dodgers fan.
Mark Kapczynski has a successful track record as a serial entrepreneur, chief executive and advertising industry expert. He founded LocationX, a physical location ad network leveraging beacon technology. Kapczynski also serves as an executive director of the UCLA Venture Capital Fund, helping to foster innovation connected to the university. Programs include early stage investing, mentoring and access to intellectual property from university patents.
Kapczynski last served as VP of corporate development and strategy for Experian's consumer businesses, which include leading consumer brands Experian, FreeCreditReport.com, and ProtectMyID.
Kapczynski graduated from UCLA's film school and continues to be active in multiple industry associations that span media, mobile telecom, technology and consumer internet. He has eight patents to his name and an additional pending 45 patent. In his free time, Kapczynski enjoys spending time with his wife and son, as well as car racing and playing the drums.
Today, she's a single mom to twin boys, an expert speaker with the U.S. State Department in a program that's designed to inspire entrepreneurship in young women, and a three-time company founder that just launched her third venture to help fulfill her vision. CoAccel: The Human Accelerator, brings the concept of startup accelerators to a new level, directing energy and focus around the most important piece of the puzzle: the human.
Doug Korte is an accomplished global technology executive and respected transformational leader, with experience in turning around and growing high-tech companies from startup to Fortune 50. Senior executives routinely consult with him when they look to transform and grow their organizations and drive for operational excellence.
He currently serves as CEO of Cuneiform Technologies Inc. and is an investor and private equity consultant, providing timely business development, operations and financial strategy advice to corporations, private equity and venture capital firms, investment banking and management firms, hedge funds, professional services firms and large institutional investors regarding high-tech and digital media companies.
Previously, he has served as VP and global general manager of communications, media and entertainment at Hewlett-Packard, and an executive at IBM. He is an active member of National Association of Corporate Directors, Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Institute for Communication Technology Management at USC Marshall School of Business and the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.
Josh has a passion for using technology to disrupt “old-school” business and is dedicated to helping businesses and individuals leverage technology to be successful. He has more than a decade of experience as a technology leader, consultant and software engineer in various industries, including high-tech, enterprise software, finance and real estate. As an engineer at Intuit in Boston, Josh helped co-found the Intuit Engineer Network, an internal network for Intuit engineers who wished to learn from and engage with the local engineer community.
After Intuit, Josh served as CTO for the second-largest lender of personal loans to active service military. In this role, he also co-founded and launched a “big data”-driven loan underwriting platform that analyzed and assessed more than 100,000 digital loan applications in its first year. Since then, he has served in various engineering and technology positions at Los Angeles-area companies such as EdgeCast and Creative Artists Agency. More recently, Josh served as senior VP of engineering at L.A. real estate startup AssetAvenue, where he led the product development efforts for the platform, which transacted more than $25 million in real estate investments in its first year.
Shirin Laor-Raz Salemnia is the founder and CEO of PlayWerks, an independent interactive media company that creates high-quality and innovative multi-platform immersive experiences that engage children and adults. She is also the founder of WhizGirls Academy, where students engage in exciting projects that help them acquire skills in the areas of coding, entrepreneurship, healthy balanced lifestyles (fitness and eating) and more, while building confidence and growing as members of the community. She previously worked at MGA Entertainment on the Bratz brand and Mattel on Barbie, where she performed ongoing research and analysis of industry trends, consumer motivations and competitor activity. At MGA, she was responsible for designing the Play Lab, where children would gather for in-house research.
She is actively involved with Women in Gaming, Los Angeles Film School's video game department, as an adviser, Boys and Girls Clubs, Girls in Tech, Girl Scouts, and has worked collaboratively with the White House Council of Women and Girls in 2013 to host the first-ever in-house hackathon exclusively for women and girls.
Steve Sedlic has a diverse background in both finance and online advertising. He is a former Nasdaq market maker and director of market research for an investment banking firm and a Chinese venture capital firm. Steve also worked for an online advertising agency and is co-founder of a health and sustainability-oriented online marketing firm. Steve has an M.B.A. in marketing and entrepreneurship from USC and a B.A. in economics and philosophy from UC Berkeley.
Jay Tsao is a serial entrepreneur who has led several startups in the technology, finance, real estate, CPG, and international trade industries. He co-founded Sapient Consulting LLC, an information technology consulting firm focused on next-generation Intranet ERP applications and network infrastructure for the financial services and banking industries. Since his technology background focused on the financial vertical industry, he later transitioned to serve executive and leadership roles at investment companies and later became founding managing director of TMG Capital West and Ameritrust Asset & Capital Management LLC, private equity real estate investment firms, having managed and funded close to $4 billion in transactions.
He is the founder and CEO of Globemart Technologies, a global B2E e-commerce marketplace startup utilizing innovative media and SaaS technology to facilitate commerce transactions and make trade between SME’s easier around the world. Jay received his B.A. in economics and political science from Loyola Marymount University. He also graduated from UCLA's Anderson School of Management's Executive Program, and obtained an M.B.A. from Cornell University's Johnson School of Management, where he was a fellow of the Entrepreneur & Innovation Institute (EII) and a PMP mentor to several startup and early stage ventures. He is a partner and board member at Scepture Corporation and BridgeArc Trading, leading international trading and distribution conglomerates that represent and distribute industry-renowned and brand-recognized products.
Craig Wilson brings two decades of technology experience to Bixel Exchange, where he advises Los Angeles startups in financial structure for capital raising, product strategy, strategic partnership, and early stage operations. Craig has invested and participated as co-founder and manager in the growth of several startups and achieved three exits that included one merger and two acquisitions by Microsoft ($1.4B) and Visio ($35M).
Craig graduated from City University of Seattle with a degree in business administration, finance and international business. During his time at Microsoft, the company nominated him for the Marketing Executive Program at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. He is a 2012 graduate of the Executive Program at UCLA Anderson School of Management.