Mentors and Speakers
From seasoned tech CEOs to experts in distribution, our mentors deliver structure to the chaos of new ideas. Applicable strategies and facilitated leadership help early-stage companies overcome the challenges beyond their expertise. Each company is paired with mentors that match their unique needs. Our mentor list is always growing. Think you might be a fit? Let us know.
Co-Director, InNEVator; Development Officer, Watershed Growth Ventures
Director, Innevation Center
Jim Sacherman earned a master’s in product design at Stanford and a bachelor’s in engineering design and economic evaluation at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He holds more than a dozen patents, for both utility and design, and has received national and international design awards.
Sacherman spent much of his career in Silicon Valley. After working as an industrial designer and engineer in consultancies that eventually became part of IDEO, Sacherman founded Palo Alto Products International in 1983. Initial revenues were boosted by a new business model that Sacherman created: providing design services in exchange for equity or royalties.
Palo Alto Products International created the first Palm Pilot handheld computer under this model. Over time services were expanded into manufacturing of mechanical parts and assemblies, and by 2000 the company had four factories with more than $100 million in annual revenues. Major customers included Micron Semiconductor, Dell Computer, Hewlett Packard, Wyse Technology, Palm Computing and numerous others.
The company was sold in 2001 to Flextronics, Inc., a world leader in contract manufacturing, and Sacherman stayed on with Flextronics as chief marketing officer and a member of the CEO’s executive team until 2004. While at Flextronics, Sacherman negotiated, sold and managed the design of the first Xbox game machine for Microsoft, a contract with projected revenues in excess of $1 billion.
Sacherman’s most recent business ventures were the Minden Grill Company and Hercke Garage Cabinets, both based in Minden, Nevada.
Tony Lillios is a serial entrepreneur who co-founded and grew several companies, most notably the international mobile case and accessory company, Speck Products. Speck was one of the fastest growing private companies in the US for several years and was sold to Samsonite in 2014. As an 8-time Ironman and a seasoned open water swimmer, he became the first swimmer to complete a round-trip swim across the deep cold waters of Crater Lake. In 2011, Tony led an expedition across the country of Bhutan, seeking a deeper first-hand account of the country’s policy of Gross National Happiness which is the subject of the film, Crossing Bhutan. Today, Tony brings forth his diverse background as a business and personal Integral Coach who is passionate about bringing transformational tools to larger audiences. You can learn more about him at lillios.com.
With so much focus on driving to our goals and getting things done we can forget to notice what is actually unfolding before us and the new opportunities that arise. Tony will speak to creating “stop rhythms” in our lives to create the space and opportunity to reflect, assess and shift. He will share on how to use the Integral Theory framework to bring light to what we might be missing and how to create integrated shifts that lead to sustainable change.
Breadware Co-founder & CEO
Daniel Price is passionate about the new opportunities that are being unlocked in our personal lives and our businesses in the era of intelligent, connected devices. A leading thinker in IoT, Daniel is a sought-after speaker and has given TEDx talks and addresses at numerous national conferences on new business opportunities in the Internet of Things. Daniel is a Rhodes scholar and holds an MBA and Master’s in Biomedical Engineering from Oxford University. Daniel attended UC Berkeley for his undergraduate where he graduated summa cum laude with BS degrees in Bioengineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
Director, Sierra Club Toiyabe Chapter
Born in Reno, Brian has spent most of his life enjoying and protecting the region’s beautiful places and environment. As a leader in the Sierra Club (the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization) Brian works to engage and mobilize communities—from grassroots to grasstops, businesses to elected officials, agencies and governments—around our shared values of clean air and water, renewable energy, and healthy public lands (and access to them) to create healthy and resilient communities. Brian has degrees in anthropology from Reed College and journalism from the University of Missouri, Columbia. He is a master’s candidate in Sustainability & Environmental Management at Harvard University. Before working for environmental nonprofit organizations, Brian was an outdoor journalist (Adventure West and Sunset magazines and the Reno Gazette-Journal).
Although he loves to hike, bike, camp and photograph, he spends most of his time staring at computer screens, recruiting and managing volunteers, engaging politicians and plotting environmental victories in the upcoming election and Nevada Legislature.
Kelly Northridge is an angel investor that has worked with, started, and grown several entrepreneurial ventures over the past 20 years across industries including corporate services, fashion, biotech, and health tech. She has a background in venture capital, management consulting, mergers and acquisitions, economic impact, international strategy, change management and organizational development. She holds a BS in International Business and Economics, cum laude, from the University of Nevada, Reno, an MBA focused in International Sustainable Development from Cornell University, a Master’s in Public Health focused in International Health Management from UCLA, and is a doctoral candidate at the University of Oxford researching how and why investors invest in women and girls. Kelly is an avid supporter of the University’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and is pleased to serve as the CEO-in-residence at the Innevation Center.
Flashvote CEO & Co-founder
Kevin Lyons is a serial entrepreneur and governance expert helping to mentor tech startups from zero to one. First startup experience as #20 at a future unicorn. Founder of three technology startups since and one hedge fund. Currently the CEO & Co-founder of FlashVote, which gets rapid input from citizens to local governments.
Breadware Co-founder & COO
Danny DeLaveaga co-founded Breadware with Daniel Price. Danny comes from a product design background with deep mechanical engineering and subtractive manufacturing expertise. Danny has influenced and been involved in the full product development and deployment of over 18 products currently in the market and is a co-inventor on 4 patents.
StartUpNV Co-founder & Executive Director
Jeff is a start-up founder and early stage public company executive with more than 25 years’ experience. Since 1998, Jeff has been part of successful startup exits with 3 IPO’s and 1 private sale. As an executive, Jeff’s experience includes running worldwide sales, professional services, SaaS operations, and product development. As a founder, Jeff’s experience includes three B2B SaaS cloud companies and 1 business / tech incubator. For more detailed information see https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffsaling.
Manager, Innevation Center Makerspace
Crystal manages the Makerspace on the bottom floor of the Innevation Center. She has a background in R&D mechanical engineering and engineering project management. At the Innevation Center, she strives to remove technical and knowledge barriers in the Makerspace regardless of your background, and specializes in bridging the gap between engineering and business needs. When not at work, she loves spending time with her dog outside hiking and climbing. She is currently getting her MBA at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Allison is the CEO and co-founder of Filament. Her vision for bringing economic capability to connected physical machines used in business and industrial environments is the cornerstone of Filament’s technology solutions. Allison’s technical leadership and entrepreneurial mindset supported the creation of Filament’s Blocklet Chip™, the first secure hardware solution for the Internet of Things (IoT) blockchain technology space.
Prior to Filament, Allison’s expertise in hardware and software engineering led her to launch and manage technology startups in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City. Allison serves on the Computer Science and Engineering advisory board at the University of Nevada, Reno and she is a Techstars mentor.
Dr. Grace Chou
Director of Advanced Manufacturing & Technology, GOED
Dr. Grace Chou is the Director of Advanced Manufacturing & Technology at the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED). She works with the Nevada manufacturing industry in advancing their technology adoption and business practices to increase their global competitiveness. Grace also works with community entrepreneur groups, incubators, and the investor community to strengthen the Nevada’s startup ecosystem.
Prior to GOED, Grace has over 25 years of industry experience in various technical and business roles including R&D, business development, and technology commercialization. Grace was a key member of the Licensing & Ventures team at SRI International where she helped launch several technology ventures. She has also mentored entrepreneurs in business plan competitions including serving as the interim CEO for a startup team at the California Cleantech competition.
Grace holds a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from University of California, Berkeley and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. She is also a Registered Patent Agent and has received Executive Education from Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management.
CEO, TRU Venture Marketing
Matthew Starrett, the CEO of TRU Venture Marketing, is a digital marketer who has worked with over 35 companies globally to improve their online performance. Matt is a 3-time startup founder, focusing predominantly on the ECommerce and SaaS (Software as a Service) space. Matthew believes that that insight from data is the basis of any high performing marketing campaign, and is dedicated to staying on top of the latest trends and techniques in driving startup growth and success.
Vice President of Entrepreneurial Development, EDAWN
Bryan McArdle is currently the Vice President of Entrepreneurial Development at the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN). Bryan helps entrepreneurs launch startups and grow their businesses throughout the Biggest Little City. He is an organizer for Startup Weekend Reno and facilitated what is now Startup Row on First Street in Reno. Bryan is formerly the Operations Manager for the Summit Venture Mentoring Service that supports the growth of high potential startup companies. A small business owner and entrepreneur himself, upon finishing his undergrad degree at UNR in Environmental Science and Natural Resource Science Bryan went on to open Reno’s first hookah lounge Hookava and later a popular Irish bar. This led him back to UNR to obtain his MBA. Bryan remains passionate about the growth and reputation of Reno. He was the Vice President of the Midtown District at its inception and was previously Vice President of the RiverWalk Merchants Association that hosts the monthly Wine Walk and other events. Bryan has been involved with various startup events, Reno’s Mini-Makerfaire, and the Biggest Little City campaign.
Katie Romanko Freeman
Program Manager of Entreprenuerial Development, EDAWN
Katie Romanko Freeman is currently Program Manager of Entrepreneurial Development at the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN). Katie runs marketing and PR campaigns to attract startups and investors into the region, and organizes and facilitates events that bring the ecosystem together. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and worked as a news anchor for KAME-TV and a Key Account Executive for the USA Today Network. Katie and her husband Matt own two locations of Sierra Mattress Company in Reno and love how the area embraces and supports locally owned businesses. She is also currently President-Elect for the American Marketing Association.
Chris started his entrepreneurial path around the age of 7, reselling Bazooka gum pieces at camp for 75 cents apiece. After being disciplined for this, he ceased operations and eventually became a newspaper delivery specialist at age 10. Born in Wisconsin, Chris eventually moved to San Diego with his then girlfriend (now wife) Julie and found work at HSBC Bank as a business analyst. In late 2003 A List Tickets was founded on the premise he could buy 2 extra tickets to pay for his seats to attend a Green Bay Packers game. More than a decade and tens of millions of dollars in revenue later, A List Tickets is a thriving enterprise that specializes in re-selling sports tickets online.
He graduated in May 2017 from Indiana University’s Master of Science Degree program in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. An active member of the Entrepreneur’s Organization, he has held many volunteer positions including Global Accelerator Chair and most recently helped launch EO Accelerator in Reno.
Chris and his wife Julie relocated in 2016 to Incline Village, NV (Lake Tahoe) with their 3 cats and new dog.