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Medaille College - Events Center

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Mar 1
  • Registration Starts
  • Dinner & Networking
  • Welcome, Intro, Rules and Video
  • HalfBaked
  • Pitches
  • Vote on Pitches
  • Teams start forming and discussing ideas
  • Start to formalize teams and take an inventory of skills. Be honest, and direct about what resources and skills are needed for the weekend. You may stay and work as late as 2am


Mar 2
  • Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee
  • Teams formed and setting up workspace for the weekend
  • Lunch
  • Call for needs & skills
  • Coaches help teams one-on-one. They are here to help!
  • Dinner
  • Finished for the day. You may stay and work as late as 2am


Mar 3
  • Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee
  • Call for help (this is self motivated, so don’t be shy)
  • Brunch
  • Coaches arrive… ASK QUESTIONS
  • Gut check. Start prepping for presentations
  • Late Lunch
  • Head to auditorium
  • Judging & awards
  • Wrapup
  • Go home!
  • After party! At Founding Fathers. Cash bar, free popcorn/nachos
Premier Sponsors
Prize Sponsors

Teo Balbach

Principal at Mercury Capital Partners

Mr. Balbach started his career in the Harvard Economics department, doing research with Department Chairman Dale Jorgenson. He subsequently joined Kenan Systems (sold to Lucent for $1.3B) in Boston, developing expert systems, custom software applications, and telecommunications billing systems. During his business school summer, Mr. Balbach worked as a Program Manager for Microsoft and participated in shipping Windows NT 4.0. After business school, he managed music industry sales for Reciprocal, a SoftBank Group company and a pioneer in Digital Rights Management and secure digital media distribution. Mr. Balbach joined Mercury Capital Partners in 2001 and is responsible for digital media initiatives. Mr. Balbach earned his BA magna cum laude in economics from Harvard University in 1991, and his MBA from the Tuck School at Dartmouth in 1997.

Keith Blakely


Keith Blakely is a serial entrepreneur and started his first company, Advanced Refractory Technologies, Inc. (ART) at the age of 24. He served as ART's Chairman, President & CEO, overseeing its growth from a 2 person operation to an enterprise with over 325 people, three international joint ventures and three domestic facilities – in Buffalo, NY, Santa Clara, CA, and Amesbury, MA. During his tenure, he established strategic and commercial relationships with General Motors, Motorola, Ericsson, Bekaert, Mitsubishi, Westinghouse, Siemens, McDermott International, United Defense, and many others major international corporations. The company was recognized as a worldwide leader in advanced materials and components when it was acquired by a subsidiary of Tyco International in June, 2001.

In 2002, Blakely started NanoDynamics, Inc., a leader in the commercialization of nanomaterials and nanotechnology-enabled components and systems. He served as its CEO until 2009, raised over $60 million, and oversaw the development and launch of disruptive products for the energy, environmental, and infrastructure markets. He also established Epik Energy Solutions, LLC a $10 million joint venture with the venture arm of Shell Oil.

Blakely now heads The InVentures Group, Inc., a venture investment and strategic advisory firm focused on delivering technology assessments, strategic business planning, and technology commercialization assistance to organizations on a global basis. At various times, through the InVentures Group, he has served as the interim CEO of AP Materials, Inc. (a St. Louis based nanomaterials company), TechSys, Inc. (a NYC based fuel cell company), NanoMech, Inc. (an Arkansas based advanced materials company), Duralor, Inc. (a subsidiary of NanoMech), and R3 Fusion, Inc. (a Troy, NY based water purification technology company).

Blakely is a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society, a two-time winner of R&D Magazines' IR-100 award, holds multiple US patents, has appeared on CNBC's Squawk Box, profiled in Figaro magazine, and was named Business Leader of the Year by Small Times Magazine in 2007. He has significant board-level experience and is a 1976 graduate of the University of Buffalo, completing a BS in Psychology and BA in Biology in two years. He and his wife of 35 years live in Buffalo, NY.

Eric Reich

President and Co-Founder

Eric Reich has led Campus Labs from its inception to its current place as the leading assessment community and technology platform in higher education. Today, Eric determines the strategic direction of Campus Labs, evaluating alliances and acquisitions that serve to grow both the capabilities and campus membership of the company.
While working towards his J.D. and M.B.A. degrees at the University at Buffalo, Eric had the experience of serving as the student representative on the University Council (the equivalent of the Board of Trustees). On the Council, Eric pioneered a system of linking assessment data to the unique challenges of colleges and universities. The resulting program was awarded the Panasci Entrepreneurial Award by the University, forming Campus Labs.

Althea Luehrsen

Executive Director, Leadership Buffalo   |  LinkedInGoogle+

Althea became the 4th Executive Director of Leadership Buffalo on January 1, 2012. Prior to her appointment to Leadership Buffalo, she was at the University at Buffalo since 2001 and held positions as the Executive Director of UB’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership and Assistant Vice President for Corporate and Foundation Relations.

In addition to spending the last ten years in higher education, her expertise encompasses sales, marketing, strategic planning and entrepreneurship with the latter being gained through directing the center and as the owner of several Western New York businesses.

In addition to her work at the University, Ms. Luehrsen is the President/Owner of Strategic Solutions Group specializing in strategic plan facilitation and small business consulting. Past clients include the UB Alumni Association, National Federation for Just Communities (NFJC), Amherst Senior citizens Foundation, Botanical Gardens of Erie County, The Buffalo Zoological Society, Allpro Parking, LLC, Medical Group Management Associates and Buffalo State College Office of Student Affairs.

Althea is a graduate of the SUNY Empire (Empire State College) where she received both her BA and MA. Her published work, entitled “A HISTORICAL VIEW OF THE DEVELOPMENT AND GROWTH OF WOMEN-OWNED BUSINESSES IN THE UNITED STATES AND THE MOTIVATION BEHIND THE GROWTH” can be accessed on-line. She is an adjunct faculty of Empire State College.

Althea currently holds several board and committee positions including incoming President of the WNY Affiliate Susan G. Komen Foundation

Gold Sponsors
Silver Sponsors

Jack McGowan

Consultant   |  

Jack McGowan has over 30 years experience working with early-stage technology and small to medium-sized manufacturing companies. He provides consulting in the areas of business planning, strategic planning, lean initiatives, finance, ISO quality management systems and marketing. Jack's work at Insyte Consulting includes serving as the director of the Western New York Venture Association, a not-for-profit organization that facilitates interaction between entrepreneurs and angel investors, and management of the Western New York Business Development Fund, a pre-seed stage investment fund. He is a certified Professional Business Advisor through MEP University and a certified trainer in Lean enterprise inititatives. Jack has also received provisional certification as an ISO 9001:2000 Lead Auditor and is a certified Eureka! Winning Ways Growth Coach.

Jack is one of three SBIR/STTR Regional Specialists designated by the New York State Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR). In this role he provides information and proposal development assistance to technology-based small businesses located in New York State to help them access the U.S. Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant program.

Yong Li

Academic Director, Entrepreneurship Academy, University at Buffalo

Dr. Yong Li is an Associate Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship in the School of Management at the University at Buffalo. He received his Ph.D. in strategy and international business from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Li currently teaches strategy and technology entrepreneurship courses at the undergraduate, MBA and doctoral levels. His research focuses on how to make investment decisions under uncertainty. Dr. Li has published in leading strategy and entrepreneurship journals. He has been recognized for his research on financing entrepreneurship and investing in emerging markets. For more, please visit:

Jamel C. Perkins

Managing Partner   |  LinkedIn

Jamel is currently Managing Partner at Execision Partner, a boutique management-consulting firm servicing many Fortune 500 companies across a wide range of industries. He is also currently an adjunct professor at Canisius College and a principal at StartUPstate Ventures, which keeps Jamel well grounded within the community.

With over 15 years of leadership experience, he has held Sr. / Executive positions at many major companies including: Delaware North Companies, Great Lakes Bancorp (Greater Buffalo Savings Bank), Hewlett Packard, Compaq, etc. This experience has allowed Jamel to amass a wealth of technical, financial, operations and executive management experience.

Jamel holds a Masters in Business Administration (MBA), Masters in Telecommunication Management and a Bachelors of Science in Finance from Canisius College, of Buffalo, NY. He currently serves as a Trustee of D’Youville College, Advisory Board Member of National Academy Foundation of West Seneca School District, the Heartland Industry Advisory Board and the Canisius College MBA Alumni Board. Jamel was also named to the 2011 Business First “40 under 40” class.

Bina Ramamurthy

Dr. Bina Ramamurthy was one of the early adopters of the grid computing into the CSE curriculum and her effort Project GridFoRCE (Grid For Research, Collaboration and Education) was supported NSF-DUE-CCLI-0311473 (2003-2006) approx. 150K. A distributed systems course (CSE4/586) was introduced into the CSE curriculum and it has become a core course.
She was awarded an NSF grant to support a newly (2006) created Embedded and Realtime systems course (CSE321) by a grant NSF-DUE-CCLI-0727243 (2007-2008) approx. $75K. This Project Nexos (Next Generation Embedded Operating Systems) is in collaboration with Dr. Dennis Brylow of Marquette University. It is based on the famous XINU operating systems by Doug Comer of Purdue University.
She is the PI on a grant for data-intensive computing curriculum development NSF-DUE-CCLI-0920335 (2009-2013) approx. 250K. A SUNY-wide certificate program in data-intensive computing has been designed and is pending approval from SUNY central. This Project TIDE (Timely Introduction of Emerging Data-intensive computing) was instrumental in adding a new course Data-intensive Computing (CSE4/587) to the CSE curriculum at Buffalo. This course deals with data-intensive computing, BigData and cloud computing.
Dr. Ramamurthy (PI) recently received an NSF grant for inter-disciplinary research Project POP!World (CI-TEAM Demonstration Project: A Cloud-enabled Evolutionary Genetics Learning Tool for Engaging the Net-Savvy Generation) NSF-OCI-CITEAM 1041280 (2010-2013) approx. 250K. This is in collaboration with Dr. Jessica Poulin and Dr. Katharina Dittmar De la Cruz of Biological Sciences department.

Chirag Desai

Director of Operations at IVR Technology

Chirag serves as the Director of Operations at IVR Technology and as the VP of Customer Success. Chirag loves technology and is fascinated with how we interact with the technology that surrounds us. He spent several years in public accounting before making the jump to starting and growing a web development firm, which was later merged with IVR Technology Group.

Chirag is involved with a venture accelerator in Upstate New York, is a co-founder of a healthcare technology startup and he also sits on the board of a local non-profit. Chirag has been invited to speak at several entrepreneurship and technology conferences. In his spare time, he enjoys writing, consuming science fiction, sipping philosophy, going on hikes with his wife, and tending to his vegetable garden.

Ed Tierney

Brand Development Guru

Edward J. Tierney, BlackDog Strategy & Brand Principal loves change. He has conducted international business in at least 20 countries and has had 26 changes of address in his professional career, thus far. Gone are the days of career ladders within one company, or even one industry. Edward believes we are entering the MULTI-era.
Edward is a systems engineer turned fanatical Brand Strategist that left the lucrative high-tech industries for a more strategic role in business, bringing multi-disciplinary perspectives to the excavation, illumination, substantiation and elevation of serious brands. Edward’s ability to row with both the right and left sides of his engineering/humanistic mind frees him to see the elusive big picture that many of us miss. Edward is skilled at identifying the relevant connections between seemingly unrelated matters

Dr. Vipin Chaudhary

Professor of Computer Science and Engineering

Dr. Vipin Chaudhary is a Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences at University at Buffalo, SUNY. He is also the director of Data Intensive Discovery Initiative which is a unique inter-disciplinary research consortium involving partners from Academia, Industry, Non-Profit and Government sectors. Earlier, he spent several years at Wayne State University where he was the Director of Institute for Scientific Computing and Associate Professor of Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering. He currently maintains an adjunct position at Wayne State University in the Department of Neurological Surgery.

In 2005, he founded Micass LLC that is focused on Computer Assisted Diagnosis and Interventions. Earlier he was the Senior Director of Advanced Development at Cradle Technologies, Inc. where he was responsible for advanced programming tools and architecture for multi-processor chips. From January 2000 to February 2001, he was with Corio, Inc. where he has held various technical and senior management positions, finally as the Chief Architect. In addition, he is on advisory boards of several startup companies.

Adam Wilson

President, Owner at SoCorp Inc   |  LinkedIn

Adam Wilson founded Celebrate Buffalo and marketed the iconic "I Heart Buffalo" logo and merchandise. From its inception in 2005, when he was just 26 years old, until he sold the business in 2012, the merchandise was of the most recognizable images in Buffalo and even sold at the official Buffalo Sabres store inside the First Niagara Center. He currently owns and runs SoCorp Inc., an apparel services business, which he started in 2007. SoCorp works with several nationally recognized companies for their custom merchandise needs.

With over 10 years of experience in multimedia, retail and apparel manufacturing, Adam’s expertise in the retail market has aided various companies in the creation and execution of Buffalo’s most popular t -shirt designs. He has also provided consulting to several startup businesses across multiple categories.

In addition to his day to day activities at SoCorp, he leads the development of the organization’s strategies and goals. Prior to founding the two companies, Adam served as partner in Tour City Merchandise.

Adam is a 2011 alumnus of the UB Center for Entrepreneurial Learning program. He also gives back to the community by acting as partner in Buffalo's Stiletto Run, a unique annual race in the Elmwood Village to benefit the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. Adam enjoys photography, traveling adventures with friends and family and spending time with his wife, and newborn son.

Zachary Schneider

Partner at 15 Fingers   |  LinkedIn

Zachary Schneider has 10 years of experience in advertising and marketing with an astute focus on digital media. During his six years as the owner of an interactive shop in Buffalo, NY, he consistently hit marketing demands for clients such as the University of Buffalo, PBS, Symantec and New Era. He also spent one year as the Director of a Buffalo advertising agency working with corporations like M&T Bank and General Electric. As a Google Certified partner at 15 Fingers, Zack has helped build marketing campaigns for notable brands such as RG Berry Co., the New York Philharmonic, Kobo and Estee Lauder.

Patrick Finan

Founder + Principal, Block Club   |  LinkedIn

Patrick Finan is the founder and principal of Block Club, a progressive creative design studio located in Buffalo, NY. Block Club works to build and strengthen brands for forward-thinking companies and organizations, connect locally minded businesses and customers, and create products that inform, inspire and build community. Patrick was the youngest Western New Yorker to be included in Business First's 40 Under 40 list and was named a Rising Star in advertising by the Advertising Club of Buffalo. In the last few years, under Patrick's leadership, Block Club's 10-person team has pushed out some of Western New York's most visible and stylish products and campaigns in addition to work for their own brands, Block Club Magazine, City Dining Cards, and Fridge Phrases. Recent work includes campaigns for Freed Maxick, Insyte Consulting, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise and The University at Buffalo. Outside of work, Patrick enjoys cooking and traveling and advocates for triple-bottom-line and hyperlocal, sustainable business practices.

Tina Dietz

CEO & Owner, Business Development & Consulting   |  LinkedIn

Tina Dietz is the owner of Tina Dietz Business Development and the
inventor of the Success Funnel System(tm). With a mission to kindle
10,000 Thriving Businesses, Tina has served clients in more than 20
industries internationally from solo entrepreneurs to the corporate
level, and she speaks internationally on topics that impact small
businesses. She has also developed not for profit centers for teens and
training programs for some of the US's largest utility providers. As a
fourth generation entrepreneur and Nationally Certified Counselor, Tina
brings together years of expertise in human development and behavior,
entrepreneurship, education, strategic planning, public speaking & audio
production, and business development to ensure that her clients have the
practical tools, skills, and team to consistently build both their
business and their mindset for long term success.

Joe Peters

Joe Peters, a native of Western New York, graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in 2009 with a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering. Joe spent time in both engineering and product marketing at Apple before leaving to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors. He moved back to Rochester last June to start Iterative Ideas, a location-less incubator that just launched Spoil Me!, a social shopping app for iOS, in September.

David Ladori

Vice President of Commercial Banking

David is a Vice President of Commercial Banking at M&T. He works with a wide range of companies, in terms of size and industry, throughout Western New York and the surrounding areas. Through this role he has advised and partnered with a variety of successful companies and entrepreneurs giving him a broad perspective on running a successful business. While not a technical person by trade, he enjoys the finance, marketing, operations and research that goes into building a great business. David received his MBA in Finance from the University of Buffalo and a BA in Economics from the University of Rochester.

Nick Rovisa

Senior Account Executive, Text100   |  LinkedIn

Nick is a tech communications professional with a passion for people trying to do something big and a curiosity for what's next. He cofounded a startup in the fashion space fresh out of college in 2008, consulted on a few others for some years and has spent the last 4 years of his professional career in social/digital media.

In addition to his role as SAE for Text100, He's also cofounder of RNY DAY, a Rochester-based, design-led digital startup. RNY DAY is currently building their first product - Howly - a simple and beautiful way to share and explore sounds. Before relocating back upstate in March, Nick lived/worked/played in NYC for a year meeting some of the best and brightest in the game, and he's looking forward to passing along as much insight as he can to the SWBuffalo teams.

Garrett Smith

Marketing executive who develops prominent & profitable brands through ecommerce and online marketing channels   |  LinkedIn

Passionate, creative, and driven, Garrett has a knack for acquiring customers, closing deals, building relationships and talking. A lot.

Since 2002 Garrett has been a driving force behind the success of VoIP Supply, an industry leading ecommerce company and one of Western New York’s Top 50 Private companies. From building the first racks in the company’s warehouse to his current post as Chief Marketing Officer, Garrett has led the online marketing, business development and sales efforts that have grown the company from $2.5 million in sales in 2004 to $22 million in revenue and over 100,000 monthly visitors in 2011.

Today Garrett spends much of his time training, coaching and leading a great team of future leaders in his version of the fine arts: Sales, Marketing, SEO, PPC, Content Marketing, Social Media and Ecommerce. An ambitious entrepreneurial spirit, Garrett strives to be a student of the game, constantly learning, growing and adapting while encouraging others to do the same.

With a strange affinity for rap, Garrett firmly believes, as does Kanye West, that your attitude determines your latitude. When not at VoIP Supply, Garrett is likely working on generating revenue from some new idea, consulting or helping local entrepreneurs as his love of building never stops.

Dan Magnuszewski
Jon Spitz
Steve Poland
Dan Gigante
Nicholas Barone
Charlie Wertz
Lisa Primerano
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