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Mentoring & Resources
Mentoring & Resources
The Severino Center understands the importance of mentorship for students who are developing new ventures and has established a number of programs in partnership with successful serial entrepreneurs and professionals from multiple industries to assist our students during this process.
The Student Sandbox is a place in the Center for start-up teams to meet, access resources and use office equipment to advance their business venture.
Pittsburgh Building, Room 4106.
M-Th 9:00 AM - 10:00 PM
F 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Entrepreneurs In Residence
Each year, SCTE hosts Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EIRs) — seriel entrepreneurs and business executives with extensive experience in developing new businesses.
EIRs participate in Severino programs like Business Plan Competitions and Student Advising Sessions. They will also make themselves available to the Student E*ship Club and Foundry-RPI. EIRs meet informally with students both individually and in their teams. They are available to any class across campus.
Entrepreneurs in Residence
- Dr. Clint Ballinger
Dr. Clint Ballinger is the founder and CEO of Evident Technologies, a nanotech company focused on multiple market verticals from LEDs to biotech to military to energy. He is well skilled at translating advanced material science into and new products to solve problems, meet needs, and create new markets. He brings a wealth of experience in raising capital, technology development, market strategy, sales development, personnel recruitment and the creation of a creative corporate culture.
Specialties: From scant resources, creating a fault-tolerant organization focused on attracting and retaining customers.
Christine Tate '95
Christine has a diverse, entrepreneurial career with operations and finance experience, both domestically and internationally. She is passionate about helping build the startup ecosystem throughout Upstate New York as well as investing in promising early stage tech companies. She co-founded GrandSlam Alley, a business accelerator based in Troy, N.Y. as well as Start-Up Weekend Tech Valley. She is a judge and mentor to many entrepreneurial endeavors throughout Upstate. She works with Funding Post, FP Angels, Early Stage East and FashInvest on the East Coast.
Christine holds an MBA from the Lally School of Management at Rensselaer and a BS in Accounting and International Finance from Plattsburgh State. She is also a Certified Internal Auditor.
Matthew Cusack '02
Matt Cusack is vice president of operations at TransTech Systems where he is leading new product development, finance, and manufacturing. He cofounded PlugPower, a start-up company in the fuel cell market, which was taken public. Since then, Matt has helped transform demonstration technology into manufactured products in multiple industries including energy, transportation, and the medical device market. He has successfully led teams to develop and produce several new products over his 20 year career. Matt has multiple patents and holds a B.A. in mathematics from Siena, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from George Washington University, and an MBA from Rensselaer.
Specialties: Team building, technology and market assessments, financing new ventures and fundraising, identifying strategic sourcing opportunities, and developing public-private sector collaborations.
Jim Giordano ’09
Jim is the CTO at General Electric Power & Water. His career with GE started as a lead database administrator supporting human resources. He quickly earned several promotions leading him to the aviation, energy and transportation divisions heading support teams which handled the transition of old, unsupported database applications. He also oversaw the day to day activities for 22 production ERP systems in these three divisions.
Jim holds an associate’s degree from Hudson Valley Community College in data processing, a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems from SUNY’s College of Technology, and an executive MBA from the Lally School at Rensselaer.
Selcuk Atli '09
Selcuk is an Entrepreneur in Residence at 500 Startups. He’s a serial entrepreneur based in San Francisco, an alumnus of YCombinator, an Endeavor Entrepreneur and a Fulbright Scholar.
Selcuk most recently founded Boostable an advertising technology company funded by YCombinator, 500 Startups, SVAngel and others. Boostable helps online marketplaces and e-commerce businesses offer advertising services to their sellers. Prior to that, he founded SocialWire that helps some of the largest online retailers in the United States automate their product ads on Facebook and Twitter. SocialWire is funded by First Round Capital, 500 Startups and others - and was a recipient of Facebook’s Innovation Awards in 2013.
Areas of expertise: Early stage tech startups, advertising technology, e-commerce, online marketplaces, mobile, fund raising, marketing, product design, business development
John Cococcia '94, MBA '99John has spent the last 15 years working with early and growth stage companies as an investor, board member, trusted advisor and advocate. Most recently John was COO at DHA Energy, a growth stage specialty manufacturer of precision components for the global energy industry. Prior to DHA, he was a Co-Founder and Partner at FA Technology Ventures. He is a trusted advisor to his companies, and has extensive Board-level experience spanning several high-tech industry categories, with active participation on compensation, audit, recruitment and M&A Board Committees. John is also an Adjunct Professor at Union Graduate College of Business, a position he previously held at University at Albany and Rensselaer.
Specialties: strategy development and execution, C-level recruiting, venture and growth financings, strategic partnerships, restructurings, and turn-arounds.
Avin Joshi '99
Avin is the SVP, Operations at Etransmedia Technology, Inc.; one of the largest providers of information products and services to the healthcare industry. The company, which was founded at RPI in 1999, has grown to 9 offices and 500+ employees across the country and has clients in over 40 states. Avin is part of the Etransmedia founding team which won the RPI Business Plan Competition in 2000. Through the years, Avin has contributed to Etransmedia’s strategic growth by overseeing new product development and deployment as well as strategic M&A and integration.
Avin has Masters Degrees from RPI in Mechanical Engineering and Physics.
Specialties: Technology and market assessments, software/solution development, financing and fundraising, strategic planning for growth, partnerships, M&As.
Chris Kelly '90
Chris is currently the CEO of POMCO, a Campus Safety company offering the students, parents and faculty Piece Of Mind with a service that makes it faster and easier to contact campus safety in an emergency. He was previously a founder and Partner at Treo Solutions, a health informatics company located in the Rensselaer Technology Park. Treo has recently been named to Inc. Magazine’s 5,000 fastest growing companies for the seventh straight year. Over Treo’s 11 years, Chris has worked in sales, operations, software development, and IT. Chris has also worked in the sales organizations for two other fast growth companies, MapInfo (Now Pitney Bowes) in Troy, NY and GeoAccess in Overland Park, KS.
Specialties: Sales and marketing, hiring, strategic planning, software development
David Wood ’87 BS ’96 MBA
David Wood is a Managing Director of NobleHouse Partners, a New York based private equity firm focused on micro-cap companies (target companies typically have revenues from $5 to $15 million and a long history of positive cash flows). He has been active in Private Equity/Venture Capital since 1995. Prior to NobleHouse Partners, he co-founded Blue Slate Solutions, a legacy system modernization consulting firm focused on Fortune 100 companies. David began his Merchant Banking career at First Albany Capital, a New York Investment Bank. During his tenure at First Albany, Mr. Wood founded and was a Managing Director of First Albany Enterprise Funding.
David received both a Bachelors of Science and a Masters of Business Administration from Rensselaer and during his MBA studies was awarded the Klein Fellowship for Entrepreneurial Studies.
Jeff Olson ’83
Jeff Olson is an entrepreneur, architect, planner, and author who has been involved in greenways, open space, active living, and alternative mobility projects for more than 3 decades. He cofounded Alta Bicycle Share (ABS) to design, deploy and manage bicycle share systems around the world. ABS launched 5 programs in the US, with additional programs in Canada and Australia. The company grew from startup to managing more than 12,000 bikes in a dozen cities in 5 years and was named on Fast Company’s 50 Most Innovative Companies list in 2013.
In 2014, ABS was acquired by a group of investors and is now called Motivate.
He currently serves as a Principal with Alta Planning + Design, which has grown from 8 people when Jeff joined the company in 2004 to more than 175 people in 30 locations. Jeff has taught America’s first university course in bicycle and pedestrian planning for more than 20 years at UAlbany, and is Co-Director of the UAlbany Initiative for Healthy Infrastructure. He is passionate about how infrastructure shapes our lives, and how to address the ever-increasing challenges of the future.
Areas of Expertise: Navigating public policy and hierarchy; leveraging strategic partnerships; early stage growth strategy; sustainable urban planning and design.
How do students find teammates for entrepreneurial ventures at Rensselaer?
- Attend Foundry-RPI meetings where students gather weekly to help each other advance ideas and form teams.
- Post a position on Joblink. With the Severino Center’s help, you can list a position opening just like outside companies do to reach Rensselaer students.
- Don’t under estimate the power of the paper flyer posted around campus. Students still read it (even if there are more sustainable routes). Post one in the Student Sandbox (Pitts 4106) where entrepreneurial students gather.
- Try Concerto, Rensselaer’s digital signage system. Upload a catchy listing for all to see on the screens across campus.
- Seek out the help of professors teaching courses with the topic/skill areas that you are seeking. Use the e*ship course finder to find the course, then check SIS for the class schedule to see who is teaching it.
Will the worker require academic compensation?
The current mechanism of independent study requires the student to locate a professor willing to oversee your study and sign off on the form. The course of study, and the deliverable requirements, are worked out between the student and professor. The nature of a study may change over the course of a semester, so be sure the professor understands the nature of a startup venture allowing for redirection accordingly.
You can pick up the forms through the Advising & Learning Assistance Center.
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