Mary Louise has over 25 years experience working in executive marketing, product and business development roles for start-ups and companies with high growth initiatives in the technology, financial and education industries. She is the former President of Virtual Nerd an ed-tech start-up who received national and industry awards for product design and is currently a mentor for the Capital Innovators Accelerator Program. In addition to working for start-up companies, while at American Express Incentive Services she led the strategic planning process including rebranding the product portfolio and while at Charter Communications she managed the re-design of the consumer high-speed internet installation program.
Melissa brings over 15 years of experience and commitment to the St. Louis innovation community to her role at ITEN. She works with our companies to help foster their successful navigation through ITEN’s various programs–from Intake to Mock Angel grad; as well as manages ITEN’s operations and many community-focused collaborations and events. Prior to joining ITEN, Melissa served as the Director of Administration for Akermin, Inc., a clean-tech R&D company that was BioGenerator’s first client company in 2004. Prior to Akermin, Melissa was one of the original employees of BioGenerator where she served as Manager of Operations and Client Services. Earlier in her career she spent time at Monsanto in its new products division and corporate M&A. She has also worked as a certified sign language interpreter. Currently, Melissa on the Board of Missouri Venture Forum and a member of the Parent Boards of Webster University and Bradley University. Melissa holds a Bachelor of Educational Studies and an M.A. in Higher Education Administration, both from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Bringing over 25 years experience from the startup space Connie is a versatile, accomplished business professional. Her experience expands over areas in account management, customer experience, operations, business development, sales and marketing and product development. Connie has contributed and played multiple roles in a variety of startups, including founding member of a K-12 Education startup as Operations & Director of Partnerships to a Mobile Healthcare startup as Director of Client Services & Implementation. Other industries that she has worked in include Automotive Manufacturing, E-Learning, and Sales & Marketing.
Linh graduated from Truman State University in 2012 with a degree in Political Science and Business Administration. During her four years there, she served as a PC technician and competed in Ping-pong competitions, of which she has received many accolades. Upon graduation, Linh joined Innovate St. Louis – ITEN’s parent organization – and joined ITEN a few months later. Linh oversees ITEN’s data collection and data management as well as developing closer relationships with all of ITEN’s ventures, service providers and mentors. Her skills and enthusiasm are a great asset to St. Louis’s tech ecosystem! Linh spends most of her free time enjoying outdoor activities and watching soccer. She is a die-hard fan of Manchester United.
Entrepreneurs in Residence
Tom Niermann has been the founder and CTO of 3 venture backed software companies and is the former head of technology and program management of strategic partnerships at Google. He as been an active member of the St Louis Arch Angels. He has expertise in Product Marketing, Engineering, and Fundraising strategies.
Elaine has spent the past 30 years learning and exploring. Her career accomplishments include leadership roles in operations, financial management, sales and business development for both Fortune 500 companies and start up endeavors. She is most recently the founder and CEO of Savvy Coders, a bootcamp teaching front end web development in St. Louis, and Nashville and Chattanooga, TN. She has been a mentor at Gateway Venture Mentoring Service and is currently a mentor at SPARK!. Elaine has an MBA from Webster University.
Over the last six years, Chuck has mentored over 70 startups in the St. Louis region. He has over 20 years of experience in software, engineering, analytics, product, marketing, executive leadership as well as founding and contributing to the success of several early stage, growth and public companies.
He was previously a Co-Founder & CEO at Inferology and Kivivi, President & COO at Qualtech Systems, Vice-Chair at VNA HealthCare and served in various product and marketing leadership roles at MSC Software.
Chuck holds a MS in engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology and an MBA from the University of Chicago- Booth School of Business.
He is a mentor at Startup Weekend and The Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Washington University in St Louis. He’s a judge for Accelerate St. Louis Challenge and Arch Grants, and has coached entrepreneurs for the InvestMidwest Venture Capital Forum and Rise of the Rest.
Jane has been a mentor with ITEN for more than 6 years and is the chair of its Due Diligence Committee. She has twenty years of industry experience in mergers and acquisitions, financial planning and analysis, various software implementations and corporate tax, with expertise in setting up public company tax departments. She is a graduate of Fontbonne College and began her finance career at PwC in St. Louis. She is the founder of C&I Compliance, a technology and consulting company focusing on economic development credit and incentive contract and statutory reporting.
Board of Directors
Jeff Sexton is a proven leader with over 26 years of experience spanning start-up to global organizations. Jeff’s focus is on the creation of long-term value by facilitating talent to drive innovation leveraging technology. He currently is a District Manager with EMC, a global IT organization; Managing Partner of DnB Group, providing business development services to emerging businesses; and, ITEN Corporate Engagement Program Steering Committee Lead and Mentor.
Jeff began his career as a software developer at EDS. He worked for multiple consulting firms in the early 1990’s and started his own, COAD Solutions, which was acquired by EpicEdge, in 1996, where he then served as both COO and CEO. His start-up highlights include raising $18m in venture capital, leading 7 acquisitions, and driving business growth from $5m to $50m in less than 2 years. Jeff was a CIO for a mid-market organization that led him to join Dell to manage key global accounts in 2004. In 2011, Jeff joined EMC to work with large enterprises to drive both Business and IT transformation.
Jeff’s experience provides him a unique perspective on the challenges both start-up and enterprise businesses face developing and executing successful strategies that foster innovation and create value.
Jim has 32 years of entrepreneurial, management, marketing and sales experience with technology-based companies. He has been involved with numerous start-up ventures, including telecommunications, IT, retail, manufacturing and a number of non-profit organizations. Since April of 2008 he has been Executive Director of ITEN. From 2003 to 2006, he was the President of the Technology Entrepreneur Center, a technology incubator in downtown St. Louis. He built TEC into a regional center for start up companies focused on information and communications technology. TEC continues as the parent organization of T-Rex. In 1999, he became the CEO of Partner Communications, providing wireless internet services to apartment communities in the Midwest. Partner raised $15M from a combination of local and national investors. During that time, he also served on the Board of Directors of Intira Corporation, a Silicon Valley-based web hosting company. He joined Brooks Fiber Properties in 1994 as Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing until the successful sale of the company for $3B+ in 1998. Prior to joining Brooks Fiber he was with Nortel Networks, developing leading-edge technology and innovative financing solutions for the emerging Competitive Local Exchange market and also won the largest telecommunications contract ever awarded by the US Air Force at that time. Jim holds a Bachelor of Science degree from The Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He pursued graduate studies in psychology and innovative management at the Institute for Comparative Studies, Gloucestershire, England.
Jim von der Heydt has been working at the intersection of technology and branding for his entire career. Jim started his career in the advertising industry in Chicago. Jim joined the Marketing Department of Ralston Purina in 1981. During is 21-year career he held the roles of VP Marketing Cereals, EVP Marketing Pet Products and EVP Global Business Development and R&D for Pet Products. He also played a key management role in the company’s technology and brand acquisition strategy. After retiring from Purina in 2002, Jim formed a consulting practice focused on business development and strategic acquisitions. He has invested in and coached a variety of early stage companies as one of the first members of the Saint Louis Arch Angels. He is currently advising the new early stage fund iSelect where he also serves as a member of the Selection Committee. In 2010 Jim joined the management team of a start up beverage company, Nawgan. Jim is also an active member of the St. Louis Arch Angels, serves on their screening committee, and has invested in a number of local startups.
Jean Roberson is the Chief Financial Officer of Appistry. Appistry is bringing the power of genomics to next-generation medicine by making genomics data easier for researchers and clinicians to act on. In her role as CFO, Jean is responsible for raising capital, budgeting, human resources, risk management and financial modeling. Under her guidance, the company has proactively raised more than $35 million in private investment.Roberson brings more than 25 years of experience across all areas of finance to her role at Appistry. Prior to joining the team, she was the CFO of Bandwidth Exchange Buildings, and was co-founder and CFO of Partner Communications and Services. She also served as Treasurer for Purina Mills during the time of its $425 Million leveraged buyout where she raised $350 million to transition the business unit into stand-alone enterprises and during the sale of the business to for $660 Million to Koch Industries in 1998.Roberson began her career as an auditor at Ernst& Young, joining the firm after receiving her bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri – St. Louis and becoming a C.P.A. While an auditor at Ernst and Young Jean served clients in the banking, manufacturing and real estate industries.Jean has a passion for mentoring early-stage companies and is involved with a number of organizations in the St. Louis entrepreneur community includingTechnology Entrepreneur Center (TEC) – Founder and Board Member 14 years. TEC is the parent organization for the St. Louis TREX incubator which is home to over 100 early-early stage companies.ITEN – Advisory Board Member 6 years. ITEN provides mentoring services to over 200 early-stage companies.Women Entrepreneurs of St. Louis (WEST) – Founder and Board Member 2 years. WEST was founded in December of 2012 with the simple idea of creating events that pulled the brightest and most accomplished females in St. Louis together to exchange ideas, share resources, and build great friendships.Bridgeway Foundation – Board Member 9 years. Bridgeway Foundation provides funding for two women’s shelters that provide services to women and children who are victims of domestic violence.
Jean’s energy and passion serve her well as a wife, a mother of two boys and an avid swimmer and triathlete.
Mark Showers is Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Reinsurance Group of America, Incorporated (RGA). He has primary responsibility for the strategic direction of the company’s information technology resources, as well as the global operations of information technology functions on a day-to-day basis.Prior to joining RGA in 2009, Mark spent more than 25 years at Monsanto Company in St. Louis, Missouri, in roles of increasing responsibility, retiring as Chief Information Officer.Mark is an active member of the St. Louis business development community. He is Board Chairman of the Technology Entrepreneur Center (T-REX), a member of the Innovate St. Louis board, a member ITEN’s board, and serves on the CIO Advisory Board of Sierra Ventures, a venture capital fund based in Silicon Valley. He is also a member of several academic advisory boards, including the External Advisory Board for the McDonnell International Scholars Academy at Washington University in St. Louis and the External Advisory Board for the School of Business at Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville.Mark holds undergraduate degrees in Mathematics and Chemistry from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree in Physical Chemistry from Washington University in St. Louis, and an Executive M.B.A. from the John M. Olin School of Business (Washington University in St. Louis). He has also received several honors: in 2007, he was named one of the Premier 100 Leaders in Information Technology by Computerworld magazine; in 2008, he was elected to the Alumni Hall of Fame at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville; and in 2010, he was named a 2010 Elite 8 insurance technology leader by Insurance & Technology magazine.
BIO COMING SOON
Dane Stangler is Chief Policy Officer at Startup Genome, focusing on data assessment and policy analysis for entrepreneurial ecosystems around the world. He is Director of Policy Innovation at the Progressive Policy Institute, with a focus on the future of economic growth and innovation. He is the Visiting Vorzimer Professor of Entrepreneurship at LIU Post, and Senior Advisor to the Global Entrepreneurship Network. Formerly Vice President for Research and Policy at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, he has written for the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Forbes.com, Washington Monthly, testified in the U.S. Senate, and is frequently quoted by national broadcast and print outlets. As a frequent public speaker, he has addressed local, national, and international groups and conferences on topics of economic growth and entrepreneurship development.