Panels 2013

Take a look at the business knowledge and advice we'll be offering through our panels and workshops this year. Plus, meet our panelists: Beth Houck, Greg Rudin, Sharon SchneiderAdarsh Arora, Jeremiah SeraphineChris Gladwin, Neal Sales-GriffinAustin Asamoa–Tutu, Chris Conn, Ann Hand, Nicolas RothJoshua HernandezBen Hernandez, Shradha Agarwal, Hugo AugustoMike Samson, Brad Morehead, Richard StokesAdam CaplanNishit Mehta and Yuri Malina.

Value Proposition

Is your offering unique? What value is your start-up bringing to the customer? Ask questions and take part in this conversation with panelists discussing the development of their first value proposition, minimum viable product and how they shaped their long-term vision. Venture capitalists and business professor Carter Cast will moderate this panel.

Beth Houck

Beth Houck is the vice president for client services for SA Ignite, a Chicago-based healthcare technology start-up. In this role, she is responsible for all client-related post-sales activities including implementation, support and product development. She is part of the founding team and as such, provides input into the overall strategic direction of the company and supports fundraising efforts.

Prior to her work at SA Ignite, Beth was COO for another healthcare start-up, PatientImpact, a patient experience measurement company which utilized web-based data collection and reporting methods to deliver relevant, actionable information to physician practices and outpatient facilities. PatientImpact, which began in 2004, was acquired by Press Ganey, the industry’s leading patient experience measurement company, in fall of 2009.

Greg Rudin

Greg Rudin leads the joint venture between Groupon and Live Nation entertainment, overseeing all deals on tickets/experiences to live events that Groupon runs in North America. He is also a board member for One Lama Media.

He served as vice president of sales and marketing for Cleversafe digital storage company. Prior to that role, he was the vice president of marketing and business development of MusicNow.

Greg has earned a juris doctor from the University of California's Hastings College of the Law and bachelor's degree in history from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

He is happily married to Beth Sessa Rudin, and raising 2 not-so-calm boys, Levi (9) and Truman (7.5 yrs old) in Evanston, Illinios.

Sharon Schneider

Sharon Schneider is the founder and CEO of Moxie Jean, a curated web site for busy moms to buy and sell high quality, like-new kids’ clothing. Moxie Jean won COMMON Pitch NYC to be crowned "best collaborative consumption startup" and has been featured on Fox’s Good Day Chicago, ABC7’s "Green Living," Mashable, Technorati, GOOD, Stanford Social Innovation Review,, Trendhunters and many others. Moxie Jean was also selected as a portfolio company of the prestigious Excelerate Labs business accelerator for the summer 2012.

Prior to founding Moxie Jean, Sharon was the philanthropic director at Foundation Source, where she worked with private foundations and high net worth families to accomplish their philanthropic goals, particularly through social enterprise and impact investing. She co-authored "Strategic Philanthropy: Five Approaches to Making a Difference" and writes the popular blog "The Philanthropic Family." Sharon lives in Mt. Prospect, IL with her husband, a high school science teacher, and her three children, ages 8, 6 and 2.


Direct sales, mass merchandisers, distributors, e-commerce, mobile-app, etc. How do you get your company to the customers? Costs, customer segments, revenue and pricing all affect your channels. This panel will focus on channel hypotheses, initial channel efforts, and successes and pitfalls in choosing the channel for your start-up. This panel will be moderated by the director of Northwestern's master of engineering management program, Mark Werwath.

Adarsh Arora

Adarsh Arora has created, managed and nurtured four successful start-ups (Athena Security, Lisle Technology Partners, Peritus Software Services and Vista Technologies). Athena was acquired by Solarwinds (NYSE: SWI) in August 2012, and Peritus did an IPO and had a market capitalization of $500 million. Athena Security was incubated within LisleTech which provides software product development services and a unique equity-based model for early stage start-up companies. Its reputation for quality services to entrepreneurial companies has led LisleTech to work with the portfolio companies of numerous Chicago and Silicon Valley venture capital firms.

Adarsh is active in the entrepreneurial community and has served on various Boards, including Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science of Northwestern University and AccelChip Corporation. He obtained his Ph.D in computer Science from Northwestern University.

Jeremiah Seraphine

Jeremiah Seraphine is the co-founder and CEO of Groovebug, a company creating the next generation music experience for mobile devices with partners like Universal Music, EMI, and Wolfgang's Vault. Jeremiah launched the company while earning his Masters of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications with a concentration in Direct and Interactive Marketing from Northwestern University. Prior to Northwestern, Jeremiah worked as a marketer for more than 10 years, co-founded a record label and production company, toured internationally as a DJ, and produced electronic music, including a Billboard hit.

Groovebug is creating the next generation music experience for mobile devices by combining the richness of box sets, the power of native mobile apps, and viral potential of the social web. Groovebug partners with premier artists, labels, and brands to create immersive experiences for existing music-focused communities.

Chris Gladwin

Chris Gladwin founded Cleversafe in 2004, bringing to the company the same innovative and entrepreneurial approach that has signified his executive leadership throughout his career. Chris, who was previously the creator of the first workgroup storage server at Zenith Data Systems and was a Manager of Corporate Storage Standards at Lockheed Martin, also created and managed a number of successful new technology start-ups, including MusicNow, which was acquired by Circuit City. Chris has been the creative force behind the development of the first Dispersed Storage system to solve the growing global problem of Big Data storage.

Years ahead of the market, Chris understood the growing issues surrounding unstructured data and the inability of traditional technology solutions to accommodate the explosive growth of digital assets such as audio, video and imaging. Using advances in dispersed information technology, he applied that to storage to create a reliable, cost effective, secure solution with a limitless ability to scale.

Neal Sales Griffin

Neal Sales-Griffin is the co-founder and CEO of The Starter League, a beginner web design and development school in Chicago. Neal has worked and consulted with numerous startups and not-for-profits across multiple sectors. He has had the privilege of working with OCA Ventures and Sandbox Industries, two prominent venture firms in Chicago. Neal also serves as a board member of the Chicago chapter of International Game Developers.

Customer Relationship

"Get, Keep and Grow." Strategies and tactics for each of these phases of developing customer relationships will be discussed for both start-ups using physical channels and web/mobile channels. You know the drill—get outside the building and go discover. Mike Marasco, the director of the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship, will moderate this panel.

Austin Asamoa Tutu

As co-founder and CEO of, Austin Asamoa–Tutu is passionate about building strong communities and advancing society through simple and creative uses of technology.

He helped found while enrolled in a course at Northwestern University and together with his co-founders has found a way to bring cost effective marketing technologies to multiple communities, beginning in Downtown Evanston.

Austin began his career as a software engineer and grew quickly through different roles with Johnson Controls, Inc. His experiences span development, institutionalizing processes for managing software, team building, consulting, leading cross-cultural teams, and entrepreneurship.

Austin has an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University (2011)and a BS in computer engineering from Calvin College.

Chris Conn

Chris Conn is the CEO of MightyNest, an ecommerce website  that provides the ability to research, get advice and buy natural, organic and non-toxic products all in one place. He is passionate about making a difference and positively impacting people’s lives, Chris co-founded MightyNest with his wife, Kristen, to support families by giving them the knowledge and tools for creating a healthier, safe home. 

Ann Hand

Named as one of Fast Company’s "100 Most Creative People in Business" in 2011, Ann Hand is one of a handful of women who have risen to the top ranks of the energy industry. As CEO of Project Frog, she is leveraging the company's game-changing innovation to grow markets, develop new products and increase brand awareness for its industry-leading smart buildings.

Hailing from Indiana, Ann has spent a significant amount of her career overseas and holds a BA in Economics from DePauw University and an MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. In her career at BP, she most recently served as SVP of Global Brand, Marketing and Innovation, where she played a key role in making things "a little better" by developing new and compelling ways for consumers to engage with the BP brand, overseeing $300 million annually in marketing initiatives worldwide. Prior to that, Ann held the position of chief executive of the multi-billion dollar Global Liquefied Petroleum Gas business unit where she had full P&L accountability across 15 countries, oversaw 3,000 employees and increased operating profit by 250 percent.

Nic Roth

Nicolas Roth is VP of Product Development and co-founder of walkby, a Lightbank funded startup located in Chicago. Walkby connects consumers with local retail shops through mobile applications. With walkby, consumers are able to leverage their wants and interests with a human-powered merchant network. Nic is a student at Northwestern, and is able to work at walkby through a unique Co-Op program. He was a member of the Sartorial team in NUvention Web 2012. 

Customer Segments

How are customers experiencing the problem your start-up is trying to solve and how much does it matter to them? These are the key components to discovering your customer segment. Members of this panel will discuss their experiences getting out of the building and how they narrowed in on their customer segment. This panel's moderator will be David Schonthal, partner at Fusion Ventures.

Ben Hernandez

Ben Hernandez is a founder and the current CEO of NuMat Technologies, a spin-out company from Northwestern University focused on the computational design and synthesis of nanoporous materials for gas storage and separation applications.

Ben is an alumnus Northwestern University, where he received a B.S. from the McCormick School of Engineering. He is also graduating with a JD-MBA from the Kellogg School of Management and the Northwestern School of Law. Prior to graduate school, Ben worked as a portfolio operations professional at Arcapita, a global private equity firm, and as a strategy consultant at Booz & Company. 

Shradha Agarwal

ContextMedia co-founder Shradha Agarwal has always had a passion for communication and launched her first media enterprise at age 9. While building ContextMedia from the ground up, she branded the healthcare media company as for-benefit, a successful for-profit enterprise that exists for social benefit, and focused on organizational culture architecture. Having led ContextMedia’s product development strategies for media and technology, Shradha currently designs and oversees the expansion initiatives that have doubled the company’s growth year-over-year.

Agarwal is also an angel investor, conference speaker and startup advisor, mentoring at the Founder Institute, Blueprint Health & Empact Sphere, serving on the board of Northwestern Student Holdings, and participating at YEC, CEO, The Executives’ Club of Chicago and Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

She is a broadcast journalism/international studies alum of Northwestern University. She enjoys traveling internationally and is fascinated by learning new cultures.

Hugo Augusto

Hugo Augusto is the CEO of MyChild Inc, which helps teachers to provide immediate information updates by generating electronic reports with a few key strokes. Parents can access a report with picture and comments on their kids' well-being and attitude anytime, anywhere on their laptops and phones.

Prior to MyChild, Hugo spent more than 6 years in consulting before becoming an entrepreneur. For the last 2 years, he has been working with exceptional entrepreneurs and helping them to grow their businesses.

His specialties include start-up creation and development, strategic positioning, marketing strategy and business planning.

Revenue Streams

There isn't just one way your start-up gains revenue and choosing one (or more) to focus on can be difficult. Take part in this panel discussion to learn the various types of revenue streams for small businesses and how these panelists determined what customers were really willing to pay. Linda Darragh, the executive director of the Levy Institute for Entrepreneurial Practice and the Heizer Center for Private Equity, will moderate.

Michael Samson

Mike Samson is the co-founder of crowdSPRING and resides firmly at the bottom of the company’s ping-pong totem pole. An enthusiastic entrepreneur and active speaker, Mike is a leading voice on crowdsourcing, industry disruption, startups, and small business issues and writes a regular column on the crowdSPRING blog (ranked in the AdAge Power 100 Marketing Blogs).

Prior to starting crowdSPRING, Mike was an Emmy Award® nominated Producer, and Production Manager with more than 20 years of experience as a senior manager in the film and television production industry. He has worked on dozens of feature film and television projects including "Wall Street," "Bull Durham," "Steven King's The Stand" (Miniseries), and "Men in Black II." Mike has received numerous honors individually and as a team member, including a George Foster Peabody Award.

He is a member of the Directors Guild of America and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Samson has a BA in Mass Media from the University of Illinois and a MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. 

Brad Morehead

Brad Morehead is CEO of LiveWatch Security, the #1 Wireless Home Security Company in America, #1 Alarm Monitoring Company in America, and the parent company of SafeMart and Able Security. As the Fastest Growing Home Security Company in the country, LiveWatch Security is revolutionizing the home security industry with its unique Plug & Protect™ security system that uses an internet-based delivery model.

Prior to LiveWatch Security, Brad worked as CFO of Feldco, in private equity with FFL Partners and investment banking at Goldman Sachs.

Brad holds an MBA with highest distinction from the Kellogg School of Management and a BS with high distinction from Indiana University.  Brad is a co-founder of Wildcat Angels and has been an angel investor, board member and advisor in various startups. More interestingly, Brad was a contestant on Wheel of Fortune and The Price is Right.

Richard Stokes

Richard Stokes is the founder and CEO of AdGooroo, a Kantar Media company and leading provider of Digital Marketing Intelligence. Richard is a long-time Internet marketer with over 15 years of experience in technology and advertising management. He was previously a technology executive at Publicis Groupe/Leo Burnett. He has a BS in Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois and an MBA in Entrepreneurship and Technology Management from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.

Richard is a regular speaker on search marketing topics, is a certified expert in both email marketing and conversion optimization, and is the author of "Mastering Search Advertising - How the Top 3% of Search Advertisers Dominate Google AdWords" and "The Ultimate Guide to Pay-Per-Click Advertising".

Key Partners

iTunes without record labels. Amazon without book suppliers. Zynga without Facebook. These companies would have never made it without key partnerships. Key partners provide services, products and capabilities that a start-up may not be able to develop itself. These initial relationships are not always easy. Panelists will discuss their trials and successes with key partners as they developed their businesses. Venture capitalist and entrepreneurship professor Todd Warren will moderate this panel.

Adam Caplan

Adam Caplan founded Model Metrics in 2003, a consulting company focused on innovation and helping enterprise organizations accelerate the adoption of cloud computing technologies. After growing to 200+ consultants, Model Metrics was acquired by in 2011. was named by Forbes as the most innovative company in the world in both 2011 and 2012.

Based in Chicago, clients number more than 500 and include many of the most respected companies in industry, including Facebook, Caterpillar, Toyota, Diageo, and Procter & Gamble. In 2011, Model Metrics launched Model Fx, a creative agency within the firm, blending design with technology to offer amazing user interface and user experiences to clients and consumers.

Adam earned his MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management and his undergraduate degree from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2011 he was named CEO of the Year by the Illinois Technology Association. His title now with is SVP, Services.

Nishit Mehta

Nishit Mehta is the co-founder and director of business development and finance of SiNode Systems: an advanced anode materials company. Most recently, Nishit worked in energy venture capital as an Associate at ClearSky Power and Technology Fund, the VC arm of NextEra Energy. Prior to that, he helped setup Siemens' solar business in India, and managed the industrial automation business for some of Siemens' big energy clients in India.

Nishit is originally from Pune, India and is currently completing his MBA at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management where he is the first ISEN cluster fellow and is on the leadership teams of the Kellogg Energy club and Northwestern Energy and Sustainability Consortium.

Yuri Malina

Yuri Malina is many things, an entrepreneur, a scientist, a design activist, but most of all, he is an eternal optimist. Born in France, educated in the United States, he feels more comfortable calling this pale blue dot home than any one country.

Yuri co-founded Design for America, a nation-wide initiative to spur local social innovations among college students. He helped grow the organization from 3 students at his university to over 500 spread across the United States. DFA students design products, services and businesses that tackle a variety of social and environmental challenges.

Alongside DFA Yuri is the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of SwipeSense, a venture backed start-up which aims to eliminate Hospital-Acquired Infections, a leading cause of death in the US. He studied Physics and Mathematics in the Integrated Science Program (ISP) at Northwestern University.