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Startup Program Advisory Committee

The WTIA Startup Program wouldn’t be possible without these folks, who are meeting with us quarterly to advise on WTIA’s startup strategy to ensure we can provide resources for everything startups need.

Cameron Borumand
FUSE VC, Founding Partner
Cameron is a founding General Partner of FUSE where he focuses on early-stage investments in horizontal and vertical intelligent application software. Previously, Cameron was a key Principal at Ignition Partners, a leading enterprise software focused venture capital firm. At Ignition, Cameron played a key role in sourcing, identifying, and supporting new investments including Carbon Robotics. Prior to Ignition, Cameron was a co-founder of Curious Capital. He raised a small fund of outside capital to invest in innovative seed-stage technology companies based in the Pacific Northwest. Prior to Curious, Cameron was a technology investment banker at Vaquero Capital in San Francisco. At Vaquero, Cameron was critical in leading marketing and diligence efforts,as well as sourcing transactions for two leading software companies. Cameron holds a BS degree in Business Administration-Finance from the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington. He grew up in the Pacific Northwest as the son of two immigrant parents. He has one younger brother who is way smarter than him.

Frank Chang
Flying Fish Partners, Co-founder and Managing Partner
Frank is a twenty year tech veteran who spent the bulk of his career at Microsoft and Amazon. At Amazon he led the global affiliate marketing program and was responsible for the Engineering, Program, Product, Marketing, and Fraud Enforcement teams. Prior to this role, he was VP of Technical Program Management for Amazon’s Audible subsidiary.

At Microsoft he held various engineering leadership positions and ran several multi-national teams. He has deep experience in browser technologies and digital media where he spent many years designing innovative features and shipping products to over a billion world-wide users. Frank’s international focus started when he was put in charge of all Microsoft TV’s European customers after successfully helping to launch the company’s AT&T IPTV integration. With a knack for knowing how to work across time zones and cultures, he would later be put in charge of building and managing teams across China (Shanghai, Suzhou, Beijing) including engineering teams that created some of the fundamental building blocks for the company’s cloud computing infrastructure, Azure. He also took his passion for Machine Learning to the Speech Recognition and Natural Language team where he led the core engineering teams to successfully ship the first voice activated controller for XBOX, Cortana for Windows Phone and Windows, and more.

Earlier in his career Frank immersed himself in the startup experience when he joined a company called Reef Technologies, building Content Management Systems. He has experience as a professional home theater and hi-end audio consultant, taught computer science to children at MIT summer camp programs, and was a nationally ranked US fencer. Frank holds a BA in Computer Science from Princeton University.

Adam Coccari
M12, Portfolio Development Lead
Adam is currently leading the Portfolio Development at M12 – Microsoft’s Venture Fund. Adam joined M12 out of Microsoft’s Azure Engineering group where he worked on strategy and customer engagements. Prior to that, Adam was part of Microsoft’s Cloud + AI team where he helped build the marketing automation and analytics platform for the company. Before coming to Microsoft, he was a 6th-grade math teacher and launched a successful learning app for kids called Math Evolve. Adam has a passion for product design, cloud technology, music, and social entrepreneurship. He holds an MBA from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Colgate University.

Ahmad Corner
YPGroup, Founder & Principal
Ahmad Corner is the Founder and Principal at YPGroup, a digital and experiential growth agency responsible for bridging the gap between companies and the communities they serve; Managing Partner at Access2, a diversity forward staffing agency focused on placing resources at the intersection between opportunity and need; and serves on the Board of Directors at Intentionalist and Future for Us. Formerly the Director of BizDev at Startup Week Seattle, Ahmad remains an active mentor in the Seattle startup community, often donating his time to help champion the growth of the local startup ecosystem. When he isn’t working, he can be found on a mountain, in a gym or somewhere cheering on his alma mater, UW Huskies.

Bob Crimmins
Wise Walker, Co-Founder
Bob Crimmins has founded or co-founded five venture backed companies, serving variously as CEO, CTO and CMO. Bob is currently co-founder of Wise Walker, a crowd-funded pet product company he started with his now 15-year-old twin daughters. As an active serial founder in Seattle for 15 years, Bob mentors, speaks and writes about the tech startup founder experience. Bob is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs on their journey and has worked closely as a mentor and advisor to dozens of founders and companies.

Bob was a founding board member of Seattle Women in Tech and is dedicated to supporting youth entrepreneurship, especially for young girls. In the regard, he serves as a mentor to Expanding Your Horizons and TiE Youth Entrepreneurs. For grown ups, Bob is a mentor for Techstars, Founders Institute, AngelHack and others. In addition, Bob is the founder of Startup Haven, a membership community for tech founders, execs and investors in Seattle, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, San Diego, Portland and Los Angeles.

Bob is a life-long technologist, business anatomist, software engineer and maker. Prior to Wise Walker, Bob was founder of five venture-backed startup companies, Bob holds bachelors and masters degrees in philosophy from University of Washington and California State University.

Katherine (Kat) Duncan
Corporate Associate, Fenwick & West
Katherine (Kat) Duncan focuses her practice on general representation of public and private technology and life sciences companies. She has extensive experience advising emerging and high-growth companies on a wide variety of issues, including corporate governance, financings, equity and employment issues, and licensing and commercial matters. She also represents late-stage private and public companies, as well as underwriters in public offerings, and counsels public companies on corporate governance, securities and compliance issues.

Kat has been selected in Super Lawyers as a “Rising Star” in 2013 through 2016 in Northern California and in 2017 in Washington.

Leslie Feinzaig
Female Founders Alliance & Venture Kits, Founder & CEO
Leslie Feinzaig is a tech executive and entrepreneur on a mission to democratize entrepreneurship. In 2016, Leslie launched Venture Kits – games that develop leadership skills through play. Her one-of-a-kind, inspirational concept has garnered critical acclaim, including features in Today Show Parents, King 5’s Evening, Seattle Times and Seattle’s Child magazine. Leslie is also Founder & CEO of the Female Founders Alliance S.P.C., a private network of female venture-scale startup founders. Our mission is to accelerate the success of female-led startups by connecting every founder and incentivizing them to actively support and amplify their peers. FFA has grown in a short period of time to more than 125 members in Seattle and a nascent chapter in New York, and is geared up for national expansion in 2018. Leslie is a frequent public speaker, including solo keynotes at SXSW Interactive, Startup Grind and TEDx. Her work has been published by Forbes, All Things Digital (now Recode), and Geekwire. She has a BSc from the London School of Economics and an MBA from Harvard Business School. She is originally from San Jose, Costa Rica.

Ken Horenstein
M12, Business Development Manager
Ken is currently a manager on the Market Development team within M12. His mission is to accelerate the success of the M12 portfolio through new go-to-market programs and CxO connections. Ken joined the team from the One Commercial Partner group where he worked on Independent Software Vendor strategy and go-to-market campaigns. Prior to M12, Ken worked in strategy and marketing with Seattle startups, as an Angel Investor and as a financial underwriter for CNA Surety. Ken holds a BA in Finance and an MBA from the University of Washington Foster School of Business.

Nick Hughes
Founders Live, Founder & CEO
As the creator of Founders Live, Nick is a successful entrepreneur with business achievements in social media, digital payments, and e-commerce. He excels at interpersonal leadership, communication, business and product development. In addition to creating the global entrepreneur network Founders Live, Nick stays busy as an advisor to numerous startups and occasionally takes positions in sales or biz dev roles if needed. Previously he founded the mobile payment startup Seconds as well as helping start Coinme, a company built around expanding bitcoin and digital transactions into the physical realm via Bitcoin ATM’s. As a sought-after adviser, entrepreneurial speaker and writer with guest appearances on popular technology and media outlets, Nick enjoys helping others discover their unique entrepreneurial path.

Dan Kihanya
Head of Marketing & Strategy, Wizely
Dan Kihanya heads up marketing and strategy for Wizely, an Indian fintech he helped to found in 2017. He is also founder and host of Founders Unfound, a podcast that profiles tech startup founders from underrepresented backgrounds.

As a serial entrepreneur with experience across many aspects of the start-up ecosystem, Dan also advises and coaches new ventures as a mentor with programs like Techstars, WeWork Labs and Berkeley Launch.

Previously, Dan was the founding Managing Director of Impact Hub Bellevue, a coworking space for startups in the Seattle area. Prior to this, Dan was part of the founding team or an early executive at three venture-backed companies, all resulting in acquisition exits. Dan started his entrepreneurial career as co-founder of, a leading provider of Internet direct marketing and consumer rewards which he helped lead to IPO.

Dan holds an MBA from the University of California Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, where he was a Kauffman and Consortium Fellow. He also holds a BSE in Mechanical Engineering from Princeton University.

Janis Machala
Paladin Partners, Founder
Janis Machala is one of the go to resources for entrepreneurs starting or growing companies in the Pacific Northwest. Janis founded Paladin Partners in 1996 and her firm is involved in business strategy, fundraising (angel, venture, and corporate capital), team development, customer development, board development, business planning, strategic partnerships, and just about everything in between aside from writing the code or building the prototype. Janis guides founders as executive coach, business coach, muse, and some say fairy godmother. Janis likes to call it being your headlights and sharing the wisdom of hundreds of companies before you and saving you from all the mistakes and sharing all the learning amassed over the past 20 years.

Prior to Paladin Partners Janis was the CEO of Pinnacle Publishing, a company in the development tools and technical newsletter publishing businesses. Janis turned a company that had not made money in its 7 years of existence into a consistently profitable company as its CEO. A tech growth company career (Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, and Wang Laboratories) in product management, market development, and technology evangelism came before her foray into the world of entrepreneurship. Always as an intrapreneur, though!

Janis holds an MBA with a concentration in marketing from the University of Iowa. She received her BA with a double major in psychology and English from Augustana College (Rock Island, Illinois). Janis resides in Langley, Washington with her husband, David Stenberg, and two Dandie Dinmont Terriers.


Steven Maheshwary
Governor’s Sector Lead, Information & Communication Technology at Washington State Department of Commerce
Steven Maheshwary currently serves as Governor Inslee’s sector lead and director of economic development for the information & communication technology sector for Washington state. In his current role, he focuses on supporting the development of Washington state’s startup ecosystem including attracting investment and recruiting tech companies from outside the state. Prior to his current role he was a tech entrepreneur and has worked across startups, Microsoft, and Amazon in finance, go-to-market, and business development roles, all in support of launching new consumer tech businesses or initiatives. He is a former Fulbright grantee and graduate from Harvard University.

T.A. McCann
Rival IQ, Founder
T.A. McCann is a serial entrepreneur and active angel investor. He founded Rival IQ,, Jump2Go, and 3 other web based companies; he’s on the board for multiple startups; and he acts as an advisor for many more. T.A. also has experience in enterprise having worked as a VP of Product Strategy at Blackberry and working for 4 years at Microsoft. T.A. likes to share his experiences and ideas, so he spends a lot of time at Techstars as a mentor and UW Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship as a board member.

Gillian Muessig
Cofounder of Moz, brettapproved, and Outlines Venture Group, Gillian is a global keynote speaker, board director and advisor to companies on four continents. Among the worlds most active entrepreneur-mentors, Gillian has helped more than 1,000 companies to launch, grow, pivot, and thrive.

Gillian is noted for her ability to form indelible brands, claim critical markets, sustain fiercely loyal customers, and attract investors and best-in-class talent. She enjoys a global reputation for her ability to forecast trends in established and emerging markets, helping companies understand how to develop and package new and existing product lines to nudge and ride those trends to successfully navigate new markets.

Lisa Nelson
Microsoft Ventures, Managing Director
As Managing Director at Microsoft Ventures, Microsoft’s new corporate venture fund, Lisa leads investment activities in the Pacific Northwest. Additionally, she also leads portfolio development activities, marketing and operations for the fund, and VC relationships for Microsoft. Lisa’s been with Microsoft for several years in a variety of roles across business development and finance. She most recently served as chief of staff for the EVP of Business Development where she helped identify, pursue and support new areas of growth through key strategic partnerships and investments. Lisa is a Certified Public Accountant and has a Bachelor in Business Administration – Finance and Statistics from the University of Washington.

James Newell
Voyager Capital, Partner
James has been working with high growth technology companies as an adviser and investor since 2005 and focuses on early stage and seed investments in the Pacific Northwest. He has served as a board member or observer at Casper, DoubleVerify, General Assembly, Sauce Labs and Zerto, among others.

Prior to joining Voyager, James worked for Institutional Venture Partners (IVP), a later stage VC based in Menlo Park. While with IVP, James worked on investments in AlienVault, Carbonite (NASDAQ: CARB), Casper, Checkr, DoubleVerify, General Assembly, Kayak (Acquired: PCLN), LegalZoom, Prosper, Sauce Labs, SoFi and Zerto.

James previously worked with Maveron, a leading consumer focused venture firm based in Seattle and San Francisco and in business development for Zulily, a Maveron portfolio company. Earlier in his career, he worked in the Technology Investment Banking group of Bank of America Merrill Lynch. While with Bank of America, James was involved in strategic and financing transactions for a variety of companies including Aricent, AOL, Corel, Open Text, RF Micro Devices, SGI, Symantec, Tibco, and VMware.

James earned a B.A. in Economics and a B.A. in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from the University of Washington, where he was a first team Pac-10 All-Academic football player at free safety. He has also earned his M.B.A. from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania with a concentration in entrepreneurial management.

Yoko Okano
Co-founder at First Row Partners
Yoko is the co-founder for First Row Partners, one of the newest early-stage firms in Seattle. First Row Partners is a pre-seed firm investing in companies that transform how we form communities, perform paid work, and direct our consumer dollars. She built a portfolio of 30+ companies as an angel investor through her active participation in angel networks like Grubstakes. Being in the heart of Silicon Valley while at Stanford connected her deeply into the tech sector, including her time at Google working on product operations and partnerships for the launch of Google eBooks (now Google Play), and subsequently as a product lead for startups.

Dave Parker
Seven Peaks Ventures, Venture Partner
Dave Parker is an 5X founder, entrepreneur and professional board member for Tech startup and growth companies. His 20+ year career has highlighted his ability to innovate new ideas and scale products and companies in the US and Internationally. He is a frequent speaker at University and Community events. He continues to volunteer to help lead, a program he helped launch globally in 2014.. alternative: Dave is the Seattle Venture Partner for Seven Peaks Ventures, a Bend based early stage venture fund. The fund focuses on software based companies in the Mountain West region.

Chris Picardo
Senior Associate, Madrona Venture Group
Chris is an investor at Madrona Venture Group. He invests across a range of industries but he’s especially interested consumer businesses, intelligent applications, e-commerce, digital to physical commerce, and ML/AI in vertical markets. Prior to Madrona, Chris led finance, business intelligence, and strategy for Rockets of Awesome, a kids’ clothing subscription box company focused on personalization at scale. At Rockets, Chris led several rounds of fundraising and helped oversee significant growth in the first 18 months of operations. Chris was also on the investment team at Invus where he focused on consumer deals and supporting the earliest stage portfolio companies.

Chris started his career in Seattle as a consultant at McKinsey & Company. At McKinsey, Chris worked on engagements across industries and functions but focused largely on digital user experience and customer journeys, enterprise software strategy and long term planning, and consumer product cost and design.

Chris graduated from Williams College with majors in Mathematics and English. At Williams, Chris wrote a statistics thesis examining time dependent model based clustering methods by looking at pitching data from Major League Baseball. Chris was also a member of the varsity swim team for four years.

Chris is an avid golfer and will play in any weather. He also enjoys tennis, skiing, and jazz saxophone and is a die hard Seattle sports fan.

Susan Preston
Managing Partner of the SeaChang Fund
Susan Preston is the Managing Partner of the SeaChang Fund, committed to fostering entrepreneurial growth in the Pacific Northwest through early-stage investments, as well as Co-Manager for the Element 8 Fund, focused on cleantech investments. She is also the General Partner for the CalCEF Clean Energy Angel Fund, which is focused on seed/start-up stage investments in clean energy technology. Susan has taught in the MBA program and was the Buerk Endowed Fellow for Entrepreneurship at the University of Washington. Susan also serves as immediate past chair and a lead instructor for the Angel Resource Institute, a global investor and entrepreneur education organization.

Matt Rubright
Vice President, Early & Growth Stage Relationships
Matt leads business development for Candidate, a startup that connects employers with talent through a personal referral network. Prior to Candidate, Matt most recently spent three years leading Silicon Valley Bank’s early stage practice in Seattle and the preceding five years in management consulting focused on operations and product at large technology companies in the PNW.

Jennifer Savage
Partner at Illuminate Ventures
Jennifer is a Partner with Illuminate Ventures. In this role, she identifies and leads new investments across North America with a particular interest in companies in the Pacific Northwest. Illuminate is a seed stage venture capital firm investing in enterprise/B2B SaaS businesses interested in receiving hand’s on expertise from their investors. Jennifer is an accomplished B2B software executive with over 25 years of experience building new categories, and executing product and go-to-market strategies in SaaS companies. Prior to joining Illuminate, Jennifer held executive positions in a string of companies where she helped deliver successful exits (PlaceWare acquired by Microsoft; DocuSign IPO, SmartSheet IPO, Flowroute acquired by West Corporation). She brings that experience set to the Illuminate team and portfolio. Jennifer received her MBA in Marketing and Entrepreneurial Studies from the Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA, and a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Oregon.

Elizabeth Scallon
Head of WeWork Labs Seattle
Elizabeth Scallon leads CoMotion Labs at the University of Washington, a multi-industry, multiple location incubator system, where she grew the incubator from 12 high tech startups to hosting over 85 startups from both inside and outside the University of Washington community. Prior to joining CoMotion in 2013, she was the head of Operations for VLST Corporation, a biotech firm in Seattle researching novel approaches to autoimmune diseases. Prior to VLST, she was the Lab Manager and Research Associate at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. She received her Global Executive MBA from Georgetown University and ESADE, Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities from Seattle University. Elizabeth is a Trustee with World Affairs Council of Seattle, KUOW and on the Advisory Council at Cambia Grove.

Jaren Schwartz
Senior Director, Create33
Jaren is the Senior Director of Create33, a membership organization for venture-scaling technology startups in Seattle, where she leads the programming and operations. Prior to Create33, Jaren was the Program Director for Techstars Seattle and the Alexa Accelerator, two premier 12-week accelerators based in Seattle supporting startups through mentorship, capital, and a global network. Jaren also worked at a food technology startup, a local nonprofit increasing investments into Africa, and served in the Peace Corps. She has an undergraduate and graduate degree in International Relations.

Alima Vanderholm
Analyst, Trilogy Equity Partners
Alima Vanderholm is an Analyst and member of Trilogy’s investment team. Alima’s responsibilities include identifying new investment opportunities and supporting Trilogy’s portfolio companies. She joined Trilogy in 2019 after two years as an associate at University Growth Fund (UGF), a Salt Lake City based venture firm, where she was actively involved in diligence for several investments, including Pinterest and UrbanStems. Alima’s prior experience includes investment banking at Credit Suisse and supporting fund-of-fund investments at Portfolio Advisors.

Alima has a BS in Finance from Brigham Young University (BYU). While at BYU, she was co-president of the Women in Finance Association. Alima enjoys Seattle seafood and trail running and lives with her husband in Bellevue.

Alima currently serves as a board observer for Adaptilab, Ca$h, and Educative

Jenny Rojanasthien
Executive Director, NCW Tech Alliance (formerly GWATA)
Jenny has served as the Executive Director of NCW Tech Alliance since 2015, leading programming and resources in technology, entrepreneurship, and STEM Education across six counties in rural Washington. Jenny founded the Flywheel Investment Conference and leads the Flywheel Angel Network.

In addition, she co-directs the Apple STEM Network. Jenny and her husband operate two restaurants in Wenatchee: Atlas Fare and The Thai Restaurant. Jenny is passionate about improving the quality of life in North Central Washington through her role at the NCW Tech Alliance and her hospitality businesses.

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