Brinks Innovation Competition
Official Judges Panel
Shez Bandukwala is a Board Member at the Association for Corporate Growth. Mr. Bandukwala was previously Managing Director, Head of CleanTech Investment Banking at Stifel Nicolaus Weisel, where he directed the firm’s practice in key cleantech subsectors, including renewable power generation (solar, biomass), advanced energy technologies (advanced batteries, PEV, HEV, fuel cells), advanced alternative fuels, energy efficiency (smart grid, advanced lighting, demand and supply side solutions), preservation (water purification, recycling), and environmental markets. Mr. Bandukwala has 18 years of banking and financial industry experience. He was previously a Partner and group head of the Greentech & Alternative Energy investment banking group at ThinkEquity LLC. While at ThinkEquity, Mr. Bandukwala led public offerings for First Solar, Sunpower, Daystar, Real Goods Solar, Evergreen Solar, Westport Innovations, Color Kinetics and Zoltek. Prior to ThinkEquity, he was Founder and President of Hilco Enterprise Valuation Services, LLC, a division of Hilco Trading, LLC, where he led valuation teams on approximately 120 transactions in less than three years. Prior to that, Mr. Bandukwala was an investment banker at William Blair & Company for 10 years, where he was a Principal in Corporate Finance and focused on business development and leading execution teams and was one of the founding Principals of the Technology Group. Mr. Bandukwala has advised his clients on approximately 80 public and private financings, mergers and acquisitions representing over $6.5 billion in transaction value. Mr. Bandukwala has been a guest speaker at 40+ industry conferences addressing trends in cleantech and alternative energy, the IPO process, capital raising, valuation issues and merger methodologies. Shez received his BS in Electrical Engineering from University of Illinois in 1988 and a MBA, with distinction, from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in 1992.
John Banta serves as the CEO & Managing Director of IllinoisVENTURES, LLC, and the Managing Partner of the IllinoisEmerging Technologies Fund. John is the former President and COO of DigitalWork, Inc., a Draper Fisher Jurvetson, TL Ventures and Dell Ventures portfolio company, having served previously as its Senior Vice President of Corporate and Business Development. John has worked with a wide variety of portfolio companies, with an emphasis on clean technologies including biofuels and biochemicals. John serves on the Board of Directors of several early-stage clean technology, instrumentation and medical device and IT businesses, including Tetravitae Biosciences, iCyt Mission Technologies and Nanodisc, Inc., and has collaborated on coverage of several other investments. He also serves on the Advisory Boards of the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois and the Chicago West Side Entrepreneurship Center. John is a frequent guest lecturer at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.
Kerri Breen is a Principal of AVP. Kerri has spent over 10 years in capital markets, banking and finance. As a Vice President at JumpStart Ventures, Kerri focuses her efforts on investing in early stage technology companies. Prior to JumpStart, Kerri was Vice President in the Syndicated Finance Group at Key Bank where her emphasis was on structuring and distributing large corporate lines of credit and construction loans. From 1997 to 2002, Kerri served in the Investment Banking division at McDonald Investments. Kerri received her MBA with a concentration in Finance from Case Western Reserve University and her BA in Marketing from Ohio State University. Kerri is an Ohio native and is fortunate to be surrounded by family and friends. When she is not spending time with her three children – Alexandra, Charlie and Agnes, she enjoys running, yoga and being outdoors.
Thomas Churchwell is a prominent player in the Midwest venture capital community with more than 20 years of experience working with start-up technology-based companies, and an additional 20 years of experience in operations in large corporations. In 2001, he led the formation of ARCH Development Fund I, LP, which raised $31 million, investing in 16 seed- and early-stage life sciences and technology companies. Previously, he was President and CEO of ARCH Development Corporation, a subsidiary of the University of Chicago, commercializing technology from the university and Argonne National Laboratory. Since 1987, Tom has played an active role in more than 60 seed- and early-stage investments with top-tier track record. He currently serves as a director of several early-stage companies in the Midwest. Additionally, Tom is President of TiE Midwest and board member of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, iBIO and the Illinois Venture Capital Association.
Allen Dines is Assistant Director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Office of Corporate Relations (OCR). Operating within the Office of the Chancellor, the Office of Corporate Relations assists the business community in assessing the diverse resources of the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison). As Assistant Director, he works principally with new ventures and private equity. He serves a Program Manager for OCR’s enterpreneurship programs including its Startup Initiative and Wiscontrepreneur program (www.wiscontrepreneur.org) funded in part under the Kauffman Campuses Program of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. In 2002, Mr. Dines co-founded the Midwest Research University Network (MRUN). an alliance of 22 Midwest researc institutions dedicated to regional cooperation in the commercialization of university research through new business creation. He currently serves as president of MRUN.
Teresa Esser serves as a General Partner of Capital Midwest Fund II and as the Managing Director of the Silicon Pastures Angel Investment Network. She invests in technology and life sciences companies that improve business processes, save time, save money or save lives. Ms. Esser serves on the board of Hardcore Computer, Inc. and the Hmong American Peach Academy. She is the author of The Venture Cafe: Secrets, Strategies, and Stories from America’s High Tech Entrepreneurs (Warner Business Books, 2002). Ms. Esser served as a judge in numerous business plan competition including the Cleantech Open, the Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Competition, UW Milwaukee, and UW Whitewater.
John Kryzwicki focuses on identifying early stage investment opportunities, executing investments and assisting portfolio companies. John graduated from Stanford in 2011 with an MBA and MS in Environment & Resources, where he was the President and CFO of the Energy Club. From 2007 to 2009, John was an Associate with Alloy Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm managing >$1B and investing in clean tech, high tech and biotech, where he focused on target due diligence and transaction execution. John began his career at the Boston Consulting Group. John graduated from Stanford University with an MBA and MS in Environment & Resources. John also holds a BA in International Relations from Stanford University.
Robert Okabe has been involved with early stage enterprises on multiple levels for well over a decade. As a co-founder and managing director of RPX Group in 2002, he helped develop the firms strategy and has led many of our largest and most successful engagements. Bob’s first direct involvement with formation and development of new ventures was as an angel investor. He has made eleven investments since 1995, with one major liquidity event and two other positive returns of capital. He is also a co-founder of an angel group and helped organize an affiliated angel capital fund. Prior to joining RPX Group Bob gained operating experience at a growing small business as CFO for a privately-held leasing company. At the end of his tenure 23 of the 50 employees were under his management. He completed numerous debt, equity, M&A, and advisory assignments for entrepreneurial and venture backed companies during his twelve year career as an investment banker at BancAmerica Robertson Stephens (Managing Director), Lehman Brothers (Senior Vice President), and Kidder, Peabody (Vice President). Bob began his business career spending nearly six years in financial management at General Electric and GE Capital. After leaving GE, Bob was a senior bond rating analyst for Moodys Investors Service for two years. He was awarded his Bachelor of Science in Finance and Organizational Behavior, cum laude, from the Boston University School of Management. He has been a guest speaker at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and internationally for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
MIL OVAN — ENTREPRENEUR
Mil Ovan is a senior executive with more than 25 years experience focused on introducing innovative high technology products & services and creating new market categories. Mil has been at the forefront in bringing discontinuous world-changing new technologies to global marketplaces: Digital Central Office switches in the early ‘80s; dial-up PC modems and data PBXs in the mid ‘80s; cellular Network Systems in the late ‘80s; wireless LANs in the early 90s; wireless PC cards and PDAs in the mid ‘90s; wireless (4G) and Wireline Broadband systems in the late ‘90s; speech recognition systems in the early 2000s; and, most recently, renewable energy storage systems. A business innovator and pioneer, Mil is a noted speaker on high technology issues at major industry conferences, as well as a quoted expert in high tech marketing in such media as Fortune Magazine and the Wall Street Journal.
Edward M. Sitar, Manager, Economic and Business Development, ComEd is responsible for the company’s economic development functions in the areas of marketing and promotion, business retention and new customer attraction with a strong emphasis on the data center industry. Ed has also been instrumental in the formation of a new regional economic development umbrella organization called the Metro Economic Growth Alliance of Chicago (MEGA). MEGA Chicago is comprised of 10 county-wide economic development organizations and the City of Chicago’s public-private partnership (World Business Chicago) and is focused on growing the economy of Northeastern Illinois through coordinated, effective business development. Ed holds a bachelor degree in Urban Planning and Development and a bachelor of science in Environmental Design, with a minor in Energy and Mineral Resources from Ball State University.
Alex Tang, Vice President of Programs and Finance at the Clean Energy Trust, leverages his commercialization and venture capital experiences to accelerate technology driven opportunities. Prior to co-founding Invention Bridge, Mr. Tang was the Director of Finance and Operations for the University of Chicago’s Global initiative Project with a focus on China and India. He brings private equity experience from McNally Capital and MVC Capital. Mr. Tang also assisted AVAC LLC to recruit and manage sector experts and MBA apprentices for the US Department of Energy EIR2 at Argonne National Laboratory. Prior to business school, Mr. Tang was a Senior Manager at STAX Inc., a consulting firm where he led due diligence for private equity and venture capital firms across a variety of technical and industrial sectors. While pursuing his MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, he became an IT/Cleantech Kauffman Fellows Finalist. Mr. Tang began his career at Open Prairie Ventures, an early stage SBIC venture capital fund that specializes in developing spinout ventures from leading Midwest university research institutions. Mr. Tang earned an MS and BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.