November 23, 2015
John B. Casey
Venture Mentors LLC.
Before starting Venture Mentors in 1997, John B. Casey helped start, grow, and sell a number of software companies. Since then he has been advising CEOs of software and IT companies in the U.S. and overseas on strategy, management, marketing, venture capital, international sales, business development, and mergers and acquisition (M&A) activities. In addition, since 2004, Casey has worked at Geogre Mason University's (GMU) Mason Enterprise Center as a mentor and small business counselor, as an entrepreneur-in-residence, and as an adjunct professor in GMU's School of Business.
Casey is currently advising several spinout companies who have launched tech businesses based on university-owned intellectual property. Over the years he has worked with incubator programs and technology commercialization programs at other universities in the greater Washington region, including University of Maryland (UMD) and The George Washington University (GWU). He is currently an adjunct faculty member for a three credit course on customer discovery for UMD and GWU graduate students sponsored by DC i-Corps.
Casey's first startup was a software company he helped create with his faculty advisor at GWU's business school, so he's seen up close the potential for university resources to help a startup succeed. That university spinout raised venture capital, grew rapidly, and opened offices all around the world before being acquired. Casey holds a Master of Science in information technology from GWU and a Bachelor of Arts from Colgate University.
Apex Systems Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business
Derick Maggard joined Virginia Tech as executive director of The Apex Systems Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in 2014. The center creates a dynamic learning environment for all students at Virginia Tech who are driven to start a new venture, or innovate from within existing enterprises. The curriculum and experiential learning programs create a culture that unleashes creativity, sparks vision and innovation, and instills in tomorrow's leaders the mindset and skillset that empowers them to truly invent the future.
Before joining Virginia Tech, Maggard established an impressive background in business development, operations, marketing and new venture management. Maggard previously served as executive director of the Roanoke - Blacksburg Technology Council (RBTC). He spent most of his time collaborating with leaders of technology companies and startups to exchange ideas and to discuss the Tech Council's role in helping them achieve their business goals. He accomplished his mission as executive director in creating a climate conducive to innovation, entrepreneurship, and sustained growth for the region's technology-based businesses by strengthening local networks, locating sources of capital, and harnessing the talent and innovation brewing in the region's educational institutions.
Maggard is a habitual entrepreneur, having founded and then exited several successful businesses including Legacy Home Healthcare and Prescott Indoor Soccer. Following a stint at Utah's vSpring Capital, he joined start-up Mangia Technologies as director of business development, where he created and managed technology partnerships with NBA, NHL, MLS, NFL and NCAA sports franchises across the United States. Maggard earned his bachelor's dDegree, studying political science and business management. He also holds a master's dDegree in industrial systems engineering with an emphasis in management systems engineering from Virginia Tech.
Assistant Vice President for Industry and Corporate Research
The George Washington University
Tom Russo is the Assistant vice president for industry corporate research in the Office of the Vice President Research at George Washington University (GWU). Russo works with the corporate sector for research and other projects and initiatives at GWU to include collaborations, joint ventures, joint pursuit of contracts/grants and awards. He has devised many innovative approaches for corporations to collaborate with GWU and works closely with GWU's technology commercialization group and entrepreneurship programs and is a mentor for the NSF sponsored I-CORPS initiative.
Prior to joining GWU, Russo was a CFO for both public and private companies in the biotech, energy and alternative energy and IT areas. Collectively in that role he raised more than $250 million in equity financing, split equally between VC, Institutional and high net worth individuals. Russo has helped found or develop a number of startup companies many of which are highly successful today. Prior to his corporate roles, Russo began his career at the World Bank and its private sector affiliate, The International Finance Corporation providing debt and equity financing for early stage companies. Russo was an executive representative for Bechtel Financing Services and Bechtel Enterprises where he provided funding for major infrastructure projects and privatization efforts. He left Bechtel to form his own privatization firm that successfully privatized over 60 companies in Asia. Russo's practice was incorporated into Ernst & Young LLP where he continued his privatization efforts and assisted early-stage companies obtain Angel and Venture Capital, and other sources of financing. He has served on the boards for many companies.
Russo earned his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University in government, an MBA in international business and finance from George Washington University and post MBA training from Harvard Business School through a World Bank sponsored program.
James W. Wolfe
Entrepreneur in Residence and Assistant Professor of Management, School of Business
George Mason University
Jim Wolfe is a management executive, consultant, and international attorney with more than 35 years of experience assisting new business ventures. Jim is a co-founder and the CEO of J Street Consulting, a Washington, D.C. firm specializing in strategic marketing for new products, established firms, and nonprofit organizations. He also serves as entrepreneur in residence and assistant professor of management at the George Mason University School of Business, where he teaches courses in entrepreneurship and innovation.
Wolfe has participated in more than 50 startup and early-stage ventures, serving as an advisor, director, or co-founder in industries ranging from agribusiness to high technology to zoological research. He is a co-founder and president of FirstGuard Technologies Corporation, a spin-out of George Mason University which provides advanced technology to the U.S. Office of Naval Research. He was a co-founder of WorthPoint Corporation which has raised more than $15 million in venture funding, and earlier a co-founder of BNX Corporation (cybersecurity, later sold to Citibank).
Wolfe has also assisted a number of nonprofit enterprises in healthcare, higher education, and business development. Previous consulting engagements include the American Heart Association, the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease, Drexel University, the University of Miami, the German Finance Ministry and the World Bank. He is a past director of The National Entrepreneurship Foundation, the National Business Incubation Association and a former Trustee of Indiana University. Wolfe holds a J.D., MBA and B.S., all from Indiana University.