Our Advisory Board
Vice President, New York City Economic Development Corporation
Karen Bhatia is Vice President at the New York City Economic Development Corporation, leading Creative and Applied Tech strategies and initiatives to promote economic development and entrepreneurship throughout the city. Karen is also an attorney, entrepreneur and startup advisor. She was the principal of her own law firm advising tech startups on corporate issues, financing and overall business strategy. As an entrepreneur, Karen founded ActionCam, an educational platform explaining public policy issues and providing resources for people to take action. Karen also founded and is President of Stanford Startups NY, a business network of over 650 Stanford entrepreneurs and investors in the area. She is also on the Board of Trustees of Mott Hall, a middle school in the Bronx. Karen has a B.A. from Stanford University, a Master's degree in Public Policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and a J.D. from George Washington University Law School.
Director, XRC Labs
Carly-Ann Fergus sits at the intersection of Fashion, Technology, and Retail. She serves as the Director XRC Labs, a retail tech accelerator launched in partnership with founding sponsors Kurt Salmon and Parsons School of Design at The New School. As Director, Fergus helps select the portfolio startups, connects them with corporate partners, resources, and industry experts to accelerate their businesses. With a multifaceted career journey in the fashion industry, her work experience spans from established companies such as Tommy Hilfiger, to start-up brands such as Nahm. She spearheaded the launch of a New York-based women's ready-to-wear brand and served, as Director of Operations, then earned her MA in Fashion Studies, with a focus on Strategic Design and Management at Parsons School of Design. Her thesis research focused on the rise of New York City as a leading global fashion capital and the issues that stem from the lack of access to capital for its rising community of emerging talent. Carly-Ann served as a member of the Selection Committee and Advisory Board for the 2017 - 2018 inaugural CFDA and Accessories Council Elaine Gold Launch Pad (an initiative intended to catapult visionary ideas into viable futures for designers 0-3 years within their professional journey). Carly-Ann has been featured on Forbes.com and has been mentioned in outlets such as WWD and Vogue Italia. She has spoken at the 2017 CFDA Education Summit, 2017 MIT Media Lab Hacking Arts Conference, 2017 Women in Innovation Forum, XRC Labs Women in Entrepreneurship event, the French Consulate General during the 2017 National Retail Federation French party event, and the Retail X Series. She is a member of the Opportunity Network's Associate Board of Governors, and co-founder of the award-winning Fashion & Diversity series at the New School.
CEO & Founder, VentureOut
Driven by a passion for technology and startups, Brian planted his flag in NY’s tech community when he joined Gotham Ventures in 2009. Brian began charting his own path after launching VentureOut in 2012, which is now ranked as one of the top 10 most active accelerators in the world. He has been named one of NYC tech's 35 people to watch in 2016 by Built In NYC. Brian is also an advisor to fitness AI platform Actively and a founding member of the Innovation Council for FWD.us, a Silicon Valley nonprofit focused on immigration reform. Prior to VentureOut, Brian’s career spanned venture capital, startup consulting, and finance having worked at Gotham Ventures, OTR Global, and Standard & Poor's. Brian received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Richmond.
Director of Runway and Spinouts, Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech
Fernando Gómez-Baquero holds a Ph.D. in Nanoscale Science and Engineering from the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at the University at Albany SUNY. His research has focused on advanced nanomaterials for energy storage applications, on the economic impact of pervasive nanotechnologies, and on tech entrepreneurship. Dr. Gómez-Baquero has more than 15 years of experience in the nanotechnology industry, starting with production and characterization of carbon nanotubes and developing of polymer/nanotube composite materials. Dr. Gómez-Baquero is recognized as a leader in the fabrication of nanoengineered electrodes for lithium-ion batteries using semiconductor processes and using nanotechnology to improve the performance of lithium-ion batteries. Dr. Gómez-Baquero has several publications in nanomaterials research and on the economic impact of nanotechnologies and number of patent applications in diverse applications of nanomaterials. Dr. Gómez-Baquero is also the Director of Runway and Spinoffs at the Jacobs Technion – Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech, where he is helping postdoctoral entrepreneurs build companies out of digital technologies in diverse fields such as digital health, telecommunications, education, cybersecurity, and IoT.
Managing Director, Plug and Play Los Angeles
Alex is the Managing Director at Plug and Play, recognized as the most active venture capital firm in the United States with over 270 global investments every year, to develop a significant presence in Southern California. Alex is working to not only oversee and run the operations, but also to build the core team, expand the corporate network, and form new strategic partnerships in the region. He is also leading the startup technical due diligence process to evaluate pre-seed, seed and Series A investment decisions at Plug and Play Los Angeles.
Founder & CEO, Karen.care
Paul is a serial entrepreneur with 20+ years’ experience in product design, development and marketing. He is currently founder and CEO of Karen.care, a SaaS platform that helps families care for their aging parents. He also co-founded GroupDragon, the first mobile platform for accountability groups, and KOR Water, a fast-growing consumer products brand. Previously, Paul held senior product and marketing roles at Adobe, Sony and Microsoft. He holds a BA from Purchase College, an MBA from Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, and a Masters in Human-Computer Interaction from New York University.
CEO & Managing Director, NUMA New York
Frances is an international launch expert in the New York City startup scene. She has helped establish and grow operations in multiple cities, including Boston, Chicago, DC, and New York, for startups like Sittercity, Startup Institute, and now NUMA New York. She has worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs across the globe and has established one of the largest entrepreneurial communities in New York City. Her key strengths are in operations, business development, community building, negotiations, and many levels of sales from small tickets to enterprise.
Managing Director, Founder Institute New York
Having built a portfolio of over 100 early stage technology companies, Kevin Siskar is a highly ambitious investor with a vision for a futuristic tomorrow. He is the Managing Director of the Founder Institute New York, host of the Ambition Today podcast, Venture Partner with Outbound Ventures and a co-founder of the NYC Innovation Collective.