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Assistant Vice President for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Venture Acceleration
Gordon McConnell is the Assistant Vice President for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Venture Acceleration for the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development at ASU. He joined ASU in June 2011 in the role of Executive Director for Venture Acceleration, managing the Venture Catalyst unit based in ASU SkySong which includes the Edson Student Accelerator program. Prior to relocating to the US, Gordon was Deputy CEO of the Dublin City University (DCU) Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurship in Ireland.
As part of his role at DCU Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurship, he co-founded, and was the first director of the Propeller Venture Accelerator in Dublin and a charter member of the Techstars Network. Gordon worked for DCU over eight years, including the previous position of Head of Strategy and Administration in the DCU President's Office from 2005 until 2009. Gordon also taught graduate courses, including entrepreneurship, in a number of higher education institutions such as DCU, All Hallows College and Dublin Institute of Technology.
Prior to working at DCU, Gordon worked in industry, venture capital and was a senior consultant in the Andersen Consulting (Accenture) strategy practice in Europe. Gordon has also been part of the founding group of two funded start-up companies in the late 1990’s. He now serves as an advisor to a number of startup ventures in Ireland including GreenEgg Technologies and Associate Mobile. Gordon has produced published research in a number of areas including the development of high technology clusters, innovation in social entrepreneurship and the digital media sector.
In addition to directing the Catalyst, Charlie Lewis manages the creation and growth of new Arizona State University (ASU) spin-out companies for Arizona Technology Enterprises (AzTE), ASU's technology transfer organization. Charlie brings 20 years of entrepreneurial and private equity experience to AzTE.
Prior to joining AzTE, he served as general partner for two Arizona venture capital funds, Arris Ventures and Paradise ’94. He directed the investment committee responsible for analyzing due diligence findings and appropriating more than $25 million in private capital with an emphasis on early-stage technology companies. Prior to his venture fund experiences, Charlie was vice president of sales and marketing for Tritium Technologies and also served as International Director of Distribution for ANVT, Inc. He was a founding partner of Midas Computers after graduating from Arizona State University. The company designed software tools for small retail businesses and was acquired by POS Systems in 1993.
Global Business Development Director
Jim is a seasoned professional with over twenty-five years of successful sales and business development expertise in both domestic and international arenas. He leads the development and execution of global business strategies and go-to-market activities at the ASU Venture Catalyst at ASU SkySong, the Scottsdale Innovation Center. Jim offers a unique, solid background with excellent operational acumen for global environments.
Jim’s previous experience includes Network Appliance (NetApp), Sunnyvale, CA; Wipro Technologies, Bangalore, India; Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, WA; Sun Microsystems, Mountain View, CA; Nihon Sun Microsystems KK, Tokyo, Japan; Convergent Technologies, San Jose, CA; and Be Inc., Menlo Park, CA. Jim is highly skilled in establishing successful, mutually beneficial executive business relationships with companies from the United States, India, ASEAN, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Brazil, Russia, and Australia.
Jim holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Missouri – St. Louis and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Missouri - Rolla, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. Jim is a member of Tie Silicon Valley, Seattle and Arizona.
Wiley Larsen joined Venture Catalyst in November 2011 and assists ASU faculty, staff, and alumni with commercializing their technologies.
Wiley has 5 years of experience as a marketing and business development consultant for new ventures. Wiley has extensive experience managing projects for startups including; evaluating business plans, preparing entrepreneurs for pitch events, and coaching SBIR/STTR applicants on phase I and phase II commercialization planning. In addition, Wiley has managed strategic planning initiatives for economic development clients and non-profit organizations.
Prior to joining Venture Catalyst, Wiley served as Director of Strategic Partnerships for Development Capital Networks, where was responsible for venture and licensing forums, business plan competitions, and entrepreneurial training workshops. From 2005-2006, Wiley served on the district staff for U.S. Congressman Tom Osborne, where he specialized in agriculture, clean tech, and entrepreneurship initiatives. Prior to that appointment, he spent 8 years in public education and 3 years in agribusiness.
Wiley is originally from Minden, Nebraska and has a M.S. in Education Administration from Kansas State University, and a B.S. in Mathematics from Sterling College.
Senior Venture Manager
Brent Sebold is a Senior Venture Manager for the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative within the Venture Catalyst at Arizona State University.
Brent earned a Doctor of Education degree from Arizona State University in 2011. His research focused on leadership and innovation, collegiate co-curricular engagement marketing strategies, and student retention. Brent also earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Ohio University in 2001 and a Master of Education degree from Arizona State University in 2006.
Additionally, Brent is co-founder of Small Victories, a children’s book publishing start up that allows aspiring children’s book authors and illustrators to create, test-market, and sell their books via crowd-sourced feedback and democratic innovation. Prior to joining the Venture Catalyst, Brent served as an Assistant Director within the Undergraduate Student Academic Services Office at Arizona State University’s School of Nutrition and Health Promotion.
Fred von Graf
Senior Venture Manager
Fred is a principle driven person with diverse interests in business, communications and technology. He melds his executive, people and project management background with 15 years of enterprise and startup experience with a focus on technologies, business development and digital marketing. With a passion for startups Fred founded the LaunchSpotcommunity co-working space and technology incubator in Tempe, Arizona. He is also the founder of the mobile gaming startup Hexxa, still in stealth mode it has over 100 business clients in testing. Fred also founded SocialMediaAZ.org, a driving force behind digital marketing for businesses in Arizona. Fred’s business and technical experience is a perfect fit for his role as a Senior Venture Manger with ASU Venture Catalyst.
Meagan Garrett joined the Venture Catalyst team in September 2011 and works to promote the ASU SkySong brand and its family of programs, increasing awareness of ASU’s innovative approach to entrepreneurship and the success of their initiatives at the local, national and international levels. She has nearly a decade of experience in media relations, public relations, marketing, and communications. Prior to joining the Venture Catalyst team, Meagan served in a variety of marketing and communications roles within diverse industries and companies, including the financial sector and the more-than-profit community. In addition to her marketing duties at Venture Catalyst, Meagan is President of the Phoenix Professional Chapter of MBA Women International.
Meagan holds an MBA from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, and a BA in Marketing and Macro Economics from Eastern Washington University.
Molly Brush joined the Venture Catalyst team in January 2013 as Communications Specialist. Before that, she served as Communications Program Coordinator for ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Prior to coming to ASU, she spent 10 years in a variety of marketing and communications positions at nonprofit and higher education organizations in Wisconsin and Indiana. A native of Milwaukee, she earned a Master’s degree in Journalism from Indiana University and a Bachelor’s degree in International Atudies and Spanish from Butler University.
Interaction Design Specialist
Annette Fuentes recently joined the Venture Catalyst team and will work to create brand identities and a prominent visual presence for ASU SkySong and the many programs and startups located within ASU SkySong. With a diverse design background that includes work in the food, automobile, and art industries, Annette brings a wealth of previous experience in designing corporate identities for companies in both web and print design.
Annette received her Bachelor of Art in Art History and minor in Spanish at Arizona State University, along with an Associate of Applied Science in Graphic Design from The Art Institute of Phoenix.
Neetu Rao is currently a research analyst at Arizona State University SkySong. As part of her role at the university, she works with startups and entrepreneurs looking to launch a business through ASU Venture Catalyst. She has mentored companies in various industries such as healthcare, renewable energy, and information technologies with business plans, strategic planning, and business development. Additionally, she works with companies looking to engage the university through research, project work, and student recruitment through the Economic Development Strategic Alliances unit. She is also involved in cluster development to spur growth in the Arizona, such as the Arizona Solar Summit. Prior to joining ASU, Neetu has worked in number of laboratories on biomedical research.
Neetu graduated from University of Southern California with a BA in Economics and minor in Chemistry and was in the general course program at London School of Economics.
Associate Venture Manager
Benson Garner received his BS in Management from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and has certificates in Small Business and Entrepreneurship as well as in International Business. Benson has worked in a variety of capacities in several small businesses and startups since 2004 and has aided and consulted local start-up companies and entrepreneurs since 2008. He has been the Founder and CEO of two of his own companies and his experience in business consulting has offered him insight into a number of different businesses and industries.
Valeria Andrews is in her senior year in the Business Communications program from W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State Univeristy.