Chris Quintero

Chris Quintero is an associate at Bolt, an early stage venture capital firm that invests at the intersection of hardware and software. He also organizes the Boston Hardware Startup Meetup, Hardware Workshop, and a number of other events for hardware startup founders. Prior to Bolt Chris led engineering projects in Chile, Vietnam, and Cameroon.

Kristen Smith

Kristen Smith is with 4+ years of experience in the international maker community and a background in public engagement experience from the Denver Art Museum and MoMA in New York. She is currently Store Leader for the littleBits popup in Soho where she is developing customer experiences and new sales strategies for littleBits product. Previously, Kristen led a team of designers to develop and launch the Kohl’s Design It! Lab in partnership with Kohl’s Cares. Over the past year, Kristen Smith has expanded her network across the globe specifically in the startup, maker, and manufacturing industries through her work in bringing FabCafe to New York City.

Leah Gilliam

Leah Gilliam is the director of Hive NYC Learning Network, a key part of Mozilla’s global strategy to advance reading, writing and participation in the digital world. Through innovation funds, technical assistance, and leadership development, Hive Learning Networks invest in educators’ ability to create digitally-rich programs for youth, acting as an intermediary to facilitate the partnerships to embed these innovations citywide. A graduate of NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, Gilliam is the former director of informal learning at New York’s Institute of Play, where she worked with city officials, educators and designers to launch the game-based-learning public school Quest to Learn. Gilliam also maintains her creative practice and premiered a new card game as part of NYU Game Center’s No Quarter exhibition this Fall.

Quilian Riano

Quilian Riano is an architectural and urban designer, researcher, writer, and educator working out of Brooklyn, New York. Quilian is the founder and principal of DSGN AGNC, a collaborative design/research studio exploring political engagement through architecture, urbanism and art. In practice and academia, Quilian works with stakeholders and trans-disciplinary teams to create comprehensive research that can be used to propose a variety of spatial designs, targeted policies and actions that seek to increase agency at various scales — from pamphlets to strategic master plans to architectures to landscapes. This process has been used for plaza, garden and park projects with groups such as the Queens Museum of Art, the Van Alen Institute, the Design Trust for Public Space, Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden, often working with immigrant and other underserved communities. 


Raj Jeyakumar

Raj Jeyakumar was born in Sri Lanka and moved to England when he was three. Raj received a joint Bachelors and Masters from Oxford in Physics, before ditching oscilloscopes for PowerPoint and getting an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He spent most of his career in consulting at at Marakon, focused on Corporate Strategy and New Market Entry for Fortune 500 Companies. He then went on to launch Skillbridge a platform that matches freelance top-tier freelance consultants with companies. Raj has also worked for social impact startups in Kenya with Technoserve.

Sumeet Shah

Sumeet Shah has been with Brand Foundry Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm focused on consumer investments, since its inception in March 2014. Prior to Brand Foundry, he worked in the startup world as Director of Client Relationships at Gist Digital, a full-scale development shop based in New York, handling new business and long-term contracts. Prior to Gist Digital, Sumeet spent 5 years in the private equity space at Gotham Consulting Partners, a middle-market focused private equity consulting firm, doing project work for 2 years and running business development for 3 years. He graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Biomedical Engineering, specializing in Biomechanics.


Haytham Elhawary

Haytham Elhawary is the cofounder and CEO of KINETIC, a wearable device company with the mission of reducing workplace injuries. His professional experience includes the development of medical robots at both Philips Electronics and Harvard Medical School, and being the Executive Director of the Zahn Innovation Center, a startup incubator focusing on hardware startups. Haytham founded the NY Hardware Startup meetup group, which counts with over 3000 members. Haytham has a PhD in biomedical engineering from Imperial College London and a Mechanical Engineering degree from University of Navarra in Spain. He also reviews theater for the blog site Theatre is Easy and loves to do improvised comedy, although admittedly he’s not very good.

John Farmer

John Farmer

John Farmer is Director of Microsoft’s Technology & Civic Innovation team in New York City, John leads hands-on engagement with governments, non-profits, for-profits, academic institutions, startups, and civic hackers so that they can do more good together than they could apart. Previously, John served as the Senior Advisor for Innovation in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, where he spearheaded the President’s innovation agenda. Under President Barack Obama, he co-founded and led the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, which attracts top innovators and entrepreneurs from the private sector for focused tours of duty in government, in order to make game-changing progress on projects of national importance. John holds an MBA with honors from the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University and an AB with honors from Harvard University. He grew up in Pittsburgh before moving to Manhattan over a decade ago.

Kathleen Poe

Kathleen Poe is a General Manager within the Sustainable Business & Innovation group at Nike, leading a team that identifies, prototypes, and pilots new business models for future growth. Prior to joining Nike, Kathleen was Principal at Innosight, an innovation strategy consulting firm started by Clayton Christensen, where she was responsible for creating growth strategies, building new growth business, and developing innovation capabilities. Previously, Kathleen helped launch a successful restaurant, advised R&D executives at the Corporate Executive Board, and created youth programs at the American Red Cross.  Kathleen holds an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management and a degree in Human Development from Cornell University.

Rhea Alexander

Rhea Alexander is an interdisciplinary designer, strategist and social entrepreneur. She founded D.I.G.S. a design, manufacturing and consultancy company that pioneered triple bottom line values balancing social, economic and environmental impact. For over 20 years her designs were acknowledged in the press and with industry awards. She advises entrepreneurs, startups, NGOs and SMEs as a Private Sector International Development Consultant, focusing on design, strategy, business scalability, social innovation, and community development. She was Director of Product Development for Hanover Direct and early on worked with designers Andrea Branzi and Rodolfo Bonetto in Milan Italy.  She is an Assistant Professor of Strategic Design and Management, Director and founder of the Parsons Entrepreneurs Lab and Co-director of the MS Strategic Design and Management Program at Parsons School of Design, one of the largest graduate programs at the university.

Stephan von Muehlen

Stephan von Muehlen is a product designer and entrepreneur based in NYC. He is a graduate of the Joint Program in Design from Stanford University and has since worked as researcher, designer, engineer, and fabricator for over 10 years. He previously co-founded and was the Design Director at EnergyHub, a startup in Brooklyn that creates technology to help people use less electricity in the home. Currently he is co-founder and CEO at Poursteady, a company that manufactures automated pour-over coffee machines for retail coffee businesses, and a teacher at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program.

Content Experts

Business Basics

Evan Cohen

Evan Cohen joined Indiegogo in early 2014 to help educate and empower the growing maker community on the east coast. He works out of the Indiegogo New York office, where he regularly engages in community events to help local technologists connect with the Indiegogo platform. Since joining Indiegogo, Evan has worked closely on many of the platform’s largest campaigns including Bluesmart Connected Carry-on, Jolla Tablet, Flow Hive and Opal Nugget Ice Maker. Through his close work with campaigners, Evan has helped raise over $35 million for companies from around the globe on Indiegogo. Prior to joining Indiegogo, Evan spent three years as a television producer and broadcast engineer, working on productions for Jimmy Kimmel Live, The United Nations World Food Programme, and Travel Channel. As a producer, Evan contributed to a number of incredible productions that have been watched by millions of people around the world.

Ilan Abehassera

Ilan Abehassera is a second time Entrepreneur based in NYC since 2004. He is now Founder and CEO at Insensi, makers of ILY, a new kind of communication device and platform for Families : www.ily.coIlan’s first company, Producteev, one of the leading Task Management platforms for teams, had 2,500 paying companies when it got acquired by Jive Software (Nasdaq listed company) in November 2012, which is when Ilan and his family moved to Palo Alto, where he stayed until the summer of 2014, before moving back to NYC to start Insensi. Ilan is also an angel investor in great companies such as Sunrise (acquired by Microsoft), (acquired by Facebook), Algolia,, OKPanda, Sabi, Campaign, Circa and 15 more. Ilan is a dad of 3, and lives with his wife in Manhattan.

John Dimatos

John Dimatos is the Director of Tech and Design outreach at Kickstarter, where he helps people, institutions, and companies bring creative projects to life. An alumnus of Makerbot Industries, John also co-created an award winning Disaster simulation game for UNICEF. John was a Resident Researcher at ITP/NYU, and graduated from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.


Nicolas Vansnick

Nicolas Vansnick is a maker at heart and a double Master’s graduate in robotics (UCL) and wireless communications (NYU). In 2013 he cofounded BotFactory, a company looking to democratize electronics. BotFactory builds desktop electronic circuit factories, printing and assembling circuits in 30minutes for $5 using conductive ink and glue. The company is a NYC Next Top Maker alumnus and raised $100k on Kickstarter.

Story Bellows

Story Bellows recently joined the Brooklyn Public Library as Chief Innovation and Performance Officer. Prior to coming to Brooklyn, she co-founded and served as Director of the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics in Philadelphia, a civic idea and innovation incubator and R+D lab inside City Hall. Story previously was Director of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design, a leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the American Architectural Foundation and United States Conference of Mayors. An urban designer by training, Story started the city-focused phase of her career in private design practice in Chicago, where she founded an interdisciplinary research group and worked with leaders in the public, private and non-profit sectors on urban, education, healthcare, and environmental projects and initiatives. She holds a BA from Colgate University and MSc from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Design for Manufacturing

Arnon Rosan

Arnon Rosan is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, and tinkerer. He is the founder of several successful manufacturing businesses and is working on his latest business, EverBlock Systems. EverBlock is a manufacturer of modular interlocking building blocks for a variety of real-world applications. Prior to founding EverBlock, Arnon Rosan was the Founder and CEO of Signature Systems Group, the world’s largest manufacturer of modular plastic flooring, fencing, and roadway systems for all types of event, retail, military, construction, industrial and specialty applications. Mr. Rosan Co-Founded and served as Chairman of Highland Products Group, an on-line e-commerce and print catalog supplier specializing in park and recreation equipment and site furnishings for public facilities such as municipal parks, recreation facilities, schools, and worship facilities. Prior to founding Signature and Highland, Mr. Rosan founded and built Portafloor, one of the world’s first modular flooring systems for special event use at stadiums, in tents, and for other specialty applications. Arnon Rosan is listed on several global patents, including several modular, interconnecting flooring and roadway systems and a unique manufacturing technology related to plastic molding and large-part manufacturing. He is a graduate of Cornell University (BA) and New York University (MBA) and currently lives in New York City.

Jim Allen

Jim Allen

Jim Allen is the founder of a number of manufacturing startups and an independent consultant to technology companies for 3D printing, manufacturing, business development, funding and economic development incentives. His clients  include Shapeways, the world’s leading 3D printing marketplace and community platform where he was involved in creating the Shapeways “Factory of the Future” in New York City; leveraging his expertise in manufacturing, site selection and product development. Jim is also a subject matter expert on 3D printing and manufacturing technologies for institutional investor research firms. He holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, a BS in electrical engineering from the University of Virginia and is a certified Powder Metallurgy Technologist.


Jordi Borràs

Jordi Borràs is a Barcelona-born and New York-based designer, with more than 15 years of experience developing many different products. After an existential crisis as a designer, and tired of looking into resolving non-existent problems in the product design world, he joined the littleBits team, to design a tool that brings electronics to everybody’s hands instead of a finished product. During his previous career as a designer, Jordi was been granted with numerous international awards like the IDEA Gold Award, Spark Award, Good Design, Design Plus and ID Magazine among others. 

Lauren Slowik

Lauren Slowik is the Design Evangelist for Education at Shapeways and a part-time professor at Parsons the New School for Design where she also received her MFA in Design+Technology. She has contributed her design and technology expertise to organizations such as Apple, MoMA, the Ms. Foundation, Eyebeam Art+Technology Center, the Museum of Arts and Design and Her research is focused on 3D design and 3D printing and the future of creativity in education with a focus on user experience design, storytelling, and interaction design. She lives in Brooklyn.

Sam Wurzel

Sam Wurzel co-founded Octopart, the search engine for electronic components. Before Octopart Sam was in physics grad school working on experimental plasma physics related to nuclear fusion. Active in the NYC hardware world, he speaks at meetups, and builds connections between hardware startups and the electronics manufacturing and distribution world. With the acquisition of Octopart by Altium in 2015, Sam continues in his role as Head of Octopart.

Spencer Wright

Spencer Wright is an independent designer and hardware strategist. He is currently developing a product development workflow for metal 3D printed parts, and researching both the manufacturability and marketability of titanium 3D printed sporting goods. He’s also the co-founder and -developer of The Public Radio, a simple FM radio which raised $88k on Kickstarter and shipped (just two weeks late!) in the Spring of 2015. As a mechanical designer, machinist, and welder, he’s prototyped, procured, and put into service products ranging from custom bicycle frames, to robotic sliding doors, to mechanical assembly jigs for consumer electronics products.

Stephan von Muehlen

Stephan von Muehlen is a product designer and entrepreneur based in NYC. He is a graduate of the Joint Program in Design from Stanford University and has since worked as researcher, designer, engineer, and fabricator for over 10 years. He previously co-founded and was the Design Director at EnergyHub, a startup in Brooklyn that creates technology to help people use less electricity in the home. Currently he is co-founder and CEO at Poursteady, a company that manufactures automated pour-over coffee machines for retail coffee businesses, and a teacher at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program.


Tristan Bel

Tristan Bel is the Executive Director of NYDesigns, a design and hardware tech incubator based in NYC. Before that he has spearheaded the creation and development of product lines and the building of operations for startups and non-profit organizations in the technology and wellness/sustainability industries for over 12 years. He is recognized for his strong business acumen and for his ability to lead teams to excel consistently in a poised and happy environment. Tristan holds a MEng in Industrial Engineering from Ecole Centrale de Marseille (Grande Ecole), and a MSc in Competitive Intelligence from the Université de St Jérôme.


Alek Marfisi

Alek Marfisi has helped develop over 650 small businesses in the NYC area, including helping over 200 companies successfully launch. His company, Upwind Strategies, focuses on developing local resources supporting the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem as well as providing direct support to entrepreneurs in accessing government-sponsored funding. The local economic climate in recent years has resulted in many of Upwind Strategies’ clients being innovative small manufacturers choosing to located within the city limits. Prior to launching his company, Alek was a certified business advisor with the NYS Small Business Development Center. Alek also teaches the Culinary Entrepreneurship program at the International Culinary Center and holds several board memberships with local organizations.

Greg Spielberg

Greg Spielberg is managing director of We Are Pop Up and founder of Imagination in Space. He builds social capital in retail spaces and creates powerful coalitions around new ideas. With We Are Pop Up, Imagination in Space connects brands, organizations and entrepreneurs with the most innovative storeowners in New York City and London. A former journalist, Greg is helping to push the creative retail movement forward. Stories are best told in person.

Jessica Califano

Jessica Califano is the Director of Community, Support, and Publishing at Adafruit. She works with customers on support issues, runs social media content for the company, works on online marketing, and heads up the Adafruit blog among her many other daily tasks. She is a regular co-host of the YouTube live show “Wearable Electronics with Becky Stern” and has represented Adafruit at many events including a visit to the White House for this year’s National Week of Making. Jessica graduated from NYU with a degree in Media, Culture, and Communications.

John Vaskis

John Vaskis is the Senior Director of Hardware, Tech and Design at Indiegogo. He works closely with campaigners in the hardware vertical throughout the lifecycle of their campaign. He has worked on record breaking crowdfunding campaigns such as Laser Team and Stone Brewery.

Khwezi Magwaza

Khwezi Magwaza is a journalist and digital media professional who has worked in content management, strategy and production for print, radio, TV and online media for over 12 years. Originally from Johannesburg, South Africa now based in New York City she is the digital content and communities manager at Girl Effect Mobile and has worked with Primedia Broadcasting,, BET News and She is the former editor in chief of Seventeen Magazine South Africa, a Ford Foundation Fellow and read for her masters degree in Journalism at New York University in the innovative digital specialization, Studio 20.

Teresa Lagerman

Teresa Lagerman is a brand strategist and the co-founder of Condensed and Brooklyn Makers. Since moving to NY in 2004, she’s been working with creative people who are passionate about their businesses – her work is all about showcasing theirs. With Condensed, she helps fast-moving startups to establish long-lasting brands and define strong marketing strategies. In 2012 she launched Brooklyn Makers – a blog, online shop and event series featuring local artisans. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two boys.

Zach Dunham

Zach Dunham is a mixed media technologist with a focus on acoustics and sound interaction. By day, he provides support and strategy at Kickstarter for technology and design creators, helping teams craft and plan campaigns to best support their short and long-term goals. He’s the co-founder of the Public Radio – a single station pre-tuned FM radio – and an alumni of the School For Poetic Computation.

Understanding Users

Becky Stern

Becky Stern is the Director of Wearable Electronics at Adafruit. Each week she publishes a new do-it-yourself craft+tech project tutorial and video and also hosts the YouTube Live show “Wearable Electronics with Becky Stern.” She’s been combining textiles with electronics since 2005, and helps develop the Adafruit FLORA wearable Arduino-compatible product line. She’s been shooting video since age five, and sewing since age eight. Becky studied at Parsons The New School for Design and Arizona State University and teaches at School of Visual Arts’ Products of Design grad program.

Cassandra Michel

Cassandra Michel is a Design Researcher with over eight years of experience. At frog Cassandra has collaborated with cross-disciplinary teams to lead research on programs across a range of industries including technology, finance, healthcare, and connected home products. In May 2014, Cassandra was part of the inaugural graduating class in the groundbreaking, multidisciplinary MFA Products of Design program at the School of Visual Arts where students are challenged to solve complex design problems through a combination of design thinking, making, and doing. In her spare time Cassandra loves to hike, run, travel and spend time with her rescue dog, Ruby. She is currently working on launching a dog clothes and accessories brand called Citizen x Hound that makes sartorial streetwear for dogs and their best human friends.

Jamie Dwyer

Jamie Dwyer is an artist, creative director and consultant for clients in business, entertainment, tech and advertising. After 11 years as Senior Creative/Digital Director for Zandl Group, a NYC-based trends & insights agency, he founded Electric Wonder, a creative outfit specializing in art direction, identifying trends in art and innovation, and establishing branding, social and marketing strategies. He also provides custom, detailed audits on design and experience. Most recently, Jamie completed his second short animation with artist Justin Ulloa, “Cheese Dog: The Movie,” an award-winning “inspirational fast-food fantasy,” with themes of American food and consumer culture. He holds both a Bachelors in Digital Art and Masters in Art & New Media from New York University.

Sacha Thompson

Sacha Thompson is an attorney, research scholar and Human Centered Design facilitator. Her work focuses on community development initiatives that incorporate sustainable technologies and  financial innovations. Her recent projects include developing a speaker series for African American female tech founders and creating design thinking workshops to help product developers better understand the needs of human rights organizations.


Daniel Gross

Daniel Gross is an intellectual property attorney at Myers Wolin. He brings experience from his work as in-house counsel at a financial technology company, where he built and maintained patent and trademark portfolios. He has also worked independently with clients to develop patent and trademark strategies for diverse technologies. Daniel’s research experience as WIPO Senior Fellow for Fordham Law School’s Center on Law and Information Policy, as well as his participation as a finalist in the International Manufacturing Science and Engineering Conference Design Competition, give him a unique perspective on the technical aspects of invention and innovation. 

Jonathan Askin

Jonathan Askin is a professor at Brooklyn Law School, teaching technology, telecommunications, and entrepreneurial law and policy. He is the Founder of the Brooklyn Law Incubator & Policy Clinic, which represents Internet, new media, communications and other tech entrepreneurs, startups, innovators and organizations on business development, policy advocacy and law reform. He is also the Faculty Chair and Innovation Catalyst for the Brooklyn Law Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship. Jonathan is also a Visiting Professorial Fellow at the Centre for Commercial Law Studies, Queen Mary University of London, a Fellow at the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information, an Adjunct Professor at Columbia Law School, and Advisor to iLINC, a network of legal support clinics for the European startup community. Jonathan will spend Spring 2016 as a Visiting Professor at the MIT Media Lab. Jonathan also Chaired the Internet Governance Working Group for the Obama ’08 Presidential Campaign. He has served on the boards of many communications and Internet industry and consumer groups.  Jonathan is an honors grad of both Harvard College and Rutgers Law School.


Marjorie White

Marjorie S. White is Associate Professor of Clinical Law, and Director of Transactional Practice for the Brooklyn Law Incubator & Policy Clinic (BLIP). Professor White is also Counsel to Brooklyn Law School’s Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship (CUBE), and is affiliated with the Dennis J. Block Center for the Study of International Business Law. Professor White graduated from Harvard University and earned her J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School, where she was Comment Editor of the Law Review. After law school, she clerked for the Honorable Robert J. Ward, U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York.

Peyton Worley

J. Peyton Worley is a partner in the Emerging Companies and Capital Markets practice groups. Mr. Worley focuses on representing both emerging and established technology and life sciences companies and the venture capital firms and growth capital firms that invest in these companies. Concentrating in corporate and securities law, Mr. Worley assists companies across their entire life cycle, including formation, capital raising, strategic partnerships, leveraged and unleveraged mergers and acquisitions, founder liquidity transactions, IPOs and SEC reporting and compliance. 

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