IdeaFest Judges 2023

Jan Davis

Jan Davis

President, Retired CEO, ShopperTrak RCT Corporation; Investor and Vice Chair, Triangle Angel Partners; Board Vice-Chair, The Launch Place

Jan Davis is a private company board member, currently on the boards of directors of Couplet Care and Sellry. She serves on the board of The Launch Place and as vice chair of Triangle Angel Partners. She is an investor in the xElle Ventures Fund and invests with the Carolina Angel Network. Formerly, she was an EIR for the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network and the Shuford Program in Entrepreneurship at UNC. She was previously CEO of ShopperTrak and business unit president at TransUnion. She holds a BA and MBA from UNC Chapel Hill and lived and worked in Boston, Warsaw Poland and Chicago before moving to the Triangle in 2010.

Patrick Gouhin

Patrick Gouhin, CAE

CEO, Angel Capital Association

Patrick Gouhin is presently serving in his fourth year as the CEO of the Angel Capital Association. ACA is a professional society for accredited angel investors, North America's most prolific early-stage investment class. ACA represents 15,000+ member accredited angel investors, 250 angel groups, accredited platforms and family offices and more than 30,000 entrepreneurial companies that are in ACA member investment portfolios. Before joining ACA, Mr. Gouhin spent 12 years as the Executive Director and CEO of the International Society of Automation (ISA) and then 15 years with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). During his tenure at ISA he provided leadership toward the creation of many new initiatives and companies. At AIAA, Mr. Gouhin served as the Chief Operating Officer whereby his leadership contributions resulted in significant revenue growth and the successful management of 300+ project teams through development and delivery of multiple products and services.

Mr. Gouhin also served as the first Vice President of Operations and Technology Transfer for the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) at Langley Research Center. This was a start-up resulting from $69 million government contract award to build a world-class research and education institute. Mr. Gouhin has experience in corporate divestitures and acquisitions, business construction and relocation, strategic standardization management, business planning, project management, process mapping and reengineering, and serving as a company wide change agent. He has served on the board of directors of multiple non-profits including the Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives (CESSE) where he is a past president.

He has a bachelor of science in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from The Ohio State University and a master’s in engineering management from George Washington University. He has also completed the executive development program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and the advanced management college of Stanford University. Mr. Gouhin is a Certified Association Executive or CAE.

Mark Granville

Mark Granville

Screening Chair, RTP Capital; Board Vice-Chair, The Launch Place Seed Fund

Mark Granville is a former senior executive, general manager, and early-stage investor with extensive software industry experience in both large multi-national organizations and early, technology-driven start-ups. Mark has spent 40+ years leading key aspects of a technology company, including development, service delivery and support operations, and client acquisition. He was previously Senior Vice President, Analytic Services for a large healthcare analytics company, and COO of a high growth software company with payer marketplace offerings, and as part of the executive team took the company public and then to an acquisition. . Having been directly involved with five growth company exits, he is also an active early stage investor and LP in several venture funds. Mark earned an MBA from the University of Wyoming and an BS in Finance and Information Systems from Bowling Green State University.

Robbie Hardy

Robbie Hardy

Founder and Chair of xElle Ventures; Board Member, The Launch Place Seed Fund

Robbie Hardy, founder and Chair of xElle Ventures, has worn many different hats during a career that has stretched from the vineyards of Napa Valley to the boardrooms of Fortune 500 companies. She’s driven a school bus, worked in both the public and non-profit sectors, served as CEO of several IT companies and founded angel funds.

For more than a decade Robbie has focused on aiding entrepreneurs, especially women trying to get a company started. Her experience founding, growing, guiding and exiting successful startups herself makes her an “entrepreneurologist” by trade, a term she coined to describe both her experience and her passion.
Today, Hardy is most passionate about empowering women in their careers, helping them overcome obstacles they face such as sexism, workplace politics, and self-doubt, and connecting them with strong women role models to help them succeed. In 2016, she published a book, “Upsetting the Table: Women Mentoring Women,” aimed at establishing a “girl’s club” to off-set the “boy’s club” that has for so long dominated company executive offices.

In 2019, Hardy founded xElle Ventures, an angel fund network dedicated to investing in the ideas, products and services of women. The 15 women founders hope to change the fact that, although women comprise half of the workforce and own millions of businesses, companies founded by women receive only 2.3 % of venture financing.

Also in 2019, Hardy initiated Empowering Women Together, a series of panel discussions designed, she says, “for ambitious women who want to invest in themselves and others.” The once a month meetings, held in Durham’s First Flight Venture Center, feature panels composed of strong, successful, confident women including scientists, lawyers, technologists, corporate execs, and business leaders, paying it forward by sharing the secrets of their success and the lessons they learned along the way.

Marty Kaszubowski

Marty Kaszubowski

Technology Mentor, Innovation Commercialization Assistance Program (ICAP), Virginia Small Business Development Center Network, George Mason University; Board Member, The Launch Place

Marty is an aerospace engineer and spent his early career working on the Space Shuttle, Space Station, and planetary mission planning programs. He served as a Senior Program Director at the National Academy of Sciences’ Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, founded the Hampton Roads Technology Incubator in late-1998, and has been involved ever since in supporting the local, national, and global innovation and entrepreneurial community as a consultant, advisor, investor, mentor, and therapist.

Over the last decade, Marty has helped develop a variety of new community and university-based programs to support entrepreneurs and has often been tapped by the US State Department and related Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to advocate for innovation-led economic development, help assess and develop innovation ecosystems, provide entrepreneurship training and mentoring, and judge startup competitions in several former Soviet states and around the world.

Marty is currently a Technology Mentor with the Innovation Commercialization Assistance Program (ICAP) and serves on numerous non-profit Boards including The Launch Place, the Hampton Roads Innovation Collaborative, The Investment Advisory Board of the Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation, Virginia Bio-Connect, and the ReAKTOR Accelerator.

Marty holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan, and a Master of Science Degree in Technology Management from the George Washington University.