Team

Meet the team behind the most startup-friendly accelerator on the planet.

Global Executives

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John Harthorne

Founder and Chief Executive Officer

John Harthorne is the Founder and CEO of MassChallenge, the most startup-friendly accelerator on the planet. No equity and not-for-profit, MassChallenge is obsessed with helping entrepreneurs across any industry. They also reward the highest-impact startups through a competition to win a portion of several million dollars in equity-free cash awards. Through MassChallenge’s global network of accelerators in Boston, London, Jerusalem, Geneva, and Mexico City, and unrivalled access to corporate partners, entrepreneurs can have a massive impact - driving growth and creating value the world over. To date, 835 MassChallenge alumni have raised over $1.4 billion and created over 50,000 jobs. 
 
John earned his MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management in 2007. While at school, John won Grand Prize in the 2007 MIT $100K Business Plan Competition and received the 2007 Patrick J. McGovern Award for impact on quality and visibility of entrepreneurship at MIT. He also led the 10th annual MIT Global Startup Workshop (GSW) held in Trondheim, Norway. The Boston Business Journal has identified John as one of Boston's 50 Most Influential Business Leaders alongside the CEOs of Akamai Technologies, Blue Cross Blue Shield and the Boston Celtics. The World Economic Forum also elected John as one of the 2013 Young Global Leaders alongside Chelsea Clinton and Tony Hsieh, and Ernst & Young voted John as Social Entrepreneur of the Year in New England for 2013. 
 
John is a life-long Massachusetts resident and an avid Red Sox fan. He currently lives in Newton with his wife, Natalia, their 9-year old son Max and their 5-year old girl Yulia.
 
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Mike Larhette

President

For 25 years Mike has helped individuals and organizations catalyze ideas into action through people. He has worked for both early stage startups and established organizations in the design and facilitation of business strategy, sales and marketing effectiveness, client engagement, communications and leadership development.

He has been involved with MassChallenge since its inception as an external advisor and facilitator of strategic growth. In his current full time role he is focused on the creation and expansion of value through MassChallenge Headquarters, the global shared services function of MassChallenge.

Prior to MassChallenge he was most recently a Principal with Collective Next, a collaborative design firm based in Boston. He partnered with the TED organization at their global conferences and has helped to organize TEDxBoston for the past 4 years. Prior to that he held senior roles at AchieveGlobal, Personnel Decisions International, and Sapient Corporation.

He holds a dual undergraduate degree in Psychology and Economics from Boston College, and Master’s in Education (Ed.M) from Boston University. When not at MassChallenge you can usually find him on a sports field on the south shore with his wife, two sons and his dog.

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Diane Perlman

Chief Marketing Officer

Diane is a highly passionate marketeer, ideas generator, and entrepreneur. She founded the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator in London two years ago, graduating 37 startups to date and building Microsoft's presence in the startup space.​ ​Perlman’s passion for startups stems from her over 20-year marketing career, during which she served as Marketing Director for American company Cyveillance, which was a startup when Perlman joined in 1998 and helped them expand to the UK in 2000. She has also worked as a Group Account Director at agencies including Grey London and LBi, and has run her own branding consultancy. More recently, she led the marketing communications for Windows Phone at Microsoft in the UK for four years before transitioning into the Startups Lead role. She was named a British Interacetive Media Awards top 100 Digital Leader in the UK in 2016. 

Diane has a BA in Mass Communications from the University of Delaware and a MSB from Johns Hopkins University. Originally from the United States, Diane has been based in London for the past 20 years. She will be making frequent trips between the different MassChallenge locations on three continents. When not travelling for business, Diane loves to travel in her spare time, with top spots visited being Cuba, Galapagos, Cambodia and Cape Town. She also enjoys ridiculously hot yoga and is an enthusiastic cook and foodie.

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Headquarters Staff

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Shankar Ambady

Software Engineer

At MassChallenge, Shankar works on developing the core platform that facilitates everything from scheduling events and registration to judging finalists. Shankar also works with all departments in MassChallenge to develop and refine internal software tools for program facilitation and reporting. Having extensive development expertise and having worked in a variety of industries, Shankar has kept himself involved in Boston’s technology and startup scene. Shankar’s past experience includes developing Lycos’s mobile infrastructure, architecting large-scale BI applications at TJX, creating mobile advertising sdks for SessionM, co-founding a seed funded startup in Cambridge (whatisbe), and growing a class-notes marketplace platform as principal engineer at Flashnotes.

In his free time Shankar enjoys long walks on the beach, building autonomous arduino based robots, and DJ’ing.

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Annette Cheng

Global Operations Manager

As Global Operations Manager, Annette runs and supports multiple elements of the Accelerator program, both in Boston and offices abroad. She strives to ensure sustainable and relatively pain-free growth as MassChallenge expands all over the world.
 
A hearty gourmand and enthusiastic cook, Annette is known for her scrumptious company-wide breakfasts every Friday. She is a Taiwanese immigrant and a Boston-based Californian who feels strongly about the L.A. Angels, tacos, and beef noodle soup.

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Jeffrey Danford

Videographer

At MassChallenge, Jeff helps startups tell their stories. Before immersing himself in the world of video and multimedia production, he lived in the woods in Vermont and worked for the Veterans Health Administration for two years. Jeff studied Philosophy at The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, and then received a Masters degree in Public Health from Dartmouth College. In his free time, he enjoys a beautiful philosophy book and a thought-provoking golf course.

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Andi Dankert

Director of Global Partnerships

As Director of Global Partnerships, Andi drives MassChallenge global expansion through the cultivation of strategic partnerships and the design and execution of programs to support entrepreneurs around the world. Prior to MassChallenge, Andi served as New England Director with FWD.us -- a non-profit engaging the technology community in civic advocacy. She also spent time in Kosovo, operating as a consultant to the Mother Teresa Society working on humanitarian and microfinance projects.

Andi received her Master's Degree from the New School for Public Engagement and holds a B.S. and B.A. in International Affairs and Political Science, respectively. Originally from Buffalo, Andi just moved to Boston from Brooklyn. She spends her time hiking, biking, reading comics, and telling bad jokes.

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Sarah Dawson

Junior Software Developer

In her former life, Sarah was a high school teacher specializing in Ancient History and Latin.  She enjoys the mental challenge of software and the continual learning it involves.  In her spare time, Sarah is a ardent crafter and lazy musician.  At MassChallenge, she works with the Development team to create and improve on products that support each new wave of startups.

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Paige Friedlander

Executive Coordinator

As Executive Coordinator, Paige is focused on supporting the MassChallenge Executive Team in their local and global initiatives. A New York native, Paige is excited to be living in Boston working for MassChallenge. She found her passion for supporting startups in the summer of 2014 during her MassChallenge ​internship, and became well acquainted with what it means to run one by interning with a local Boston startup, OFFSITE, the following summer.

Paige graduated from St. Lawrence University with a degree in Sociology and Performance and Communication Arts. Outside the office, Paige can be found exploring different toppings for popcorn, enjoying SoulCycle classes, or reading.

 

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Roman Kern

Senior Director of Programs and Operations

Roman is a community builder and passionate about startups - as the Senior Director of Programs and Operations at MassChallenge he has the opportunity to pursue both. In his role, Roman is responsible for overseeing major areas of the Programs, such as judging and many operational aspects of the global offices. His goal is to empower the team to produce outstanding results, and - in strong collaboration with the community that surrounds us - help entrepreneurs reach the next level. Roman is dedicated to fostering global entrepreneurship by supporting international knowledge exchange and engaging Boston-based international programs. He is the heartbeat of the core IT infrastructure for all MassChallenge programs worldwide, evaluating, designing, and implementing systems the organization uses to stay online.

Roman hails from the beautiful city of Zurich, Switzerland, nestled in the heart of the Alps. He holds a Master of Arts in Political Science with a focus on Security Studies, Communication and Sociology from the University of Zurich and ETH Zürich. Prior to MassChallenge, Roman successfully launched a startup in the IT consulting industry. He worked for the Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police, and dedicated months to online and advocacy building, both in Switzerland and in the U.S. He is a board member of the UZH New England Alumni Chapter and the Vice-President of the Swiss Society of Boston.

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Jon Kiparsky

Software Developer

In previous iterations, Jon has been a professional musician, a union organizer, a radio personality, and a record industry bigwig. As it turns out, software is more fun. Jon is currently having fun with the information infrastructure at MassChallenge (and occasionally running the soundboard for MassChallenge events). 

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Alessandra Kopp

Global Partnerships Coordinator

As Global Partnerships coordinator, Alessandra supports the Global Partnerships team by coordinating and managing programs and relationships with key Bridge to MassChallenge partners. She feels passionately about fostering innovation to raise standards of living for people around the world. Alessandra graduated from the University of Vermont with a double major in Philosophy and Political Science. She appreciates leisurely dining experiences, "Annie Hall," Russian literature, and any reference to Seinfeld.

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Hallie Moran

Director of Global Operations

As Director of Global Operations, Hallie is focused on supporting MassChallenge programs around the world, ensuring the success of our staff, entrepreneurs, and other stakeholders.

In past lives, Hallie has worked at a major art museum, become an accidental expert in student immigration law, and built multiple online systems for a global business school. She now looks to bring her passion for helping others to the fast-paced, international environment of MassChallenge.
 
Hallie completed her BA in Art History at Tufts University, and still finds herself wandering around art galleries in her free time. Her other loves include traveling, hiking, and baking the best nutella cookies you've ever had.
 

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Fhiwa Ndou

Director of Global Operations

Fhiwa began his career with MassChallenge in 2013, facilitating connections and delivering resources to two classes of MassChallenge Finalists as Startup Concierge. Initially flying by the seat of his pants, Fhiwa quickly learned that the value in the MassChallenge community stems from learning from others and understanding that everyone has something to offer. After that experience, he left Boston to help launch MassChallenge UK - the first independent MassChallenge accelerator program outside of the United States. He spent 2015 working in London as Program Manager of MassChallenge UK. He returns to Boston to support the launch of new MassChallenge programs around the world.

Fhiwa graduated from Bowdoin College (ME, USA), where he received a B.A. in History and sang for the all-male a cappella group, The Bowdoin College Longfellows. Although he may feign ignorance about his musical past, this expat is a long-time drummer, (still) a singer, and a music-lover at heart.

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Abidemi Sanusi

Global Content Strategy Director

An author and digital obsessive, Abidemi is responsible for all things content at MassChallenge. Prior to joining MassChallenge, she ran Ready Writer, a boutique content agency. She’s lived several lives, most notably as a human rights worker specialising in gender and conflict issues in West Africa. Having led her own startup, Abidemi is passionate about helping startups succeed. In her free time, she writes books, watches world cinema, manages a website for writers, and experiments with 'free-from' food recipes. Because she loves to eat - a lot.

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Kara Shurmantine

Senior Director of Global Partnerships

Kara works at the intersection of public policy, private sector innovation, and early-stage entrepreneurial development. She is focused on strengthening startup ecosystems through effective collaboration and generating sustainable economic value through innovation.
 
As the Senior Director of Global Partnerships at MassChallenge, she directs MassChallenge global partnerships through Bridge to MassChallenge and helps manage the organization's international expansion strategy and growth initiatives.
 
Kara has helped establish MassChallenge accelerators in London and Mexico City, and through the Bridge to MassChallenge partnerships has brought a MassChallenge presence to Latin America, Europe, Asia, Oceania, and beyond.
 
Prior to joining MassChallenge, Kara worked for a California-based edtech startup, StudySync, and the federal government of Chile. Kara graduated Summa Cum Laude from Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont, with a degree in English & American Literatures and Spanish. She is based at the MassChallenge offices in London.

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Shannon Sullivan

Global Brand Manager

Shannon works with the marketing team to plan and implement PR strategies for MassChallenge. She also coordinates all marketing materials, creates visual and written content for marketing purposes, and works directly with prospective applicants who are looking to be part of the MassChallenge community.

Shannon is passionate about social innovation. She has worked as a Photographer, Art Educator and Development Assistant in Boston since 2008. After receiving her BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, she went on to work with such organizations as America's Test Kitchen, The Boston Artist Space Initiative, College Bound Dorchester and Boston Preparatory Charter Public School. In 2010 she worked as the Production Assistant for Freight Farms, helping them to launch a successful Kickstarter campaign and sparking her interest in social entrepreneurship and creative collaboration.  Since then, she has become dedicated to helping Boston grow as a hub of innovation. 

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Sarah Trager

Global Partnerships Manager

Sarah is responsible for managing Bridge to MassChallenge and serving as an account manager for our current global partners. As a member of the Global Partnerships team, she is instrumental in hosting international delegations, supporting all global activity at MassChallenge, and facilitating potential new global leads. 
 
Most recently, Sarah served as Assistant Director to Ambassador Michael B. Oren at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C. where she focused on the current US-Israel relationship. A Boston native, Sarah graduated from Wellesley College with a B.A. in American Studies and Jewish Studies.

Ryan Walsh

Director of Executive Affairs

Ryan began his career at MassChallenge in 2012,​ ​and works directly with the MassChallenge Executive Team to support global initiatives and expansion opportunities.
 
Prior to joining MassChallenge, Ryan worked at​ ​a startup and ESPN. Ryan graduated Summa Cum Laude from The University of Massachusetts Amherst with a degree in Business Management, and​ ​serves on the Mayor of Boston's ONEin3 advisory council.
 

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Nathan Wilson

Director of Software Development

Nathan leads the development of the Accelerate Platform which makes the coordination of 1000s of organizations and people possible. He has over 25 years of software development and leadership experience. Before MassChallenge, he directed the Encyclopedia of Life technical team; led software teams at DreamWorks; worked for Apple; and helped found 2 startups in California. Away from work he is an avid naturalist focusing on fungi and maintains the Mushroom Observer.

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Hailey Woldt Eustace

Global PR Manager

Hailey leads the global public relations strategy for MassChallenge, coordinating communications between the five accelerator programs and Bridge to MassChallenge. Previously, Hailey managed due diligence and follow-on funding at the $485 million Texas Emerging Technology Fund, which invests in high-tech early stage startups, and was an entrepreneur with an international startup. She has a masters degree in social anthropology from the University of Cambridge and a bachelors in international affairs from Georgetown University.

Hailey is passionate about helping to improve the world by supporting visionary individuals including entrepreneurs, artists, and diplomats, and anyone with a good idea and a good heart. She is a yoga evangelist, especially for techies, and loves talking about the two no-no's: politics and religion.

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Boston Staff

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Scott Bailey

Managing Director

Scott Bailey is the Managing Director of MassChallenge’s flagship program in Boston. In his role, Scott oversees the Boston competition & accelerator. Scott has served as a key member of the MassChallenge team since its early days in 2010. Most recently, he held the position of Senior Director of Partnerships, raising $4M+ of cash and $10M+ of in-kind sponsorships in 2014 to support the organization. In addition, Scott has worked closely with MassChallenge founders cultivating a vast network of supporters that are committed to the organization and its startups.

He is a strong advocate for the Boston entrepreneurial ecosystem and supports many local programs and organizations based on his work at MassChallenge.

Following college Scott served as the Director of Client Programs at the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET), a non-profit technology business incubator. During his time at VCET, Scott prospected early stage companies for the $5 Million Seed Capital Fund and joined a student run startup, BlirpIt, as Director of Sales & Marketing.

Scott is a New York transplant that currently lives in South Boston. He's also very fond of Vermont, where he went to college and fell in love with snowboarding and flannel shirts.

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Robby Bitting

Director of Marketing

Robby loves startups and storytelling - MassChallenge is filled to the brim with both.

As Director of Marketing, Robby is responsible for attracting top entrepreneurs to apply to the startup accelerator programs. In 2015, 2,250 startups applied from 67 countries. He also leads MassChallenge Boston communications strategy and tactics.
 
Prior to MassChallenge Robby worked in PR at Ruder Finn in New York.
 

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Nick Dougherty

Program Director, PULSE@ MassChallenge

Nick believes that if he's not making your life better, he's not doing his job. As Program Director for PULSE@MassChallenge, Nick is focused on facilitating active collaboration between high-impact digital health startups and key stakeholders within the healthcare ecosystem, including patients, providers, investors, corporates, and institutions.

​Prior to MassChallenge, he was co-founder and CEO of VerbalCare, a 2013 MassChallenge Finalist acquired by Medical Specialties Distributors in 2015. At VerbalCare he designed patient-centered communication platforms for providers and both verbal and nonverbal patients to improve shared decision making, healthcare management, and patient engagement. In addition to his role at MassChallenge Nick currently serves as Chairman ​of Franciscan Children's Emerging Leaders​ and guest lectures at Boston University and other universities on topics including digital health, design, and entrepreneurship. When he's not working, he loves going to metal shows, playing hockey, reading books on the beach, and gardening in his backyard with his wife. If you want to hear the album that led to his career as a healthcare CEO, you can find it on Spotify under "The Wrath of Aquell." Born and raised around 128, he calls Boston his home.

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Rachel Spekman

Director of Programming

Rachel loves community building, startups, and the thriving scene for both in Boston. As the Director of Programming, she is committed to helping entrepreneurs win by developing relationships across MassChallenge constituents. She collaborates with mentors, investors, speakers, judges, industry champions, and alumni to exceed program expectations. 
 
Rachel hails from the great state of New Jersey, but now considers Boston home. She has an MBA from Simmons College, a Masters in Education from Lesley University, and a B.A. from Rutgers University. She serves on Mayor Walsh's ONEin3 Council and is a Fields Corner Main Street Board Member. Prior to MassChallenge, she worked with startup teams at educational, non-profit, and for-profit organizations. You can find her on her bike, traveling, reading, eating, or spending time with her dog Maho.
 

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John Valentine

Director of Partnerships

John is responsible for building strategic relationships with corporate partners and foundations to expand upon the success of MassChallenge's flagship accelerator program in Boston.
 
His passion for startups is deeply ingrained. Prior to MassChallenge, John served as Director of National Sales at Swipely and Vice President of Sales at LevelUp, both venture-backed startups in the restaurant technology space.
 
John holds a J.D. from Villanova University School of Law and a B.A. in Economics from Tufts University, where he won second place in the Tufts $100k New Ventures Competition.

 

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Dennis Abelleira

Newton Program Manager

As the Newton Program Manager, Dennis oversees all aspects of the Newton Innovation Center (NIC) including operations, programming, and partnerships. He leads a unique three-way collaboration between MassChallenge, the Cambridge Innovation Center, and the City of Newton, to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in the Greater Boston Area.  

Dennis was born just 5-miles down the road from the NIC, at Newton-Wellesley Hospital. He grew up in Nashua, New Hampshire, and graduated from Brandeis University in 2016. Inspired by the creativity of innovators, and the determination of entrepreneurs, he is dedicated to supporting local entrepreneurs launch successful business ventures. Dennis is an experienced traveler, guitarist, photographer, writer, and athlete, and spends most of his free time outdoors.

 
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Kara Cronin

Partnerships Account Coordinator

As Partnerships Account Coordinator, Kara focuses on supporting existing relationships with MassChallenge’s sponsors and partners. Her goal is to provide value to sponsors and partners and to engage these groups in unique, exciting ways going forward.

Kara graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in Management Consulting and Economics. While a student, she co-founded ProMazo, a company that enables students to work virtually during the academic semester for partner companies ranging from Fidelity Investments to startups. In addition to being passionate about entrepreneurship, Kara is a dedicated fan of Notre Dame teams, country music, the beach, and macaroni and cheese. 
 

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Leigh Grinberg

Community Experience Manager

As the only girl in a family of five kids, Leigh naturally gravitated towards the highly competitive world of entrepreneurship.

As MassChallenge's Event Manager, Leigh plays a critical role in engaging Boston's innovation ecosystem by organizing the high quality events that bring them together. In her role, Leigh works with the Marketing, Partnerships, and Operations teams to deliver and demonstrate massive impact to ​sponsors, startups, community members, and more.

Leigh earned a Bachelors of Science in Hospitality Adminstration from Boston University. Leigh has a thirst for adventure and when she's not in the office she can usually be found exploring Boston's neighborhoods or discovering the hottest food places in town.

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Sumia Hussain

Partnerships Account Coordinator

As Partnerships Account Coordinator, Sumia focuses on supporting existing relationships with MassChallenge’s sponsors and partners. She organizes Demo Days and works on creative ways to keep MassChallenge sponsors and partners engaged with the program and startups. 
 
Sumia is fiercely passionate about helping good people do great things. Sumia graduated from the Honors Program at the University of Connecticut and studied Public Health, Human Rights and Political Science. During her undergraduate experience, she was involved in and founded several student organizations that focus on furthering social impact in the areas of Public Health, Social Entrepreneurship, E-Learning and multiculturalism. 
 

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Erika Keller

Graphic Designer

Erika started her MassChallenge career in 2013 and works as the Graphic Designer. Erika supports Boston marketing efforts with the creation of both print and digital materials while ensuring proper representation of the MassChallenge brand. In addition, she helps inspire our community through all types of design and creation throughout the year. Prior to MassChallenge, Erika worked for Harvard Business Publishing as part of the UX team and for CollegeWeekLive in the creative department. Erika is originally from Maine and enjoys backpacking and hiking with her two dogs. She loves to read and follows an unhealthy amount of podcasts.

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Jibran Malek

Marketing Manager

At MassChallenge, Jibran is not only responsible for coordinating with the Events, Partnerships, and Marketing teams to make sure the entire world knows what’s going on in the startup accelerator through digital content, but he also dedicates himself to amplifying the amazing stories the MassChallenge startups have to tell on a daily basis.

Jibran holds a dual-degree in American History and Political Science from Suffolk University. Prior to joining MassChallenge, Jibran interned at the Law Offices of Carlos Estrada and the Alliance for Business Leadership. Jibran loves Lord of the Rings and chocolate milk – but what he loves most of all is peace, quiet, and good-tilled Earth.

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Hannah Perry

PR Manager

As PR Manager, Hannah drives communications for MassChallenge Boston to support the organization's mission and entrepreneurs. In addition to leading PR efforts both locally and nationally, she also supports marketing content activity, including announcements, social media, blogs, contributed content, events, talking points and more. 
 
Prior to MassChallenge, Hannah was a Sr. Account Executive at fama PR, specializing in cloud backup and security clients. Hannah is a graduate of St. Michael's College, where she received a B.A. in Media Studies, Journalism and Digital Arts.
 

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Dina Samra

Partnerships Manager

Dina manages relationships with MassChallenge partners & sponsors. Her main role is to help keep people engaged and find creative ways to grow our community. Dina joins MassChallenge from Communispace, a collaborative marketing agency where she worked directly with consumers to innovate on marketing strategies. Prior to Communispace, Dina was working at Hult International Business School for three years in the corporate relations department managing strategic partnerships.

Originally from Egypt, Dina has a BA in Integrated Marketing Communications from the American University in Cairo. She’s lived in over 6 countries in her life and speaks Arabic and French fluently. Dina is passionate about non-profits and volunteers for the Clinton Global Initiative every year.

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Clara Scheinmann

MassChallenge Israel Program Manager

As the MassChallenge Israel Program Manager, Clara works closely with the Israeli Startups participating in the Boston Accelerator Program, making sure they have everything they need to succeed. In her role, she is responsible for cultivating a community of supporters and partners of the MassChallenge Israel program in Boston. In addition, Clara liaises with Our Generation Speaks, a new initiative that brings together young Israeli and Palestinian entrepreneurs to pursue social impact ventures.

Prior to MassChallenge, Clara worked as the Social-Secretary for Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, at the Embassy of Israel in Washington D.C. She graduated from George Washington University with a B.A. in International Affairs. In her spare time, she enjoys trapezing. 

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Mary Schlegel

Talent Coordinator

Fiercely passionate about people, learning, and innovation, Mary is obsessed with empowering people to unleash their potential to better the world. She discovered her passion during her undergrad at Notre Dame where she cofounded a startup that worked to develop talent through virtual internships. 
 
At MassChallenge, she strives to create a talent development program that maximizes the enormous potential of each and every person at the accelerator. Between board games, inspirational quotes, and online classes, Mary's either laughing, learning, or pushing someone else to do the same.
 

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Lindsay Simeone

Director of Special Projects

As the Director of Special Projects, Lindsay supports the Managing Director to ensure success across key initiatives. She navigates complex opportunities that will help MassChallenge and the Boston community continue to scale, innovate, and help entrepreneurs win! In past roles she managed a variety of projects that included facilitating a visionary speaker series with Arianna Huffington, volunteering as a press escort at the Clinton Global Initiative, and leading a global academic summit in Davos, Switzerland.
 
Lindsay completed her BA in Communications and Psychology at the University of Missouri’s Honors College and earned a Certificate of Multicultural Studies while studying abroad in Florence, Italy. Hailing from St. Louis, Missouri, this midwest native has an innate drive to network. She is excited to connect with change-makers to make the world a better place. Outside of the office, Lindsay is a self-proclaimed foodie and can give you a good restaurant recommendation in any Boston neighborhood. 

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Artur Sousa

Mentorship Manager

As Mentorship Manager, Artur connects our startups with stellar mentors and ensures that their relationship is mutually beneficial. Passionate for communities, he has been working with startups for years in countries such as Japan, Sweden, Brazil, and now the US.  A social entrepreneur at heart, Artur loves creating impact and helping people achieve their dreams. He has founded several startups of his own, including most recently a pet adoption platform called Adopets.

Gonzalo Veloz

Videographer

At MassChallenge, Gonz is responsible for capturing entrepreneurial experiences and creating excitement through video content. Passionate about storytelling and content creation, over the past few years Gonzalo has worked all over the world with clients ranging from musicians to government organizations and everything in between.

Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, Gonzalo studied Filmmaking and Communications at institutions in Venezuela, Colombia, and the United States. When he's not filming things or making people feel the chills with his videos, he can be found spending time outside, writing, playing guitar or soccer, watching films, or cooking food that has been described as "unbelievable."

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MADE@ Staff

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Adam Vasilakis

Program Manager

Adam has a passion for design thinking and ideation, so seeing startups and their ideas come to life really inspires him. He grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, New York in December 2014, where he received a B.S. in Product Design with minors in Marketing and Electronic Arts. Outside of MassChallenge, Adam is an avid golfer and fisherman.

 

Eric Lanoue

Hardware and Prototyping Technician

Eric manages the day to day operations in the MADE@MassChallenge Shop. He is responsible for engineering design and fabrication consultation as well as coordination with industry connections to ensure the appropriate resources are available the the startups.

Eric graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a minor in electronic art. After spending some time in aerospace manufacturing with the Boeing company, he decided to scale down and work with passionate entrepreneurs and inventors. He is also a huge fan of urban expression and live music.

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Israel Staff

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Jordan Aibel

Director of Operations

Jordan Aibel is MassChallenge Israel's Director of Operations. In his role, Jordan is responsible for a diverse set of activities ranging from office space design, build-out and management, to team member recruitment and onboarding, and program finance and IT, and for delivering a high-quality experience to startups participating in the Israel accelerator program.
 
Prior to joining MassChallenge, Jordan worked for Lotus Impact Fund in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and for Ashoka in their Washington, D.C. headquarters.  Jordan earned a Bachelor's degree from Washington University in St. Louis, and his Master of Public Service degree from the Clinton School of Public Service. In his spare time Jordan enjoys pushing himself at CrossFit, and studying Israeli history and politics.

Tom Bar Av

Director of Marketing & Ecosystem

Tom Bar Av is MassChallenge Israel's Director of Marketing and Ecosystem. In his role, Tom is responsible for the development and execution of MassChallenge Israel’s marketing strategy, and for building and cultivating MassChallenge Israel’s community.
 
Prior to joining MassChallenge, Tom established Argus Cyber Security Ltd., a well funded start-up pioneering Automotive Cyber Security. In his spare time, Tom serves as the Chairman of the Birthright Excel Alumni Organization.
 
Tom holds a B.A in Government with a minor in Entrepreneurship from IDC Herzliya, and is a graduate of the Zell Entrepreneurship Program. In the past, Tom was a professional singer-songwriter and studied Jazz, composing and songwriting.
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Israel Ganot

Managing Director

Israel Ganot is the Managing Director of MassChallenge Israel. In his role, Israel is responsible for the strategic direction of MassChallenge’s activities in Israel and oversees the in-country operations.
 
Israel is a seasoned executive and entrepreneur in the eCommerce, consumer Internet, and mobile space. Most recently, he was co-founder and CEO of Gazelle, the company that pioneered and has become the leading consumer brand in the mobile device reCommerce space. During his tenure at Gazelle, Israel led the company from an idea to over $100 million in revenue.
 
In recognition of his success at Gazelle, the Boston Business Journal selected him as Emerging Leader for its Best Green Practices awards in 2012 and Ernst & Young named him Entrepreneur of the Year finalist in both 2009 and 2012. Israel has been quoted as a reCommerce expert in Forbes, CNN and The Wall Street Journal and appeared numerous times on CNBC, Fox News, and Bloomberg TV.
 
Prior to Gazelle, Israel spent six years at eBay, Inc. where he was instrumental in the company's acquisition of PayPal and eBay’s expansion to Europe, Latin America and Asia. He also spent several years at Goldman Sachs as an analyst.
 
Israel holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a B.S. from the Stern School of Business at New York University. He grew up in Israel, and after spending the last 25 years in the U.S., Israel moved back to Israel with his wife and three daughters.

Josh Gottesman

Partnerships Manager

Josh Gottesman is MassChallenge Israel's Partnerships Manager.  In his role, Josh is responsible for helping to develop and maintain MassChallenge Israel’s network of collaborators and supporters.
 
Prior to joining MassChallenge, Josh co-founded TOM - Tikkun Olam Makers, which organizes gatherings around the world utilizing modern digital manufacturing to rapidly prototype working devices to assist people living with disabilities. His work on TOM began at the Reut Institute in Tel Aviv, where Josh was editor of the book, Flexigidity: The Secret of Jewish Adaptability. 
 
Josh holds a BS in Communication Studies and and a Teacher’s Certificate from UT Austin & an MA in Jewish and Rabbinic thought from Tel Aviv University and the Shalom Hartman Institute.
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Rotem Halevi

Director of Programming

Rotem Halevi is MassChallenge Israel's Director of Programming. In that capacity Rotem is ultimately responsible for the design, content, and execution of the MassChallenge Israel accelerator program.
 
Over the last 12 years of her career Rotem worked at Intel, where she worked with some of the company's most innovative minds while in leadership roles for the organization's' leadership development programs. Her skillset includes leadership development, program management, leading innovation, and initiating processes, and has experience working with different layers of staff and with diverse populations.
 
Rotem holds a B.A in psychology & business administration from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and an M.SC in Organizational Consulting from Tel Aviv University. 

Clara Scheinmann

Program Manager

As the MassChallenge Israel Program Manager, Clara works closely with the Israeli Startups participating in the Boston Accelerator Program, making sure they have everything they need to succeed. In her role, she is responsible for cultivating a community of supporters and partners of the MassChallenge Israel program in Boston. In addition, Clara liaises with Our Generation Speaks, a new initiative that brings together young Israeli and Palestinian entrepreneurs to pursue social impact ventures.

Prior to MassChallenge, Clara worked as the Social-Secretary for Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, at the Embassy of Israel in Washington D.C. She graduated from George Washington University with a B.A. in International Affairs. In her spare time, she enjoys trapezing. 

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Yonit Serkin

Director of Partnerships

Yonit Golub Serkin is the Director of Partnerships at MassChallenge Israel connecting leading Corporates, Philanthropists and the Public Sector to the most promising startups. Previously, she founded Moonscape Ventures investing in IoT, Smart Cities and Big Data companies and Amelia Investments focused on startups across the Middle East.
 
In New York City, Yonit served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Economic Development at the Office of Mayor Michael Bloomberg where she developed programs to encourage entrepreneurship and attract talent. 
 
Yonit received an MA in International Studies from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington DC, and a BA from JHU in Baltimore, MD. She was named one of Israel's 40 Under 40 by The Marker Magazine in 2014.

Shai-Shalom Hadad

Startup Services Coordinator

Shai is the team’s primary contact person for startups participating in the MassChallenge Israel accelerator, and is responsible for ensuring that they have the resources they need to grow and succeed during the program.

Prior to joining MassChallenge, Shai worked at Israel Experience, the largest educational tourism company in Israel. He’s lived in Jerusalem his whole life, and has a BA in History from the Hebrew University. He enjoys reading, basketball, cooking, and music - he recently fulfilled a life-long dream and started taking piano lessons! He’s also an active delegate in Israel’s National Rescue Unit and has taken part in humanitarian delegations in the Philippines (2013) and Nepal (2015), in addition to other international activities in the field of Search and Rescue.

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Doron Ish-Shalom

Mentoring Program Manager

Doron is MassChallenge Israel's Mentoring Program Manager. In his role, Doron is responsible for the Mentoring model of the program, the Mentors Community and the Startups guidance.

Over the last few years Doron was a research assistant at the Economy Innovation Center at the “Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies”. Prior to MassChalenge, Doron directed the education Initiatives at the Israel Innovation Institute, and founded the Ed.il initiative; an Innovative Education Community, collaborating with entrepreneurs, educators, private and public sector in order to promote implementation of creative solutions to the public sector. Doron holds a M.A of Philosophy from the Bar Ilan university. He is a co-founder and Board Member at the Kova-Hafooch Organization - which promotes and strengthens cultural and social entrepreneurship. Doron enjoys traveling and playing the piano and the harmonica.

 

Mexico Staff

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Camila Lecaros

Managing Director

Camila Lecaros is Managing Director of MassChallenge Mexico. Camila is a leader in the entrepreneurial and investment scenes in South America. Previously, she was a partner with Nazca Ventures, a $20 million fund in Bogota, Colombia, and headed the Outreach area at Endeavor Colombia. Camila also worked with entrepreneurs at Agora Partnerships in Nicaragua. Most recently she was the Entrepreneur in Residence with All Venture Partners in Mexico City. 
 
She holds a Master in Public Administration from Columbia University.

Marco Palma

Director of Partnerships

Marco Palma is Director of Partnerships in MassChallenge Mexico. Marco has relevant experience in both the entrepreneurial ecosystem as well as the corporate one, He was the Country Manager for aiotra, and Account Manager for companies such as American Express, Palacio de Hierro, among others. Most recently he was part of the Business Mentor Program for the ITESM CCM, as well as Judge from semana "I" also a program for helping young entrepreneurs in México. He holds a Master in Business Administration from Egade Business School.

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Eric Cardeña

Director of Programming

Eric Cardeña is the Director of Programming in MassChallenge Mexico. Eric has been involved in the entrepreneurial ecosystem for the last five years; working for different accelerators, such as: Board Media & Vistage. For the past three years, he was in charge of the Entrepreneurship Department in Campus Party.Eric is co-founder of an academic travel agency, called Become. He studied Psychology in Centro Eleia, Psychological Activities.

Andrea Escalante

Marketing Manager

Andrea (Andy) Escalante is the Marketing Manager of MassChallenge Mexico. Over the past 3 years she was leading marketing, events and public relations at Angel Ventures Mexico, a leading angel investor fund in the Mexico City startup community.  She studied International Tourism at Universidad de Monterrey in Mexico.
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Paola Toledo

Events Coordinator

Paola Toledo is the Events Coordinator at MassChallenge Mexico. She began her production career in Guatemala when she worked alongside Rafael Quinteros (Producer at Ek Balam) in a social Project that impelled young people of a rural community in Guatemala (Primaver, Ixcán) to learn the production process on film creating through several workshops in order to generate employment opportunities. She has produced several shows like culinary TV show and screeplay, as well as productions with a mezcal brand. She was born in Guatemala and holds a technical degree in Film Production.

Jonathan Olivas Montüfar

Partnerships Account Coordinator

Jonathan is the Partnerships Account Coordinator for Mexico, and he focuses on supporting and develop the relationship with MassChallenge's partners and sponsors, as well as looking for new opportunities. His undergraduate degree is in International Relations from ITESM in Mexico City, and has a Master degree in Economics & Marketing from Università degli studi di Milano, in Italy. He has a 5 year experience in the Media Industry, as he had worked on CNN International in different areas, involving Marketing, Content Analysis and Customer Relationship. He loves multiculturalism, as he himself is part of a multicultural family. He is interested in languages and he is fluent in some of them, and he enjoys to travel as much as he can, it is one of his passions. He loves to read science fiction novels, as well as eating lasagna every time there is a possibility to do so.

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Switzerland Staff

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Carmelo Bisognano

Managing Director

Prior to serve as Head of Strategy for Inartis Foundation and Director of Operations for MassChallenge Switzerland, Dr. Bisognano founded and managed several companies such as Easymed Services Inc. (EZM:CN), a British Columbia, Canada, company.
 
Dr. Bisognano had a post-doctoral position at the University Hospital of Geneva where he conducted research on molecular regulation of bacterial resistance. He is also the author of publications in international scientific journals and has obtained several awards for his research work (GSK and MSD Awards, Swiss Society for Infectious-Diseases).
 
Dr. Bisognano was also a biotechnology consultant for Geneva’s government, research institutes and a Marketing Manager in a bioinformatics company. More recently, he co- directed a course on Biotech valuation for MoT MBA (federal polytechnic school) and collaborated with investment funds for their strategic portfolio allocation.

Ka Yi Hui

Program Operations Manager

Ka Yi Hui worked on a wide range topics in biotechnology, including plant bioengineering, proteotoxic stress disease model characterization, circadian and metabolism signaling pathways and novel nuclear receptor ligand discovery. She provides great experience in documentation and data analysis. Since 2016, she serves as Program Operations Manager at MassChallenge Switzerland.

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Satu Kauhanen

Director of Programming

Satu Kauhanen has a long experience as coordinator and project manager. Notably, she worked for the luxury company Cartier as Global Market Coordinator and with the World Economic Forum as Community Manager and successively as Senior Manager and Community Lead. Since 2016, she in in charge of MassChallenge Switzerland Program.

Ksenia Tugay

Director of Marketing

Ksenia has Ph.D. in Life Sciences and a degree in management. During her studies at the University she was a co-founder of different associations aiming to promote innovation and frequently free-lanced for start-ups as a consultant. Prior to joining MassChallenge Ksenia was in charge of Innovation and Development at Inartis Foundation. She was coaching entrepreneurs, organising conferences and events and managing a start-up incubator. Currently, Ksenia is Director of Marketing at MassChallenge Switzerland.

Ksenia actively helps non-profit foundations as a volunteer and frequently fundraises for charity in particularly for orphanages and children hospices in her home country Russia.

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UK Staff

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Shanice David

Events Coordinator

Shanice joined the MassChallenge UK team after working for the University of Greenwich in their Education Liaison Unit. As Events Co-ordinator, she is actively involved in the planning and delivering of external and internal MassChallenge Events in the UK.

Shanice graduated from the University of Greenwich with a BA Hons in History in 2015, is a huge football fan supporting Manchester United FC and is an active traveller in Europe, she is always up for a challenge and experiencing different cultures wherever she goes.

Rebecca Floyd

Senior Partnerships Manager

Rebecca worked with Visa Europe in a number of different roles, primarily in project management, before moving to the innovation hub, where she worked with partners, including accelerators and industry bodies, to help deliver new ways to bring innovation back to the organisation.
 
A relationship builder by nature, Rebecca’s role is a natural fit for her relationship management skills. In her spare time, Rebecca does yoga, goes running in the Surrey countryside, and also loves spending time with her family.
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Katrina Harradine

Operations Manager

Katrina is the Operations Manager at MassChallenge UK. She comes to MassChallenge with extensive experience in the higher education sector, specialising in business. Katrina is excited to join the startup ecosystem and will be managing the operations of the UK programme at The Dock.

Katrina is a politics graduate from the University of Greenwich. While at university, she was elected and spent a sabbatical year as Vice President of Student Activities and being highly engaged in the external outreach activities of the university. Now she spends her time mentoring students, learning to code, dancing and travelling to the more unorthodox countries of the world.

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Roisin O'Flaherty

Community Manager

As the Community Manager of MassChallenge UK, Roisin is responsible for ensuring the MassChallenge UK startups will have an unforgettable and impactful experience.

Most recently, Roisin organised business conferences in the UK and US. A proud Massachusetts native, Roisin grew up close to Boston and graduated from The University of Massachusetts Amherst with a journalism degree. She enjoys travelling, going to see live music and spending time on a beach.

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Markos Kiosseoglou

Partnerships Acquisitions Manager

Markos is a young entrepreneur passionate about advising innovative start-up founders on how to create economic or social impact. He has worked for established industry leader such as Siemens and Expedia and as well as inventive e-commerce startup companies such CustomMade.com. A few years ago, being an expat in London with a passion for innovation and new technologies, he co-founded Reload Greece, a pre-accelerator hub of entrepreneurship for young people from Southern Europe who are coming to the UK due to the economic crisis. Markos has a BSc in Management from Warwick Business School and an MBA from Northeastern University.

James Millar

Director of Partnerships

As Director of Partnerships James acts as MassChallenge’s lead-ambassador to our network of partners and sponsors, drawing on his experience as both a judge and mentor in the accelerator programme. An expert in retail and eCommerce, James spent 15 years delivering transformational projects for some of the UK’s leading retailers including Amazon, Canon Europe, Carphone Warehouse and Waterstones. He’s also worked with some leading private-equity backed businesses. When not talking all things startups, you will generally find James riding his bike, fixing his bike or talking about bikes.
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Martin Sharman

Operations Director

Martin Sharman is the Director of Operations of MassChallenge UK. Martin comes to MassChallenge having worked over 20 years in the retail space with companies such as WH Smith, Tesco and TJ Hughes. Having grown up just outside of London, Martin is a huge fan of Arsenal (Thierry Henry being his favorite player). In his spare time, Martin coaches a football team (he's an FA Qualified Coach), cycles around the UK on his bike and is a Formula 1 geek.

Martin loves the startup space! He is very excited to be apart of the community and thinks that without a world with innovation or new ideas, it's not a great world at all. He believes there are loads of people out there with great ideas, but they don't know how to push forward with them. He's passionate about helping to unlock that potential.

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Anna Thomlinson

Program Manager

Anna is the UK Program Manager, responsible for ensuring that the program grows and continues to deliver excellent support and value for our startups.

Prior to working at MassChallenge, Anna was Mentoring Manager at the Start Up Loans company. She has connections across the UK support landscape for startups and fast growing businesses. After work, if she is not at a networking event, she can probably be found out running training for the next marathon.

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Founders

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John Harthorne

Founder and Chief Executive Officer

John Harthorne is the Founder and CEO of MassChallenge, the most startup-friendly accelerator on the planet. No equity and not-for-profit, MassChallenge is obsessed with helping entrepreneurs across any industry. They also reward the highest-impact startups through a competition to win a portion of several million dollars in equity-free cash awards. Through MassChallenge’s global network of accelerators in Boston, London, Jerusalem, Geneva, and Mexico City, and unrivalled access to corporate partners, entrepreneurs can have a massive impact - driving growth and creating value the world over. To date, 835 MassChallenge alumni have raised over $1.4 billion and created over 50,000 jobs. 
 
John earned his MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management in 2007. While at school, John won Grand Prize in the 2007 MIT $100K Business Plan Competition and received the 2007 Patrick J. McGovern Award for impact on quality and visibility of entrepreneurship at MIT. He also led the 10th annual MIT Global Startup Workshop (GSW) held in Trondheim, Norway. The Boston Business Journal has identified John as one of Boston's 50 Most Influential Business Leaders alongside the CEOs of Akamai Technologies, Blue Cross Blue Shield and the Boston Celtics. The World Economic Forum also elected John as one of the 2013 Young Global Leaders alongside Chelsea Clinton and Tony Hsieh, and Ernst & Young voted John as Social Entrepreneur of the Year in New England for 2013. 
 
John is a life-long Massachusetts resident and an avid Red Sox fan. He currently lives in Newton with his wife, Natalia, their 9-year old son Max and their 5-year old girl Yulia.
 
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Akhil Nigam

Founder

Akhil Nigam is the founder of MassChallenge, the largest startup accelerator and competition in the world. Since 2010, MassChallenge alumni have raised well over $1.4B and have generated over $575M in revenue.

Akhil Nigam received his MBA from Harvard Business School and his undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City (Valedictorian). He also completed a Masters in Financial Engineering from Columbia University.

Before MassChallenge, Akhil worked for Bain & Company where he worked on a variety of industries both in the Private equity and General Consulting practices. He advised major private equity firms on potential acquisition targets and conducted industry, competitor and financial due diligence. He also worked for Fidelity's private equity practice helping technology and telecom companies with strategy, financial and operational issues.

Before business school, Akhil was one of the founding team members and part of the executive team of a high growth startup focused on software, Internet technology and IT services. In this role, he helped grow the firm to 100 employees in 5 years across the United States, India and Singapore. He was the youngest partner elected in the firm and gained extensive experience advising top level executives on technology strategy and trends while leading the firm's new business development initiatives.

Akhil lived in India until age 12 and then attended high school in Zimbabwe before receiving a full 4-year scholarship to the Cooper Union.

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