Georgia Entrepreneurs Join Georgia Tech as VentureLab Fellows

Experience helps launch companies based on Georgia Tech research

John Toon
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Skilled entrepreneurs help Georgia Tech companies grow and succe

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Eight Georgia entrepreneurs from a variety of technology business backgrounds have signed on as VentureLab Fellows at Georgia Tech. Their mission is to serve as expert mentors to startup companies in Georgia Tech's VentureLab program.


Eight Georgia entrepreneurs from a variety of technology business backgrounds have signed on as VentureLab Fellows at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Their mission: to serve as expert mentors to startup companies in Georgia Tech's VentureLab program.

"Our new Fellows have more than a hundred years of entrepreneurial experience among them," said Stephen Fleming, director of Georgia Tech's Commercialization Services, VentureLab's parent organization. "By matching Tech researchers with proven entrepreneurs, we're making a direct connection to the marketplace and building teams that can launch successful technology companies."

Georgia Tech's $400 million-plus annual research budget generates more than 300 invention disclosures each year. The VentureLab staff selects particular discoveries that show promise as the basis for fast-growth startup companies. Then they provide those startups with support that includes help in securing seed funding, office/lab space and business and legal guidance.

The new VentureLab Fellows roster includes:

- Michael J. Eckert, formerly CEO of The Weather Channel;
- David R. Kaufman, technology-development and commercialization professional with Fortune 50 experience;
- Sanjoy Malik, founder of Air2Web and Synchrologic;
- Thomas J. O'Brien, medical-device executive with Philips Medical Systems and other companies;
- Mark A. Samuels, executive/entrepreneur in technology and biomedical product development and management;
- Dustin Walsey, sales executive with Akamai Technologies and others.

Two recent Fellows joined in 2007 and are managing current VentureLab companies:

- Lawrence Catchpole, CEO of Zenda Technologies, founder of M1 Global and Webtone;
- Sanjay Sehgal, CEO and co-founder of Pramana and a founder of several other companies.

"The VentureLab Fellow program is a two-way street," added Fleming, who is also Georgia Tech's chief commercialization officer. "Although the Fellows are volunteers, they may encounter a company that's a particularly good fit and go on to assume a leadership position."

VentureLab is a unit of Commercialization Services (CS), which evaluates and commercializes Georgia Tech intellectual property. Most research discoveries are suitable for licensing to existing corporations. But about 10 percent of discoveries are judged to have the right stuff for forming a VentureLab startup.

Companies that graduate from VentureLab often are accepted into the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), Georgia Tech's science and technology incubator. ATDC helps Georgia entrepreneurs launch and build successful companies, providing strategic business advice and connecting member companies to the people and resources they need to succeed.

Each VentureLab Fellow will likely work with several pre-incorporation projects, offering guidance and assisting fledgling companies in making business-world connections. Among other things, Fellows will help identify a given technology's potential market, as well as offer expertise on management, technology, financing and other key issues.

The following bio sketches offer more information on all eight 2007 and 2008 VentureLab Fellows:

Lawrence Catchpole, president and CEO of Zenda Technologies, has more than 30 years of experience as a leader and entrepreneur in the technology industry. As chief strategy officer and founder of M1 Global, Catchpole was responsible for setting strategic business direction and technology vision, while raising $15 million and using innovative and successful development techniques. He was also founder and CTO of WebTone, which grew into a multi-channel financial services market company with 230 employees and $38 million in sales before being acquired by Fidelity National in 2003. He has also held senior positions at S1 Technologies and Dun & Bradstreet Software (formerly MSA). He holds a bachelor's degree in applied biology with a minor in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech.

Michael J. Eckert was formerly president and CEO of The Weather Channel and oversaw that business's growth from startup cable-television network to major distributor of consumer weather information. In addition, he served as president and CEO of Pathfire, a software/services business that helped the video and television industries evolve from an analog to a digital base before being sold to DG Fast Channel in 2007. In addition to joining VentureLab, Eckert is also an entrepreneur-in-residence at the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC). He did his undergraduate work at Northern Illinois University and graduate work at DePaul University.

David R. Kaufman has a background in technology development and commercialization, with experience ranging from Fortune 50 companies to startups. For the last two years he helped BellSouth evaluate and deploy technologies and networks for IP Multimedia products and services. Before that he worked for MI Technologies, where he held product-line responsibility for microwave test and RF simulation systems for European and Asian-Pacific markets. He was an executive director at Elastic Networks and helped develop Elastic's EtherLoop DSL technology, taking the start-up to $40M in sales in 18 months. He has also held engineering positions with Electromagnetic Sciences and Scientific Atlanta. He holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and a certificate in finance and accounting from Georgia Tech.

Sanjoy Malik founded and, until recently, was CEO of Air2Web, an ATDC graduate company founded in 1999 that provides mobile messaging and marketing applications for enterprises and carriers. Before founding Air2Web, he started Synchrologic, a developer of Internet-based mobile computing software. Prior to those companies, he spent seven years at Sales Technologies, a Dun & Bradstreet company, in senior product and engineering positions, and held several engineering positions at Intergraph. He holds master's degrees in computer sciences and engineering from the University of Florida, as well as a bachelor's in engineering from IIT Delhi.

Thomas J. O'Brien is a medical device executive who worked most recently with Philips Medical Systems. He assisted in the sale of Intermagnetics, a public company, to Royal Dutch Philips in November 2006 and in the subsequent integration of the two companies. Prior to that, he held a number of senior executive positions in public and private companies in the U.S. and overseas. He holds a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from Georgia Tech and an MBA from the University of Chicago.

Mark A. Samuels is an experienced executive and entrepreneur with a background in technology and biomedical product development, strategic marketing, manufacturing, strategic partnerships, intellectual property issues and capitalization. He has raised more than $100 million and has led research, development and commercialization efforts covering four medical device products, including three now on the market, and a non-invasive replacement for cervical cancer screening currently undergoing Phase III trials. He holds a bachelor's degree in physics and a master's of science specializing in electro-optics from Georgia Tech, and he holds more than 19 U.S patents and a number of patent applications.

Sanjay Sehgal, CEO and co-founder of Pramana, has 19 years of executive management and entrepreneurial experience in enterprise software, system sales, marketing and operations. At Pramana, he has overseen the company's overall business plan, formation and growth strategy. Previously, he founded or co-founded three companies -- AMI, which sold to LSI Logic for more than $220 million, iVivity and Scentric. He has extensive experience in several aspects of building successful companies, including venture/strategic funding, product development and building a sales organization, partner relationships and company acquisition. Prior to iVivity, Sehgal held senior positions in the storage and networking industry. He received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Delhi, India.

Dustin Walsey is a sales executive with diverse experience in both startup companies and large enterprises. He spent seven years as a technology-sales executive with Akamai Technologies, serving such clients as Fed Ex, Cox Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, Coca-Cola, Scripps Networks, InterContinental Hotels Group, Nortel, Citrix Systems and Office Depot. Previously, he was director of sales for Weema Technologies, a streaming media company; financial manager for Auto Impact, a chain of collision repair centers, and a retail lender with Wachovia Bank. An Atlanta native, Walsey holds a bachelor's degree in finance and marketing from Indiana University Bloomington.

About VentureLab: Georgia Tech VentureLab provides comprehensive assistance to Georgia Tech faculty, research staff and graduate students who want to form startup companies to commercialize the technology innovations they have developed.

As a one-stop center for technology commercialization, VentureLab provides a clear pathway from laboratory innovation to the commercial market. VentureLab specialists help transform innovations into early-stage companies by assisting in business plan development, connecting the innovators with experienced entrepreneurs, locating sources of early-stage financing, and preparing the new companies for the business world. Graduates of the VentureLab program may apply for admission to the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), which is also part of the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute.

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  • Created By: John Toon
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Mar 19, 2008 - 8:00pm
  • Last Updated: Oct 7, 2016 - 11:03pm