Meet the 2017 Speakers:


Monday Evening Keynote

Jack Tankersley, Managing Director, Meritage Funds

Jack Tankersley is often introduced as the “father of venture capital” in Colorado. As a co-founder of The Centennial Funds, in 1981 he raised the first private equity fund in our state. Over his long career, he has raised and managed more than $1 billion. His passion for helping people build successful businesses, whether as an investor, director, or strategic planning consultant is evident in the success of his investments, with seven portfolio companies, each ultimately selling for valuations in excess of $1 billion.

Keynote Speech, Tuesday Nov. 7th

Elaine Bolle, Director and Past President, RTP Capital

Elaine Bolle is an experienced angel investor, entrepreneur, senior executive and board director leading domestic and global organizations from venture-backed start-ups to $750M+ enterprises. She has built and successfully exited several early stage venture backed companies including Achex, a payment processor, sold to First Data Corp. She currently serves as a board member and advisor to early stage companies. She also serves as COO of Clinical Research Site Training (CRST)—a training provider for clinical research site professionals. In addition, she serves on the Board of Directors of Dress for Success Triangle NC. Ms. Bolle has a BA and an MBA from the University of Michigan.

Panel #1: Accelerators as MicroVC Funds

Richard Grote, Moderator, Partner & EIR, Travelport Accelerator

As a serial entrepreneur, I have founded five companies that extend technology to solve emerging needs. These include SpotRight, a social data startup and Techstars Boulder company, HyperSistes, a pixel-perfect website CMS, SnapImpact, the first iPhone volunteering app, and Diversity Calendar, a web-based and paper wall calendar providing a visible reminder of cultural holidays, religious observances, and celebrations from around the world. 

As a senior facilitator and trainer, I have led thousands of sessions on diversity & inclusion, leadership, and innovation for managers and leaders at well-known companies including Microsoft, Disney, Deloitte, Starbucks, American Family Insurance, Home Depot, and Nestlé. 

My role as Program Manager / EIR for the Travelport Labs Accelerator gives me the opportunity to take full advantage of my background in startups as well as my experience with working with Fortune 100 companies around innovation to help travel startups create solid businesses that solve real customer problems and achieve meaningful traction.

Toby Krout, Co-Founder, Boomtown)

Toby Krout is an entrepreneur, investor, and startup coach. He co-founded Boomtown, a startup accelerator in Boulder, Colorado in 2013 where he currently serves as the Executive Director. Boomtown’s mission is to understand and continuously improve the modern accelerator model for the benefit of entrepreneurs. His startups currently enjoy an 85% survival rate and 88% of them are generating revenues.

Toby has an MBA from Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver. He is a co-founder and partner at Boulder based creative agency Atomic20. He was previously the Program Director for Governor Hickenlooper’s Colorado re-branding project. He has co-founded dozens of startups over 20 years and currently serves on the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship Board of Directors and the Masters of the Environment Advisory Board at the University of Colorado.

Ari Newman, Partner, Techstars

Ari is a Partner at Techstars on the Venture team, where he does his best to thoughtfully leverage more than a decade of experience on the entrepreneur’s side of the table. Ari was also previously the Network Catalyst at Techstars, developing programs and infrastructure for Techstars’ worldwide network of Founders, Investors and Mentors. Prior to his focus on early stage investing, Ari spent over a decade as an entrepreneur, founding several companies and joining other venture backed technology companies. Additionally, he is on the Board of Directors at GreatHorn, Smart Vision Labs, Ello, and the Rocky Mountain Venture Capital Association. Previously, Ari was the VP of Strategic Partnerships at Jive Software (JIVE), who acquired his most recent company Filtrbox (Techstars Boulder 2007) in 2010.  Prior to Filtrbox, Ari was Founder and Principal of Newman Venture Advisors, VP of Product Management at CreekPath Systems (sold to Opsware) and Director of Operations at Volera. His first start-up was, sold to Novell in 2000. Born and raised in the San Francisco area, Ari has a Business Administration degree from the Leeds School at CU-Boulder.

Elizabeth Kraus (Chief Investment Officer & Co-Founder, MergeLane)
Elizabeth Kraus is an entrepreneur and angel investor, and founder of the Impact Angel Group, a group of investors equally dedicated to making a difference and realizing a return.Prior to founding the Impact Angel Group, Kraus ran her own startup,, and has been founding, working for and consulting for startups for her entire career. She is an active angel investor, startup mentor and advisor, and she has been very active in the state and national effort to improve the entrepreneurial ecosystem and mobilize angel investors.Elizabeth earned her B.A. in Marketing from the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business.
Patrick Rea, Co-Founder  & CEO, Canopy Boulder

I’ve spent my entire career analyzing and evangelizing business and investment opportunities in consumer driven markets. Fifteen years of relationship building at the CEO level has provided me with a keen understanding of the winning (and losing) commercialization strategies for entrepreneurial companies.

I’m a doer and a helper. I’ve traveled the world advocating the business of change. The people I’ve met inspire me. As a result, if I don’t have the answer, I almost always know someone who will.

Working with the world’s largest investment groups, CPGs, pharmaceutical, nutrition and cannabis companies have brought me a lot of joy.

Panel #2: MicroVCs vs. VCs

Shina Culberson, Moderator, President, Quist Valuation
As the President of Quist, Shina Culberson brings over two decades of financial and valuation experience to her leadership and guidance of the firm. Known for her direct style and laser focus, Ms. Culberson specializes in business and securities valuation engagements for corporate finance, financial reporting and tax purposes.

Prior to joining Quist, Ms. Culberson was an Equity Analyst for Cohen Independent Research Group where she provided security valuation and investment recommendations on public companies in the biotech, high-tech, and entertainment industries. Additionally, she served as a Director at Charles Schwab Investment Management where she managed the International Credit Research Team covering international financial institutions and emerging market Asia and Latin America sovereign investments.

Kate Shillo (Director, Galvanize Ventures)
Kate’s path to venture capital is a unique one; hailing from a family of self-starters and small business owners she’s worked in various industries: sports, service, old media, new media, and tech. She’s witnessed New York’s technology industry flourish into the competitive landscape it is today. She’s an entrepreneur at heart; she thrives at the earliest stages of ideas, and at the opportunity to problem solve and build.In her current role she helps manage investments for Galvanize Ventures. Previously she helped build and manage Lerer Ventures as Director of Operations for 4 years – an early stage tech investment firm in NYC with over 190 investments. Prior, she was an EA to Kenneth Lerer, Founder of Lerer Ventures and The Huffington Post, and launched her career as an EA to Martha Stewart at MSLO.
Joe Zell General Partner, GroTech Ventures
Joe Zell joined GroTech Ventures in 2002 and focuses on investment opportunities in the IT infrastructure, cloud services, mobile, networking, and internet and digital media sectors. Joe is active on several portfolio company boards, including Closely, Cloud Elements, CommercialTribe, DB Networks, Dizzion, Fluid, Gutcheck, LogRhythm, Parkifi, SpotRight and WebScale Networks. He previously served on the boards of Aztek Networks (acquired by GENBAND), BroadSoft (IPO Nasdaq: BSFT), buySAFE, Collective Intellect (acquired by Rightnow/Oracle), Fieldglass (acquired by Madison Dearborn/SAP), Hatteras Networks (merged with Overture Networks), HiveLive (acquired by RightNow Technologies/Oracle), Rebit (Acquired by Carbonite), SkyeTek, USinternetworking (IPO then later acquired by AT&T) and Ziptronix (acquired by Tessara Technolgies TSRA).Prior to joining GroTech, Joe built an extensive, 20-year operating background in communications and data networking, including nine years with US West Communications (which is now CenturyLink), where he was instrumental in building US West’s Data Networking Division from startup to $2.5 billion in revenue and was the president of the division for the last four years as it grew from $300 million in revenue to $2.5 billion. While at US West, Joe was also responsible for managing a $30 million strategic investment fund. It was in this capacity that he began his relationship with GroTech as a result of US West’s A round investment and his board seat at a GroTech portfolio company, USinternetworking. Between US West and GroTech, he served as chief executive officer of Convergent Communications. Prior to US West, he held a variety of management positions at WilTel, LDXNet, United Technologies Communications, MCI Communications and Xerox Corporation.Joe graduated from Missouri State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing. He is a former member of YPO (Young Presidents Organization) and WPO (World Presidents Organization). He also serves or has served on the advisory boards of Silicon Flatirons, TiE Rockies and StartupColorado. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees for The Nature Conservancy, Colorado.
John Ives (Managing Director, Tahoma Ventures)
John has been an early-stage investor and entrepreneur since 1997. He is co-founder of Chips on the Deck, a networking organization for Colorado-based semiconductor, EDA and embedded system entrepreneurs. He is also the founder of Boulder Angels, which organizes the activities of active, professional angel investors in Boulder County.In 2013, John founded Tahoma Ventures in order to provide early-stage (Seed and “A”) capital to technology startups around the country.John lives in Boulder, Colorado, with his wife Kate. A big fan of outdoor recreation, he enjoys bicycling, running, skiing and snowshoeing on Colorado’s plentiful mountains and plains.
Cory Finney, General Partner, Kokopelli Ventures

Cory was co-founder and CEO of a hardware company, SnowGate, which he exited after three years. Since then, he’s held interim CFO/COO roles for a multitude of startups in IoT, CPG, and SaaS industries. Currently he is the Entrepreneur in Residence at the Boulder based accelerator, Boomtown, where he has assisted with portfolio management, internal operational projects, and has led the finance and fundraising curriculum for over 40 companies. Cory is a partner with Kokopelli Capital, an early stage MicroVC fund that is focused on investing in the Rocky Mountain region.