top of page




2023 Finalists Mentoring Phase: 20 Weeks
Monday, June 5 - Friday, October 27

The Mentoring program is the one of the most important benefits provided to those Innovators that make it to the Final stage of the competition. It is a 16-week immersive experience during which  experienced Mentors are paired up with the Finalists and help them develop and master perspectives  and soft business skills that will help them set themselves apart, and grow. Moreover, Mentors can help their Mentees address specific challenges particular to their business/startup. 

In addition to the Mentor-Matching program, Educational Classes/Modules are added to each year's competition, that offer insight into different aspects of running a successful business (Funding Alternatives, Intellectual Property considerations, Tax & R&D, Successful Marketing and Sales Practices). The modules are presented by highly qualified field experts, willing to share their expertise, and help startups owners and managers in their entrepreneurship journey.  

Our Mentors are experienced and passionate business leaders that selflessly make time off their busy schedules to provide support and counseling to all Finalists. They generously share their management and leadership know-how, communication cognizance and message delivery empiricism, to help Finalists convey a strong Innovation Message during the Final Stage of the competition (The Eddies Innovation Showcase on 10/4/2023) and well beyond. They establish a relationship of mutual trust and respect with the Innovators, and many times they are asked to offer their opinions on general matters of importance to their Mentees, well beyond the scope of The Eddies.


Depending on their own availability and work schedule, Mentors may change from year to year. As they become confirmed, for 2023, their names and short will be posted on this website, Under the "People" page ("Mentors" sub-page.)

Mentors and members of the Massachusetts Innovation Network Team get together immediately after the Finalists are announced, to discuss how to best match each Finalist with their respective Mentor.  Oftentimes, Mentors ask to be matched with Innovators from a particular industry, so they can best leverage their own knowledge and experience during the Mentoring period; their requests are very seriously considered. 


The Mentorship Program is optional but Strongly Recommended; it provides a support in a highly personalized way. The Mentors know exactly what the Judges are looking for in the finals, and can help participants tailor-make their message to the specific audience. Furthermore, the Mentors represent sources of knowledge, expertise and connections during the startup's journey to succeed and scale (or get acquired).


The frequency of meetings/phone discussions between Mentors and Mentees is decided upon between Mentor and Mentee, and depends on the needs and work schedules of the parties involved. 

Meet Our Mentors

Eric Achtmann.webp

Eric Achtmann

Founder and Managing Director, Global Capital X

Prof. Eric Achtmann: Award-winning innovator, entrepreneur, executive, and investor. He started his career fighting fires in the Middle East after Gulf War I; then moved on to the US Congressional Lean Aerospace Initiative, McDonnell-Douglas Phantom Works, and McKinsey & Co. Thereafter, Eric moved into venture capital, serving as a Managing Partner for two pan-European tech and life science (therapeutics, diagnostics, devices) venture funds. Eric proposed, architected, and brought to market the global fresh drinks vending system underpinning Coca Cola’s $5.1b acquisition of Costa Coffee and co-founded V-Nova, a London-based software company providing leading advanced video compression solutions (MPEG-5 II: LCEVC and VC-6). He is a Senior Advisor to McKinsey, Arowana Capital, and VivoPower plc; Non-Executive Director of Celdara Medical, Aclys Biotechnologies Corp., TargetArm, and VeriTX; Founding Member of Meggitt PLC’s Technology Advisory Board, AFWERX Mentor, and Expert Advisor to the European Commission. Eric holds degrees from MIT and other universities and is a Professor of Practice at MIT-cofounded Skoltech.

Lisa Cropped.jpg

Lisa Dufresne

Investment Manager with PTTGC. GC

Lisa Dufresne is an investment manager with the Boston based corporate venture team of PTTGC. GC, as it’s commonly known, is the flagship petrochemical refinery arm of PTT Group, the national oil and gas company of Thailand. GC invests in advanced materials, clean technology, life sciences, and industrial digital. Prior to joining GC, Lisa spent over 15 years at a consulting firm providing technical and commercialization assistance to startups and other small companies, primarily those receiving federal Small Business Innovation Research funds. These companies spanned a broad range of markets including chemicals, materials, medical devices and therapies, and energy.

Lisa holds a MS in Environmental Engineering from Tufts University and a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.


Barbara Finer

Entrepreneur, Investor, New Venture Advisor

Barbara is a serial entrepreneur who has successfully launched many companies and products to market, energizing and aligning teams. Barbara identifies and manages opportunities to engage and grow the rich network of manufacturing resources offered in the region with the startups we serve, providing connections and support for both suppliers and startups. With an extensive background helping technology-based, business-to-business companies across industrial, automation and medical sectors, Barbara has a technical background and degree (BS, Northeastern University) and MS in management of innovation and technology (MSA, Boston University). With a superpower in product marketing, Barb has developed the messaging, business models and go-to-market plans for large and startup companies. She has helped attract funding for dozens of startups, and founded the STEM incubator TechSandBox, Southie Autonomy, TeleRadx, and CxO Management Group.

patty flaherty donahue rect_edited.jpg

Patty Flaherty Donahue

Business Development Manager, EBS - Employee Benefit Solutions

Patty's career has centered around building relationships and delivering solutions for companies of all sizes and various industries, working closely with Human Resource and Finance leaders.  At EBS, Employee Benefit Solutions, Patty helps companies address healthcare cost-containment strategies, implement HR technologies that scale, get ahead of compliance & healthcare reform, and adopt corporate wellness initiatives. Prior to EBS, as an executive in a staffing firm, Patty delivered solutions for talent and human resource executives, managing complex customer talent acquisition programs. She is an active member of The Boston Club.

DLH Pic - Dave Hall.PNG

David Hall

Co-Founder, Advisor & Investor

A native of Worcester, MA, his career started as a Mechanical Engineer out of the University of New Hampshire, working for Teradyne Connections in Nashua, NH. With 15 years running my his own electro-mechanical rep business, he has worked with multiple verticals including Industrial, Medical Device, Electronics, Robotics, Defense and Med-Tech accounts. He has also worked at several high-tech firms including Fujitsu Consulting, Attivio and Elevated Resources. DavidI co-founded Kona DataSearch to bring data insights to the Salesforce user experience. He now advises entrepreneurs and invests in other start-ups to support their sales, marketing, brand awareness and go-to-market requirements.

Sanjeev Kalyanaraman headshot.jfif

Sanjeev Kalyanaraman

Founder & CEO, CodeMantra

Sanjeev is a seasoned entrepreneur with experience incubating and transforming businesses - resulting in successful exits. A proven executive who championed and executed innovation and turnaround strategies that resulted in increased revenues from new channels while optimizing operational investments. A leader, who listens, empowers individuals and consistently builds efficient teams to deliver successful results.


Alex Kambanis

President & Managing Director, GET Group North America; Board Member, Document Security Alliance

Alex is an Identity Solutions expert and for over 15 years has enabled Governments around the world implement new technologies around secure Government Credentials (National IDs, Driver’s Licenses and Passports).  Alex is President & Managing Director of GET Group North America based in Waltham MA, which was recently awarded a contract by the US Department of State for the implementation of the Next Generation US Passport.  Alex serves on the Board of the Document Security Alliance, an association of government, industry and academia dedicated to securing the production, issuance, and authentication of identity, credentials, and currency


Sophia Kambanis

Executive Director, Massachusetts Innovation Network; Reviewer MassVentures START program; Mentor, Blue Institute Labs

Sophia has 30+ years of experience in profit and non-profit organization management, local and international market operations, multi-country management team building, and crisis management during merger and acquisitions. Sophia started her career with the design and implementation of marketing research plans and strategic marketing guidance for multinational organizations like Unilever, PepsiCo,  KraftHeinz, CITIgroup, GlaxoSmithKline and PernodRicard. She has extensive experience managing teams with diverse nationalities, languages, work ethics and business practices.  Sophia’s experience includes development of marketing and communication plans, brand awareness generation, and effective story telling techniques for charitable organizations, chambers of commerce and business associations.


Alec Karys

International Start-Up Mentor, adviser, & investor

Mr. Karys has held senior software development positions, such as CTO/VP Of Product Development/VP of Engineering at companies, including but not limited to Data General, Amazon, mShopper, InterQual/Mckesson and Authoriszor. An international start-up evangelist , angel investor and a Mentor/Judge/ Presenter, he has supported several  start-up Accelerators, such as MIT Enterprise Forum of Greece, MassChallenge (Boston), TechStars (Cambridge) and others. He has advised numerous start-ups such as Soli, OpenRounds, Zoottle, MaterNova, CloudCarib, Mashlink and others.He enjoys working with new founders and helping to  shape their companies. 

Eliot D. Klein.jpeg

Eliot Klein

Commercial banker with TD Bank - specializing in managing the bank's relationships with family and entrepreneur-owned companies

Eliot joined TD in 2012 and prior to TD held similar roles at other banks in the area;  his clients typically have annual revenues between $5 and 75 million. Eliot has enjoyed mentoring entrepreneurs and innovators for the past 7 years.

Earlier in his career, Eliot worked with not-for-profit clients in healthcare and higher education and has served on several not-for-profit boards.  Eliot now serves as a Trustee of Cotting School in Lexington.  Cotting serves kids from 5 to 22 with physical and learning challenges.  


Dr. Petros Kotidis

Senior Commercialization Advisor- NobleReach Emerge;  President/Founder- Miracor Consulting; General Manager, US Operations-; Advisory Board Member - Mesodyne;  Advisory Board Member - Massachusetts Innovation Network

Dr. Kotidis has been in the high-tech industry for more than thirty years and has commercialized numerous technologies in Life Sciences, Safety/Security, Industrial Process Control and Energy markets. He is currently serving as a Senior Commercialization Advisor for NobleReach Emerge, the investment branch of the CIA and the Intelligence Community, with particular focus on commercializing technologies with critical implications for US national competitiveness and security. He has advised numerous high-tech companies in strategic business development, technology commercialization, capital raising and expansion into new markets.  Dr. Kotidis has Ph.D. and M.S. in Aeronautics from MIT with a minor from the Sloan School of Management at MIT, and B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens. He has been awarded 26 patents for various optoelectronic and algorithmic inventions.


Pamela Layton

CEO, 4Immune Therapeutics;NE Award Winner 2012;  Advisory Board Member - Massachusetts Innovation Network

Prior to her current role Pamela was the President and a member of the Board of Bioarray Genetics (, a breast cancer molecular diagnostics company, where her role spanned the acquisition of capital, operations, reimbursement, regulatory path and partnerships. Prior to Bioarray, Mrs. Layton was the Founder and CEO of Parcell Laboratories, and responsible for taking the first pure stem cell product from bench to bedside for spinal fusion surgery. She holds multiple U.S. and European patents for the ELA® cell and its applications.  Mrs. Layton is a Certified Tissue Bank Specialist as designated by the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB). In addition to mentoring young companies throughout the U.S., she is a member of the Board of Pioneer Institute, the Board of XenoTherapeutics (NE Innovation Award Winner 2018), the Treasurer. of the Board of Mother Brooks Arts Center, and a long-standing Judge for the New England Innovation Awards. Mrs. Layton is a member of Launchpad and SkyVentures, as well as an individual Angel Investor. 

2022_1123 Michael Lipton_44608 - Michael Lipton.jpg

Michael Lipton

Serial entrepreneur, Co-Founder & CEO, Luster

Focused on igniting growth for tech companies through product and people strategies. Expert in bringing companies from zero to one through customer discovery, product-market fit and go-to-market strategies. Impact-driven, business-minded builder, leveraging software engineering background to execute vision and evolve strategies. Currently CEO of Luster, which begun as a small team spun out from Michael's first company, BREAKFAST; Luster is now a global team of 100+ which propelled the team's expansion into 35 countries across 6 continents. They have built a portfolio of 5 core products and a world-class client list including Apple, Disney, NASA, Princeton University and many others, who hired Luster for thousands of events, including The Grammy Awards, The Super Bowl, and Comic-Con.

Val Livada.webp

Dr. Val Livada

Research Affiliate, MIT Materials Research Laboratory; Founder, Corporate Entrepreneurship Network; Advisor, MassRobotics; Advisor, Greentown Labs; Advisor, Massachusetts Innovation Network;  Director, Built Environment Coalition

Dr. Livada has been active in the innovation/entrepreneurship ecosystem for over 35 years. He has advised Global 300 type companies, research universities, regional organizations and startups on commercializing technology. Presently Val leads the Boston Center of the EU Enrich program, connecting European ventures to the US, and is working with MIT's Materials Research and Deshpande Centers to better connect. academia and industry. He is founder of the Corporate Entrepreneurship Network, sits on the Board of Directors of Aphios Corporation, The Built Environment Coalition, AutoHarvest Foundation and Monarch Antenna. He is also advisory board member for Greentown Labs, Mass Robotics, NU's Advanced Manufacturing Group, and Portugal's. BGI Incubator. Dr. Livada holds degrees from MIT and Tufts' Fletcher School and has taught at the Sloan School of Management at MIT and the Questrom School at BU.

Headshot'22 - Gopinath N.jpg

Gopinath Nageshwaran

Experienced Physician & Angel Investor

An experienced Physician with an MBA degree, rich experience in medical affairs and digital initiatives. Currently into a strategic leadership role in the vaccines industry with a vision to make the innovative medicines accessible and affordable to a wider population in the world.   Dr. Nageshwaran is also an angel investor with a VC group in Boston focusing on biotech space primarily.

Screen Shot 2021-09-06 at 10.10.05 AM.png

Larry Nannis (Subject Matter Expert)

Business Coach, Massachusetts Small Business Development Center

Larry is a Certified Public Accountant, who retired from Katz, Nannis + Solomon, PC of Waltham-MA in 2016, after a 47-year-career. Over the last 35 years, Larry has worked with entrepreneurial companies that all levels of growth curve, providing accounting, auditing, tax and financial management advice designed to help the owners successfully grow their businesses and reach their desired exit strategies. He has served as "Expert-in-Residence" at TechSandBox, a technology incubator located in Hopkinton, MA. Larry was a VBA for Cohorts 8 and 11 of the National Goldman Sachs 10,000 small business program. He is presently an adviser for the Southeast Region of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center. He has been a Judge for MassVentures START program and a Mentor for the first two cohorts on E For All - Roxbury.   


Steven Saunders

Partner, Nutter McClennen and Fish, LLP; Angel Investor; Adjunct Faculty, Boston University

Steven is an angel investor, entrepreneur,  engineer,  university lecturer, and a mentor.  In  his  day job as a patent attorney, he chairs Nutter's Intellectual Property Department where clients of all sizes rely on Steven's counsel for managing their IP issues (portfolio development, strategy and evaluation, patent preparation  and prosecution, IP litigation, and licensing). Steven also conducts extensive due diligence analysis for angel and VC investments, M&As. He works with a wide range of technologies, including medical, electronics, computer software and hardware, cloud computing, routing, IoT, alternative energy, high performance computing (HPC), integrated circuit design, MEMS, semiconductor fabrication, and materials processing.  He is a member of Hub Angels and Launchpad Ventures and has advised numerous startups on growth strategy and raising capital. Steven is an adjunct faculty at Boston University, and a mentor for MIT's $100K Business Plan Competition, Venture Mentor Service, Sandbox, and DeltaV


Schmid_Kevin - Kevin Schmid.jpg

Kevin Schmid

Experienced Executive, Entrepreneur & Engineer

Mr. Schmid is the Chief Operations Officer at Modular Medical, Inc.  and was the Chief Executive Officer at Common Sensing, Inc. (2018 - 2021), and a member of the Board of Directors (2015 to present). Kevin served as a member of the Board of Directors for Eitan Medical Ltd. in Israel (2018 - 2022) . He has worked at the Stevanato Group (a provider of innovative packaging and drug delivery solutions for pharma) as VP of Drug Delivery Systems.  Kevin has served as Insulet Corporation's VP of Business Development and Advanced Technology from 2011 to 2015. From 2003 to 2011, Mr. Schmid served as Vice President of Manufacturing and Vice President of Operations and Engineering.

Mr. Schmid earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Clarkson University and an MBA from Sacred Heart University.

Barbara Shea_Headshot - Barbara Shea.jpg

Barbara Shea

Marketing expert in strategy, branding, and product marketing

Barbara has over 25 years of experience in ensuring marketing initiatives drive business results for hi-tech companies. Barbara’s broad expertise in strategy, branding, and product marketing; she has helped corporations like Schneider Electric, Bose, and AFL Telecommunications successfully launch new products and services. She has also worked at small startups, including Avici Systems, (IPO featured on the TV show 48 Hours), and Tertill Corporation (a robotics company founded by the inventor of Roomba®).  Barbara enjoys working collaboratively with cross-functional teams to solve some of the most common business challenges including sales enablement, partner marketing, demand generation, employee engagement, and customer satisfaction. She is a passionate customer advocate and has led numerous initiatives to bring the customer’s voice into internal conversations about product roadmap and strategy. 


Judith Underwood

Co-Founder and CEO, Blue Institute Labs

Judith Underwood is an entrepreneur, educator, and environmentalist. She is the Co-Founder of the Blue Incubator (Blue Institute Labs, PBC), a Public Benefit Corporation, which will be the first BlueTech hub (Blue Innovation Center) on the US Eastern Seaboard with direct access to the Atlantic Ocean serving entrepreneurs, and the Blue Cluster of academia, government agencies and established companies who need share, collaborative on-sight services and reliable ocean access. Judith is also the Founder of its sister institution, the Blue Institute at Cape Cod Bay, a non-profit global hub for water education and research.  Judith has 20+ years of scientific development and technology transfer work at research and educational institutions including MIT, the United Nations, and the International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy.  She has a B.A. from the University of Massachusetts Boston, a Master's from New York University, and additional graduate environmental studies from Antioch University New England. Judith serves on the Regional Wastewater Taskforce.

AvD 2019_edited.jpg

Dr. Alina A. von Davier (Subject Matter Expert)

Chief of Assessment, Duolingo; Founder & CEO, EdAstra Tech; President, International Association of Computerized Adaptive Testing

Alina is a Chief of Assessment at Duolingo, an EdTech company, and Founder & CEO of EdAstra Tech, an education consulting company. At Duolingo Alina and her team operate at the forefront of Computational Psychometrics. Her current research interests involve developing psychometric methodologies in support of digital-first assessments, such as the Duolingo English Test. She is an award winner author and sought after speaker. In 2020, von Davier was awarded a Career Award from the Association of Test Publishers (ATP). In 2018, she was a finalist for the “Visionary” Category from EdTech Digest. Prior to Duolingo she was a Chief Officer at ACT, where she led ACTNext, a large R&D-innovation unit. Before that von Davier was a Senior Research Director at Educational Testing Service (ETS) where she led the Computational Psychometrics Research Center. She has also led the Center for Psychometrics for International Tests (like TOEFL® and TOEIC®). Currently, Alina is the president of the International Association of Computerized Adaptive Testing (IACAT) and she serves on the board of directors for the Association of Test Publishers (ATP).  She has mentored for the Startup Weekend, in via:mentor—Mentoring Programme for Female Postdoctoral Researchers, University of Kiel, Germany. She earned her PhD in Mathematics from Otto von Guericke University of Magdeburg, Germany, and her Msc in Mathematics from the University of Bucharest, Romania.

bottom of page