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Seasoned start-up coaching and expert advice

We don’t kid ourselves here. We know it’s the cash we offer that first attracts start-ups to apply for our programs. But we also know – because founders tell us all the time – it’s our world-class entrepreneurs-in-residence and expert advisors that frequently move the needle the most for their ventures.

Acceleration program participants are assigned an entrepreneur-in-residence who provides seasoned start-up coaching rooted in their own first-hand founding and fundraising experience. Then, our expert advisors round out the program offering by filling in key subject matter areas such as human resources, finance and sales.

We thought you should meet the remarkable group of people supporting our Accelerate Program companies and other acceleration clients in 2022-2023.


Stephen Ambrose

Based in Los Angeles, Stephen is owner and founder of President’s Club, which focuses on working with early stage companies to build and deliver scalable customer acquisition programs. Stephen has built and scaled over 50 programs focusing mainly on SaaS companies and is an expert at providing start-ups with direction and guidance to succeed.

Matthew Brightman

Matthew is passionate about using technology to solve human problems. By age 26, he had built and raised financing for three companies and brought new products to market in e-commerce, consumer electronics and fintech. He has spoken about entrepreneurship and technology at McGill University, Cornell University, Harvard University and TEDx. Winner of a CES Innovation Award, Quebec's Forces Avenir Grant, and McGill University's Dobson Cup, Matthew is a product manager at Google working on the Google Maps Platform from his home in San Francisco.

Rina Carlini

Rina is an accomplished business executive with 25 years of experience in developing science and technology product innovation, commercialization, and new ventures in the areas of life sciences, medical devices, health technology, advanced materials, nanotechnology, and clean technology. Her experience spans multiple leadership roles, including drug discovery R&D (Merck, Syntex); director of nanotechnology and a global corporate incubator program (Xerox Innovation Group); director of commercialization at GreenCentre Canada; and president and CEO of Haltech Regional Innovation Centre where she supports the growth of technology start-ups. Rina is president and CEO of Optimal Innovation Group, a technology innovation consulting firm that helps start-ups with commercialization and market development strategies, and provides innovation advice to established companies for their growth objectives.

Harlan Doliner

Harlan is the vice president and director of marine tech-maritime services group at Mabbett & Associates, where he focuses on technology, regulatory, security and environmental issues. He is an adjunct professor for the law schools at Boston College and Roger Williams University, where he teaches offshore renewable energy and maritime security courses. At Endicott College, Harlan teaches Port and Shipping Operations in the MBA program. He is also a past president of the Marine & Oceanographic Technology Network. Appointed by Massachusetts governor, Charlie Baker, Harlan is an original member of the Seaport Economic Council.

Mareese Keane

Mareese works at the intersection of start-ups, corporations, and investors in the agricultural technology space. She co-founded Opengate Partners in 2020 to support innovation by helping design and deliver unique corporate innovation services for agriculture and food corporations and drive growth for start-ups through effective corporate engagement and fundraising. She previously developed and ran the award-winning THRIVE accelerator program for agricultural technology start-ups. Mareese’s early career was focused on environmental issues, specifically waste management, and she has degrees from Ireland and the UK, with certifications in design thinking and business strategy from IdeoU. Irish by birth, Canadian by choice, Mareese currently lives in San Jose with her husband and two teenagers.

Joel Liederman

Joel is an accomplished senior executive with 50 years of company leadership and domestic and international business development expertise in technology industries, including spending the last 30 years as a venture capital investor and mentor to early stage company founders. Joel has a proven track record in supporting early stage companies with a unique mix of "company builder" strengths. He serves on the board of Addem Labs and IRegained, and as an EiR to several Invest Nova Scotia companies, including Axtion Mobility, Galaxia Mission Systems and MOC Biotechnologies.

Bob McDougall

Bob’s 40 years of food industry senior leadership, spanning four continents, has produced a seasoned, charismatic force, comfortably effective from c-suite to plant floor, and in customer-facing roles. A certified food scientist (CFS), Bob has executed technical, operations and supply chain coaching assignments and has been a speaker, mentor and technical writer. Adept at forging, leading and engaging composite teams, he drives innovation in FMCG, CPG and food service from visioning to launch. Bob’s teams’ new products and processes have garnered multiple awards and generated solid IP. Enhancement of an underlying value of his client companies has contributed to three successful acquisitions. His private consulting has served companies from local to international scope.

Frank Naus

Frank is CEO of Lumedi, a research and data warehousing company, and is a venture partner at Launchit Ventures, a health technology SaaS-focused venture studio. He is an instructor in the clinical trials management program at Western University. Frank started his career in clinical research and sales with Astra Pharma (AstraZeneca) and ran several clinical research organizations. He spent five years in the public sector as director of research administration and then vice president of research at Hamilton Health Sciences. Frank earned his doctorate in business administration from Walden University, an MBA from Wilfrid Laurier University, as well as MSc and BSc degrees in applied health sciences from the University of Waterloo.

Owen Sagness

Owen is a senior executive with an outstanding track record in building some of the world’s largest online software businesses. His career spans 20-plus years with Fortune 50 companies (Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft) and he was CEO of two venture-backed companies, in addition to running multiple divisions of Microsoft domestically and internationally. As an advisor, he combines Fortune 50 sophistication with the practical hands-on leadership of smaller cap and venture-backed companies. Owen is a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors and is ICD.D-certified. He sits on several boards of directors and advisory boards in Canada and the US, and is a consultant to CEOs and founders.

Scott Sorochak

Based in San Francisco, Scott is founder and CEO of SparkLabs Foundry, which connects multinational corporations with relevant innovation through its curated network of start-ups. He has more than 25 years of executive sales, marketing and operational leadership experience in consumer internet, mobile and enterprise SaaS global organizations. Scott’s focus has been on helping start-ups and early stage companies increase revenue and build top-notch cross-departmental teams. He has helped these companies raise over $150 million in debt and equity financing from many of Silicon Valley's top-tier VCs and is an active angel investor.

Aaron Weinroth

Aaron has over 23 years of experience creating and commercializing new medical devices and other technologies. In addition to leading and advising companies on innovation strategy and execution, Aaron is a mentor for start-up entrepreneurs and serves as an external reviewer and judge for several technology funding programs and awards. He has held senior business and engineering roles developing and introducing new products in medical device fields, including neurotechnology, surgical navigation, imaging, and optics, for both small early stage growth organizations and the large global corporations that acquired them. Aaron earned degrees in electrical and biomedical engineering from the University of Toronto and is a licensed professional engineer.

Expert Advisors

Henry Kay
(Accelerate Program) – Area of Expertise: Investment Readiness

Henry is an active angel investor and a member of Boston Harbor Angels and Sky Venture Group, both angel investing groups in the Boston area. After more than 40 years in the healthcare industry, Henry retired from Boston Scientific Corporation (BSC) in 2006, where he was group vice president of new market development and strategic planning in endosurgery. Prior to joining BSC, Henry was based in the UK for five years as senior vice president of sales and marketing for Allergan Europe, a global eye-care company. He is a mentor for the Canadian Consulate and a board member with Covina, Cannuflow, Cristcot Medical, and EP Sciences.

Julie Lespérance
(Accelerate Program) – Area of Expertise: Human Resources and Culture

Julie is a bilingual HR professional with over 20 years of success delivering hands-on and executive-level leadership to start-ups and established businesses. A confident communicator, she has a growth mindset and an aptitude for sustaining trusting relationships across all organizational levels. As president of Shine Human Resources, Julie provides clients with HR expertise and guidance in performance management, employee engagement and culture, attraction, recruitment and retention, change management, training and development, and more. She previously led HR at Ascenta, including providing leadership throughout the due diligence process and post-sale integration when Ascenta was acquired by Nature’s Way of Canada.