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EI Conference 2023 Tech Coaches

Ed Kase, President of EKase Consulting, is a strategic planning and business development executive with more than 25 years of B2B and B2G business development, with a focus in SBIR / STTR technology commercialization since 2005. This experience spans various technologies, including aerospace systems, scientific instrumentation, industrial equipment, software, medical devices, and pharmaceutical technologies. Ed has held leadership roles in a number of functional areas including marketing, sales, and consulting services. In addition to his consulting practice, Ed provides services for the Colorado SBDC Technology / SBDC TechSource program. Ed received his BS in mechanical engineering from Clarkson University and his MBA from Colorado State University.

Jill Dietz brings her expertise as a Marketing Research Specialist to the Mississippi SBDC as well as serving in various capacities in their newly created Resources for International Success and Expansion program (RISE). With an extensive background in small business development, Jill has held the role of Regional Director at the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center before joining Mississippi SBDC. During her tenure, she actively supported numerous small business owners, forged valuable partnerships with economic development agencies, and delivered customized training programs. Having worked closely with entrepreneurs across diverse industries and business stages, Jill possesses a comprehensive understanding of the challenges they face. Her guidance has been instrumental in helping these businesses achieve remarkable growth and financial success. With a particular focus on developing effective marketing strategies, optimizing loan packages, and providing insightful coaching, Jill empowers entrepreneurs to enhance their business acumen and make informed decisions.

Bijo Mathew is the visionary Founding Director of the Technology Commercialization Center at the Texas South-West Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Lead Network, located at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). He also serves as the Executive Director to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s State of Texas – Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program. As a seasoned scientific program director, innovative researcher, and Principal Investigator (PI), Mr. Mathew brings a wealth of expertise to his role. With over 20 years of experience in academia, basic and applied R&D, business strategy and development, technology commercialization, innovation, and public-private partnerships, Mr. Mathew is the driving force behind developing technology based economic development strategies and providing executive direction to enhance Science and Technology (S&T) based innovation in Texas. Mr. Mathew oversees programs that provide access to groundbreaking, high-impact, and high-risk funding for applied and translational research opportunities. In collaboration with regional SBDC partners and research universities, his office offers SBIR-STTR Assistance programs, technical and business assistance to increase awareness about proof of concept and early-stage funding opportunities to advance the commercialization of technological and scientific innovations, discoveries, and technology transfer opportunities. Mr. Mathew received his MBA and Master of Science (MS) in Chemical, Biological & Material Science Engineering from the University of Oklahoma. As the Principal Investigator (PI) to the Small Business Administration (SBA) Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program award to support R&D and Small Business Innovation across the State of Texas, Mr. Mathew is committed to the technology based economic development of Texas. His corporate executive roles have included V.P. of Strategy & Business Development and Executive Director of Innovation and Public-Private Partnerships.

Chip Templeton is with the Mississippi Small Business Development Center and serves as the Center Director of the newly created RISE Center – Resources for International Success and Expansion, at the University of Mississippi. The RISE Center expands the services of the SBDC for cybersecurity, digital transformation, international trade, financial analysis, market research and tech commercialization. Prior to that, Templeton served is the organization at Mississippi State University as Center Director. While at MSU, Templeton managed the MSU SBDC Cybersecurity program, a Cares Act sub-award. In addition, he obtained certifications at the TNCPE and EDFP-BAC programs. While at the MSU Extension Service he served in areas of broadband adoption as well as telehealth education. Chip Templeton brings a wealth of knowledge to entrepreneurs by sharing decades of experience in business ownership as well as managing personal investments. Templeton enjoys working with entrepreneurs, in many sectors, that are focused on getting to the next level of success.

Lizeth currently serves as a Project Manager at the UTSA SBDC Technology Commercialization Center. Lizeth worked with small businesses and Fortune 500 companies as a project manager and as a business consultant facilitating and driving the success of companies’ operations and strategies. She also worked at the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Saint Cloud Minnesota, and as a researcher at the University of Minnesota and the University of Texas (UTRGV). Lizeth holds a Master of Science in Industrial and Systems Engineering (MS ISyE) from the University of Minnesota, an MBA from the University of Texas (UTRGV) and a Bachelor in International Business from Monterrey Tec (ITESM).

Whitney Jackson is a Business Counselor for Mississippi SBDC and serves as the Technology Commercialization Specialist for the newly created Resources for International Success and Expansion program (RISE). Her expertise lies at the intersection of entrepreneurship and communication by combining strategy and creativity to help entrepreneurs advance their business. While at the University of Southern Mississippi, she graduated with a degree in Economic Development with an emphasis in Entrepreneurship. She has also won two first-place pitch competitions and believes that communication is the cornerstone of progress and that understanding is the catalyst for innovation. In addition, she has developed a knack for bridging the gap between entrepreneurs and investors, the public, institutions of higher learning, and banks. Whitney also served as project manager for Mississippi Development Authorities’ Virtual Energy Innovation Clusters Program, V-Quad, before joining SBDC. In this role she has championed building an entrepreneur ecosystem to help commercialize technologies, increase deal flow, and discover technical assistance and funding.

Frank serves as Associate Director of the KSBDC – WSU Regional Center. With over 10 years of experience with the Kansas SBDC and many years of experience as a serial and simultaneous entrepreneur, Frank brings a high level of expertise to his customers. Frank holds a Bachelor in Business Administration from WSU and a Master of Science in Business Management from Friends University. Frank has over 15 years of experience in various aspects of entrepreneurial activities; either as an entrepreneur himself or a consultant working with other Entrepreneurs. Frank has ample experience in but not limited to: • Business Plan Development • Marketing Plan Development • Financial Projections • Operation and Process Analysis • Buy/Sell and Succession Planning Frank has also enjoyed corporate experience with Cargill Meat Solutions, TRAMCO and other for-profit organizations.

Ethan Biller is the Center Director at Rose State College for the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center network. He began his career with the SBDC in mid-2023. In his current role he works closely with his team to serve clients in the Metro OKC area, specifically in the area of technology commercialization. His role works closely with Jessica Ervin of the SBDC through the Tech Launch Center and the numerous programs housed therein. Ethan holds a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration, with a focus on accounting. In addition to his education, he has a rich background in entrepreneurship, encompassing fields such as the arts, personalized fashion and community outreach. He spent 6 years in South Korea teaching elementary school English, and used his time there to pick up the language and plant himself in the start-up community. Most recently, he helps his wife run her farm-to-market cut flower farm.

Dana Fisher serves as Project Manager in the Technology Commercialization Center of the South-West Texas Border Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Lead Network at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). In this role, she provides high quality business advisory services across Texas to small business clients seeking to bring new products and processes to market and grow their businesses. She helps clients navigate the pathway to commercialization through technical assistance, coaching and training in the areas of improved access to high risk capital as well as facilitating resource connections within the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Dana has spent her career working with small businesses in the U.S. and abroad. Prior to coming to UTSA, Dana served as Founding Director of the Center for Technology Commercialization SBDC and Associate Director of the New Product Development Center at Oklahoma State University. She holds a Masters of Science in Agricultural Economics from Oklahoma State University and a Certificate in Project Management, Monitoring and Evaluation from Wye College, University of London. She is a Certified Technology Commercialization Consultant.

Barbara is a consultant working with rural and innovative small businesses providing advising and technical services.  She is currently serving as a consultant to Mississippi Small Business Development Center.  Her previous work included serving at the Regional and Technology Commercialization Director for Oklahoma Small Business Development Center where she co-founded the Tech Launch Center.  Her earlier career included commercial lending for community banks and Farm Credit lenders in Texas and Oklahoma.  She also owns small businesses Tin Barn Consulting and Hog Shield.  Barbara has a BS and MS from West Texas State University in Agricultural Business.  She has conducted research and published papers on agricultural topics through Texas A&M Agrilife Extension and Research.

Darren Fichtner has been on both sides of small business, both as an owner and operator of his own landscaping business and a business operations manager, as well as a secondary business educator. With over 20 years of experience working directly in the business field Darren has assisted companies reach their full potential, changed the pace of operations with an effort to streamline efficiency, solved complex problems within the workplace, and developed various business strategies to focus on systematic growth. Darren received a Bachelor of Science from Missouri Southern State University and an MBA from Pittsburg State University. When not working, you can find Darren on the golf course. He is an avid golfer who plays on the Amateur golf tour ranking in the top 5 of his division. He also enjoys woodworking, creating specialty one-of-a-kind pieces.

John Woodson is the Associate Director Technology Transfer & Economic Development in the TTED Office at Missouri University of Science & Technology and the Missouri SBDC Director of Innovation for Missouri’s FAST grant. John has served in numerous roles during his 13 years at Missouri S&T. He has been the Interim Director Technology Transfer & Economic Development, Senior Licensing Associate, and Senior Business Counselor for the MO SBDC. Prior to joining Missouri S&T, John spent 8 years managing the intellectual property for Brewer Science, Inc. Throughout his 21 year career handling intellectual property in both industry and academia, he has protected and licensed copyrightable and patentable IP used by government and industry, and he has worked with entrepreneurs, business owners, professors, and students to help start and grow small businesses. He is a member of AUTM, has ASBDC Technology Counselor Certification, and Essential Coaching Skills certification. In addition, John was a team business mentor for NSF I-Corps Program.

As a consultant for the Kansas Small Business Development Center at JCCC, Stephanie Willis uses her expertise as a seasoned sales, marketing and management leader to assist business owners. She has the unique ability to merge her corporate career as VP Sales and Marketing with her experience of purchasing, running and selling two of her own businesses. She brings broad industry experience as well as insight into hiring, compensating and motivating employees. Having spent time on corporate boards and executive committees, she also fully understands the budgeting and financial influences within an organization. She received a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Kansas and an MBA from Rockhurst University. She is also a NASBITE Certified Global Business Professional.

John Addessi is a Business Advisor, adjunct instructor and Certified Global Business Professional with the Kansas Small Business Development Center at Johnson County Community College. John teaches seminars and consults on topics such as financing, business plans, marketing, international trade, e-commerce and more. Prior to joining the Kansas SBDC at JCCC, John was a consultant with the Kansas SBDC at Washburn University. John spent 15 years in management in the public and private sectors. He supervised the Language Learning Center at the University of Rhode Island and was sales manager for central Kansas with CellularONE. He received his bachelor’s degree in Russian and his MBA in general management from the University of Rhode Island. John has owned his own e-commerce sites and is familiar with the challenges facing small businesses in a competitive market.

Jessica Ervin is the Technology Innovation Director for the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center Network. She began her career with the SBDC in 2015 as a part time general business advisor and transitioned to full time the in 2016. In her current role she assists clients with technology commercialization, contracting with the Department of Defense and other federal agencies, SBIR/STTR proposals, and strategic planning. Jessica holds a Bachelor’s Degree in business with a minor in education from Texas A&M-Commerce. Continuing her professional development, she has earned certifications in Export and Trade Counseling, Technology Commercialization, Advanced Facilitator Training, Credit Counseling, and GrowthWheel. Prior to joining Oklahoma SBDC, Jessica was involved in marketing, public relations, retail merchandising, and nonprofit management. She has a background in production, competition, and event promotion within the bucking stock industry. Jessica enjoys reading and spending time with her children. She is active in her community, church, and her local school district.

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