Judges & Emcee

SSM organizers seek to create a high-profile judging panel with expertise and knowledge in digital media, with a mix of entrepreneurs, investors, and technologists. And, our track record is pretty awesome…

Kori Hale (Emcee)
Founder and CEO of CultureBanx
Kori Hale is the CEO and Co-Founder of CultureBanx, a digital news platform redefining business and tech news for minorities. Her online platform delivers high quality content focused on market-driven stories, innovative products and services that culture leads the way in transforming.

Sarah Beth Lardie
Principal/Fundraising Consultant, StratFund Services
Serial entrepreneur & perpetual do-gooder. Sarah Beth Lardie launched a social entrepreneurship fund that supported the work of 16 unique ventures across the United States, then used that experience to mentor and support the creation of local incubators in South Africa, Rwanda, Uganda, and the EU. She operates her own company, StratFundServices, to provide fundraising & organizational development consulting to organizations doing something that means something.

Katie Russel
Head of Business Development, Draper University
Katie is currently Head of Business Development at Draper University and an investor with DraperU Ventures. Russel is highly experienced in social media marketing, public relations, and business scaling.  After earning her BA from the University of Colorado Boulder, Katie has spent the past 9 years working to boost business development for companies in Fintech, Social Networking, and Education.

David Robinson, Jr.
Social Impact at Admiral Capital, CoFounder at Blueprint Local
David joined Admiral Capital Group to build on its mission to make a strong social impact in the cities where the firm invests.  Admiral Capital takes 10% of profits and utilizes investments to create opportunities to support communities. For example, Admiral Capital Group purchased a Hilton Hotel in Houston, TX and created the Admiral Hospital scholars program in partnership with Hilton, University of Houston and local school districts. The program provides internships and college scholarships for high school students in Houston interested in hospitality. Moving forward, David’s goal is to expand Admiral’s platform to making direct impact investments as well as scaling the philanthropic work.

Clyde Hutchinson
Head of Innovation, Viva Air Labs
Clyde has over 20 years’ experience in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship. He has lead an external innovation program in the area of aviation, aerospace & travel tech on behalf of investors like Boeing, Datalex, the Irish Aviation Authority and Enterprise Ireland. He has developed internal innovation programs for organisation as varied as a leading aviation leasing organisation through to a national healthcare system. Prior to this Clyde worked with some of the world’s’ leading universities, including Cambridge University, the University of Tokyo and Imperial College.


Jen Kay (Emcee)
Director of Marketing/Partnership Development and Entrepreneur in Residence
As Marketing Director and EIR at Launch Tennessee in Nashville, Jennifer is tasked with building a brand strategy, marketing products and events, expanding national partnerships and strengthening the statewide entrepreneur network. Previously she ran global operations at a venture-backed consumer startup in Berlin, Germany. She spent 10 years in the media industry in New York City, managing digital for national brands.

Abe Minkara
Director of Business Development Mark Cuban Companies
Abe Minkara ​ ​oversees the portfolio of Shark Tank and Consumer Product companies at Mark Cuban Companies. Abe also manages a team that supports these companies with accounting, operations, ecommerce, sales, and marketing services. He received his MBA from the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.
Rei Wang
Director, Dorm Room Fund
First Round Capital
Rei is the Director of Dorm Room Fund, the largest student-run venture firm in the nation and backed by First Round Capital.

Jesse Draper
Tech Investor, Creator & Host
Jesse Draper is founding partner of Halogen Ventures as well as creator and host of 2015 Emmy nominated television series,“The Valley Girl Show”.  Draper is a 4th generation venture capitalist focused on early stage investing in female founded consumer technology. As speaker, moderator and emcee, she has interviewed Fortune500 CEOs, hosted the opening ceremonies of The America’s Cup, emceed awards shows in US and Europe and has delivered speeches about women in technology, entrepreneurship and digital media.
Jeremy King
Executive VP & CTO, Walmart U.S. and Global Platforms - @WalmartLabs & Jet technology
Jeremy King is executive vice president and chief technology officer for all U.S. Walmart stores and ecommerce. His organization consists of U.S. retail technology, @WalmartLabs, and Jet technology – including a global presence in infrastructure, cloud and data platforms. Jeremy has been on the forefront of cloud computing and brings over 20 years of experience to building highly available and scalable technology platforms to support global commerce operations.
Ron Faris
Founder and GM Nike Digital Innovation Studio
Ron​ ​Faris​ ​is​ ​GM​ ​of​ ​Nike’s​ ​Digital​ ​Innovation​ ​Studio​ ​in​ ​NYC.​ ​Most​ ​recently,​ ​he​ ​was Founder​ ​&​ ​CEO​ ​of​ ​Virgin​ ​Mega​ ​(recently​ ​acquired​ ​by​ ​Nike),​ ​a​ ​tech​ ​startup​ ​dedicated​ ​to pioneering​ ​new​ ​social​ ​and​ ​community​ ​interactions​ ​for​ ​mobile​ ​Millennials.​ ​​ ​Prior​ ​to​ ​that, he​ ​ran​ ​Brand​ ​Marketing​ ​at​ ​Virgin​ ​Mobile​ ​USA​ ​where​ ​he​ ​was​ ​responsible​ ​for​ ​driving​ ​brand strategy,​ ​as​ ​well​ ​as​ ​all​ ​aspects​ ​of​ ​creative​ ​and​ ​consumer-facing​ ​offline​ and​ ​online engagement.​
Jamie Hirschhorn
Global Product Partnerships, Google Assistant, Google
Jamie Hirschhorn​ ​currently works on Global Product Partnerships for the Google Assistant. Her team at Google helps developers with discoverability and re-engagement integrations across core Google services, including the Assistant & Search. Jamie specializes in emerging surfaces, focusing on strong partner experiences across new visual and voice modalities. Jamie studied Finance & English at the University of Florida, and resides in San Francisco.
Carmen Palafox
Partner Make in LA
Carmen is a Partner at Make in LA, an accelerator and early stage venture fund that invests  in technology-enabled hardware (IoT, robotics, wearables, frontier tech). She was formerly VP at Dimensional where she scaled operations into new markets, including Latin America, Canada, and Europe. Carmen also served as a consultant to startups in operations, fundraising, and growth.

Chris James
Senior Managing Director, Blackstone
Chris James is a Senior Managing Director of The Blackstone Group and Chief Operating Officer of Blackstone Tactical Opportunities. Chris is a member of the Investment Committee for the Tactical Opportunities funds. As part of his responsibilities managing the Tactical Opportunities funds, Chris regularly meets and advises entrepreneurs and business builders regarding their investment and business ideas. Prior to launching Tactical Opportunities in 2012, Mr. James previously managed a number of the firm’s business development and growth efforts.

Patrick Ambron

Patrick Ambron
CEO & Co-Founder at BrandYourself.com
Patrick is the CEO and co-founder of BrandYourself.com, the first DIY platform that makes it simple for anyone to take control of their own search results. BrandYourself offers online reputation products or services no matter what your level of need.

Patrick is recognized as a leading expert in online reputation management and Search Engine Optimization. In 2011, his company was named New York’s # 1 Emerging Technology Business, making his team the youngest company ever to win the $200K prize. He was recognized by the White House as one of the Empact 100 Top CEO’s under 30, named Young Entrepreneur of the year by the SBA, and most recently, named to Inc Magazines “Top 35 under 35” list. Additionally, Patrick strives to impart his knowledge on other thinkers and creators as a General Assembly Instructor. In this role, Patrick provides GA attendees with education on opportunities in the Online Reputation and tech sphere.

Martin Babinec

Martin Babinec
Martin Babinec Works leading multiple initiatives to build a startup ecosystem across the Upstate New York region. He is an active angel investor and LP/advisor in several venture funds. He founded TriNet Group, Inc., serving as CEO 1988-2008 and Chairman till 2010; remain active as a significant shareholder and TriNet Director.

Laura Chau

Laura Chou
Laura Chau is an investor at Canaan Partners, where she focuses on investments in early-stage enterprise and consumer tech companies.Prior to joining Canaan, Laura worked at Deloitte Consulting as part of the Strategy and Operations practice in San Francisco. There, she focused on advising clients on growth strategy and post-merger integrations. She served a broad range of clients across the tech, telecom, healthcare, financial services and energy sectors.

Brian Cohen

Brian Cohen
Chairman of New York Angels, and initial investor in Pinterest.
Brian Cohen serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of New York Angels and was initial investor in Pinterest. Previously, Brian developed Good Cause Communications and was the Founder of Technology Solutions, Inc (TSI). Before launching TSI, he was a founding Publisher of Computer Systems News and InformationWeek magazine at CMP Publications. While in graduate school, he was involved with pioneering computer trade publications including Personal Computing Magazine and Minicomputer News from Benwill Publishing. He is a frequent speaker on topics related strategic communication, entrepreneurism and early startup investing. Brian received a Masters Degree in Science Communications from Boston University’s School of Public Communications in 1978 and received two Honor B.S. degrees from Syracuse University in Biology and Speech Communications.

Trace Cohen

Trace Cohen
Founder & President, Launch.it (former student entrepreneur)
Trace Cohen is a serial entrepreneur in NYC and now the Managing Director of NYVP making angel investments in the best startups/founders.

He was the President and Co-Founder of Launch.it, a new self-publishing platform for PR professionals, agencies and brands to launch and socialize everything new.

Prior to that Trace was an SVP at iFluencePR where he “created understanding for a complex world.” He specializes in strategic PR for tech companies looking to develop their communications, branding and outreach strategies to connect with their communities and costumers with transparency.

Ben Dyer

Ben Dyer Currently serves as the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. He is a Serial Entrepreneur in software, digital media, banking, mobile, venture capital, technology. Best known as founding president of Peachtree Software. Member of Georgia Technology Hall of Fame.

Nicole Glaros

Nicole Glaros
Managing Director, TechStars
Nicole got her entrepreneurial start in the 4th grade, orchestrating cousins into theatrical plays and charging neighbors admission. From there, she founded three startups, the first of which had a healthy exit and the last two which failed miserably. Since then, she’s spent over a decade working with and funding early-stage web software companies. Most recently, she’s been with Techstars since it’s early days as a humble program in Boulder, Colorado, and has helped expand the brand and operations. In addition to running the Colorado office, she’s also been part of the launch in Texas, and headed operations in NYC. She was named one of the “Coolest People in New York Tech” by Business Insider in 2013 and Marie Claire named her one of the “NewGuard”.

Kristina Hahn

Kristina Hahn
Executive at Google
Kristina joined Google in 2006 to launch the Google Audio platform, the early days of programmatic radio. Google Audio was a natural fit because she started her career in radio spending over eight years in national and local advertising sales for Clear Channel. Since then, she has been at the forefront of online live streaming brokering the deal between YouTube, VEVO and American Express to create the award-winning Unstaged music series. Launched in 2010 with over 15 installments, Unstaged brings together breakthrough artists playing at landmark venues directed by influential filmmakers using digital and social media to connect the online audience to the live shows in unexpected ways.  A graduate of Syracuse University, Kristina has a B.A. in both Political Science and Broadcast Journalism.

Sandy Khaund

Sandy Khaund
former Senior Director of Emerging Technologies, Turner Broadcasting

Sandy has a unique mix of business, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills coupled with deep technical expertise in complex software systems & social computing. Diverse background including engineering management, strategy consulting, product marketing, business development, and startup experience across enterprise software, internet technologies, and mobile devices. Held managerial positions across aerospace, semiconductors, software, internet, education, and broadcast media industries.

Peter S Magnusson

Peter Magnusson
former Engineering Director, Google
Way too many years of experience as a computer scientist, programmer, executive, columnist, entrepreneur. Has held a broad range of roles including engineering, marketing, and chief executive. ACM Fellow for pioneering work in computer architecture simulation. The original developer of Simics, the most widely used computer simulation platform in academia and industry. Founded Virtutech and sold to Intel. Started Google Cloud Platform and built Google App Engine into a business. Bootstrapped several engineering teams at a nascent Snapchat. Currently SVP of Oracle Public Cloud development. In his spare time, his interests include genetic genealogy and research on intelligence quotient.

Jim McKelvey

Jim McKelvey
Co-founder & Director, Square
Jim is co-founder of Square, one of the hottest startups, revolutionizing the way people make payments. Jim was named as one of Inc Magazine’s “15 Entrepreneurs to Watch” in 2015. Since then, he has started LaunchCode, making it possible for anyone to learn programming and land a full-time job in under six months, and is involved in the St. Louis, MO, startup scene. On May 10, 2012, during Big Omaha, Jim described a realization that he was “a mediocre IBM programmer” and how the death of his mother in 1988 compelled him to follow his passions. Soon after he started Square with Jack Dorsey (co-founder of Twitter).

Anis Uzzaman

Anis Uzzaman
General Partner & CEO at Fenox Venture Capital
Anis Uzzaman is the General Partner and founding member of Fenox Venture Capital. He oversees multi-million dollar funds that invest in Internet, mobile, social, cloud, and next-gen technologies. Anis has invested in over 50 startups in the United States, Japan, and Southeast Asia. Anis is an honored guest speaker in international conferences, workshops and seminars, has published more than 30 technical papers, and is the author of the “Startup Bible – The Silicon Valley Way of Developing Success.” Anis received his Master’s Degree in Electrical & Computer Engineering from Oklahoma State University and both his Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering, Electrical & Computer Engineering and his Ph.D in Computer Engineering from Tokyo Metropolitan University in Tokyo, Japan.

Brendon Kim

Brendon Kim
Open Innovation Fund - Samsung Electronics
Brendon Kim has been investing in early stage start-up companies for over 18 years. He was Managing Director and head of the Strategic Investments Group, at Samsung Electronics Open Innovation Center. His team drives investments in compelling early stage startups, empowering entrepreneurs to create break-out products with Samsung. Prior to joining Samsung, Brendon was a co-founding general partner of Altos Ventures where he was a lead investor and board member in numerous early-stage software and services companies. Before co-founding Altos Ventures, he was a strategy and management consultant in media, consumer and technology industries. Brendon received his MBA from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University and his BA from Princeton University.