2011 Mentor Bios
Mike Caslin is the Chairman and CEO of URGENT VC, a firm he founded in 2008 to support the development of sustainable cities through green venture development. He brings his 30 years of chief executive, entrepreneurial and environmental leadership in the business and academic sectors to the role, where he focuses on sustainable community plan consulting, carbon management advisory services, and green venture development.
Mike's expertise in entrepreneurship started with the founding of The Caslin Group, a corporate turnaround and crisis management consulting firm. The Caslin Group served 40 clients from 12 different industry segments specializing in small business corporate turnarounds, mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcy re‐organization, and small business growth strategies. In 1988, Mike switched gears to become a social entrepreneur and joined the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). He helped lead the company from insolvency in 1988 to $20 million annual revenue with a $10 million endowment by 2008. As CEO for 14 years, he helped raise over $125 million in private sector sponsorships and an additional $5 million from federal, state and local governments. NFTE now operates with a global system wide budget of $26 million in 13 countries and 31 states.
Mike's environmental leadership extends back to 1998 when he helped launch and served as the Board Chair of the Urban Ecology Institute at Boston College which provides 50 public schools, their teachers and their 5,000 students with a leading edge urban environmental curriculum. Mike has enjoyed sharing his experiences with his students as a joint Professor at Babson College, Arthur Blank Center for Entrepreneurship and CUNY‐Baruch College‐Zicklin School of Business, where he teaches Entrepreneurship, Social Enterprise Management and Sustainability at the graduate and undergraduate level.
Serving as a featured speaker at the United Nations Economic Commission of Europe (UNECE), a co‐ founder of Aspen Institute's Youth Entrepreneurship Strategy Group, and a past Policy Advisor to the UK's DEMOS Institute, Mike is a globally recognized leader on the forces related to entrepreneurship development. Mike is a graduate of Manhattanville College in Economics and Political Science.
Matthew Nordan is Vice President of Venrock, a premier capital firm originally established as the venture arm of the Rockefeller family. He focuses on breakthrough energy, environmental, and materials technolgogies from the firm's Cambridge, MA office. Prior to Venrock, Matthew was president of Lux Research, an advisory services firm for science-driven innovation that he co-founded in 2004. Under Matthew's leadership, the Lux Research analyst team became a globally recognized authority on the business and economic impact of emerging technologies, advising corporations, start-ups, financial institutions, and government. Before Lux, Matthew held a variety of senior management positions at emerging technology advisor Forrester Research in the US and Europe. Matthew has testified before the US Congress four times on emerging technology issues, advised the Committee to Review the National Nanotechnology Initiative of the National Academies, and been an invited speaker at university including Harvard, MIT, and Columbia. he is a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies and has advised the OECD on technology development for energy and environmental applications. A regular speaker at technology conferences, Matthew's views have been cited by news outlets inlcuding CNBC, ABC News, The Economist, Forbes, and Newsweek. Matthew is a summa cum laude graduate of Yale University, where he conducted cognitive neuroscience research on the neural pathways mediated emotion and memory.
Govi Rao is President and CEO of Noveda Technologies. Mr. Rao was formerly Vice President and General Manager of the Philips Solid State Lighting business in North America, responsible for pioneering sustainable technologies such as solid state lighting. Mr. Rao had previously held several leadership roles in Philips Lighting, including Senior Director of its professional lighting business and Vice President of Business Creation and Brand. His prior experience also includes several leadership roles at Specialty Chemical manufacturer Rohm and Haas Company (now part of Dow Chemical) across various businesses and regions. Mr. Rao is a founding member of the advisory board at the Institute for Sustainable Enterprise at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the New Jersey Technology Council and the Advisory Board at the Rutgers Chemistry and Chemical Biology department.
Managing Partner at Pegasus Capital Advisors. Steve Smith has over 25 years of experience as a senior executive founding, operating, and investing in diverse businesses in technology, media, energy, life sciences and financial services. Mr. Smith is particularly interested in building private equity and venture capital vehicles appropriate for Responsible Investing mandates. He currently provides consulting and advisory services working closely with corporate venture/equity groups, while helping early/growth stage companies develop strategies and raise capital. He has recently served as an advisor for Nike, Onvia, Akonni Biosystems, Validus DC, Tiba and The New York Times. Mr. Smith has also recently served as board member at Onvia (ONVI), Xcelaero/Aeromech, The Patent Board and Serenex . In addition to his core advisory efforts, he is active in sustainable development through his roles with TERI-NA, the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, the Wildlands and Woodlands Project and Save Chinas Tigers and a frequent contributor at Tallberg, Bellagio and Future in Review conferences.Prior to his current advisory focus, he was a venture partner at Global Technology Investments, and a Senior Managing Director at Ritchie Capital leading global private equity and venture capital. Prior to Ritchie, Mr. Smith served in several senior executive roles at GE over the course of 13 years. Most recently he was Senior Managing Director at GE Equity responsible for the Technology and Communications practice and the architect of the GE Equity strategy. Prior to this he worked in the office of the CEO and led the Corporate Ventures Group within GE Capital and the Global Business Development team at GE Money. Mr. Smith began his career at Booz Allen as a member of the Financial Services practice. He is a graduate of the Wharton School of Business and Southern Methodist University.