European Entrepreneurship & Innovation Thought Leaders Seminar

Speaker Bios - Winter 2014

January 6

Alice Zagury, TheFamily (FR)

Alice Zagury - CEO & Co-Founder, TheFamily (FR)

Alice Zagury - the “French startup Mama” - is fiercely involved in making the Parisian digital ecosystem no more toxic. An EMLYON Business School alumni, she launched Le Camping, the first startup accelerator in France. Indeed, back in 2010 she was offered to be in charge of the project and she accepted the job with one condition: to travel all over Europe, discover the different ecosystems and use this experience as an inspiration to create a unique place for the French market. Three seasons, 36 startups and 18 fundraisings later, it was time to leave for a new adventure.

She is now the co-Founder & CEO at TheFamily, the ecosystem accelerator with a very ambitious mission: aligning the interests of the main local actors by offering a programme of education and unfair advantages for startups, investors, corporates and high officials.

Alice puts unlimited tenacity and hard work to make a change in a French landscape ruled by elistism and where nor youth neither diversity are admitted. TheFamily is backed by Index Ventures and accelerates 70+ startups in France.


Sasha Galitsky, Almaz Capital Partners (RU)

Sasha Galitsky - Managing Partner, Almaz Capital Partners (RU)

Alexander Galitsky is Managing Partner of Almaz Capital Partners, Skolkovo Board Member, a well-known innovator, entrepreneur and investor in Russia, in USA and Europe, and President of the first Russian TechTour in 2004. Prior to co-founding of Almaz Capital Partners in 2008 with Cisco Systems and UFG Asset Management, he formed the Information and Communications Technology investment practice at Russian Technologies, one of the first venture capital funds in Russia.

Prior to his investment career, Sasha founded and led as CEO five successful companies in the software, communications, semiconductor, internet and security sectors: Elvis, Elvis+, RCR Inc, Elvis Telecom, TrustWrosk Systems. Alexander has also been an individual investor and advisory/board member for a number of companies, including Parallels, S-Terra, NavMaps (sold to TeleAtlas in 2007), EzWIM (sold to TMT Ventures in 2010), Start-Telecom (control packet of shares was sold in 2007), WikiMart, Yam Labs, Magnifire (now F5, Nasdaq: FFIV), Acronis, and PGP Inc. Being a General Partner of Almaz Capital Partners, Sasha managed successful investments in such Almaz portfolio companies as Parallels, Acumatica, QIK, Vyatta, Jelastic, AlterGeo and others.

In 1993, he negotiated the first overseas and direct investment (to Elvis+) ever made by Sun Microsystems and pioneered in WiFi and VPN development.

Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Alexander served as one of the top Technical Executives for the Soviet Space industry. He has over 30 patents for numerous inventions, including parallel processing, WiFi and VPN Security technologies. Alexander was honored as the most influential person in the Russian IT and Internet industry, and named "Technology Pioneer" at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2000. In 2012 he was nominated as the best investor in Europe of the last decade.

He earned his PhD in Computer Science from the joint authority of the Defense Research Institute and MIPT.


January 13

Signe Viimsalu, Estonian Business Angels Network (Estonia)

Signe Viimsalu - CEO, Estonian Business Angel Network (EE)

Signe Viimsalu is CEO of the Estonian Business Angel Network. EstBAN was established in late 2012 with the goal of growing the quantity and quality of local seed investors and investments in the region.

Signe started her career as a lawyer in 1998 at Intrum Iustitia, Europe’s leading Credit Management Services’ company. In 2001 Signe joined Enterprise Estonia to provide legal expertise and implement the quality management systems needed to draw down on EU structural funds to Estonia for years 2004-2006 and 2007-2013. She has been involved in drafting several programs for entrepreneurs and laws including the Individuals’ Debt Protection and Debt Adjustment Act, Bankruptcy Act, Reorganization Act, Structural Assistance Act and the Public Procurement Act. In 2006-2007 she held two positions simultaneously at the Estonian Ministry of Justice. While her advisory tasks were connected to the supervision of insolvency practitioners, coordination of international relations and law-making, she also acted as head of the legal department of the Ministry.

In 2007 Signe moved to the Estonian Development Fund to provide legal expertise on setting up the first public VC fund and fund manager structures, support high growth within local start-ups and encourage inward early-stage investments. In fulfilling her legal tasks she interviewed key players of potential portfolio companies, conducted due diligence, negotiated shareholder agreements and advised clients on legal and financial matters.

In 2011 Signe left the (semi)public sector to join Glimstedt, the regional law firm, in order to set up and market Corporate Advisory and Finance solutions. She has advised clients on a number of entrepreneurial issues including quality management, corporate law and good governance, corporate finance, start-ups, VC, M&A, (cross-border) insolvency, tax, contracts, competition and EU law, intellectual property law, employment law and administrative law.

Signe is co-founder of think tank THETA, co-chair of INSOL Europe’s Eastern European Committee, and an Estonian associate of WynRiver and Invesdor. Besides giving lectures and trainings in Europe, Signe has been invited to Central Europe, Indonesia and India as a visiting consultant to assist with the development of corporate governance, business development and cross border insolvency programs for local authorities & universities.

Signe is a multitasking integrative doer, an inventive mind, executive coach, a lawyer having a mag.iur and Ph.D in international insolvency law. She considers her strength is the ability to work productively both as a practitioner and an academic in both private and public sector.


Uwe Horstmann, Project-A Ventures (DE)

Uwe Horstmann - Founding Partner, Project-A Ventures (DE)

Uwe co-founded investment firm Project-A Ventures ($100Mn+ fund) in 2012, where he focuses on product management, internationalization and deal flow for both incubation projects as well as seed stage deals. Project-A invests between $500K and $3Mn per company and supports portfolio companies with an operational team of 100 experts based in Berlin, Germany and Sao Paulo, Brazil. At Project-A, Uwe also served as interim CEO of Tirendo (sold after 18 months for $70Mn) and he is now on the board of Saatchi Online.

Prior to Project-A, he worked as a senior manager with Berlin-based startup incubator Rocket Internet (mostly known for its ventures eDarling, Zalando and CityDeal|Groupon) from its founding in 2007. From 2009-2012 he served as Managing Director at Rocket, focusing primarily on international rollouts.

After having served with the United Nations in the war-torn regions of Eastern and Central Africa, he discovered his passion for humanitarian logistics and remains active in this field until today, working e.g. as a strategic consultant to Oxfam, trying to bring learnings from the private sector to the NGO space.

He is a regular lecturer in Entrepreneurship at his alma mater WHU and is pursuing PhD studies in Entrepreneurship at RWTH Aachen. Uwe studied business administration at WHU, the Otto Beisheim School of Management in Vallendar, Germany. He is also a judge in business plan competitions held by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.


Andrus Viirg, Enterprise Estonia Silicon Valley

Andrus Viirg - Director, Enterprise Estonia Silicon Valley (EE)

Andrus Viirg is the Director of Enterprise Estonia, Silicon Valley (from 2007), which is the representative office of Enterprise Estonia - a state foundation for business, trade as well as technology support and development. Mr. Viirg has also served as the Director of the Estonian Investment Agency (2001-2003). 

During the 1990's Andrus followed an international career with the World Bank Group (IBRD and IFC) heading the Bank Group Office in Tallinn, Estonia (1995-2001); and with the International Monetary Fund in Washington, DC, as an Assistant to the Executive Director (1992-1994). Mr. Viirg has also worked for the Bank of Estonia (the Central Bank) on relations with international financial institutions. 

Andrus holds a diploma of engineering from the Tallinn University of Technology (1983) in the areas of automation and software engineering. He has also graduated from the Estonian School of Diplomacy (1992) in foreign trade relations. Mr. Viirg combines technical and economics knowledge with hands on experience in software development and electronics. 

As the Director of Enterprise Estonia, Silicon Valley, Andrus is responsible for building up the network of contacts enabling Estonian tech companies to access the US market, as well as promoting Estonia for foreign direct investment.


January 27

Vassil Terziev, Telerik (BG)

Vassil Terziev – CEO & Co-Founder, Telerik (BG)

Vassil is a co-Founder and CEO of Telerik, an end-to-end provider of application development tools and solutions for building and analyzing cross-platform and mobile applications. He is a seasoned executive with a successful international track record of turning a small start-up into one of the fastest growing companies in Central and Eastern Europe, and into a global leading provider of software development tools, solutions and services.

As a co-Founder of Telerik, Vassil played a key role in growing the sales, support and business development units of the company. He was also instrumental in establishing Telerik’s fanatical dedication to its customers and to providing industry standard-setting customer support. Vassil’s vision has helped Telerik enjoy a solid track record of growing revenues and profitability in the ever changing developer tools marketplace.

Prior to co-founding Telerik, Vassil has served in various roles in companies from the real estate, investment and high-tech industries. Vassil holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the American University in Bulgaria. He is based in Telerik’s office in Sofia, Bulgaria.


Japec Jakopin, Seaway (SI)

Japec Jakopin - CEO & Co-Founder, Seaway (SI)

Japec is CEO and co-Founder of Seaway. Based in Ljubljana, Slovenia, Seaway is the world's leading boat development company, with over 270 designs giving life to more than 65,000 boats and yachts, manufactured by 48 boat-builders from 20 countries. Over 60 of these designs have earned 'Boat of the Year', as well as Design and Environmental awards from around the world.

Today, Seaway is a global leader in the supply of milling, engineering, tooling, composite production technologies and prototyping for composite-related and marine industries. It provides design, engineering and tooling to production sailboat and powerboat builders, transport, wind power and other industries.


February 3

Mikkel Svane, Zendesk (DK)

Mikkel Svane - CEO & Co-Founder, Zendesk (DK)

Mikkel founded Zendesk with Morten Primdahl and Alexander Aghassipour to make great customer service available to everyone and create software that people love to use. Today, he leads Zendesk’s global operations and business strategy with those same goals in mind.

A Dane-turned-San Franciscan, Mikkel in 2009 moved the company from Copenhagen to San Francisco. He keeps Zendesk’s Danish design roots at the center of the product while growing the number of people using it to hundreds of millions worldwide. During his earlier time in Denmark, Mikkel led a service-management consulting group, founded a software company for online community and launched Denmark’s first community portal.


Martin Reiter, Airbnb & Groupon (emeritus) (Austria)

Martin Reiter - Head|VP, Int'l Growth (emeritus), Airbnb & Groupon (AT)

Based in Vienna, Martin recently led Airbnb's international operations from 2011 to Spring of 2013, during which time he built out the firm’s global presence by expanding the sales and marketing team from 1 to 250 FTE employees across 12 offices on 4 continents (North America, Asia, Latin America and Europe). Reporting to Airbnb’s CEO, Martin served as a member of the company’s executive team, and helped the company scale from 40 to 700 employees in just two years

Prior to coming to Airbnb, Martin worked at McKinsey from 2007 to 2011 as a B2B commercial turnaround expert, when he left to join Groupon. As Groupon’s Vice President International, Martin was responsible for the integration of two major overseas acquisitions (Qpod in Japan and darberry in Russia). His work encompassed improving business performance and profitability at these new subsidiaries thru alignment of strategy, optimization of their operations processes, and also via recruitment of new local senior management talent.

Martin studied at the University of Graz, where he obtained Masters’ degrees in Law, Business and Philosophy.


February 10

Jeff Lynn, Seedrs (UK)

Jeff Lynn - CEO & Co-Founder, Seedrs (UK)

Jeff Lynn is CEO and co-Founder of Seedrs, one of the world’s leading equity crowdfunding platforms. Based in London, Seedrs allows investors across Europe to invest from £/€ 10 up in startups they choose—and it allows entrepreneurs across Europe to raise capital from friends, family, their communities, angels and the crowds—all through a simple online process. Since its launch in July 2012, Seedrs has raised over £4.8 million across 51 deals.

Jeff began his career as a corporate lawyer with Sullivan & Cromwell in New York and London. He has previously served as co-chairman of a seed-stage investment fund, and he is currently a non-executive director of Companies House (the British government agency responsible for corporate registrations and data) and as founding Chairman of The Coalition for a Digital Economy (Coadec). GQ magazine named him the 55th most influential man in Britain in 2013.

Jeff holds an MBA and BCL (advanced law degree) from the University of Oxford, a JD from the University of Virginia and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania.


Igor Kocis, Geothermal Anywhere (Slovakia)

Matija Kopic - Founder & CEO, Farmeron (HR)

Matija is the CEO of Farmeron, a cloud-based farm business management software company located in Osijek, Croatia. Coming from an agricultural background, he founded Farmeron with a vision to integrate different disconnected farming data sources, allowing producers across the world to consolidate their databases and become more efficient managers.

Matija is an IT engineer but today runs the company's expansion to different markets around the world. He graduated in 2010 from University of Zagreb. During study, Matija received prestigious Rector's Award. Matija has also graduated from music school and has written a musical book. In 2012, he was decorated with the Presidential Order for Innovation by the President of the Republic of Croatia.


February 24

Giuseppe Zocco, Index Ventures (Switzerland)

Giuseppe Zocco - Partner & Co-Founder, Index Ventures (CH)

Giuseppe co-founded Index Ventures with David Rimer and Neil Rimer in 1996. His investment focus is on growth-stage companies in the areas of online services and software, e-commerce and branded consumer products.

His current investments include Milestone Systems, Moleskine (MSK.MI), MutuiOnLine (MOL.MI),, Privalia and Zendesk. He was involved with several prior Index investments, including RPX (Nasdaq: RPXC), Ciao AG (Microsoft), Numerical Technologies (Synopsis), Virata (Nasdaq: VRTA, Conexant) and Digiquant (Intec).

Prior to founding Index Ventures, Giuseppe spent five years as a consultant with McKinsey & Company in several European offices, advising major corporations on a number of strategic and organizational matters including European entry strategies, strategic positioning, marketing, and new product introductions.


Emrah Yalaz, String Ventures (Turkey)

Emrah Yalaz - Co-Founder, String Ventures (TR)

Emrah Yalaz is the co-founder of String Ventures, an Istanbul-based product design studio aimed at young startup ecosystems, focused on incubation and seed stage deals. Between 1998 and 2009, he designed, built and launched enterprise software products focused on data analytics, solving large quantitative problems rapidly. The hit product handles the life-cycle of a mortgage loan, and handles 6 of 10 mortgages originated in US.

Since 2003 he has trained over 400 software engineers, designers and quants from top science and engineering schools such as MIT, Harvard, University of Chicago, Stanford, Oxbridge, Moscow State University, IITB and Tsinghua University. Participants have post-graduate degrees — about 12% PhDs, 40% Master’s degrees– and most now work for technology startups, research-oriented software firms or companies such as Google, Facebook, McKinsey and Goldman Sachs. 
In 2009 he started consulting technology startups in San Francisco and Istanbul. 
In 2013 he started teaching technology startups at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul.

Emrah holds a BA from Boğaziçi University and an MBA from Loyola University of Chicago. He lives and works in San Francisco and Istanbul.


March 3

Lieven Vermaele, SDNsquare (BE)

Lieven Vermaele - CEO, SDNsquare (BE)

Lieven Vermaele is the CEO of SDNsquare, a start-up company he co-founded in 2011 in Ghent. Based on innovative technologies like Software Defined Networking, the company has storage and network solutions that lead to extreme efficiency, absolute reliability and easy manageability for the media, medical and military domain. Where other companies guarantee connectivity SDNsquare guarantees data pipes end to end. He started his career in 2000 at the Belgian Flemish public broadcaster VRT, where he played a key role in developing and implementing the organization’s digital strategy. He was in charge of the negotiations with Telco operators and with the Flemish Government of VRT's management contract for 2006-2011. After more than six years with VRT he moved in 2006 to the telecommunications company Alcatel Lucent, and from there he moved to the EBU/Eurovision.

Since mid-2007, Lieven was Director of Technology and Innovation at the EBU - Eurovision, the European Broadcasting Union. Lieven Vermaele was also responsible for DVB, Chairman of DigiTAG, and the ETSI/EBU/CENELEC Joint Technical Committee, which is responsible for setting European standards for media and broadcasting systems (WorlDMB, DVB, Hbb.TV).

Mr. Vermaele is also member of the council of IBC, the European largest media industry event. Lieven has given many presentations across the world on the media future, and has written articles on this that have appeared in leading publications.

As media organisations face a challenging period of transition, where new technologies and business models are emerging more quickly than ever before, Lieven‘s passion is to ensure that media organisations are able to operate within the optimal technical frameworks in terms of cost effectiveness, maximizing their audience and reach, and enhancing the media consumer’s experience.

Lieven holds a master’s degree in Science Engineering from the University of Ghent and several postgraduate degrees. He is married, has one child, and works in Switzerland and Belgium.

Martin Hauge, Creandum (SE)

Martin Hauge - General Partner, Creandum (SE)

Martin has been General Partner at Creandum, Nordic Europe’s leading venture capital firm, since 2004. Prior to moving to the investment side, he co-founded several companies in Scandinavia including Interaction Design (Norway, 1997, acquired by Adcore in 1999) and Creuna (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, 2001, with venture capital from Borea Private Equity and Atlantis Vest), which he successfully exited in 2004 after joining Creandum.

As a Creandum Partner, Martin has served on the boards of Jays AB (IPO on First North), Nanoradio AB (acquired by Samsung), and Iptronics A/S (acquired by Mellanox). Today he sits on the boards of Appear TV AS, Vivino ApS and Autobutler ApS. He also served as CEO of several companies (Return Aksjeselskapet, Ambrasoft and Olivetti AS) for more than 15 years. Privately, Martin is a co-founder and the chairman of a family business running hotels and restaurants in Norway.

Martin holds a M.Sc from NTH-NTNU in Trondheim, and pursued law studies at the University of Copenhagen and business studies at IMD in Lausanne and the Stanford GSB in Silicon Valley.

Wim De Waele, iMinds (BE)

Wim De Waele - CEO, iMinds (BE)

Wim De Waele is CEO of iMinds, headquartered in Ghent, Belgium. iMinds specializes in interdisciplinary research and development in the software sector, working with companies and other partners on the newest technologies in domains such as networking, media, security and healthcare. Besides his general management duties, he also leads the market strategy and incubation efforts of iMinds with strong focus on the development of new start-up companies and business acceleration of technology concepts.

Wim De Waele obtained his master degrees in Economic Sciences and Computer Sciences at the University of Ghent in 1987. He started his career as scientific researcher at the university in the area of artificial intelligence in industrial applications. He continued this work at Siemens R&D in Belgium and München.

After that he built the European consulting organisation of the Canadian software company Numetrix, specialized in planning software for the consumer packaged goods and process industry. In 1994 Wim joined i2 Technologies as Services Director for Europa, where he also built te European organisation from zero. He then was promoted to vice-president of consumer goods and retail, and moved to i2 headquarters in Dallas. Upon his return to Europe in 2001, he became Chief Technology Officer of the distressed Real Software Group. After the turn-around and sale of the company to a private euqity group, he left Real Software for iMinds on august 1st, 2004.

Wim De Waele is also involved in public initiatives such as the new media center De Waalse Krook ( and start-up companies such as Continuum ( and SonicAngel ( He lives with partner An Gyselinck and kids in his town of birth, Ghent, in Belgium. In his spare time he enjoys music, travel and culinary experiments that he carries out himself.


March 10

Gyula Feher, Ustream (Hungary)

Gyula Feher - Co-Founder & CTO, Ustream (HU)

Gyula Feher is co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Ustream, the leading technology platform for live video streaming. A native of Budapest, Hungary, Gyula is focused on setting the product and technology strategy, as well as managing the spectrum of overseas development efforts of the Ustream engineering team. His team has built the company’s proprietary Ustream Content Delivery Network (UCDN), Ustream Media Server (UMS), and Ustream TCP Congestion Control Algorithm (UTCP), and they continue to drive the company’s vision through innovation.


Marcin Treder - UXPin (PL)

Marcin Treder - CEO & Founder, UXPin (PL)

Marcin Treder, Founder & CEO of UXPin, is a design enthusiast from Gdansk, Poland who literally lives for creating the best user experience possible. After years of working as UX Designer and UX Manager, he focused on his own startup UXPin – The UX Design Platform - which provides tools for UX Designers all over the world.

UXPin was recently funded by Andreessen/Horowitz, Freestyle Capital, IDG Ventures, Gill Penchina and others...Follow Marcin on Twitter (@marcintreder) and read his blog –


Burton Lee

Dr. Burton Lee - Lecturer, Stanford Engineering

Dr. Burton Lee PhD MBA, Lecturer, Department of Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Lee's professional credentials span over 15 years of senior executive leadership and advisory positions with venture-backed startups, global technology corporations, venture capital and private equity firms, federal S&T agencies, state economic development offices, leading research universities, foreign governments and industry associations. His management and technical experience includes senior executive and research positions with Hewlett Packard, GE Global Research, DaimlerChrysler AG and NASA in the United States, Europe and Japan. Burton's research interests include Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA), diagnostics, prognostics, maintenance and customer support for complex industrial systems; product design and development, including DfX, design-for-sustainability and -environment methodologies; artificial intelligence (Bayesian networks, ontologies, knowledge representation); aerospace systems; unmanned vehicles, robotics, electric transportation systems; open innovation in mechatronic systems; and innovation policy.

Dr. Lee is Managing Director of Innovarium Ventures, a strategic, financial and technical advisory services firm based in Silicon Valley. He also served as Co-Founder and Managing Director of Space Angels Network, a professionally managed national network of accredited investors focused on seed- and early-stage aerospace-related ventures. 

Dr. Lee's European experience includes 12+ years of professional and academic assignments in Dublin (Member, National Innovation Taskforce, Office of the Prime Minister, Govt of Ireland - 2009/2010), Stuttgart (DaimlerChrysler Research Labs), Munich (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München), Vienna (Bundesamt für Eich- und Vermessungswesen), Geneva (International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations - IUF), Prague (Univerzita Karlova v Praze), Barcelona, London, Gdansk, Warsaw, Moscow, Sofia, Helsinki, Vilnius, Tallinn, Riga, Minsk, Berlin, Dortmund, Venice, Paris and Brussels. 

Burton holds a PhD in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering (minor) from Stanford University (2002), and an MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurship (Cornell, 2004). He speaks German and Spanish.


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