• The LaunchTown Experience™ Leadership Team

    Dr. Anthony Margida

    LaunchTown Experience™ President

    Anthony Margida, CEO, TechGrit, is an accomplished entrepreneurial ecosystem architect customizing startup programming for communities, universities, and corporations. His depth of experience spans business accelerator design, equity investment, private/public partnerships, company formation, and organization sustainability. As CEO of Akron Global Business Accelerator, Dr. Margida envisioned and spearheaded its transformation into an entrepreneurial super-hub, creating 450 new jobs and securing $75 M in equity investment while also securing over $10M in grant funding.
    His 30-year career in innovation has focused on developing/commercializing new technologies and the creation of companies spanning the specialty chemical, advanced materials, cleantech, IT and medical device industries. At HB Fuller he led development and global commercialization of a water based footwear adhesive offering an alternative to a highly abused toluene based staple. His Magnetorheological Fluid (MR) patents are widely cited and are core to GM’s Magneride suspensions on over one million vehicles.
    A nationally recognized thought leader, Dr. Margida serves on the US Council on Competitiveness, a non-partisan recommending organization for US policy. He has served on the Akron ARCHAngels Deal Flow Committee and the University of Akron Research Foundation Spark Fund Board focusing on investment of University technologies. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the College of Wooster, Dr. Margida received a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Akron and his business education from the University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School.


    Mario J. Fazio

    Partner with Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis

    Mario Fazio is Chair of both the Business & Corporate and Tax Practice Groups. Specializing in corporate partnership and real estate taxation. He represents a variety of corporate clients in startup and existing family businesses, sales and purchases of businesses, mergers, business succession planning and finance matters. He also counsels clients in estate planning, wills, trusts and healthcare directives. As a former IRS Chief Counsel, Mario helps to resolve IRS examinations, appeals and litigation. Named an Ohio Super Lawyer for the past 11 years, Mario is a frequent speaker on a variety of business and tax topics. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University and Case Western Reserve University School of Law. Mario can be reached at mfazio@meyersroman.com or 216-831-0042.

    Preeti Mahajan

    Founder and Managing Partner, Clipius Analytics

    Preeti Mahajan is the owner and managing partner of Clipius Analytics, a company focusing on streamlining processes in healthcare using data analytics. She has ten years work experience in the banking industry in the area, with a focus on customer service, financial services, business accounts management, and data analysis. She has worked in community and large national banks such as Regions Bank, First Southern Bank and Old National Bank. She is deeply embedded in the NE Ohio community, and has volunteered in numerous local community and school organizations. She has a double Masters including an MBA.


    Julie Messing

    Executive Director for Entrepreneurship Initiatives-LaunchNET
    Kent State University

    Julie Messing joined KSU to design, develop and lead The Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation, the Blackstone LaunchPad and now the NEO-LaunchNET program, serving students, faculty, staff and alumni from all disciplines. She also led the efforts in a grassroots initiative to create a connected innovation ecosystem across the campus and region.


    Julie is a founding director of the Entrepreneurship Education Consortium (EEC) and the recipient of the Paul L. Pfeiffer Creative Teaching Award and the Non-Tenure Track Teaching Award. Both recognize faculty for excellence in teaching. She is also President of her own consulting organization, Transitions Advisory Group, Inc.


    Steve Roberts

    Director, Technology Commercialization and Research Finance
    Kent State University

    Roberts received a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honors in Geography (1980) from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a Masters of Business Administration with concentrations in Management and Finance from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. After receiving his MBA, Roberts founded Innovative Title Systems, Inc., a technology driven start-up company in Seattle. Roberts joined Kent State University in 2016 as the Director of Technology Commercialization, charged with assisting faculty members, patent and copyright innovations and inventions, and helping to commercialize university owned Intellectual Property. He serves on the Kent State Patent Board and the Kent State Research Corporation. He is actively involved with Northeast Ohio economic development efforts such as The Fund for our Economic Future, JumpStart, TeamNEO, and Blockland.


    Andrea Margida, M.S.

    CEO and President, The Valentine Project Inc.
    President, TechGrit

    Andrea Margida has a long pedigree as an entrepreneur and educator. She is majority owner and President of TechGrit and serves as President and CEO of The Valentine Project, a nonprofit that lends support to families affected by childhood chronic illnesses, including cancer. She earned certification from the prestigious Cornell University Women’s Entrepreneurship Program and INBIA’s International Business Incubation Management. She is a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, serves on the Akron Public Schools Advisory Board for the Academy of Global Technology and Business Entrepreneurship and Marketing, and is a graduate of the Women's Network Community Leadership Institute. Her advanced degree in food science led her to practice sustainable agriculture, which she has done for nearly two decades, currently as proprietor of Morning Mist Farms. As an educator, Ms. Margida has taught language arts and science to middle and high school students and science, technology, and nutrition at Ohio University, West Virginia University, and Walsh University.


    Mark Weisman

    Navidar, Managing Director

    Weisman has vast experience in·advising business owners, entrepreneurs and CEOs on growth strategies and business development. Additionally, he advises small to middle market companies at various stages of their development on debt financing, capital raising and M&A transactions.


    Weisman draws on years of legal, management and advisory experience to counsel companies and their owners on a wide range of management, operational and financial issues. In addition, he works with business owners and their management on positioning companies for growth and exit.


    Mark has 30+ years of experience as a successful executive, entrepreneur, advisor and attorney. Throughout his career Mark has had significant experience as both an advisor and principal in a wide variety of M&A and financing transactions. His education includes a BS in Economics, cum laude, from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a JD, magna cum laude, from Boston University School of Law.

    Brian L. Davis, Ph.D.

    Chair of Mechanical Engineering at Cleveland State University.

    Brian L. Davis, Ph.D. is the chair of Mechanical Engineering at Cleveland State University. Prior to joining CSU, he was a Professor of Biomedical Engineering at The University of Akron, serving as Chair from 2012 to 2018. In addition, he was formerly Vice Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation.


    Davis received a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and master's in medicine (specializing in biomedical engineering) at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, and holds a Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University.

    Dr. James Keszenheimer

    University of Akron, Professor of Biomedical Engineering

    Dr. James Keszenheimer teaches Design in the Biomedical Engineering Department at the University of Akron. He has a diverse career in product development, and commercialization of new technologies, with a focus on photonics. He has been involved in numerous startups companies since his junior year in college and has co-founded or assisted early stage companies across the country, with over $150M invested. His commercial interests have covered biomedical, communications, imaging, industrial, aerospace, as well as consumer products.

    Chris Bolinger

    Technology Business Startup Consultant

    Chris Bolinger's multifaceted, 20-year professional journey spans a breadth of software engineering and product management roles, ultimately leading him to team dynamics and leadership development coaching across a multitude of industries. His entrepreneurial quest began following his product marketing role at Cisco Systems, when he co-visioned and founded Summit Data Communications, an Akron, Ohio based provider of Wi-Fi solutions for mobile computers and medical devices, which was later acquired by Laird Technologies, a global leader in solving electromagnetic interference challenges. Chris now lends his innovative spirit as Advisor to Technology Businesses and the Akron Public Schools Academy of Global Technology and Business.

    Bob Sopko

    Director, LaunchNet, Case Western Reserve University

    A member of the CWRU community for over nine years, Bob assists students and alumni explore starting a business and provides guidance to expand their knowledge and skills to be successful. Previously, he was a member of Information Technology Services, managing key strategic technology partnerships.


    Bob was part of the management of a Bain Capital backed company growing 80 plus annual High Tech recruiting events and 600 employment sites to a successful sale to the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune. Since the inception, Bob has been involved with the international top level domain .jobs - www.goto.jobs.


    Bob began his career with Revco Drug/CVS Pharmacy and continued for over 18 years. He was part of the team which took the company from bankruptcy to a successful IPO. He directed various marketing areas with a strong emphasis on the creative use of technology.

    Mark W. Schumann

    Mark W. Schumann consults on painful, difficult software development projects at imakeyourprojectnotsuck.com. He’s also a founding board member of Cleveland GiveCamp, the area’s biggest ongoing weekend hackathon event.