Announcing New Speakers for Tech Cocktail Celebrate!

September 5, 2014

1:30 pm

Happy Friday! We’re busy at Tech Cocktail planning, planning, planning for our big event this October, Tech Cocktail Celebrate – have you grabbed your tickets yet? We are announcing new speakers to inspire and educate!

Tickets went on sale last week for Celebrate, coming up this October 6-7 (31 days and counting!). Celebrate will gather hundreds of attendees, industry leaders, and inspiring speakers in downtown Vegas. You’re invited to:

  • Meet the hottest startups and investors from around the country.
  • Learn and collaborate with others turning their communities into startup cities.
  • Enjoy music, parties, llama spotting, and more!

We’re adding speakers weekly – here is the most updated list:

Lisa Besserman

Lisa BessermanLisa Besserman, founder of Startup Buenos Aires, has been named as Business Insider’s “Top 100 Most Influential Women in Tech” as well as the 2014 “Business Innovator of Latin America” by the Council of the Americas. Lisa has worked with charities in Nepal, Haiti, Uganda, Japan and New York. She is an active leader in the NYC and Latin America communities. Lisa has mentored at Startup Weekends, The Next Web conference, and is a recurring speaker at Internet Week NY. Lisa moved to Buenos Aires from New York City to create Startup Buenos Aires, the organization that represents the startup, tech, and entrepreneurial community of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Startup Buenos Aires aims to inspire, connect and support startups and entrepreneurship in Latin America and around the globe.

Trey Bowles

Trey BowlesTrey Bowles is a serial entrepreneur, social capitalist, and educator. Trey cofounded the Dallas Entrepreneur Center (DEC), a central location for entrepreneurs to learn how to start, build and grow businesses through training, education, mentorship, promotion, and capital investment. As Co-Founder and CEO, Trey leads strategy, vision, and drives the overall planning and development efforts for the DEC. Trey oversees the day-to-day operations of the DEC, including management of all areas of the business. Trey also works closely with the DEC staff to engage executives, mentors and other valuable experts within the Dallas community and across the country to maintain a strong and robust resource offering for DEC startups/members).

David Cohen

David CohenDavid Cohen is the founder, Managing Partner, and CEO of TechStars, the #1 ranked Internet startup accelerator in the world. Previously, David was a founder of several software and web technology companies. He was the founder and CTO of Pinpoint Technologies which was acquired by ZOLL Medical Corporation (NASDAQ: ZOLL) in 1999. You can read about it in No Vision, All Drive [Amazon]. David was also the founder and CEO of, a music service which was sold to in 2006. He also had what he likes to think of as a “graceful failure” in between. David is a active startup advocate, advisor, board member, and technology advisor who comments on these topics on his blog at He is also very active at the University of Colorado, serving as a member of the Board of Advisors of the Computer Science Department, the Entrepreneurial Advisory Board at Silicon Flatirons. David also runs the Colorado chapter of the Open Angel Forum.

Gabriella Draney

Gabriella DraneyGabriella Draney is Cofounder and CEO of Tech Wildcatters, a Forbes Top 10 seed accelerator for b2b startups. With more than 13 years in the entrepreneurial world, she has experience in strategy, fund-raising and corporate innovation. She is passionate about helping startups connect the dots and has built a significant network to help her do just this. With a diverse group of mentors, investors and entrepreneurs who are on speed dial, Gabriella is willing to go the extra mile to help up and coming businesses become viable and scalable. Prior to starting Tech Wildcatters, Gabriella was with HP Growth Partners, an early stage venture fund in Dallas, where she served on the Board of CelAccess.  Before attending business school at SMU, Gabriella was a serial entrepreneur with experience in software, aviation, finance, and nutrition. It is this real world experience and appreciation for having skin in the game that makes her so valuable to the innovation ecosystem.

Brady Forrest

Brady ForrestBrady Forrest is Chair for O’Reilly’s Where 2.0 and co-Chairs Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco and NYC. Brady writes for O’Reilly Radar tracking changes in technology. He started Ignite, a geek event which has spread to over a hundred cities worldwide (including Seattle). Brady lives in Seattle, where he builds robots and cars for Burning Man and competes for Mayorof finer establishments. You can track his web travels at Truffle Honey or @brady. Recently, he has started blogging about Burning Man & desert fashion.

Donna Harris

Celebrate - Donna HarrisDonna Harris is co-founder of 1776, a major initiative which convenes and accelerates startups from around the world by connecting them to the political, intellectual, social and financial capital that make Washington, DC unique. She is also a Founding Member of the K Street Capital angel network and is an active angel investor. Donna is also on the Board of Directors of Global Entrepreneurship Week, is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Georgetown University. Prior to starting 1776, Donna was the Managing Director of the Startup America Partnership, where she architected and led the Startup Regions Initiative, which focused on accelerating the formation of vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems across the United States and connecting the communities into a national startup ecosystem.  She also led the Startup Nations initiative, which connected Startup America to its counterparts in countries around the world.

Tony Hsieh

Tony_hsiehIn 1999, at the age of 24, Tony Hsieh (pronounced Shay) sold LinkExchange, the company he cofounded, to Microsoft for $265 million. He then joined as an advisor and investor, and eventually became CEO, where he helped grow from almost no sales to over $1 billion in gross merchandise sales annually, while simultaneously making Fortune magazine’s annual “Best Companies to Work For” list. In November 2009, was acquired by in a deal valued at $1.2 billion on the day of closing. Tony’s first book, Delivering Happiness, was published on June 7, 2010. He’s now the head of the Downtown Project, a $350 revitalization project in downtown Las Vegas.


Charles Hudson

Charles HudsonCharles Hudson is a Partner with SoftTech VC, one of the most active seed stage investors in Internet and mobile startups. He focuses on identifying investment opportunities in mobile infrastructure, mobile applications, and marketplaces. He is on the Board of Tulip and Kahuna and works closely with a number of SoftTech investments, including SmartShoot, Vungle, Kato, TakeLessons, TopHat, 8tracks, and Soldsie.




Shaun Johnson

Shaun JohnsonAs cofounder of Startup Institute, Shaun Johnson is responsible for strategy and operations at Startup Institute. His mixed background in athletics, acting, and consulting sets a unique culture, which results in a competitive and collaborative environment where intelligence and improv conquers all challenges.



Dylan Jorgensen

Dylan JorgensenDylan is working to make downtown Las Vegas the most likely place in the world to experience serendipity through the tracking, understanding and improvement of collisions. Dylan is working on the City Science initiative of Tony Hsieh’s 350 million dollar city revitalization project figuring out what exactly it means to prioritize ROC (Return on Collisions) over a traditional ROI.


Gabe Karp

Celebrate - Gabe KarpGabe is a Partner at Detroit Venture Partners, aDetroit-based Venture Capital firm that backs seed and early-stage technologycompanies. Prior to joining DVP, Gabe was the Executive Vice President andGeneral Counsel of ePrize, Inc., the leading interactive promotions companywhich represents more than 75 of the top 100 brands in the world. As a memberof the executive team, Gabe led the Legal, Fulfillment Services and HumanResource Teams, growing the company to nearly 500 employees. Crain’s Business named Gabe as theGeneral and In-House Counsel 2011 Winner for the state of Michigan in theprivately held company (under $1 billion) category. He led the efforts onmultiple acquisitions, venture financings, credit facilities, and ultimatelythe sale of the company to a large private equity firm. Gabe co-authored Puerto Rico’s revised sweepstakes regulations(adopted in 2009) he has consulted the Federal Trade Commission and variousstate legislators and regulators regarding laws impacting viral marketing,mobile commerce and and other topics applicable to the interactive promotionindustry. Gabeis a respected authority, frequent speaker and writer on legal issues surrounding interactive promotions, including social networking and viral marketing campaigns, mobile marketing, user-generated content and emerging technologies.

Elliot Lewis

Celebrate - Elliot LewisElliot Lewis, Chief Security Architect of Dell Software Group, has over 23 years of executive management, architecture and development of security networking strategies at Dell, Microsoft, Cisco Systems, Merrill Lynch and other various technology firms. As Dell Software’s Chief Security Architect, Lewis helps lead the strategy for pan-Dell security products, service and operational strategy and integrated architecture across all divisions of Dell. He draws from his career experience as the Director of Strategic Services, Security and Identity at Cisco, as the CISO of Merrill Lynch and as the Senior Security Architect—Security Center of Excellence and the Senior Program Manager of Secure Network Access Team in Windows Division of Microsoft.

Jenn Lim

Jenn LimJenn Lim is the CEO and Chief Happiness Officer of Delivering Happiness, a company she and Tony Hsieh (CEO of co-founded to inspire science-based happiness, passion and purpose at work, home and everyday life.
Delivering Happiness has evolved from a book to a bus tour, and now a company and global happiness movement represented by people from 110 countries.  Today, she’s dedicated to growing the Delivering Happiness movement so we can all pay happiness forward – knowing if we create happier companies/communities/cities, we can make this a happier world.


C. Todd Lombardo

Celebrate - C. Todd LombardoWith over 15 years of experience creating change in the corporate world and playing in startup spaces, C. Todd Lombardo has a knack for navigating ambiguity. He is an innovation Architect for Constant Contact’s InnoLoft where he works with internal and startup teams to push the envelope. He is also on the adjunct faculty at Madrid’s top-ranked IE Business School where he teaches courses in design thinking, innovation and communication. He has worked with a variety of companies as a consultant and enjoys poking your brain.

Rebecca Lovell

Celebrate - Rebecca LovellRebecca Lovell is the City of Seattle’s Startup Liaison, working to connect startups to resources, expand opportunities in technology entrepreneurship , and measure and promote entrepreneurial success. She also serves as a mentor for Techstars, 9 Mile Labs, and the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator, and is an instructor on venture capital investing in the University of Washington Foster MBA Program. She is on the advisory board of Techstars graduate LikeBright, as well as the UW Foster Employer Advisory board, and has coached, screened and mentored hundreds of startups in Seattle. Prior roles include Program Director, Alliance of Angels, Executive Director, Northwest Entrepreneur Network, and Chief Business Officer, GeekWire. She brings 20 years of operating and management experience to her leadership roles in both for-profit and non-profit sectors. Recognized as of the top 100 women in Tech from the Puget Sound Business Journal (2009), and Tech Flash’s “Do Gooder of the Year” in 2010, she is endlessly devoted to startups and karaoke.

Mike McGee

Celebrate - Mike McGeeMike McGee is the co-founder of The Starter League, an in-person school in Chicago that teaches beginners how to build web applications. Before The Starter League, Mike’s greatest claim to fame was that his High School mascot was a pretzel. He went to Northwestern for four years where he spent two years being a student and two years in student government – miraculously becoming Student Body President his senior year. In Spring 2011, Mike decided to turn down Obama for America (his first real job offer) to co-found The Starter League. Recently Mike was named to Crain’s 40 Under 40 for 2013 (along with his co-founder, Neal Sales-Griffin). His latest “dent in the universe” project is Starter School, an immersive, full-time program that will take people from zero to entrepreneur in 9 months. 

Eric Olson

Celebrate - Eric OlsonEric is a former operator (FeedBurner, TECH cocktail, etc.) now focused on investing in early stage companies across SaaS, ad tech and ecommerce in his role at Origin Ventures – an early stage venture capital firm based in Chicago that has backed companies like GrubHub and ifbyphone. Eric received his MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business in 2011 and was a 2009 Crain’s Chicago Business 40 Under 40 honoree. Outside of venture capital you can find Eric playing hockey somewhere in Chicagoland or playing drums with a number of bands when he is not spending quality time with his wife, son and Basenji. 

Ben Parr

unnamed (1)Ben Parr is an award-winning journalist, author, entrepreneur, investor and expert on attention. Through his unique experience as a leading technology writer, venture capitalist and prolific public speaker, Parr has coached dozens of young startups and Fortune 500 corporations on how to get attention for their products. He was named one of the top ten tech journalists in the world by Say Media and named to the 2012 Forbes 30 Under 30. Parr is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of DominateFund, a venture capital firm that invests in and accelerates the growth of early-stage technology, software and product startups through its expertise in press, marketing, customer and user acquisition, viral products and strategic celebrity partnerships. Parr is the author of Captivology: The Science of Capturing People’s Attention, due in 2014 from HarperOne/HarperCollins. Previously, Parr was the Co-Editor and Editor-at-Large of Mashable, where he wrote more than 2,400 articles on social media and technology, managed Mashable’s editorial team, and interviewed everyone from Ashton Kutcher to Mark Zuckerberg.

Clara Sieg

Celebrate - Clara SiegClara is a Partner, Revolution Ventures, where she focuses on identifying, investing in, and helping to build innovative and impactful early-stage companies. She began working with Revolution in 2010 and joined full-time as a member of the investment team in 2012. Clara serves as a Board Observer at Busbud. Prior to joining Revolution Ventures, Clara was an Associate at Probitas Partners, where she managed alternative investment fund opportunities and associated secondary activities. While at Probitas, Clara advised numerous private equity and venture capital groups on fund formation activities, including Revolution Growth. Clara was previously at UBS Investment Bank in the Financial Sponsors & Leveraged Finance group, where she focused on technology and media companies. Clara received her B.A. in Economics with a minor in German from Stanford University.

Greg Tehven

Greg TehvenGreg Tehven has spent much of his life believing he can “Create the Community You Want To Live In.” He is the Co-Founder of Emerging Prairie,, 1 Million Cups Fargo, and Students Today Leaders Forever. He teaches as an Adjunct Professor at Concordia College. Greg’s current activities include co-organizing Startup Weekend Fargo and curating TEDxFargo. He loves Settlers of Catan, coffee, hosting dinner parties and ND Class “B” state champs. You can track him down at or on twitter @gregfromfargo.



Howard Tullman

Howard TullmanHoward A. Tullman is the CEO of 1871 – where digital startups get their start and the General Managing Partner of G2T3V, LLC and of Chicago High Tech Investment Partners. He is a member of Mayor Emanuel’s Chicago NEXT and Cultural Affairs Councils and of Governor Quinn’s Illinois Innovation and Arts Councils; a member of President Preckwinkle’s New Media Council; an adjunct professor at Kellogg; and an advisor to many start-ups. He is the former Chairman and CEO of Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy. Over the last 45 years, he has successfully founded more than a dozen high-tech companies.

Sara Vainer

Sara VainerSara Vainer is the Director of Entrepreneurship at Work In Progress, creating and managing startup programs that help to support and grow the overall startup ecosystem in downtown Las Vegas. She also runs The Mill, which is an idea accelerator investing $5,000 in a new entrepreneur every week. Along with the $5,000, the entrepreneurs get a 2 month membership to Work In Progress and mentoring. Before coming to Vegas, Sara spent 2+ years in LA opening and managing two coworking spaces with NextSpace Coworking (including the Venice space which is partnered with the accelerator, Amplify.LA). Before that Sara worked in the Santa Cruz, Ca location (her hometown), while finishing up her Communications and Business degree at SFSU. Sara believes the meaning of life is found in our relationships with others and she loves connecting people.

Andy White

Andy WhiteAndy is an entrepreneur, angel investor and car nut. As a founder of SchoolCenter, an edtech content management platform, he was able to complete the cycle from struggling startup through exit. The company sold in 2011 and is now part of Blackboard, Inc.
During the transition he was able to get a crash course on current startup techniques as an investor and the executive director for the seed program BoomStartup, a TechStars Network affiliate program ranked as one of the top 15 accelerators in the country.
His current position as a partner with the VegasTechFund allows him to help empower amazing founders and startups passionate about building community in downtown Las Vegas.


Did you like this article?

Get more delivered to your inbox just like it!

Sorry about that. Try these articles instead!

Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)