Guest Speakers

Ariel Poler, CEO, TextMarks

Ariel Poler has been involved with a number of successful Internet start-ups. He was the founder and CEO of IPRO, the first company to measure and audit web traffic. He was also founder and CEO of Topica, a leading provider of email publishing and lead management solutions. Poler was founding board member of Kana Software, a pioneering provider of CRM solutions [NASDAQ:KANA]; he was founding Chairman of LinkExchange (now Microsoft’s bCentral service for small business marketing); and he was a board member of Silicon Investor (now part of InfoSpace). As CEO of TextMarks, Poler is enabling the “long tail” of SMS publishing. And as CEO of Mastil, he is making web-based database solutions accessible to small and medium organizations.

Poler currently serves on several boards of directors, including, a provider of consumer debt resolution and lead generation services; Papilia, an innovative provider of technology to help non-profits manage their stewardship efforts; and StumbleUpon, a fast growing content discovery network. He holds a B.S. in Mathematics with Computer Science from MIT and an MBA from Stanford University.

Matthew Brezina, Co-Founder, Xobni

Matt Brezina is an entrepreneur from State College, Pennsylvania currently residing in San Francisco, CA.

Matt dropped out of grad school in the spring of 2006 to found an email software company called Xobni.  Xobni is the word “inbox” spelled backwards.  Our goal is to take back overloaded inboxes for our users by organizing their email around the  people they communicate with.  Our application for Microsoft Outlook has been downloaded over 3 Million times and was called “the next generation of social networking” by Bill Gates when he demoed our product on stage during his keynote at the 2008 Office Developer’s Conference.

Matt started Xobni with a buddy and former roomate  Adam Smith.  Xobni started as two guys in a dorm room at MIT.  We’ve grown to over 27 employees, raised over $14M in venture capital, and we’ve appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and numerous other publications.

Steve Blank, Stanford University Lecturer – Mgmt Science & Engineering

Steve Blank is a serial entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience in high technology companies and management. He is a Professor at UC Berkeley School of Business, and a Lecturer at Stanford Graduate School of Engineering.

Steve has been a founder or participant in eight Silicon Valley startups since 1978. His last company, E.piphany, started in his living room. His other startups include two semiconductor companies (Zilog and MIPS Computers), a workstation company (Convergent Technologies), a supercomputer firm (Ardent), a computer peripheral supplier (SuperMac), a military intelligence systems supplier (ESL) and a video game company (Rocket Science Games). Steve is on the board of, an on-line marketplace, and IMVU, a 3D IM social network.

Steve teaches entrepreneurship and a methodology of managing marketing, sales and business development in high technology startups.  His course text “Four Steps to the Epiphany” is the definitive work on Customer Development and is one of the foundations of Lean Startups.

Sashi Chimala, Co-Founder at Indigo Technologies, Partner at Well Done Ventures, LLC

Sashi Chimala is a serial entrepreneur with three successful companies and exits, startup mentor and incubator.

His background includes Technology, Internet Advertising, Social Media, Casual Gaming and Consumer focused industries.

– Experience in IT services, online media and digital advertising
– Hands-on understanding of Social Media, UGC, Online customer acquisition (played active roles in a broad range of social media initiatives like,, and several others)
– Strategy, ability to forecast trends and markets, building compelling brands and marketing
– Successfully negotiated acquisition of stakes in privately held companies by PE funds and large enterprises

Kamran Elahian, Chairman, Global Catalyst Partners

Mr. Kamran Elahian is the Co-Founder and Chairman of Global Catalyst Partners.  He co-founded more than 10 companies such as CAE Systems (1981); Cirrus Logic (1984); Momenta (1989); NeoMagic (1993); PlanetWeb (1996); Centillium Communications (1997); Actelis Networks (1999); Informative (1999); Entopia (1999); and Greenfield Networks (2001). He is the Chairman of Centillium Communications, Planetweb, Actelis Networks, Greenfield Networks, Entopia, Actelis Networks, and Omnitrust. Mr. Elahian is a Director at Beceem Communications, Ikoa, SoundHound, and Yoomba.

He also founded and co-founded, respectively, Schools Online (1996) and the Global Catalyst Foundation (2000). Mr. Elahian also co-chairs UNDESA-GAID. He co-founded two non-profit organizations including and Global Catalyst Foundation (2000), where he also serves as the Chairman and Schools Online (1996). Mr. Elahian is the Chairman Emeritus of Relief International-Schools Online.  Mr. Elahian received a B.S. in Computer Science, a B.S. in Mathematics, and a Masters of Engineering degree in Computer Graphics from the University of Utah.

Simon Birrell, CEO, Silicon Artists

Simon Birrell has always worked ahead of the curve, deep in the nexus of technology and entertainment.

While still at high school in the UK, Simon programmed and sold videogames. He was Virgin Games’ first ever programmer and developed four titles for them before leaving to study Natural Sciences at Cambridge University. After graduating, he joined Palace Software as a project manager, eventually becoming Head of Development. Palace, part of the Palace Pictures empire, published Barbarian and other legendary titles.

Relocating to Spain in 1992, Simon joined Realidad Virtual SL., a pioneering virtual reality company as Technical Director. After three years of developing interactive 3D environments and lecturing on VR, he developed Pandora, one of the Internet’s first ever multi-user 3D worlds. During this period he also contributed a chapter to the book Information Design, published by MIT.

In 1996 he founded Silicon Artists with a corporate investment by Tandem (later Compaq) Computers, and continues to run the company to this day, having produced over two hundred new media projects. As head of Silicon Artists and as a principal in Palo Alto Ventures he has provided high-level consultancy and strategic planning to Philips, Compaq and Telefonica.

Throughout his career he has also worked in “old“ media, directing a documentary in 1991, two thirty-minute features and a large number of animated cartoon episodes for various clients. In his film work he has collaborated with cult legends Jess Franco, José Ramón Larraz and Jack Taylor.

Simon has been Chief Technology Officer at Euro-Profile; Principal at Palo Alto Ventures; Director Técnico at Realidad Virtual S.L. ; and Head of Development at Palace Software

Simon is based in Madrid, Spain and is a graduate of Cambridge University.

Claire Hunsaker

VP of Product Management and Strategy, Samasource

Claire manages Samasource’s microwork platform, worker training and management tools, and corporate websites. She is responsible for keeping Samasource at the leading edge of virtual work technologies and integrating Samasource products with clients and service partners. Prior to Samasource, Claire was Director of Virtual Agent Acquisition at LiveOps and she has also worked in rural Vietnam with ADAPT to combat anti-human trafficking on the Vietnam/Cambodia border. As a management consultant with Katzenbach Partners, she supported national technology companies and non-profits with strategic planning. Claire holds a BA in English with departmental honors from Columbia College, and an MA in English Literature from the University of London, and an MBA from Stanford.