ADVISORY TEAM

Brennan, the Principal of Brennan Search, is an executive search professional with over 14 years industry experience. He specializes in digital and technology practice with clients ranging from early start-up to global organizations. Prior to launching Brennan Search, Brennan was part of leadership of two start-up staffing firms and a global technology staffing giant, TEKsystems. He thrives in helping companies grow through finding unique and hard to locate talent.

Neil Kane, Illinois Partners

Kane is the president of Illinois Partners, a leading authority on technology commercialization and innovation. Kane is a serial entrepreneur and has the battle scars to prove it. He specializes in bringing innovations to market that come from research labs and university research programs. Based in Chicago, he has started or been part of the founding team of over 12 startups in addition to doing time at IBM and Microsoft. He was named a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum in 2007.

Andrew Morrison, Workshop 88

Morrison is a founding and active member of Workshop 88, the only makerspace in DuPage county. He is an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Joliet Junior College. His research interests include the physics of musical instruments and physics education research. In his free time, he enjoys woodworking and leading electronics, 3D printing, and arduino classes at Workshop 88.

Rudy Ristich, Workshop 88

Ristich is the co-founder of Workshop 88, Chicago’s Suburban Hackerspace, an entrepreneur and an open-hardware advocate. Ristich’s experience in electronics spans from proof of concept prototyping on breadboards to professionally manufactured be spoke circuits and custom built application specific integrated circuits. He is a frequent speaker at industry events on hardware technologies, especially leveraging custom hardware to advance information security. Ristich currently work’s with Dell’s SecureWorks subidiary, is a patent holder with several patents pending, and has earned degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Purdue University.

John Schewe, Fricket, LLC

Schewe is the CEO and Co-founder of Fricket, LLC, a start-up company based in the Western suburbs of Chicago, which is developing a web-based application to make it easier for everyone to shop for tickets to live events.   After spending 23+ years on Chicago’s financial trading floors analyzing markets and advising his clients at Newedge USA and Morgan Stanley,  Schewe took the start-up plunge in 2011. He received his MBA from the University of Chicago in 2001, and he’s advised dozens of start-up founders, while learning valuable lessons in return. He enjoys “wearing many hats” and “getting his hands dirty.”

William Tokash

Tokash is a multi-skilled, visionary sustainability professional who has remained at the forefront of the sustainability revolution by applying his unique blend of management consulting, sales and marketing and investment analysis experience to solve a variety of resource efficiency, renewable energy and energy efficiency problems. He was recently the Sustainability Director for Invensys, a UK-based engineering technology and software company. Over his career, William has helped a variety of manufacturing clients to implement more efficient business strategies; co-founded a start-up renewable energy/carbon offsetting investment fund; and helped position DOMANI on the leading edge of the sustainability management consulting sector prior to their acquisition by Deloitte in 2010.

Mike Vasquez

Dr. Vasquez is an Additive Manufacturing specialist who has worked side-by-side with some of the top machine manufacturers, material producers and end users in the industry, consulting with them to identify novel applications, test new materials, and develop frameworks to maximize R&D efficiency and boost ROI. During his career, Vasquez has worked with companies including 3M, Burton Snowboards, New Balance and Easton. Currently, Vasquez advises companies on how to best approach, integrate, and expand the technology to meet their business objectives. He completed his PhD at Loughborough University in the UK specializing in Additive Manufacturing and Sports Technology. He received his BS/M.Eng from MIT in Materials Science and Engineering.

Joe Veltri, Socius Business Advisors

Veltri is a CEO, Executive Coach, Speaker, and chairs Executive Peer Groups. He is also a Business Advisor for young people starting up in business. As a business leader, Veltri has over 20 years’ experience running companies, in multiple industries, from start-ups, to turnarounds, to “Mr. Fix-it” and C-level strategist for and $850 million company. In addition to his CEO duties, he has both an operational and marketing background, with oversight with international manufacturing and procurement, business finance, and M&A.

Arthur Zards, TEDx Naperville

Zards is an original Internet entrepreneur founding an Internet company before the web browser even existed. He wasn’t learning about digital marketing, branding, tech innovation, development; he was creating it. He is a self-described TED fanatic and is the founder and curator for TEDxNaperville. In his spare time he carves Tiki Moai, jumps off cliffs in his paraglider and grills a mean Picanha. His mantra is to “create an idea, get people excited, do it, repeat.”

Nicholas Zito, Choose DuPage

Before joining Choose DuPage in 2013 as the Business Services Director, Nicholas founded a fitness nutrition company in San Francisco and Chicago, Brotein Enterprises, serving as president of sales distribution and marketing. Prior to that, he worked in the United States Senate for the Washington, D.C. office of Senator Mark Kirk. While in the nation’s capitol he performed legislative research and attended committee briefings centered on the areas of small business, entrepreneurship, job creation, finance, and economic affairs. Nicholas graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, having studied consumer economics specialized in public policy and law. Nick serves as an authority on business issues within DuPage County and works to aid in DuPage County’s economic development.