Connecting Colorado's serial
entrepreneurs with high
growth companies


The Blackstone Charitable Foundation has selected the Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado to host its first expansion of its innovative Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network.

Through a gift of $4 million, the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network in Colorado (BEN Colorado) will strengthen and grow the networks across the aerospace, bioscience, digital/technology, energy, and natural foods sectors. BEN Colorado will initially focus on the Boulder and Denver Metro Area regions.

BEN Colorado will work with Master Entrepreneurs and Advisors to open up important networks of influence to a select number of companies on the verge of rapidly 'scaling up'. The goal is to extend, expand, and connect the networks of experience and expertise in and outside of Colorado.

On April 23, 2014, the Blackstone Charitable Foundation formally launched the program at an event featuring Governor John Hickenlooper, Senator Michael Bennet, University of Colorado President Bruce Benson, University of Colorado-Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano, Blackstone Charitable Foundation Executive Director Amy Stursberg, and The Blackstone Group Managing Director Jon Gray.

The Network will include:

Serially successful leading business people across Colorado.
Master Entrepreneurs
Serially successful entrepreneurs with time to dive in more deeply to assist high growth companies in Colorado.
Carefully selected companies that meet specific criteria to qualify as prospective 'gazelles' — companies on the verge of taking off to great size and impact.
Organizations that have networks of value and import to the BEN initiative.
Professional with the Blackstone Group and executives from select Blackstone portfolio companies.

The network will provide a series of very high quality opportunities to connect participants, and will actively connect BEN to other initiatives around the state. BEN will specifically carefully match and curate cross-industry and -geography relationships between a network of highly successful serial entrepreneurs in Colorado and a select number of Colorado "gazelles" — high-growth companies that have the potential to quickly scale to very large economic profiles and outcomes.

The Network will initially focus on 'gazelles', high-potential companies, from five industry segments:

  1. Technology and Broadband
  2. Natural Foods
  3. Energy
  4. Biotech and Health
  5. Aerospace

BEN will actively drive connections across traditional industry and geographic boundaries in the State, addressing the needs of companies in the network and addressing the legacy fragmentation between industry and geographic silos in Colorado.

Who We Are

JB Holston
Exective Director

J.B. Holston has 25 years success as a global scale-up CEO and entrepreneur, and is active in a range of civic initiatives around innovation, open government, entrepreneurship, impact investing, and microfinance.

Holston has run a wide range of technology and media enterprises over the last two decades. J.B. served as founding CEO for NewsGator (now Sitrion) from 2004 through 2012. In that role, Holston was named the Colorado Technology Association's Technology Executive of the Year in 2010. Prior to Sitrion, Holston started and led a broad range of for-profit and not-for-profit enterprises at the locus of technology and media. Past positions include President of Ziff Davis International, where he was a member of the executive team that completed the successful LBO of the company with Forstmann, Little and subsequent sale to Softbank. In that capacity, Holston launched Yahoo! Europe as a joint venture between ZD and Yahoo!. Holston held senior executive positions at NBC and GE after starting his career in Boston with the Boston Consulting Group. JB has a BA and MBA from Stanford University. Holston currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Sitrion, and is on the Board of the Colorado Innovation Network, Accion, and other organizations. He lives with his family in Denver, Colorado.

Phil Weiser
Dean, Law School
University of Colorado

Founder, Silicon Flatirons

Phil Weiser is Dean of the Law School, a Thomson Professor of Law, and Executive Director and Founder of the Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado. Dean Weiser joined the Colorado faculty in January 1999, where he served until July 2009. From July 2009-April 2010, he served as the Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the United States Department of Justice's Antitrust Division. From April 2010-June 2011, he served as the Senior Advisor for Technology and Innovation to the National Economic Council Director at the White House. He became Dean of the Law School in July, 2011.

Dean Weiser graduated with high honors from both the New York University School of Law and Swarthmore College. He served as a law clerk to Justices Byron R. White and Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the United States Supreme Court and to Judge David Ebel at the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. Prior to joining the Colorado Law faculty, Dean Weiser served as senior counsel to the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Antitrust Division at the United States Department of Justice, advising him primarily on telecommunications matters.


Advisors to the Network are many of Colorado's leading business entrepreneurs, representing all of BEN'S initial industry segments and geographies. All Advisors are committed to help BEN identify and filter prospective 'gazelle' companies; help assess the specific assistance that each of those Companies can utilize; and open their networks to those Companies and one another as will best benefit them and grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the State.

Technology and Broadband

Dan Caruso
CEO, Zayo Group

Dan Caruso is Chairman and CEO of Zayo Group, where he oversees Onvoy Voice Services, Zayo Enterprise Networks, and Zayo Professional Services. Dan, as an angel investor, helped found Envysion, where he served as Chairman from 2006 to 2013. Dan is a former Board Member of GTS Central Europe and director of New Global Telecom. Dan was one of the founding executives of Level 3 Communications and a former President and CEO of ICG Communications. Dan has an MBA from the University of Chicago and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from University of Illinois.

Zayo Group was formed in 2006 to exploit the rapidly increasing demand for bandwidth. Zayo's strategy was to acquire telecom companies that were formed during the late 1990s telecom boom and survived the telecom meltdown of the early 2000s. Twenty fiber orphans were acquired, enabling Zayo to provide bandwidth to wireless carriers, Internet companies, and other big consumers of bandwidth over a 75,000 route mile network in the U.S. and Europe. Zayo generates about $1B in revenue, $600M in EBITDA, and has an enterprise value of approximately $6B. Zayo has sixteen private equity sponsors and has raised over $700M of equity and $3B in public debt.

Envysion was formed in 2005 to provide Managed Video as a Service. Envysion offers a SaaS solution to replace traditional video surveillance. Customers such as Chipotle and Big Lots use Envysion's solution to improve profitability and customer experience. Envysion's revenue run rate is approaching $10M and its growth rate is 50% per year.

Dan was awarded the Bob Newman Lifetime Achievement Award at the Colorado Technology Association's 2013 APEX Awards. Ernst & Young named Dan on of the three national finalists for the Entrepreneur of the Year 2011 Media, Entertainment, and Communications Award. The Denver Post named him one of the Eleven Colorado Business People to Watch in 2011. The Boulder Chamber of Commerce honored him with the 2010 Esprit Award. In 2009, Dan was named Communications Executive of the Year in Colorado. Also in 2009, Ernst & Young honored him as the Entrepreneur of the Year in Rocky Mountain Region Emerging Company category.

Dan is an active supporter of the University of Colorado — Boulder. He co-teaches Entrepreneurship and the Private Equity Process in the Leeds MBA Program. He is on the Entrepreneurship Initiative Advisory Board of Silicon Flatirons, a center for law, technology, and entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado, as well as board member of StartUp Colorado. He is actively involved in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences as a frequent guest lecturer and supporter of the Engineering Management and Entrepreneurship program.

Tim Miller
Chairman and CEO, Rally Software

Tim Miller is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Rally Software. He joined Rally in 2003 to revolutionize how software-driven organizations adapt and respond to change faster with Lean principles, Agile practices, and collaborative methods.

Under Tim's leadership, Rally raised more than $70M from leading venture capitalists including Meritech Capital Partners, Greylock Partners, and Mohr Davidow. Tim grew Rally's revenue over 500% from 2008 to 2012, and in April 2013, he led Rally through a successful $96M IPO.

Tim is known for his passion around creating strong workplaces and was honored as "CEO of the Year" by ColoradoBiz Magazine. He led Rally to its prestigious place as one of the best places to work in the U.S. In 2012, Rally was named Fortune Magazine's No. 8 Great Place to Work® ("Best Medium-Sized Workplaces"), and the Wall Street Journal's No. 18 "Next Big Thing." Over the past few years, Rally has been honored three times as a Best Place to Work by Outside magazine and one of the best companies to work for in Colorado every year since 2006.

Tim is distinguished by his servant leadership style, which defines Rally's culture and is core to building highly effective and collaborative teams. Rally's culture of innovation, collaboration, transparency, and individual empowerment serve as the lifeblood of the business and are keys to its competitive edge.

Before Rally, Tim spent four years as CEO of Avitek (which was acquired and became BEA's highly successful Portal Development Group). He currently serves on the board of directors of Gnip. Tim holds an M.S. in management science and information systems and a B.A. in economics from the University of Colorado at Boulder, as well as an MBA from Arizona State University.

When he is not at the helm of Rally, Tim can often be found steering a sailboat. In 2001, he took a sabbatical and sailed across the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, and the Caribbean with his wife and two daughters.

John Spiers
Founder and CEO, NexGen Storage

John Spiers is a serial entrepreneur based in Boulder, CO. John has been pioneering break-through data storage innovations for over 30 years. John Spiers co-founded venture-backed LeftHand Networks, a market leader in virtualized, scale-out data storage, and served as LeftHand's Chief Technology Officer. LeftHand Networks was sold to Hewlett Packard in November of 2008. In 2010 John co-founded NexGen Storage, developing the market's first data storage system architected for flash memory, and served as NexGen's CEO. NexGen Storage was sold to Fusion-io in April of 2013.

John supports local entrepreneurs, serving on the advisory board of many local technology startups. John was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Award finalist in 2005 & 2006, and was selected by Boulder Chamber of Commerce for the Esprit Entrepreneur of Distinction award in 2006. John is a graduate from Colorado State University with a degree in Engineering.

Justin L. Jaschke
Justin L. Jaschke
Founder, Verio Inc.

Jaschke founded Verio Inc., a leading global Internet services and web hosting provider, in 1996 and served as its CEO and a Director until 2004. Verio was acquired by Japan's NTT Communications in late 2000. Prior to forming Verio, Mr. Jaschke served as President and a Director of OneComm Corporation, leading its development as an alternative cellular network provider. OneComm merged with Nextel Communications in 1995 to form a nationwide wireless communications provider. Mr. Jaschke served as COO of Nextel from the time of the merger until founding Verio. Mr. Jaschke previously served as President and CEO of Bay Area Cellular Telephone Company, Vice President of Corporate Development of PacTel Cellular, Director of Mergers and Acquisitions for PacTel Corporation and a management consultant with Marakon Associates. Mr. Jaschke currently serves on the boards of Lytx, the leading provider of video based driver risk management services, Extenet Systems, a wireless network infrastructure operator, and the Denver School of Science and Technology, a prominent charter school network operator. Mr. Jaschke has served on numerous other boards including Dobson Communications, acquired by AT&T in 1997, and PhoneFactor, acquired by Microsoft in 2011. Mr. Jaschke is a Trustee Emeritus of his alma mater, the University of Puget Sound where he served on the Board of Trustees from 2001 to 2010. Mr. Jaschke received a Bachelor of Science degree summa cum laude in mathematics from the University of Puget Sound and a Master of Science degree in management from the Sloan School of Management at MIT.

Brad Feld
Co-Founder and Managing Director, Foundry Group and TechStars

Brad has been an early stage investor and entrepreneur since 1987. Prior to co-founding Foundry Group, he co-founded Mobius Venture Capital and, prior to that, founded Intensity Ventures. Brad is also a co-founder of Techstars.

In addition to his investing efforts, Brad has been active with several non-profit organizations and currently is chair of the National Center for Women & Information Technology, co-chair of Startup Colorado, and on the board of UP Global. Brad speaks and writes extensively on the topics of venture capital investing and entrepreneurship.

Brad holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Management Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Brad is also an avid art collector and long-distance runner. He has completed 23 marathons as part of his mission to finish a marathon in each of the 50 states.

Barbara Mowry
Founder & CEO, GoreCreek Advisors
Board, Kaufmann Foundation
Chair, Kansas City Federal Reserve

Barbara Mowry serves as CEO and founder of GoreCreek Advisors a management consulting firm focused on working with CEOs and Boards of Directors on business strategy and innovation. Her prior experience includes serving as Senior Vice President of the Data Integration Division of Oracle Corporation. She joined Oracle as a result of the successful acquisition by Oracle of Silver Creek Systems the leader in product data integration and data mastering solutions where she served as President and CEO. Her extensive experience includes roles as senior executive in 3 Fortune 500 companies as well as CEO of 4 entrepreneurial ventures. She has founded companies and raised significant venture capital resulting in the successful sale of three of the companies. She has lead both business to business as well as business to consumer focused companies including Requisite Technology, Comcast (TCI) and United Airlines. Her experience includes piloting organizations through rapid growth and international expansions, and merger and acquisition experience on both the buy and sell side. Spearheading the launch of new products, patented technology, and operating pioneering solutions such as the Mileage Plus program for United Airlines that focus on customer and business success has kept her at the forefront of innovation.

She is the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Kauffman Foundation, and a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Overseers of the Carlson School at the University of Minnesota. She is a Board member of the National Association of Corporate Directors where she is a Leadership Fellow, a member of the Committee of 200, an invitation-only organization comprised of the world's most successful women entrepreneurs and corporate leaders, The International Women's Forum, and Women Corporate Directors. She has served as a judge at the Ernst and Young World Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, and has served on public company boards such as Gaiam and Real Goods Solar. Barbara has a bachelor's degree from Miami University, Oxford Ohio, and an MBA from the University of Minnesota.

Biotech and Health

Larry Gold, Ph.D.
Chairman and Founder of SomaLogic

Dr. Larry Gold is the founder and chairman of the board, and past CEO of SomaLogic. Prior to SomaLogic, he also founded NeXagen, Inc., which later became NeXstar Pharmaceuticals, Inc. In 1999, NeXstar merged with Gilead Sciences, Inc. to form a global organization committed to the discovery, development and commercialization of novel products that treat infectious diseases.

During nearly 10 years at NeXstar Dr. Gold held numerous executive positions including chairman of the board, executive vice president of R&D, and chief science officer. Before forming NeXagen, he also co-founded and served as co-director of research at Synergen, Inc., a pioneering biotechnology company later acquired by Amgen, Inc. Since 1970, Dr. Gold has been a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder. While at the university, he served as the chairman of the Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology Department from 1988 to 1992.

Dr. Gold has received many citations including the CU Distinguished Lectureship Award, the National Institutes of Health Merit Award, the Career Development Award, and the Chiron Prize for Biotechnology. In addition, Dr. Gold has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1993 and the National Academy of Sciences since 1995. Dr. Gold also serves on the board of directors of CompleGen and Plato BioPharma, and is a member of the Institute for Genome Biology External Advisory Board at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Pete Hudson
Founder and former CEO, iTriage

Dr. Peter Hudson is a physician and entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience founding and growing healthcare-related businesses.

In 2008, Hudson co-founded iTriage, now a subsidiary of Aetna, along with Dr. Wayne Guerra. Hudson continues to advise on the strategic vision for the consumer healthcare technology that empowers individuals to make better healthcare decisions. The iTriage exit was considered the first significant exit in the mobile health space and has fast become the leading personal healthcare technology with more than 11 million downloads.

Hudson was a CNN Healthcare Entrepreneur of the Year in 2012 and the Colorado Technology Association's 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year. He was a guest of the First Lady at the 2013 State of the Union Address. He has practiced emergency medicine in a wide range of environments, from country trauma centers to nonprofit community hospitals from Nepal to Guatemala to Kenya and the U.S. Based in Denver, Colo., Hudson is an adventure enthusiast and lives with his family near the Rocky Mountain continental divide. Dr. Hudson is a frequent speaker on healthcare and technology.

Peter enjoys golf, biking, and can be found telemark skiing with his wife and two daughters in Steamboat, CO during the winter.

Steve VanNurden
President and CEO, Fitzsimmons Redevelopment Authority

Steve VanNurden is President and CEO of the Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority (FRA) in Aurora, Colorado. The FRA was formed in 1996 as a unique partnership between the University of Colorado and the City of Aurora Colorado to imagine and create one of the world's most forward looking healthcare and life science districts. Currently home to 46 companies, the FRA is committed to building a vibrant life sciences community by providing companies with the resources and environment in which to thrive.

Prior to coming to the Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority, Mr. VanNurden was Chair of Mayo Clinic Ventures, the commercialization arm of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. During Mr.VanNurden's tenure, Mayo Clinic Ventures commercialized nearly 2,000 Mayo Clinic discoveries, inventions and other Intellectual Property primarily through conventional licensing agreements. In 1998, the Technology Based Ventures (TBV) program was added to Mayo Clinic Ventures, which allows Mayo to evaluate internal technologies for possible formation of new start-up companies. The program has resulted in the formation of over 45 companies since inception. Previous to becoming Chair of Mayo Clinic Ventures, Mr. VanNurden held a variety of positions in the other operating divisions during his 22 years at Mayo Clinic, including being the first Director of Electronic Publishing in the Health Information Division. During Mr. VanNurden's tenure, several award-winning CD ROMs and websites were created, including the business strategies, product developments and successful launch of Mayo Clinic Health Oasis and Mayo Clinic HealthQuest Online in 1995 (now known as websites. He also served as an industry liaison to the U.S. Health and Human Services Committee on the Emergence of Interactive Health Communication.

Previously, Mr. VanNurden held management positions at Cargill, Inc., US Bank and was vice-president of Aerodrome Airline Services, Inc., a small aviation company. Mr. VanNurden holds degrees in Accounting and Finance and a Masters Degree in Business Administration.

Mr. VanNurden is married to Brenda, who taught elementary school for the past 26 years. They are parents to three sons: Reggie is 25, Tyler is 22 and Nolan is 20 years old.

Bill Marshall
Co-Founder & CEO, miRagen

William S. Marshall, Ph.D., is miRagen's President, Chief Executive Officer, Co-Founder and Director. Prior to establishing miRagen, Dr. Marshall was Vice President of Technology and Business Development for Bioscience at Thermo Fisher Scientific. In this role, he was responsible for leading technology assessment and strategic planning for the Thermo Fisher Biosciences Division, a unit with revenues of approximately $1 billion that manufactures and supplies a wide range of products and services across the general-chemistry and life-sciences arenas.

Dr. Marshall was one of the scientific founders of Dharmacon, Inc., which was acquired by Fisher Scientific International, serving as the Executive Vice President for Research and Operations and General Manager. Prior to joining Dharmacon, Dr. Marshall served in many capacities at Amgen, Inc., most recently as Associate Director of Research, Site Head for Research and Head of the Nucleic Acid and Peptide Technology Department. In these positions, he participated in a variety of therapeutic development approaches throughout the drug discovery process leading to the development of clinical candidates. Dr. Marshall earned his B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his Ph.D. in Chemistry in the laboratory of Professor Marvin Caruthers at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is author and co-author of over 50 research papers and 80 patents. Dr. Marshall currently serves on the Boards of BiOptix, Inc., and the Colorado BioScience Association.


Jim Burke
Chairman, President and Founder, High Sierra Energy

James Burke co-founded High Sierra Energy, LP, in 2004, and currently serves as President & Chief Executive Officer and co-Managing Director. Mr. Burke received his B.S from University of Colorado in 1978. Mr. Burke began his career as a Crude Oil Representative at Permian Corporation from 1978-1981. Mr. Burke then joined Asamera Oil (U.S.) Inc. where he served as Manager of Crude Oil Acquisitions from 1981-1984. Mr. Burke, along with three other entrepreneurs, co-founded Petro Source Partners, where he ran six business units throughout the U.S. and Canada for the company over a 17 year span. Mr. Burke was instrumental in helping the company achieve over $1.0 billion in annual revenues when the company was sold during 2001.

Joel Moxley
Founder and EVP, Foro Energy

Joel Moxley is the Founder & EVP Business Development for Foro Energy. Foro Energy is commercializing high power lasers for the oil, natural gas, geothermal, and mining industries. Our unique capability and hardware platform to transmit high power lasers over long distance fiber optic cables enables step change performance in applications to drill, complete, and workover wells. Most recently, Dr. Moxley was Entrepreneur-in-Residence at North Bridge Venture Partners where he worked with entrepreneurs to conceive, form, and grow early-stage companies in the energy and materials sectors through investments from the fund's $2B+ in assets. Previously, Dr. Moxley was Co-Founder of PriorSmart, acquired by RPX Corporation (NASDAQ:RPXC), which leads the market in patent enforcement data for the IP litigation community and Vice President of Operations of Semprus Biosciences, acquired by Teleflex Incorporated (NYSE:TFX), that develops specialty materials for medical devices. Dr. Moxley received his Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and B.S.E. from Princeton University, both in Chemical Engineering.

Wayne Greenberg
CEO, Agribotix

Agribotix is a big-data company helping farmers increase profits; enabled by drones, low cost computing power and the cloud.

Greenberg is a senior executive over 35 years in business management. He has lead a number of companies to successful exits.

He is the former CEO of Sun Number, a big-data play in solar assessment funded by the DOE, former CEO of Architectural Energy Corporation, a green buildings firm (now part of Carrier Corp) and he served as CEO of WellDog, a venture-backed data company servicing natural gas extraction. He is the former president of Financial Times Energy, a $50MM division of the Financial Times Group of London, focused in energy markets and the utility industry. He was president of E Source, a research and advisory firm serving utility executives and large energy consumers. He has been an advisor to Enertech Capital Partners since 1998.

Prior to switching to energy related companies in the mid-90's, he served as president of Shepard's, the legal publishing arm of McGraw-Hill and held various senior management positions at LEXIS/NEXIS, the world's largest provider of on-line professional information.

He received a BA in public communications from Boston University, and a JD and MBA from Tulane University, where he also served as associate dean at the law school for 10 years and started several small technology and information companies.

Norman Vickers
Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Infield Ventures

Norman is an experienced clean energy executive. He is currently Entrepreneur-In-Residence at Infield Capital, a venture capital firm focused clean technologies for transportation. He was CEO at Precision Wind, a weather forecasting company providing power forecasting services to the wind industry. Previously Norman was the CEO of Nilar Battery Power Systems, where he ran battery manufacturing operations and led product commercialization efforts of battery pack systems. Norman has 18 years of management experience with Electronic Data Systems, where he has held numerous IT leadership positions and managed integrated delivery teams in North and South America and Europe. While at EDS, Norman developed manufacturing systems for General Motors. Norman spent several years with EDS in Sweden, working closely with SKF and Saab Automobile. He earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Duke University.

Sue Kunz
CEO, Avenir International

Ms. Kunz's experience spans numerous roles including CEO, Founder and Corporate Executive. Currently, as CEO of Avenir International, Inc., Sue is responsible for corporate vision, strategy, execution and capitalization. Avenir is Sue's fifth startup, four of which she led. Prior to Avenir, Ms. Kunz led a clean tech company, BioVantage Resources, a sustainable water reclamation company. Before this she founded and led Solidware Technologies, Inc., a software quality company which was acquired in 2008. Ms. Kunz's corporate experience included Sun Microsystems where she was Director of Marketing & Business Development, Six Sigma Director and held various engineering and management positions. Before Sun, Kunz founded an independent consultancy selling digital imaging solutions in Germany. Also in Europe, Kunz held various international product/strategic marketing positions at IBM. Ms. Kunz started her career at Precision Visuals, Inc. and as the only headquarters' representative Kunz was instrumental in setting up their European offices in Germany.

Sue served on Governor Hickenlooper's and on Governor Bill Ritter's Venture Capital Investment Advisory Committees and served on the Governor's Council for Innovation; she currently serves on Colorado Universitiy's ICT Law Program Advisory Board and is a Master's course instructor at Watson University, and a mentor at the Unreasonable Institute. She has served on multiple boards and advisory boards and has been a Techstars mentor. Kunz graduated cum laude with a BS in Computer Science from the University of Idaho.

John LoPorto
Chairman and CEO, Navitus Power Services

John has both entrepreneurial and Fortune 500 executive management experience. He was the founder and CEO of Power Tagging, an energy technology firm serving the electric power industry. From securing initial research funding from the National Science Foundation to multiple rounds of growth capital from Fortune 250 strategic investors John created a game changing technology movement within a traditional staid industry. His success at Power Tagging earned him a runner up position in Ernst & Young's 2010 Entrepreneur of the Year competition. He also served as CEO of Breakthrough Systems, Inc. a provider of embedded software to the data storage, avionics, telecommunications and defense industries. His Fortune 500 experience includes serving as VP of Business Development for Storage Technology Corporation and other senior executive sales and marketing positions at EMC and Sun Microsystems. He was also an early stage key executive in a number of successful startup organizations including Veritas Software which was acquired by Symantec for over $13B and Logicraft, which was the first company to earn a position on the prestigious Inc 500 list for three consecutive years. John holds an engineering degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and completed graduate business studies at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He currently serves on the Colorado Governor's Venture Capital Advisory Committee. A strong community and environmental advocate, John serves on the board of the Boulder chapter of Trout Unlimited and has also served on the board of the Emergency Family Assistance Association (EFAA).


Gregg Burgess
VP Technology, Sierra Nevada Corporation

Mr. Burgess is responsible for establishing technology strategy, broadening Sierra Nevada Corporation Space Systems' technology portfolio, enhancing engineering practice, working with industrial and customer partners on joint technology development, and guiding key technical decisions on Space Systems components products, hybrid rocket motors, Dream ChaserĀ®, and satellite systems. Burgess joined SNC in May 2013, relocating from Virginia to Colorado. Prior to coming to SNC, Burgess served as Chief Technology Officer for Laserlight Communications startup in Virginia, establishing architecture and implementation strategy for a commercial 8-satellite high bandwidth laser communications system. Prior to Laserlight, he was a senior vice president at Orbital Sciences Corporation in Virginia. Mr. Burgess developed and implemented the strategy that established a unique position for Orbital in the National Security Space market, growing a small study operation to a technology-driven, over $250M annual revenue division in 10 years. Important programs in his portfolio included the AFRL Eagle and ANGELS satellite programs, the USAF Commercially Hosted InfraRed Payload (CHIRP), and DARPA's MiTEx geosynchronous satellite program. This division was instrumental in Orbital's growth to be a $1.5B annual revenue firm. Mr. Burgess led the proposal, program, and first year of operations on MiTEx. Earlier in his Orbital career, Mr. Burgess led the Systems Engineering functional organization through the integration of two acquired companies and the Virginia operation's initial ISO-9000 certification. He also led efforts to develop an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle business at Orbital, and led systems engineering and ground system design for the first two ORBCOMM satellites.

Mr. Burgess began his 31 year career in aerospace systems at Hughes Aircraft Company's Space and Communications Group, where he worked on the Galileo Probe, Space Shuttle Ku-Band Rendezvous Radar, and the Space Systems Applications Laboratory (SSAL). He began his long term association with the US national security SCI community in 1989.

Mr. Burgess holds Master of Science and Bachelor of Science degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, and he completed the General Manager's Program at Harvard Business School. His specialties are general management, program management, aerospace systems engineering, guidance navigation and control, and rendezvous and proximity operatons (RPO). He is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and serves on the board of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC).

Merc Mercure
CEO, CDM Optics Inc.

Merc Mercure has 58 years' experience in high-technology management and investing. In 1956 he and others founded Ball Brothers Research Corp., now Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. Later he held positions as Group Vice President — Technical Products and Vice President — Business Development. He retired from Ball in 1980. After retiring from Ball, he was one of the founders of Colorado Venture Management, Inc., one of the first Venture Capital Companies in Colorado. CVM managed several Venture Capital Funds as well as developing and managing several electric co-generation plants in Colorado. In 1988 Merc returned to the University of Colorado to serve in a number of high-level positions, including: Director, Master of Engineering in Engineering Management Program; Managing Director, Optoelectronic Computing Systems Center, a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center and Director, Tech Transfer for the University of Colorado. In 1996 he and two others founded CDM Optics, Inc., which was sold to OmniVision Technologies, Inc., a publicly held company, in 2005. He and two others formed Ascentia Imaging, Inc., in 2010. He is Chairman of Ascentia.

Merc was President of the Western Electronics Manufacture Association (now the American Electronics Association). He has been a Director of a number of public companies, including three NYSE companies. Merc currently sits on the Board of Directors of several private companies. He is on the Board of several non-profit organizations including Boulder Innovation Center, eSpace, STAR Institute and the University License Equity Holdings, Inc. (ULEHI). He is on the Technology Transfer Advisory Board of the Colorado School of Mines. Merc is the past President of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research Foundation. He is a past member of the Aerospace Engineering Department, External Advisory Board and the Engineering Advisory Board of the University of Colorado at Boulder, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He is a member of the American Institute of Physics' History Advisory Committee. His list of civic activities includes a former stint as a Boulder City Councilman, and a member of the Boulder City Planning Board. Merc holds a PhD in Physics from the University of Colorado.

Other Recognitions and Awards include the Norlin Recognition Award for Distinguished Achievement, College of Engineering and Applied Science Distinguished Alumnus Award, The College of Engineering and Applied Science Centennial Medal, Department of Physics Outstanding Alumnus Award, Big 12 Center of Economic Development, Innovation and Commercialization "Hero" Award, Esprit Entrepreneur Lifetime Achievement Award, 20th Business Hall of Fame. In 2011 Merc received an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Natural Foods

Elizabeth C. Cook
Founder, President, Director of Philanthropiece

Libby Cook, founder and Executive Director of Philanthropiece, brings her entrepreneurial background, expertise and vision to the work of the foundation. Ms. Cook has 25 years experience in the natural foods grocery industry having co-founded and led both Wild Oats Markets and Sunflower Markets. Ms. Cook also served as General Counsel for the businesses from 1987-2005 and holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Colorado School of Law and a Masters of Laws in Taxation from the University of Denver. She is the recipient of numerous commendations and awards including the Alumni Award for Distinguished Achievement from the CU School of Law in 2000, the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 1998, the YWCA Hall of Fame Award for Entrepreneurship in 1995 and the Esprit Entrepreneur Award in 1992. Throughout her business career Ms. Cook has been actively involved in the field of education founding and serving on the boards of several local private and public charter schools in Boulder, Colorado. She currently serves on Advisory Boards for The University of Colorado School of Law, the Center for the Advancement of Sustainable Enterprise (CASE) at Colorado State University, Silicon Flatiron Centers' Entrepreneurship Initiatives Board at the University of Colorado, Startup Colorado and provides advice and support to the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic at the University of Colorado School of Law. Ms. Cook has lived and traveled abroad extensively, is multi-lingual and is dedicated to community empowerment projects in North and Central America.

Jane Miller
President, CEO of Charter Baking Company

Jane Miller is currently the President and CEO of Charter Baking Company, the bakers of Rudi's Organic and Rudi's Gluten-Free. Previously, she was part of an executive team that developed the first bankruptcy emergence plan for Interstate Bakeries. She served as President of the UK & Ireland division of the HJHeinz Company and ran the Western Division of Bestfoods Baking Company. She spent fourteen years at PepsiCo in a variety of senior management positions, including Central Division President. She has a BA in Russian Studies from Knox College and an MBA from Southern Methodist University.

Jane serves as a board member for the Unreasonable Institute and as an advisory board member for Justin's Nut Butter and ReWork. She is actively involved with mentoring University of Colorado students through her involvement with the Leeds School of Business. In 2013, she launched a career advice website: and will be publishing her first book in May 2014 titled Sleep Your Way to the Top (and other myths about business success).

Kimbal Musk
Founder & CEO, The Kitchen & The Kitchen Community

Kimbal Musk is an entrepreneur who has helped found, advise and invest in several technology and food companies. He is the owner of The Kitchen Cafe, LLC, a family of community restaurants located in Boulder and Denver. He is the co-founder of The Kitchen Community, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that brings outdoor vegetable gardens called Learning Gardens to schoolyards and community spaces across America. Musk sits on the boards of Tesla Motors, SpaceX, and the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado Boulder, The Anschutz Health and Wellness Center at the University of Colorado, Denver and Chipotle Mexican Grill.


The success of BEN Colorado depends on a strong partner network. Initially, the Foundation worked closely with leaders and organizations throughout the Front Range, including the University of Colorado Law School, the Colorado BioScience Association, the Colorado Cleantech Industry Association, the Colorado Technology Association, Startup Colorado, and Senator Michael Bennet. In May, we will establish and launch the Partner Council.

Colorado BioScience Association
Colorado Technology Association
Colorado Cleantech Industries Association

Contact Us

  • Interest Areas:

We encourage all interested companies to apply to join the Network. We will shortly be publishing guidelines for interested to consider. The Network will work specifically with companies at the point of substantial scale-up, with a reasonably established employee, revenue, and growth track record, in each of the five industry categories (Technology/Broadband; Natural Food; Energy; Biotech and Health; and Aerospace).