Meet Our Team
iF’s team of experts hail from a diverse range of professional roles and industries, but all share a passion for innovation, entrepreneurship, and Hamilton!
innovation factory Staff
David Carter – Executive Director
Prior to joining iF, David was CTO and Co-founder of Awareness Inc. His company raised 20 million in venture capital and worked with brands like New York Times, Major League Baseball, Sony Pictures and McDonalds. David will tell you his sweet spot is where technology, sales, and marketing intersect. He is quick to warn that technology alone does not ever solve the problem. During the 90s David worked for Microsoft and saw the arrival of graphical computing, smart phones, tablets and the Internet. He left Microsoft in 2001 to begin his first start-up.
Sam Saad – Director of Strategic Initiatives
Though born in the 80’s, Sam is a true millennial with iF being his fourth career. Prior to joining iF, Sam served as a United Nations Electoral Officer, health promotion researcher, change leadership manager, and program manager for an innovation funding portfolio totaling over $200M. In 2012 he launched his first company, JustAccess, a crowdfunding platform for the justice system. Sam joined iF to help build an accelerator focused on connected and autonomous vehicle, and other transformative technologies. He was quick to exclaim his unbridled love for Hamilton, hiking and camping the surrounding nature when not at the office.
Karen Linseman-Brown – Director of Operations
Brigitte Huard – Program Manager
Brigitte holds a Humanities Degree in Fine Arts from McMaster University and a post-graduate diploma from the Dundas Valley School of Art. She grew up in Quebec, moved to Burlington in her teens and quickly made Hamilton her stomping grounds. Having worked as an artist, community educator and public programmer for 15+ years, Brigitte loves helping entrepreneurs access the resources they need to grow their businesses and make meaningful connections.
She has worked for Design Exchange (TO), the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the Art Gallery of Burlington, the Grimsby Public Art Gallery, developing and implementing programs for schools and community organizations in the Hamilton- Wentworth and Niagara regions, as well as the GTA. In her spare time, Brigitte likes to hit the flea markets with her husband Chris and their Italian Greyhound, Gelato.
Alex Lee – Senior Client Services Manager
Alex Lee is a graduate of Conestoga’s Health Informatics Management program. Over the last several years has has traveled across Canada participating in various hackathons and health innovation events. Alex is CEO and co-founder of eHealthCareers and is part of the Hacking Health team. Prior to joining the iF team, he led an eclectic career in automated manufacturing, health technology and motorsports. Alex is passionate about health innovation, entrepreneurship and helping startups succeed.
Shannon Graszat – Client Services Analyst
Shannon is a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University with a degree in Political Science and French. Having grown up in Hamilton, Shannon is loves being a part of iF, where she can help people start and grow their businesses right here at home. Shannon has experience working with students, in the culture and tourism sector, as well as moderating several large online forums. Outside of the office, Shannon likes to keep busy seeing new places or at the gym preparing for her next powerlifting meet.
Annie Horton – Marketing and Communications
Annie was born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario and is a champion of all things #HamOnt, entrepreneurial and small business. Eager to participate in the rapid growth of the city, Annie opened up her own business on the trendy James St. North called Pretty Grit (currently owned and operated by her business partner and sister-in-law). She left the business in 2016 to pursue a career in Marketing, Communications and Events. From 2016 – 2018 Annie held contracts with The City of Hamilton, Habitat for Humanity and Jan Kelley working with clients such as Canadian Tire, Revera Retirement Living and Terrapure Environmental. Outside of the office, Annie coordinates The Sexual Assault Centre of Hamilton’s (SACHA) Annual Fundraiser Chocolate Fest and enjoys exploring the city’s new and old spots with her family and friends.
Shawna Richards – Office Administrative Assistant
Shawna was born and raised in Hamilton, ON. A true Hamiltonian, Shawna is graduate of McMaster University with a degree in Communications and a graduate from Mohawk College with a certificate in Human Resources Management. Shawna has experience working with diverse groups of people, and is eager to participate and engage with this type of diversity at iF. Shawna has held positions in Human Resources, Property Management, and Maintenance Administration – all of which will contribute to supporting the team in multiple capacities. Outside of iF, Shawna loves to write, do yoga and run, and is interested in healthy eating through vegetarianism.
Innovation Factory’s Executives-In-Residence
Bernard Lim – Executive-in-Residence
Bernard founded a medical device company which he grew and led to a highly successful acquisition by a global pharmaceutical. As CEO, Board Chair and Director, he has led the growth of both start-ups and corporate multinationals spanning diverse industry sectors including biotechnology, diagnostics, medical devices, electronics and high technology across US, Canada and Europe. Bernard is a mentor to multiple university spin-out companies and is our resident Health and Life Sciences EIR.
John Holland – Executive-in-Residence
Prior to establishing Plutus Consulting Group (www.plutuscg.com), John spent over 25 years as a senior executive and CEO in the multinational Food and CPG industries. He successfully launched many recognized new products on three continents, achieving their branding and sales goals. He now guides businesses in monetization of product innovation, business strategy, change management, organizational effectiveness, brand/product positioning, and retail customer development.
Tom Turchet – Executive-in-Residence
Tom Turchet is currently consulting technology companies on Business Strategy, Sales Execution and Routes to Market Structure. His 35-year knowledge of the technology marketplace in North America includes working knowledge of the hardware, software and services environment. He was previously IBM Vice President, Software for the General Business marketplace in North America, and before that Vice President, General Business for IBM Canada. As well, Tom is a sessional lecturer at McMaster’s School of Engineering, working with students in the Masters of Engineering, Entrepreneurship and Innovation program.
Rick McCutcheon – Executive-in-Residence
Rick is an expert in the areas of Sales Productivity and CRM. He has been involved with the technology industry since 1991 as a Company Founder, Senior Executive, Board Member, Educator, Consultant and Professional Speaker. He currently leads a Sales and CRM Consultancy Practice, speaks at industry events and writes for the Microsoft Dynamics Community Website.
Richard Dunda – Executive-in-Residence
Over the course of career, Richard has held a series of engaging and foundation roles, stretching from his own PC industry start-up in the late 80’s, to 20+ years at Microsoft in both Canada and the United States and most recently 5 years to Rogers Communications. These roles, in a variety of capacities and responsibilities, have provided Richard a unique combination of skills and experience, enabling him to bring both an extensive network and a unique perspective to businesses of all sizes and today’s generation of entrepreneurs.
CAMPUS-LINKED ACCELeRATOR: THE FORGE
|Monika Yazdanian – Director, Student & Youth Entrepreneurship
Prior to joining The Forge, Monika was a Program Director for a group of 40+ solar cell researchers in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Toronto, where she raised funds, promoted technology development, managed IP and commercialization strategies, and managed relationships with government, startups, and multi-national companies. Before that, Monika worked at a startup company providing legal and regulatory assistance to companies in the junior mining sector, and taught the occasional physics course at the University of Guelph. She obtained her Ph.D. in Nanoscience from Cornell University, and a Bachelor of Laws from Western University.
|Jonathan Boulanger – Business Development Manager
Jonathan comes to The Forge with the goal of helping great technology and investment meet. He completed a Ph.D. in Engineering Physics at McMaster University in 2013. Work conducted during this period led to the foundation of Nanotec Solar, where he worked as a Senior Research and Development Engineer to bring new silicon-based solar concentrator technology to market.
During this time, Jonathan became increasingly involved and interested in the influences of financial forces on technology, motivating him to write and pass the CFA Level I examination with the ultimate goal of helping bridge the worlds of technology and finance in new and powerful ways. He now works with the McMaster Industry Liaison Office (MILO) and The Forge commercializing the latest technological innovations produced by the McMaster and Hamilton community.
|Michael Peace – Business Development Manager, External, The Forge
Michael joins The Forge from the enterprise and innovation team at Communitech, where he managed the growth of the Service Provider Program and worked on Communitech’s corporate innovation pipeline. Prior to that, Michael was General Manager of Grand Erie Business Centre which provides small business consulting and lending services. Michael will be working on a number of corporate partnerships initiatives engaging service partners and as a coach to Forge teams.
|Heather Brunt – Interim Program Coordinator, The Forge
Heather comes to The Forge with a background in operations and video production in the media industry. She graduated from Ryerson’s Radio and Television Arts program, and started up her own production company, which she successfully ran for two years. Torstar Media Group Television then asked for her help in starting up ShopTV Canada, an infomercial TV channel, where she eventually became Director of Operations. She’s excited to be part of this innovative team at The Forge where she can put her career skills to good use! Heather loves spending time with her crazy but wonderful family, and is amazed by the things her children teach her, every day. She has recently taken up knitting socks.
|Patricia Kousoulas – Program Coordinator, [email protected]
Patricia graduated from McMaster in June 2017. She is the former Welcome Week Faculty Coordinator, most recent President of the McMaster Science Society (serving for two years) and has worked with McMaster Residence Life in various capacities. Patricia will be deploying her formidable experience on the Mac campus to help make The [email protected] program a smash hit for 2017-2018. On her spare time, she enjoys surrounding herself with people, good music, her dog Cookie and the best kind of food. Her personal favourite is cheesecake!
|Jessica Rudden – Program Coordinator, The Forge (Maternity Leave)
Jessica comes to The Forge with a strong background in sales, client relations and event coordination, predominantly within the hospitality and retail industries. She graduated with Honours from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Commerce Degree and has worked in both Canada and the United States. With a passion for travel and entertainment, she is always up for an adventure.