Laura Czarnecki is CEO of TradeUp Capital Fund. A seasoned investment banker and operator, she has held executive positions in such leading companies as Jefferies, Brown Brothers Harriman, FactSet Research Systems, The Joe Verde Group, and Elio Motors, where she served as COO.
Laura has engaged in international sales and business development, account management, customer service/BDC development, and investment banking, and worked in start-up environments. She is also the Founder and Executive Director of the L.A. branch of Global Chamber.
Laura earned BA from Vanderbilt University, College of the Holy Cross; MA in Leadership from the University of Oklahoma; MS in Global Management from Thunderbird; and MBA from Indiana's Kelley School of Business.
Denis Bandera-Duplantier is the Chief Operating Officer at TradeUp Capital Fund. Prior to TradeUp, he worked in the country’s top debt private placements group at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, helping clients across a range of industries raise more than $10 billion in private debt. He also spent several years working in the education system in Japan leading multicultural teams to develop and execute a strategic vision that emphasized practical English skills. He is fluent in Japanese. Denis holds Series 7 and Series 63 licenses.
Denis received an MBA with honors from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and graduated magna cum laude from Washington University with a major in Finance.
Noreen R. Weiss is Partner at MacDonald Weiss PLLC, and TradeUp's legal advisor. She is an accomplished corporate and transactional lawyer and management advisor, with over 25 years experience advising the C-Suite and Boards of Directors on all manner of finance, operations and transactional matters.
She has deep expertise in domestic and cross border finance and business structuring, capital markets and securities law (US and global public and private debt and equity offerings) and international business development transactions such as M&A and joint ventures, and has spent her career focused on international work at the highest level of business and finance.
Noreen represents U.S. and non-U.S. start-ups and emerging companies, frequently as outside general counsel where she handles an array of commercial and operational issues ranging from corporate governance to day-to-day operations matters such as contracts, product licensing, acquisition and distribution, as well as assisting with capital raising campaigns. She also has a particular expertise advising both issuers and Internet securities platforms in the newly developing securities-based crowdfunding space, and in assisting non-U.S. businesses expand into the U.S.
Noreen represents clients from a broad spectrum of industries including start-up and emerging technology companies, investment funds, multinational conglomerates in television and film, consumer products and retail, investment banks, banks, software design and Internet-based companies.
A former in-house counsel for Home Box Office, a Time Warner company, Noreen understands the practical business challenges that law department leaders face each and every day, and she brings this business-minded perspective to all her client matters. Additionally, her experience living and working for several years in the UK and Japan while practicing at the international firm Cleary, Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, provides valuable insights when serving her international client base.
BoARD OF DIRECTORS
Jouko Ahvenainen is a serial-entrepreneur, e.g. co-founder of Grow VC Group, a pioneer in new funding solutions, including equity p2p investments. He participated in changing US finance regulation, getting the Senate and President to allow crowdfunding and has worked with EU finance regulation. Jouko started his work with crowdfunding models in 2008.
Jouko is a founder, partner and board member in several innovative digital finance companies, like Crowd Valley, Crowdbaron, Kapipal, Grow Advisors and Commoditarian. Jouko is also a member in the Transatlantic Economic Forum SME Access to finance group, and has been an advisor for US, European and Asian investing and finance programs. He has especially worked to plan and implement models to get crowd investing and traditional investment models to work together, e.g. how institutional investors can utilize digital marketplaces to co-invest in retail investment markets.
Jouko has worked in teams to close several VC deals (from 150k USD to 15M USD), and also closed many large customer deals and been responsible for 40M USD annual revenue. He started his first own software business when he was 16 years old. Jouko has been a Certified Adviser for the NasdaqOMX First North lists stock exchanges. Jouko is on the boards of various start-up companies, and is a co-founder or seed investor in 11 companies.
Earlier he co-founded data analytics businesses. Before his serial entrepreneur career Jouko held senior positions at technology firms including Cap Gemini, Ernst & Young, Powerwave Technologies Inc. and Nokia. Jouko has vast experience of international business in Asia, Europe, and North America; he has lived and worked in the UK, the US, Finland, Malaysia and run business in Hong Kong. Jouko regularly speaks about innovative finance models and digital business in conferences including SXSW, Mobile World Congress, Next Conference, Crowdfunding World Summit and The Peter Drucker Forum around Europe, Asia, and the US. He is also a co-author in Social Media Data Analytics book. In 2013 he was listed Top 100 Influencers in Digital Industry.
Jouko holds an MBA from Helsinki School of Economics / McCombs School of Business, at the University of Texas, Austin and a M.Sc.(Tech.) from Helsinki University of Technology.
Kimberly Benson is a Member of the Board of Directors of TradeUp. She is the President of Zenaida Global, an international trade advisory firm based in Rancho Santa Fe, California which shares with its clients both the risks and the rewards of exporting. She is committed to enabling US companies of all sizes to increase their export sales while continuing to increase their export profitability. She brings to TradeUp over twenty five years of experience entering new international markets, building and managing international distribution networks for several US companies.
Kimberly launched the Solutions through Trade initiative in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates in 2014, focused on bringing US-sourced goods and services to the Middle East and Africa in the sectors of infrastructure, healthcare, security and education. In 2007 she was appointed by the US Trade Representative and the US Secretary of Commerce to serve on the Industry Trade Advisory Committee on Small and Minority Business in Washington, DC. She previously served as Senior Marketing Representative for the export credit insurance division of the Export Import Bank of the United States. She is recognized for her expertise in export finance and on the topic of international trade as it relates to small business.
Laurel Delaney is a successful entrepreneur, author, speaker, educator, blogger and columnist with more than 25 years of experience in global business.
Delaney has extensive international travel experience and is a renowned global small business expert. She also helps big companies develop strategic initiatives that target global small businesses and teaches M.B.A. International Marketing at Loyola University of Chicago.
Delaney has vast publishing credentials. She is the author of two books: “Start and Run a Profitable Exporting Business” (Self Counsel Press, 1998) and most recently, “Exporting: The Definitive Guide to Selling Abroad Profitably” (Apress, 2013), which was featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Bloomberg Businessweek. She is a regular contributing writer on global small business for the American Express OPEN Forum, the MasterCard Business Network and Pitney Bowes Global Ecommerce Solutions.
Delaney's numerous articles on global small business have appeared in many international and scholarly publications, including The Conference Board and The Wall Street Journal. (See samples here: http://www.scribd.com/Laurel%20Delaney). Her work has also appeared on the websites of Entrepreneur, Forbes, Fortune Small Business and Small Business Trends.
Delaney is the creator of The Global Small Business Blog, which is ranked No. 1 in the world for entrepreneurs and small businesses interested in going global, and Women Entrepreneurs GROW Global. She serves as the Import & Export Expert for About.com.
In addition to her published works, Delaney serves in a variety of industry capacities. She is the Chicago chapter chair for the Women Presidents’ Organization, serves on the International Editorial Advisory Board of the "Journal of International Entrepreneurship,” is a pioneer member and a board member by appointment of the World Entrepreneurship Forum and was named to Irish America’s Annual “The Business 100,” celebrating corporate success and Irish heritage. She was also awarded the Small Business Administration's Illinois Exporter of the Year in 1995.
Delaney holds a bachelor of arts degree in advertising from Columbia College Chicago and a master in business administration from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management.
Roy Paulson is the President of Paulson Manufacturing Corporation, founded in 1947 in Temecula. Paulson Manufacturing specializes in equipment related to eye and face protection for industries such as defense, aerospace, public safety, industrial facilities, and professional sports teams. Exporting to over 80 countries, Paulson Manufacturing was named SBA’s District Exporter of the Year in 2011. Roy is a member of the President’s Export Council Sub-Committee on Export Administration, and a member of the board of directors of the National Association of Manufacturers and of the California Manufacturers and Technology Association. He is also the current National Chair of the District Export Councils.
Roy is also Chair for Export Development at the Manufacturers Technology Council, Chair of National District Export Council's Export Control Modernization Sub-Committee, and Vice Chair of the California Inland Empire District Export Council. Roy has testified in Congress, most recently on U.S. free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea and job-creation in America.
Mr. S. Tien Wong is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Tech 2000, Inc., a Herndon, Virginia-based provider of advanced technology training, mobile e-learning, and mobile content management software to Fortune 500, education, and government clients.
He is also Chairman of Lore Systems, Inc., a Silver Spring, Maryland-based IT professional services company. Lore designs and supports network infrastructures, managed datacenter hosting, managed services, and cloud computing solutions for commercial, nonprofit, and government clients.
Tien also serves as Chairman of Opus8, Inc., a private investment and strategic advisory firm specializing in middle market buyouts and venture capital investment. Opus8 seeks to acquire and invest in call center, CRM (customer relationship management), outsourced marketing, datacenter, and managed hosting technologies and services.
In 1991, Tien co-founded and served as CEO of CyberRep, Inc. until its acquisition in 2003 by Affiliated Computer Services. At that time, CyberRep was one of the world’s largest privately held CRM outsourcing companies, operating 6 customer interaction centers throughout the USA with over 2,300 employees and $80 million in revenue. Today, the CyberRep/ACS business unit is one of the largest call center operations in the world, with over $1.5 billion in revenue as a division of Xerox Corp. In addition to garnering such prestigious awards as Customer Inter@ction Solutions magazine's MVP Quality Award and Customer Interface magazine's ACCE (Award for Call Center Excellence), CyberRep was ranked in INC. magazine's 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000's "Inc. 500" as the 51st, 53rd, 72nd and 408th fastest growing private company in the USA, respectively. CyberRep was profitable for eleven consecutive years and was backed by Allied Capital Corporation, a $5 billion investment company.
A recognized international expert in CRM, direct marketing, and BPO, Tien has presented at dozens of conferences around the world, and has written numerous articles on the CRM and BPO spaces. He has also provided industry commentary on the ABC, Fox, NBC, CNBC, Maryland Public Television, and China’s CCTV networks, as well as for publications such as Time Magazine, The Washington Post, Inc. Magazine, and Success Magazine. Prior to co-founding CyberRep, he worked for ten years in commercial real estate finance and investments.
Tien received the 2001 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for Greater Washington and the 2003 Ernst & Young Performance Excellence Award. He is a 2012 Washington Business Journal "Power 100" selection as one of the region's most influential leaders, a three-time SmartCEO Magazine selection as a "Smart100" CEO (2009, 2010 and 2011), honored for community service in 2009 as a member of Greater DC Cares' "Class of Change, " and selected by The Gazette of Politics and Business in 2010 as one of "25 CEOs You Need to Know." He is a member of YPO/WPO and is a frequent guest lecturer on entrepreneurship, leadership, venture capital, and private equity at the University of Maryland and Georgetown University.
Tien serves on the Boards of Directors of the Maryland Venture Fund Authority, the Potomac Officer's Club, Washington DC Archangels, FounderCorps, and Cadre. He serves on the Investment Advisory Board of the Commonwealth of Virginia's Center for Innovative Technology GAP Fund and on the Advisory Boards of some of the most promising tech companies in the mid-Atlantic including Parature, Transactis, CirrusWorks, SpydrSafe, and DataRPM. In the past, he has served as Treasurer and National Board Member of the American Teleservices Association; Chairman of the Executive Leadership Committee for the Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE); Trustee of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and on the Boards of the Technology Council of Maryland, Association for Corporate Growth - National Capital and Monte Jade Science and Technology Association. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College.
Gary Mendell is President of Meridian Finance Group, a company providing credit, insurance, and trade finance tools that exporters can use to expand their international sales.
A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania in 1976, Gary has over 30 years of experience in domestic and international sales, distribution, and finance.
In May 2014, the Meridian Finance Group was recognized with the President’s “E” Award for making significant contributions to U.S. exports and international trade. The award was presented to Meridian’s president, Gary Mendell, by Penny Pritzker, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.
Prior to Meridian Finance Group, he held positions managing international business development for companies in the pharmaceutical, aerospace, and plastics industries.
Gary has been recognized with awards from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Export-Import Bank of the U.S., and the Foreign Credit Insurance Association in recognition of Meridian’s contributions to international trade.
Victoria Silchenko is an economist turned entrepreneur who devotes much of her time to helping other entrepreneurs succeed via her advisory business. In 2013 she has been nominated by the Los Angeles Business Journal to the Women Making A Difference Awards.
Victoria Silchenko is the founder & CEO of Metropole Capital Group which she launched in 2004 in Los Angeles, CA to provide strategic and capital formation advisory services to startups and emerging companies in a broad range of industries throughout the U.S. and Russia/BRIC.
Victoria is a crowdfunding evangelist and is the founder of the annual Next Generation Entrepreneurship and Crowdfunding Forum based in Los Angeles - a unique exclusive gathering of world class entrepreneurs, most active angel investors, VCs, accelerators, and leading crowdfunding experts who meet under the Forum’s motto: We Connect. We Learn. We Act. Victoria’s interview about the event can be reviewed here.
Victoria strongly believes in ethical conduct of any business and actively supports solving market needs in the most intelligent, innovative and socially responsible way. She is a prominent voice in the entrepreneurial community and is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post on the subjects of crowdfunding, angel investing and venture capital and is an op-ed guest columnist for the Los Angeles Business Journal.
Victoria currently serves on the Board of the Los Angeles Venture Association. She is also the chair of Global LAVA group, a strategic interest group which she initiated in 2011 in order to unite capital providers and entrepreneurs looking for the global expansion.
She is a frequent speaker on entrepreneurship and financing strategies for startups at numerous seminars and conferences including the Association of Corporate Growth (US), LAVA (US), Horasis: The Global Visions Community (Luxemburg), Digital Hollywood (US), etc.
She is also a guest lecturer at the Californian Lutheran University and will be teaching an MBA course “Entrepreneurial Finance”, in summer 2014.
Victoria formerly held an analytical position at the Milken Institute, a leading Southern California economic think-tank managed by Michael Milken. Previously, she worked as a post-doctoral researcher directly with Dr. Arthur Laffer (former economic advisor to President Reagan) at Laffer Investments, a leading economic research and consulting firm.
Victoria holds degrees in Economics and Finance from the State University of Demidov and a Ph.D. in Economics from the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. She also completed her coursework in Financial Modeling, Business Valuation, and Business Strategies at the University of California San Diego, and she holds a Certificate in Recognition of Satisfying the Requirements for the Advanced Management and Business Program from San Diego State University.
In her spare time Victoria likes to study Philosophy, Psychology and Behavioral Economics. She paints, writes poetry and is a classically trained pianist. Her first published poetry e-book, “No Limits: Modern Poetry For Modern People,” is available now on Amazon.