DiscoverThe Executive
The Executive

The Executive

Author: Matt Harbert

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Inspiring stories, lessons, and advice on how to make it at the highest level from top executives, founders, and investors.
31 Episodes
Matthew Price, COO of Promontory Therapeutics is an experienced biotech entrepreneur / C-level executive, and the only company co-founder named a 2022 Emerging Pharma Leader by Pharmaceutical Executive. He is responsible for industry collaborations with Pfizer and Merck KGaA, and for Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the National Cancer Institute. He previously held research and managerial roles in the NGO and non-profit sectors working in the US and Germany. He holds an AB from Princeton University, and earned his MBA from Columbia Business School, where he was a Chazen Society Fellow in International Business.
Shannon Erley, Founder & CEO of Pomp a groundbreaking platform connecting estheticians with their clients through technology in the beauty industry. She shares her journey from frustration with the crowded beauty market to building a resilient company that attracted major investors, including the Zuckerberg family when it seemed like they were at the end of their rope.
Erik Mitisek, Co-Founder & President of Highwing, the first open data platform for commercial insurance. Highwing spun out of IMA Financial Group with a $4M seed round led by BRP Group and BrokerTech Ventures. Erik has over 2+ decades of operating as a c-suite executive, and founder of numerous companies. Erik was the Co-Founder of The Commons on Champa & Denver Startup Week, Chief Innovation Officer for the Governor John Hickenlooper, and CEO of the Colorado Technology Association.
Joanna Arras joined Baird Capital in 2014, a venture capital investor focused on early- and expansion-stage companies that leverage technology to solve business problems or just make life easier. She is also currently a board member of ChurnZero, Circonus, FullContact, and SourceDay and was previously a board member of Appcast, Startwire, and Autobooks. She has also previously served as a board observer of HouseCall Pro, Hireology, NowSecure, Datica, and Sittercity. Before joining Baird Capital, Joanna worked as an Associate in Baird's Investment Banking and Business Development departments, focusing on strategic investments and initiatives. Additionally, she previously served as an Equity Research Analyst at Baird, specializing in semiconductor companies. Joanna earned a B.S. in management and international business from Indiana University and holds an MBA from The University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School with majors in finance and entrepreneurship.
Jennifer Henderson is the Founder and CEO of Tilt, a venture-backed SaaS platform that redefines the employee leave experience. Based on her own experience of leave being a career killer, Jennifer decided to change that narrative and create a platform that allows employees to take the necessary time when life happens. Prior to founding Tilt, Jennifer was the Director of Operations at Noodles & Company and is a Board Member for CSU’s College of Business, Institute for Entrepreneurship. This interview is in partnership with Colorado Venture Summit.
Robert Jacks has 20 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry. He has founded or co-founded multiple companies and raised more than $170 million with several successful exits. He is now the President & CEO of Sparrow Pharmaceuticals which is developing targeted therapies for serious disorders of steroid excess and raised a $50M Series A in 2021.
Dr. Marcelo Bigal, President and CEO of Ventus Therapeutics, a company that expects to become the leader in the field of using precision medicine to identify subsets of patients with severe chronic neurological conditions. Prior to Ventus, Dr. Marcelo held multiple positions in the industry, including CSO at Teva, leading a group of over 1,300 people, as well as CMO of Purdue. Prior to Teva, he was also the CMO at Labrys Biologics, Inc., leading the team responsible for the development of Fremanezumab (approved as Ajovy), a humanized monoclonal antibody against CGRP, an anti-migraine and pain target. He has published over 322 peer-reviewed articles in indexed journals, edited six books, and authored / co-authored 35 book chapters in the field of neurology.
Monica Palko, Chief Legal & Administrative Officer of York Space Systems. She discusses how leadership is not a one-size-fits-all approach, how to advance in an organization, and what trait surprised her the most in a great founder. York Space Systems, who design and manufacture space systems, is one of the fastest growing aerospace companies in the country. They were awarded a $382 Million dollar contract with the Department of Defense's Space Development Agency to manufacture satellites and recently received a significant investment from AEI to continue their impressive growth. Prior to York Space, Monica was the VP & General Counsel of Lockheed Martin Space and is a Director of the Global Board of the Association of Corporate Counsel which is a 45,000-member global bar association that promotes the common professional and business interests of in-house counsel.
Kelly Hennig, Chief Operating Officer of Stoke Space, one of the fastest growing aerospace companies developing reusable rockets to provide the satellite industry with low-cost, on-demand access to and from any orbit. Stoke’s investors include NFX, MaC Ventures, YC, Seven Seven Six Ventures, and several others. Prior to Stoke Space, she was an Engineering Executive at Raytheon Technologies for two years and the Chief Engineer at Advanced Concepts & Technology for Northrop Grumman for eighteen years and has also been the Electronics Division Chair at the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA). Kelly has an MS in Electrical Engineering/Electromagnetics/Optics from the University of Michigan and a BS in Electrical Engineering from Rutgers University.
Molly Harper, Chief Business Officer of Synlogic, a biotechnology company that went public in 2021 through a reverse merger with Mirna Therapeutics raising an additional $40M after $100M in venture capital funding. Molly is also a member of the Board of Directors for Catalyst Pharmaceuticals and PreciseDX. Molly attended Wharton for her MBA, Healthcare Management, and Bachelor of Arts from Cornell University.
Vlad Vitoc is the Founder & CEO of MAIA, an immune-oncology company, focused on the development of first-in-class drugs with novel mechanisms of action that are intended to meaningfully improve and extend the lives of people with cancer. Vlad and his team took MAIA public successfully in 2022 in one of the most difficult IPO markets in recent years.
Hans Keirstead is a serial entrepreneur and currently the Founder, CEO, and Chairman of Aivita Biomedical, a biotechnology company developing personalized vaccines for the prevention of infectious disease and treatment of cancer. He has now founded four biotechnology companies with successful exits in his previous three companies.  Dr. Keirstead also holds Board positions in several prominent biotechnology companies.
Mani Mohindru, CEO of Novasenta has a non-traditional career path, starting as a scientist studying immune cells in the context of autoimmune diseases. She later worked in investment banking, which exposed her to different therapeutic areas, treatment modalities, and a full view of what a company can grow into. She then transitioned to the operations side of public biotechs as Chief Strategy Officer and eventually became a Chief Financial Officer before becoming the CEO of Novasena. Mani’s diverse experiences have enriched her vision of what a company can be and how to build one. Her scientific background and experience in finance and operations have taught her the discipline and focus needed in running the company.
Brian Finrow is the CEO of Lumen Bioscience, where they are reinventing how biologic drugs are made. Dissimilar to a lot of Bioscience CEO’s, Brian comes from the legal industry having graduated from Harvard and spent over 8 years at Cooley. Lumen's patented technology allows them to use the well-known food algae spirulina to deliver therapeutic proteins.
Ed Messman is the CEO of Rook Capital, a company that's on a mission to make home ownership and affordability more attainable for the next generation of home owners and real estate investors. He brings his experience in finance and building startups to lead his team with authenticity, getting them on board to make a big impact in what many have found to be a right of passage they've been barred from... owning a home.
We're joined by Joanne Mizell to talk about the Banner|Aetna merger to transform the health care industry and how they're uniquely positioned to fix much of the broken aspects of this space. As mentioned: The Banner|Aetna Way / Fundamentals
Caleb Avery is the Founder & CEO of Tilled, a PayFac-as-a-Service company helping software companies monetize their payments. Tilled raised a Series of A of $11M in May of 2021 and raised another $11M in the beginning of 2022 as they quadrupled their team and tripled their valuation in just over 6 months.
A Denver Startup Week discussion about what is possible for humanity with the space revolution, the future of tech, and how it could impact lives on earth for generations to come.  Panelists -  - Steve Lindsey, CTO & SVP Advanced Programs, Sierra Space  - Monica Palko, Chief Legal & Administrative Officer, York Space Systems - Adam Harris, Chief Commercial Officer, Orbit Fab
Christine Spraker & Dr. Aki Alzubaidi are the Co-CEO's of Eon Health, a data science company that is on a mission to defy diseases by ensuring the right data reaches the right people at the right time. Eon Health is notably backed by Mark Cuban and recently raised a $16M series A led by Integrity Growth Partners. Headquartered in Denver, Colorado, Eon has over 100 employees and is quickly growing to help healthcare providers be proactive in diagnosing life threatening diseases sooner to ultimately save lives.
Isaac Freckleton, CEO & Founder of Eve Financial, shares how his company is helping consumers pay for unexpected expenses. He also discusses his role as the CEO, what's helped him most as a Founder, and how mentors have played such a big role in his career.
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