OwlSpark | Rice University Startup Accelerator | Advisors
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Advisors

Our people.

Brad Burke

Managing Director,
Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship

Most recently, Brad founded and managed the local office of Viant Corporation, a premier internet consulting firm, delivering internet strategy, creative design, and web technology implementation. Viant went public through an IPO in 1999. Prior to Viant, Brad was a Principal with CSC Index, the management consulting division of Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC). Before consulting, Brad held management positions with Exxon Corporation. He received his M.B.A. from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management and his B.S. from Vanderbilt University.

Kaz Karwowski

Executive Director,
Rice Center for Engineering Leadership

Kaz comes to Rice from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he served as an engineering leadership specialist with the Bernard M. Gordon MIT Engineering Leadership Program, a post he took in July 2009 after leaving the military. Previously he served as a leadership instructor for the Army ROTC Program at MIT, operations sergeant of an 800-soldier infantry battalion in Iraq, and as the platoon sergeant of a 55-soldier infantry platoon also in Iraq. In addition, Kaz led soldiers with the 10th Mountain Division in Somalia, Haiti, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. He holds a Bachelor’s degree and a Graduate Degree from Harvard University.

Tom Kraft, Ph.D.

Director of Technology Ventures Development,
Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship

Tom’s academic background covers mechanical and electrical engineering and math and business from Stanford and UCLA before his doctoral program at Rice. Tom holds 19 U.S. Patents and founded several medical device and medical robotics companies after being part of the NASA Mission Control Center design effort. In addition to teaching at UCLA, Tom was an adjunct Professor of Math for HCC and a visiting lecturer on creativity. At Rice, Tom’s focus is increasing collaboration between Rice MBA students and the science and engineering departments at Rice in developing new commercialization ventures.

Senthil Natarajan

Founder,
Ziel Solutions

A senior at Rice University, Senthil is pursuing a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the Engineering Leadership Certificate from Rice Center for Engineering Leadership. Looking to further entrepreneurship at Rice, he served as the Managing Director for Rice Launch (now Rice Entrepreneurship Club). Prior to founding Ziel Solutions (Class 3), Senthil served as an intern for OwlSpark during Class 2. He enjoys breaking down the traditional concept of engineers as ineffective communicators and is a contributing writer for the Houston Chronicle on data-driven topics including sports, engineering education, and entrepreneurship.

Kerri Smith

Associate Managing Director,
Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship

Kerri has broad experience in developing strategies and programs that help maximize the success of technology-based startups. Her experience includes entrepreneurship education, startup acceleration, educational programming, technology licensing, and commercialization. During her tenure at the Houston Advanced Research Center, Kerri provided leadership, oversight, and strategic direction for commercialization and technology transfer initiatives. Kerri joined Rice University in 2004 where she serves as Associate Managing Director of the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, Managing Director of Rice University’s startup accelerator (OwlSpark), and Director of the NSF sponsored Innovation Corps Grant program (I-Corps) at Rice University. In all positions, she plays a lead role in fostering collaboration and accelerating the formation of technology-based startups in the areas of energy, clean technology, life science and information technology.

Alexander Wesley

Co-founder, President, and CEO
Arovia

Following a three-year stint as a product manager bringing a new technology to market, Alexander decided to attend Rice University as a MBA to pursue entrepreneurship. During the MBA program, he founded Arovia, a technology company focused on the mobile professional, and participated in OwlSpark’s summer 2015 cohort (Class 3). He also served as president of the Jones Graduate School of Business Entrepreneurship Club, working to help expose and prepare his classmates for entrepreneurial endeavors. Alexander received an MBA from Rice University, and B.S. and M.S. degrees in Optical Engineering from the University of Rochester.