Fall 2017 Silicon Slopes Lecture Series

Fall 2017 Silicon Slopes Lecture Series Header

The Fall 2017 Silicon Slopes Lecture Series takes place at 12 noon on Tuesdays in the Science Building, room 134.

Blake Modersitzki

Blake Modersitzki

Blake graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Economics. He has spent his entire career in the software business doing everything from sales and marketing to M&A and, eventually, venture investing. 

August 29, 2017

Jana Francis

Jana Francis

When Jana Francis walks in the door, heads turn. This 5'2" spunky dynamo is a triple threat. She's raising three kids, running a multi-million-dollar startup company, and charming everyone she meets - from finicky new mommies to the most brilliant of engineers at Google. Jana has a hard working, tough-as-nails attitude, coupled with a down-to-earth honesty and charisma.

Before founding Steal Network, Jana spent her career specializing in advertising and marketing for technology and internet companies in Silicon Valley, California, and for KSL, the largest media company in Utah.

Jana's motivation to start her own company came on her drive back to her corporate job after maternity leave with her latest baby. Her love of online deal hunting (her friends called her the "dotcom princess") and her quest for finding the most sought-after baby products at steep discounts were the catalysts for a new kind of website. Only having $5,000 in savings, a burning ambition to succeed and 18 months of planning, she partnered with Rett Clevenger and created Steal Network. In April of 2008, with her seven plus years of broadcast media experience and Rett's e-commerce experience they launched BabySteals.com, the first website in the Steal Network family. Six months later she left her 12-year career in the corporate world for good.

Jana has partnered with some brands to create customized offerings just for Steals.com customers. The Jana Bag by The Bumble Collection is the best selling diaper bag that BabySteals.com has sold, and Pretty Fierce, a workout DVD filmed with Lindsay Brin of Moms Into Fitness the most popular fitness program that they have sold.

Jana and Rett were Utah Finalists for Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for 2012 and 2013, and Jana was one of Utah's 30 Women to Watch for 2013.

Raised in Park City, Utah, Jana now lives in Salt Lake City with her husband and three lively kids. She is passionate about fitness, gardening, cooking, and is also an outdoor recreational fanatic. She pours her whole self into everything she takes on and does it all with irresistible zest.

Jana is available for consulting and is a frequent public speaker at conferences, expos, schools and events on topics related to entrepreneurship, building community, social media, eCommerce, and more.

September 5, 2017

UVU Social Innovation Challenge

UVU Social Innovation Challenge


Utah-resident student competitors will be tasked with solving a social problem related to a particular topic by creating a business concept. Learn more about the topic and the challenges facing Utah in the future at this lecture.

September 12, 2017 

Dave Elkington, InsideSales CEO

Dave Elkington

David Elkington has a rich background in technology, venture capital and corporate development. As CEO and Chairman, he has led InsideSales.com to consecutive 50-100% year-over-year growth rates, starting with the company’s inception in 2004. David has been active in the evolution and definition of the inside sales industry and speaks regularly. He is co-author of the groundbreaking Lead Response Management industry study, done in conjunction with James Oldroyd, PhD. (visiting Research Fellow at M.I.T.).

September 19, 2017

Tom Stockham, CEO of Experticity

Tom Stockham

After building and leading Ticketmaster.com and Ancestry.com, Tom Stockham is now pioneering a new influencer-marketing category as Experticity’s CEO, transforming retail commerce by creating better buying experiences for brands, retailers & consumers through a network of 1m+ experts.

September 26, 2017

Amy Osmand Cook, Marketing Vice President of Simplus

Amy Osmond Cook

Dr. Cook joins Simplus with 20 years of experience in marketing, writing, public relations and education. With a Ph.D. in organizational communication, Dr. Cook approaches organizations as constitutive of communication and specializes in understanding the ways that organizations persuade. As the CEO of Osmond Marketing, Dr. Cook grew a skilled team of content, public relations, design and web professionals from the beginning stages into one of the fastest growing businesses in Utah, receiving the MWC Fast 100 award in 2016. Under her direction, Osmond Marketing became a Google Partner and experienced more than 100 percent revenue growth year over year. Prior to Osmond Marketing, Dr. Cook taught business, writing and communication courses at Arizona State University, University of Utah, and Brigham Young University for 15 years and worked as an academic editor at Brigham Young University. She writes regular columns in the Daily Herald and Orange County Register newspapers and contributes to Forbes, Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, Thrive Global, KSL, Caring, Silicon Slopes and other publications.

October 3, 2017

 Alison Wistner, Managing Director of Mercato Partners

Alison Wistner


Alison Wistner is a Managing Director at Mercato Partners, a private equity fund focused on helping technology and branded consumer product companies accelerate growth. As an integral member of the investment committee at a top performing fund, Alison is responsible for providing strategic and financial advisory and connecting portfolio companies with talent to facilitate rapid business expansion.

Alison has nearly twenty years of experience in finance, private equity, venture capital and investment banking combined with almost a decade of working with portfolio companies in the technology industry, with specific expertise in health care technologies and digital media. Alison is a current member of the Board of Directors for Mercato portfolio companies Alliance Health, Altitude Digital, Central Logic and Untangle and is a Board advisor to Venafi.

Prior to Mercato, Alison was a Principal at Prospector Equity Capital, a private equity firm located in Park City, Utah where she was involved in board management duties for MediaForge and Solution Reach. She also served as CFO of Zane Benefits, a healthcare benefits software company. As CFO, Alison built the foundational infrastructure to support business operations, including establishing banking systems and customer policies, defining and enforcing financial processes and reporting and developing strategic partnership opportunities. Additional roles included Vice President at Hunter Capital and Financial Analyst at NationsBanc Montgomery Securities. She received a B.S. in Business Finance from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Alison was the recipient of the Top 40 Under Forty award by Utah Business and the Trailblazer award from the Women Tech Council. Alison serves as a board advisor to the Women Tech Council and a board member of the Rocky Mountain Venture Capital Association.

October 10, 2017

 Gavin Christensen, Kickstart

Gavin Christensen

Gavin is an entrepreneurial VC with a passion for investing and building Utah and the West.  In 2008, Gavin recognized a need for both leadership and capital at the seed stage in Utah. Gavin worked with the Utah ecosystem to found Kickstart Seed Fund to fill this gap.  Starting a seed stage firm focused on Utah during the Great Recession was not easy, but Kickstart is now the most active investor in Utah at the seed stage with 85+ investments. 

Now into his second decade as a seed stage investor, Gavin was fortunate get his 10,000 hours in venture capital early in his career.  Prior to Kickstart, Gavin was an analyst, associate and principal at vSpring Capital (now Signal Peak) where he developed a love for venture capital investing in the Mountain West Region.  Before vSpring Capital, Gavin also worked as a Vertical Strategy Associate for Google and as a consultant in Monitor Group's Cambridge office where he advised clients on a range of strategic, operational, and organizational improvements. 

Gavin received a Masters of Business Administration from the Kellogg School of Management and a B.A. in Economics (with Honors) from Brigham Young University. Gavin currently serves on the boards of Banyan, Boombox, Chargeback.com, Chatbooks, Grow, Jackrabbit Systems, Lucid Software, Photopharmics, Rackware, TaskEasy, Zenprint.

October 17, 2017

UVU Enactus


Guided by academic advisors and business experts, the student leaders of Enactus create and implement entrepreneurial projects around the globe. The experience not only transforms lives, it helps students develop the kind of talent and perspective that are essential to leadership in an ever-more complicated and challenging world.

October 24, 2017

Mary Crafts of Culinary Crafts

Mary Crafts

Mary Crafts-Homer is President and CEO of Culinary Crafts, Utah’s largest off-premise caterer and 16-time Best of State winner. Mary is a masterful caterer—equally adept at wowing 5,000 corporate dinner guests, and, assuring that your daughter’s wedding is a magical experience. She has served thousands of clients during her 33 years of catering, including A-list celebrities (Oprah and Diane Keaton for example), 2 presidents of the United States, and hundreds of Fortune 500 companies.

 Mary has been called a trend-setter in her industry and an ambassador for all things Utahn. Both are absolutely true. Mary is Chairwoman of the Executive Board of Visit Salt Lake (Utah’s tourism and convention organization), she serves on the National Advisory Board for Utah Valley University School of Business, and is President of the Education Foundation of the International Caterers Association. In addition, Business Q Magazine named Mary one of Utah’s “10 Coolest Entrepreneurs”, Utah Valley University School of Business selected her for the Kirk Englehardt Ethics Award, and Utah Business Magazine included her in their prestigious list of “30 Women to Watch.” Mary truly is the gold standard of catering and community service. At the end of her very busy days, Mary enjoys spending time with her husband, her 3 grown children (all of whom work at Culinary Crafts), and, her 6 grandchildren. 

October 31, 2017

Dan Burton, CEO of Health Catalyst

Dan Burton

Dan Burton serves as CEO of Health Catalyst, a healthcare data warehousing and analytics, and outcomes improvement company. He became involved with Health Catalyst when it was a three-person startup.  

Mr. Burton is also the co-founder of HB Ventures, the first investor in Health Catalyst. Prior to Health Catalyst and HB Ventures, Mr. Burton led the Corporate Strategy Group at Micron Technology (NASDAQ: MU). He also spent eight years with Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) in strategy and marketing management roles. Before joining HP he was an associate consultant with the Boston Consulting Group, where he advised healthcare systems and technology companies.

Mr. Burton holds an MBA with high distinction from Harvard University, where he was elected a George F. Baker Scholar, and a BS in economics, magna cum laude, from BYU.

November 7, 2017

Marcus Liassides, President and CEO Sorenson Media

Marcus Liassides

As President & CEO, Marcus focuses his efforts on customers, partners, products, and directing the overall vision of the company.

Marcus was appointed President and CEO in 2013, prompting Sorenson Media’s entrance into advanced TV & analytics and the development of the Sorenson Spark platform. Marcus has served as an executive in the digital video and television advertising industries for 15 years. Marcus founded Inuk Networks, which was acquired by Move Networks in 2009. Marcus was later appointed CEO of Move Networks, which provided online video solutions to clients like ESPN, ABC, Comcast, and Fox. Marcus most recently served as President & CEO of Xumo, a company focused on delivering video advertising solutions through internet-connected TVs.

November 14, 2017

Vance Checketts, Vice President and General Manager of Dell EMC

Vance Checketts

Vance is the senior executive for Dell EMC in Utah. Under his leadership local operations have exceeded expectations for growth and delivery of real value for Dell EMC and customers. There are approximately 1,300 employees in the state construction was recently completed on a new building in Draper City’s transit-oriented Vista Station business park. All of this has been achieved with Vance’s direct oversight.

Vance’s responsibilities also include a 500,000 sqft data center and other operations in North Carolina, as well as close coordination with other “Centers of Excellence” around the globe.

Vance has been with EMC since 2007, when EMC acquired Mozy. As the COO of Mozy, Vance helped drive triple-digit revenue growth and a significant transformation of their cloud operations, security and customer service functions.

Prior to Mozy Vance worked at several other high-tech firms, including 10 years at Oracle in Silicon Valley, WordPerfect, Novell and several start-ups. In addition to technology, Vance is passionate about his family, the outdoors and helping improve the world through healthcare and education. Vance currently serves on boards for several local organizations, including the Utah Technology Council, Women’s Tech Council, Intermountain Healthcare, Utah Valley University, and University of Utah. Vance was appointed by Governor Herbert to serve on his Economic Development Coordinating Council and the Technology Initiative Advisory Board. Vance has served on several other boards, including holding an elected position on the Provo School District Board of Education. Vance has an MBA from Brigham Young University.

November 28, 2017

Dave Bateman

Dave Bateman

*Josh James was unable to attend.

Since co-founding Entrata in 2003, Dave Bateman has served as CEO, remaining extremely hands-on in product steering and architectural implementation of the Entrata platform. His leadership has earned him recognition as Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year and Utah Business' CEO of the Year. In addition, he has been featured on the cover of both Entrepreneur and Fortune Small Business Magazines.

Today, Bateman has over 15 years of hands-on experience in SaaS-based software development and architecture and has led Entrata from inception to $100MM in annual recurring revenue without the benefit of venture capital.

December 5, 2017