LaunchWeekend Industry Mentors and Speakers 



Michael Solati is a web developer and manager of developers for Checkmate Creations, responsible for delivering projects against agreed scope, schedule & customer expectations. Previously he was a full stack developer for the start-up Meteor studio, Checkmate Creations, that specializes in MVP development for startups and prototypes for existing brands. Involved with everything from front-end (JavaScript, Meteor, AngularJS, Bootstrap & jQuery) to server-side code and database architecture (Node.js & MongoDB) to take a client through early design and branding stages to a complete scalable website or application.  LinkedIn

Patent Law
Entrepreneurship,Pitching, Videography

Michael Gelbin is a registered Patent Agent with more than 20 years’ experience in the chemical industry. Michael concentrates his practice on chemistry, including organic compounds, polymers, biopolymers, polymer additives, nanomaterials, ceramics, surfactants, catalysts, and other compounds. He is a named inventor on more than 25 issued U.S. and international patents. He has co-authored several scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals.

Bill Kenney.  Founder of TextMyPitch.  Bill is a change agent who loves the daily challenge of growing a business.  Specialties: Strategy, planning, systematization, finance, sales and marketing.  Choosing words that will capture the audiences attention and accurately convey your idea in a finite amount of time is a real challenge. Many great ideas failed to get traction because the author didn't tell a compelling and succinct story. TestMyPitch is an online platform where entrepreneurs draft, share, and receive feedback on pitches. Wouldn't you like to know that your pitch is AWESOME before you deliver it to that important audience?

Branding and Marketing

Brenda Lewis is a business builder with 30 years experience in developing and managing "bet-the-farm" enterprise mobility ventures, focused on greenfield software, systems and services in mobile IP, cellular and satellite. As a wireless pioneer and innovator, launched the first non-exchange based wireless trading system, the leader in non GPS location determination systems and the first privately financed mobile CRM service in China. Expert in strategic marketing and business development, team building and risk assessment. For in house ventures, TMI develops business process, facilitates implementation and has extensive experience in repositioning and restructure for mobile transactions in both high tech and other industries (energy, shipping, publishing, financial services, metals).  

Rose Luglio.  Full-time faculty at Gateway Community College​ and Program Coordinator for the Entrepreneurial Studies Program and the Fashion Merchandising/Retail Management Program. Founder of the Gateway Small Business Center.  The U.S. Small Business Administration namedProfessor Luglio the 2013 Connecticut Woman in Business Champion.  Subject Expertise: MERCHANDISING.  LinkedIn.

Design, Branding, Product Development
State Support for Entrepreneurs
IP: Patents, Trademarks and Copyrights

Mark Moneypenny.  Mark Moneypenny is the Creative Director of Big Bang's New Haven, CT studio. Mark’s Product Development expertise covers: pre-visualization, designing for manufacturing, Ergonomics and UI/UX. He has 23+ years of experience as an industrial design consultant and was the Materials & Processes Instructor at The Portfolio Center in Atlanta, GA.  Mark has won numerous design awards and patents and has spoken about innovation at various universities, professional associations and Startup events.  Mark has facilitated multiple innovation sessions for a wide range of clients including Whirlpool, Hamilton Beach, Energizer, CR Bard, GE Appliances and Georgia Pacific.  

Glendowlyn Thames.  Glen manages CI’s Small Business Innovation Group, which includes the management of CTNext. In this role, Glen oversees vital programs that support the state’s small technology businesses and encourage innovation, collaboration and commercialization.  Prior to her current role, Glen was special assistant to CEO Claire Leonardi, where she led a wide range of projects spanning board relations, new program development and operations. She has extensive experience managing high-priority projects and major initiatives including nearly 10 years of experience in high-level public administration roles, and served as the special assistant to the superintendent of Hartford Public Schools. Prior to that, she was director of constituent services for the City of Hartford, where she managed citizen relations and worked on a variety of community and economic development projects.

Christopher Whalley focuses his practice on United States and overseas trademark prosecution and enforcement, as well as taking a lead role in portfolio management for some of the firm’s largest trademark clients.