GIST TechConnect: Develop Your Roadmap to Startup Success

When: Tuesday, Sep. 21, 2021 at 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM EDT

Watch Online: GIST Livestream Page


Whether it’s team-building, fundraising, marketing, or product development, building a strong network to utilize can be critical for startup success. But how do you build a strong network? What resources might already be available to you? And then, once the network is built, how do you use that network to achieve your goals? We’ll be answering those questions, and more, to give you the tools to build your own network and maximize its potential. We’ll also be providing you with the same worksheet that we give to the startups that go through our training programs so that you can map out your plan in real-time. During this interactive session, our expert panelists will explain the benefits of a strong network and walk you through their recommendations for how to activate it. You can use the worksheet to plan your own path forward to success. Join us for this interactive live event!


Ravshan Kurbanov
55 Group

Ravshan Kurbanov is the CEO of management and investment company Fifty Five Group. He controls all the processes that are held in the company. Prior to becoming CEO, he held various positions at Fifty Five Group, in particular the position of managing director and risk manager. Fifty Five Group has a huge impact on the development of entrepreneurship in Tajikistan and Mr. Kurbanov is one of those who are always actively involved in initiatives of startup ecosystem development. With his help, various events were organized, which took place both at the level of Tajikistan and the region as a whole. The projects covered all segments of the population and provided participants with new knowledge and opportunities that they could use in their entrepreneurial activities. Active work in projects of international organizations helped Mr. Kurbanov to become a national consultant for UNDP on entrepreneurship development. He is an Associate Professor of Political Science.

Dawn Batts
TechTown Detroit

Dr. Dawn Batts has over two decades of experience analyzing business opportunities, developing and implementing strategic plans, and managing their subsequent operations and compliance processes. Her diverse professional experiences and extensive research have led to her solutions-based approach in addressing the myriad of factors causing the economic disparity between women and men. Dawn's research investigates how macro narratives influence women's perceptions and experiences of gender equality in the United States and China. As a Capital Strategist for Tech Town -- Detroit's entrepreneurship hub -- Dawn secures and aligns resources that help Detroit-based entrepreneurs achieve the vision and goals of their businesses. She extends that work as a co-founder of Commune Angels, a diverse community of investors who seed scalable consumer, enterprise and life science companies that transform lives.

Arun Venkatesan
Villgro USA

Arun Venkatesan is co-founder and CEO of Villgro USA, a global network of social enterprise incubators. Up until June 2019, he was CTO of Villgro India, leading their health sector investments. He has over 15 years of experience in materials R&D, device development and forward integration of technology into tangible, marketable entities. He has a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering and has done post-doctoral research in fuel-cell materials development and micro-fuel-cell fabrication. After about 2 decades of product development work in the US, he worked in India for 7 years. He has worked for various small-scale and start-up companies both in the US and India, in a product development capacity leveraging academic research groups and independent development teams.

Ivy Schultz (Moderator)
Columbia University Engineering School

Ivy Schultz is the Director of Entrepreneurship programs where she manages initiatives to foster entrepreneurship in Columbia engineers, linking them to the ecosystem of the university, the city, and beyond. This includes preparation for funding through presentations, venture competitions, grants, and other startup activities. Ivy runs international entrepreneurship programs for the School, with programming in India and Tunisia. She also serves as an instructor for the National Science Foundation I-Corps program through New York’s NYCRIN node. She has actively consulted with startups and larger organizations since 2009, helping them communicate technical ideas and describe their brands to customers, partners, and investors. She is also interested in technology policy and law as it relates to startups. She has a MA degree in Communications at Georgetown, focused on technology and international business.

Questions about this event? Reach out to Loren Hurst at