Rick Bolander, Scott Chou, Doug Neal, and Bob Stefanski are the founders of the Michigan eLab. Rick and Bob are University of Michigan alums with active involvement in the Schools of Engineering and Law. Doug has been the Executive Director of the University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship since 2009. Scott has successfully spent the last 10 years in venture capital with the singular focus of spinning innovations out of research organizations such as the University of Michigan.
Rick Bolander has been a private investor since 1988 launching Blue Sky Ventures, a real estate investment firm, and entering the venture capital industry in 1994 at Apex Venture Partners where he was general partner. In 1999, he co-founded Gabriel Venture Partners, an early-stage venture capital firm that invests and assists in the information technology and cleantech sectors.
Rick identifies the smartest entrepreneurs and works side-by-side with them to build highly successful companies from the ground up. Rick has been involved in more than 50 venture deals, and has led over $100 million in early-stage financings. Rick has served on the boards of AccessLine Communications (acquired by Telanetix), Arula Systems (acquired by Raritan), Concord Communications (IPO - NASDAQ: CCRD), Exodus Communications (IPO - NASDAQ: EXDS, then acquired by Savvis), IPWireless (acquired by Nextwave), Jacked (acquired by Roundbox), Neopath (acquired by Cisco), NetScaler (acquired by Citrix Systems), Persistent Systems (IPO - BSE India: PER EQ), Placeware (acquired by Microsoft) and Tut Systems (IPO - NASDAQ: TUTS).
Rick currently serves as a board member of Chegg, the worldwide leader in online textbook rentals, and Kajeet, the leader in mobile service for Tweens as well as the leader in providing safe mobile education services to students. Prior to Rick’s investment career, he held various operational roles ranging from product development, operations management, regional marketing and sales management at AT&T and Lucent. After working as a design engineer at Chevron, Rick taught computer architecture at the University of Michigan. Rick fosters entrepreneurship by supporting the University of Michigan’s Center for Entrepreneurship as a board member and as a charter member of TiE. He worked with other University of Michigan alumni to launch an accredited academic program on campus that provides classroom and field experience for University of Michigan students to mentor and assist at-risk youth and was recognized as the 2010 College of Engineering Merit Award Winner. Rick received a BS in Electrical Engineering and MS in Electrical Engineering (summa cum laude) from the University of Michigan, and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Scott Chou has been in the venture capital industry since 1997 and has been recognized in the AlwaysOn Top 100 VC List. He is known for his focus on disruptive technologies and for authoring Maxims, Morals, and Metaphors - A Primer on Venture Capital. Scott’s passion for early stage technology ventures extends back to high school when he joined his first startup as a software engineer. He has since worked for five more technology ventures including Poqet Computer and ICE in addition to world-renowned research and development organizations such as Bellcore and IBM. His broad expertise in technology spans the industry from manufacturing to software development to chip design. Scott completed the prestigious Kauffman Fellows Program in 1999 with Onset Ventures. He later joined Gabriel Venture Partners in early 2000 where he focused on research labs for fundamental innovations. His first investment at Gabriel was in the seed round of NextG Networks which eventually sold to Crown Castle for $1 billion. Scott’s educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering with honors from Caltech as well as master’s degrees from Harvard University and Stanford University.
Doug Neal has over 20 years of technology industry experience including founding, operating, board, investing, venture accelerator management and entrepreneurial education. After 15 years in California in a variety of leadership positions at Hewlett Packard and Symantec, he co-founded Mobile Automation, a mobile software security company which was venture backed by Greylock and acquired by iPass Inc. in 2005. As CEO of Mobile Automation, Doug was responsible for both operational leadership and the strategic direction of the company including key technology decisions, sales and fundraising. Under Doug’s leadership Mobile Automation grew at 75% CAGR for 5 consecutive years before being acquired.
After completing the successful integration of Mobile Automation into iPass Doug relocated to his home state of Michigan in 2005 to raise his family and help grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Ann Arbor. During the next several years Doug was a member of the review board for the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund, which evaluated numerous Michigan investment opportunities for matching funds from the State of Michigan. In 2009, Doug became Managing Director of the University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship, during which time he transformed the organization to include a world-class university startup accelerator (TechArb) which has since launched almost 100 student ventures, grew enrollment in entrepreneurial programs to more than 5,000 students per year and was instrumental in developing a process for teaching entrepreneurial programs to engineering and non-engineering students. Doug is a regular lecturer at the University in entrepreneurial studies as well as a frequent guest speaker and panelist in the Michigan entrepreneurial ecosystem. He has a bachelor's degree in computer science from Central Michigan University.
Bob is an entrepreneur with deep operational and board experience in the software, mobile and Internet markets. He was on the founding management team of TIBCO Software, where he served as the Executive Vice President, Corporate Development, General Counsel and Secretary. As a member of TIBCO’s executive management team, Bob had broad responsibility for day to day business operations from its founding in 1997 to its emergence in the early 2000s as one of the leading enterprise infrastructure software companies in the world. TIBCO remains a world leader today in enterprise infrastructure software, with annual revenue exceeding $1 billion. Bob left TIBCO in 2008 to more actively pursue his passion as an advisor and board member for Silicon Valley early stage startups. He began his career as an attorney with Weil, Gotshal & Manges in New York City, where he represented technology, media and entertainment companies in a broad range of matters. He joined Reuters 1996 as Director of Intellectual Property. He has also been involved with the UM Center for Entrepreneurship since its inception in 2007, where he has been an advisor and speaker, as well as a mentor at the student startup incubator, TechArb. In addition to his work with Michigan eLab, he is a partner with the international law firm Reed Smith in its Silicon Valley office. Bob is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and University of Michigan Graduate School of Engineering. He has an undergraduate degree in computer science/mathematics from Northern Michigan University.
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