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Building and Supporting Your Startup Community




While entrepreneurs can be found in every country, some startup ecosystems are thriving more than others. An entrepreneur needs a network of supportive people and resources to maximize his or her chances of success because, as we learned in the last TechConnect, failure is highly common in the startup world.

An interconnected community that shares common attitudes, interests and goals supports the entrepreneurs, their ventures, and the startup community as a whole. Our panelists will share best practices from Silicon Valley and other well-established startup communities around the world to help your ecosystem become more interconnected, supportive and prosperous.

Startups need a supportive community. Learn how to develop a thriving entrepreneurship network during the GIST TechConnect, “Building and Supporting Your Startup Community.” Watch the live broadcast on Tuesday, April 4 at 9AM EDT at Our discussion will include a Q&A with our panel of experts.

About the Speakers

Michelle Messina is CEO of the international training and consulting firm, Explora International LLC and co-author of the best-selling book Decoding Silicon Valley: The Insider’s Guide. She pioneered Silicon Valley’s Best Practices training in 2004 and today, has training and consulting engagements with startups, CEO’s and founders, investors, corporate innovation and venture groups, seed investors, mentors, and regional ecosystem partners. As a serial entrepreneur, Michelle consults on the topics of entrepreneurship, unlocking innovation, startup best practices, ecosystem alignment, business acceleration, global expansion and market readiness, and regional development.

Grant Warner is the Director of Innovation for Howard University’s Graduate School. In that role, he has deployed campus-wide programming in innovation, including the Bison Startup and Bison Accelerate courses, in which students are guided through the process of founding technology startups. He also directs the Howard University – Hampton University I-Corps Site, which focuses on commercializing university research from HBCUs in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area. Dr. Warner is a certified Lean Launchpad Educator and a nationally trained I-Corps Instructor.

Chantalle Dumonceaux is co-founder of and advisor to WOMENA, an angel investment platform focused on women in the Middle East. Since launch in December 2014, WOMENA has invested in seven UAE companies performing exceptionally well from almost 1000 inbound entrepreneur submissions and has educated and empowered hundreds of women to invest through its programming, having hosted 30 workshops to date in partnership with corporates and government entities. She frequently judges at startup competitions and speaks on successful investment strategies for venture capital in emerging markets. She was Arabian Business Businesswoman of the Year 2016 and has been featured in numerous publications including Forbes Middle East, Harpers Bazaar Arabia, Entrepreneur Middle East, Wealth Arabia, and Arabian Business Start Up. Prior to moving to the UAE to launch WOMENA, she worked at Gust in New York, a platform that helps angel groups manage deal flow and entrepreneurs to connect to angel investors and received her Bachelors in Economics from Columbia University. She loves traveling and has lived in Los Angeles, New York, Paris, and Zurich, and now Dubai.

Jeff Engell is the Founder of Blue Oceans Group, which provides international business management, strategic planning and private equity development. Jeff is a speaker and practitioner of entrepreneurship and innovation science. He has conducted lectures, led workshops, and delivered consultancy in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia. His diverse client base has included national science & technology foundations, research universities, private companies, foreign ministries, regional development agencies, incubators, and venture funds. His current focus is on commercialization support and investment capacity building within emerging economies.