GIST TechConnect: Building a Startup From the Ground Up

There are many approaches to launching and growing a successful venture. Clearing the hurdles on your path to success—from developing the idea for your solution, to determining product/market fit, to overcoming gender bias — can be daunting. We sit down with a group of impactful entrepreneurs who share the strategies, best practices, and tips that early-stage innovators can use to set them on a path to growth and success.

Topics discussed:

  • Finding your inspiration
  • Overcoming obstacles
  • Building your team
  • Understanding the market
  • Finding your first customers and how to grow beyond them
  • Building partnerships that support growth
  • Mentorship and giving back



Ting Shih 
CEO, Founder of ClickMedix

Ting Shih is the CEO and founder of ClickMedix, an award-winning AI-powered healthcare technology social enterprise born out of MIT with the mission of improving the health of over 1 billion people using mobile technologies. Her areas of expertise include health technology solution design, AI/machine learning, scale-up strategy, lean/Six Sigma process improvement and operations management, and organization change management.

Nina Dudnik 
Founder, Seeding Labs

Nina is an inspirational leader with over 10 years of experience translating vision into social and business impact. With a network on all continents across startups, corporations, universities, governments and NGOs, she brokers transformational relationships among unlikely partners, and builds coalitions to solve unmet needs. Currently, Nina is a Director of government affairs at MilliporeSigma, spanning legislative and regulatory priorities, and providing support for international teams to advance R&D, biomanufacturing, and quality assurance. Previously, as the Founder and CEO of Seeding Labs, she boosted capacity for innovative research at 69 universities in 34 countries, delivering investments of over $9 million in scientific equipment and educational programs. Nina has a PhD in molecular biology from Harvard University and was a Fulbright Scholar at the Africa Rice Center in Cote d’Ivoire. She was named one of the world’s 100 most influential people in biotechnology by Scientific American Worldview magazine in 2015, and frequently holds impromptu disco dance parties with her family in their living room outside Boston.


Kristina Francis
Executive Director, JFFLabs

Kristina Francis is the executive director of JFFLabs. In this role, she oversees advisory, acceleration, data, and investing initiatives that connect traditional systems with systems disruptors to enable equitable economic mobility.

Kristina has more than 20 years of experience in corporate operations and entrepreneurial ventures focused on management consulting, business development, software and data integration, and impact investing competencies.

Before joining JFF, Kristina served in a variety of roles of escalating authority with EsteemLogic, Booz Allen Hamilton, SAIC, General Dynamics, and American Institutes for Research. In those positions, she managed business portfolios valued between $10 million and $80 million and was charged with driving growth, developing strong delivery teams, implementing innovative and collaborative systems, and activating cross-sector partnerships.

About GIST TechConnect

GIST TechConnects provide entrepreneurs around the world with direct access to leading U.S. experts from business and academia, but without the travel and other related costs. Young science and technology entrepreneurs can engage with experts and the larger GIST community to learn about best business practices and startup resources.

  • GIST TechConnects are live webinars in which a panel of experts and thought-leaders discuss topics of importance to early-stage, science and technology innovators from across the globe.  
  • Viewers of TechConnects can ask questions directly to the panel of speakers through an accompanying chat-space next to the TechConnect video.
  • TechConnects are regularly live-translated into French and Spanish to ensure that viewers from across the globe can engage and benefit from the program.
  • GIST TechConnects provides entrepreneurs around the world with direct access to leading U.S. experts from business and academia, but without the travel and other related costs. 
  • Young science and technology entrepreneurs can engage with experts and the larger GIST community to learn about best business practices and startup resources.
  • In addition to the panel of experts answering questions, there is a Chatspace Expert responding to all questions and comments made in the chatspace - providing insights, sharing critical resources, and enabling conversation among innovators across the globe.


Why you should host a viewing group and promote the TC’s to your network:

  • Increased Knowledge: Innovators from across the globe get unparalleled access to experts to answer their burning questions about building and growing a startup. From how to raise an investment, to understanding marketing best practices, innovators can gain important insights and knowledge.
  • Connecting to broader GIST network: You’ll be able to connect to the broader global GIST network and get access to additional resources, such as GIST Pitch Competitions, GIST Startup Trainings, and access to the entire GIST TechConnect video library.
  • Engaging your local ecosystem: Hosting a viewing group is also a great opportunity to engage your community's innovators--viewing groups often host a local speaker series or event in tandem with the GIST TechConnect, to capitalize on having all of your innovators together.
  • Exposure to GIST community: Photos of viewing groups are highlighted at the end of each live TechConnect, which is watched by viewers across the globe.


If you plan to host a viewing group please contact Genesis Lodise who will guide you through the TechConnect hosting best practices.

If you have questions about GIST programming please send us an email at [email protected].


Watch past online programs here.

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