Sydnie is an early – stage investor with Kickstart, Utah’s most active Seed firm. She has led 10 investments within the Kickstart portfolio to date, and serves as a board member / observer for 8 companies spanning across Enterprise and SMB SaaS, health tech, EdTech, and music tech. She maintains a broad industry focus while owning the firm’s investment strategy in Arizona and New Mexico, in addition to close involvement with Utah – and Colorado – based companies. Central to Sydnie ’s mission as an investment professional is empowering female founders and the next generation of entrepreneurs, as evidenced through her community involvement. When not in the office, she can be found with her guitar on stage, or in the mountains with her partner Weston and their Black Lab and Rhodesian Ridgeback.
As a partner at Osborn Maledon, Aaron serves as outside general counsel for start-up, growth-oriented and middle market companies, advising officers, directors, managers and key employees on fiduciary and corporate governance matters. He also regularly represents clients in angel, VC and private equity financings and in M&A transactions. In addition, he helps clients draft and negotiate various commercial contracts.
Prior to Osborn Maledon, Aaron was an associate attorney at Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP in Delaware where he counseled officers and directors of Delaware corporations on fiduciary and corporate governance matters. Prior to his law career, Aaron was a senior accountant at Pinnacle West Capital Corporation, and an assurance associate with Deloitte. Aaron received his B.S. in Accountancy from Arizona State University, his M.S. in Accountancy from Ohio State University, and his Juris Doctor from Duke University School of Law.
Molly Iarocci is Director – Private Investments & Advisory at DCA Asset Management, Inc. Her role includes: 1) sourcing, analyzing, and making investment decisions on private investments across the growth curve, 2) developing and executing on the venture capital strategy, 3) providing strategic financial advisory services, 4) developing and launching fund products, 5) analyzing public investments, 6) network and partnership development, 7) raising capital for DCA’s initiatives, and 8) building the company’s analyst program. Ms. Iarocci spent five years with Stifel Financial Corp. as an equity research associate analyst covering consumer discretionary brands where her experience included financial modeling and valuation assessment, developing proprietary research, IPO advisory, and communicating with executive teams and institutional clients.
Ms. Iarocci earned a BBA in Management, Entrepreneurship and an MBA with a concentration in Investments / Corporate Finance from the University of Notre Dame, and a MS in Business Analytics from Arizona State University.
Karen Katzorke has served as Executive Director of the Invest Southwest since the spring of 2011. Prior to serving as Executive Director, she worked for the ASU Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development for more than six years as Program Specialist and was responsible for the planning and execution of programs and events. Ms. Katzorke previously worked as Program Manager of Entrepreneurial Services at the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, where she coordinated entrepreneurial programs and provided organization and promotion for the Arizona Venture Capital Conference. She is experienced with early to mid-stage life science and technology entrepreneurs, assisting companies with access to capital and other expansion and growth needs. Ms. Katzorke has more than 10 years of economic development experience, which includes the Greater Phoenix Chamber and the Greater Phoenix Economic Council.
Kristell is a Partner at State48 Ventures, based in Arizona. Her responsibilities include sourcing and screening early-stage venture deals, conducting due diligence, and prospective investment evaluation. Prior to State48, Kristell served as Managing Director of InvestU, a 50+ member angel investing network affiliated with Arizona State University. She previously worked at J.P. Morgan Private Bank in NYC. Kristell also has prior experience working with founders at a micro-finance firm in Mexico City and a social entrepreneurship think tank in Singapore. Kristell is also involved in education and entrepreneurial philanthropic efforts and serves on the ASU Hispanic Business Alumni Board.
Kristell earned undergraduate honors degrees in Finance and Global Politics from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University before earning her Master’s in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. However, she is a proud Sun Devil first and foremost.
Phillip J. Pipkins is the founder of Auteur VC which is an early stage venture firm. He has over a decade of venture financing and banking experience in his career as Vice President at Silicon Valley Bank. He specializes in early stage investing, lending and deal sourcing having grown his portfolio to include the fastest growing startups and investors in the southwest. Upon leaving SVB, Phillip started up Prospeq, a debt fund with his partner which has seen early success. He sits on the advisory board of ASU’s TEM school, Cheqly, and Vencapital which is a VC accelerator focusing on underrepresented fund managers. Phillip graduated from ASU in 2012 and is based in Phoenix, AZ.
Outside of work Phillip enjoys spending time with his wife (Kati) and greyhound (Enzo). He is an avid basketball fan and foodie.
Hamid Shojaee is a local veteran entrepreneur and investor. He is the founder of Axosoft, a software development tools company, and Pure Chat, a live chat software company. Both companies were acquired in 2020, at which time Hamid shifted his focus more towards his passion for startups and investing.
As an investor, Hamid has been involved with numerous Arizona tech startups, including being an angel seed investor to companies like CampusLogic, Prenda and Equipifi to name a few. He is also a board member of the StartupAZ Foundation and Venture Madness.
Gregg Scoresby is the Founder and Managing Partner of PHX Ventures, which aspires to be the most active early-stage software investor in Arizona. Prior to PHX Ventures, Gregg founded CampusLogic, which became one of the fastest growing software companies in Arizona.
CampusLogic transformed the student financial aid experience in higher education and raised nearly $200 million from leading venture capital and private equity investors. Before being acquired in April 2022 by Ellucian, a portfolio company of Blackstone and Vista Equity, CampusLogic’s award-winning products were used by over 4 million students at 800 colleges and universities.
In 2015, Gregg and CampusLogic were winners of Venture Madness. Gregg is also on the Board of Directors of StartupAZ and several high-growth software companies in Arizona.
Diana Vowels is a community builder with a passion for driving the tech ecosystem forward in Phoenix.
She is the CEO of StartupAZ, the organization created to catalyze Arizona’s technology and innovation ecosystem by connecting and empowering entrepreneurs. Diana, who has long been at the forefront of Arizona’s technology and startup community, joined StartupAZ in 2021 to help expand the organization’s talent attraction and development mission. Prior to joining the team, she served as VP/Community and General Manager of Galvanize, where she led the launch of the software engineering and data science bootcamps and built the co-working space into a vital part of Phoenix’s startup fabric. She currently serves on the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley and Venture Madness board of directors, and was the 2021 chair for the Venture Madness conference.
Diana is a graduate of University of Missouri and has held executive roles in public and private companies in media, healthcare and technology.
Sandra Watson is an economic development professional with over 30years of leadership experience in business attraction and expansion, innovation, entrepreneurship, economic policy and workforce development. She and her teams have worked with more than 1,177 companies that have committed to creating more than 267,000 quality jobs and investing more than $113 billion in capital in the state. Currently, Ms. Watson is the President & CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA), a public-private partnership that leads statewide economic development. The unique structure of the ACA brings together leaders from private industry, academia and all three branches of state government. She also oversees the Workforce Arizona Council and Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity, a data-driven team focused on economic and labor market analysis. Ms. Watson is a member of the U.S. Investment Advisory Council, advising the U.S. Secretary of Commerce on policies to attract foreign direct investment. She is also a founding member and the Chair of the State Economic Development Executives Network Board of Directors, a founding partner on the Institute for Automated Mobility Board of Directors and serves on the boards of the National State Science and Technology Institute and the Make-A-Wish Arizona Foundation.