Keynote Speaker

Robert LaTorre

Robert Latorre was born in Brooklyn, New York to a first generation Italian family, headed by his sculptor grandfather and jazz musician father. He reflected the creativity in his household with his own interests in, and aptitude for, photography. After earning a critical and essential BS in Commercial Photography from Rochester Institute of Technology, he began his photography career with the National News and Wire services in New York City.
Latorre enjoyed life as a photojournalist, where he could travel the globe, and spontaneously experience the unexpected. LaTorre eventually settled in Texas, where he channeled his experience and tenacity of spirit into solo endeavors. He opened Robert LaTorre Productions, which grew into Big Fish Films, a highly successful, eagerly sought-after TV commercial film company in Dallas. His accomplishment as a commercial award-winning photographer was only surpassed by his gift as a director, known for his dramatic lighting and innovative directorial approach. ADWEEK has chosen LaTorre Commercial Film Director of the Year, and Creative All-Star Photographer twice.
In 1995, he became fascinated with the frozen moment. Having a flare for engineering, and a natural interest in how things work, Latorre looked for new ways to use this unique look in his commercials. He designed and built his first Big Freeze system, which skillfully produced a cutting-edge frozen effect. Latorre was rewarded with an Emmy nomination and a Clio award for Special Effects.
The Big Freeze Worldwide, created and owned by Latorre, is now the largest and most advanced camera array system in the world. The Big Freeze system is now in its 5th generation, and is completely digital and driven by software. It can be seen in feature films, commercials, and on the Red Carpet. Latorre has hurdled feats in technology and software to advance the system to the stunning, amazing effect that it creates today.
Most recently, Latorre and his Big Freeze system were honored at CES 2015, for their collaboration with Nikon. The 360 booth received high praises from participants and the media alike, earning multiple spotlight features from the news media and blogging communities, including Tech Crunch, Popular Science and Fox News.
Latorre has one simple philosophy, "Photography and film making is very much about the inner eye. If you can capture on film what you can see, you can tell a story to everyone who sees it. It's a marrying of science with creativity that allows an artist to really reach that higher level of perception."



T.C. Pellett

T.C. Pellett is an award winning social media strategist, art director and community volunteer. He’s had the privilege to work on several regional and national brands spanning the categories of technology, tourism, food and beverage, cultural attractions and more. He is a Past President of the Rochester Advertising Federation and an active volunteer for the Ad Council of Rochester. Currently a freelance creative at his own Rochester based Initial Here Creative Services, T.C. continues to serve agencies of all sizes plus his own roster of clients. Along with his wife Kate, he is a proud resident of Rochester’s “Neighborhood of the Arts."

Melanie Shapiro

Melanie is the founder and CEO of Case, a hardware platform for biometrically secured signing and authentication. Case enables secure signing of bitcoin transactions along with the transfer of other assets and transactions. Prior to this, Melanie studied technology adoption behavior at Microsoft and received a PhD in Consumer Behavior. Melanie also co-founded Digsby, a messaging platform for managing online social identities, which was acquired in 2011.

Cindy Cooper

Cindy Cooper at present is the Corporate Secretary/Treasurer of Applied Physics Development Corporation.  APDC is an advanced energy technology development corporation.  APDC concerns itself with the efficient use and preservation of existing traditional energy resources and the development and commercial implementation of promising new energy technologies and systems. The business and technology teams are well integrated and cooperative for the common goal of profitably bringing this world sustainable, clean, and renewable energy resources.
Cindy also founded, with her sister, Smile Brite Distributing.  The sisters invented and introduced a dental cleaning product that was sold through professional and retail channels.  After 10 years of identifying, initiating and maintaining sales nationally and globally the business was sold in 2014.
Prior to founding Smile Brite, Cooper proved her entrepreneurial prowess with the establishment of her own computer training business after spending 6 years gaining experience and insight through positions at several training centers. Her venture, The Learning Connection, Ltd., got its start in Cooper’s home. In just four years, Cooper nurtured the company into a thriving business with three locations, 25 employees and over $6 million in annual revenues. She secured large corporate clients, such as Kodak and Xerox, in every major city in Upstate New York before selling her interest in the company.
Cooper lives with her husband and 2 sons in Pittsford, NY.  Her oldest son Timothy is a senior at RIT Navy ROTC.  William is a sophomore at St. Lawrence University.


John Dvorak

After graduating from RIT with in the BS/MS program for Computational Math and Computer Science, I decided to work for a startup. I joined Case as one of 8 co-founders in June 2014, and we took the company from an idea to a fully developed product. I design, architect and write software for Case, along with several other smaller roles that inevitably come with working at a startup. The work is fast paced and sometimes hectic, but always satisfying.

Alex Reid

I graduated from RIT's Computer Engineering program with a BS in the spring of 2014. Through co-ops and group projects, I worked with robotic visualizations, vehicle control systems, and rail yard automation. I started working with Case's embedded software team in July 2014, performing development, testing and maintenance for our device's firmware. It has been eye-opening to experience the many challenges of a small company, and exciting to help it grow into something larger.

Theresa Mazzullo

Theresa Mazzullo is the CEO of Excell Partners, a seed stage venture fund with $14 Million under management.  She has a 30 year track record in business, finance and entrepreneurship.  Prior to joining Excell, Theresa was President & Principal of EPIC Advisors, Inc., a 401(k) recordkeeping company with $1.5 Billion in plan assets.  She managed a successful sale of that company in 2005.  In her role as Excell’s CEO, her duties include company solicitation, deal screening, governance, compliance, community integration, finance and fundraising.  Theresa received her BA Degree from Spring Hill College and a Graduate Banking Degree from the ABA’s Stonier Graduate School.
Theresa serves on several community and economic development Boards. In addition to being the Chair for the Monroe County Industrial Development Authority (COMIDA), she is also  a Member, Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council & Co-Chair of the Council’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation Committee; Executive Board & Treasurer, Greater Rochester Enterprise;  Board Member, High Technology Rochester; Member of the University of Rochester Technology Development Committee; Trustee, Farash Foundation; Member: Investment Advisory Committee, Governor Cuomo’s $50M Innovation Fund.

Josaphat Valdivia

A couple of years into my degree, Computer engineering, I developed an interest in low-level systems development, especially on resource-constrained embedded systems. I took classes on the design and implementation of real-time and embedded systems and when the opportunity came to join Case (then "CryptoLabs") I jumped at the chance of helping design and implement a micro-controller application from scratch.

Working at a startup has been enormously enlightening because I've had to hone my skill-set as an engineer and it has given me the chance to see my limitations (and to expand them). This is the kind of environment where you pick up all of the knowledge that was left out of the various curricula. It's an environment where every day feels like you're working on the frontier of your field, where you learn by necessity all of those things that you would be taught by a sagacious veteran at a larger company. It's an environment where responsibility is distributed amongst fewer people and that forces you to take initiative to ship it. I don't think I can work in a different environment.

Joe Miller

Dr. Joseph C. Miller is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at Saunders College of Business at Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY. His research interests center around the area of services from a holistic standpoint, from the managerial strategy of services to the pricing of services to the implementation of socially responsible and sustainable services. He has career experience from working as a consultant in the Detroit Area in the automotive, banking, insurance, and public sector administrative industries. He holds a Ph.D. in Marketing from Michigan State University, a MBA in Marketing and Finance with a Graduate Concentration in Economic Development from Wayne State University, and a Bachelors Degree from Grand Valley State University.

Dave Fuehrer

Dave is the Co-Founder & CEO of Gryt Health, a digital health company created for one purpose: to help cancer patients and caregivers find the help they’re looking for at the time they’re looking for it.  Using mobile technology, they connect patients and caregivers to the information they need to make informed decisions about their health, at every stage of their cancer journey.

Dave received a BS in Professional & Technical Communication and MBA in Technology Management from Rochester Institute of Technology. His is part of a 5th generation legacy family at RIT, dating back to 1904.  Dave is proud to serve on RIT’s Alumni Board and the Legacy Endowment Committee.   

Matthew Ray

Vice President/Relationship Manager/Rochester Middle Market

Matthew is currently a Relationship Manager with M&T Bank’s Middle Market department.  Matt joined the Bank in 2006 and manages a portfolio of approximately 40 relationships. His primary responsibilities are to service his portfolio accounts and prospect for new relationships, as well as cross-selling a complement of ancillary Bank products and services.  Prior to joining M&T, Matthew was a Senior Auditor with Deloitte in Rochester and earned his MBA from the University of Rochester’s Simon School.  He is active in the community currently serving as Board Chair and on various committees for Foodlink, Inc., advisory board member for the Southeast branch of the YMCA of Greater Rochester and at the Bank served as the 2012, 2013 and 2014 United Way Campaign CEO for M&T’s Rochester region.

Sandra Turner

Sandra is a native of Rochester, NY and graduate of Rochester Institutue of Technology with a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Industrial Design in 2012.  She spent her first career in business and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business from SUNY Brockport.  After graduating from RIT, she founded Rove Design Group, a design consultancy firm focused on design thinking and concept development.  In 2015, Sandra co-founded Viggi Kids, Corp. together with fellow alum and inventor, Christalyn Snyder (BFA, Industrial Design, ’11). 

Sandra & Christalyn met while they were studying Industrial Design at RIT. Both shared a passion for helping children and were independently creating objects to be used in learning environments as part of their thesis research. Sandra was working on trying to commercialize her thesis design, Vidget (formally named Fidget) and Christalyn’s product Digit Widgit was in the making.  They decided since their products rhymed, it was meant for them to join forces and work together to enter the market.  A little while later, the dream of Viggi Kids was born.  Creating play environments that help to stimulate and foster children’s learning is the foundation of Viggi Kids. They take a "whole child approach" targeted toward not just literacy learning but also inspiring the child's creativity, imagination and self-confidence.

Sandra and Christalyn celebrate the design process and are dedicated to sustainability. They plan to provide customers with the "story" of how their products "came to life."  Through videos, images and interactive graphics, the story of how the product concept started, its development and manufacturing process, and what it took to get to the end-user will be shared as part of the story-telling process.

Donning their new titles of Blue Sky Explorer and Creative Mastermind, Sandra & Christalyn aspire to build young innovators by creating multi-sensory experiences and promoting naturally beneficial behaviors through the use of our products.

Donald Urmston

Donald Urmston started his career as an entrepreneur at the age of 16 and with his business partners grew Furniture Options from a local store with annual sales of $100,000 to a multi-state enterprise with annual sales of over $6 million.  Through his teaching positions and the Options Group LLC—an investment group/ think tank—he has analyzed many potential business opportunities including real-estate investments, startups and franchises, and has advised numerous burgeoning entrepreneurs.  Donald holds a Bachelor’s in Marketing from the Rochester Institute of Technology, a Bachelor’s in Secondary Education from SUNY New Paltz and an MBA from Marist College.  His teaching career has spanned from high-school to post-secondary with Ridley-Lowell Business & Technical Institute and SUNY Jefferson.  Donald is currently a full-time faculty member in the business department at SUNY Orange, where he specializes in entrepreneurship, marketing and communications.


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