Judges Panel


  • John Cococcia John Cococcia

    Bio: John is a Partner and a co-founder of FA Technology Ventures. He serves on the Board of Directors of Auterra, Autotask, Knoa Software and StreetEasy, is a board observer of CORESense and BinOptics, and prior to its exit was a board observer on MetaCarta. Prior to FA Technology Ventures, John was with Gleacher Enterprise Funding (GEF), where he was responsible for sourcing, negotiating and managing private equity investments whose mission was overall returns and economic growth.

    John joined GEF from the equity research group at Gleacher where he was an analyst covering the manufacturing and enterprise software space. John came to a direct “hands on” appreciation of the manufacturing and enterprise software market from the manufacturing floor. This experience first came with Ford Motor Company where he was in operations and engineering and then later with Amphenol’s Computer and Network Products Division where his responsibilities were in new product development, design for manufacturing and assessment and acquisition of new production line equipment and processes. John is very active in entrepreneurial organizations including being a founder and Director of the Upstate Venture Association of New York (UVANY). John is involved in various entrepreneurial and venture capital related activities at different universities, including the Rochester Institute of Technology, Syracuse University and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). He serves on the Board of Advisors to the Union College incubator program and is a mentor at the RPI incubator program. John has been an Adjunct Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Lally School of Management and Technology (Graduate Program) and most recently at the University at Albany. John helped found the Eric Evans Memorial Charitable Foundation after Eric’s death in the World Trade Center on 9/11, and now serves the Foundation as a Director and Treasurer. John earned his BS in Mechanical Engineering and his MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.


  • Clayton Besch Clayton Besch

    Bio: Raised in the Capital Region, he did his undergraduate at Hamilton College in Central NY. After years of advance education in Asia, earning a Masters at Nagasaki University and a PhD at Tokyo University, Clayton\'s focus turned to finance and investment. Experiencing the growth and evolution in Japan\'s bubble market and later in the Emerging markets he crossed from equity research to sales to the global investment community. He then moved to the Venture Capital world working with SOFTBANK\'s worldwide VC network for a number of years. After consulting for funds in the US, Japan and the UK, he most recently ran the Asian office for NYS’s ESDC in Tokyo introducing NYS companies to sales opportunities in Japan and Korea and introducing Japanese companies to strategic opportunities in NYS. Clayton is currently the Director of New York State’s Small Business Technology Investment Fund.


  • Joe Rubin Joe Rubin

    Bio: Joe Rubin is a Director and Co-Founder of FundingPost.com. FundingPost has been introducing entrepreneurs to investors nationwide for over 10 years through its Online Venture Exchange, Dealflow Magazine and organizes Venture Capital and Angel Investor Conferences in 20 cities nationwide. Joe has also invested in 11 seed deals over the past 5 years, including Sticky, Inc.

    (acquired by DeviceVM), Senscient, Revstor, Flycast, Mission Research, Virtus Sensors, CIMA Systems, GotChef, and is on the advisory board of Offermobi. Joe is responsible for the FundingPost.com's operations, and runs the largest online annual business plan competition, Pitching Across America. He spends much of his time coaching and helping early-stage companies, and speaks at events such as the NYC Economic Development Corporation's Jumpstart and Fast trac Program's, Early-Stage-East, and Connecticut's CTech event, and is a speaker at and sponsor of the UCLA Private Equity Club. Joe is also a Founding Member of ARC Angel Fund, a seed technology fund based in NYC which has invested in Hashable, Upnext, Medivo, Pogby, Careerminds and Offermobi. Prior to FundingPost, Joe was instrumental in helping to raise $2.5 Million in angel and venture capital for his dot.com start-up producing a family-friendly network and over 100 flash-based video games which were playable online and sold as a compilation in stores like Comp USA. Joe was also the Webmaster at Knight Securities (NASD: NITE), where he helped to design its online trading platform and website. Prior to working Online, Joe worked in television and graphic design for companies such as NBC and MTV, in addition to doing freelance commercial production. Joe began working in television production, graphic design and 3D animation professionally when he was 15, and graduated from Hofstra University with a Bachelor's in Communications. He now lives in Connecticut with his wife and 5-year-old son.


  • Devon Watson Devon Watson

    Bio: Devon is currently evangelizing Cloud Computing within global enterprise accounts for Apprenda, a category defining application platform (aPaaS) at the forefront of the Private Cloud industry. He was previously a Vice President at High Peaks Venture Partners (an early stage Venture Capital fund) where he focused on investments in software, digital media and technology-enabled services. During his five years with the fund he vetted and advised hundreds of start-ups and worked closely with portfolio companies. He is a frequent panelist for business plan competitions and guest lecturer on venture capital and entrepreneurship. Prior to entering the VC industry, Devon co-founded a SaaS analytics start-up where he was responsible for business strategy, product management and sales. He began his career as a technology consultant leading business intelligence, data warehousing and application development projects.


  • Jon Stillman Jon Stillman

    Bio: Jon Stillman is founder and president of Half Moon Ventures, LLC, which he formed in 2002. He invests in and guides early stage technology companies, provides strategic consulting services, interim executive management, and technical due diligence in support of investments and acquisitions. Jon has over 25 years experience investing in a wide variety of technology companies, from angel/seed investing through mergers and acquisitions in publicly traded companies.

    For the past 6 years he was also a venture partner at High Peaks Venture Partners, a venture capital firm focused on early stage technology companies in NY State. Additionally, Jon is co-founder and Managing Director of Assembla, a software company that provides a SaaS platform that enables teams of developers to work together and with customers efficiently whether as independent collaborators or in an enterprise, co-located or around the world. Earlier, Jon was SVP of Technology and Strategy at divine, Inc., where he was directly responsible for identifying and/or evaluating for investment or acquisition over 100 companies from technology, strategy, and operational perspectives. In addition, he was responsible for setting technology investment strategy and helping both large and small businesses build market leadership positions. Jon spent over 14 years at GE’s Global Research Center in roles including original research (in distributed information management, collaboration, and temporal reasoning), leading teams to bring advanced software ideas to practical and profitable application, and providing technology and strategic due diligence for acquisition, partnering, and investment candidates. His most recent role with GE was as Director of eBusiness Technologies, where he was responsible for starting, overseeing, and providing technical direction for a number of GE’s e-business ventures. Jon holds Masters and PhD degrees in Computer Science from the University at Albany, and a BA in Music. He has received numerous awards, published extensively, and has been awarded 4 patents. He is an active member of the advisory boards of the NYC Chapter of the Keiretsu Forum, the University at Albany's College of Computing and Information, and the Smart Start Forum. He recently joined the advisory board of The Flow, an exciting young company in NYC, and is a technical advisor to Accordant Media. He regularly volunteers as a mentor for the TEN group in Rochester, for Astia in NYC, and other organizations dedicated to helping entrepreneurs.