May 18 Entrepreneur Forum Expert Panelists Announced

Alliance News |

John Ela, Vlad Harris and Chris Howlett to advise UltraCell Insulation; Brian Cole, Al Larose and Bill Flynn paired with Near Field Magnetics at popular business event in Manchester

On May 18, local companies Near Field Magnetics and UltraCell Insulation will share their company stories and challenges with a group of hand-selected experts (and a live audience) in hopes of gaining valuable feedback and advice. That’s the format of our Entrepreneur Forum series, and event organizers are excited to share the group of accomplished professionals who will lend their experience to entrepreneurs from each presenting company.

“Our Entrepreneur Forum series differs from many of the other business advisory programs in New Hampshire because of the hand-tailored nature of our advisory panels,” said the Council’s Executive Director Matt Cookson. “The committee members who organize Entrepreneur Forum work tirelessly to identify and secure a panel of advisers with the right background, skills and philosophy to ensure presenting companies receive tremendous value from the experience of sharing their entrepreneurial journeys with all in attendance at the event.”

Advising UltraCell Insulation, a Bedford-based company that created and manufactures an advanced type of cellulose insulation, are: John Ela, CEO of Ela Management Group LLC; Vlad Harris, a principal at Chartworth, LLC; and Chris Howlett of Diamond Hill Builders. The trio was selected because of each individual’s unique expertise in material science, product launches, the building industry, and business sense.

  • John Ela is a strategic adviser to owners and CEOs and helps them navigate crucial milestones in their business journeys. As the owner and CEO of Ela Management Group he provides advice and helps execute processes and initiatives that improve business performance. He is also a part-time lecturer at the UNH Paul College of Business and Economics, where he teaches the capstone entrepreneurship course and works with students entering the Holloway Innovation-to-Market Business Plan Competition, an initiative for which he also serves on the planning committee. Ela was appointed by New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch to the NH Department of Safety’s Fire Control Board, where he represents the manufacturing industry. His other industry roles – and experience that makes him an ideal match for UltraCell’s panel – include: serving as Alternate National director and vice chair of Build Green NH; president and CEO of Epoch Homes, where he was honored with the National Association of Home Builders’ Certified Green Professional Designee of the Year in 2002; and president of Duncraft, among other accomplishments. He holds seven patents, a Masters in Economics and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Economics, both from the UNH Whittemore School of Business and Economics.
  • Vladimir (Vlad) Harris is the founder and principal of Chartworth, a firm of strategy consultants and investment bankers. His focus is helping businesses increase, sustain and realize corporate value through business strategy, strategic transactions, financial operations, growth, breakthrough change and organizational optimization. He serves as lead advisor to the company’s clients, providing transactional and operation perspective and judgment to complex business processes and decisions. With few decisions more complex than launching a new, disruptive product to the marketplace, his advice at Entrepreneur Forum will be invaluable for UltraCell. Harris earned his Master of International Business Finance degree from Columbia University’s joint program of the School of International Affairs and the Graduate School of Business. He also holds a Bachelors in International Relations from Colgate University. In addition to his work, Harris has served as a board member and advisor to numerous private businesses. Prior to founding Chartworth, he was chief financial officer at Spaulding Composites Company and CFO and director of acquisitions of strategic timber trust (both based in New England). Prior to that, he spent 12 years as a consultant and financial advisor in corporate finance and investment banking on Wall Street with Credit Swiss First Boston and in the New Hampshire boutique firm of Baldwin and Clarke Corporate Finance. He began his business career in corporate financial planning with Eli Lilly and Company in 1981.
  • Chris Howlett is the founder and owner of Diamond Hill Builders, a Southern New Hampshire building firm that offers comprehensive building and remodeling services for residential and commercial projects. Howlett specializes in trades and construction general contracting. He attended Southern New Hampshire University and also earned an Associate Degree in Construction Management and building Construction Technology from Manchester Community College. He is a member of Business Network International (BNI) New Hampshire. His insight into the region’s building market for the last 12 years will add an additional perspective for UltraCell’s aims to introduce a new type of building insulation that appeals to builders and homeowners alike.

Milford-based Near Field Magnetics has created ways to ensure data sensors can communicate with the Internet of Things (IoT), even when the sensors and users are separated by metal, liquid or electromagnetic interference. Members of its Entrepreneur Forum advisory panel are Brian Cole of VXi Corporation, Al Larose of Secure Care Products and Bill Flynn of Catalyst Growth Partners. The trio was selected because of each individual’s unique expertise in engineering, telecommunications, product development, product launch strategies, digital strategies, sales and marketing.

  • Brian Cole is vice president of engineering at VXi Corporation, where he leads the design and development of wired and wireless telecommunications technologies that include audio headset products for call centers, home office and mobile markets. His 28 years of engineering and development experience in the telecom industry also includes serving as engineering manager at Gentex Elecro-Acoustics, where he worked on electret microphones and acoustic communication systems. Prior to that, he was director of Hardware Engineering at Excel Switching, where he helped grow the engineering capabilities, infrastructures and processes of the company, resulting in Excel’s purchase by Lucent in 2000. He holds a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering, specializing in Electronics and Fiber Optics, from the University of New Hampshire and a Bachelors in Electronic Engineering from Queen’s University Belfast.
  • Al Larose is the executive vice president of Secure Care Products, a company that invents and manufactures electronic medical devices and security communication systems for hospitals and medical facilities, including infant security and wandering management real-time location systems (RTLS). There, he leads business development and manages research and development, engineering, sales, finance, human resources, engineering, and the host of responsibilities crucial to company operations and product development. His specialties include cost control and reduction, international sales and he has startup and product commercialization experience lending direct value to Near Field Magnetics as it explores its business model and future growth plans. Larose is the prior general manager of Quantum Leap Packaging, director of technology at SciTech Plastics Corporation, director of mechanical engineering at VT Technologies and has extensive experience linking product enhancements to sales growth. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and Plastics Engineering from the University of Massachusetts Lowell.
  • Bill Flynn is a principal at Catalyst Growth Partners and helps software companies achieve predictable and profitable business growth by leveraging his 30 years of experience of working with 20 companies and 16 startups. He specializes in advising early stage startups in several industries, including mobile advertising, security, digital advertising, e-commerce and IT. Flynn provides business growth training to mid-market CEOs and helps them focus on core business fundamentals of people strategy, execution and cash. He is an advisory board member for both AstraID and CodeBroker. Flynn’s past roles include vice president of worldwide sales for Vivoom, where he designed and defined the company’s sales model and team. He also served as vice president of sales for Ekotrope and vice president of worldwide sales for Fiksu. He holds a Bachelors in Business Administration from the University of Massachusetts Lowell and also studied computer science at Saint Anselm College.

At the Entrepreneur Forum, companies present their business challenge to a panel of industry experts, and receive board-level and executive advice on how best to address their challenge, all in front of a live audience. Each of the presenting companies receives 15 minutes to present its business plan. Its expert panel acts as venture advisors for an evening and provides potential solutions to challenges faced by entrepreneurial companies based on their own professional experiences and expertise.

Between the two presentations a brief “Sky Dive” is held, during which local company Heat Oracle will look for feedback on a specific challenge or opportunity its company is facing.

Entrepreneur Forum is 5:30 to 8:30 pm, Wednesday, May 18 at FIRST headquarters, 200 Bedford Street in Manchester. Tickets are $15 for Council members, $30 for non-members and $10 for students. Get tickets online; a limited number of tickets will be available at the door. The evening kicks off with networking, heavy hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar.

Learn more about Entrepreneur Forum or read the EF presenter announcement on our blog.

Entrepreneur Forum is sponsored by: Autodesk; Cook Little Rosenblatt & Manson; Dyn; Entrepreneurs Foundation of New Hampshire; Howe, Riley & Howe; NH Business Review and TD Bank.