Meet the judges!
AMY KRAMER - AT&T NEW YORK
Amy Kramer is President at AT&T New York, where she oversees the Company’s external and public affairs as well as regulatory and legislative agendas, strategic communications, and sponsorship and foundation activities within the State of New York. In holding the top state legislative affairs position in New York State, Kramer is responsible for developing strategies and plans for achieving AT&T’s legislative objectives, as well as for reaching out to key elected officials and policymakers in the State to provide the Company’s perspective on a range of issues. In addition, Kramer works to ensure that AT&T’s New York customers and public officials are always afforded the best possible service and stewardship in the telecommunications and technology industries.
ERIC REICH - CAMPUS LABS
As soon as Eric talks about the positive effects of data in the changing landscape of higher education, one can’t help but share his enthusiasm for innovation. When he co-founded Campus Labs back in 2001, Eric understood the merits of hard work and how much of it would be needed to drive the budding startup. That drive evolved Campus Labs from its early days as StudentVoice, with a handful of employees and printers, into a leading higher education enterprise solution. Now boasting over 150 employees, Eric maintains it was the continued start-up mindset that kept Campus Labs on the path of innovation as it grew, expanded, and continued to evolve its mission. As President, Eric manages the strategic direction of Campus Labs, evaluating alliances and acquisitions to further enhance the company’s tech capabilities and grow its roster of 1,400 Member Campuses.
Eric earned both his Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administration from the State University of New York at Buffalo. While studying at UB, he served as the student representative on the University Council (the equivalent of the Board of Trustees). In 2001, he and Michael Weisman were presented the premiere Henry Panasci Technology Entrepreneur Award for their class project, which planted the seeds for Campus Labs. In 2013, the two business partners shared the George W. Thorn Award, given by the UB Alumni Association in honor of their professional achievements. A dynamic speaker, Eric has taught a course on entrepreneurship for UB’s Undergraduate Academies. He is also a member of the Investment Committee for Z80 Labs, Buffalo’s first internet-focused technology incubator, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Buffalo Zoo. He is a 2015 Business First 40 Under 40 honoree.
JACK GRECO - TECHSTARS
John (Jack) Greco is a father, advisor and serial entrepreneur. He currently serves as the Executive Director of the Techstars Ecosystem Development program across WNY. Prior to that, he co-founded or supported the early creation and growth of dozens of companies across Upstate New York.
Instrumental in the early development of startups, as a venture capitalist, founder, advisor or executive, Greco dedicates time to mentoring/advising businesses as the Founder and Principal of Cupule Ventures, and supporting the early development of their technology through Board Chairman of One Link Ventures. He serves as a board member to several startups, the Monroe Community Hospital Foundation, DKE Beta Phi Alumni Association and The University Heights Tool Library, Olmsted Center for the Blind and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.
All of this comes second in life to his role as a father to his very adventurous 4 ½ year old son, Little Jack. He holds an M.B.A. from the Simon School of Business Administration and a B.A. in Economics from the University of Rochester.
KIRK MCLEAN - CITY OF BUFFALO
Director of Open Data
Kirk McLean is the City of Buffalo’s first Director of Open Data. He manages Open Data Buffalo (data.buffalony.gov), the City’s official open data portal, which currently ranks #4 in the nation on the U.S. City Open Data Census, a crowdsourced measure of public access to public datasets in municipalities across the United States. He is the recipient of the 2018 NYS Department of State’s Trailblazer Award in recognition of innovative service delivery for his work on open data. During Kirk’s ten-year tenure at the City of Buffalo, he has been an advocate for open data, data analysis, innovation, technology, and process improvement. He holds a Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University at Buffalo and lives in Buffalo’s University District with his wife and two beagles.
ROYCE L. WOODS - BEVERLY GRAY BUSINESS EXCHANGE CENTER
Royce serves as the Executive Director of the Beverly Gray Business Exchange Center. He has always had a passion for helping small and medium size businesses gather the resources they need to grow. In his current role, he focuses on helping local entrepreneurs gain access to capital and apply for the M/WBE certifications, and connects small businesses with procurement opportunities.
Prior to joining Next Street, Royce worked in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. He spent over 10 years working as a commercial banker in the Pittsburgh and Atlanta markets. In that role he managed the relationships of business clients with revenues between $50-$150MM, targeting their credit needs. He also worked for the City of Buffalo’s Mayor’s Office of Strategic Planning, where he was responsible for financial viability analysis of some of the city’s largest development projects. Royce has a B.A in Finance from Hampton University and a M.B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh.
VENUS QUATES - LAUNCHTECH
President, Chief Executive Officer
Venus Quates is a US Air Force Veteran, Speaker, and the President and CEO of LaunchTech, an IT firm that provides Technology and Professional Services solutions to Government and Commercial customers. As an accomplished professional with over 20 years of domestic and international experience, she has acquired a wealth of technical and business knowledge across a wide range of demanding roles and sectors. Venus has led several engineering, technology, and data science initiatives with major Fortune 100 and 500 companies, global banking giants, and leaders in the Intelligence and Defense industries. Her forward-thinking mindset, continued education at Texas A&M, MIT, and the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, alongside trusted partnerships with leading technology manufacturers, has kept her on the cutting edge of industry trends and helped her to build a successful business.
Venus has traveled all over the world, developing game-changing STEM programming and educating organizations on the benefits of implementing innovative and emerging technology for community and economic growth. As a Catalyst-for-Change, she remains armed with unyielding determination and a passion for empowering minorities, girls, and women to choose careers in STEM.
Venus currently serves as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence for the Venture Development Organization, LaunchNY, on the Board of Directors for the Girl Scouts of Western NY as well as advisory boards for various non-profits and veteran-focused initiatives.