ARI Instructors

Matt Dunbar

Troy Knauss Matt Dunbar is Managing Director of the Upstate Carolina Angel Network (UCAN) and a Co-Founder of the South Carolina Angel Network (SCAN) and Palmetto Angel Fund. UCAN is a Greenville, SC-based group of accredited investors who support high-growth early stage ventures in the Southeast with capital and expertise. The group was named a top 10 angel group in the United States in 2014. The Palmetto Angel Fund is a committed capital fund that co-invests with UCAN and several other new angel groups recently formed to comprise the South Carolina Angel Network. Since inception, the groups have invested more than $16 million in 45 companies.

Matt serves on the Boards of Directors for the national Angel Capital Association, Entegra Financial Corp (a $1 billion NASDAQ listed bank), UCAN portfolio company Cirtemo, and Junior Achievement of Upstate South Carolina. He is also a Lecturer in the Clemson University MBAe program and with the Enviropreneur Institute at the Property and Environment Research Center in Bozeman, Montana.

Prior to joining UCAN, Matt was a Project Leader with the Boston Consulting Group in their Atlanta office, and he began his career with Eastman Chemical Company in Kingsport, TN. Matt was Student Body President and graduated summa cum laud from Clemson University in 1999 with a BS in Chemical Engineering, and he later earned an MBA and Masters in Education from Stanford University in 2005.

Gwen C. Edwards 

On Twitter: @Gwenedwards

Gwen C. Edwards brings over 30 years of experience building products, services, and profitable business units in high-technology sectors. From Stanford Research Institute to Fortune 50 executive (SBC, Nortel Troy KnaussNetworks, Bell Canada, to Venture Capital backed technology start up CEO and advisor, she unites the knowledge of successful brands, experience with scale, and the skills of managing innovation. Since 2001, Gwen has been working in advisory capacities with angel and venture backed companies assisting with capital formation, key milestone achievement to enhance value, developing target market strategies, cultivating customer input, and assisting in the execution of key deliverables. 

Prior to joining Silicon Valley's entrepreneurial ranks in 2000, Gwen was President of Pacific Bell Network Integration and Business Internet Services, a $400M high growth business unit of SBC Communications (now AT&T), which she grew from a $50 Million business to $400M in less than 24 months, delivering enterprise wide customer networks, with a focus on Internet and electronic commerce based solutions. She also established and grew to a $200M dollar business, a vertical market group for Pacific Bell focused on the health care and biotech markets, building on the success of new programs she previously launched for Pacific Bell's National Accounts organization.

Gwen currently serves on the advisory board of Astia, an organization dedicated to the success of women entrepreneurs, and is an active leader with Golden Seeds, an angel investment network.  She manages a personal portfolio of 16 early stage investments, with board service on three.  She also serves on the board of the National Health Foundation’s Executive Committee, and Audit Committees. She most recently joined the board of the Angel Resource Institute.  She enjoys teaching and coaching, and continues to find time to bring her expertise around innovation into targeted consulting engagements with major corporations and institutions.  

Ross Finlay

Ross Finlay is a Co-Founder and Director of the First Angel Network Association – Atlantic Canada’s largeRoss Finlayst association for private investors.  He is also Chair of the National Angel Capital Organization, and is a Director of the U.S. Angel Capital Association and the Angel Resource Institute (of the Kaufmann Foundation). He is a recognized facilitator, business planner, and strategic change advisor who has an extensive background in public, private and not-for-profit sectors.   

He has assisted in the development and review of countless business plans for start-up companies.   Ross has extensive business networks throughout the world and has written as a regular columnist for Atlantic Business Magazine and for Progress Magazine. 

Ross has been Executive Director of a professional association in Ontario and President of a national consulting company specializing in providing consulting services in scientific, engineering and technical fields.  

Since 1994, Ross has managed his own successful consulting practice.  He returned to the corporate world for a time with  PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and SolutionInc Ltd. – a software development company. 

In 2002 Ross was a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Medal for outstanding community service through his efforts in numerous charities.


Jordan Green

Troy KnaussJordan is an internationally recognised thought leader, consultant and speaker on early-stage investing and the entrepreneurial space. He is an experienced engineer, entrepreneur, executive, venture capitalist and Angel investor. He has over three decades of experience in growing and advising technology oriented companies in Australia, USA, Asia and Europe.

A Silicon Valley software veteran, founding partner of one of the best performing VC fund managers in Australia, co-founder and Chairman of the Australian Association of Angel Investors (AAAI), Founder/President of Angel investor group, Melbourne Angels Inc, Case Manager with Commercialisation Australia, Trustee of the Angel Resource Institute (USA), a Convenor of the Asian Business Angel Forum and a director of the World Business Angel Association.

Designing and delivering training programs for early-stage investors and entrepreneurs Jordan enjoys the rewards of sharing insights and knowledge gained through decades of experience. Combining his own learning with the wisdom of colleagues from all over the world Jordan has helped guide thousands of aspiring investors and entrepreneurs on four continents and quite a few islands too.

Jordan is an AAAI Fellow, AICD Graduate, degreed in Electronics Engineering from RMIT, a Chartered Professional Engineer for more than twenty years, an MBA from the Melbourne Business School and has post-graduate qualifications in Marketing, Strategy, Innovation and Product Development with experience as an international postgraduate research fellow.


Troy Knauss
On Twitter: @TroyKnaussTroy Knauss

Troy Knauss is a partner in a number of Angel funds and networks that invest in high-growth and turnaround companies. In addition to his fund activities, Troy is an exited-entrepreneur with start-up and growth management experience in food processing, metal fabrication and structures, gaming and software development, and eCommerce sales platforms. Troy is an active investor in over forty portfolio companies.

Some of Troy's activities include Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce and Chair of the Entrepreneur Connection Committee where he has personally been involved with the implementation of key entrepreneurial activities in the Triad including low cost co-working space, the development of a bi-yearly startup and growth-stage accelerator, weekly programming, and a yearly pitch competition, CapitalConnects!, that has led to more than $10 million in investments from regional angels. Greensboro, North Carolina is now ranked fifteenth in venture capital investment per capita and ninth for best cities in America for new companies to succeed.

In addition to this work, Troy is Chairman of the Board of Directors for The Launch Place, a $10 million community seed fund in Southern Virginia that is developing new ways to deploy capital and revitalize job growth. The Launch Place is a member of the Angel Capital Association. He is also a Trustee, Lead Instructor, and Chair of the Research Committee, for the Angel Resource Institute at Willamette University (“ARI”). ARI is a non-profit spin-out of the Kauffman Foundation that concentrates efforts on education and best-in-class research to train angel investors and entrepreneurs on building more successful ventures. Troy recently developed a mentoring program and funding curriculum in Puerto Rico to provide early-stage entrepreneurs with the knowledge, tools, and resources to build and scale companies across all industries including a heavy concentration in agriculture. He enjoys speaking on the subject across the globe and has had recent engagements in Brazil, Colombia, Jordan, and multiple cities across Canada and the US.

Troy joined the Advisory Council for Wake Forest University’s Center of Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship a few years ago and teaches classes on financial knowledge and venture capital as an adjunct from time-to-time. Troy co-wrote a book with Michael Cain, “How to Make Money with Angel Investors & Entrepreneurs: 100 Rules to get a Start-Up Funded.” The book helps entrepreneurs and investors get a better understanding of what it takes to build, invest in, and make money growing and exiting companies.

Troy holds degrees from Susquehanna University and Wake Forest University.


John May
On Twitter: @JohnAMay

John May

John May is the managing partner of New Vantage Group, a McLean,  Virginia, firm that innovatively mobilizes private equity into early-stage companies and provides advisory services to both funds and private investors. John has been at the forefront of the angel investor movement. His experience in private equity capital over the past 25 years ranges from venture capital fund management to angel investing to overseas consulting.

In 1991, he co-founded the Investors' Circle, a national nonprofit group of 150 family and institutional investors working to grow the social venture capital industry.  In 1999, he co-founded The Dinner Club, an investment group of 60 regional angels who collectively invest in early-stage ventures, followed by the eMedia Club and, the Washington Dinner Club in 2000. In 2003, he created Active Angel Investors, a mid-Atlantic fund with 60 active angels. It was merged into New Dominion Angels in 2012, where he is a managing partner. He was managing general partner of Calvert Social Venture Partners LP, the Mid-Atlantic Fund of Funds LP, and an advisor to three other early-stage funds. In 2006, he became a director and general partner in Seraphim Capital, a 30 million £ venture fund based in London.

He is chair-emeritus of the Angel Capital Association which he co-founded in 2005, and is a lead instructor for their "Power of Angel Investing" seminar series. He is also co-chair of the World Business Angels Association. He is the co-author of two books, Every Business Needs an Angel and State of the Art: An Executive Briefing on Cutting-Edge Practices in American Angel Investing. In the fall of 2002, the Batten Institute at the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business appointed Mr. May a “Batten Fellow.” He was awarded the 2010 Hans Severiens Award by the ACA. He has lectured extensively on venture capital and angel investing, and has presented talks and seminars in more than 20 countries. He believes that “an angel, is an angel, is an  angel!”

Catherine V. Mott
On Twitter: @CVMott

Catherine Mott is the founder and CEO of BlueTree Capital Group and BlueTree Allied Angels in Wexford, PA, with a satellite office in Erie, PA. As of December 2013, BlueTree Allied Angels has invested ~ $30+ million in 46 start-up companies. Catherine is a past chairman of ARI. From 2010 – 2012, she served as chairman of the board of the Angel Capital Association. In 2011, Catherine was one of 21 individuals selected for the SEC Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies. 

Catherine has been a speaker/panelist at national and regional conferences: the National Association of Seed and Venture Funds (NASVF) annual conference, the Angel Capital Association annual summit, the State Science and Technology Initiative (SSTI) annual conference, as well as the Michigan Growth Capital Conference, North Carolina’s Angel Investor Summit, Ohio Venture Association, the National Governors’ Association and EBAN. In 2009, she served as a Corporate Ambassador for the US Department of State, representing professional managers of Angel Networks in the US. 

Catherine has been quoted or featured in many professional industry publications as one of the few women who represent the industry of angel capital/venture capital – Red Herring, The Scientist, The New York Times, Erie Times, PA KeyNotes, Wall St. Journal, The Angel Journal, TEQ, Pop City, FanFare, and the Pittsburgh Business Times. BlueTree Allied Angels was listed in INC magazine in 2009 as one of the Top 50 angel investor networks in the US. Previously, Catherine had founded Synergetics Sales Performance Group, (formerly Strategic Sales Solutions), and Indigo Capital Development, LLC. In 2002, she was recognized as one of Pennsylvania’s 50 Best Women in Business.

Catherine holds an MBA in Finance, a BS in Education and a Master’s Degree in Education.

Bob Okabe
On Twitter: @BobOkabe

Bob Okabe

Over the past decade, Bob Okabe has been actively involved with early-stage enterprises on multiple levels. As an angel investor, he co-founded the Prairie Angels and has made 15 investments with five positive returns of capital. As an ARI-trained instructor since 2009, Bob has delivered over 40 programs across the US, Mexico, and Turkey.  He has also represented ARI as a board member in Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the UK.

He is a principal of RPX Group (, a consultancy focused on assisting universities, research institutions, and corporations with spinning out some of their innovative technologies as startup companies.

Among other notable consulting assignments, Bob completed a capital markets feasibility study in Lebanon for the World Bank and was selected by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to speak about new venture creation in Russia. Bob led RPX Group’s work developing a new venture incubation strategy for Mitsubishi Corporation in Tokyo and has also been a consultant to and expert witness for the federal government in securities fraud litigation.

The core of Bob’s experience with growth companies was developed in the corporate world. He was an investment banker for 12 years, where he participated in numerous debt, equity, M&A, and advisory assignments. He began his business career spending nearly six years in financial management at General Electric. After leaving GE, Bob was a senior bond rating analyst for Moody’s Investors Service for two years.

His civic involvement also involves early-stage enterprises. Bob has guest lectured at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and the Kellogg School of Management on new venture formation, and he previously served on the adjunct faculty of the University of Illinois College of Business. He is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Mayor’s Council of Technology Advisors in Chicago.
Bob was awarded a BS in finance and organizational behavior, cum laude, from Boston University’s School of Management.

Bob is a trustee and lead instructor for the Angel Resource Institute.

Bill Payne

Bill PayneBill Payne ( is an active angel investor, board member, and advisor to entrepreneurs. He assisted in founding four angel groups: the Frontier Angel Fund (2006), Vegas Valley Angels (2003), Tech Coast Angels (San Diego - 2000), and Aztec Venture Network (1999). Over the past three decades, Bill Payne has successfully founded or invested in over 60 start-up companies.

In 1971, Bill founded Solid State Dielectrics Inc., an advanced materials supplier to the electronic components industry. He sold the company to E. I. DuPont in 1982.

From 1995 to 2007, in his role as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence with the Kauffman Foundation, he worked on educational programs for entrepreneurs and their investors, including the development of the “Power of Angel Investing” seminar series. Since 2001, Bill has served as the lead instructor for more than 100 of these angel investing seminars and workshops in 10 countries. He was also active in the formation and startup of the Angel Resource Institute and the Angel Capital Association (ACA). Bill was awarded ACA’s prestigious 2009 Hans Severiens Memorial Award for Outstanding Contribution to Angel Investing.

During one of his six visits to New Zealand, Bill served as the 2010 BNZ University of Auckland Entrepreneur-in-Residence from February through June 2010. In November 2010, Bill was named an Arch Angel of New Zealand for “remarkable contributions to angel investing.”

Bill graduated with BS and MS degrees in ceramic engineering from the University of Illinois, where he has served on the Dean’s Board of Visitors of the College of Engineering. Bill has a cumulative 120 years of board service for private companies and not-for-profit organizations. See his eBook, The Definitive Guide to Raising Money from Angels. He and his wife, Ann, are residents of Whitefish, Montana, and Henderson, Nevada.

Basil Peters
On Twitter: @BasilPeters

Troy KnaussFor the first half of his career Basil Peters was an entrepreneurial CEO. More recently, he has been a hedge fund manager, venture capitalist and angel investor. For most of the past decade, Basil’s focus has been on how entrepreneurs and investors exit transactions.

Basil has always been fascinated by technology. He co-founded his first company, Nexus Engineering, while still in graduate school. The attention generated by the company generated a number of awards including Entrepreneur of the Year, Entrepreneurship Silver Award, British Columbia Science and Engineering Gold Medal and Business Leader of the Year. Nexus was sold in the mid 1990s and is now part of Cisco.

As a techie born and raised in Vancouver, Basil thought everything was bigger and brighter in the Bay Area. His next CEO job was at ICTV Inc. - right in the heart of Silicon Valley. He learned that the Valley is bigger, but not necessarily better, and is now convinced that entrepreneurs can be just as successful anywhere else in the world.

After Nexus was acquired, Basil went from being a starving entrepreneur with every cent he could borrow in the company he was running, to actually having some investable capital. Since then Basil has co-founded and managed three investment funds. The first fund was one of the first hedge funds in British Columbia - Fundamental Technologies I. By 2002, at the bottom of the bust, technology company equity bargains were irresistible, so he started a family of early-stage venture capital funds which are now the BC Advantage Funds. Basil’s current angel fund is Fundamental Technologies II.

The first companies Basil helped sell were ones he built or invested in. After being an angel investor and a fund manager, Basil realized that when he made an exceptional return on investment, it was always because the exit had gone well. He also came to believe that exits are the most fun part of being an investor or entrepreneur. Now Basil often helps sell companies he hasn't invested in.

During the discovery process Basil was surprised by how little had been written about exits - especially for entrepreneurs and angel investors. Exits have been a major theme in his blog on best practices for angel investors and entrepreneurs at Basil’s first book is also on exits - Early Exits - Exit Strategies for Entrepreneurs and Angel Investors (But Maybe Not Venture Capitalists)..

Basil Peters’ goal is to help entrepreneurs and angels have more profitable, and more frequent exits. He has a Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia in Electrical and Computer Engineering

Susan Preston

On Twitter: @SueAngelPreston

Susan PrestonSusan Preston is the general partner for the CalCEF Clean Energy Angel Fund. The fund is focused on seed/start-up stage investments in clean energy technology. Susan is a world-recognized expert in angel financing and angel organizations. Susan has spent most of her career in senior management positions in public and private companies, from general counsel to CEO. She has also been a partner in two national law firms and is a patent attorney.

Susan is the author of numerous articles, white papers and books on angel financing. Her most recent book, Angel Financing for Entrepreneurs: Early-Stage Funding for Long-Term Success was released by Wiley Publishing in March 2007, and her first book, Angel Investment Groups, Networks and Funds: A Guidebook to Developing the Right Angel Organization for Your Community—a comprehensive guidebook on the establishment and operation of angel investment groups for which she received numerous accolades—was published by the Kauffman Foundation in 2004.

She has been and continues to be a national and international consultant and speaker on economic development, angel and venture financing for numerous countries and NGOs, including the EU, OECD, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Industry Canada, and EBAN. She was an Entrepreneur-in-Residence with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation for six years, and continues to serve as a consultant, specifically focusing on initiatives related to angel investing and angel organizations.

Susan has held several board positions with public and privately held corporations, and has served on numerous nonprofits’ boards. Susan has been profiled in Red Herring, Inc. magazine, Smart Money, Worth, and other local and national publications; she has contributed to numerous nationally published articles on angel investing. Susan is the founder of Seraph Capital Forum, the first all-women's angel investment organization.

She is the architect of the Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs Act, a bi-partisan federal income tax credit bill for private equity investing, which was introduced in the House and Senate in 2006 and 2007, and has been re-introduced in the current Congressional session.

Susan received her JD, cum laude, from Seattle University School of Law and her BS, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, in microbiology and public health from Washington State University.

Randy Thompson

On Twitter: 

Susan Preston Randy Thompson is a builder of companies, an angel investor and a leader of Canada’s most active angel group. He is currently invested in 22 companies and has been working in the startup venture space for 20+ years. Randy is the Founder and CEO of VA Angels, which has led him to be a finalist for TechVibes Angel of the Year in Canada for the last two years and the recipient of Startup Canada’s Investor of the Year Award in 2014.

Since the group’s inception, VA Angels has funded 102 companies for over $37M, including deals in the US, UK, and Africa. As an entrepreneur he has been the founder or founding partner in four entities, and is currently building GenerUS Marketing Solutions, a platform for not-for-profits and merchants to develop relationships through couponing.

Early in his career, Randy founded Alberta SuperNet and worked as a venture capital advisor to the Province of Alberta. Randy currently works internationally with companies in Puerto Rico and the UK.