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Event Bios
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Speaker Bios:
Jeff Weiss

Jeff Weiss,
Managing Director ASAP Ventures


     ASAP Ventures helps high-potential, early-stage companies get to market faster and smarter. ASAP operates a networked internet business accelerator in Alexandria, Virginia. ASAP incubates early stage companies and deploys advisory teams and board members to businesses in the community. Jeff Weiss, Managing Director, is a long time e-business and on-line commerce entrepreneur. Jeff helped found two firms which deliver information and services to businesses online; E-Motion, formerly Picture Network International, which was sold to Kodak in 1997, and CDx (Certificate of Deposit Exchange). He been a strategist advising numerous companies, an investment banking advisor, a management consultant, Chief Marketing Officer to a $100mm revenue network services firm, and has raised substantial funding from sources ranging from angel investors to corporate and venture investors. As a result, he has broad understanding of how young companies grow, how to create and communicate business and marketing plans, in managing operations, as well as in evaluating partners and closing capital transactions.

Laura Lukaczyk

Laura Lukaczyk,
Founder and Managing Partner,
Avansis Ventures, LLC

Laura Lukaczyk is the Founder and Managing Partner of Avansis Ventures, LLC, an early stage venture fund focused on information technology in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. region.  Since its founding in June 2000, Avansis has invested in Codeon, Ecutel, Exent, iPhotonics, Jasmine Networks, Opion and Seneca Networks.  She is a board observer at Ecutel. 

Prior to Avansis, Laura was a consultant for New Enterprise Associates (“NEA”) in its Reston, VA office.  There she participated in investing nearly $85 million in companies such as Advanced Switching Communications (ASCX), Codeon, DataCore, Exent, Navitar, and WNP (acquired by Nextlink, now called XO Communications). 

Prior to NEA, she was the founding CFO at Denwa Communications and the Director of Sales at International Communications Corp. (“ICC”), a company, which grew to $100 million in annualized revenues within 14 months.  Laura’s prior investment experience includes working as the manager of private equity placements for Multifinance Holding Corp. Her prior technical experience includes semiconductor engineering and manufacturing for the Delco Electronics Division of General Motors. Laura received her MBA from the University of Virginia Darden School and her BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.



Joan Winston

Joan Winston,
Steve Walker & Associates

Joan Winston has over a decade of experience in technology assessment and has a proven track record of identifying technology trends and emerging market opportunities in diverse industries.  In addition to directing Walker Ventures' deal flow and business plan review process, Joan is responsible for assessing the technological aspects of new ventures as part of due diligence for all of the investment funds under management.

She began her professional life as an aerospace engineer and technical staff member at the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, Inc., a leading systems engineering laboratory, where she specialized in laboratory testing, simulation and analysis of inertial instruments and strategic guidance systems. After completing her graduate work in technology and policy, Joan then progressed through analytical and project management positions with the Congressional Research Service and the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA).  At OTA, Joan led numerous multidisciplinary assessments of the impacts of emerging technologies, including studies on information security and privacy, cryptography, digital libraries and intellectual property rights for computer software and electronic information.  As Director of Policy Analysis for Trusted Information Systems, Inc., Joan represented the corporation before government agencies and in industry forums regarding information security and cryptography policies and managed export licensing for the firm's numerous software security products.

Joan holds an S.M. in Technology & Policy and an S.B. in Physics, both from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Zim Putney,
NextGen Capital
Zimri Putney, Managing Director and CEO, has over thirty years of experience as a venture capitalist, investor, executive and scientist in technology companies. As co-founder of the management consulting firm Putney & Eckstein, Inc., he assisted technology CEO’s in areas of business and marketing strategy, quality management, and operations. For Solarex Corporation, the world’s leading photovoltaic company, he headed research and development, and marketing in over 70 countries before and after acquisition by Amoco. For nearly ten years he served as an award-winning scientist, inventor, and technology manager for IBM.


Esther Smith,
Qorvis Communications


Esther Smith is a well-known and highly respected technology community entrepreneur, having been founder and CEO of the company that was the predecessor to Post-Newsweek Business Information Inc. She is part of several key technology and Internet industry networks, with strong links to the finance community and business media. Since 1998 she has been Managing Partner in charge of the Internet Practice of The Poretz Group, the investor relations component of Qorvis Communications.

A leader in business, Esther founded the Washington Business Journal in 1982; she founded TechNews, Inc. in 1986, publisher of Washington Technology and the Washington Technology Almanac. Continually recognized as a leader in her field, she received the prestigious Earle Williams Award in 1999. She was honored as Washington Business Woman of the Year in 1997, and recognized by the Virginia Association of Female Executives as the recipient of the Award of Excellence. In 1995 she was "Champion" of Women in Technology and has been named to Washingtonian magazine’s list of Washington’s Most Powerful Women.


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