Laurie Cercone has been a senior sales leader for both small to Fortune 50 companies. With a BBA in Marketing and Finance from UT Austin, she started her career with Mobil Oil managing both company-owned and franchised operations in both Houston and Southern California. After leaving Mobil, she joined a food startup, where she grew the company from $2M to over $100M, and stayed on after being acquired HJ Heinz. As a Division Sales Manager, she managed several of Heinz’ newly acquired subsidiaries. She now manages the sales division, for Vie de France, a manufacturer of high-end bakery products where she oversees retail and foodservice channels. She specializes in building and managing sales teams, hiring and managing brokers, building distribution, and managing corporate-account relationships.
After living in Southern California for over a decade and getting her MBA at the University of Southern California, Laurie moved back to Austin in 2015. She has since completed a Masters in Technology Commercialization in from UT Austin. Laurie has been a mentor with several Austin-based accelerators including Texas Venture Labs, SKU, and New Chip. She has been a member of CTAN since 2017 and has served as the CPG Lead for two years. Laurie joined the CTAN Board in October 2019.
Gary Forni’s focus is on mentoring, investing in, and growing startups in the Central Texas area. As an investor his focus is disruptive technology. As a member of the business community he works with accelerators to maximize the success of entrepreneurs including TechStars, the Austin Technology Incubator, and was a founding investor and mentor in the consumer goods centric SKU accelerator. As an entrepreneur his goal is to always be working on something uncomfortably exciting. He has worked to bring eight new businesses to market. Today he is the CEO of ListingSpark and Spark Title, companies focused on modernizing the residential real estate selling process.
In the distant past he was an executive at Marvell Semiconductor, and Intel. At Intel he was part of starting four new businesses, including the flash memory business, which exited for $1.2B, and the XScale cellular business, which exited for $600M. At the industry level, Mr. Forni has published over twenty articles and papers, chaired standardization committees, and co-authored a book on flash memory technology. Gary picked up a BS ECE some time ago, and still has his computer punch cards, and then rounded that out with an MBA (b/c that programming stuff was clearly just going to be a fad).
Jake is an entrepreneur and angel investor who has spent most of his career at the intersection of insurance and technology. The early part of his career was spent on the large corporate side of the business working initially for both a global insurance carrier as well as several of the largest insurance brokers in the industry. After leaving the corporate world he moved to the land of start-ups founding his first company during the dot com era, where he learned many life lessons. He gained his international experience when he was recruited to lead the US operations for an industry initiative to automate the insurance placement process at Lloyd’s of London. His most recent venture was a company he founded that developed a SaaS platform for performing insurance transactions between US and UK clients. He successfully sold the company to one of the largest private equity-backed insurance software firms in the US.
Jake now focuses on angel investing and mentoring entrepreneurs within those firms. He lives in Austin and holds a BA in Economics and a BBA in International Business from UT Austin as well as an MBA from St. Edwards Austin.
Joseph Liu has worked in the IT industry since 1998, with overseas experience in Taiwan, China, and Singapore. He holds BS degree in Engineering for Sustainable Environment from National Taiwan University and MBA degree from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a candidate for the Master of Jurisprudence from St. Mary’s School of Law. Joseph holds a Level 1 CrossFit Trainer certificate.
Joseph has been an active CTAN member since 2015 and served as the B2B Software Sector Interest Group (SIG) Lead in 2019. His investment portfolio is comprised of companies across Life Sciences, B2B Software, Hardware, and CPG industries. He joined the CTAN Board in October 2019.
Tom Miesner spent 25+ years at Conoco Pipeline, retiring as President in 2003. After retiring (the first time) Tom founded a lifestyle consulting business, serving clients in the oil and gas midstream industry. Tom accidently learned about the value of equity investing when, in 2009, he consulted with a PE firm and agreed to take his payment in equity. After the PE firm acquired the company, Tom joined the board and then was asked to be the chairman. After many trials and tribulations over 8 years, the company had a successful exit to another PE firm in 2017 – that company continues today with the same CEO Tom brought into the company and mentored.
Over the years, Tom wrote 3 books about the oil and gas pipeline industry. In 2020, when he finished Oil and Gas Pipelines in NonTechical Language – 2nd Edition, Tom’s publisher asked him to write a book about the electrical power industry, and The Electrical Power Industry – a NonTechnical Guide is scheduled for release December 6. Tom, being a glutton for punishment, is now writing, Energy Choices – a NonTechnical Guide. He enjoys learning, solving problems, thinking about energy, investing in early-stage companies and helping entrepreneurs develop and execute business strategies and tactics. When not thinking about energy or early-stage companies, Tom can be found cycling with his wife, spending time with his family, or riding around on his Kubota tractor.