Speaker Biographies Stage2Startups

Startups by Grownups Panel Members' Bios
Panel Discussion at Cos Cob Library, Nov 21, 2019




SOULPHIA partner Rafael Borja spent a career in investment banking before joining his Columbia friend and ex-classmate Felipe Marinho in creating Soulphia, an educational platform where homeless women in America are taught to teach English to students overseas, primarily in Brazil. Today, Rafael has leveraged his experience at Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, Oppenheimer and Bear Stearns to help Soulphia raise funding and plan for its next round of growth. Rafael is a graduate of El Colegio de Mexico and Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. You can learn more about Soulphia at www.soulphia.com and contact [email protected]





BESTSEAT partner Lara Ceccarelli is director of operations and business development in addition to a working mom of three. Lara’s partner is her husband Mark Pires. Lara’s earlier career was in wealth management, trading , advertising and marketing. Lara is a graduate of Emmanuel College and Fordham University. You can learn more about BeatSeat at beatseat.rocks and get  [email protected]





The GREENWICH WINE SOCIETY founder Dean Gamanos is also the president of the Retele Group, a boutique advertising agency located in Greenwich. Dean’s fascination with wine led to the founding of the Greenwich Wine Society almost 20 years ago, but it was Dean’s earlier expertise in advertising that helped him to promote this local “passion” organization. Prior to founding the Retele Group in the 1980s, Dean worked for Young&Rubicam (a large advertising agency) in New York. Giving back to the next generation, when not working on developing wine trips and working with food and restaurant clients in Connecticut, Dean teaches an entrepreneurship course at FIT.  Dean is a graduate of Columbia College and Columbia Business School. To learn more bout the Greenwich Wine Society, visit https://www.greenwichwinesociety.com/ or the Retele Group at https://www.reteleco.com/ or contact Dean at [email protected]





BeatSeat founder, inventor and partner Mark Pires is also a Vlog host, a real estate agent and a former MTV star. After traveling throughout the country and performing for over 12 years, Mark realized his show was missing live percussion and he developed the BeatSeat as the solution. After the creation of BeatSeat, they discovered that it is particularly useful for providing sensory therapy to people with disabilities. His partner is his wife, Lara Ceccarelli. To learn more about BeatSeat, visit www.beatseat.rocks or email [email protected]





HAYVN Founder Felicia Rubinstein is a true trailblazer, starting her career as an engineer at GE and Apple before “Women in STEM” was a movement. After working in Corporate America for more than a decade, she asked Apple for a more flexible schedule after her son was born—and got it—pioneering one of the company’s first-ever job share programs. Eventually she left to start her own business and forge a new path:  engineering a better way to work.  She created Maven Marketing and later 341 Studios, a Marketing and Branding Agency, one of the first virtual workspaces for independent contractors and freelancers in Fairfield County, and where she held regular educational roundtable breakfasts for clients and partners. The launch of 341 Studios became an unintentional pilot program for HAYVN, a women-centered coworking space in Darien, CT, and her latest venture.  Rubinstein designed HAYVN to be just that—a “haven” for women to “connect, create and get stuff done. Felicia is a graduate of Union College and UCDavis.”  [email protected] 833-HAYVNLY or 833-429-8659


BETTY WONG, Moderator:



Stage2startups.org founder Betty Wong is a serial entrepreneur with new products expertise honed at both for-profit Fortune 500 companies and non-profit organizations.  Stage2Startups was started with two other Columbia Business School alumni – Tony Palladino and Janie Nneji- to help people with work experience become founders and to support entrepreneurs and social impact founders. To date, Stage2Startups has offered over 30 events, workshops and coffee hours in New York City in the last two years and is now expanding outside of New York due to global interest and demand. Betty writes a weekly blog about founders at grownupstartups.home.blog and is a marketer and coach through CEO Global Resources Inc.  when not working on Stage2Startups or with other startup founders.  Betty is a graduate of NYU’ Stern School of Business and received her MBA from Columbia Business School. To learn more about Stage2Startups, visit www.stage2startups.org. To learn more about CEO Global Resources, visit www.ceoglobalresources.net . Contact [email protected] or [email protected]


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