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Bates Center for Entrepreneurship and Leadership

Winterim Faculty

Sam Thompson - is an investor and advisor to innovative technology companies. He is a partner at Progress Ventures, an early-stage venture fund that invests in media and marketing technology companies, and a Senior Managing Director at Progress Partners, a boutique investment bank providing guidance to growth stage companies in Media, Marketing, and Enterprise software and technology. 

Previously, Sam has been an entrepreneurial manager with a twelve-year history in media sales, business development and leadership.

Prior to joining Progress Partners, Sam held positions in management of design at Pod Consulting and Procter & Gamble, finance and sales at the Phoenix Media/Communications Group, and client relations at IGN Entertainment, Inc., and Sam began his career in commercial photography after graduating with a BA from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR, and more recently earned his MBA from the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College, Magna Cum Laude.

Sam regularly coaches leadership to undergraduate students and guest lectures in classes at the F.W. Olin School at Babson College. He also serves on judge’s panels for venture and business plan competitions at Babson and MIT. When not involved with business matters, Sam enjoys road and mountain biking, tennis, nordic and alpine skiing, stand-up-paddle and surf boarding, as well as photography. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with his wife and two children.

Rob Wiltbank - is Assistant Professor of Strategic Management for the Atkinson Graduate School of Management at Willamette University. He is the author of numerous books, and a partner in two venture capital funds.  His academic research focuses on strategy development under uncertainty, particularly as it relates to new venture development. His study of angel investing practices and performance is the first empirical examination of the outcomes achieved by angel investors in the U.S.  At Willamette University he teaches courses on New Venture Creation, Strategic Management, and Industry Analysis.

Rob holds a Ph.D. in Strategic Management from the University of Washington, and a degree in Finance and Accounting from Oregon State University.  He is the 2013 Hans Severien Award Winner.  Rob’s recent CV can be found here.

Wade Brooks - is a serial entrepreneur and educator. He is currently the Executive Director of the Willamette University Angel Investment Fund and Contributing Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Atkinson Graduate School of Management at Willamette University.

In addition to running the angel fund he currently teaches entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial finance, new venture launch and venture investing. In the past he has taught corporate finance and integrated management.

Wade is a mentor in Nike TechStars, Portland Incubator Experiment, The Portland Seed Fund, SURF Incubator (Seattle) and serves as an adviser and board member for a number of startups. He is an active speaker and panelist at startup and early stage investment events.

He began his career during his undergraduate studies when he launched his first startup. For less than $1,000 he built a business that became the first Apple Computer value added reseller in the U.S.

After selling that company he held numerous top management positions in technology and finance companies. In 1999 he was recruited to be the CEO of a startup ecommerce company where he led two successful financing rounds and the sale of the business in 2001. In 2005 at the age of 37 he retired to backpack around the world.

Wade has a B.S. and M.B.A. with honors from Willamette University and Executive Education and Management Training from Harvard Business School.

Thomas Thurston - 

In the Present

  • Chief Technology Officer and Fund Manager at Ironstone Group, a venture capital firm that uses data science to fund and grow disruptive businesses. Ironstone is based in San Francisco with CEO William R. Hambrecht.
  • CEO of Growth Science, a data science firm that predicts business behavior using algorithms and technology.
  • Partner and Chief Investment Officer at Rottura Capital, a hedge fund.
  • Board Member and former Executive Director of the Revenue Capital Association.

In the Past

Formerly, Thomas used data science to guide growth investments and innovation at Intel. He also helped found a high performance computing business that was later acquired. As a result of his work in data science Thomas was invited to the Harvard Business School by ProfessorClayton Christensen to collaborate as a resident Fellow. Thomas and his early research were the subject of book The Innovator’s Manifesto: Deliberate Disruption for Transformational Growth by bestselling author Michael Raynor.

Growing up in Honduras, Bolivia, India, Nepal and Indonesia, Thomas believes good business is the key to social well-being. This has translated into a lifelong passion to make innovative growth more accessible through data science.

Thomas is a member of the Harvard Business School Forum for Growth and Innovation. In addition to his fellowship at Harvard, he holds a BA, MBA and Juris Doctor. While no longer practicing law, he’s a licensed Attorney and previously practiced corporate law. He also sits on the Board of Advisors for the Washington State University College of Business.


Brian Detweiler-Bedell - is the Academic Director of L&C’s Center for Entrepreneurship, and Associate Professor and Chair of Psychology. He has earned national recognition for his research on collaborative approaches to undergraduate education, and his work has been supported by the National Science Foundation and Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles in the areas of health persuasion, attitude change, emotion, and emotional intelligence.

Brian completed a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Psychology at Stanford and then earned his doctorate in Social Psychology at Yale.

Michael Kaplan - serves as Managing Director of L&C’s Center for Entrepreneurship. He holds degrees in economics and law, and has over 20 years of broad business experience working with private, publicly traded, government regulated, start-ups, higher education institutions, and Fortune 500 companies — in industries ranging from Energy to Healthcare.

In 2007 Michael co-founded GK Ventures, and serves as Managing Principal. GK Ventures makes equity investments in, and provides advisory services to, early stage and small companies.  He is currently the 2013-14 President of the Revenue Capital Association, and recently served as Committee Chair, Portland Angel Network Deal Screening & Investments, and as a member of the PAN Executive Committee.  Michael is a mentor to young entrepreneurs and business founders, and has been an active participant of the entrepreneurship network in the Pacific NW.

Previously, Michael served as the first Director of Business Conduct — Legal Compliance & Business Ethics at PacifiCorp (NYSE: PPW, $6B Annual Revenues); Founding entrepreneur-team member, PHI Synfuels (an alternative coal company) ; acting President of the start-up Fluid Analytics, LLC; and as Interim Director of the non-profit Socrates Social Ventures Fund at the Aspen Institute.


Bates Center for Entrepreneurship and Leadership

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