Founders and Funders

May 7, 2024 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm America/New York Timezone
Lasell University and Online via Zoom

Entrepreneurs’ Network

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The startup world can only exist with founders and funders (customers help, too). For entrepreneurs with big ideas, it can be difficult to ask for money. Where do you go to ask, how do you approach someone, and what may be most effective?  In this program, you’ll hear from pros on both sides of the table.

A large segment of the population struggles to secure the funds to be successful: people of color and women. Panelists will talk about the obstacles and how to get around them.

You’ll learn to:

  • Gain self-confidence to ask for funding.
  • Identify potential sources to help launch your business.
  • Determine what agreements may be best for the founder and funder.
  • Hear from a founder who is actively seeking investors.

Event Schedule

7:00 pm Introduction, ENET Chairperson’s announcements

7:10 pm eMinute Pitch, up to 3 Startup pitches

7:25 pm Expert Panel, expert speakers on the night’s topic

8:15 pm Q & A Moderator and Audience Q & A with the speakers

8:30 pm Networking, panelists will be available afterward for responses to individual questions.


Dr. Cassandravictoria (Cvic)  Innocent

Cvic is the General Partner of Frankenbuild Ventures — or F(v) — a MA-based VC firm investing in companies building hardtech to function in extreme environments. Her professional background blends experiences of being an investment director with her experiences in instrument development of deeptech. As such, she is very well-networked in the prototype-development communities, and the startup ecosystem in Boston and beyond. Having previously worked for NASA (2007-2009), in 2023 she was invited to give a six-seminar series of videos explaining and promoting NASA’s SBIR efforts with engineering founders and in 2024 she was listed as a Woman to Watch in VC by Amplify.

Collette PhillipsCEO and President/Chief Strategist/Visionary Colette Phillips Communications, Inc.

Colette Phillips is an extraordinary leader, an iconic cultural change catalyst, DE&I pioneer, thought leader, innovator, practical visionary, influencer, PR and marketing Maven, social commentator, philanthropist, serial social entrepreneur and uber connector.  A passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion, and a driving force behind positive social change here. As the CEO of Colette Phillips Communications and the Founder of the award-winning cross-cultural Get Konnected! business networking organization.  She has dedicated her life and career to empowering individuals, bridging communities, and fostering a more inclusive society and has played a pivotal role in reshaping the landscape of Boston’s business and social scenes.  With her dynamic leadership at the helm of her agency, a strategic communications and public relations firm, she has spearheaded groundbreaking initiatives that have elevated the voices of underrepresented communities.  She is the Founder and President of The GK Fund (A Non-Profit Social Impact Fund) that provides capital, technical and legal supportmentorship, and access to opportunities to help small BIPOC and immigrant owned businesses scale.  In 2021 her company served as the lead agency for the groundbreaking multiple award-winning All Inclusive Boston Campaign in partnership with Proverb Agency and the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau to reimagine and re-energize Boston’s tourism and image.  For more than three decades, Colette has been a powerful voice and effective agent of change in one of America’s oldest and most tribal cities. An immigrant Black woman from the Caribbean Island of Antigua, Boston Business Journal named her on its annual Power 50 list five times, calling her a Game-changer and a Movement Maker; Boston Magazine dubbed her “Boston’s Great Connector,” and listed multiple times on its annual Most Influential Bostonians list and she has been cited by Boston Globe for “Changing the Conversation about Diversity in Boston.”   As a testament to her exceptional contributions, in 2023 she was the subject of a Harvard Business School case study for creating a DE&I ecosystem with her initiatives including the GK Fund; the groundbreaking GK! Market a digital e-commerce platform and marketplace for BIPOC and women-owned small businesses to sell their good and service as well as help corporations and nonprofit organizations create an inclusive procurement approach to their supplier diversity program; the GK! Execu-Search to connect corporate and nonprofit organizations to the Get Konnected network of robust culturally diverse talent pool for mid- level, c-suite and board positions; and the GK! Job Hub helping diverse talents find jobs with some of the best companies in Boston and beyond.

She is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades for her personal, philanthropic, and professional accomplishments including a Pinnacle Award from the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce; Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus’ Abigail Adams Award; The American Jewish Committee (AJC) Coexistence Award the  Boston Municipal Bureau’s Shattuck City Champion Award and Boston Business Journal’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Diversity and the Boston Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award.  Her newly released book The Includers: The 7 Traits of Culturally Savvy Anti-racist Leaders has been receiving rave reviews from media and business leaders for its strategic, practical actionable insights.  She holds a BS and MS from Emerson College and an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Mount Ida College.

Colette currently serves on the Advisory board of Eastern Bank; the Board of Directors for the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce; the American Jewish Committee; The Women’s Edge and is an honorary trustee for Massachusetts General Hospital.

Ahmed Fazly – Co-founder / CEO of Modicure Therapeutics

Ahmed Fazly earned his doctoral degree in Biomedical Sciences from the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, MN. He began his postdoctoral journey at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, where his research produced promising antifungal drug candidates. After teaching high school chemistry and biology at a Boston charter school, he returned to research as a postdoctoral associate in Biological Engineering at MIT, specializing in RNA modifications. His work at MIT secured STTR funding from the NIH and the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program of the Department of Defense.

Transitioning into finance, Ahmed became a wall street sell-side analyst specializing in the rare disease therapeutics sector. His entrepreneurial drive was fostered through the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania’s VIP program. After contributing to commercial strategy at a biotech company in Cambridge and completing his MBA, he once again embraced entrepreneurship as the co-founder of a startup dedicated to pioneering gene editing therapies for severe genetic diseases lacking effective treatments.

Moderator – Howard Sholkin, VP ENET

Howard Sholkin has several decades of marketing communication experience across industry sectors. Since 2018, he has served as President of Newton Community Pride, a non-profit supporting a few dozen events in the city where he is a lifelong resident. In 2014, he formed Sholkin Consulting to deliver digital marketing services to technology and financial services companies. He also served on the adjunct faculty of Boston University and Lasell College for five years.

In 2003, he was hired as director of corporate communications at International Data Group (IDG) where he served Founder Pat McGovern. Sholkin later became director of communication and marketing programs for the CEO of IDG Communications, a global technology media and events subsidiary. IDG brands include Computerworld, PCWorld, Macworld, and CIO. Sholkin has held senior marketing and communication positions at technology product and services companies such as Computervision; Technology Concepts, a subsidiary of Bell Atlantic; Corporate Software; and, Digital Equipment Corp./Compaq. He was a columnist for PR News and for Personal Branding magazine, one of the first publications on social media.

Since 1990, Sholkin has been active in the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) where he once served as president of the Boston chapter. Currently, he is co-chair of the national PRSA Investment Committee. He serves on the boards of three non-profits: Newton Community Pride, Boston Entrepreneurs Network (ENET) and Temple Shalom of Newton.