Startup Port’s strength is in the assembled knowledge and experiential skill sets from a wide range of subject matter professional  experts, our Partners and Operating Advisors.

Entrepreneurs who work with us have the benefit of learning and implementing strategies in a wide variety of business disciplines including:

  • Legal
  • Technology
  • Financial
  • C Level Management
  • Operations
  • Product Development
  • Product+Market Fit
  • Branding
  • Product Sales
  • Investing
  • Data and Analytics
  • Marketing
  • Launch
  • Strategy and Tactics

Many of our subject matter experts have founded, built and sold businesses of their own. Some are retired, and others are still prospering in their respective fields.

No matter how prepared you are, every startup has gaps. Our team helps entrepreneurs by filling their gaps and helping them create strong, successful, well-rounded startups capable of taking a commanding position within their marketplace.

Empowering business owners for success. “A Hybrid solution of a Co-foundry+Incubator+Accelerator”, all under one roof, for startups and growth businesses.

We help eliminate “reinventing the wheel”, by leveraging all the key-essential knowledge accumulated over decades by our team to connect all this “experiential knowledge” with the best existing “proven” methodologies to build a self-sufficient business from “nothing to success” in a short period of time”.


Here is a summary list of our partners:

(Due to privacy and confidentiality matters, it is strictly forbidden to distribute this list to any third parties without our written authorization)

Note: Please do not reach out to our advisors and partners directly, allow us to make an introduction in order to be part of our collaborative network alliance. Thank you.


Hulusi “Hal” Tezcan, Founder and Managing Director Startup Port, Mentor, Strategic Advisor, Investor

Hal is a business and technology facilitator, a startup Sherpa, mentor, and team leader with 34 years of “from the trenches” expertise, working directly with early-stage entrepreneurs and established companies, commercializing ideas and concepts. Hal has had a great career in the telecom industry for over a decade. He created his first startup in 1987, has raised capital since the early 90’s, and built a telecom startup in 1993 before exiting in 2001. With his vast and proven professional network as well as his multitude of resources, Hal validates and advances business models at each stage of development, assisting in the progression of new ventures through the achievement of financial clarity and enabling founders/ stakeholders to scale their ideas in a profitable fashion. He is the founder and managing director of Startup Port a co-foundry accelerator with offices in Chicago, Istanbul, London and Dubai. He has provided advisorship to many hundreds of startups and growth companies in the US and abroad.


Mike Nugent, Strategic Advisor, Mentor

Sr. Executive with a Sales/Marketing/Technology/Operations background who improves company performance through effective P&L management, improving product portfolios, and exceptional organizational execution. True P/L experience with 7 years of working in a start-up from its inception, he create solutions when fast results are critical. Incredible deep dive knowledge of the CPG industry. Senior CEO/COO with a Sales/Marketing/Technology and Execution Power. Mike brings more than three decades of C Level Sales and Marketing background with a Technology twist who improves performance in small and mid-size companies through effective P&L management, improving product portfolios, and exceptional organizational execution. He has immense contacts in the CPG ecosystem and direct access to the decision makers in the industry.


Travis O. Johnson, Founder, Entrepreneur, Mentor, Advisor, Investor

Travis is an experienced, Investor, Chief Executive Officer, CO-CEO, and COO with a demonstrated history of working in consumer/business services and consumer packaged goods. Skilled in Business Planning, Contract Negotiations, Sales, International Business, Fund Raising, Public Speaking, Presenting on camera, market research, product development, and operational experience bringing new factories online locally and overseas. Travis successfully exited FoodJunky which he founded in Chicago. Beyond corporate life Travis is a nationally ranked and known Triathlete competing in Ironman distance races. Travis is active in giving back to the community and enjoys mentoring the next crop of entrepreneurs. Further he sits on the board of Art of Freedom which serves to bring awareness and help stop global human trafficking.


Terri Friel, CEO of Venture Connect, Mentor, Advisor, Connector

Venture Connects is a startup and investor community designed to provide impactful resources to businesses seeking outside funding, as well as for accredited investors seeking qualified and vetted deal flow through our their program and online platform. Terri has managed many organizations from industry to academic, taught undergraduates to CEOs in Exec MBA programs around the world in operations management, analysis and strategy providing a sound underpinning for examining and understanding corporate issues from the board level. Was intimately involved with Procter and Gamble Dentifrice production line, Tastemakers Sweet, Savory, Chemical and Organic flavor production, PepsiCo High speed canline installation and start-up, and Associate Dean of Butler University: managed staff, $22 M grant budget, development of an Accelerator program to name few of her accomplishments.


Altan Atabarut, MSc, MBA. CEO of AltData Analytics, Co-Founder Alteryx and MetaData

​The perfect intersection of Industrial Engineering from METU and a BSc. in Mechanical Engineering from YTU with risk management (GARANTI), analytics driven consulting (MAVEN PARTNERS), and Enterprise software & solution sales business development experiences (EXPERIAN). He has founded an analytics business in 2015 and partnered with ALTERYX for self-serivce analytics and GIS solutions. Currently working with diverse scale companies from early-stage tech startups to corporations on “advanced analytics”, “data driven digital transformation”, “Innovation Strategy”, “Lean Startup Building” practices.
His expertise lies in decision sciences (BI, ADVANCED ANALYTICS, DECISION ENGINES) and top management consultancy (STRATEGY, INNOVATION) with capability building approaches for various industries internationally. Altan is a true expert in Quantitative analysis, modeling, optimization & simulation background. Proficiency in linear/non-linear solvers, Lindo/Lingo, simulation software, SAS, SPSS, Alteryx, MS Office applications with VBA, SQL Server, Oracle Developer with PL/SQL, SQL, NoSQL with Hive and Bloomberg.


Omur Filiz, CEO and Founder of Technolera, Venture Capital and Startup Co-foundry

With over two decades experienced in: Investment Banking, Deal Origination, Negotiation, Deal Structuring, Due Diligence, Monitoring, Business Planning and Advisory, Experienced in growing businesses, Fund-raising (equity & debt), Business Restructuring, IFRS Financials, Business Models and Financial Modeling, Valuation, M & A Transactions. Ömür is an economist and a venture builder with a special focus on next generation technologies, a thought leader on digital trends transforming fintech, agritech, edtech, food tech, smart cities and health tech. After spending +20 years in the field of corporate finance, asset management and business development in the private equity and venture capital industry, he cofounded, Technolera, an Istanbul & London based venture building platform in 2015. Technolera have provided advisory and execution services on behalf of leading clients in the corporate and startup world, all looking to innovate and launch new products quickly and at scale.
The platform invested and built 40 technology startups (in Istanbul, London, Dubai and California) focused on core technologies such as big data analytics, robo-advisory, IoT and blockchain.


Tony Lenhart, Founding Partner Sales Empowerment Group. Mentor, Advisor, Sales Guru!

Tony knows the art and science of sales – through thousands closed deals! Sales Empowerment Group, helps companies build sales teams and accelerate revenue. Over the last nine years, they have helped over 500 companies and have worked with dozens of privately-held and/or vc/pe-backed companies with over 500 sales professionals. They have also trained well over 2,000 more on the art of sales through speaking engagements and pro-bono work at tech-incubators around Chicagoland.


Ray Brown, Retired Sales and Marketing C Level Executive (w. Sears, K-Mart, Black Box, MetaVision)

Senior Sales and Marketing professional with +20 years of experience, including Sales, Marketing, and Business Development leadership of small and large organizations. Experienced in Fortune 50 Companies and VC and PE funded startups, product development, sales development, integrated digital marketing, IT and network solutions, social media, CRM, strategy, and servant leadership. Previously served in key C Level leadership roles at Sears Holdings and K-Mart most recently as the Vice President of Sears Retail Marketing and Vice President Consumer Electronics Division managing $3.0B business and leading a team of +100 associates. A truly experienced sales guru in managing accounts and selling into all the big box retailers in the Nation.


Morrie Elstien was VP of Business Development at Cendrowski Corporate Advisors (CCA)

He is a thought leader in operational integrity, including risk assessment, due diligence, business valuation, litigation support, and tax compliance. Now in its 30th year of serving diverse clients, CCA has amassed a senior team with unparalleled qualifications. Morrie is a connector and connected. Especially with strong contacts with the ultra-affluent. We have been overwhelmed by his network and his “pay-it-forward” approach. We encourage both you to connect and know you will find opportunities to help each other. Morrie helps Companies and their leaders grow through the use of key introductions to Presidents and Owners.


Aydin Akgun, FINRA and SEC registered financial advisor and financial broker

Highly regarded futures broker working with international banks and brokerage firms for over 25 years. Widely credited with introducing futures markets to the Turkish financial arena. Through his professionalism and dedication, he has cultivated and maintained unparalleled relationships with Turkey’s top banks. Extensive knowledge of the workings within the futures industry. Has worked with to top US financial institutions such as Dearborn Capital Management, Jefferies, MF Global, Refco and Drexel-Burnham-Lambert to name few.


John B Weber, Vice President at Water Street Advisors, LLC, Mentor, Strategic Advisor

John brings over 30 years of transaction experience in helping companies obtain debt and acquisition financing. Previously, as a commercial banker for several large regional and multi-national banks, John actively assisted clients on both sides of acquisition transactions with a passion for creating transactions that meet the goals of all parties involved. John has experience in a wide array of industries, including manufacturing, wholesale, retail, franchising, distribution, logistics, transportation, healthcare, service, not for profit, and international. Most recently, John was the Executive Director for a public/private partnership that assisted minority owned businesses in obtaining capital for growth. John is and has been active in several finance industry associations, and most recently was an At Large Director for the Chicago Chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth.


Tony Nasharr, Shareholder, Partner at Polsinelli law-Chicago office. Business & Banking Law

Tony has been a trusted business advisor for 30 years. As a Capital Markets, Banking and Financial Institutions attorney, he has represented several bank clients in a broad scope of commercial transactions and operations issues. Having grown up in a family business, Tony provides outside General Counsel on a variety of business needs of closely held ventures engaged in manufacturing, commercial real estate investments, as well as emerging growth companies. He has represented both domestic clients in pursuing growth opportunities overseas and foreign-based clients seeking opportunities in the United States. As one of the key contact partners for Polsinelli’s association with Multilaw, a multinational association of 80 full service law firms around the world, Tony has developed relationships with lawyers in Europe, Asia-Pacific, North America, and South America. These relationships assist firm clients in their pursuit of business opportunities and objectives in a globalized economy.


Bill Kenny, CEO, MEET international, Trade show and Fair expert

Bill is a trade show and in-person event ROI specialist. He is the founder of My Expo and Event Team, a company that helps B2B growth companies effectively leverage trade shows and in-person events by teaching clients how to ramp-up sales quickly and maintain a steady stream of high-quality prospects going forward. His techniques dramatically improves lead generation results for event sponsors, exhibitors, and speakers. Many of our Turkish visitors may have seen him perform as the presenter, MC and speaker at the Startup Turkey and Startup Istanbul events. He is a true Trade Show guru.


Atakan Arica, Former VP Beko USA, strategic business development and supply chain expert

Atakan is the VP of Operations (USA) of Beko, an Arcelik company in Chicago. Besides his critically important strategic position with Beko, Atakan has literally done it all! From forming a startup business, creating a brand, nurturing businesses, improving sales, successfully exiting his own business, teaching and advising to Fortune 100 and 500 executives, regional operations manager to one of the largest Midwest independent fuel products retailer and convenience store chain, and successfully managing his own advisory and consulting firm providing services in consumer goods products in Europe and the MENA region. He is extremely well rehearsed in risk mitigation, supply chain management and sales improvement.


George Vukotich, PhD, Founder and Managing Director FinTANK

Founder and managing director of FinTANK, the only FinTech Accelerator in Chicago. Previous Program Director of 1871, the largest incubator in the Midwest, G-to executive strategist, educator, and author helping senior level business leaders grow their organizations through leveraging human resources and technology. As a strategic partner to key decision makers, I contribute a unique multi-dimensional perspective and insights gained from extensive experience as a leader in the corporate and startup world, along with academia, and in the military. He has also worked for big business such as IBM and Accenture. In addition, he has been a dean of a college of business.


Rodney Mikesel, Mentor, Strategic Advisor, Angel Investor

A true business guru, investor and go to product sales rain maker with over 30 years’ experience. He began his wireless industry days by selling IMTS mobile phones in late 70’s and grew that into a global career as an owner of, and consultant to, various telecom companies in the United States, including Tellular, Comsat Plexsys Wireless Systems, Motorola, Somera Commutations and Celultel. Building and constructing cellular systems worldwide. With more than 35 years of construction management, negotiation and executive operations experience and having successfully sold and distributed products and services, in approximately 90 countries he is an expert in navigating bureaucratic road blocks and red tape.


Göksemin Gökalp Özdemir, Strategic Brand Consultant, Mentor at Google, MBA Instructor

After concluding her Business Management and MBA studies, Göksemin Gökalp Özdemir has managed various international and local brands such as Calvin Klein, Swatch, G-Star Raw, Vakko and many others throughout her career. She has played a major role in the growth phase of more than 200+ startups and entrepreneurs. Besides giving consultancy on business management, branding and digital marketing, she is also mentoring entrepreneurs in well-known startup programs such as Google Launchpad, Isbank Workup, Seedstars, BBVA Momentum and Grants4Apps. Additionally, she is giving lectures at Turkey’s top universities, and private companies on branding, business management and digital marketing.


Gizem Aydin, Ph.D. Business Intelligence, Analytics, Optimization, S&OP. Analytics Team Leader, Scrum Master at Caterpillar, Inc., MIT

With a background in Industrial Engineering and Computer Engineering, experience I gathered while working on my PhD and at Caterpillar renew my passion. Most of my current work is on process optimization and programming (coding, databases, SQLs all the fun stuff). Latest application areas are supply chain planning, advanced manufacturing and parts pricing (large data / ETL cleaning and processing for revenue management). Her most recent toolbox includes PC SAS/ SAS EG, Python, Cooper/Pyomo, Gurobi, and Tableau. Optimization (Gurobi, Coopr/Pyomo,Lindo, Lingo), Programming (Python, C++, VB, VBA),Large(r) Data and Stats Analysis (PC SAS), Reporting (Tableau), Database (MySQL, Access), Statistical analysis (Minitab, R), Simulation (Arena), Freight transportation analysis, modeling, and programming (TransCAD, ArcGIS). Her passion is business optimization — creating order out of chaos; be it to minimize the cost, maximize the profit or find the optimal solutions or creating balance for the he team.


Steven Gaither, SVP of CA Branding, Founder of JB Chicago, expert in brand creation and management 

Steve is the founder of JB Chicago an ad and brand agency. After joining forces of the JB team with the CA Branding platform, the firm provides  He likes to kick things off in the “big ideas” side of the house, where he build the strategic framework your brand needs to be grounded in something ownable and positioned for success. Then the “smart tactics” side of the agency takes it from there. Their talented team is second to none in crafting thoughtful, impactful tactics that get your brand noticed and your story told. His expertise is in Brand Strategy, Creative Branding and Strategic Marketing Plans.


Sinan Kermen, CFA. a senior investment professional with over 15 years of experience investing in public and private markets.

He most recently consulted for TLP Services, a single family office, in their venture capital and private equity investments. His projects included market research, competitive strategy, deal sourcing & screening, due diligence and assisting portfolio companies in financial planning and fundraising processes. Prior to that, Sinan was a Portfolio Manager at DRW Trading, where he managed a portfolio of corporate securities in a variety of industries with long and short positions across the capital structure. Before then, he was a Senior Analyst at Neuberger Berman’s Leveraged Asset Management platform, responsible for security selection, trade recommendation and coverage of telecom, media and technology sectors based on fundamental credit research. Sinan started his career at Goldman Sachs International’s Investment Banking Division in London, providing sell-side and buy-side strategic advisory to clients in the financial services sector. He then joined Citadel Investment Group, a Chicago based hedge fund, where he, in addition to conducting research and trading, led Credit Business Unit Control team to take over security pricing, portfolio maintenance and P&L reporting functions from the trading desk. Sinan earned a Bachelor of Science in Economics degree from the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton School) and an MBA from the University of Chicago with concentrations in Analytic Finance, Economics and Entrepreneurship. Sinan is also a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charterholder.



There are many more partners and advisors that support Startup Port. For privacy and confidentiality reasons not all are listed on this site.