Breakout Sessions- Track 2

9:00 am- Startup Insights from Past Governor's Conference Pitch Competition Participants

What’s involved in taking an innovative idea here in Nevada, launching it as a business, and making it a sustainable success?  How do you do that?  How do you prepare to do that? 


Join us in this open forum as we meet to hear and discuss startup insights from three past participants in the Governor's Conference on Business Pitch Competition.  No company presentations…just plain talk and direct reflections from those who have taken the entrepreneurial leap – and made it. 


Denis PharesDr. Denis Phares

CEO, Dragonfly Energy


Dr. Denis Phares is the CEO of Dragonfly Energy, a Reno-based Lithium ion battery company. Dragonfly Energy began as technology company focused on developing processes for the manufacture of Lithium-ion cells with the goal of lowering the cost of energy storage. Now, in addition to establishing a strong intellectual property portfolio, the company has expanded into battery pack production and retail sales. The consumer brand, Battle Born Batteries, is now a highly recognized name for energy storage in RVs, boats, and off-grid systems. Dr. Phares has a background in academia, having been a professor of engineering for over a decade. He left a tenured position to earn an MBA and become an entrepreneur.


Jeff SalingJeff Saling

Startup Founder


Jeff Saling is a startup founder and technology company executive with more than 30 years’ experience. He is co-founder and currently serves as President of StartUpNV, a 501(c)3 non-profit startup incubator, dedicated to the economic diversification of Nevada by growing and funding scalable startups. Jeff is also co-founder and serves as CEO of Buzz.Tools, a SaaS based B2B social media marketing startup.  In 2014-15 Jeff served as founding team member and interim CEO of SmartPicture Technologies, a rapidly growing SaaS based disrupter in the DIY space with technology that makes highly accurate measurements from standard mobile phone pictures.  Prior to his recent startups, Jeff was founding executive member of at 3 SaaS and Software startups that went public, serving in worldwide leadership roles in sales, professional services, operations, and development. Jeff has been a speaker and guest lecturer at SaaS University, Stanford – and at events such as Dreamforce, Oracleworld.  Jeff is a mentor to 2 companies in the VMS program at EDAWN, and has served as a judge at Sontag, Governor’s Cup, and StartUpWeekend in Reno, Tahoe and Las Vegas.


Colin SealeColin Seale, Esq.

thinkLaw Founder


Colin Seale, Esq. is an education advocate and critical thinking expert who has merged his passion and experience for education, law, and social justice into thinkLaw, an award-winning program that helps educators teach critical thinking to all students using real-life legal cases and powerful professional development. thinkLaw has impacted thousands of educators in 14 states by making 21st century education accessible to students in all grades. As a result of the game-changing work thinkLaw is doing to create world where critical thinking is no longer a luxury good, Colin won the Shark Tank: One Day competition at TFA’s 25th Anniversary Summit in Washington, DC, has been recognized as the 2016 Nevada Governor’s Conference Pitch Competition First Place & People’s Choice Winner, the 2016 Las Vegas National Bar Association Community Service Award Winner, a recipient of the ACLU of Nevada’s Community Juvenile Justice Award and City of Las Vegas’ African American Trailblazer, Peacekeepers Educators Award.

10:00 am- On the Forefront of Urban Mobility and Smart Technology

Why is Nevada betting on the autonomous mobility industry and what does it mean for your future?  Whether it be unmanned aerial systems (i.e. drones), autonomous vehicles, or the smart technology to integrate them, the autonomous mobility industry promises to be one of the most dynamic and impactful industries over the next decade with the UAS industry alone expected to grow to more than $100 billion.  


Nevada positioned itself to be on the competitive edge of the UAS industry in 2013 when the FAA designated our state as one of only seven in the country to begin UAs testing.  As stated by Governor Sandoval, “Nevada…played a significant role in the pioneering use of drones and is well positioned…to continue the integration of this technology into our airspace, economy and daily lives.” Nevada is also a pioneering state in autonomous ground transportation as the first state to allow operation of autonomous network vehicles and adopting legislation in 2017 to make it easier to allow testing these vehicles on the road.  Being on the forefront of urban mobility allows Nevada to attract businesses in this industry, sprout high tech development, create high paying jobs, and continue to diversify and grow our economy.  


Join experts from Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS), the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), and The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) to find out where we are and where Nevada is going in this exciting industry. You may even discover opportunities for your business to catch a ride and take part in this growing, impactful industry.   

Greg BelausGreg Belaus

Lead Business Development- UAS, AT&T IoT Solutions  

As Lead Business Development Manager, Greg is building the strategic foundation of AT&T's commercial UAS business. Cornerstone to this is the forging of key relationships with technology partners, governmental agencies, early-adopters and platform providers. He champions AT&T's UAS ecosystem POV with industry organizations, including CTIA and GSMA, and was a member of the FAA's UAS Identification and Tracking ARC.

Greg joined AT&T in 2010 and most recently served as Lead Product Marketing Manager in Device Product Marketing. He played a key role in the growth of connected tablets, championing some of AT&T's biggest selling devices and supporting services. 

After graduating MIT with a B.S.E.E, Greg's career began at Adobe where he worked on PostScript products and eventually the management of large OEM accounts. He then was Senior Director of Business Development at Immersion Corporation, a leader in haptics technology. 


Brett Kanda
Brett Kanda
Director, Business Development, Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems

Brett is the Director of Business Development at the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, a non-profit organization founded and sponsored by the Nevada Governor's Office of Economic Development. NIAS advances the Nevada autonomous systems industry through business teaming, partnerships, research and development, and educational awareness and is one of seven FAA-designated UAS Test Sites. 


He attended UNLV and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Print Journalism and a minor in Entertainment Management. He was captain of the UNLV Men’s Golf Team where he was selected as a four-time Academic All-Mountain West Conference Award recipient and two-time NCAA Academic All-American. After playing professional golf for four years, he turned his focus to business and the drone industry. 

After graduating from the International Academy of Film and Television in 2014, he founded Perfect Shot Productions, an aerial media company focused on the safe and effective use of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). He was also co-founder of Verascan Inc., an aerospace services and solutions company focused on providing cost-effective industry solutions through advanced sensor technology and actionable aerial data.


Dan LangfordDan Langford

Industry Commercialization Manager, Governor's Office of Economic Development


Dan has many years of experience across multiple technology industries including information technology and communications, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, oil & gas, clean technologies and now, advanced mobility. Originally Dan was a highly qualified data and voice network design specialist. He was involved with the development of business strategies, market analysis, and evaluation of new technologies plus the management of key industry partnerships. Currently Dan focusses on diversifying the economy of the great State of Nevada through a range of innovative projects at the intersection of academia, industry and government that positively influence the development of the connected and autonomous vehicle ecosystem.


Tina QuigleyTina Quigley

General Manager, Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada


As general manager of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, Tina Quigley knows what it means to think big. In a city of 2.1 million residents and 42 million annual visitors, Quigley is at the forefront of visionary thinking and planning for the future. She recognizes that an enhanced multi-modal and technologically advanced transportation infrastructure will help ensure that Southern Nevada can continue to attract tourists, residents and new business. She has embraced and pushed for sweeping technological advances; she has advocated for future planning; and she has built critical partnerships to well position the region for ongoing and sustained economic vibrancy. With more than 25 years of experience in air and ground transportation management and a licensed pilot herself, Quigley leads the only agency nationwide that is solely responsible for a region’s public transit system, traffic management, roadway design, construction funding and transportation planning.


 Chris WalachChris Walach- Panel Moderator

 Executive/Senior Director, Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems


Dr. Chris Walach retired from the U.S. Army in 2008 as a senior Lieutenant Colonel, Battalion Commander, and Master Aviator of an Apache Longbow Helicopter unit with two tours of duty in combat.  He is a decorated combat aviator with more than 600 combat flight hours.  He holds a Master of Science and Doctor of Management (DM) from the University of Maryland, University College.  He has been interviewed and appeared on national and international news networks as an expert military analyst and has been quoted, interviewed, and appeared on numerous state, national, and global news outlets as an unmanned aviation expert.  His combat unit he commanded during the Iraq War was highlighted in the Google E-Book, Tip of the Spear (Hellfire and Brimstone) and in a 2013 DreamWorks movie.  He is an inventor, published military writer, business management scholar presenting evidence-based research at two international academic conferences, is a published co-author of research in the International Journal of Unmanned Systems Engineering (IJUSEng), and he is a former small business owner.  Dr. Walach served on several unmanned aviation panels over the past three years, most recently he was a panel speaker on the 2018 Uber Elevate Summit Smart City Panel in Los Angeles, CA with other global Smart City experts.  Dr. Walach is an Adjunct Professor of Aeronautics with the Graduate Program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and currently serves as the Executive/Senior Director of Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS), NIAS Unmanned Aviation Safety Center of Excellence, the NUANCE Center at the Reno-Stead Airport, and the FAA-designated Nevada UAS Test Site.