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Innovate State, with Kelly Ford, Tamara Steffens, & Chris Thomas

October 7, 2020
6:00 pm
-7:15 pm

Innovate State is a collaboration between the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation and the MSU Innovation Center.

Hosted in the Gaynor Entrepreneurship Lab, Innovate State welcomes successful Spartan alumni back to campus for a fireside chat. Guests share their perspectives on everything from launching start-ups to experiencing success and failure to building dynamic and nurturing work cultures.

Innovate State with Kelly Ford Tamara Steffens and Chris Thomas


About The Speakers

Kelly Ford is a tech industry executive turned growth equity investor. She specializes in the acceleration of enterprise value for software companies, from startup launch to $100M valuation. She invests in growth-stage fintech companies and, as the pioneer of the firm’s Edison Edge operating platform, advises portfolio companies on go-to-market strategy and operations.

Prior to joining Edison, Kelly spent 20 years in high-growth emerging and established B2B and B2B2C tech companies. She serves on the board of directors for Billtrust, observIQ, ExecVision, Kinetiq and Suuchi. She has been featured in Buyouts, Forbes, Crunchbase, Venture Capital Journal, and on Nasdaq TradeTalks and Cheddar, and is a frequent speaker at national investor, tech industry, B2B sales and marketing events.


Tamara Steffens leads investing and VC partnerships for M12, a Microsoft venture investment arm, in North America and India. She is the executive sponsor of the fund’s Female Founders Competition.

Tamara is an experienced operator and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in Silicon Valley at both startups and large tech companies. Her last startup, Acompli, a mobile productivity app, Tamara led sales and business development. Microsoft acquired Acompli (now Outlook mobile) in 2014, after which Tamara went on to lead business development for the broader Office 365 organization. Prior to Acompli, Tamara successfully helped lead several startups to either IPO or acquisition, including, Boingo, Fusion One, and Path.

As a serial entrepreneur, Tamara understands fundraising from the perspective of the entrepreneur and is a valuable GTM advisor. She has a bachelor’s of science in finance from Michigan State University, where she currently sits on the Marketing Leadership Advisory Board.


Chris is a co-founder and partner at Assembly Ventures, Detroit and Berlin. Prior to this he co-founded the Detroit Mobility Lab and the Michigan Mobility Institute and acted as a senior advisor to mobility startups around the globe. Previously Chris co-founded Fontinalis Partners and, for over a decade, worked to build it into one of the premier investment firms in next-generation mobility. He is also a co-owner of Buddy’s Pizza, the birthplace of original Detroit-style pizza, and an avid angel investor. Chris earned his master’s degree in business administration from Yale. While at Yale he served on the Honor Committee and graduated with distinction in former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s seminar on Faith and Globalization. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in both economics and international relations from Michigan State University.


About Innovate State

Every year, Innovate State invites Spartan entrepreneurs, innovators, and disruptors to join our community for a fireside chat. In these 60-minute interviews, guests share their perspectives on everything from business to family life; the hard knocks of the hustle to maintaining work/life balance. These are stories of success, stories of failure, and stories of uncommon will.

Innovate State is proudly brought to you by the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation in collaboration with the MSU Alumni Office, MSU Foundation, & MSU Innovation Center. Innovate State kicks-off at 6 p.m. (ET) and are free to the community. Events will be held via Zoom. Early registration is highly encouraged.


Please join us, virtually, for Innovate State, with Kelly Ford, Tamara Steffens & Chris Thomas, on Wed., Oct. 7th at 6 p.m. (Eastern Daylight Time).


October 7, 2020
6:00 pm-7:15 pm
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