Faculty Recruiting Support CICS

Ventures @ CICS

Translating new computer & information science
knowledge into new ventures

Ventures @ CICS provides information, advice, and support to anyone in the College of Information and Computer Sciences (CICS) community interested in exploring the commercial value of new technologies emerging from our research labs and class projects. The program is aimed at early stage concept development -- helping scientists and engineers move ideas from proof-of-concept towards marketable products with societal benefit.

At the heart of the Ventures @ CICS initiative is our Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) Program. EIRs are volunteers from the private sector -- each one brings expertise in multiple areas of computer & information science, a track record of business-development success, a passion for commercialization, and a commitment to UMass Amherst and CICS.

Request an appointment today!

Entrepreneurs in Residence

Esha Sahai
Founding General Partner at Flamenco Ventures.

Areas of focus: Investments, Venture Capital, Cryptocurrency/Blockchain, AI/ML, Enterprise, Consumer


Request Appointment

Esha Sahai Esha is a venture capitalist, entrepreneur, and educator. She is Founding General Partner at Flamenco Ventures. Esha is a board advisor at Blockchain Founders Fund, an early stage cryptocurrency/blockchain, fintech, and emerging technologies fund. As the Founder of Girls Who Venture, she is working towards gender equality in entrepreneurship and venture capital, particularly in developing and underdeveloped economies. She is an Entrepreneur In Residence at Xcelerator UC Berkeley. In addition she is an advisor at Loyal VC, Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Climate Seeds Fund, Tropics Group Fund, Skydeck Berkeley, Indigram Labs, Maroon Venture Partners Fund, and a mentor at Alchemist Accelerator. She was the founder of Rio, a startup that developed digital business cards, which was a finalist at Alchemist Accelerator in 2019. As a serial entrepreneur, Esha co-founded and worked at startups funded by a16z, DARPA, Foundry Group, and Kayak founders.

Esha is Mogul’s Top 100 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leaders Who Made a Difference In 2021. She received the University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Information and Computer Sciences 2018 Outstanding Achievement and Advocacy Award for outstanding contributions to society for sustained service in support of women in computing, with a focus on advocating for and expanding the role of girls in STEM and Technology Entrepreneurship.

Previously she was an investor at Alumni Ventures, Vitalize Angels, Zane Venture Fund, Manush Labs, Varidus, LearnLaunch Accelerator, a member of Microsoft’s Corporate Strategy and Development team for the Cloud & Enterprise and AI divisions, and an investor at M12 (previously Microsoft Ventures). Before joining Microsoft, Esha was a Legatum Fellow at MIT, where she worked on multiple for-profit and non-profit ventures. Her mobile startup Curious Learning was a semi-finalist in MassChallenge & MIT’s 100K. Past stints include Cuseum (a Techstars startup), edX, Oracle Corp, and Fidelity Investments. Esha has served on the boards of Tesseract Inc. (acquired by Reliance Industries), Vyral, Lori Health, GoSayHelloApp, Reveel, Ant Bicycle, Girls Inc., Circle of Women, GetMAGIC Corp, and SoWCoders.

She was a Bay State Fellow at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in computer science. Esha has a graduate degree in management and engineering from MIT Sloan School of Management and MIT Engineering, where she was a Legatum Fellow.

LinkedIn profile

Amy Pocsik
Co-Founder and CEO, Women's Business League and Rise Recruiting


Request Appointment

Amy Pocsik is a multi-passionate entrepreneur who is the Co-Founder and CEO of Women's Business League and Rise Recruiting.

Prior to starting her entrepreneurial journey, Amy spent a decade working as a CPA where she gained incredible insight into what it takes to grow a successful organization. Amy believes wholeheartedly that every business is an opportunity to have a positive impact in the world. Her passion is helping founders to see what’s possible – a highly profitable business that aligns with their purpose. Work that feeds their soul and their bank account. She believes that a well-built business is the foundation for entrepreneurial creativity and growth.

Amy holds a BBA in Accounting from the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Masters in Accountancy from Bentley University.

Women's Business League on LinkedIn

Gavin Andresen
Former Chief Scientist, BitCoin Foundation

Areas of focus: cryptocurrency; blockchain; 3D graphics; societal impacts of computing


Request Appointment

Gavin Andresen is an entrepreneur and software developer. He was the lead developer for the Bitcoin project from 2011 through 2015, and was the Chief Scientist at the Bitcoin Foundation until 2017.

Before his interest in cryptocurrency, Gavin was part of a wide variety of software-related ventures, including a company that made multiplayer online games for blind people and their sighted friends, an early VOIP (voice over internet) company, and Andrew McCallum's research group. Gavin began his career at Silicon Graphics Computer Systems, one of the first 3D graphics hardware companies.

Gavin holds a BS in computer science from Princeton University.

LinkedIn profile

Vikram Mahidhar
Senior Vice-President, Operating partner at Apollo

Areas of focus: artificial intelligence; machine learning; business strategy and development 


Request Appointment

Vikram Mahidhar is an entrepreneur, strategy advisor, and innovator. He is currently Head of AI business at Genpact (NYSE:G). Prior to that Vikram built AI business at RAGE Frameworks (acquired by Genpact), a leader in knowledge-based automation technology and services. He is passionate about solving big business transformation problems using cognitive technologies, linguistics, big data, machine learning, analytics, and automation. 

Prior to RAGE, Vikram served as the Managing Director of Innovation at Deloitte where he focused on identifying emerging business ideas, and on driving the development and commercialization of new products and services. At Deloitte, Vikram directed development of new products and services involving big data, semantic intelligence, analytics, and mobile. He has advised C-level executives at Fortune 500 companies in the areas of growth strategy, emerging technology strategy, enterprise risk, and supply chain.

Vikram holds an SM in systems design from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MBA from Boston University’s Questrom School of Business.


LinkedIn profile

Brett Goldberg

Areas of Focus: Consumer Product Marketing, Distribution Systems, Software Development. Verticals: Natural Products Industry, Cosmetics Industry


Request Appointment

Brett Goldberg is an entrepreneur and software developer focused on the SMB (Small to Medium Business) sector.

From 1991 to 2005 he founded and ran a Consumer Products Distribution company, AHAVA USA, marketing a number of brands across the Department Store, Salon, and Natural Product sectors.

His current company, SYNQWARE, founded in 2006, markets an integration platform (Bizperanto) that enables vendors to become more scalable and reap efficiencies in their supply chain. SYNQWARE offers EDI, CRM, and Order Management services to to vendors primarily in the Gift, Home Décor, Beauty, and Natural Products. SYNQWARE also offers a suite of products to 3PLs (Third Party Logistics providers).

Brett earned a BA in Linguistics with magna cum laude honors from Yale University.


Hope Ross Gibaldi
Community Engagement Manager, Valley Venture Mentors

Areas of focus: startup strategy, business planning, goal setting, strategic visioning, connecting to local entrepreneurial support organizations and resources.


Request Appointment

Hope Ross Gibaldi is the Executive Director of Valley Venture Mentors (VVM) - a non-profit organization based in Springfield, MA that helps entrepreneurs start and scale successful ventures through entrepreneurial education, mentoring and networking opportunities. Valley Venture Mentors is committed to fostering a healthy and connected regional entrepreneurial ecosystem that encourages economic and community vitalization. Hope is the co-founder and CEO of LEARN IN MOTION, a youth recreational program that offers movement-, sports- and play-based enrichment programs for preschoolers and elementary school students. The company takes a unique approach to education, social-emotional development and behavioral management. As a business coach and consultant, Hope started her own practice - Entrepreneurial Spirit - where she works directly with entrepreneurs on their businesses as well as with organizations in order to develop and improve programs that support small business owners. She is passionate about the transformative impact that entrepreneurship and education can have for individuals, communities and the economy. She is a passionate advocate for building a diverse and inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem that is accessible, responsive and meets the needs of the community.

LinkedIn profile

Supporting Innovation & Impact

Ventures @ CICS EIRs serve as non-judgmental sources of ideas, advice, inspiration, and helpful connections for potential CICS inventors. They are neither investors nor critics. Rather, they apply their expertise and experience to help advice-seekers sharpen their thinking and decide whether and how to move forward towards a commercial venture.

EIRs are familiar with the broader “innovation ecosystem” that spans the UMass Amherst campus and includes accelerators, incubators, and related entrepreneurship services in the Pioneer Valley and beyond. Learn more about the resources available for inventors.

Pioneer Valley Innovation Ecosystem

Resources to help UMass Amherst scientists and engineers bring their ideas from the lab to the marketplace.

UMass Amherst Resources

Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship

Institute for Applied Life Sciences

Institute for Applied Life Sciences Seed Grand Fund

Maroon Venture Partners Fund

Technology Transfer Office

Pioneer Valley Resources

Valley Venture Mentors


CICS seeks to ensure that our research will benefit the Commonwealth and the world at large. The EIR program provides support and expertise to translate our ideas into the marketplace and to cultivate our venturesome spirit.

Laura Haas, CICS Dean