Advisor Team

Business Advisors

Vernon Niven - CEO, Entrepreneur

Vernon is an experienced entrepreneur with more than 25 years of experience building new technology businesses and leading major tech-driven change programs for companies of all sizes. Mr. Niven is currently the founder and CEO of Owners Like Me, LLC. who develop real time media curation solutions for businesses and consumers. Before that, Vernon founded and served as President of, the $100m online gaming unit of Churchill Downs, Inc.; served as EVP for Tumri Inc., an advanced online advertising platform; and, founded and served as VP of Aspect Development’s ecommerce software unit prior to its acquisition by i2 Technologies. Prior to Aspect Development, Mr. Niven spent 13 years at Accenture, where he founded and led a highly successful $100 million ecommerce practice.

Tal Ball - CTO – BuildDirect

Tal has over 20 years in the technology field driving growth across entrepreneurial startups and larger organizations.  Past History includes CEO of Symphony Metreo, where Tal Ball drove the strategy and operations of the company. Prior to joining Symphony Metreo, Tal served as senior vice president, products and technology at Agile Software, where he lead teams in product strategy and product management and helped to align the company’s PLM solutions with their customer's business objectives. Prior to joining Agile, he held leadership positions in engineering, products and operations at various internet and software companies, including Aspect Development (acquired by i2 in 2000) where he helped Dr. Wadhwani and the team grow the highly valued and successful Supplier Relationship Management company. Tal has also held technology and leadership roles at Cadence, Alcatel and GE. He attended North Carolina State University where he earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering.

Technical Advisors

Dr. Rick Borry - CTO, Principal Solar

Rick Borry is CTO of Principal Solar, where he produces a series of online conferences around the needs of solar professionals. Rick is also President and co-founder of, which is credited as the first platform to build communities around online conferences.  Until 2010, Rick was the Chief Software Architect for Certain Software beginning with their acquisition of his online event registration startup,  At various stages during that tenure, Rick worked in every department while the company grew to over 150 employees around the world.

Rick earned his Doctorate in Chemical Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley and his B.S. from Clemson University. Rick has worked as a research associate for Dupont in Delaware and an environmental engineer for Hoechst Celanese in South Carolina.

Dr. Sandra Boetcher - Assistant Professor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Dr. Boetcher has extensive research experience is the area of clean technology, thermal science, finite-element modeling, and finite element analysis.  She has authored and co-authored numerous publications on these topics throughout her academic career collaborating with industry including Solar Logic for applied research.

Sandra earned her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Minnesota with Dr. E.M. Sparrow as her advisor. She also earned her M.S. and B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Minnesota.


Dr. Matt Traum - Assistant Professor, Milwaukee School of Engineering

Matt has deep research experience in the area of alternative energy, thermal characterization, and boundary layer turbines.

Matt earned his Ph.D. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA.  Additionally he earned a B.S. in Mechanical as well as Aerospace Engineering from the University of California, Irvine.

Dr. Hilen Amin - VP, Analytics, Build Direct

Dr. Hilen Amin has over 20 years of experience in data analysis and technology.  In the past Hilen has held positions in development, product management and consulting at PROS, Symphony Metreo, Inc (SMI), Prior to SMI he worked for Integral Development Corp., where he managed international teams implementing derivative and FX trading systems. Prior to FX, Hilen worked for Ikos, a London-based hedge fund manager, where he developed and managed futures and equity trading systems.

Hilen began his career in research working at Cambridge University and Berkeley on novel Superconducting tunneling structures. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Electrical and Information Sciences and Ph.D. in Superconductivity from St. Johns College, Cambridge.

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