FailCon 2013 Speakers

Allan Bacon

Quantum physicist Dr. Allan Bacon had an "epic fail" at age 30 when he realized that his 23 years of school had led him not to freedom, but to a career that felt like a trap. Since then, he's been laid off, laughed out of meetings and rejected for multiple gigs he really wanted. He also lived with his family in Paris, helped grow and sell Digital Optics Corporation and met his favorite mentor, TV's Tim Gunn. Now he combines his experiences from science, business, psychology and behavioral economics to advise CEOs and Founders on growth strategies that will play to the unique strengths of their products and their people.

Ann Choiniere

Ann Choiniere is the founder of Job Fit Plus Performance in Charlotte. She consults: People in career transition, Companies that support professional development in the workplace, and Outdoor recreation companies that sell corporate leadership development programs. We all want rewarding careers, both in and out of the home. We want our companies to succeed because of their loyal and enthusiastic employees. Yes, these are lofty goals, but they don’t have to be hard to reach. It’s about valuing human resources. Making sure people are in jobs that are right for them at the time -- and supporting them once they’re there. Ann is devoted to saving her clients time and money as they evaluate their goals, and the steps to take to reach them. Ann worked for years as a team building facilitator at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Before that she was an aviation lawyer-lobbyist. In between she stayed home with young kids. How’s that for a long and winding road? A North Carolina native, she graduated from the University of Virginia with a B.A. in Economics. She holds a J.D. from The George Mason University School of Law. Ann is certified to administer the WorkPlace Big Five Profile 4.0 personality assessment.

Bill Bing

Bill Bing has over 10 years experience with startup companies and venture capital. He began his career as an early employee at Upromise, an online loyalty program that grew to more than 12 million members. After Upromise was acquired by Sallie Mae, Bill joined Square 1 Bank, a venture bank founded in 2005, where he worked closely with hundreds of early-stage companies and venture firms. In 2007 Bill helped conceive and launch Square 1’s initial venture capital fund-of-funds. In his role as Principal and VP, he helped raise, invest and manage the fund. Bill left Square 1 in 2010 to found Loyalese, a social loyalty rewards program. Loyalese received an NC IDEA grant but ceased operations in 2012. Bill currently serves as Principal for DAS Communications, a company that partners with real estate holders to deploy wireless communication access points at strategic, high traffic locations. Bill is a graduate of Dartmouth College, and completed Singularity University’s Graduate Studies Program in 2010, where he studied novel technologies and how they might be applied to solve global problems.

Bob Connor

Bob Conner is a serial entrepreneur who has worked in technology startups in Silicon Valley and RTP since 1989. He is CEO and Founder of Sarda Technologies, which makes the world’s fastest, smallest voltage regulators to increase the energy efficiency and performance and decrease the size and cost of many electronic systems, ranging from tablets to servers. Bob was previously CEO and Founder of Symmorphix (an Applied Materials spinout), VP at Semprius and Nextreme Thermal Solutions (GaAs chip startups), and VP and product manager, respectively, at Cirrus Logic and Chips and Technologies. He held marketing management positions at Applied Materials and Intel and was an engineer at GE. Bob earned his MBA at University of Chicago and BSME at Duke University.

Bob has some great advice for regional entrepreneurs:
North Carolina: Ideal for Capital-Efficient Startups

Chris Halligan

Chris is an experienced and successful technology executive and entrepreneur. In addition to serving IDEA Fund Partners as an Operating Partner, he serves as an advisor to several startups and runs Charlotte Regional Technology Executives, a networking and educational forum for tech execs in the Queen City. Chris co-founded OtherScreen with Jigsaw co-founder Garth Moulton in 2011. Prior to OtherScreen, Chris served as CEO for a publicly traded gaming firm, co-founded Kieden (which was acquired by Salesforce in 2006) and ran North America for WebMethods. Chris spent the 90’s working for Dell during which time he was Salesman of the Year and eventually had responsibility for over $2B in online revenues. Chris is a graduate of the University of Arizona and he and his family live in Charlotte, NC.

Craig Mathews

Chief Thinkologist at Big Think

Craig is passionate about business because it has the power to transform lives. The bigger you think, the more you can achieve, and the greater your impact. Craig has honed his holistic business viewpoint into a set of frameworks, insights, and methodologies for driving business innovation. He has been serving companies for several years in the U.S., Europe, and India, helping hundreds of people design and build highly profitable businesses. He works with larger companies to find and develop the ideas within the organizations, growing profits. He has also taught innovation and entrepreneurship at UNC Business School to the largest entrepreneurship class in the school’s history. Wherever he is, his passion for business is infectious. Craig started Big Think to provide practical education and consulting for business innovation using principles and strategies that yield geometric growth. He is known for his ability to simplify complex business issues, and for seeing all of the possibilities for revenue expansion – often outside industry norms. Craig is a strategic, innovative thinker. He has led companies in sales, marketing, IT and as CEO. A serial entrepreneur and constant learner, Craig is also an author and international speaker/consultant on topics as wide-ranging as water security, leadership, business/IT alignment, marketing, sales, corporate strategy, personal development, and marriage

Dave Rendall


During the last fifteen years, David Rendall has spoken to audiences throughout the United States, South America, Africa and Australia. His clients include companies in the Fortune 50, AT&T and State Farm Insurance, Fortune 500, Ralph Lauren, and Fortune Global 500, BASF, GlaxoSmithKline, and Tyco International. Prior to becoming a speaker, he was a management professor, stand-up comedian and endurance athlete. He also managed nonprofit enterprises that provided employment for people with disabilities. He has more than twenty years of experience leading people and organizations. David has a doctor of management degree in organizational leadership, as well as a graduate degree in psychology. He is the author of three books:

  • The Four Factors of Effective Leadership
  • The Freak Factor
  • The Freak Factor for Kids

Bruce V. Roberts

Bruce has been an investment banker and entrepreneur for over 30 years. His professional activity centers around private finance and the broader support of entrepreneurs and private business owners. This has included the creation of Carolina Entrepreneur in 2009, an annual business retreat that brings together experienced entrepreneurs from around the U.S. He also speaks at numerous conferences and workshops throughout the year on topics related to private finance and investment. Bruce is the Founder and CEO of Carolina Financial Group, LLC (CFG), an investment bank that has privately placed over $500,000,000 of financing for young and middle market companies since 1996. In early 2005, he founded Rehabilitation Support Services, LLC (RSS) which distributes and supports technology solutions for use in addiction treatment and criminal justice applications related to substance abuse. Before founding CFG, Bruce spent eight years with CS First Boston (CSFB), in New York, where he was a Director in the Investment Banking Department. Prior to CSFB, he started his investment banking career as a corporate finance specialist at Bank of America in San Francisco. Before entering investment banking, Bruce served as a Special Warfare Officer (UDT / SEAL) in the United States Navy. Bruce graduated in 1979 from Duke University with a B.S.E. in Civil Engineering, completing a second major in Public Policy Studies. He now serves on the Advisory Board of Accelerate Appalachia, a business accelerator, and is on the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Aquarium. He and his wife have four children and live in Brevard, North Carolina.