CEO & Co-Founder - David Nackashi, Ph.D: David Nackashi brings more than 10 years of leadership and research experience in semiconductor materials and processing, focusing on MEMS test structures for nanomaterials characterization. Prior to cofounding Protochips, he worked at Alcatel Telecom, leading the system verification and test team for releases of several OC3/12/48 SONET Multiplexer products. David received a Ph.D. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the North Carolina State University, and the B.S.E.E. from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He has more than 50 technical publications as well as 12 patents granted and pending in areas including molecular electronics and platforms for the real-time analysis of nano and biological materials. David is active in the entrepreneurial community in the Research Triangle Park, participating in programs including the HiTEC program at North Carolina State University and the Center for Entrepreneurial Development's FastTrac Tech.
CTO & Co-Founder - John Damiano, Ph.D: John Damiano received his B.S. from Pennsylvania State University, his M.S. from The University of Texas at Austin, and his Ph.D. from North Carolina State University, all in Electrical Engineering. Prior to co-founding Protochips, he worked as a device engineer at Micron Semiconductor and at Motorola APRDL. In these positions, he was responsible for process integration of isolation, gate oxide, and local interconnect modules for SRAM and logic products at the 0.35 µm through 0.15 µm technology nodes. He also led efforts to design and characterize novel test structures to support advanced process technologies, debug new chip designs, and accelerate the transfer of device and process technologies to the receiving fab. In his role as CTO at Protochips, John leads the company's technology development effort, with a focus on designing innovative semiconductor devices and processes. He also oversees technical collaborations and manages the Protochips' intellectual property portfolio. John has authored or co-authored numerous technical publications and has fourteen U.S. patents granted or pending.
Board of Directors
Board Member - Steve Capps: Steve became involved with the company through an investment with the Piedmont Angel Network. Steve retired from IDEXX Laboratories in 2008 as General Manager of the Pharmaceutical Business. Steve’s affiliation with IDEXX began in 1998 when IDEXX purchased Blue Ridge Pharmaceuticals where he was Vice President of Business Operations. Steve played a key role in the negotiations for the sale of the business to IDEXX and prior to becoming General Manager of the Pharmaceutical business he was Vice President of Finance and Business Development. His early career included financial planning, marketing and analysis roles in diverse businesses including Ciba-Geigy and RJR Nabisco. Steve has served on the Board of Communities in Schools of Greater Greensboro and chaired the fund raising committee. He is also on the Board of Visitors for the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at UNC-Chapel Hill. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Wake Forest University, Steve currently resides at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.
Board Member - Rajeev Kulkarni: As an experienced entrepreneur and executive, Rajeev Kulkarni provides leadership in the areas of entrepreneurship, strategic marketing and hi-tech engineering. As VP of Global Engineering, Rajeev currently leads the global R&D team at 3D Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: TDSC) – a high-tech company that designs, develops, and markets three-dimensional (3-D) printing products that enable complex 3-D physical objects to be printed directly without the need of manufacturing. He oversees seven divisions including Electronics, Software, Material Science, Mechanical, Physics and Optics. Rajeev holds multiple US and international patents that helped grow the 3-D printing technology. He has also received five consecutive “Outstanding Innovation of the Year” awards at 3D Systems, Inc. Prior to this role, as the Director of Market Intelligence and as a Product Manager at 3D Systems, Rajeev led teams to develop structured systems to garner and analyze competitive, customer, product intelligence; formulate product, pricing, customer and new business strategies. Rajeev serves on the Board of Directors at the Ben Craig Center, an incubator in Charlotte. As part of the center and the Five Ventures Business Plan Competition organized by the Charlotte Research Institute, Rajeev regularly mentors CEOs on various aspects of start-up and initial growth strategies. As an angel investor, he regularly invests in early-stage start-ups. Along with other angel investors and as the co-chair, he has recently helped create “Charlotte Angles” – a $5-6 MM Charlotte based angel fund that will invest in early, high-growth startups within NC. As an executive board member of Wed|3, a Charlotte based Angel Network, he further helps promote new ventures within the region. Rajeev also serves on the Advisory Board of the William Lee College of Engineering as well as on the Advisory Board of the College of Mechanical Engineering at UNCC. He advises the school on synchronizing their curriculum with the current industry expectations and graduate “industry-ready” students.
He recently was the recipient of the 2009 “40-Under-40” award and was recognized as a key Charlotte business leader under the age of 40, by the Charlotte Business Journal.
Prior to moving to the Charlotte region, as the founder and CEO of PLANexec, Los Angeles, CA, Rajeev has guided several start-ups to transition from the idea stage up to being ready to present a complete detailed strategy and business plan to investors. His firm developed entire business plans and formulated all the key strategies for several ventures in the biomedical, aerospace, entertainment, online industries and helped the firms raise a cumulative of 20+ million in venture capital.
Rajeev holds multiple bachelor and masters degrees. The Engineering bachelor was pursued from University of Pune, India, along with an honors diploma in Computer Science Management from National Institute of Information Technology, India. He also has a Master of Science degree in Engineering from University of Florida, Gainesville and an MBA in ‘Entrepreneurship and Marketing’ from the Anderson School of Management at UCLA, Los Angeles.
Board Observer - Jay Brennan: Jay brings a wealth of diverse management experiences to the Protochips board. Over the past 20 years he has owned or operated a variety of distribution (upholstery leather), manufacturing (liquid packaging) and service (online education) businesses. In those businesses he has been involved in plant start-ups, new product development, high performance team development and geographical sales expansion in addition to standard finance, sales, marketing and operations functions. For the past two years Jay has been actively involved in the Piedmont Angel Network, serving on the Screening Committee and numerous due diligence teams. Jay is a Director/Board Monitor for two other PAN investment companies, Pique Therapeutics and Extend Energy.
Jay received a BA, summa cum laude, from Colgate University and a joint JD/MBA from the University of Virginia. He currently resides in Greensboro, NC with his wife and two daughters and is an active volunteer at St. Francis Episcopal Church, Greensboro Day School, Colgate University and the Summit Rotary Club.
Executive Chairman of the Board - Michael Zapata III: Mr. Zapata is the Entrepreneur-in-Residence with the Entrepreneurial Initiative at NC State University, Chairman of ArrayXpress, a genomics sciences company, and a Board Member of HueMetrix, an instrumentation company. Michael has served in roles as CMO, President, and CEO of multiple companies. He is a retired LTC and combat aviation officer, having served in the NC Army National Guard.