Meet the Trainers

Sara Martin Henderson

NSF I-Corps Instructor

Melissa Heffner

NSF I-Corps Instructor

Keith McGreggor

Executive Director and Instructor NSF I-Corps National Faculty Instructor

Nakia Melecio

Nakia Melecio

Director and NSF I-Corps National Faculty Instructor

Skye Syehlak

NSF I-Corps Adjunct Instructor

Lauren Flamer

Lauren Flamer

NSF I-Corps Adjunct Instructor

Sara Martin Henderson

NSF I-Corps Instructor

Sara joined VentureLab and I-Corps South after pursuing professional opportunities focused on human-centered innovation and experience design. She has consulted a variety of Fortune 500 businesses on cultivating intrapreneurial behaviors and has trained teams on Design Thinking and Service Design. She has also worked on a number of corporate innovation projects that applied customer-centric practices and iterative prototyping techniques. In addition, Sara got a feel for entrepreneurial life while spending time managing a car-sharing start-up in New York.

She holds a BS in Business Administration with areas of focus in Business Economics and Entrepreneurship from the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business, and a MA in Design Management (Design Thinking) from the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Melissa Heffner

NSF I-Corps Instructor

Melissa Heffner creates, modifies, and implements programs centered around evidence-based entrepreneurship and the Lean Startup methodology. The vast majority of her time is spent executing the I-Corps South Node award, which is housed at VentureLab, and on internal commercialization programs. Melissa merges her education and classroom experience with strong writing and editing skills to develop custom curriculum for various clients, such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In addition, she teaches customer discovery and business model development at Georgia Tech (Scheller College of Business and GT1000 Startup), Institut Lafayette Georgia Tech (Metz, France), and Grupo Guayacán (Puerto Rico).

Prior to joining VentureLab, Melissa spent her time in curriculum development and manuscript editing with organizations such as Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University, CDC, and Georgia State University Department of Biology.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Birmingham-Southern College, and a Master of Arts in Teaching English from Agnes Scott College.

Keith McGreggor

Executive Director and Instructor NSF I-Corps National Faculty Instructor

Keith McGreggor, VentureLab’s director, also serves as the lead instructor for the NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program for Georgia Tech, a founding node in the I-Corps network. He is also a member of the NSF I-Corps curriculum committee and gives frequent invited talks on the foundations of evidence-based-entrepreneurship philosophy.

Keith has been an entrepreneur for the last three decades. His first company, Artificial Intelligence Atlanta, was the first AI company in the southeast, which led to a gig in robotics for Lockheed. He has been a founder or co-founder of six software companies.

Keith wrote and shipped the first 3D program and first color paint program for the Macintosh. He developed the color architecture for the Macintosh, wrote substantial portions of the graphics system, and managed the graphics group at Apple Computer in Cupertino. A stint as co-founder of an internet company in the mid 1990s led to Keith becoming a director of engineering at Yahoo! in 1999.

Keith holds a BS, MS, and PhD in computer science from Georgia Tech, and is an instructor of Georgia Tech’s new StartupLab for undergraduates in the College of Engineering. In addition to his role at VentureLab, Keith holds an appointment as Professor of the Practice in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech and is the Associate Director of Georgia Tech’s GVU.

Nakia Melecio

Nakia Melecio

Director and NSF I-Corps National Faculty Instructor

Nakia Melecio is a Senior Research Faculty member of Georgia Tech Innovation Enterprise Institute and Principal in Venture Lab. In this role, Nakia helps researchers commercialize their Biotechnology, Energy, Defense, Military Technology, Education, Government Technology, and Aerospace Technology. He also helps them secure investments from a network of federally funded laboratories, universities, and corporations. Nakia also is the Founder/Director of MedTech Center of Excellence, created to support and address the unique needs of early-stage medical device technologies where they provide expertise in product realization, technology, medical device manufacturing, biotechnology, life science, and therapeutic innovations to early-stage entrepreneurs.

Throughout his career, he has worked with industry, academia, and government which has provided him with a unique and deep understanding of the early-stage innovation ecosystem and technology transfer, proven scientific and technical ability, and decades of operational experience in technology-driven, high-growth companies. He has successfully helped startups and develop businesses worldwide in the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Nigeria, Thailand, South Korea, and Ghana.

Nakia is an active member and mentor of the technology community and a frequent contributor to many business organizations, including the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). He is a longtime technology startup mentor, having served in that role at Advanced Technology Development Center at Georgia Institute of Technology, the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (NSF I-Corps), the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM), Georgia Tech Create X mentor, MIT Hack Medicine, DOD lab mentor, NSF I-Corps Adjunct Instructor at Georgia Institute of Technology, Hack for Defense Instructor (H4D), Defense Innovation Accelerator Mentor (DIA), and StartMe at Emory University. He is a board member for several startups and is involved in two Health-tech Medical Device startups, which are actively funded by SBIR Phase I NIH and SBIR Phase I NSF.

Nakia received a master’s degree at Ashford University in Education, Teaching, Learning, and Educational Technology where he also received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, a bachelor’s degree in Cognitive Science. Additionally, Nakia received a Doctor of Psychology Educational Psychology, Educational Leadership from the University of Arizona.

Skye Syehlak

Sr. Project Support Specialist

Skye Svehlak is a Sr. Project Support Specialist with VentureLab within the Office of Commercialization. In that capacity, she leverages intrapersonal and communication skills to recruit speakers for the Female Founder Speaker Series, establish relationships with current entrepreneurial teams, and present aspects of the lean start-up methodology to different organizations. A graduate of Agnes Scott College, she acquired a double major in International Relations and Business Management. In the fall, she will pursue a Masters in International Security at Georgia Tech.

Lauren Flamer

Lauren Flamer

NSF I-Corps Adjunct Instructor

A seasoned higher education professional, Lauren joins us from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, where she previously served as the Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation and the Director of Executive Programs within the Schools’ Executive Education arm. Lauren’s additional professional experience includes time spent at Harvard Business School and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, where she traveled extensively both domestically and internationally, building and cultivating strategic corporate and government partnerships and facilitating programs and workshops for senior-level executives.

She received her BA in International Relations from Wellesley College and MA in Global Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. A lifelong learner, Lauren’s vision and passion is to make a difference in the world by developing dynamic leaders and building and cultivating strategic partnerships within academic circles and across industry groups.