Penn Center for Innovation

PCI Ventures

Michael D. Poisel, MS, MBA

Director, PCI Ventures

Mr. Poisel is responsible for managing PCI Ventures, including transitioning technologies into start-up companies, assisting the principal investigators with funding strategies including grant applications, as well as mentoring the developing companies.

Prior to UPenn, Michael made investments in enterprise software and business services for NewSpring Capital, Apax Partners and GE Capital spanning more than ten years in private equity. He began his career in manufacturing operations for General Electric/Lockheed Martin and participated in the successful completion of several commercial and government satellite programs.

Michael graduated with honors in Mechanical Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, holds an M.S. in Systems Engineering from The Moore School of Engineering of the University of Pennsylvania, and has an M.B.A. in finance and entrepreneurial management from The Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania.

Dora Mitchell, PhD

Director, UPstart Program

Dr. Mitchell is responsible for working directly with UPstart portfolio company management teams to develop business strategies, fund raising plans, marketing materials, and commercialization grant applications in order to increase the overall visibility of the portfolio.

Prior to joining PCI Ventures, Dora was a member of the Health and Life Sciences team at Battelle Ventures, LP, where she evaluated technologies, made investment recommendations and participated in due diligence and fundraising. Dora was involved in various aspects of portfolio company management with a focus on early stage companies.

Dora has a broad background in the biological sciences having worked both in research and technology transfer after earning her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from Princeton University.

Karina Sotnik, MS

Digital Enterprise Portfolio Manager, PCI Ventures

Ms. Sotnik is responsible for helping PCI Ventures and UPstart companies with marketing and business development activities. She is also responsible for creating custom programs within PCI Ventures.

Prior to joining PCI Ventures, Karina gained two decades of experience in marketing and business development for companies large and small in Silicon Valley and beyond. She specializes in launch, operations and expansion of small businesses in the US and internationally.

Karina also serves as an advisor and mentor for incubators based at two of Russia's top universities. Her educational background is in engineering, with a master's degree in computer science. She lives in Philadelphia with her family.

Mike Dishowitz, PhD

Portfolio Manager, PCI Ventures

Dr. Dishowitz manages a portfolio of PCI Ventures startup companies, focusing on the medical device, biotechnology, and therapeutic sectors. His primary responsibility is to build businesses that commercialize Penn intellectual property by recruiting management, developing business strategies, fundraising, supporting company operations, and executing deals. He is also the director of Penn’s medical device startup accelerator, DevelUPmed, and manages several capital acquisition and business development programs.

Prior to joining PCI Ventures, Mike was a member of ICON Commercialisation & Outcomes (formerly PriceSpective), a boutique consulting agency, where he specialized in asset valuation and pricing & market access of emerging life science technologies. Before entering industry, Mike spent several years in academia, studying the impact of cell signaling pathways on orthopaedic injury and repair. He is also co-founder of a startup company based on his thesis research that uses a combination drug-device to promote bone formation and regeneration.

Mike graduated with a B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Florida and a Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania.

Whitney Magruder

Programming and Marketing Manager, PCI Ventures

Ms. Magruder manages the programs and content assembled by the Penn Center for Innovation to be offered at the Pennovation Center. She serves as the Pennovation Center community relationship manager and coordinates with multiple parties involved in the success of Pennovation Center operations. Whitney manages several PCI Ventures initiatives within the Pennovation Center, including programs such as: Mentor-in-Residence, Investor Pitch Feedback, and Partners Office Hours. She is developing a program of weekly and monthly speakers to discuss topics of interest to early-stage companies.

Whitney joined the PCI Ventures team in 2015 as its Marketing and Logistics Specialist. In that role, she was responsible for all aspects of company formation, as well as designing marketing assets both for PCI Ventures and its portfolio companies.

Whitney received her B.A. in English from the University of California, Berkeley and is a Notary Public for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. She is also currently a graduate student in the field of criminal justice.

Ryan Mendoza, MS

Venture Associate, PCI Ventures

Mr. Mendoza is responsible for assisting with the management of the PCI Ventures portfolio focusing primarily on information technology, physical sciences, and hardware. Ryan works directly with portfolio companies on marketing materials, business development, strategy, and fundraising. He is also responsible for developing relationships with the investor community to bring visibility to the portfolio.

Prior to PCI Ventures, Ryan was SVP of Engineering and upper management of Graphene Frontiers, a nanotechnology startup and UPstart company, for over 3 years. In his role at Graphene Frontiers, he gained valuable entrepreneurial experience with commercializing technologies out of the university lab setting and building a technology business. Ryan has also worked in industry at Lockheed Martin as an Electrical Engineer, designing and testing ballistic vehicle control systems.

He has a M.S. in Electrical Engineering with a focus on nanoscale electronic systems from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California.

Jaime Sweet

Administrative Coordinator, PCI Ventures

Ms. Sweet provides administrative support to the PCI Ventures team. She is primarily responsible for coordinating all aspects of company formation, managing schedules, preparing marketing materials, updating websites, and supporting UPstart companies.

Prior to joining PCI Ventures, Jaime was the Operations Manager at Lavelle Productions, a small, multi-media company based in Philadelphia. There, she maintained client relations, and managed the business' processes and procedures.

Jaime graduated from Temple University where she received her B.A. in Film and Media Arts. She also earned a certificate from the Temple's Fox School of Business - Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute.