The Team

Bob Saunders, Chairman & Co-founder

Bob is a General Partner of OCA Ventures (Chicago), a Founding Partner of Saunders Murdoch and Associates (Louisville/Boston), and is an active investor in many healthcare startups.  Bob was a Managing Director and General Partner at Chrysalis Ventures from 1997 to 2009. Bob was a founding board member of MetaCyte Business Lab, the University of Louisville’s life science incubator. Over the last 30 years, he has invested in several dozen startup companies and has mentored 100+ startups. Bob received a B.A. from Stanford University, an M.Sc. from the London School of  Economics, and an M.A. from Harvard University. He was both a Fulbright Scholar and a Marshall Scholar.

Jackie Willmot, CEO & Co-founder

Jackie has 30+ years of experience in the healthcare industry including executive positions in the Life Science, Payer and Healthcare Service space. Jackie was trained by Steve Blank in his ‘Lean Launchpad Educators Class’ at Stanford University and serves as a business coach in a variety of capacities. She was a founding member and on the Board of Directors of the Network for Entrepreneurial Women and works with healthcare startups via the LaunchIT program where she works closely with Coulter, ExCITE, and iCorp funded companies.  Jackie volunteers her time in the start-up community and has served as a judge for the annual Invention and Innovation Awards competition and the Brown-Forman Cardinal Challenge. She is a Master’s prepared Perinatal Clinical Nurse Specialist and holds an MBA from the University of Louisville’s entrepreneurship program, a Master’s of Science from the University of Pittsburgh and a Baccalaureate Nursing degree from Villa Maria College.

Ted Smith, Co-founder

Ted currently serves as Louisville’s Chief of Civic Innovation and Executive in Residence for the University of Louisville’s Health Sector Management MBA Program. He has served as a Senior Advisor to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and co-founded and sold MedTrackAlert, a company that fueled consumer empowerment in healthcare. Ted has a B.S. in BioPsychology from Allegheny College, a Ph.D. in Cognitive Science from Miami University and a Post-Doc in Cognitive Science from MIT.

Bobby Ferreri, Co-founder 

Bobby is currently the Founder and Managing Partner of Ferreri Partners – a Louisville based law firm. After gaining distinction as a member of the American Inn of Court at the Brandeis School of Law, Bobby was admitted to the Kentucky Bar in 2004. Following his admittance, he has spent his career in litigation, economic development and entrepreneurial advisory roles. His current practice is focused on employer and small business related issues offering both legal expertise and practical solutions. Bobby has a B.S. in Finance from Miami University, and both a J.D. and M.B.A. from the University of Louisville.

Rebecca Brown, Director, Life Science

Concurrent with her PhD work at Yale University, Rebecca completed internships both in Yale’s Office of Cooperative Research and in the Lead Discovery department at Bristol-Myers Squibb. As such, she has seen technology development through several distinct lenses and hopes to learn more from the XLerateHealth team about the interface of academia, biotechnology, and business.

Rebecca is a Neuroscience PhD candidate at Yale University. She received her B.S. in Neuroscience from Brown University.


Zack Pennington, Director, Technology

Zack is a creative and active entrepreneur. As the CEO and Co-Founder of a biotechnology startup, he has first hand experience in commercializing a university-developed technology. Zack has participated in several Startup Weekends and will work with the accelerator community to facilitate similar healthcare oriented events. He received a B.A. in Communications and an M.B.A. from the University of Louisville.

Nathalie Tapolsky, Intern, Medical Devices

Nathalie recently obtained her Master’s in Bioengineering from the University of Louisville Speed School; she also has a B.S. in Bioengineering from UofL and was a James Graham Brown Fellow, a prestigious and highly selective fellowship, as an undergraduate. Her MEng thesis was done in the Advanced Heart Failure Research Lab located at the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute where she characterized a novel pulsatile left ventricular assist device; she is passionate about medical devices. Nathalie interned with a not-for-profit community health care provider in Colorado, performed research at a biotech company in Lyon, France, studied public health in South Africa and performed research at the Brown Cancer Center.