Our People

Kamran Elahian

Chairman and Founder

Chairman and Founder, Global Innovation Catalyst, LLC; Chairman, Advisory Board, Global Venture Alliance; Global Innovation Advisor, 500 Startups; Founding Mentor, Unreasonable Institute; Founding Board Advisor, Harbour.Space University; Advisory Member, Seedstars World; Advisory Member, UNICEF Innovation Fund

As an Innovation Catalyst, Kamran advises various governments on the needed transition from fossil based economies to sustainable innovation economies.

He also serves as the Chairman of the Advisory Board of Global Venture Alliance; a Global Innovation Economy Advisor to 500 Startups; a Founding Mentor of Unreasonable Institute and a Founding Board Advisor to Harbour.Space University.

As a global high-tech entrepreneur, he co-founded ten companies, three of them failed (e.g. Momenta), six of them produced a total market cap of over $8B (e.g. Cirrus Logic). As a VC, Kamran co-founded Global Catalyst Partners with investments in the U.S., Japan, China, India, Israel and Singapore.

Underlying his vision for global philanthropy is the conviction that modern Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can be instrumental in dissolving barriers between nations and bridging the social and political differences among people. This vision was reflected in Schools-Online, a nonprofit he co-founded in 1996 to connect the world, one school at a time (6400 schools in 36 countries were provided with computers and access to the Internet) and merged with Relief International in 2003; Global Catalyst Foundation, co-founded in 2000 to improve lives through the effective application of ICT, and UN-GAID, a United Nations global forum that promotes ICT in developing countries where he served as CoChairman (2009-2011).

Parham Holakouee

Innovation Catalyst - Research + Training

Parham's driving mission is to educate and inspire young minds to pursue the careers and entrepreneurial ventures they are passionate about, and to advise governments on crafting the enabling policy framework to bring their ideas to fruition.

He received his B.A. from UCLA, MBA from UCLA Anderson, J.D. from Columbia Law School, M.S. from UC Berkeley, and his Ph.D. at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business. Parham previously worked as a corporate transactional attorney at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.

Parham has taught courses in a wide range of areas including business strategy, entrepreneurship, macroeconomics, and the application of microeconomic principles to business decisions. Parham's research integrates his doctoral training in economics with his experience and education in law and business. His scholarship applies economic theory and econometrics to analyze: (1) crafting policy to stimulate entrepreneurship and venture capital investment; (2) the strategic decisions of new ventures; and (3) laws and institutions aimed at broadening new venture investment while deterring fraud.

Samir Mammadov

Innovation Catalyst - Head of Operations

Samir has 25 years of experience working in the technology and education management industry. He is a strong business development professional and mentor with a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) focused on ICT for Education from The University of Edinburgh. Samir previously established and developed a bureau on ICT for Education within the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

As an entrepreneur, Samir co-founded Enginet LLC, a leading countrywide fiber optic operator in Azerbaijan, providing customers with high-speed Internet, IP TV and telephone services.

Samir is also a member of Sand Hill Angels, an active angel investment group comprised of world-class entrepreneurs, accredited investors and Senior Business Executives based in Silicon Valley.

Ihor Ovcharenko

Innovation Catalyst - Global Programs

Ihor is a startup enthusiast and tech-savvy professional with over six years of experience in developing startup ecosystems in emerging markets. He is a well-connected person, who has built many bridges in between entrepreneurs, media, investors and corporates in emerging markets. He has extensive experience in business development, strategy, infrastructure development and seats on the advisory board of 5 startups. Currently, he's helping B2B and B2G later stage startups to scale to new markets and running a consulting firm that helps to develop tech startup ecosystems in emerging markets.

From 2012 to 2014, Ihor worked in the most significant venture fund in Ukraine TA Ventures and organized the largest startup related event in CEE region.

In 2014, he was working in an investor club from Italy to develop its operations in BRICS countries. From 2015 to 2018, Ihor was a Regional Manager for CEE and MENA at Seedstars, a group of companies, based out of Geneva, that builds, connects and develops entrepreneurship in emerging markets.

Farzin Shakib

Innovation Catalyst - Advanced Technologies

Farzin received his Ph.D. in 1990 in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University. He specialized in Computational Fluid Dynamics, specifically numerical and mathematical modeling and high-performance computing.

After a year of post-doctoral research at NASA Ames Research Center, along with his Stanford advisor and three other colleagues, he co-founded Centric Engineering Systems to develop engineering analysis software and later sold the company to Ansys Inc. In 1994, Farzin founded and served as CEO of ACUSIM Software, a company which conducted research in and developed the world-class Computational Fluid Dynamics software, AcuSolve, which has revolutionized how sectors such as the automotive and energy industry performed rapid fluid dynamics analysis in their design cycles. In 2011, Farzin sold ACUSIM to Altair Engineering where, as VP of CFD Technology, he further worked to develop AcuSolve's capabilities. After Altair, Farzin founded Optize Inc. to explore business and product development in data analytics and optimization. In 2018, he joined the Global Innovation Catalyst team to help promote innovation and entrepreneurship around the world.

Pedram Mokrian

Innovation Catalyst - Advisor

Pedram is driven by re-imagining how digital technologies will help address the challenges of global urbanization. He is an Adjunct Professor at Stanford University and a Lecturer at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley where he teaches and advises entrepreneurs and global 1000 companies alike on the topics of entrepreneurship, business model disruption, and technology innovation strategy. He was previously a Principal at Mayfield, one of Silicon Valley's most storied venture capital firms, where he was part of the investment team with over $3.5B assets under management.

Pedram is a founding Partner of the Ratio Academy, New Line Ventures, and an Entrepreneur in Residence at General Electric. In his various roles, he focuses on accelerating the development of new venture efforts, seeking out entrepreneurs who are equally passionate around the applications of machine intelligence, connected systems, data analytics, and the internet of things (IOT). He serves as a mentor or advisor to a number of start-ups, innovation incubators, including the Texas Medical Center Innovation Center and Innovation Labs, and serves on the advisory board of Phillips66. He received his Ph.D. in Engineering from Stanford and had a brief and exciting stint in the Commodities Trading Group at Credit Suisse.

Marilynn Ahern

Innovation Catalyst - Communities + Administration

Marilynn has been part of the GIC team from the start, serving as the firm’s manager of administrative affairs. Over the years, Marilynn has been instrumental in the people side of the organization. Namely, the community at large, across our various markets managing the complex web of relationships.

Marilynn honed her skills as an administrative professional with behind the scenes managerial responsibility in evolving firm dynamics with Global Catalyst Partners and prominent medical capital equipment corporations. Her decades of experience in collaborative support, extensive knowledge of office practices along with her ability to manage multilevel projects and staff within complex entities all contribute to her authentic personal values – contributing to the “greater good”.