Teaching Team

Teaching Team

Debasis Bhattacharya

Dr. Debasis Bhattacharya (Debāśiṣ Bhaṭṭāchārya, দেবাশীষ ভট্টাচার্য, देवाशीष भट्टाचार्य) is currently a tenured faculty member at the University of Hawai’i Maui College, and program coordinator for the Applied Business and Information Technology (ABIT) baccalaureate program. Dr. Bhattacharya has been working in the software and higher education industry for 32 years, having worked for large corporations such as Oracle and Microsoft for 15 years.
A resident of Hawaii since 2002, he has been actively researching the information security needs of small businesses since 2008. As a former small business owner, he understands the needs and demands of information security, as well as keeping a small business up and running! Dr. Bhattacharya holds degrees from MIT, Columbia University, University of Phoenix and NW California University School of Law. Research interests include computer science education, cybersecurity, cryptocurrencies, blockchains and machine learning.

Peter Rowan

Peter Rowan is Executive Director, Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship,
and a Senior Lecturer at the Shidler College of Business at UH Manoa. He was
Corporate Vice President, New Ventures at Coinstar from 2001-2010. During his
tenure, the company grew from $150 million to $1.3 billion in revenue, entered
new lines of business and introduced innovative growth initiatives like its DVD
kiosks, money transfer, and e-payment programs. At Coinstar, Peter led more
than 20 acquisitions, investments and divestitures, including its investment in
Peter has taught entrepreneurship and new venture strategy since
2005. He is active in the entrepreneurial community as an advisor, mentor and
investor. He has a BA in Russian History from Cornell University, an MA in
International Policy Studies and an MBA from Middlebury Institute of International

Dirk Soma

Dirk N. Soma was born in Waimea, Kauai and raised in Aliamanu, Oahu. Growing up, he and his brother were always looking for ways to earn money for snacks, Hot Wheels, or the movies. Lemonade stands, selling home-made Loves bread Malasadas, mangoes, and flavored ice cups were just some of the early entrepreneurial endeavors. In college, Dirk started Stickman Ts, a t-shirt company that helped pay for his college tuition. Once bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, Dirk created a dry cleaning pick-up and delivery service for downtown Honolulu business professionals and a catering company serving private aircraft throughout Hawai’i.
His passion for entrepreneurship continues as he now champions the innovators of tomorrow through his classes at Kauai Community College, as well as workshops and presentations that he conducts at conferences locally, nationally, and internationally.
Dirk lives by these three mottos:
  • A man is a man when he can.
  • If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.
  • In life it’s not what you acquire, it’s who you inspire!

Denise McKenzie

Denise is currently an adjunct professor with the National Science Foundation (NSF) I-Corps program, training university teams from across the US on translating their research into viable startups. She recently worked at the University of Southern California (USC) where she helped the engineering faculty commercialize early-stage discoveries and move them from the lab to the marketplace.
Denise also has more than fifteen years of experience as a patent litigator. Her law practice focused on helping tech companies protect their ideas and inventions from theft by competitors. In addition, she worked as an electrical engineer at a major aerospace company where she developed mathematical models of missile navigation systems. She earned a JD and MS in electrical engineering from USC, and a BS in mathematics-systems science from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Faustino Dagdag

Faustino Dagdag is an instructor in the Business Division of Leeward Community College. There he teaches courses in management, marketing and entrepreneurship. He recently authored a new entrepreneurship course and a new AS degree category. The course is ENT120: Introduction to Entrepreneurship and the new degree category is an AS Degree in Management with a Concentration in Entrepreneurship. Both are offered exclusively at Leeward Community College.
His career in teaching in the University of Hawaii system began in the spring of 2002 as a business lecturer at Kapiʻolani Community College, teaching various entrepreneurship courses on weekends and nights. He “Pivoted” into a teaching career from a successful career in business spanning 31 years of corporate executive positions in marketing, operations and sales with prominent Hawaiʻi, national and international corporations. During that time,he developed and launched new business ventures and new innovative product offerings, often functioning as an intrapreneur for those companies.
An ardent proponent of entrepreneurship and small business as being key drivers for Hawaiʻi’s economic growth, he began working with the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE). He has volunteered to either judge or coach student teams for the PACE business plan competition for over a dozen years. He serves as the liaison between Leeward Community College and the Office of Innovation and Commercialization at the University of Hawaiʻi, working to advance entrepreneurial initiatives at Leeward CC and surrounding high schools.
He is heavily invested in community service within the workforce development arena by serving as the current President of the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) Hawaiʻi Chapter, also serving as a member of both the Sector Strategies and Pathway Committee and Employer Engagement Committee of the State Workforce Development Council. He recently began serving on the Educational Committee of the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaiʻi important 4Hi Program.

Steve Blank

A retired eight-time serial entrepreneur, Steve’s insight that startups are not smaller versions of large companies has reshaped the way startups are built and how entrepreneurship is taught. His observation that large companies execute business models, but startups search for them, led him to realize that startups need their own tools, different than those used to manage existing companies.

Steve’s first tool for startups, the Customer Development methodology, spawned the Lean Startup movement. The fundamentals of Customer Development are detailed in Blank’s books, The Four Steps to the Epiphany and the The Startup Owner’s Manual. Blank teaches Customer Development and entrepreneurship at Stanford University, U.C. Berkeley Haas Business School and Columbia University, and his Customer Development process is taught at Universities throughout the world. In 2009 Steve earned the Stanford University Undergraduate Teaching Award in Management Science and Engineering. In 2010, he earned the Earl F. Cheit Outstanding Teaching Award at U.C. Berkeley Haas School of Business.

In 2011, he developed the Lean LaunchPad, a hands-on class that integrates Business Model design and Customer Development into practice through fast-paced, real-world customer interaction and business model iteration. In 2011, the National Science Foundation adopted Blank’s class for its Innovation Corps (I-Corps), training teams of the nation’s top scientists and engineers to take their ideas out of the university lab and into the commercial marketplace. In 2014 the I-Corps program was expanded to include the NIH, DOE, and DOD. More than 1,000 teams have gone through the I-Corps program.

Steve’s eight startups in 21 years as an entrepreneur include two semiconductor companies, Zilog and MIPS Computers; Convergent Technologies; a consulting stint for Pixar; a supercomputer firm, Ardent; a peripheral supplier, SuperMac; a military intelligence systems supplier, ESL; and Rocket Science Games. Steve co-founded startup number eight, E.piphany, in his living room. Steve has followed his curiosity about why entrepreneurship blossomed in Silicon Valley while stillborn elsewhere with the talk “The Secret History of Silicon Valley.”


Steve Weinstein

With a background that spans technology, product development, and entertainment, Steve Weinstein has been focused on where media meets technology. Currently Steve is the founder and CEO of MovieLabs. Steve is also the co-founder of KineTrope a small design shop for small consumer and professional electronics. Additionally, Steve is currently teaching entrepreneurship at U.C. Berkeley and at Stanford.

Previously, Steve served as CTO of Deluxe Entertainment, a 6,000 person postproduction house, and CTO at Rovi Corporation where he guided the transition from physical technologies to e-commerce, connected home, secure and subscription services. Additionally, Steve held the role of Chief Technology Officer at Vicinity, a mapping company acquired by Microsoft in 2002. Steve was also a founding executive and Chief Strategist and Technologist at Liberate Technologies, an interactive television software company. Further back in his career, Steve held executive-level positions at Microprose/Spectrum HoloByte (game company), Electronics for Imaging (print processing), and Media Cybernetics (image processing). Steve also was chief architect at Ship Analytics for real time ship, sub and helicopter trainers. Steve started his career at Naval Research Laboratory in the area of advanced signal processing, computer language design, and real time OS development.

Tom Bedecarré

Tom Bedecarré was Co-Founder and CEO of AKQA, the leading and most-awarded digital advertising agency. Tom built AKQA into a global company which now has more than 2,000 staff in 20 offices in the US, Latin America, Europe and Asia. Tom was also President of WPP Ventures, exploring Silicon Valley investment opportunities for WPP, the world’s largest communications services group.

An innovator and pioneer in media, entertainment and communications, Tom was named “Silicon Valley’s Favorite Adman” by Fortune magazine and he was recognized in 2013 as an EY Entrepreneur of The Year.

Tom earned his BA from Stanford and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management. He has been an active mentor to Stanford students and startups, and in 2018 Tom received Stanford’s Outstanding Alumni Mentor Award. For the past two years, Tom has been a Lecturer in Management at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Peter Newell

COLONEL U.S. ARMY (ret) is a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the National Defense University Institute for National Strategic Studies, Center for Technology and National Security Policy and a senior advisor within the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO).

During his 32 years in uniform he served as both an enlisted national guardsman and as an active duty officer. He served in, led, and commanded Infantry units at the platoon through brigade level, while performing peace support, combat, and special operations in Panama, Kosovo, Egypt, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan.

During his last assignment in the military he led the U.S. Army Rapid Equipping Force (REF) in the investment of over $1.4B in developing rapid solutions to answer Soldiers’ most pressing needs. Among the initiatives he developed were the Army’s $66M effort to develop and deploy renewable energy systems on the battlefield and the Army’s $45M effort to design an integrated system to gather the data required to determine the potential causes of Traumatic Brain Injury. He was also responsible for the Army’s first deployment of mobile advanced/additive manufacturing labs in a bid to more closely connect scientists and engineers to problems on the battlefield. His efforts to accelerate problem recognition and solution delivery to military units is the subject of the 2013 Stanford Graduate School of Business Case Study “The Rapid Equipping Force Customer Focused Innovation in the U.S. Army” and appears in the 2014 book Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less by Bob Sutton and Huggy Rao.

Newell holds a BS from Kansas State University, an MS in Operations from the US Army Command & General Staff College, an MS in Strategy from the National Defense University and Advanced Certificates from the MIT Sloan School and Stanford University Graduate School of Business.