First speakers ’17

Knowledge Sharing & Inspiration

The Digital Freedom Festival is delighted to welcome a diverse range of inspiring and experienced people, who are determined to explore and share the ways we can improve and streamline our daily lives with innovative products, concepts and technologies.

Digital Freedom Festival 2017 First Speakers


Stephanie Alys (UK)

Co-Founder at MysteryVibe


Stephanie is a Co-Founder and Chief Pleasure Officer (CPO) of MysteryVibe, an award-winning British pleasure brand. As CPO, Stephanie is focused on changing perceptions around pleasure in a positive and empowering way.

A strong advocate that pleasure is a beautiful part of the human experience, and fundamental to our happiness, Stephanie is MysteryVibe’s spokesperson on the role of technology within sex and relationships.

She has been featured in major publications such as the BBC, The Times, Guardian, Economist, CNBC, TechCrunch and WIRED and regularly appears as a keynote speaker on international stages.


Paul Bragiel (USA)

Founder of Bragiel Brothers


Paul Bragiel is a 3 time entrepreneur that is the founder of Bragiel Brothers, an early stage fund in Silicon Valley. He also sits on the advisory board of the car-sharing service Uber.

Collectively he’s invested in the seed rounds of 200+ companies which includes holdings in other billion dollar companies like Unity & Zappos.

In addition to his work in US he has started regional funds in Africa (savannah fund) & Asia (golden gate ventures) and vertical funds in gaming (game founders) & VR (presence).

Outside of work, he skis for the Colombia National Cross-Country Ski Team where he just recently competed in the 2017 World Championships in Finland.


David Braun (DE)

CEO and Founder of DASHR


David Braun is an award-winning extreme-sports athlete, Entrepreneur, UI/UX Designer and Mentor.

His passion for running which started when he was a little boy growing up in Kenya, lead him to create DASHR, a sports app that connects runners.

The venture-backed startup was one of the winning teams to be selected for TechnoGym’s first cycle of its Wellness Accelerator.

Being at the fore-front of the sports tech world, he is also working with the grandsons of Adi Dassler on a new sports accelerator in Berlin.

Having a pay-it-forward mentality, David dedicates considerate amounts of his time towards helping, advising and mentoring other startups and aspiring entrepreneurs and is a mentor at LeAD Sports Accelerator and Startupbootcamp Digital Health.


Eamonn Carey (UK)

Managing Director at Techstars New York


Eamonn Carey an early stage investor, advisor and board member. Most recently, Eamonn was the MD at Techstars Connection in partnership with AB InBev program in New York, and is currently a board member and advisor at Lingvist and a managing director at Techstars New York.

Eamonn is a regular speaker at conferences around the world – including SXSW, Mobile World Congress, Slush, Pioneers, Tech Open Air, the Pirate Summit, Arabnet, GITEX, the Global Apps Summit, the Mobile Games Forum, National Digital Media Summit, CultureTech, Liverpool Sound City and many others.


Scott Cohen (UK)

Co-Founder of the Cyborg Nest


Scott Cohen Co-Founded the Cyborg Nest with Liviu Babitz in early 2016.  On December 14, 2016, they became the first people to permanently attach the North Sense by inserting two titanium rods in their chests and attaching a circuit board, compass, vibrating mechanism and battery encased in water proof silicone.

Scott Cohen is the co-founder of digital distribution pioneer The Orchard.  The Orchard is the world’s leading distributor of music, film and video with operations in 30 global territories.  As a well-recognized public speaker and lecturer, Scott travels the world evangelizing new business models for the digital age.

Scott is a human rights activist and strict vegan.  No meat, fish, cheese, milk, honey, leather, wool or anything else derived from an animal.



Raph Crouan (UK)

Managing Director & Founder at Startupbootcamp IoT London


Raphael is a Senior Adviser, Investor (Undagrid / Beasts of Balance) & International Speaker with a background in Sales, Marketing & Strategic Business Development (Telecom, Apple).

He’s now the Founder & CEO of the Startupbootcamp IoT Program based in London.

He’s also a Founding Board Member & Chair for the SMEs in the AIOTI (Alliance for IoT Innovation) at the European Commission, an adviser to MakerWharf, a Founding Board Member of the French IoT Think Tank & a Founding & Advisory Board member of the UK French Tech Hub.


Flora Coleman (UK)

Government Relations at TransferWise


Experienced government relations specialist with a demonstrated history of working in technology and financial services.

Strong political communications professional skilled in crisis management, public affairs, elections, regulatory change and corporate social responsibility.

In addition, Flora has experience in UK politics, having worked as a political adviser in Parliament.


Joséphine Goube (FRA)

CEO of Techfugees


By the age of 23, Joséphine Goube was director of strategic partnerships at Migreat – an online platform supporting two million individuals through each step of the immigration process.

Less than four years later, she’s been named Expert On Immigration for the European Commission. But that’s just her day job. She’s also co-directing manager at Girls In Tech London – helping women to launch careers in technology.

Moved by the plight of refugees in Europe, Josephine and a number of technology industry people have formed a voluntary team to create Techfugees – an international nonprofit coordinating the technology industry answer to the refugee situation.

Techfugees organises conferences and hackathons around the world, curates a database of innovative projects and work with a global network of collaborators to support the creation of tech innovation for the refugees and NGOs.


Paula Gould (IS)

Principal at Frumtak Ventures


Paula Gould is Principal at Frumtak Ventures in Reykjavik, Iceland, leading international growth, brand and marketing initiatives across the Frumtak Ventures portfolio.

She has extensive experience working with startup and growth companies from the US, Israel and Iceland on brand, business development, marketing and public relations strategies internationally.

Prior to joining Frumtak Ventures, Paula was CMO of Greenqloud, which was acquired by NetApp in 2017.

She served on the Board of Directors of Icelandic company CLARA when it was acquired by Jive Software in 2013. In addition to serving companies as a Board Director, CEO and CMO, Paulaowned PEG PR, a boutique PR firm at the intersection of IT and entertainment, where she advised and nurtured the growth of clients ranging from social media, video and gaming platforms to a fuel cell manufacturer and notable award-winning artists.


Dean Johnson (UK)

Head of Innovation at Brandwidth



Dean is an accomplished design leader, writer, presenter and tech pundit and his team at Brandwidth is shaping the future for the Automotive, Publishing, Music, Film, Education and Leisure sectors.

Dean is a Fellow and the former VP of The Chartered Society of designers and a mentor for the fashion tech incubator Front Row I/O. Brandwidth has been responsible for designing and creating some of the world’s most dynamic mobile experiences, from ‘The Doors’, ‘Doctor Who Encyclopedia’ and ’Star Wars Scene Maker’ apps, to ‘Led Zeppelin: Sound and Fury’, ‘Saving Mr Banks’ and ‘Maleficent’ multi touch books. Mobile is also wearable and this provides the next interactive playground. With many of Brandwidth’s SmartWatch, VR and AR projects still behind closed doors, it’s time to unleash a few.

Dean was a finalist in the 2014 Shorty Awards, presents the ‘Gadgetarium’ on the Dadsaster podcast, is Inspector Gadget on Nikki Bedi’s BBC London 94.9 show, writes for Computer Arts, iCreate, Apps Magazine and his own blog and wrote the number 1 Multi-Touch book ‘Digital Publishing: The Next Steps’.


Risto Kuulasmaa (FIN)

CEO and Co-Founder of Tubecon


Risto Kuulasmaa is a prolific entrepreneur and executive in media and startups. He is the Co-Founder and CEO at Tubecon the leading influencer event organiser in Europe. The latest Tubecon event in Helsinki gathered 17 500 visitors. Tubecon network is currently active in Finland, Sweden, Switzerland and Spain and extending to several new European markets in 2018.

In his keynote Risto shares his hands-on approach answering to the following questions: Why YouTubers and Influencers are the game changer in media and marketing? What it takes to master Influencer marketing? Why community matters?

Outside of work, Risto travels with his camera and serves as a board member at UNICEF Finland.


Marvin Liao (US)

Partner at 500 Startups


Marvin is a Partner at Micro Venture Capital Fund 500 Startups, running the SF based accelerator program as well as investing in Seed stage start ups. He Invests in Digital Media, Enterprise SAAS, Marketplace, Mobile, AdTech/MarketingTech, Digital Health, Internet of Things & Fintech startups.

Formerly an experienced client-facing senior executive in the media and technology space in both large and start up growth companies, having managing large multifunctional teams across multiple countries.

He has P&L management experience and most recently responsible for 100% YoY revenue growth while running a business unit and building new sales channels in EMEA & the Emerging Markets regions for the last ~4 years at Yahoo!.

A 10.5 year veteran of Yahoo! Inc., Marvin has held roles in the various departments of Sales, Business Development, Ad Operations and Marketing. Most of his roles were regional or global management roles giving him extensive experience across Asia, Europe, Latin America and the United States in his career at the company.

Marvin presently serves on the boards/advisory boards of several internet advertising and ad technology companies across the globe.

A longtime fan, participant, and an observer of the digital revolution occurring for the last 15+ years across the world, he is interested in opportunities with top growth companies large and small with a focus on driving monetization and expanding into new international markets.


Merle Maigre (EE)

Director of NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence


Merle Maigre is Director of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence. Prior to this post, Maigre worked as Security Policy Adviser to the President of Estonia 2012-2017. In this capacity she was the President’s chief advisor on domestic and international security issues, including also the developments and challenges of cyber defence.

From 2010 till 2012 she served as the Policy Adviser in the Policy Planning Unit in the Private Office of NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in Brussels.

Maigre has also worked as a researcher at the International Centre for Defence and Security (ICDS), where she focused primarily on Ukraine policy and development, including the security situation in Crimea. She has also served as the Deputy Head of the NATO Liaison Office in Kyiv and at the NATO Department in Estonia’s Ministry of Defence to support the country’s NATO accession. 


Sandris Mauriņš (LV)

Blockchain strategist, ICO advisor, and Co-Founder at Iconiq Lab


Sandris is a blockchain strategist and serial entrepreneur with 7 years of business development experience.

He is a visiting lecturer in innovation and creativity at Rīgas Stradiņš University and University of Latvia Stockholm School of Economics, as well as PhD candidate in sociology.

Iconiq Lab is an Initial Coin Offer and Token Launch seed fund and accelerator. It funds, develops and accelerates the best crypto-currency, blockchain and technology startups to their own ICO.


Sheel Mohnot (USA)

Partner at 500 Startups (focus on FinTech)


Sheel leads fintech investments for 500 Startups, which is great because his startup experience includes founding 2 fintech companies with successful exits. He also runs a podcast called The Pitch ( where founders pitch investors.


Kathryn Myronuk (USA)

Founding Team Member of Singularity University


Named by CNN as one of The Top 7 Tech Heroes to Watch in 2015, Kathryn Myronuk is a leading expert on exponentially growing technologies and the synthesis of the broad set of related fields of the Singularity movement.

As a founding staff member at Singularity University (SU) at NASA Research Park in Silicon Valley, Kathryn participated in the early formation of SU’s groundbreaking approach to experiential learning encouraging participants to shift from one field to another, sometimes on an hour-by-hour basis, creating connections to build solutions to solve global grand challenges.

She designed curriculum and worked closely with interdisciplinary and international participants and teams in all eight of SU’s 10-week programs and within SU’s many shorter programs.


Ayelet Noff (IL)

Founder and CEO of Blonde 2.0


Ayelet Noff is the Founder and CEO of award-winning PR Firm Blonde 2.0 with offices in Tel Aviv and Boston. Founded in 2006, the firm specializes in publicizing the hottest technology startups, enterprises, VCs, and lifestyle brands globally.

They also have a special dedicated unit called BlondeChain, that is designed to serve the PR needs of crypto companies. Blonde 2.0 has 25 employees and helps its clients such as Google, Microsoft, Viber, and many others, receive coverage in major publications, engage with consumers and influencers, and create a consistent buzz on the Web and beyond.

In 2017, Ayelet was named by Business Insider as one of the best public relations people in the tech industry.

She also has been named one of the Startup Nation’s “Movers and Shakers” on Forbes.

She is the host of Startups Around the World on the i24 News Channel, and a regular contributor at publications such as The Next Web, VentureBeat and Forbes.

Since founding Blonde 2.0, she has led successful PR activities for hundreds of companies, and has lectured on the topic in conferences around the world.


John Paramai Dhanissaro (Supadulchai) (TH)

Theravada Buddhist monk


Monk John has received a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Computer Engineering and a PhD in Telematics. In 2005 he began designing, developing and coding a unique 42-day free self-development program. He created an online platform, which incorporates new technology to help people balance their busy lifestyle and digital behavior.

After completing his PhD, Monk John decided to become ordained as a Theravada Buddhist monk in Thailand, and was subsequently invited to join the Peace Revolution project as a meditation instructor. He has been teaching on an online meditation program and at Peace-On-Demand meditation sessions with over 5,000 people from 123 countries. He has taught in 20 Fellowship programs, as well as meditation workshops and retreats in Africa, America, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, the Caribbean in 50 countries all together.


Vasco Pedro (PT)

CEO and Co Founder at Unbabel


Vasco Pedro is the co-founder and CEO of Unbabel. He has a PhD in Language Technologies from Carnegie Mellon and is passionate about creating extraordinary products with the help of talented individuals at Unbabel.

Previously he was co-founder and CEO of Bueda, co-founder of Dezine, and has served as a mentor at The Founder Institute and Beta-i, where he helps startups navigate the early stages of development, focusing on team building, technology challenges and building testable MVPs.

Vasco was also a Research Assistant Professor at Instituto Superior Técnico in Lisbon and an Invited Researcher and Research Assistant at the Carnegie Mellon University.


Alex Petrov (LV)

CIO at


Alex is Bitfury is the CIO at – the leading full service Blockchain technology company.

Alex has 30+ year experience in IT as a System Analyst, optimization expert, Business stack auditor,  IT Security expert,  IT trainer, Network & communications security expert, crisis manager, risk manager, Fin-tech specialist, block-chain expert and analyst.


Jeff Pulver (USA)

Entrepreneur and Investor


Jeff Pulver is committed to the future of the Internet and is featured often in the media as an expert in his field. In addition to having invested in over 350 startups since 1998, Pulver organizes a conference series focusing on Twitter activities and strategy called 140 Characters Conference that is held in various locations around the world.

Considered one of the leading experts in the field of streaming audio and video technologies, Pulver has been called a pioneer in VoIP telephony.

He was profiled in 2006 by The Wall Street Journal, discussing his visions about both voice and video communications via the Internet.

Jeff is known as a globally renowned thought leader. In 1995 he coined the abbreviation ‘VON’ to stand for Voice/Video on the Net. From 1997 to 2008 he hosted/produced the VON Conferences.

His work in Washington is the reason services like: FaceTime, Messenger and Skype are free. Has influenced the creation of numerous other startups.

Friends know him as ‘the Forrest Gump’ of the communications industry.


Marjel Quekel (NL)

AI Program Director at Rockstart


Marjel is a Stanford University Ignite graduate and has studied Business Analytics, Economics and Financial Accounting at Harvard Business School (HBX).

Before joining Rockstart, she was COO of an AI-driven digital media company with €2M+ in seed funding and worked on a wine technology project, which applied machine learning to predict wine consumer interests.

In addition to that, she’s built a data-driven international consulting company for Alexandre de Rothschild (deputy chairman of Rothschild & Co.) in a COO capacity.


Helen Sildna (EE)

Founder of Tallinn Music Week


Helen Sildna, based in Estonia, has been a music promoter and events producer for 15 years. Having worked at Baltics’ biggest concert agency BDG (currently LiveNation) as an international talent booker, she established her own music promotion company Musiccase in 2008, which has promoted Morrissey, Sigur Ros, Patti Smith, Feist and Regina Spektor to mention a few.

Helen is the founder and owner of Tallinn Music Week. Having started out as a music industry conference and showcase festival in 2009, TMW has broadened its concept further into an all-encompassing city festival, covering arts, design, technology, city space and food culture, and discussing various societal issues within its talks sessions, presentations and conference panels.

In 2016 Tallinn Music Week hosted over 1,000 conference delegates and 35,000 festival visitors, around 2000 of them international guests.

She is a board member of Music Estonia, previously also a member of former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves’ Think Tank.

In 2014 Helen was awarded with the Tampere Music Award at Music & Media Finland’s industry gala for Exceptional Achievements in Music Business, in 2015 she was nominated the Citizen of the Year by Estonian Ministry of Culture and in 2016 Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves awarded her the Order of White Star of IV Class for her contribution to Estonian music life and civil society.

Helen is an outspoken member of the creative community, vocal on equal rights, diversity and internationalization. In 2016 she was voted the most influential woman in Estonian culture.

Photo credit: Laura Kallasvee


Tanya Soman (USA)

Venture Partner at 500 Startups


Tanya Soman is a native New Yorker and Venture Partner at 500 Startups.

She focuses on investment opportunities in the consumer space with an emphasis on retail, beauty, and fashion.

Tanya leads a beauty specialty track in 500’s Mountain View Accelerator and spends the rest of her time scouting companies globally.

Her startup experience includes operational marketing roles at AdTech startups in NYC before moving to Silicon Valley.

She holds a BS in business management from Babson College.


Alise Semjonova (LV)

Co-Founder of


Alise Semjonova is the Co-Founder and Product Designer at Infogram, a data visualization platform with a mission to create and deliver tools for people to tell and understand the stories behind data.

Infogram is used by more than two million journalists, NGO activists, marketers, and educators worldwide. On May 2017 Infogram and Prezi, the visual presentation giant, joined forces to deliver most powerful tools for visual communications.

Alise has witnessed Infogram’s growth from day one while working on continuous improvements and studying overall user reaction, which spiked interest in technology acceptance and human digital product design.

Alise has background is in Graphic Design, but after her passion had grown in digital product development, she pursued attaining her Master’s degree in Human-Computer Interaction.

Alise’s passion for startups, entrepreneurship, technology and digital design led to co-initiating Riga TechGirls, the first community in Latvia dedicated to educating and inspiring women about technology.

Alise has been selected by Forbes as 30 Under 30 in Europe – Media (2017).


Elizabeth Stark (USA)

Co-Founder and CEO of Lightning


Elizabeth is CEO and Co-Founder of Lightning, a company building a programmable financial layer for the internet through instant, high volume blockchain transactions.

Further, she is an advisor to, a startup building autonomous driving technology using AI and machine learning, and a fellow at Coin Center, the leading digital currency policy organization. Stark previously taught at Stanford and Yale University about the internet’s impact on society, the economy, and the law, and was a visiting fellow at Yale’s Information Society Project.

Elizabeth has worked on tech policy issues for over a decade, and played an instrumental role in the Internet freedom effort that defeated SOPA/PIPA, engaging 18 million people worldwide.

Stark was a longtime researcher at the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet & Society, covering issues such as Internet censorship, digital copyright, and privacy. She also cofounded the Open Video Alliance, which promotes innovation and free expression in online video, and has collaborated with industry leaders such as Mozilla and Google.

Stark served as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Stanford’s StartX and has advised numerous companies in the blockchain and decentralized technology space.

She holds a J.D from Harvard Law School.


Paulina Sygulska (UK)

Founder of GrantTree and Treehouse


Paulina is a serial entrepreneur, a TEDx speaker and a Founder of GrantTree and Treehouse. She is also a seed investor and startup mentor, often featured as women in fintech speaker and panelist. Paulina is particularly passionate about gender equality in financial services and transparency in business in general.

GrantTree started in 2010 with a purpose to help navigate – and automate – the complex world of government funding. In the last seven years the team grew organically from 2 to 35, and raised £60m for 600+ technology clients. GrantTree has also pioneered open salary scheme, and adopted holacracy.


Raimonds Vējonis (LV)

President of Latvia



Ville Miettinen (FIN)

Founder and CEO of Microtask


Ville Ilmari Miettinen is a Finnish serial entrepreneur and computer programmer. Miettinen was the co-founder and CTO of Hybrid Graphics, a graphics technology company acquired by NVIDIA in 2006. Miettinen is a founding partner at Lots, one of the accelerators in the Finnish governmental Vigo Programme. Miettinen is also the CEO and co-founder of the crowdsourcing technology company Microtask.


Robin Wauters (BEL)

Founding Editor of


Robin Wauters is a seasoned European technology journalist and Founding Editor of, the premier source of European technology news, data analysis and market intelligence. He was formerly the European Editor of The Next Web, and before that a senior editor at TechCrunch.





Ryan Williams (USA)

Entrepreneur in Residence at 500 Startups


Ryan Williams has been fired up about what makes B2B sales work at startups for 9 years.

Ryan’s a speaker, trainer and thought leader, but he has also personally closed tens of millions in deals and as a sales leader he’s hired over 200 reps across the 5 different startups he’s been a part of (which include: AdRoll, LeadGenius and InVisionApp).

Ryan joined 500 Startups as an EIR & Sales Coach in 2017 with the goal to help our founders go to market quickly when they are selling to other businesses.

He’s a master of testing markets, building customer profiles, coaching deals and sales hiring.

When not at 500, he is working on his own startup, SalesCollider, to bring founders together with top tier sales leaders through events and advisory.