Advisory Board Member
Knut, born in 1959 in Berlin/ Germany, works since February 2016 as Country Representative for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Munich and Upper Bavaria in Tbilisi in a German government financed Chamber support project with focus on organizational development and new services.
He studied foreign trade/ economics in Berlin.
Knut worked in several governmental institutions and private companies, including the General Commissariat for World Exposition Expo 2000 Hanover as Plenipotentiary. Since 2003 he has been project leader, freelance consultant and wine& tourism specialist and has implemented several projects in Bulgaria, Georgia, Germany, Moldova, Serbia and Ukraine. From 2012-2015 he worked as Project leader of a regional program supporting the Danube Competence Center, Belgrade, a kind of regional tourism Destination Management Organisation for Danube River.
Knut has proven experiences in SSMEs value chain & cluster development, institutional strengthening of business organisations, tourism and export promotion, event planning& management, humanitarian aid and management coaching in transformation processes (social& economic system change).
He was member of the International Board of the AREV Assembly of European Winegrowing Regions until 2016. He is registered EC expert REGIO-CEI-AMI, DG Regional and Urban Policy, Smart and Sustainable Growth and Southern Europe Competence Centre Smart and Sustainable Growth since 2015.
He is married, has 6 kids and is actually a resident of Georgia.
Advisory Board Member
Christian Gessl is since March 2015 developing the Public Private Dialogue activity within the EU Project “East Invest 2”. He is one of the representatives of UEAPME in the Project Management Team of East Invest 2.
For the last 26 years, he was working for the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber representing the interests of the Austrian Exporters. He worked as Deputy Commercial Counsellor in South Korea, the Russian Federation and Belgium, from 2000 – 2007 as Commercial Counsellor in Ukraine and from 2007 – 2010 as Head of the Commercial office in Barcelona.
Form 2010 – 2015 he was Director for Central Europe and the Baltics in Advantage Austria. He organized conferences like the CEE LAC Business Forum bringing together companies from Latina America and Central Eastern Europe, the Danube Region Business Forum on Value Chains in the Argo-Food Business and Forums on Touristic Infrastructure. He worked on the topic of Hidden Champions in Austria demonstrating their importance for the success of the Austrian economy.
He participated in different EU projects as expert and trainer on organisational development in Business Membership and Business Support Organisations.
Christian Gessl has a University Degree in Business Administration from the University of Innsbruck and he is an honorary doctor of Lugansk Pedagogical University.
Colin M. Donohue
Advisory Board Member
Colin is an entrepreneurial leader with a passion for helping organizations and businesses grow. He has been recognized by Google for various achievements in marketing as well as his role advising Adwords agencies and SMES.
Colin has been engaged in the Georgian startup ecosystem in increasingly deep ways for the past two years, as founder of the renewed Startup Grind Tbilisi chapter and convener of startup ecosystem improvement process including: Startup Grind Tbilisi, Organizing a delegation of Georgian startups to Startup Grind Global in Silicon Valley, Participating in the US Embassy Working Group on Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Moderating of German-Georgian Startup Forum funded by GIZ and the German Embassy, Planning and facilitation of the Startup Ecosystem Strategy Retreat, a 2-day retreat in Kvareli Georgia involving 30 top leaders in the startup ecosystem
He is founder of a startup project not yet made public, and an advisor for VREX Immersive, a travel marketing platform using Virtual Reality.
Colin has consulted with numerous US companies, incubators, accelerators including award-winning ones in his home state of Ohio. He has conducted trainings for startups and diverse business audiences.
Before he switched to for-profit work he led regional and national nonprofit organizations in the US including Rural Action (director of the sustainable economies section) and National Network of Forest Practitioners. Most of his work focused on sustainable economic development, so he has over 20 years of history working with a wide variety of founders and companies from tiny rural microenterprises to nonprofit-based social enterprises to advising on big-picture entrepreneurial economy projects for donors such as Ford Foundation.
His personal founding experiences have included a fair-trade import business, Bali Karma, which received awards such as Best New Business in Athens Ohio. Currently he operates Root Deeper Marketing, a profit-driven marketing consultancy. In Georgia he is launching Georgian Ventures a startup ecosystem advisory company and a not-yet-announced project with a Georgian co-founder.
He currently lives in Tbilisi with his Georgian-Ukranian wife and delightful children Daniel and Nicholas.