The Nervana braintrust is comprised of technologists, musicians, and professionals with a deep background in the hospitality industry. They bring their love of design, and a burning desire to put killer technology into the world’s hands, to customers’ lobbies, dining rooms, and campuses. We’re technologists, artists, and people who love what they do.
Rhon Daguro, CEO
Rhon is Founder and CEO of Nervana. His career has been focused on helping visionaries launch new companies and products, and re-imagine new innovations for every day challenges.
He has worked with a range of companies including Hard Rock Hotel — the world’s most popular hotel brand, Cisco Systems — makers of the largest digital nervous system in the world, Razorfish — top ranked digital experience consultants in the world, Oracle — number one maker of business software in the world, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Hilton, Hyatt, Ford, General Electric and WebMD, among others.
Prior to founding Nervana, he was recognized by the Chicago Innovation Awards for the creation of TouchLife. He also was a major contributor to one of the most successful startup exits in Silicon Valley by helping Securent from startup to $100MM exit to Cisco Systems.
Rhon has been recognized by dozens of industry and business publications and awards. He is an active speaker and panelist on the issues of innovation and startup strategy. He was recently recognized in Chicago’s first hard-back book on innovation called “Innovating Chicago Style” as a featured case study selected among the top 100 best companies in Chicago. He also was a featured speaker at TEDx Naperville talking about Emotional Design: Re-Hacking the CEO as the Chief Emotional Officer.
He graduated from Northern Illinois’s Computer Science Program, is member of TEDx Midwest Conference, TEDx Naperville Conference, a Northwestern Kellogg School of Business Innovation Participant, a winner of the Chicago Innovation Awards, a member of the Illinois Technology Association, and serves on the Rasmussen Advisory Board.
Macario Gallegos, CTO
Macario Gallegos is Senior Vice President & CTO of The Nervana Group. A driven technology strategist with 20+ years of expertise encompassing business strategy, emerging technologies and program management. Known for keen insights and expertise in identifying and implementing innovative technologies into business models to quickly drive efficiencies, improve guest experience, increase employee productivity and grow revenues. Strong focus and deep understanding of operational areas associated with Gaming, Hospitality and Entertainment Industries.
Prior to the Nervana Group, Macario Gallegos held the position of Central Division Technology Leader for Caesars Entertainment Corporation, the world’s largest gaming company headquartered in Las Vegas. In his role, Gallegos provided leadership for, and directed all facets of Information Technology for 19 casino properties across the Midwest. During his 13 years with Caesars, Gallegos held several operational and technology roles. Prior to Caesars, Gallegos served eight years of honorable Service in the U.S. Marine Corps. His duties included installing, operating and maintaining a robust network of global communication systems in support of inter-continental military operations.
Gallegos earned an MBA from Purdue University and a bachelor’s of business administration in management information systems from DeVry University. A respected Hospitality Industry veteran and technology thought leader.
Jeff Scheidel, Chief Operating Officer
Jeff Scheidel is the Chief Operations Officer of Nervana. With degrees in Computer Science and Math, Jeff has 28 years of experience in software development and sales engineering. This includes shifts with several successful startups, and extensive M&A work, as well as training global sales engineering groups. A published author of industry books and articles, Jeff has been recruited by multiple venture capital groups to build teams from scratch for the purposes of developing and delivering solutions, ramping up sales, providing worldwide sales and product support, and driving IPO’s and acquisitions.
Prior to Nervana, Jeff has worked with several large enterprise software companies like Oracle, Netegrity, Bridgestream, Segue Software, and Kavado.
He graduated from Lewis University in Computer Science and is a musician at heart learning new instruments as well as an accomplished author, and an award-winning short story author, “Chicago Tribune’s Nelson Algren Awards.”
Ryan Weaver, VP of Business Development & Technology
As Co-Founder and Vice President of Business Development & Technology, Ryan is an expert in identifying customer opportunities, key philosophies, and defining market needs and wants for the digital generation. He is a visionary who transforms core technology solutions to act as a catalyst in delivering the best experience to the customer’s end consumer. His expertise takes place in the implementation and management of solutions throughout the entire cycle.
A degree in Computer Information Systems, Information and Process Management from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business has allowed Ryan to gain expertise in Business Application Development, Technology Infrastructure and Information Systems Security. His work experience includes consulting for a variety of large corporations such as Oracle, Crowe Horwath LLP, and Indiana University Bloomington.
Prior to Nervana, his fierce passion and raw talent for connecting people through experience has been fueled by a broad success in lifestyle consulting within Chicago and Miami’s nightlife and entertainment industries. He is essentially the subject matter expert in connecting modern day consumers to modern day businesses by injecting emotion into groundbreaking technology. Be it technical or social, he is a true network engineer.
Roma Bavar, VP of Client Services, and Restaurant Product Technologies
Understanding deep psychology when it comes to what customer’s want from nightlife and food and beverage, Roma applies her real world experience with her natural instincts with social media and social mobile technologies to create the perfect balance emotion and functionality. Nothing ships without Roma’s approval. She’s led the initiative for Emotional Scoring and enforces the discipline within Nervana’s engineering team. She’s responsible for project delivery with our world-class clients.
Before joining Nervana, Roma worked for one of the longest standing nightlife promotions in Chicago as well as working at various restaurants throughout Chicago.
Nicolette Pajda, VP of Strategy and Business Development, Bonfire Services
Nicolette helped co-found Nervana centered around the Bonfire Events Technology. In addition to evangelizing our core product technologies and business development with key clients, she is responsible for providing the essential features and problems that need to be solved in the services industry. As an active Event Planner for Connect.Inspire.Grow, her consistent activities and need to execute often and flawlessly resulted in her co-creating the Bonfire technologies for Nervana. Her attention to process flows and social elements within the event space allow the core features of Bonfire to universally satisfy all key requirements. She is also responsible for speaking about Nervana technologies at schools and public events.
A graduate from DePaul University Master’s Program with focuses on New Media and Emerging Technologies, her experience has allowed Nervana to stay true to the Generation D philosophy as well as evoking emotion into our products. In addition to building Nervana, she is also a very active philanthropist leading initiatives with Bright Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness, Kids Fight Cancer, Imerman Angels, A Safe Haven Foundation Homeless Shelter, and Charity4Life.
Ali Ismaili, VP of Product Development, and Engineering Technologies
Ali is a leader in Nervana’s Renaissance to build the most engaging and emotional software the world has ever seen. With a love for technologies built around art, emotion, and meaning, Ali has found his family at Nervana. He has received multiple awards from Sony, District 219, DePaul University, Congress, Honor Societies, and DePaul University for his leadership. His skillset has entitled him an official 4-year title as a DePaul Leadership Scholar.
Before joining Nervana, Ali has been working with designing custom E-Commerce and Mobile solutions for high-end luxury brands, working on launching private strength training gyms and creating Social Media strategies for academic institutions.
Ali is the founder of the first mobile application development student organization in the world at DePaul University where students from diverse backgrounds design custom mobile solutions for other student organizations on-campus along with departments and divisions in the university. He currently holds the position as the President in this organization. He is also the Lead Web/Technology developer at DePaul University and a Facilities Assistant. His technical, leadership, and entrepreneurial mindset makes him a perfect fit to design emotional apps in the current Generation “D” ever-so-changing culture.
Cheryl Williams, Chief Consultant
Cheryl Williams is an avid Venture Capitalist with over twenty years of experience investing in commercial real estate, financial services and technology driven companies. Cheryl is the chief consultant to the CEO. In this role, Cheryl develops business strategies while expanding new markets and recruiting potential investors. She currently owns and is the CEO of Gem Gal Investments, LLC. One of her greatest accomplishments was the development of an $8M residential community with her business partners in California.
Prior to joining Nervana, Cheryl has invested in several commercial real estate ventures, financial companies and continues to invest in the stock market. She held her real estate license in the state of California, investing in, selling and renting various properties. She previously owned C & M Gems, a diamond brokerage company.
In addition to investing, Cheryl is an experienced gemologist and jeweler. She earned her degree as a Graduate Jeweler Gemologist, with Wax and Design from The Gemological Institute of America in Southern California. She also holds a degree from Parkland College in Psychology and Sociology.