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Meet our Mentors

Marty Levine

3rd Rail Consulting, Principal Consultant

Programs: NSF I-Corp, CoMotion Innovation Gap Fund, CoMotion DubPitch


Industry experience

  • Software/IT
  • Healthcare IT
  • Consumer applications
  • Medical devices
  • Consumer technology (hardware and software)
  • Social innovation

Areas of expertise

  • Media/content distribution
  • Social media
  • Mining/resource extraction
  • Business development and strategic partners


Marty is a business development and communications professional with more than 40 years of international experience in partnerships and alliances, technology and media licensing, strategic communications, and analysis. In his first career, he was an award-winning business and technology journalist and industry analyst. Over the past 20 years, Marty has been a member of the senior leadership team at multiple digital media and technology startups, and a consultant to other startup teams. Marty holds a BA in Journalism from Empire College – State University of New York.

Working with CoMotion

Mentor journey

I’ve been working with CoMotion for almost three years, and have mentored teams participating in I-Corps, Innovation Gap Fund, DubPitch and related activities. This was a chance to “pay it forward” as an acknowledgement of all the help and guidance I received from informal mentors throughout my career(s). The structure of CoMotion’s formal programs helps to make this that much more meaningful. With each program, there are clear objectives and an effective structure to provide feedback, advice, and support, and to share decades of experience.

Favorite project

Working with the team at Vignette has been my most fruitful experience with the program – eerily so in that it is rare to find a team pursuing a specific industry solution that so closely matches aspects of my career – in this case optimizing digital video compression for media distribution. In some ways, this triggered a flashback to a pivotal time in my career, and also an opportunity to leverage decades of industry relationships, experience, and accumulated knowledge.

I was introduced to Vignette’s founder, Amrita Mazumdar, in 2019. It was clear from the start that she was a sponge for knowledge and advice about the entertainment content industry, and all of the infrastructure providers that enable streaming movies and TV shows around the world. When someone is that focused and dedicated, it’s gratifying to help them achieve their goals. I’ve mentored Amrita through the Innovation Gap Fund program (and subsequent grant), and industry outreach as she’s begun to transition towards a startup. I expect to advise her and her company as they proceed to product release and customer acquisition.

It’s been particularly gratifying to see her refine her plans for Vignette based on what she’s learned, both through the Innovation Gap Fund grant and her time working with me. It makes all the difference when I can see a direct line between my investment of time and expertise as a mentor and ROI in the form of a more effective team.

Advice to innovators

Understand your target customers – and what, for them, defines the difference between a “nice to have” and a “need to have” product/service. Make the effort to discover the factors that will motivate them to buy (versus what they sometimes say is important). This is less about how they respond when you ask them what it would take to buy what you’re selling. It’s understanding (even if they can’t always articulate it themselves) where a need becomes an overwhelming motivation – and where less understood emotional triggers come into play.