Andrea Kokolis ’73, ’77G, who has spent her career in the technology sector, helping start-up and early stage companies develop and achieve growth objectives and execute against exit strategies, was this year named UNH’s Paul J. Hollway Entrepreneur of the Year.
Kokolis, who currently resides in Sherlburne, Vermont, has been involved in 15 mergers, acquisitions and IPOs, where she has put programs in place to support these successful exits. Most of her career has tracked the pattern of “join early, scale, and exit.” She is currently consulting with several startups where she is focused on developing investment opportunities and is mentoring several entrepreneurs.
In her career, Kokolis has sought out smaller companies with strong product potential and has been key in sourcing and developing the necessary talent to support whole product development and release. Her special skills have led to hiring highly skilled management teams -- she quips “that a product can be great, but without the right team to sell and support it, success won’t come.” From her perspective, the right management team is as critical as the right product/market fit.
Most recently, Kokolis was a key management team member in the following companies which achieved successful exits including Newforma, Granite Systems, NuMega Technologies, and Powersoft. Kokolis currently teaches in the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics MBA program, and also in the Grossman School of Business at the University of Vermont. In the past, she has taught additional courses at UNH and at Southern New Hampshire University. She serves as an advisor to Paul College's student-run Rines Angel Fund and is a longtime judge in the UNH Holloway Prize Competition. She is an advocate of “giving back” and frequently shares “lessons learned” with the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Kokolis is a UNH Wildcat, as are her three sons, and has earned both her undergraduate and MBA degrees at UNH. She has volunteered many hours to UNH and also has served on the UNH alumni board.