About RIoT

RIoT is a 501(c)(3) brought to you by the Wireless Research Center and our sponsors.

RIoT has grown significantly since starting as a Meetup group in 2014, and while RIoT continues to serve as a convener for the IoT community, RIoT also offers a startup accelerator, R&D lab, educational programs, and more.

Meet the RIoT SQUAD

Keeping a RIoT under control ain’t easy.

Tom Snyder

Executive Director

Tom is Executive Director of RIoT, supporting Internet of Things and disruptive technology industry growth.  Under Tom’s leadership, RIoT has launched the RIoT Accelerator Program, RIoT Studios, which includes the RIoT Underground Podcast, and RIoT’s ED series.  He has grown RIoT from a Research Triangle focused organization to one with international reach.

In his spare time, Tom co-instructs Product Innovation Lab, a Forbes award winning multidisciplinary course in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at NC State.  Prior to joining RIoT, Tom held an executive leadership role at the ASSIST Center, a National Science Foundation sponsored effort to create wearable electronics for healthcare monitoring.  Previously, he spent two decades in product development and technology incubation for multinational technology companies.

He’s passionate about creating and fostering collaborations across disciplines, markets and cultures.  He enjoys the outdoors, woodworking, board games, big crowds, craft beer and ideas that are just crazy enough to work.

Caroline Griffin

Director of Operations

Caroline works at the heart of everything RIoT.  As Director of Operations, she keeps the organization running smoothly and manages all the details of our world-class events and RIoTs.  She manages corporate communications, marketing and RIoT’s internship program.  She is also the primary architect of the popular Lunch & Learn series.

Prior to RIoT, Caroline held several positions with event planning and sponsorship raising responsibilities.  Caroline is a Raleigh native and graduated Magna Cum Laude from the College of Natural Resources at North Carolina State University.

While Caroline is not at work, she enjoys traveling and exploring the outdoors with her husband, Eddie, and their dog, Angus.  You can also catch her at any live show she can find tickets to.

Rachael Newberry

Program Director

Rachael supports IoT innovation through helping small businesses, startups, and corporates explore new business opportunities on the bleeding edge of technology. In 2018, she launched RIoT’s premiere innovation program, the RIoT Accelerator Program (RAP), for early stage startups.

Previously, Rachael built and ran a behavioral science-focused startup program with Dan Ariely’s research lab at Duke University, where her work was featured at Google and in Forbes and Inc. Magazine. As a Triangle-native who’s supported startups across local universities, private equity, and nonprofit programs, Rachael is excited to be part of the continued growth of the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

When she’s not exploring the intersection of entrepreneurship and different disciplines, Rachael’s creative outlets of choice are dance, writing, and interior design. Rachael is a Durham native and graduate of UNC Chapel Hill.

Amber Cobb

Director of Partnerships

Amber focuses on supporting sponsors, serving as co-architect of RIoT’s and partner events, expanding the RIoT community, and supporting RIoT’s mission of capturing and growing the IoT market sector.

Prior to joining RIoT, Amber spent fifteen years in regulatory compliance where she helped both Fortune 100 companies and startups navigate the complex landscape of getting products into the global marketplace.

Amber is a firm believer in technology being the great equalizer and is passionate about supporting women in all technology fields. When she is not supporting RIoT’s sponsors and community, she is chasing around her two children and geeking out with her husband. Whenever Amber has a moment to spare, you can find her honing her culinary skills, reading, and playing board games with her family.

Frank Dees

Wilson Community Lead

Frank is passionate about serving and developing teams while focusing on leadership development and training. A native of North Carolina, he received his MBA from East Carolina University in Greenville and MA from SEBTS in Wake Forest. Additionally, he is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and served in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Prior to joining RIoT, Frank spent over twenty years in leadership roles in the hospitality and non-profit industries.  Frank and his wife have a son and daughter who are both adopted.  In his free time, he coaches, trains and competes in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and is always planning his next trip to Disney World.

Maddie Hornsby

Project Manager

Maddie is an integral part of the RIoT Team, leading RIoT Accelerator Program (RAP) operations, scheduling, and workshop planning.  Maddie is known for her positive attitude and willingness to engage with all RIoT partners and RAP participants.

Prior to RIoT, Maddie worked in the hospitality management industry.  She is a graduate of North Carolina State University, where she studied Business with a focus on Entrepreneurship.  During her time at NCSU, she was active in a number of clubs and participated in a social impact fellowship.

When Maddie is not working, she enjoys reading a good book and going to the beach with her partner, Tim, and their dog, Oden.

Jen Morgan

Virginia Program Lead

Jen joins the RIoT Team as Virginia Program Lead to help RIoT expand into Virginia – leading efforts to help small businesses grow and engage in the broader VA market.

Previously, Jen ran GO Virginia Region 6 – supporting programs to create more high-paying jobs through incentivized collaboration between business, education, and government to diversify and strengthen the economy in every region of the Commonwealth. Jen has a Master’s of Public Administration from James Madison University, with a focus on community and economic development.

When she’s not connecting and building partnerships, Jen can be found outside hiking with her German Shepard, exploring new taco places, or exploring new breweries in the area.

Lexi Parvin

Event & Marketing Intern

Lexi began working for RIoT as a marketing intern but has since expanded her focus into operations as well; coordinating details for upcoming events and developing marketing content.

Prior to RIoT, Lexi developed a strong passion for entrepreneurship and innovation through completing several technological and environmental focused internships.  Currently, she is also pursuing a double major degree in Business Administration and Environmental Studies with a focus on Sustainability at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

When not at RIoT or in class, Lexi enjoys sewing, exploring the outdoors, and spending time with her bird, Rio.

Larry Steffann

RIoT Co-Founder | 1952 – 2018

Larry Steffann was one of the founders of RIoT, and much of RIoT’s success can be attributed to his hard work, vision, and dedication to the startup community.

Larry’s accomplishments included a number of startups, from advisor to angel investor to executive/founder. He served in executive roles at two publicly traded companies. More recently, he was GM of the Wireless Research Center and VP of Product Development for Consert. Larry was also heavily involved and admired in the Raleigh Founded (formerly HQ Raleigh) community, a major hub of entrepreneurship in Raleigh and across the state.

One of his proudest professional accolades was co-founding RIoT; RIoT has been a groundbreaking conduit in what Larry commonly referred to as ‘the 4th Industrial Revolution.’

For more about Larry’s legacy, please visit this article from WRAL TechWire, Upon rocks such as Larry Steffann today’s tech Triangle was built.

RIoT has set up a memorial campaign and scholarship fund in Larry’s honor; please consider joining us in honoring Larry and his family by donating to the Larry Steffann Memorial Fund, which funds efforts to grow the very startup community that Larry supported.