Mike Silagadze

Mike Silagadze

Founder and CEO

”Top Hat is an amazing place filled with smart people driven by the clear mission to improve education.”

Mike Silagadze is the CEO and co-founder of Top Hat. Under Silagadze’s leadership and vision, Top Hat has become the market leader in student engagement software, and is used by millions of students at three-quarters of the top 1,000 colleges and universities in North America.

Silagadze is an active speaker and lecturer in the higher education, technology and startup communities, having lectured at the Rotman Commerce Entrepreneurship Organization, the ASU GSV Summit, MaRS, Tech Fest Toronto, SAAS North and T­E­Dx­Laurier­University, among many others.

Silagadze holds a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Waterloo.

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Mohsen Shahini

Mohsen Shahini

CAO/Co-Founder

”At Top Hat, we empower teachers to help students learn faster, retain information longer and have fun when learning—what could be better?”

Mohsen Shahini is the chief academic officer and co-founder of Top Hat. He leads the strategy, vision and growth of the Top Hat Marketplace. 

Shahini is a recipient of the Best Teaching Award from the University of Waterloo. He has published six academic papers in peer-reviewed journals and has spoken on a panel at SXSWedu on the social impact and financial sustainability of educational startups.

Shahini holds a Ph.D. in Mechatronics, Robotics and Automation Engineering from the University of Waterloo, as well as a B.AS. in Mechanical Engineering—Manufacturing and an M.A. of Science in Manufacturing Engineering from Amirkabir University of Technology—Tehran Polytechnic.

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Nick Stein

Nick Stein

Chief Marketing Officer

“What’s revolutionary about Top Hat is that our technology finally makes it possible for instructors to engage students one-on-one inside the lecture hall—just like Socrates did.”

Nick Stein is the CMO at Top Hat and is responsible for driving the company’s overall marketing strategy, including brand management, corporate communications, customer acquisition and retention, and marketing planning and execution. 

Prior to Top Hat, Stein held marketing leadership roles at customer intelligence software provider Vision Critical, enterprise cloud computing giant Salesforce.com and Rypple, a venture-backed startup acquired by Salesforce in 2012. 

Before he joined the startup world, Stein was an award-winning business journalist at Fortune Magazine and CBC Television. 

Stein holds a masters degree in journalism from Columbia University and a B.A. in English Literature from McGill University. He has taught at Columbia University and New York University.

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John Hood

John Hood

Chief Revenue Officer

“I am thrilled to be part of such a mission-driven team that’s so focused on taking a bite out of the cost of education for students while supporting professors’ efforts to create a more engaged and effective classroom experience.”

John Hood is Top Hat’s Chief Revenue Officer, and oversees all revenue-generating functions, including Inside Sales, Enterprise Sales, and Customer Success.

Hood joined Top Hat from Oracle, where he was the Group Vice President in Sales Development & Demand Generation for Oracle Digital, and led a team of more than 800 sales professionals. Prior to that, he was the Chief Revenue Officer at Auction.com, where he steered high-impact sales, sales operations, and support teams. Previously, Hood was Vice President and General Manager at HP, where he was responsible for the Americas SMB market. He began his career with Dell, where he spent 17 years in a variety of sales, operations, and general management roles in the U.S. and internationally.

Hood holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from The University of Texas at Austin.

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Jesper Bendtsen

Jesper Bendtsen

Chief People Officer

“Talent is a key factor in any high growth startup, and Top Hat is no different. I’m excited to be part of a startup that has such a clear value proposition.”

Jesper is Top Hat’s Chief People Officer.

Before joining Top Hat, Bendtsen was EVP of Operations at WilsonHCG, where he led an international team of 300 focusing on business operations and revenue generating strategies. Prior to WilsonHCG, he was Head of Global Recruiting at Uber and VP of Global Go-to-Market Recruiting at Salesforce.

He holds a B.Comm in Marketing from Colorado State University-Pueblo.

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Eran Ben-Ari

Chief Product Officer

“With its strong product portfolio, world-class investors, and strong executive team, Top Hat is uniquely positioned to help solve the challenge of engaging students while providing them with superior learning experiences. And I’m thrilled to be a part of that.“

Eran Ben-Ari is Top Hat’s Chief Product Officer, and oversees all product-related functions, including product management, development, design and analytics.

Ben-Ari joined Top Hat from Kik Interactive, where he was the Chief Product Officer, and led a cross-functional team of more than 50 professionals. Prior to that, he fulfilled product-focused leadership roles in both B2B and B2C companies, including Vice President of Product at Rounds Entertainment (acquired by Kik), Vice President of Growth at Hola (acquired by EMK Capital), and Vice President of Product at Kampyle (acquired by Medallia).

Ben-Ari holds a master’s degree in Anthropology & Sociology from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and is currently working to complete his Ph.D. in the field of Anthropology of Technology, at the Hebrew University Business School.

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Jacquie Dwyer

Jacquie Dwyer

Vice President of APAC

“I’m thrilled to be bringing Top Hat to the APAC region, enhancing the learning environment for educators and students.“

Jacquie is Top Hat’s Vice President of APAC. She’s focused on building key relationships with educators at colleges and universities across Australia and New Zealand. She’ll also be forming partnerships with regional companies across markets such as Singapore, India, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

Before joining Top Hat, Jacquie was VP of Sales at Vision Critical.

Jacquie holds an Hon. BA from the University of Toronto.

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Mumin Al-Shawaf

Mumin Al-Shawaf

VP Customer Success

“I work with some of the smartest people in technology and education, and it’s exciting to be part of Top Hat’s phenomenal growth.“

Mumin Al-Shawaf is the VP of customer success at Top Hat and has been with the company since 2013. His team manages the ongoing success of Top Hat’s customer base of professors and universities through account management, onboarding and support. 

Prior to current role at Top Hat, Al-Shawaf served in finance, operations and sales roles at the company. Before joining Top Hat, he was director of product support at Eloqua.

Top Hat is Al-Shawaf’s third startup, having joined Eloqua and Netsuite in their growth stages. He helped build the customer support departments at both companies, which played an important function during both IPOs. Both companies were acquired by Oracle.

Al-Shawaf holds a Kellogg-Schulich Executive M.B.A. from the Schulich School of Business and a B.A. in Computer Science from Ryerson University.

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