Here are our Judges for the second Annual Sierra Nevada Innovation Challenge!
Kym McNicholas – (coming soon)
Chris Friedland – Build.com
Christian Friedland is the founder of Build.com, Inc. Founded originally as a graduate school project, Build.com has grown into the nation’s leading online home improvement retailer without a store operation.
Friedland received his BA in Political Science and completed the core graduate studies in Computer Science at California State University, in Chico, CA. Christian has founded a number of technology companies, and is an active real estate investor. Christian serves on a series of company boards and frequently lectures at universities and technology conferences.
Gil Alvarado – Sierra Health Foundation
Roger Akers – Akers Capital
Roger has over 20 years of experience in technology related environments. As an IT Services executive, Roger managed the development and delivery of large-scale software systems in over 80 client environments. Efforts included technical and management assignments for a national consulting firm (SCT), as well as the building of a regional IT consulting firm as Managing Partner (PRODATA Inc.). Upon the successful merger of ProData with a large IT services firm, Roger developed a consulting firm (Akers-Waterman & Company) that provided management consulting to industry leaders such as Intel and Cisco Systems. In addition, Roger helped develop and worked with a number of technology companies.
His enjoyment and stimulation of working with the best teams possible has been Roger’s primary motivating factor throughout his career. Roger has undergraduate degrees in Accounting (CPA) and Computer Science and a Masters of Business Administration. He currently serves on the Boards of the Golden State Capital Network, the Emerging Technology Institute, University of California Connect, and sits on the Advisory Board for the Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Davis.
Ron Tackett – USDA Rural Development (coming soon)
Brad Triebsch – Central Valley Fund
Brad Triebsch has more than a 20-year record of proven entrepreneurial ability in taking companies from concept to profitability. Most recently, Mr. Triebsch served as a public finance investment banker for Westhoff, Cone and Holmstedt. Previously, Mr. Triebsch worked with former Los Angeles Dodger personnel on a successful turn around for a sports medicine company. Prior to that, Mr. Triebsch served as Vice President of Wholesale Strategy for an e-commerce company principally engaged in providing outsourced human resources services to small and mid-sized businesses which was successfully sold to a public company.
Mr. Triebsch was the Co-Founder and President of ConVault Mid-Atlantic, Inc., an Inc 500 environmental manufacturing firm. Early in his career, Mr. Triebsch worked as an institutional salesman for First Chesapeake Capital, a boutique investment bank, and on Capitol Hill as an aide to Majority Whip Tony Coelho, D-CA. Mr. Triebsch is a graduate of Saint Mary’s College of California and attended law school at the University of San Francisco. Mr. Triebsch is a Central Valley native from Turlock and maintains strong business and political ties to the region.
Peter Gardner - Startgrid
Peter is the CEO of Startgrid, a company developing a software platform that helps entrepreneurs connect to the resources and relationships they need to build companies. Startgrid’s mission is to serve emerging regions where entrepreneurship is growing, but where geographic barriers still limit opportunities for companies to scale.
Peter has also spent almost 20 years as a venture capital investor, helping seed and early-stage entrepreneurs build their businesses. Most recently he co-founded Wavepoint Ventures, a seed fund pursuing investments across Northern California including in smaller communities outside of Silicon Valley.
He’s passionate about social entrepreneurship and sits on the Board of the Center for Science, Technology and Society at Santa Clara University. He also Chairs the judging for The Tech Awards in the economic development category and has advised PATH.org on the use of venture capital to advance global health. He has a BS from Tufts and an MBA in Entrepreneurial Studies from UCLA
Jessica Appelgren – Saatchi and Saatchi
Jessica is inspired when stories build bridges between companies and their stakeholders. As VP of Communications at Saatchi & Saatchi S, Jessica leads public relations and social media efforts for forward-thinking companies, helping them tell their stories and drive meaningful results.
Jessica joined Saatchi & Saatchi S in 2012 after serving as Vice President and Partner at Blue Practice, a boutique agency devoted to sustainability, where she directed client accounts spanning the solar, LED, lighting control, smart grid, energy efficiency, sustainable building, electric vehicle, biofuel, and green architecture design industries. Partnering with organizations of all sizes, from startups to global consultancies, Jessica provides clients with strategies and programs that improve brand awareness, engage core audiences, increase lead generation, and establish industry thought leadership.
Jessica received her BA in Modern Literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Bob Bozeman – Eastlake Ventures
Bob Bozeman is General Partner of Eastlake Ventures (see http://www.eastlake-ventures.com). He was most recently Chairman of a diabetes medical device company until it was sold to a major consumer market leader. He has been active with U. S. Government related special situations (for example selling Nantero Gov’t Division to Lockheed Martin) and Board of Director or Advisory roles to public and private businesses. Prior to Eastlake Ventures Bob was a General Partner at Angel Investors, LP, as a partner of Ron Conway and Casey McGlynn. Together they invested in such Internet start-ups as Ask Jeeves, BrightMail, Good Technology, Google, OpenTable, Opsware, PayPal, and RedEnvelope. Bob serves on the Board of Directors of Unify Corporation (M&A Chairman) and is a partner at the London investment banking firm Restoration Partners.
Rick Bess – PreBeta Inc.
Cheryl Beninga – Beninga Advisors
Prior to founding Beninga Global Advisors, Ms. Beninga was a Director with Intel Capital for eight years managing a team and mobile internet portfolio which returned over 3X capital and included Sirf (IPO/NASDAQ/Acquired CSR), JamDat Mobile (IPO/Acquired EA,) and SignalSoft (IPO/Acquired OpenWave) and a Director for four years with ARV a California regional fund, managing clean tech IT investments including Inquity (Acquired Rockwell) and SynapSense (Crosslink Capital). Earlier in her career Cheryl helped build two new multi-billion dollar businesses from scratch at Intel in operating roles; The Reseller Products Business and the Graphics Business.
Since founding her consulting business in 2011, Cheryl has managed a venture investment program for a F50 company and advises promising mobile internet, cloud computing, smart grid and social gaming companies. She earned her MBA from The Harvard Business School.
Dave Sanders – Sacramento Angels
Beginning his executive search career in 1993, Dave is well established in the West Coast venture capital community and is a national expert working with early and mid stage high growth companies.
With his Corporate Finance background at Intel and his sixteen years of sales and marketing management experience at IBM, he understands what is required to successfully manage an organization in high growth stages as well as attracting top talent in increasingly competitive markets.
Dave earned his MBA in Finance from the University of California at Berkeley and his Bachelors of Science Degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Michigan.
Rick Anderson – TGH Aviation
Leslie Horton – eTime Solutions (coming soon)
Mark Bruenig – Cordon Ventures
Marc Nemanic – Business Vitality Seed Fund (coming soon)
Roland Schumann – Sierra Angels
Roland Schumann co-founded SwapDrive, Inc. in 2000. It was a software company focused on enabling businesses to backup their mission-critical information online to secure data centers located away from their regular company offices. His venture capital-funded company was a pioneer in the ‘cloud storage’ industry and was acquired by Symantec Corporation in 2008. For two years following the acquisition of SwapDrive, Mr. Schumann served as an executive at Symantec where he continued managing day-to-day operations of the cloud storage and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business unit.
He received a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Colorado-Boulder and a M.Sc. In Information Systems from the George Washington University Graduate School of Business. In mid-2010, Mr. Schumann left Symantec Corporation to concentrate on his investments, mentoring business students, and to advise start-up companies. He is a member of the Sierra Angels investing group in Lake Tahoe as well as a member of the Angel Capital Association. He and his wife Karen reside in Incline Village, Nevada and have two grown children.
Meg Arnold – SARTA
Meg Arnold became CEO of SARTA in November 2009, after being closely involved as a SARTA Board member since late 2005. Prior to joining SARTA, Meg was with UC Davis for six years, supporting technology commercialization and entrepreneurship on the campus, with both UC Davis InnovationAccess and UC Davis CONNECT, where she developed programs to support campus-originated start-up companies, and participated in technology transfer licensing to new start-ups.
Meg has an MBA in Finance from the University of San Francisco, and a BA in English from Cornell University. She lives in Davis with her son and daughter, and would sail competitively on San Francisco Bay if it were closer.
Mark LaScelles – Shasta EDC
Graeme Plant - Woodbridge International
Denise Gitsham – 7Second Strategies
Denise Gitsham is a seasoned expert at strategic and public policy communications, having worked in the White House, US Department of Justice, US Congress, and in the private sector. Currently, Denise is a Principal and founder of 7 Second Strategies, a full service public and government relations firm based in San Diego.
Denise attended Bowdoin College in Maine, and Georgetown University Law School in Washington, DC. As an undergraduate, she spent six months in China perfecting her fluency in Mandarin Chinese
Jennifer Fox – Chico State College of Ag
Jennifer Ryder Fox started as dean of the College of Agriculture at CSU, Chico in August 2006. Prior to that she was Horticulture and Crop Science department head at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo from September 2002 – July 2006. Before her service at Cal Poly Dr. Fox was vice president of regulatory affairs and technical development for a start-up biotechnology company in Davis, CA. She has a total of 12 years of industry experience in California, working with the U.S. EPA and international regulatory agencies dealing with crop protection policies. In June 2003 Dr. Fox received the Presidential Green Chemistry award from the National Science Foundation for her work as part of the development team of a biological fungicide. She is a Cal Poly, SLO Soil Science alumna and completed her graduate work at New Mexico State University focused on conifer seedling root physiology and regeneration.
She currently serves as a member of the USDA’s Western Regional IPM Advisory Council; is an alternate on the California Department of Pesticide Regulation’s Pest Management Advisory Committee and is president of the Non-land-grant Agricultural and Renewable Resources Universities (NARRU – formerly known as AASCARR), an affiliation of deans from non-land grant colleges of agriculture and renewable resources across the country.
Peter Straus – Chico State Center for Entrepreneurship
Mr. Straus has taught a variety of classes in the area of entrepreneurship. He draws on his personal experience as an entrepreneur to provide students with a balanced curriculum that includes exposure to entrepreneurial practitioners. Mr. Straus is currently the executive vice president of AVL Looms Inc., a global manufacturer and marketer of looms, software, and weaving accessories, located in Chico, California. Mr. Straus joined AVL in 1982 and oversaw a sales effort that resulted in placing product in all 50 states as well as over 83 countries. As president and CEO of the company from 1990 to 2005, he was responsible for the establishment of AVL outlets in the UK, Japan, and Taiwan and traveled extensively on behalf of the company. Mr. Straus has delivered lectures on the use of technology in the textile industry at a variety of venues, including Fashion Institute of Design in New York City, North Carolina State University, Philadelphia University (formerly Philadelphia College of Textiles), the Royal College of Art in London, England, and the Taiwan Textile Federation in Taipei.
Mark Anderson – Sacramento Business Journal
Mark Anderson has worked as a financial reporter since 1994 covering banking, venture capital and finance at the Sacramento Business Journal. His other beats include technology, green energy, medical technology and the hospitality industry and tourism.
He has worked as a reporter and an editor in Northern California newspapers since 1986. He is a graduate of Humboldt State University in Arcata, with a degree in journalism.
Randy Hawks – Claremont Creek Ventures
Randy is a Managing Director at Claremont Creek Ventures, bringing more than 25 years of technology industry experience as a senior general manager and venture investor to the group. Randy invests in Information Technology and has a special interest in Sensor Networks and Security. In the years prior to co-founding Claremont Creek Ventures, Randy was a General Partner at Novus Ventures and a Venture Partner at Horizon Ventures. Before his venture capital career, Randy had startup experience as CEO at Captiva Software and as COO at Identix (from its founding through IPO and life on NASDAQ). He served as Senior Vice President at AT&T Paradyne and as a Vice President of Marketing and Division General Manager at ITT Information Systems (Qume). Early in his career, Randy served in a variety of roles in the minicomputer business at Texas Instruments and began work as a computer research engineer at Cornell Aeronautical Lab.
Randy holds a BSEE from University of Arkansas and has completed the Stanford University Executive Management Program. He serves as a Committee Chair for Keiretsu Forum and is a member of the US Secret Service Electronics Crime Taskforce.
Judy Hess – Tri Counties Bank (coming soon)
Debra Atlas – Reporter
Debra is a freelance environmental writer that focuses on sustainability, eco-innovations and as-needed topics of interest.
She has written for 3 business journals, including feature articles for the Upstate Business Journal (www.upstatebusiness.net) as well as contributed to regional and national magazines. She writes regularly for several websites, including www.e-how.com.
She has been a professional speaker since 1993 and has presented to a variety of venues – from medium to large conferences (including Inc Magazine’s “Growing the Company ” conference and the Women of the Green Generation Conference) to workshops and seminar settings.
Mike Loftus – Angels Forum
Mike Loftus is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) at The Angel’s Forum. He brings over 20 years’ experience working with startups and early stage companies. He has held senior leadership roles with several young companies including E-machines, Graphic Media, Spectron, Connectix, Netfish Technologies and in Free DA.
Mike is also the Founder of The Glue USA, which advises early stage companies on building leadership teams, defining product roadmaps, building market entry strategy and sourcing investment capital. He mentors Australian companies through the ANZA Technology Network and Danish companies through Innovation Center Denmark. In 2012, Mike served as the first Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Cogswell College in Sunnyvale. He has also mentored high school and college students through SAGE Global and the Haas School of Business.
Mr. Loftus has degrees in business and computer engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology, and the Executive MBA program at Stanford University and completed the Franklin Covey Leadership Program.
John Selep – Sacramento Angels
Accomplished senior business consultant, investor, and former technology executive, with extensive experience establishing and growing profitable technology-oriented businesses. With Masters degrees in both engineering and business and over twenty-five years in senior management roles, John integrates a customer-oriented view of business challenges with deep experience aligning technologies, engineering processes and ecosystems to bring new solutions to market, and the ability to visualize and express clearly the value to customers, partners, internal and external stakeholders.
An active investor in both early-stage and established companies, John is passionate about discovering, understanding, and applying the appropriate resources, technology and business models to address challenging problems around the globe. The world is not flat. People, relationships, and cultural practices still matter. But capitalizing on those differences continues to be a fascinating challenge to businesses around the globe.
John Landis – Foster Farms
John Landis is an operationally focused CFO with experience in the manufacturing, food production and retail grocery branded consumer products industries. Known as a builder of teams, systems, processes, and talent in both turnaround and high growth situations, he is adept at identifying the value drivers that improve margins. With an emphasis on building infrastructure to support growth, John consistently creates efficiencies and optimizes processes. John also has an extensive M&A background including evaluation, execution, and integration of acquisitions with positive ROI.
Debra Beresini - Invencor, Inc.
Beresini is an experienced manager, investor and entrepreneur. In 1997, she co-founded invencor, inc., based in the San Francisco Bay Area and has since served as its CEO. Beresini works with growth companies across healthcare, life science, and consumer markets helping management develop strategies to build sustainable companies.
Previously, she held senior positions at organizations focused on the investment, growth and financing of startup companies including AR&D Corp (technology transfer), US Portfolio Leasing (venture leasing), Technology Funding, Inc. (debt and equity financing) and as senior vice president and manager of the National Division at Silicon Valley Bank (SVB).
Beresini presently sits on the boards of AGIS Networks, Hawaii Biotech, and HIBEAM, a Hawai’i-based business accelerator. She is a member of the advisory board of the University of Hawai’i's Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship and is Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Wayne Brown Institute. She was recently appointed as a Senior Advisor for the Business Training Institute an educational center for private equity and venture capital firms.
Pavni Bagga – Investment Analyst (Coming Soon)
Greg Berkin – Concours Ventures (Coming Soon)
Jose Blanco – Central Valley Fund
David Borlo – Crestlight Ventures
Joe Schneider – Facebook
Sharon Shoemaker – CIFAR
Sharon Shoemaker, Ph.D.s Founding Executive Director of the California Institute of Food and Agricultural Research (CIFAR), Associate Director of External Programs for the Energy Institute, and Advisory Board Member with Global HealthShare® at the University of California, Davis. She spent thirteen years in the biotechnology industry before founding CIFAR at the University of California, Davis in 1991.
Jeffery Garon – CVA Partners.
Jeffrey L. Garon (Jeff) is Managing General Partner of CVA Partners. CVA Partners is an Alternative Asset Fund based in San Francisco,California. The Fund provides Asset Based Lines of Credit as a complementary source of cash flow focused growth capital for expanding Companies, private or public, at competitive costs. CVA Partners offers services and oversight that reduce risk, add value and produce measurable results. Jeff brings more than 25 years of financial, strategic and operating expertise inSilicon Valleyas a Public and Private CEO & CFO, Venture Capitalist, Investment Banker, Consultant andEntrepreneur. He has touched over 70 companies, often raising working capital using Debt,Equity, PIPES, IPOs and Reverse-mergers. Jeff has attendedStanfordUniversity’sDirectorsCollege, is a graduate of CSU Northridge and holds an MBA fromLoyolaMarymountUniversity.
Jeff Lucas – Community Development Services
Founding Principal, Community Development Services (CDS), a Northern California consulting firm specializing in economic development, business financing, business diagnostics, workforce preparation, grant acquisition, and project management.
Professional skills include business financing, debt restructure, financial forecasting, employee training and team development, business lending practices, grant preparation, grant management, project and program management, and public and private sector liaison communication techniques.
Jeff graduated from Sacramento State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Government Studies in 1976, and completed the National Development Council Finance Training in 1991. He was the Executive Director of the Lake County Job Training Office, Economic Development Corporation, and Small Business Development Center for ten years prior to establishing his consulting business.
Paul Stark – Manex Consulting
Paul Stark is Regional Manager for Manex and charged with helping customers identify, understand and solve their strategic business needs. Paul has over 25 years of Business Development experience in IT Products and Services, Corporate Safety, Business Continuity, and Sales and Marketing. Mr. Stark has assisted start-up companies with Sales and Marketing strategies targeting growth and expansion enabling them to go public or to be acquired. Paul led the session on “Education in Manufacturing” during President Obama’s NNMI conference in Irvine, CA. He also speaks regularly on various manufacturing topics at special events throughout Northern California.
Mr. Stark has a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from California State University, Sacramento.
Connie Wright – Investors First Mortgage
Mike Rizzo – Five Star Bank
Mike joined Five Star Bank in 2005 and developed the bank’s market in Emerging Business Banking. With 20 years of experience in the banking industry, Mike’s focus is on venture-funded and angel-funded companies in technology, life sciences and clean energy. He enjoys helping clients realize their envisioned success. Mike earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from California State University,Sacramento. He is also a graduate of the Pacific Coast Banking School at the University of Washington. Mike serves on the board of SARTA, and is involved in several groups in the capital region that support the emerging markets.
Bob Whitson – Whitson & Associates
Bob has over 30 years of experience in the computer industry, including 20 years in the storage industry and 10 years at startup companies. Bob was a co-founder and CEO of Sierra Logic, a Roseville based storage semiconductor startup. Emulex Corp. acquired Sierra Logic in 2006 for $180M. Started as CEO of Wijit September 2012. Bob has his degree from the University of Wisconsin and majored in Medical Microbiology. Healthcare has always been of interest. Member of the SARTA board and sits on several advisory boards of local startups.
Herman White, Jr – The Rudder Group
Herman White grew up striving to become an entrepreneur and has worked with start-ups as an investor, mentor, and coach throughout Silicon Valley, the U.S.A. as well as Asia. As a co-founder and Partner of Cross Bridge Venture Partners, Herman knows what challenges an entrepreneur faces. Having been involved in fund formation, fund raising, venture capital, venture debt, Small Business Administration (SBA) lending, Herman brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to entrepreneurs.
Some past investors that Herman has worked closely with include the founding teams and management of eFriendsNet (acquired by Meetic), YeePay, Kirtas Technologies, AirTreks, Tropic Networks (acquired by Alcatel-Lucent), and Forecourt Communications. While at CrossBridge, Herman has also been involved with investments in Good Technology (acquired by Motorola), eSilicon, Bytemobile (acquired by Citrix), Orchestria (acquired by CA Technologies), and HedgeStreet (acquired by IG Group). Prior to founding CrossBridge, Herman worked in a variety of positions at Silicon Valley Bank, and was also involved in venture debt, and venture lending to early stage and emerging growth companies that were funded by venture capital firms and angel investors. Herman has also been involved in technology lending, project finance, public finance, trade finance, real estate finance, business banking, and international banking at TechCU, The Sumitomo Bank, Limited and Mercantile Bank, N.A.
Herman holds a BA in Economics from The University of Utah and a Master’s in International Management from Thunderbird School of Global Management. He was formerly a Director of Thunderbird’s North America Alumni Council. Herman is a frequent speaker on start-ups and entrepreneurship. Along with his passion for working with entrepreneurs and making early stage investments, Herman enjoys spending time with his family and volunteering his time with various non-profit organizations.
Keith Spears – Legacy Equity Advisors
Keith Spears is one of the founders of LegacyEquity Advisors (“Legacy” or “the Company”), a boutique private equity fund-of-fund and co-invest advisory firm offering commingled, separate account and customized private equity vehicles to a broad range of institutional investors including: sovereign wealth funds, public pensions, Fortune 500 pensions, labor union pensions, native American sovereign wealth funds, insurance companies and commercial banks. Over a 22 year career, Keith has worked on over 100 transactions and investments that range from $1.0 million to well over $10 billion in size. He has led the due diligence effort on over 50 fund and co-investment opportunities and he has generated top quartile performance on behalf of his clients.
Prior to Legacy, Keith was a Vice President and co-managed Hamilton Lane’s Golden State Investment Fund, a $550 million private equity separate account fund-of-fund/co-investment fund managed exclusively on behalf of CalPERS, the largestU.S. public pension. With over $80 billion of private equity assets under advisement, Hamilton Lane is one of the largest private equity fund-of-fund/co-investment advisory firms in the U.S. Keith was part of the Fund Investment and Co-investment teams at Hamilton Lane and also sourced secondary transaction opportunities. Prior to Hamilton Lane, Mr. Spears was a General Partner in an emerging manager fund-of-funds firm established in partnership with WestLB private equity group, which raised $125 million. Keith is also a former investment banker at Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse First Boston. Keith received his JD from Yale (corporate law) and MBA from Stanford Business School (corporate finance) and his BA from Brown University economics and urban studies).
John Rhein – Durham Pump
John Rhein is the CEO of Durham Pump, a local design-build contractor specializing in agricultural irrigation. Durham Pump has had a long history of innovation in precision irrigation for the agricultural community.
John has been involved in the water business for over twenty five years, including more than twenty years as President for Ferguson Waterworks. He was part of the development team for Ferguson’s initial entry into the online marketplace. John has been active in numerous acquisitions, and has brought new technologies to the waterworks field. He is currently serving on the board of the California Agricultural Association (CAIA), a network of irrigation professionals throughout California whose goal is to promote common ideals, standards, and business practices. Previously, John served on the board of EUCA (now United Contractors), a leading contractors association.
John received his BA in Economics from the College of William& Mary, and earned his MBA at the University of Northern Colorado.
David Braff – First Capital
Mr. Braff has been in asset based lending in the Bay Area for over 20 years, having worked for both for banks and independent finance companies.
At First Capital, he is responsible for new business development for the company’s Western Region. First Capital is a privately held, national, non-bank lender with assets of around $1 billion. The company is a senior lender with a focus on transactions in the $2MM to $20MM range, working with distributors, manufacturers, and service providers. Typically, First Capital serves clients unable to attract conventional bank financing. Structures typically involve loans against accounts receivable and inventory. First Capital can also provide term loans against equipment as part of an overall working capital financing arrangement.
Oleg Kaganovich – Black Emerald Capital
Oleg Kaganovich is a partner with sustainable investment group Black Emerald Capital. He is an early/growth stage adviser, investor, operations executive, and emerging markets consultant with an interest in businesses within food & agriculture, energy, environment, sustainability, IT, media, healthcare, and the consumer products space. He recently returned from Saudi Arabia, where he served as the Director for Venture Capital and Entrepreneurship at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), where he led the Seed Fund, and launched both the Entrepreneurship Center and Early Stage Venture Fund activities. Oleg is also an adviser to Upwelling Capital and Venture Partner with DFJ Frontier, a Draper Fisher Jurvetson Network partner fund and early stage technology venture capital firm. At DFJ Frontier, he sits as a board observer for new materials company Intematix, and solar financing company Tioga Energy. He was also the adviser for the development and launch of the DFJ VTB Aurora Russian Innovation and Nanotechnology fund. Prior to this, Oleg was CEO of the Sacramento Area Regional Technology Alliance (SARTA), where he helped startup entrepreneurs in undercapitalized regions advance their businesses.
Oleg began his venture capital career as an Associate with Sun Microsystems venture group, where he had responsibilities for deal sourcing, due diligence and deal negotiation. Prior to that, he was an associate at BlackEmerald Capital, a Wall Street merchant bank and investment group, focused on green and sustainability investments. Oleg received his MBA fromColumbiaBusinessSchooland a BS in International Business fromAquinasCollege.
Kenneth Brown – Avisen Securities, Inc.
Kenneth Brown is CEO and co-founder of Avisen Securities, Inc., a boutique investment securities firm with offices in California and Nevada. Mr. Brown has over 30 years of experience in brokerage, portfolio management, fixed income, and hedge fund management. Mr. Brown began his career in the securities industry in 1980 with Kidder Peabody. Later he moved into money management with Bateman, Eichler, which was eventually acquired by Kemper Securities. Mr. Brown stayed on with Kemper until he was recruited back to Kidder Peabody which was later acquired by Paine Webber.
In 1994, Mr. Brown co-founded Lynx Capital Group, one of the earliest hedge funds on the West Coast, focusing on technology investing. Also that year, he was recruited by Van Kasper & Co. to open the firm’s firstSacramentooffice. Mr. Brown continued his tenure with the firm until it was acquired by Wells Fargo in 2001.
After a long career in the investment securities business managing assets for Fortune 500 companies and as Managing Partner at Lynx, Mr. Brown was attracted to the entrepreneurial world and in 2001 co-founded Brown Robello Capital Management, LLC, an SEC registered investment advisory firm. Mr. Brown has been named a 2012 and 2013 Five Star Wealth Manager and the firm currently manages over $100 million in assets where he serves as Managing Partner and Senior Portfolio Manager. In 2003, he co-founded Avisen Securities Inc. a broker-dealer to provide global investment services on a local level with an emphasis on customized solutions. Mr. Brown manages the private equity division of Avisen Securities, successfully launching start-up companies in distressed real estate and food technology.
Ben Colombo – Square 1 Bank
An Experienced healthcare banker, Entrepreneur & co-owner/Sales Manger of Armstrong Brewing Company. Mr Colombo is Senior Vice President of Square 1 Bank’s Life Sciences Practice in Silicon Valley where he is responsible for the banking and debt financing needs of early to commercial stage life science companies. Square 1 Bank is a full service commercial bank dedicated exclusively to serving the financial needs of the venture capital community and entrepreneurs in all stages of growth and expansion. In 2011, along with his 2 partners, Mr Colombo launched Armstrong Brewing Company, a South San Francisco based micro-brewery dedicated to producing specialty hand crafted beers. Just prior to joining Square 1 Bank, Mr Colombo was Managing Director of Silicon Valley Bank’s life science practice and previously held similar rolls at Comerica Bank and Imperial Bank. When not engulfed with entrepreneurs or overseeing daily operations at Armstrong Brewing, Mr Colombo can be found either camping with his kids or rocking out behind his drum kit.
Gary Panepinto – California Bank of Commerce
Gary has been in the finance industry for over the past twenty years servicing credits that fall outside of the traditional banking box. Currently, he is working for California Bank of Commerce located in Lafayette,California in the bank’s Asset Based Lending Group.Gary’s responsibilities are to offer the expertise of California Bank of Commerce’s Asset Based Lending product as an alternative solution when the need arises to provide a credit facility for bank turned down and asked out credits.
When it comes to making a funding decision, CBC is all about Collateral, the accounts receivable, the inventory, and the equipment, as opposed to the financial performance. California Bank of Commerce’s Asset Based Lending group services credits nationwide with Lines of Credit and Term Loans up to $5,000,000 in facility size.
Todd Dean – Avatara Capital
A professional “Deal Maker” in connecting individuals and companies together for a mutual benefit.
A proven visionary and leader in the entrepreneurial investment community. Created a powerful collaborative environment for bringing together like-minded community leaders, business executives, angel investors, serial entrepreneurs and early-stage companies that translated into investments in over 104 companies. A dynamic keynote speaker and facilitator. Knowledgeable in helping entrepreneurs, startups, and companies receive capital and valuable resources, creating the future economics of our region and country. Dedicated to maintaining a reputation built on integrity, quality, structure, consistency, and uncompromising ethics.
Todd donates considerable time and energy to several regional charities and organizations including being a board member of Washington State News Council, Junior Achievement, Montana Ambassadors, SCORE, University of Washington, and Girls Giving Back.
Specialties: My passion and goal is working supporting entrepreneurs and investors in building and funding great companies!
♦ Entrepreneurs and Startups ready to take business to the next level.
♦ Business and Business Owners that would like to generate more revenue, scale, expand, and grow.
♦ Keynote Speaker ♦ Startups♦ Investing in Startups ♦ Angel Investing ♦ Angel Investments ♦ Capital Structure ♦ Consultant ♦ Board of Directors
Ed Frauenheim – Author/Associate Editorial Director, Human Capital Media
Ed Frauenheim is an author and associate editorial director of Human Capital Media, whose publications include Workforce Management,Talent Management and Chief Learning Officer. Ed supervises stories about HR technology and writes about a host of people management matters. Ed also is currently co-writing a book about innovation strategy in America. The book he co-wrote, Good Company: Business Success in the Worthiness Era, earned the 2012 Nautilus Gold Award in the Business/Leadership category.Ed has a master’s degree in education from the University of California,Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in history from Princeton.
Keith Spears – Legacy Equity Advisors
Keith Spears is one of the founders of Legacy Equity Advisors (“Legacy” or “the Company”), a boutique private equity fund-of-fund and co-invest advisory firm offering commingled, separate account and customized private equity vehicles to a broad range of institutional investors including: sovereign wealth funds, public pensions, Fortune 500 pensions, labor union pensions, native American sovereign wealth funds, insurance companies and commercial banks. Over a 22 year career, Keith has worked on over 100 transactions and investments that range from $1.0 million to well over $10 billion in size. He has led the due diligence effort on over 50 fund and co-investment opportunities and he has generated top quarterly performance on behalf of his clients.
Prior to Legacy, Keith was a Vice President and co-managed Hamilton Lane’s Golden State Investment Fund, a $550 million private equity separate account fund-of-fund/co-investment fund managed exclusively on behalf of CalPERS, the largest U.S. public pension. With over $80 billion of private equity assets under advisement, Hamilton Lane is one of the largest private equity fund-of-fund/co-investment advisory firms in the U.S. Keith was part of the Fund Investment and Co-investment teams at Hamilton Lane and also sourced secondary transaction opportunities. Prior to Hamilton Lane, Mr. Spears was a General Partner in an emerging manager fund-of-funds firm established in partnership with West LB private equity group, which raised $125 million. Keith is also a former investment banker at Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse First Boston. Keith received his JD from Yale (corporate law) and MBA from Stanford Business School (corporate finance) and his BA from Brown University economics and urban studies).
David Merwin – Cal PERS
David Merwin is an Investment Officer for the Targeted Investment Programs in the Real Assets asset class at the California PublicEmployees Retirement System (CalPERS). CalPERS is the largest public pension fund in theUS, with over $260 billion in overall assets. CalPERS provides retirement benefits to more than 1.6 million State, public school, and local public agency employees, retirees, and their families, and health benefits to more than 1.3 million members.
Dave joined the Targeted Investment Programs in June of 2012 and focuses onCaliforniainvestment initiatives across the total fund. Prior to his current role, Dave was part of the PrivateEquity team at CalPERS since joining in 2003. In PrivateEquity, Mr. Merwin focused on technology, energy (traditional and renewable) and healthcare sectors as well asCaliforniainvestments.
Before joining CalPERS, Dave worked at Thomas Wiesel Partners Merchant Bank in asset management. Previously Dave worked in the SacramentoValleyfor 15 years in the management of his family’s diversified farming operation. Dave earned a BS in Agricultural and Managerial Economics from the Universityof Californiaat Davisand is a 4th generation Californian.
Howard Isom – Matson & Isom Accountancy Corporation
Howard is a C.P.A, and in 1962 he co-founded the accounting firm of Matson & Isom Accountancy Corporation inChico,CA. In addition to his accounting profession, he is also a local-area almond grower and a retired Director and Chairman of the Board of Blue Diamond Growers as of November 2006. Howard was a former Board Director for Co-Bank inDenver,Colorado from 1999 until 2004 and North State National Bank inChico from 1995 until 2003. Howard earned his A.A. fromShastaCollege inRedding,CA and his B.S. fromChicoState
Doug Gibbs – Gibbs Broup, LLC
Doug is managing partner of Gibbs Group, LLC of Yuba City, specializing in business startup, product design, global manufacturing and consumer product distribution.
Doug’s background includes Hewlett Packard, Masco Corp, Birkshire Hathaway & Yakima Racks.
For 28 years, Doug’s firm has started, funded and operated companies of a wide genre including electronics, apparel, automotive, medical, military, tools and consumer pet products.
With offices inChinaandIsrael, his company manages global production of consumer products inChina, US andIsrael. Gibbs Group LLC assists companies to sell US-made products to the restrictive, but lucrative Chinese domestic market.
Doug has appeared on KRON-4 and syndicated television, is expert witness in federal patent litigation, and inventor of 15 patents in US and abroad.
He holds a BS in Mechanical/Aerospace Engineering from Syracuse University & Chinese Commercial Law from Wuhan University-Chinese Research Law Institute. Doug speaks Mandarin Chinese.
He is a founder & director of Sutter Community Bank, active in several local boards, boy scouts, and adjunct professor of Entrepreneurial International Business at Yuba College.
Mark Bellows – Gallina
Mark has been a tax professional for over twenty years with previous experience at the Big Four in San Diego and Sacramento. He has worked in numerous industries including real estate, construction, agriculture, retail, manufacturing and distribution, service, investment, and nonprofit. The companies have been small- to large-sized, public and private, national and international, and organized in a myriad of ways.
As a tax specialist, Mark has assisted clients with their needs on many levels including consulting, strategic planning, and other complex issues. He has completed numerous transactions, including entity choice and formation, structuring, buy-sell agreements, and mergers and acquisitions.
Mark currently co-authors two publications on construction industry taxation, and has authored articles and spoken on various manufacturing, real estate and construction tax issues.
Mark believes in strong communication in order to develop solutions and simplify complex issues for his clients. By providing attentive, responsive, and proactive service to clients, they can be at ease with a strong relationship with their CPA. By asking the right questions, having strong listening skills, and communicating issues in an understandable way, Mark works towards a successful solution for his clients.
Michel Ottolia – Independent Commercial Banker
Michel Ottolia is an Independent Commercial Banker and SBA Specialist with over thirty years experience in Commercial/Business Lending, Real Estate Financing, Strategic Marketing and Corporate Finance. Mr. Ottolia expertise lies in packaging Commercial Loans through Conventional Bank Financing and SBA 7A and 504 Federal Guarantee Programs for Real Estate Purchase and Refinance, Equipment Financing, Energy related projects, Business Acquisitions, Business Expansions, Debts Restructuring, Working Capital, A/R Financing, Exports Financing … as well as Private/Investors Money, Bridge & Mezzanine Loans, Niche Market and Alternate Financing including Micro-Finance.
In addition to managing his own Brokerage firm “Business Finance and Development” created in 1998, Mr. Ottolia has been affiliated and still represents several lending institutions in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California.