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  • Here are the Investor speakers from our Sold-Out Food Investing Conference 2015, sponsored by WeiserMazars, Pura Vida Tequila, McCarter & English, LLP, The Fresh Diet, N6A. This event was in NYC on Thursday, August 20, 2015.

    Photo of Trevor Nelson, Alliance Consumer Growth Trevor Nelson
    Managing Partner
    Alliance Consumer Growth
    Read the full profile for Trevor here!
    Alliance Consumer Growth
    As a co-founder and managing partner of ACG, Trevor enjoys providing a unique level of partnership and capital to entrepreneurs with consumer businesses poised for compelling growth. He has years of experience investing in the consumer industry and executing a variety of financial transactions. Trevor currently serves on the board of Phil's Fresh Foods, maker of EVOL-branded frozen food products.

    Prior to founding ACG, Trevor was a principal with The Lessing Companies, a consumer-focused private equity firm. Earlier in his career, Trevor worked for Texas Pacific Group (TPG Capital), one of the world’s largest private equity firms with over $48 billion of capital under management. As a generalist at TPG, Trevor was involved in transactions in the consumer, industrial and healthcare sectors.

    Before TPG, Trevor spent three years working for the New York-based private equity firm, Harvest Partners where he completed investments in the juvenile products company Evenflo, the natural personal care business Nature's Gate & Nature's Gate Organics, the personal care and beauty business Arbonne International, and the transit bus manufacturer New Flyer Industries.

    Trevor began his career in the Mergers & Acquisitions Group at Lehman Brothers. Trevor holds a B.A. from Northwestern University where he studied political science and was the captain of the men's varsity NCAA soccer team.

    Photo of Shen Tong, Food X Shen Tong
    Founder & Partner
    Food Future
    Read the full profile for Shen here!
    Food Future
    Shen Tong is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, foodie, social activist, writer/poet, and film buff. One of Newsweeks People of the Year in 1989, Shen Tong was an organizer of the democracy movement in 1989 that occupied Tiananmen Square while he was at Beijing University. After his exile to the US, he finished his undergraduate degree at Brandeis University, and went on to study in PhD programs at Boston University and Harvard University. Mr. Shen became an entrepreneur in the 1990s, founding or co-founding B&B Media and VFinity among other ventures in the past two decades.

    Photo of Alicia Syrett, New York Angels Alicia Syrett
    Founder & CEO
    Pantegrion Capital
    Read the full profile for Alicia here!
    Pantegrion Capital
    Alicia Syrett is the Founder and CEO of Pantegrion Capital, an angel investment vehicle focused on seed and early stage investments. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of New York Angels, as the Chairman of the Board of HeTexted, and is a member of Women Corporate Directors. Her past and present Advisory Board roles include Enerknol, iFunding, Cuipo, The Pitch Deck, Beauty Booked, Cisse Trading Co. and Willa. Sheis a frequent mentor, writer, and speaker in the startup ecosystem and tweets @AliciaSyrett.

    Ms. Syrett is a recurring panelist on CNBCs Power Pitch and has also appeared on CNBCs Cash Crowd, MSNBCs Your Business, and Fox Business Risk & Reward. She was named as one of the 25 Angel Investors in New York You Need to Know by AlleyWatch and as one of Wharton 40 Under 40 young alumni by Wharton Magazine. She has been featured in Inc., The Huffington Post, and USA Today and also served as an Instructor with Steve Blank in his Lean Launchpad course at Columbia Business School. Prior to founding Pantegrion, Ms. Syrett spent over 10 years in the financial industry, which included her entrepreneurial journey as the first employee and CAO of a multi-billion dollar private equity firm. She graduated early from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania with a BS in Economics (magna cum laude) and concentrations in Finance and Accounting. She also possesses two MBA degrees from the London Business School (with distinction) and Columbia Business School where she received Beta Gamma Sigma honors.

    Photo of Jordan Gaspar, AccelFoods Jordan Gaspar
    Managing Partner
    AccelFoods
    Read the full profile for Jordan here!
    AccelFoods
    Jordan is a Managing Partner of AccelFoods, where she is a member of the Investment Committee and is responsible for supervising strategy on legal and investor relations for our entrepreneurs. Jordan also oversees the daily operations of AccelFoods. Jordan serves as a Board Member of Whynatte, JJ’s Sweets and Four Sigma Foods.

    Jordan began her career as a corporate attorney spending most of her time at Morrison Cohen LLP. While at Morrison Cohen, Jordan advised venture and private equity firms and their portfolio companies on acquisitions, sales, mergers, financings (seed, bridge and growth capital), fund formation, leveraged buyouts, and ESOP implementation, as well as public securities offerings/compliance and debt financings.

    In addition, Jordan gained significant tactical operational experience successfully founding and running her own small business in the restaurant/hospitality space, and early-stage investment experience serving as a Managing Director of Golden Seeds, a national angel network that invests in women-run companies.

    Jordan holds a B.A. from Columbia College and a J.D. from Fordham Law School.

    Photo of Kevin McGovern, Angel Investor Kevin McGovern
    Angel Investor
    Angel Investor
    Read the full profile for Kevin here!
    Angel Investor
    Kevin M. McGovern is the Chairman and CEO of McGovern Capital,LLC, which provides investments and business strategy to emerging companies, particularly those engaged in consumer technologies and holders of Intellectual Property Rights. He has founded over a dozen companies, seven (7) of which have become world and/or category leaders, including SoBe Beverages, Tristrata (AHA skincare technology), and KX Industries (home-based water purification).

    Photo of Marit Molin, Frontier Equities Venture Capital Marit Molin
    Principal
    Frontier Equities Venture Capital
    Read the full profile for Marit here!
    Frontier Equities Venture Capital
    Marit Molin is a principal at Frontier Equities VC, where she spends most of her time finding and researching early stage companies. Marit was an investor in glacéau/vitamin water and is currently an investor in Nurture Inc/Happy Baby Foods. Marit is also a contributor at Emergingmoney.com, where she analyzes and writes about emerging market companies and mutual funds. After owning her own fashion business for eight years she started analyzing and buying retail stocks, which awakened her interest in the financial and Venture Capital area. Marit holds a degree from NYU.

    Photo of Kathleen Murray, Executive Forum Angels Kathleen Murray
    Chair
    Executive Forum Angels
    Read the full profile for Kathleen here!
    Executive Forum Angels
    Kathy Murray is owner of McMorran Strategists, LLC. Earlier, Kathy held C-Suite level positions at publicly-traded firms and partnerships - Aetna, PwC and FARO - in sales, business development and operations. Other affiliations include: Emeriti Board & Immediate Past President of Harvard Business School Women's Association of NY, Trustee on the University of Rochester Board, Board Member at the Daily Gazette (a Schenectady family-owned publishing firm), Advisor to TempBuddy (a Dublin startup software for managing temp employees), Chair of Executive Forum, Founder of Executive Forum Angels and Fellow at the Foreign Policy Association. Kathy is also a frequent speaker/instructor on business development, angel investing, innovation, strategic thinking and building relationships. Kathy received a BA in Math/General Science from the University of Rochester and the Advanced Management Program Degree from Harvard Business School.

    Photo of Sam Rubenstein, Panacea Capital Advisors, Inc. Sam Rubenstein
    President
    Panacea Capital Advisors
    Read the full profile for Sam here!
    Panacea Capital Advisors
    Sam Rubenstein is the President of Panacea Capital Advisors, Inc., a venture capital and strategic advisory firm based in Bethesda, Maryland, that works with a broad range of US middle market companies. In addition to startup and early stage Food Tech, Music Tech and other technology-enabled B2B services with an innovative or disruptive focus, Panacea Capital also invests in and provides strategic advisory services to middle market companies in foodservice, content and information services, outdoor media, distribution and supply chain services, marketing services, financial services, crowd funding services and some consumer retail.

    Sam currently serves as an active director and trusted advisor to (1) a digital outdoor media company, (2) an advertising and sponsorship supported indie music video production and distribution company (BaebleMusic.com), (3) a B2B ecommerce platform that connects foodservice distributors and specialty manufacturers with wholesale food buyers (Foodem.com), (4) an interactive music technology platform focused on the hospitality and retail markets (myiJukebox.com), (5) a consumer retail business (Party City franchisee), and (6) a quick-service restaurant group (Wendy's franchisee).

    Prior to forming Panacea Capital in 2011, Sam worked as a lawyer in private practice and as a senior executive of a publicly-traded investment company and SBIC for nearly 25 years advising financial services companies, investors and U.S. middle-market businesses with identifying, structuring and/or negotiating in excess of 600 debt and equity financing transactions as well as M&A, joint venture, strategic alliance and other corporate development transactions that involved collectively an aggregate investment amount exceeding $6 billion.

    Photo of Janice Collins, The Refinery Janis Collins
    Co-Founder
    The Refinery
    Read the full profile for Janis here!
    The Refinery
    Janis, entrepreneur in residence for CTNext, and the Stamford Innovation Center, is a mentor and advisor to early stage ventures. She is also the co-founder of The Refinery, an accelerator that is transforming women led startups in Connecticut into scaleable businesses.

    She started and leads a womens entrepreneur forum, Founders Connect, to help provide women entrepreneurs of Fairfield County more access to capital, networks and knowledge.

    A committed and passionate advisor to startups, she recently created Juice, an event to connect food innovators, mentors and investors. Janis coaches dozens of regional startups, using her proven methodology to help them develop their pitch, refine their business models, and create their go-forward plans.

    She has been helping companies innovate, create and quickly launch new businesses for more than 25 years. First, through her own company, which focused on helping high tech startups and then later advising and funding new financial service companies. Janis has helped found and launch several companies including two non-profit organizations.

    Photo of John Warburg, Warbros Venture Partners John Warburg
    Co-Founder
    Warbros Venture Partners
    Read the full profile for John here!
    Warbros Venture Partners
    Prior to co-founding Warbros, John spent eight years working in various marketing capacities in the consumer packaged goods industry - first at Best Foods/CPC, where he managed major food brands, such as Skippy Peanut Butter, and later as a marketing consultant to large and small companies in a variety of industries. In between, he worked at Callard & Bowser (a small candy company later acquired by Kraft Foods), where he helped to build Altoids Peppermints from an unknown $7M brand into the #1 selling mint product in the U.S. with sales today of over $100M. Prior to these experiences, John worked in equity research at Lehman Brothers.

    Photo of Toan Huynh, 37 Angels Toan Huynh
    Angel Investor
    37 Angels
    Read the full profile for Toan here!
    37 Angels
    Toan Huynh is a serial entrepreneur and angel investor focusing on food, technology, and start-up. As a successful three-time entrepreneur, Toan has started and successfully exited 2 out of 3 start-ups, including her most recent venture that is a cloud computing firm.

    While Toan enjoys technology, her true passion lies in the creation of a business and food- she has had that opportunity to combine both with her third start-up. The Saucey Sauce Co. is an producer of artisanal, ready-to-serve Vietnamese savory sauces or “nuoc cham”, based locally in Brooklyn, NY. Started on a shoe string and while traveling all over for her other businesses, Toan and her co-founder Ken has grown the business and the sauces can be found in over 25+ specialty stores and on-line e-commerce sites, and ships internationally to Canada and overseas.

    Toan also invested in food start-ups, including the New York Distilling Company, founded by the famed Tom Potter, founder of the Brooklyn Brewery. She is also a member of the 37Angels women-only Angel investor network, specializing in early-stage, seed-round start-ups.

    Photo of Kenneth Huynh, FP Angels Kenneth Huynh
    Principal Manager
    FP Angels
    Read the full profile for Kenneth here!
    FP Angels
    Ken has spent more than 10 years immersed in market research and execution of emerging technologies including several years at the private technology think tank, The Research Board, the Gartner Research subdivision. Ken has managed and led initiatives across the full-lifecycle of product development, market research, and business development. Currently Ken is the founder and CEO of the Saucey Sauce Company, a Brooklyn based artisan food startup with an ever growing national distribution including retail chains such as Dean & Deluca, Morton Williams, HEB, and Natural Food Markets. Ken is also a principle consultant and manager of advisory services for Virtustream, a Cloud Computing specialist to enterprise customers. Ken is an angel investor in the NY Distilling Company, Kopi Trading Company and a member of the Local Food Lab, a food startup incubator.

    Photo of Kristin Calve, Topstone Angels Kristin Calve
    Founder
    Topstone Angels
    Read the full profile for Kristin here!
    Topstone Angels
    Kristin is a serial entrepreneur with experience in startups, mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, new product development, nonprofits, as well as commercial and residential real estate. She has extensive experience in both traditional and new media, including executive positions at American Lawyer Media, The Deal, and A&E/The Histo ry Channel. Kristin currently serves on the Board of Green Guide Living and is a mentor to the NY Region of the Kairos Society. Her nonprofit experience includes multiple terms as President of the Board of Directors of the YWCA Darien/Norwalk. Kristin graduated from Fordham University with a BA in English Literature and an MBA in Finance and Marketing.

    Photo of John Ason, Angel Investor John Ason

    Angel Investor
    Read the full profile for John here!
    Angel Investor
    John Ason has been an angel investor for over 18 years specializing in early stage pre-revenue companies. He has made over sixty eclectic investments in the areas of e-commerce, technology, advertising, digital social media and entertainment. For about half of his investments, John has been the lead angel devoting a significant amount of his time to mentoring the companies. A typical company consists of one or two people in a garage or kitchen with minimal or no revenues. Any capital efficient industry with high growth potential qualifies with the exception of medical and biotech qualifies. As a starting point, John will accept only one page executive level summaries via email (ason@comcast.net).

    Some of John's notable exits include Xlibris.com, LiveLOOK.com sold to Oracle and Diapers.com sold to Amazon for $545 million.

    Prior to being an angel investor John had a career at AT&T Bell Labs. He spent the first ten years doing bleeding edge technology development and then 15 years marketing large telecommunications systems to international telecommunications companies. John guest lectures at NJIT, Fairleigh Dickinson, Rutgers, NYU and Wharton. John is a mentor at the Entrepreneurial Roundtable, DreamIt, TechLaunch, and Worldwide Investor Network accelerators. John is an advisor to the Astia and Springboard womens organizations. John has a BS in Mathematics from the Illinois Institute of Technology. John’s hobbies include traveling, golf, Go (Asian game) and mentoring companies. Please visit his website at JohnAson.com and his pins at Pinterest.com/johnason.

    Photo of Michael Devito, WeiserMazars Michael Devito
    Partner
    WeiserMazars LLP
    Read the full profile for Michael here!
    WeiserMazars LLP
    Michael possesses more than 17 years of experience in providing audit, accounting, and tax services to private and public companies. He advises clients on improving profitability and the operational aspects of their businesses.

    As part of the firms SEC and M&D Groups, Michael has expertise in working with SEC rules and regulations and auditing under the PCAOB standards. His industry experience is focused in technology and software, retail, manufacturing, wholesale/distribution and energy. Michael has experience in dealing with companies that receive government grants and their related compliance and reporting requirements.

    Michael is a Certified Public Accountant and Public School Accountant in the state of New Jersey. He received his BS in Accounting from Rider University. He is currently a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants, the New Jersey Technology Council and teq.konnect.

    Photo of Andrew Bluestein, Bluestein & Associates Andrew Bluestein
    Partner
    Bluestein & Associates
    Read the full profile for Andrew here!
    Bluestein & Associates
    Bluestein & Associates is a family office based in Chicago. We actively invest in and help build new and growing businesses. Our focus is early-stage, Midwest-based startups in food, retail, and tech-enabled business services. We tend to invest in seed and Series A rounds post proof-of- concept, and have the potential to lead larger funding rounds through family office-based syndicated deals. We take an active role in our investments creating value through coaching and advisory to solve strategic issues. Our portfolio includes: Eastman Egg Company, Hooray Puree, Local Foods, Luxury Garage Sale, Hireology, Fourkites, Motista, and Occasion.

    Mr. Bluestein brings to B&A a deep and diverse background working with business leaders to grow their businesses. Prior to joining, Andrew spent over 7 years as a strategy consultant, culminating as a Manager for Monitor Deloitte. During his consulting career, Andrew completed a wide variety of projects in corporate, competitive, marketing, and organizational strategy with a diverse set of retail, CPG, industrial products, hospitality, and business services clients. Andrew has an MBA with distinction from the Kellogg School of Management and a B.S. with Honors in Industrial and Labor Relations and an Economics concentration from Cornell University. In addition to his work at B&A, Andrew serves on the steering committee of Good Food Business Accelerator and as a mentor to the 1871 community in Chicago.

    Outside of work, Andrew loves to experience life with his wife, Kate, and his baby girl, Vivienne. He is a global traveler, avid Chicago sports fan, BBQ chef, and struggling golfer.

    Photo of Craig Gunther, Blade Ventures Craig Gunther
    Managing Director
    Blade Ventures
    Read the full profile for Craig here!
    Blade Ventures
    Craig Gunther, the Managing Director of Blade Ventures, has more than 20 years of investing, operating, and engineering experience working with technology companies. Prior to founding the firm Mr. Gunther served as President of Blade Capital Management, where he established and managed an alternative asset focused investment platform with more than $2B in total assets. He previously served for six years as Chief Operating Officer of Nicholas Enterprises, held various management and senior engineering positions at TRW while designing and developing integrated circuits for computing and digital signal processing applications, and he has also worked with numerous public and private technology companies as an advisor. Mr. Gunther currently serves on the boards of ClearAccess, 5iScience, Lasercure and Vigilistics. He holds a BS in Engineering from the University of California at Los Angeles, an MS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California, and a JD from Loyola Law School.

    Photo of Sam Kelpfish, Innovative Food Holdings Sam Klepfish
    CEO
    Innovative Food Holdings
    Read the full profile for Sam here!
    Innovative Food Holdings
    Sam Klepfish is the CEO of Innovative Food Holdings- a company which operates innovative gourmet food related businesses. Innovative Food Holdings also leverages it's unique operating position in the gourmet food space to invest in food related companies. Investments are in seed to early stage food related companies which can leverage the food industry value add, that Innovative Food Holdings brings to the table. Sam is also a partner at Tri State Ventures- a NYC based angel investment group and is an angel investor in seed stage companies with clear monetization strategies.

    Photo of Skyler Fernandes, Simon Ventures J. Skyler Fernandes
    Managing Director
    Cleveland Avenue
    Read the full profile for J. Skyler here!
    Cleveland Avenue
    J. Skyler Fernandes is ranked as a Powerlist 100 VC and the Managing Director of Investments at Cleveland Avenue, a private equity and venture capital fund focused on restaurants, food and beverage brands, and food and beverage technology, as well as an incubator lab for new concepts, and a consulting group with leading industry veterans across real estate, franchising, operations, marketing / branding, technology, and food science. The group was founded by the former CEO of McDonald's.

    Previously, Mr. Fernandes founded and was the Managing Director of Simon Venture Group (SVG), the venture capital arm of Simon Property Group, an S&P 100 company, and the largest retail real estate company in the world. SVG is ranked by CB Insights as a top 5 corporate venture group within retail and focuses on investing in retail technology, rising new brands, and internet of things for smart cities / buildings.

    Mr. Fernandes is the founder of One Match Ventures, an angel fund, and has developed key entrepreneur resources, such as "The Best Startup Pitch Deck"​, a top ranked investor pitch deck template online, viewed and downloaded over 500,000+ times and used by accelerators and business schools. Mr. Fernandes also co-founded with his wife the #1 startup / VC board game, "The Next Big Thing: The Game of Entrepreneurship"​, http://www.nextbigthingboardgame.com/

    Mr. Fernandes graduated early from New York University (NYU), summa cum laude, due to his studies at Harvard University in Physics and Foreign Policy. Mr. Fernandes is an adjunct professor at NYU, teaching Venture Capital Intensive, and is a frequent speaker on venture capital and entrepreneurship. Mr. Fernandes also gave a TEDx Talk on Venture Capital, called "Innovating the Financing of Innovation".

    Photo of David Sorin, McCarter & English David J Sorin
    Partner
    McCarter English
    Read the full profile for David J here!
    McCarter English
    Dave Sorin is an office managing partner and the head of the Venture Capital and Emerging Growth Companies practice at McCarter & English. He focuses his practice primarily on privately- and publicly-owned startup, early stage, emerging growth, and middle market technology, tech-enabled and life science enterprises, as well as the investors, executives, and boards of directors who support and lead them. Dave has a long track record of successful representation of growth companies, having been repeatedly recognized by well-known periodicals for a unique combination of legal acumen and sound business judgment. He also brings to bear his broad range of knowledge and experience in counseling enterprises and investors in diverse emerging growth markets, technology industries (including software, information technology, artificial intelligence, VR/AR, FinTech, e-commerce, and communications), and life sciences. Many of the companies he represents are well-known names throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Under his leadership, McCarter is recognized as one of the most active law firms regionally, nationally and globally according to PitchBook (3rd in the East, 8th nationally, 9th globally, 8th in enterprise software and 6th (tied) in global early stage company deals). In 2017, Chambers, the definitive publisher of law firm and lawyer rankings, named him one of the top lawyers in the country in its inaugural rankings of venture capital and emerging growth company lawyers.

    Photo of Eduardo Emanuelli, Angel Investor Eduardo Emanuelli

    Angel Investor
    Read the full profile for Eduardo here!
    Angel Investor
    Ed Emanuelli was born in raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico; from a young age he's been involved in all sorts of start ups and ventures. The first being a surf company which still exist today, then several young minded ideas like a female talent agency, a tour guide company and a food truck / van way back before food trucks where in. Now a days, after a few successful exits and a few bumps on the road, Ed is leading the charge with a homegrown angel investment group based out of Puerto Rico and trying to play a key role in helping the entrepreneurship ecosystem grow locally in a manner that P.R. can become a center for Caribbean, Central and Latin American innovation and investment.

    Regarding the technicalities, Ed is a licensed state and federal attorney with an L.L.M from Pepperdine University in Negotiation. His interest in the food space came at a young age due to the fact that his family operates one of only two milk manufacturers and distributors in Puerto Rico, amidst other beverages and by-products that are part of their brand. They are currently celebrating 95 years since inception.

    Ed's "other" job is working as Vice President and Sales Leader for Hub international Insurance Brokers. Hub is the 10th largest insurance broker in the world. Ed's local firm used to be the largest local capital firm in Puerto Rico when HUB made an approach to buy the business and have Ed’s team help them lead the charge for a Caribbean and Central American expansion. HUB handles a lot of business in the New York region with corporate offices in the heart of the city, including a start up practice which Ed is focusing on here in NYC.

    Angel Investors