Tammy K Billings is Co-Founder and Head of Restaurants. She is responsible for product, sales, marketing and evangelism for the restaurant vertical. Previously she held sales roles at restaurant technology vendors Fishbowl (acquired by STG), Marketing Vitals, and Wisely (acquired by Olo). Tammy cut her teeth in restaurant operations with marketing roles at AEG/LA Live, Westfield, and SBE & Grill Concepts. Tammy is well known in the restaurant industry for her expertise in restaurant marketing, technology, data and analytics, and actively connecting people for career and partner opportunities.
Kyle Cobb is the President and Co-Founder of advanced.farm. advanced.farm is a 21st-century ag equipment company centered around robotics, with a current focus on automating harvest and postharvest in fresh fruit. advanced.farm is based in Davis, California and has raised over $35M of venture investment led by Kubota, Yamaha, Catapult Ventures and Impact Ventures. Before advanced.farm, Kyle was a Co-Founder of Greenbotics, a cutting-edge platform for robotic solar panel cleaning that was acquired by SunPower in 2013. Kyle has a diverse business background ranging from investment banking to product management as well as undergrad and graduate degrees from UCLA.
Daniel has always tackled big problems, seeking game-changing scalable solutions in various fields. For more than a decade now, his focus has been on digital solutions for the restaurant industry. At Agot, an Artificial Intelligence company helping restaurants optimize their operations using Computer Vision solutions, Daniel guides the product strategy and oversees the development process. He is passionate about technology, food and wine, cycling, American politics, French culture, everything Israel, and learning new things.
Henry Gordon-Smith is a sustainability strategist focused on urban agriculture, water issues, and emerging technologies. Henry earned his BA in Political Science from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, coursework in Food Security and Urban Agriculture from Ryerson University in Toronto, and an MSc in Sustainability Management from Columbia University. In 2014, Henry responded to a global need for technology-agnostic guidance on urban agriculture by launching the advisory firm Agritecture Consulting which has now consulted on over 150 urban agriculture projects in over 35 countries.
Payam leads company vision, IP and financing strategies for AgroSpheres. Payam has secured broad global IP and significant Venture Capital & nondilutive funding for the company. He serves on the boards of CvilleBioHub, VA Bio, and Venture Central, holding key relationships with policy decision makers.
Suzanne is the Chief Sustainability and Transformation Officer for Albertsons Companies, the second largest food and drug retailer in the US. Suzanne began her career at Accenture, consulting for Fortune 100 companies before joining Albertsons in 2001. After creating and leading the company’s Lean Six Sigma initiative, she left to lead a retail consulting practice. In 2012 she returned to Albertsons, leading five major acquisition integrations that grew the company from ~200 stores to ~2200 stores. Suzanne became Group Vice President, Strategic Sourcing in 2020, and that same year was asked to lead the company’s ESG strategy. She was named Albertsons Companies’ first Chief Sustainability and Transformation Officer in early 2022. Suzanne graduated from Duke with honors, serves on two non-profit boards, and is a member of the EDGE Advisory Board for Duke’s Fuqua School of Business.
Anne Palermo is the CEO and co-founder of Aqua Cultured Foods, a leading future food startup in the alt-protein space. After recently closing the largest pre-seed round in alt-seafood, Anne is focused on using Aqua’s novel fermentation technology to bring to market nutritionally superior, hyper-realistic, whole cuts of seafood alternatives. Anne began her career in finance before transitioning into food tech, food science and culinary innovation with the launch of her first CPG company. While there, she developed proprietary technology pertaining to manufacturing processes and the product formulations used in a high protein snacking platform. She quickly scaled the company to a multimillion-dollar run rate.
Carolyn is a Partner of Arborview Capital, a growth equity investor in climate solutions. Carolyn has over a decade of experience investing in and supporting entrepreneurs to build high-growth companies that provide measurable value to society and to the environment. After launching her career at Goldman Sachs, Carolyn spent time as an operator with an early-stage education company before returning to investing in a venture role. Prior to Arborview, she helped to build the Energy Access strategy and portfolio for the Omidyar Network, a family office that has deployed more than $1.5 billion into impact investments.
Carolyn serves on the board of Kite Hill and Copper Cow Coffee. She is an observer to the board of Perch Energy, Soupergirl, and Alpen HPP. Carolyn also serves on the board of the Impact Capital Managers Institute, a network of 100+ market-rate impact investors, and on the Steering Committee for the DC Chapter of All Raise, an organization that accelerates the success of female founders and funders.
Elise Godinez Kern has spent her career in the Retail and Consumer Packaged Goods industries, primarily focused on understanding sales trends and consumer behavior in the retail environment. She currently serves as SVP of Data and Insights at Aromyx, a biotechnology and data company focused on the human perception of taste and smell. In this role, she leads engagement with retailers and manufacturers leveraging Aromyx’s data to change how they design products, target demographics, forecast trends, and solve global issues around health and sustainability. Prior to joining Aromyx, Elise worked at IRI, a worldwide market research and retail data insights service provider, where she led their engagement with Ahold Delhaize grocery store brand Hannaford Supermarkets. She also has previously worked for Kraft Foods in Sales and Finance roles and Walgreens in Finance and Loyalty Insights roles.
Elise spent much of her childhood abroad, living in Venezuela, France, Belgium, and Brazil. She holds a BS from Northwestern University and an MBA from the University of Notre Dame. She currently resides in Portland, Maine with her family.
Andres Hammer is a Partner at Arpegio, an early stage VC fund that invests in innovative, early-stage technology startups in the food and agriculture industries. Andres Hammer is an experienced partner with a demonstrated history of working in the venture capital and private equity industries for more than 15 years. Among his many skills, we can find that he has expertise in Business Planning, Analytical Skills, Mobile Payments and Business Development. Andres Hammer is also a Board Member at AgriCapital S.A.S, a Colombian agricultural company with the goal of helping farmers reach their maximum potential through their services.
Sarah Hinkfuss is a Partner at BCV and works with growth-stage founders across application software and fintech. She loves working with founders who have personal experience in the markets they are disrupting. Prior to BCV, Sarah was a mid-market tech investor both at Bain Capital on the Tech Opportunities Fund and KKR at the Next Generation Technology Growth Fund. Sarah spent the first half of her career in big data / predictive analytics SaaS, helping scale Applied Predictive Technologies (acquired by Mastercard in 2015). She has an AB in Economics and Environmental Science & Public Policy from Harvard, and an MBA from Stanford University.
Nate launched Barrel Ventures out of a passion to help others fix what’s broken. Surrounded by entrepreneurs at a young age, Nate is an operator at heart, having founded multiple companies over the past decade. On the other side of the table, Nate is motivated by helping entrepreneurs in the food ecosystem reach goals they never thought possible. He’s been fortunate to be an investor in over 40 early stage companies, including Olipop, Jumbotail, Great Wrap, Grabango, Pod Foods, Helaina, & others.
Nate is a graduate of the Goizueta School of Business at Emory University and received his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management where he was awarded a Kellogg Scholarship and named a Zell Fellow.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Ellie Symes, CEO of The Bee Corp, grew her love for beekeeping by starting a beekeeping club at Indiana University while she
completed her BS degree in Environmental Management. Named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for
Enterprise Technology in 2021, Ellie was also given the Rising Star Award at TechPoint’s annual
Mira Awards in 2018 and chosen for the AgGrad 30 Under 30 list in 2020. Ellie currently serves on
the Agrinovus board. She has spoken at several industry and international conferences, including
the Almond Conference, Forbes AgTech Summits, Apimondia International Beekeeping Conference,
World Ag Expo 2020, and the Forbes 30 under 30 Summit. Ellie also holds a Masters of Public Affairs with a concentration in Information Systems from Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs.
A serial entrepreneur and mentor to the Israeli Cyber Center with two previous corporate exits to his name, Omer is now focused on ushering in a new era of agri-tech using innovative precision pollination technology that will assist growers in feeding the world, and ensuring a future for the pollinators we depend on.
Seana brings 20 years of investment, M&A, and technology experience to Culterra Capital and Better Food Ventures. She is a regular Ag ecosystem contributor and publishes annual AgTech and Food Supply Chain Tech Landscapes highlighting technology across the Food and Ag value chain. Prior to her involvement in Food and Ag, Seana was a technology investment banker at AGC Partners in London, Ridgecrest Capital Partners and Headwaters Merchant Bank. Her background also includes Head of Restructuring and Operations at Versata Enterprises. She is now based in her hometown of Turlock, in the heart of California’s Ag-land.
BioConsortia is an R&D company with unique platform utilizing plant breeding, genomics and microbiome techniques to identify microbial products with superior efficacy and consistency, delivering higher crop yields.
Marcus is an experienced and successful executive in the specialty chemicals and biologics space, with a passion for innovation in sustainable agriculture.
Prior to BioConsortia, Marcus was Head of Biologics for Bayer CropScience. He assumed the leadership role following Bayer's $425million acquisition of AgraQuest, where Marcus was the CEO. Marcus and his team transformed, AgraQuest, from financial distress to the technology leader in the biological market.
Previously, Marcus had a 14 year career at Chemtura Corporation, ultimately becoming EVP for a $2billion portfolio of businesses: crop protection, consumer products and plastics additives. Earlier in his career he worked for Sumitomo Corporation.
Marcus is also on the Board of Crop-Enhancement Inc, and is owner and winemaker at Great Bear Vineyards in Davis, California.
Mark is the CEO of Bloomfield, a venture-backed AI company in agriculture. He was previously cofounder and CEO of RoadBotics, a venture backed AI company assessing roadway infrastructure. He was also previously cofounder and Chairman of kWantix, a quant energy hedge fund, and cofounder and CEO of kWantera, a venture-backed energy trading company. Previously, he was CEO of Think Through Learning, a venture-backed online tutoring company and US Managing Director of ANGLE
Technology, PLC, a UK-based venture capital firm and consultancy.
Earlier in his career, Mark was the Director of Government Relations for Texas Instruments and held policy positions as a Senior Policy Analyst in The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Administration of George H. W. Bush. He was also staff assistant to late U.S. Senator John Heinz was a management
consultant with Booz Allen. Mark is an Adviser to MIR Ventures in Palo Alto and Cascadia Capital in Seattle. He also has dual appointment as an Adjunct Professor at the College of Engineering and Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University. Mark holds a PhD in Public Policy from the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University and is completing a Doctorate in Business Administration at the Fox School of Business at Temple University. Mark also serves on the board of the Regional Industrial Development Corporation of Southwestern Pennsylvania as well as a several other non- profits in Western Pennsylvania.
Kelly Burton is an award-winning sustainability leader. As the Head of Sustainability and Social Impact for meal kit leader Blue Apron, she is tasked with operationalizing the company’s vision of Better Living Through Better Food™. Before joining Blue Apron in January 2022, Kelly served as the Chief Sustainability Officer of Material Exchange AB, a Swedish-based tech start-up co-developed by the United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA) and the Footwear Distributors and Retailers Association (FDRA), where she developed and executed the strategic roadmap aligning with ESG, SDG, investor, and value chain commitments. Passionate about sharing her knowledge with the next generation of leaders she is an adjunct professor at Harvard University and UNLV.
Lindsay is a Director at Blue Horizon, a fund focused on sustainable food systems. She is responsible for North American deals across the food and ag sectors, ranging from seed to pre-IPO with a special focus on differentiated ingredients, functional foods and evidence-based wellness. Prior to Blue Horizon, she worked at Rabobank where she worked on building out agrifoodtech coverage for the research and investing teams. Previously, Lindsay worked at a buyout firm (MacAndrews & Forbes) and as an M&A banker at Moelis & Company. She has worked as competitive pastry chef for the last 15 years as well.
Lou Cooperhouse is a globally recognized authority in food business innovation and technology commercialization, with extensive leadership experiences throughout his 35+ year career in the food industry. Lou is co-founder, president & CEO of BlueNalu, with a mission to become the global leader in providing great-tasting, cell-cultured seafood products that are healthy for people, humane for sea life and sustainable for our planet. With his deep and diverse understanding of the food industry, Lou has spoken at hundreds of conferences throughout his career, specializing in food trends, disruptive technologies, and global best practices in business innovation and incubation. Lou received his MS in Food Science and BS in Microbiology, both from Rutgers University, and has served as an adjunct professor at the Rutgers Business School.
Ashley is Managing Partner at Bluestein Ventures where she drives the firm’s strategy, portfolio company support, and deal pipeline. Ashley has made over 30 investments in the space and is an observer on three boards. Ashley has appeared in Forbes, has been featured on industry podcasts (ConsumerVC, Chicago Capital, TIG Talks, and Gooder), and regularly serves on industry panels.
Ashley has deep experience leading growth strategy and establishing scalable infrastructure necessary to build sustainable ventures. Prior to Bluestein, Ashley was VP of Strategy & Operations at Hartman Windows & Doors. Ashley also worked for Coinstar in Business Development, focusing on launching their new ventures. After college, Ashley was an Analyst at NERA Economic Consulting.
Active in the community, Ashley serves on the Board of Naturally Chicago, as a mentor at Food Foundry, The Hatchery, and LeAD Accelerator, and a judge at Booth’s new venture competitions. Ashley received an MBA with honors from Harvard Business School and a BA in Political Economy, summa cum laude, from Williams College.
Ashley was vegan before it was cool and is the resident health and wellness nut on the team, endlessly focused on how to optimize habits for peak performance.
Gary Hawkins has lived his career ahead of the curve, putting him in the right place at the right time to lead the fast moving consumer goods retail industry into the future during a time of exponential technology growth using never-before-available capabilities to innovate the future of shopping.
Hawkins is the author of three books including the latest, Retail in the Age of ‘i’, exploring the future of retail propelled by the exponential growth of technology. In addition, Hawkins authors myriad articles, white papers, and the Retail Mindsteps newsletter which explores transformative and disruptive tech-fueled innovation in FMCG retail.
Hawkins is the Founder and CEO of CART (Center for Advancing Retail & Technology). CART’s mission is to connect retail to new innovative capabilities through programs, events, and education. Knowing that awareness and discovery of new technologies are only one part of future success, the CART team is at the forefront of helping retailers, wholesalers, brand manufacturers, and solution providers cultivate a culture of innovation and agility. Drawing on years of hands-on retail experience leading shopper-focused innovation, Hawkins and his team are uniquely positioned to assist the retail industry in preparing for the future.
Hawkins is a keynote speaker at retail industry conferences around the world where he distills the complexity of tech-fueled retail innovation into digestible and actionable insights. He is a regular guest lecturer at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business along with other leading Universities.
David Bucca is the founder and CEO of Change Foods, a precision fermentation food tech startup creating animal-free dairy products, starting with cheese. David's a passionate food industry professional with expertise in alternative proteins, and who was previously an aerospace engineering leader at Boeing for over 13 years.
Following a career change in 2016 motivated by his mission to create more sustainable, ethical, and innovative food systems, he became founding director of Food Frontier, an innovative think-tank & industry accelerator for alternative proteins in Australia/NZ. He also became the COO of a hemp foods startup, and subsequently the APAC manager for U.S. plant-based meat company Hungry Planet. David holds a graduate certificate from Melbourne Business School, a double degree in Aerospace Engineering and Applied Science from RMIT University, and a Commercial Pilot License for Airplanes.
Osa is well versed in the startup world, having launched two prior startup ventures as well as, co-founding Fifth Star Funds Venture Capital in Chicago where he sits on the investment committee. Osa holds a Master's Degree in Computer Engineering from Boston University and a BA in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Maricel is a biotech entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of Compound Foods, a food-tech startup recreating coffee without coffee beans. Their first product, Minus Coffee, is officially launching direct-to-consumer in January 2023. Maricel is a Costa Rica native, passionate about sustainability and coffee. She has a Bachelor of Commerce from The University of British Columbia and attended Singularity University’s Global Solutions Program in 2017.
Maricel has a background in finance and previously co-founded Nextbiotics, a synthetic biology startup addressing antibiotic resistance. She was featured on Forbes 30 under 30 Social Impact category, and has participated in numerous speaking events including TedX and SXSW. She worked in international development in South Africa, with local entrepreneurs, and in Cambodia with Hellen Keller International to empower women. She worked with Monitor Deloitte in corporate strategy and innovation consultancies.
As Vice President of Fodder Operations at Cultivatd, Jamie Tyrell is a highly regarded hydroponic fodder consultant and advisor. With a background in International Sustainable Development and Environmental Management, Jamie has a strong focus on agriculture and the use of AgTech for animal feed security solutions. Prior to his work as a consultant, Jamie held management roles in government, collaborating with Deputy Ministers and Directors on specific projects. In addition to his professional experience, Jamie is an accomplished speaker and facilitator, having given talks on food security in Oman, the UAE, and St Louis. Jamie specializes in helping producers transition from their current state to future state projects, with a focus on empowering producers to provide on-farm solutions and removing barriers to market conditions. Jamie is passionate about food security, regenerative agriculture, and the potential to disrupt traditional models and allow producers to be less reliant on market and climate conditions to produce food for the food we eat.
Mani is co-founder and CEO of Cut+Dry, a global platform that seeks to digitize the Foodservice supply chain. Prior to Cut+Dry, Mani was an SVP at Sysco where he was responsible for digitizing and modernizing Sysco. Mani, initially joined Sysco when his prior startup, CAKE, was acquired by Sysco. CAKE was the first cloud point of sale system targeting the hospitality industry. A recovering FinTech, Mani previously served as a Senior Product Manager at Yahoo! PayDirect, co-founded a cross border funds transfer business, CrossFunds, and began his career at Citibank’s e-Citi initiative. Mani has a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Tulane University and an MBA from Vanderbilt University.
Dr. Leah Bessa is a rebel food scientist on a mission to revolutionize the food industry. Her bold research on alternative protein sources, from insects to precision fermentation, is pushing the boundaries of sustainable food production and creating products that are changing the game of nutrition. With her company De Novo FoodLabs, she's leading the charge in making a real impact on both people and the planet.
Bio: Dave M.S. Johnson, a chef at heart, is the CEO of Dexai Robotics, a restaurant robotics company he co-founded in 2018. Prior to Dexai, Dr. Johnson was working about as far from the hospitality industry as possible - he was building atomic clocks for DARPA and researching how to teach robots novel skills, including how to cook. He earned his PhD in Physics from Stanford University in 2011.
Jeff Barry is an Innovation and Consumer Insights executive, currently serving as the Chief Innovation Officer at Dot Foods, the largest food redistributor in the United States.
For 25+ years he has worked across B2C, B2B, CPG, Financial Services, Pharmaceuticals, Biotech, Startups, tech companies to bring new products and business models to market. Prior to Dot Foods, Jeff led the front end of innovation for Nestle Purina, bringing products like Live Clear, Just Right, and Petivity to market. At Anheuser-Busch he played key roles in helping create some of the most memorable moments in people's lives, leading the development and testing of Super Bowl advertising and leading development of Bud Light Lime.
Jeff is a member of the St. Louis University faculty teaching innovation. He is also a sought-after speaker at CPG, Supply Chain, and Innovation conferences.
José Luis Cabañero founded Eatable Adventures in 2015 with the aim of collaborating in the development of the food sector in its transition towards a more sustainable and efficient model.
Eatable Adventures is currently the leading foodtech accelerator in Europe and Latam, developing collaboration models between the industry and the most promising start-ups generating innovation opportunities at high speed.
Previously, José Luis Cabañero developed his professional career in the innovation and new technologies sector in leading global companies in the high-tech sector; leading development units of new markets and emerging technologies in EMEA and Latam.
Using her extensive experience in communications and business, Sharon has been at the forefront of building and growing the global food and agtech ecosystem for the better part of a decade. Her work with start-ups, corporations, investors, policymakers, institutions, and youth landed her the title of one of Forbes’ most powerful women shaping the future of food.
She believes in connecting the dots, creating opportunities for others, and facilitating the collaboration that will lead to systemic change within the food system. This dedication to finding collaborative solutions and engaging the next generation has become the backbone of her new endeavor – Edible Planet Ventures, founded in 2021.
This new project is a systemic platform that aims to reshape our food system by convening leading voices and visionaries to collaborate and innovate around the most pressing challenges of today, and the future.
Recognized by Food Tank as one in 14 women to change the future of food, Sharon is active in several other roles. She currently is a Founding Board Member of the AgrifoodTech Italia Association, is in the advisory committee of Trueinvestor and two funds, is part of the United for Regeneration-Now Partners team, sits on the Advisory Board of the World Food Programme Italia, and is a mentor for both Rockstart Agrifood and the FoodTech Accelerator. Furthermore, she is also Global Chair for Food Innovation for the G100, a group of global leaders all joined in a pact of purpose to create massive opportunities for women worldwide.
Prior to launching her company, Sharon served as the CCO for Seeds&Chips, leading the development, planning, and execution of the signature event in Milan, consulting on high-level corporate strategies, open innovation methodologies, and growing into new markets such as the US and ANZ.
Alec Lee is the Co-Founder & CEO of Endless West, a food technology company using innovative methods to create wines and spirits at the molecular level. After leaving Harvard Business School to pursue a new startup venture, Alec teamed up with fellow scientist, Mardonn Chua, to form Endless West. Their first product, Glyph, is the first whiskey ever to be made note by note, using flavor and aroma molecules extracted from more efficient sources in nature. Unlike conventional whiskeys, Glyph is made without any barrel aging, which means significantly less wood, water, and land is used in its production process. Today their technology serves as a platform for brands to make their products more efficiently and cost-effectively across various spirits categories. Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Alec studied science & biotechnology at the University of British Columbia and currently lives in San Francisco.
Rob leads EY’s Food & Agribusiness sector and focuses on strategy, innovation and M&A across the value chain. As EY’s global leader, he is at the forefront of industry issues and works directly with client executives to optimize their approach in the global markets. He works across the entire agri/food value chain including crop inputs, ag retailers, processors, food manufacturers and distribution. Rob has also worked extensively to foster innovation and digital adoption across the industry with corporate clients, private equity, venture capital and incubator/accelerator communities.
Rob’s experience ranges from growth strategy to operating model design to digital innovation across the agri/food value chain. He works directly with client executives in the design and implementation of the appropriate operating model for their business, including strategy/portfolio management, marketing/merchandising, digital, operational areas and value creation.
In over 20 years with EY, Rob has served companies such as Monsanto, Bayer Crop Sciences, Dupont/Corteva, Nutrien, McCain Foods, Land O’ Lakes, CHS, Tyson Foods, ADM, Deere, Hillshire Brands, Kellogg, Costco, AGCO, Cargill, Ingredion, and KraftHeinz. This client base and his role as the senior advisory partner on several other clients have enabled him to become a knowledge leader on matters of critical importance to global and market-leading companies.
Mark aspires to leave the world a better place by building enduring companies and innovations. His career spans climate science, entrepreneurship, corporate strategy, and venture capital. Mark joined as the head of FMC Ventures in 2022. He was previously at Syngenta Ventures and also architected the first corporate venture capital program in the accounting profession. He was the founder of two companies, one of which grew to the top 3% of Internet traffic, and an early AgTech startup that provided weather-based decision support for farmers. Mark is based in the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina.
Danielle Nierenberg is a world-renowned researcher, speaker, and advocate on all issues relating to our food system and agriculture. In 2013, Danielle Nierenberg co-founded Food Tank (foodtank.com) with Bernard Pollack, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization focused on building a global community for safe, healthy, nourished eaters. Food Tank is a global convener, thought leadership organization, and unbiased creator of original research impacting the food system.
Danielle has an M.S. in Agriculture, Food, and Environment from the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and spent two years volunteering for the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic. Danielle is the recipient of the 2020 Julia Child Award.
Roee Nir is the Co-Founder & CEO of Forsea Foods, a company using a breakthrough organoid-based technology to produce cultivated fish and seafood in a very similar way nature does.
In the past 18 years, Nir has served in strategic, executive roles in Foodtech, Biotech and Digital Health companies. He is a Biotech engineer with an MBA from NYU Stern School of business.
Jenn is a Principal at FTW Ventures, where she is focused on Climate Solutions, Sustainable Packaging, Supply Chain and innovation in Health and Wellness. Prior to joining FTW, she was an Investor at Evolv Ventures, Kraft Heinz's $100M corporate venture capital fund. She is a 2021 graduate from the Yale School of Management where she spent time at Equal Ventures, AmplifyHER Ventures, and was a founding partner of Fishbowl Ventures, Yale's first student run impact fund. Jenn has always been food motivated: she ran the culinary entertainment department on-board Holland America Line cruise ships before moving to New York to work for the Marcus Samuelsson Group, a celebrity chef driven media and restaurant group.
Alexis Gauthier is a multi-award-winning French chef and successful London restaurateur. In 2016 he became vegan, and in 2021 he removed all animal products from his restaurant menus entirely.
From Avignon, in the south of France, Alexis began his career in the grand hotels of Nice and Monaco, under the eye of Chef Alain Ducasse. It was there he first began to form his fundamental cooking style, a light and uncomplicated celebration of the best seasonal produce, often led by fruits and vegetables, chosen instinctively and prepared intuitively.
Opening Gauthier Soho in 2010, Alexis knew from the very beginning that vegetables would be a main focus, and made his vegetable menu stand shoulder to shoulder with the then classic gout du jour menu.
When global animal rights charity PETA ran an international vegan month back in October 2015, Gauthier Soho took part ‘really to test the water’ and completely removed all animal products from the vegetarian menu. He was overwhelmed with the positive response, winning UK Best Vegan Menu Award.
In 2016, Alexis himself became vegan, and announced he was planning to turn the entire restaurant plant-based. In 2021, this became a reality, and Gauthier Soho became the first classical French fine-dining vegan restaurant in the world.
He recently opened the more casual 123V restaurant - also 100% vegan - in London’s Mayfair.
Alexis is now a regular speaker at debates and discussions and is dedicated to exploring the possibilities of deliciousness using an animal free canvas.
Veronica Fil is a former behavioral economist and marketing strategist, who now specializes in consumer perceptions around food. She is the co-founder and CEO of Grounded Foods Co.--a company making high-nutrition, sustainable dairy alternatives from hemp. Veronica is also the author of Plant-Based USA: A Guide to Eating Animal-Free in America (Hardie Grant Publishing, to be released March 2023).
Patrick has an extensive and diverse background in global agriculture. Starting with the earliest stages of the food supply chain, Patrick has consulted grower & supplier enterprises on digital transformation and technology adoption. During his career at Deere and Company, Patrick deployed strategic growth initiatives from the tractor assembly plant in Waterloo, Iowa, to sugar cane harvesters in Argentina, to forage harvesters in Germany, and throughout the US. Patrick understands the diversity in farming practices and the need for dynamic support of field operations.
Patrick’s career has provided valuable experience with the product development and validation process as well as manufacturing and assembly of the most technologically advanced machinery in agriculture.
Patrick holds a BA of Sociology from Arizona State University and an MBA with a concentration in International Management from St. Ambrose University
Laura Katz, food scientist, is Founder and CEO of Helaina. Founded in 2019, Helaina is the first company to bring the immune-nourishing proteins in breast milk to a new category of infant formula.
Disrupting the infant formula category which has been stagnant for decades, Helaina has raised more than $25 million, including $20 million in Series A funding (co-led by Spark Capital and Siam Capital) announced in November 2021. Helaina is based in New York City.
In leveraging fermentation to create a new category of infant formula, Laura recognized an opportunity to support parents who, in the U.S., often have insufficient parental leave policies. Helaina was founded on the belief that breastfeeding should not define the health of a child or the worth of a parent.
Laura became NYU’s youngest ever adjunct professor in Food Science & Technology in 2017 and was featured in Forbes’ 30 under 30 list in 2022. She has presented at conferences, including Collision, Fortune Brainstorm, Built with Biology, Future Food Tech - Alternative Proteins, and Food Hack.
Prior to Helaina, Laura developed food products for NUGGS, Plated, and Dylan’s Candy Bar. Laura has reached viral success as a food scientist, generating $60M+ views via an 11-episode stint as the expert food scientist for Epicurious’ 4-Levels video series. She earned a Master’s in Food Studies from NYU, and a Bachelor of Sciences in Food Science and Technology from Western University. In her free time, she can be found running with her Italian Water Dog, Fontina Prosciutto, and writing recipes in hopes of one day publishing a cookbook.
Shely Aronov is CEO/co-founder of InnerPlant, a company creating crops that communicate via optical signals when they’re thirsty or sick to increase yields and reduce chemical use. Born in Israel, she is a Tel Aviv University graduate and holds an MBA from Standford.
David McIntosh is VP of Connected Stores at Instacart. His team delivers solutions that enable retailers to offer seamless retail experiences across online and in-store, benefitting retailers and their customers. Previously, in his role as VP of Product, Retailer, he led the development of Instacart Platform. Prior to joining Instacart in 2021, David was the CEO and co-founder of Tenor, a leading expression search engine which Google acquired in 2018. At Google, David grew Tenor to over 1 Billion users and more than 1 Billion queries per day.
Azamat is the CFO/COO of the UKs leading Cultivated Meat company, Ivy Farm Technologies, an innovative food-tech scale-up on a mission to create the best guilt-free, real meat, to tackle one of the world’s biggest climate polluters - industrial agriculture - and to help the world reach its net zero goals. His latest achievement is building Ivy Farms’ pilot plant at low cost and on time. Azamat is also driving external communication with investors and partners. He has spent most of his career in technology investment banking at Goldman Sachs, Société Générale and more recently Barclays, advising technology companies on various corporate finance transactions, including fundraising, initial public offerings, mergers and acquisitions, and others. He has been especially focusing on food tech, working closely with such companies as Gousto, Delivery Hero, Just Eat Takeaway, Oda, Hungry Panda, and others. Azamat is a passionate skier, soccer player and karaoke singer.
Stephanie was born in Denmark, grew up in Sweden and moved to the Bay Area, CA in 2011. She holds a BSc. Biotechnology from The University of Copenhagen, Denmark & a MSc. Engineering in Biotechnology from The Technical University of Denmark.
Stephanie was a board member at Synapse - Life Science Connect: a student-driven
organization focused on bridging academia and industry, the 2018 iGEM Gold-medal winner synthetic biology, and a fellow of the first cohort of the International Innovation Program (2iP) hosted by the Novo Nordisk Foundation.
She has held various internships and roles in biotechnology companies & startups including LakePharma, BioPorto, Juvena Therapeutics, SynBioBeta, & Wild Earth.
Stephanie's biggest life goal is to do her part to try to make the world a better place than how she found it, through impact entrepreneurship while building a successful business and an all-star team.
Alison is a Managing Director and Partner in L.E.K.’s Consulting’s Consumer practice with 11+ years of experience in strategy consulting spanning North America, EU, ad APAC markets. Within the consumer practice, Alison is a leader within Food & Beverage, with direct experience across the F&B value chain including ingredients, manufacturers / brands, and retail & foodservice operators. Alison supports companies on a range of topics including growth strategy, M&A and project execution. Alison received her Masters of Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business and Bachelor of Science from the University of Notre Dame
Jacob Pechenik is a passionate entrepreneur who has build a career around questioning and improving industry status quo. Upon graduating from MIT with a BS in Chemical Engineering, Jacob founded and led TechTrader, an early web-based B2B supply chain platform, followed by the development and launch of YellowJacket Software, a p2p derivatives trading platform supporting a broad spectrum of segments (from weather & energy to agriculture) in 2004. In 2011, he set his sights on the film industry, founding Venture Forth, a film, finance, and production company focused on high-quality, high-impact independent films. His dedication to innovation and socially constructive disruption led to the co-founding of The Farm Project and Lettuce Grow, an altruistic initiative that aims to reconnect people with their food. Today, Jacob remains committed to delivering healthy, sustainable harvests to every home and enabling Americans to have healthier connections to our planet.
Eva is the CEO and founder of Littlefoot Ventures, which represents a culmination of knowledge and experiences from Eva’s 15 years as a food systems practitioner.
Eva was a founding team member of ReFED, where she secured the initial funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, General Mills Foundation, and Walmart Foundation to establish the organizational framework for ReFED. She was also responsible for the distribution of the original ReFED Roadmap report.
Previous to ReFED, she worked at the World Economic Forum serving on the food and agriculture team. She supported multi-stakeholder partnerships in 12 countries to mobilize investment and coordination amongst global food companies, heads of state (including the G7), UN agencies and farmer organizations.
She started Littlefoot to provide more support and services to food businesses, foundations, and nonprofits, focused on creating positive environmental, social and economic impact.
Paul Bevan is the founder and CEO of Magic Valley - an Australian food company developing healthy and delicious cultivated meat products.
Paul previously held senior roles at ASX100 listed companies, TABCORP, NAB and ANZ. He was also the co-founder of Absolute MMA (Melbourne’s biggest martial arts gym) and founder of Boss Finance (an award-winning finance brokerage).
Paul was also previously the National Treasurer of the Animal Justice Party and holds a Bachelor of Economics (Monash University).
Tom is a Partner in McKinsey’s Philadelphia office and a member of Agriculture and Chemicals
Practices. He helps established companies grow through innovation and business building, and
start-ups scale across the chemical, food, and agriculture sectors.
He is an expert in industrial biotech topics ranging from gene editing to large-scale fermentation
for diverse applications including alternative proteins, specialty chemicals, and bio-based
Tom works with clients across biotech, agriculture, food, animal health, and chemicals on
strategy, innovation, and sustainability topics spanning geographies and several application
verticals working with strategics, investors, and startups.
Prior to joining McKinsey, Tom was a laboratory researcher in renewable energy.
He earned his Ph.D., in Chemical Engineering from Stanford University.
Josh Sharkey is the founder and CEO of meez, the recipe tool for professional chefs. He is an entrepreneur, chef, and restaurant operator with over 20 years of experience in the industry at restaurants like Oceana, Tabla, Bouley and Cafe Gray. After more than a decade cooking in Michelin-starred kitchens, he opened Bark Hot Dogs in 2009, which earned numerous accolades in the fast casual space. Sharkey spent five years as the Chief Operating Officer of Aurify Brands (Melt Shop, The Little Beet, Little Beet Table, Fields Good Chicken, and Le Pain Quotidien) before launching meez to the public in late 2020 following more than two years of development. Since then, meez has partnered with renowned groups and concepts, including José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup, Jean-Georges Restaurants by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, fast-casual favorite Mulberry & Vine, and local staple BKLYN Larder. During the pandemic, Josh used meez’s technology to create Recipes for Relief, an initiative that made interactive recipes available for purchase with 100% of proceeds supporting restaurant relief. In 2021, the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) became the first culinary school to be powered by meez. Josh believes in building technology with domain empathy, ensuring software always conforms to how we operate, and fervently focusing on the finer details.
Ricky is the Co-Founder and CEO of Michroma 🍄🧬🌈. Michroma was born to create innovative ingredients for consumers, the planet, and food companies.
Urged by his entrepreneurial essence, he created visionary startups with a positive environmental impact. He is an Indiebio alumni and was selected as Young Founder of Westerwelle Foundation. Prior to founding Michroma in 2019, Ricky was also a Strategy Consultant for multinational companies and served as a Professor of Operations and Logistics at Austral University. He holds a degree in Business Administration and a postgraduate degree in Industrial Management.
Nicholas (Nick) Dyner is Moleaer’s Chief Executive Officer. The company is the global leader in
nanobubble technology with a mission to unlock the power of water to do more with less.
Moleaer’s leading-edge products provide clients a cost-effective, chemical-free solution proven
to increase sustainable food production, reduce the use of chemicals, restore aquatic
ecosystems, and improve natural resource recovery.
Founded in 2017, Moleaer launched its first nanobubble generator and began commercializing
its technology in Los Angeles, California. Under Dyner’s leadership, the company has pioneered
nanobubble technology at industrial scale, emerging as a category creator and leader in a
multi-billion-dollar market. Today, the company has over 1,500 installations in more than 30
countries, treating more than 400 million gallons of water per day in agriculture, aquaculture,
surface water, and wastewater.
Prior to Moleaer, Dyner served as the Senior Vice President of LG Chem Water Solutions where
he led the Company’s global sales and marketing efforts following LG’s acquisition of NanoH2O,
one of the largest in the water industry to date. Over Dyner’s tenure with NanoH2O, he
developed the Company’s sales and brand strategy, led the first product launch, and personally
did business in over 90-countries. Before joining NanoH2O, Dyner spearheaded the business
development activities at Water Standard. For nearly three years, he served as a global product
manager at GE Water & Process Technologies.
Dyner received extensive business training in various roles at General Electric and is a Six Sigma
Black Belt certificate holder. He earned a bachelor’s degree in History and Economics from
Dr. Debbie Yaver has expertise in engineering microorganisms for protein and chemical production as well as whole microbe products using synthetic biology and classic approaches like mutagenesis and screening. She also has experience scaling microbes from lab to production and the use of beneficial microbes in applications. Prior to joining Nature’s Fynd in 2021, Debbie spent two decades at Novozymes where she was Managing Director of the company's California site and Director of Production Strain Technology. She is an inventor on > 40 issued patents; is an author on > 20 peer-reviewed publications; serves on several advisory boards; and has been the recipient of multiple awards, including the inaugural Rosalind Franklin Award for Leadership in Industrial Biotechnology from Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).
Born and raised in dairy-rich New Zealand, Matt became passionate about transforming the dairy industry when he started learning about its massive environmental, animal welfare, and human health impacts. After founding multiple start-ups in New Zealand, he moved to the Bay Area to launch New Culture as part of IndieBio, the world’s leading biotech start-up accelerator, with co-founder Inja Radman. He has a BSc from the University of Auckland in genetics and microbiology, completed a certificate in filmmaking from the New Zealand Film Academy, and is a licensed skydiver with 60+ jumps above him. He is also a budding banjo picker.
Chris is the Founder & CEO of New School Foods, a VC-backed startup that makes whole-muscle meat alternatives. Previously, he was the Founder & CEO of Unata, which was acquired by Instacart in 2018.
New School Foods uses a proprietary technology to produce whole-muscle cuts of seafood that look, cook, taste and flakes just like fish. The company has been selected as a semifinalist in the XPRIZE's Feed the Next Billion competition.
Chris is also an angel investor and startup mentor focused exclusively on alt-protein, and a proud member of the Founder’s Pledge.
Camilla Opperman is the Founder and CEO of Nimbus, an innovative shared kitchen company that combines hourly and long-term kitchen rentals with events programming, allowing businesses to launch their concepts, scale production, and nurture relationships with their customers with little risk and minimal capital commitment.
Camilla previously managed Operational Excellence at Away (direct to consumer luggage), was a Research & Strategy associate at L2-Gartner (digital consulting), and managed her college's late night snack shack for three years. Camilla holds a dual-B.A. in Political Science and History of Art from Yale University. She was the Captain of the Yale NCAA Division I Gymnastics team and two-time USA Gymnastics All-American.
Nico Pinkowski is co-founder and CEO of Nitricity, a company electrifying and distributing the production of fertilizer. As it is done today, fertilizer emits as much as 5-7%/yr of total global GHG emissions. Nitricity and Nico have been awarded numerous awards and grants from Stanford, MIT, Caltech, ASU, Forbes 30 under 30, NSF, USDA, and ARPA-e SBIR, and a recent $20M venture finance round. Prior to Nitricity, Nico received a PhD in Mechanical engineering from Stanford.
David Verbitsky is a Managing Director in Nomura Greentech and leads Nomura Greentech’s AgTech & Sustainable Food practice.
David has spent over 15 years specializing in the Food & Agriculture sector, including 10+ years of experience in investment banking, most notably as Head of Agriculture & Nutrition investment banking at Goldman Sachs. Recently, David co-founded and served as Managing Partner of Spaceship Earth Ventures, an early-stage venture capital fund investing in Agri-Food Tech in emerging markets. David has dedicated his career to pursuing his passions in agriculture, healthier and cleaner food, environmental sustainability, ESG issues, and impact investing.
David received his Bachelor’s Chemical Engineering degree from Columbia University and MBA from Rice University.
Jeroen is Co-Founder and CTO of NoPalm Ingredients, the alt-fats company whose platform upcycles various waste streams into custom-made fermented oils and fats. In addition to his work to brew a more sustainable world, Jeroen holds a part-time professorship at the University of Amsterdam. With a life-long career in fermentation, Jeroen has worked in both academia as in commercial organizations (Corbion, Coca Cola). Jeroen is widely regarded as fermentation guru in the field of microbiology.
Nieves Martinez Marshall is co-founder and CEO of Novel Farms, Inc., a cultivated meat company dedicated to producing whole muscle cuts of meat using proprietary tissue engineering technology. Nieves holds a B.Sc. in Chemistry and a M.Sc. in Biochemistry from the University of Zaragoza (Spain), and a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology from the Humboldt University of Berlin (Germany). Following her graduate studies, Nieves moved to the US to carry out her postdoctoral work at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2019, she joined Wild Earth, Inc. as a senior scientist and became passionate about entrepreneurship and leveraging her expertise in molecular biology to develop the technologies necessary to produce structured cell-based meat products.
Max Elder is the co-founder and CEO of Nowadays, a foodtech startup building the cheapest and most-scalable manufacturing platform for whole cuts of plant-based meat. Max is a multidisciplinary researcher, published author, keynote speaker, and trusted advisor to individuals and organizations across the global food system. Before founding Nowadays, Max was a Research Director in the Food Futures Lab at the Institute for the Future (IFTF), the world’s leading strategic foresight organization. He has published in peer-reviewed journals and books; his research is taught at universities around the world; and he speaks globally on topics related to the nexus of sustainability, innovation, and food systems systems. Max sits on the advisory boards of FoodShot Global and Food Systems for the Future. He studied at both Kenyon College and Oxford University.
Keith Veselka is the Co-Owner of NWFM based in Yakima Washington. Keith manages just under 2000 acres consisting of apples, cherries, and pears in Washington State. Keith grew up in Houston Texas and played football at Sam Houston State University. Keith received his commission in the United States Air Force and degree (Law & Justice) in 2004 from Central Washington University. Keith Spent 7 years as an Air Force Nuclear Operations Officer and Flight Commander. Keith, his wife (Ruth), and three children returned to the Yakima Valley to begin farm management in 2011 as part of a 5th generation family farm. Keith is a past President of the Yakima Pomological Club, a co-chair of the Washington Tree Fruit Research Technology Committee, and a Commissioner of the Washington Tree Fruit Research Committee (WTFRC), as well Chairman of the board for the Washington Apple Education Foundation (WAEF).
Patricia Bubner, PhD, is a scientist and engineer building a future of food that is ethical and sustainable. She is Co-Founder and CEO of Orbillion Bio, which produces premium cell-cultured meats. Previously, she worked in biopharma scaling up the very bioprocesses used in cell ag, and founded an ag and food initiative working with farmers to expand food biodiversity. Patricia holds an MSc in Technical Chemistry and a PhD in Biotechnology from Graz University of Technology in Austria, and she did her postdoctoral research at the Energy Biosciences Institute at UC Berkeley. Combining her work experience from the biopharma, food, and sustainable materials industry, Patricia is now building a world class team to take cell-cultured meat production to the next level.
Nikita Michelsen is the CEO & Founder of Pearlita Foods, the world's first alternative oyster (& mollusk) company that uses plant-based & cell-based technologies to secure fresh seafood and support clean oceans. Nikita holds a BA in Communication and a MS in Information Studies. Prior to becoming an impact entrepreneur, Nikita was director of marketing at SynBioBeta where she partnered with startups to help advance the industry through story-telling and following the latest industry trends.
Dr. Taraka Ramji Moturu is a scientist turned entrepreneur. His research works have been published and represented in reputed journals. He has previous experience with a food tech-based startup and also he is actively involved in social projects including STEM mentoring programs, climate education etc. He is a founding member of STEMPeers, a global non-profit organization for STEM graduates helping them with job transitions and other careers. He is also a member of Global shapers Brussels hub, an initiative of the World Economic Forum. Ramji as a scientist loves to solve complex challenges yet also likes to bring solutions to the real world to make a difference. This startup Peelon provides him with the opportunity to fulfil the purpose of what he is passionate about. He believes in being the change instead of waiting for a change to happen.
Allison Fowler serves as Chief Marketing Officer at Perfect Day, a consumer biology company on a mission to create a kinder, greener tomorrow by developing new ways to make the foods you love today — starting in the dairy aisle. In her role, she leads the company’s marketing function, responsible for brand positioning and activation planning, traditional and digital strategies, partner marketing, and new product launches.
Allison brings over two decades of experience building consumer-centric brands, with a track record of leading marketing functions at innovative CPG brands. She joined Perfect Day from Perfect Snacks, where she served as Chief Marketing Officer, leading a team of 20 across their Brand Strategy and Activation, e-commerce and Innovation functions. Prior to Perfect Snacks, she held Brand Marketing leadership positions at Kashi and MillerCoors.
Over her 20-year career, she has led brand strategies for both established CPG and small upstart brands. She has established deep expertise in leading high performing teams, business strategy development, brand positioning and communications strategy, brand activation planning, and concept to launch new product development. Allison enjoys advising high-growth brands and working alongside Founders, and serves on the Board of Directors for Copper Cow Coffee and Foodstirs.
Allison earned her BA in Economics from the University of San Diego and MA from the University of Southern California Annenberg School of Communication. She is passionate about the future of animal-free dairy and, with the rest of the Executive Leadership Team, is driving Perfect Day to its vision of building a more equitable, resilient, and diverse food system for all of us.
Alex Frederick is a senior emerging technology analyst at PitchBook, where he contributes to the firm’s emerging technology research covering the foodtech and agtech verticals. He authors quarterly deep dives into these verticals and produces thematic analyst notes. His expertise is frequently cited in top-tier publications, including Business Insider, Bloomberg and CNBC. Prior to PitchBook, Frederick worked as a venture associate at Impact Engine, an impact investing firm focused on tech-enabled businesses in healthcare, education, economic empowerment, and resource efficiency. Frederick holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University. He is based in PitchBook’s Seattle office.
Hauke Feddersen is Vice President of Operations of PreciTaste, a Vision AI platform and category leader in software automation for the foodservice industry. Having joined PreciTaste nearly five years ago,
Feddersen is responsible for overseeing project and product teams to bring success to customers' kitchens. As a member of the executive team, Hauke leads business initiatives and operational strategies to fulfill PreciTaste’s mission to set the new standard for food AI management across food chains.
Feddersen’s combined experience in the software and food industries brings a breadth of operational knowledge to PreciTaste. Prior to joining the team, he was a Project Manager for B2B Software Development at Otto Group, Europe’s largest multichannel retailer, a Managing Director at Wiebold Confiserie, a chocolate factory heavily invested in robotics and digital process automation, and a Director of Procurement at Tchibo Group where he was responsible for service contracts for 50,000+ professional coffee makers across Europe.
Guido has led strategy and innovation roles for almost two decades in Milano, London and Dubai as leader in consultancies like WPP, Publicis and Accenture on global businesses in almost every industry, contributing to the growth and transformation of dozens of companies and brands.
As CEO of PROTe-IN, Guido is devoted to fast track the altprotein industry from #ProcessFood to #ProgressFood via carbon2product microbial fermentation technologies. Additionally, he continues to support as strategy and innovation as a Board Member in various impact-driven ventures in EMEA.
He is also the father of two, an environmentalist since his Tuscan childhood, and holds MS in Textual Semiotics on Metaverse and Hypermedial landscapes.
Sujala is an engineer and food scientist turned entrepreneur with deep experience in the food and dairy industry leading innovation and product commercialization in companies of all sizes. Deeply passionate about addressing climate change through the creation of biodiverse and regenerative food systems, she co-founded Rainfed Foods in 2020. Rainfed is the world's first foodtech startup focused on transforming underutilized climate-resilient crops like millets and sorghum into alternative proteins and food ingredients using a proprietary technology platform. Sujala is an active thought leader in the emerging alternative protein sector and is an honoree of "Women Building the Future of Food".
Tinia Pina has a B.S. in Business Information Technology from Virginia Tech. She began her career in sustainability as a former student pursuing a Masters of Science degree at Columbia University prior to becoming the CEO and Founder of Re-Nuble, Inc., an agricultural technology company and social enterprise headquartered in New York City. A strong advocate for sustainable waste management and closed loop agriculture, she has been involved in management and business development roles within the sustainability industry for at least ten years and in finance for eight years. Her professional interests focus on using unique and distributed technologies to extract the optimal value from organic waste streams for closed-loop agriculture for indoor growers.
Dr. Ryan Lefers is the Co-founder and CEO of RedSea, an innovative sustainable agtech company founded in the extreme climate of Saudi Arabia. Ryan holds a BS and MS in Agriculture Engineering from South Dakota State University and PhD in Environmental Engineering from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). Prior to his current role, Ryan spent time as a Research Scientist with the Center for Desert Agriculture at KAUST, as an Assistant Professor with Texas A&M University, and as an engineering consultant. As a professional engineer, researcher, and now CEO, Ryan has focused his efforts on systems that serve to advance water and food security in a sustainable way. Ryan is an expert in controlled environment agriculture (CEA) systems and the complex interactions between food, water, and energy.
Ryan’s passion is to serve people and steward the planet through problem solving and innovation.
Alex Shtarkman is a Vice President at Revolution Ventures. He joined full-time as a member of the investment team in 2018 and is based in the Washington DC office.
Alex focuses on identifying, investing in and helping to build innovative and impactful early-stage companies. He is currently a board member at Resolute AI and a board observer at Casted, eSUB, Mint House, and MemberSuite, and formerly at Homesnap (acquired by CoStar). Alex sits on the Innovation and Technology Council of the Urban Land Institute, focused on exploring technology-driven solutions within real estate, is on the board of the Center for Real Estate Technology and Innovation (CRETI), and is also an active supporter and mentor for the Endeavor, Techstars, and Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures FastForward startup and company incubation programs.
Prior to joining Revolution Ventures, Alex was an Associate in the Consumer Investment Banking Group at Raymond James & Associates. While at Raymond James, Alex advised numerous industry-leading consumer product, retail, e-commerce and restaurant companies in mergers and acquisitions and capital markets transactions.
Alex received his B.A. in International Studies with a minor in Economics and Entrepreneurship and Management from the Johns Hopkins University with Phi Beta Kappa honors as well as a M.A. in International Finance and International Law from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).
Steve Meyer joined St. Louis-based RNAissance Ag LLC, a subsidiary of TechAccel, in October 2022. RNAissance Ag is using a proprietary development and biomanufacturing platform to unlock the potential of RNA-interference and drive the next generation of pest control.
Steve brings deep technical experience coupled with international entrepreneurial business experience, including 16 years with Monsanto (now Bayer Crop Science) in a variety of scientific and commercial roles.
During his tenure at Monsanto, he conducted biotechnology research that led to the development of multiple commercial products and played a key role in transforming Monsanto’s insect control discovery pipeline, leading to his acceptance as a Monsanto Science Fellow. He rounded out his scientific achievements by serving as Operations Lead for North America Knowledge Transfer, where he was responsible for developing and executing strategies to deliver agronomy support to commercial field teams and customers.
Steve’s entrepreneurial journey began in 2019 when he co-founded a vertically integrated medical cannabis business with cultivation, manufacturing, and retail operations in his home state of Missouri. Under his leadership as CEO, the company captured the largest footprint of competitive licenses in the state and raised capital to successfully launch nine operational businesses in just a little over one year.
In a quest to continue learning and challenging himself, he exited his cannabis business in 2021, and assumed a role as COO with Lucy Scientific Discovery Inc. (LSDI). LSDI is a Canadian-based pharmaceutical company focused on manufacturing cGMP-grade psychotropic compounds to enable research and clinical trials aimed at treating mental health and addiction disorders.
As a scientist turned entrepreneur, Steve is passionate about driving disruptive innovation that improves lives, our environment, and society. He is passionate about the outdoors and in his free time enjoys working on his family tract of timberland to explore more sustainable agroforestry and timber management strategies to improve the health of native forests and plant communities. Steve has a master’s degree in plant biology from Washington University in St. Louis.
Ben Scott-Robinson is an accomplished digital entrepreneur focused on geospatial and mobility technologies. Ben co-founded Small Robot Company in 2017 with a vision to transform food production with accurate, smart, lightweight robots. His background is next generation geolocation technology and user experience design, shaping Ordnance Survey's digital transformation and starting the first agency UX capability in Europe. A winner of Experience Innovator of the Year, Ben is an experienced technology entrepreneur and early mobile technology innovator, including a phone for blind people.
Andrew Carter is Co-Founder and CEO of Smallhold, commercial mushroom farms in Brooklyn, Austin and California that leverages technology to distribute its growing footprint into retail, grocery and hospitality settings. In addition to his work building the first and only USDA-certified organic farm in New York City, Andrew has been a pioneer in the agriculture technology and indoor farming industries. An
early employee for companies like Brightfarms, Windowfarms and Agritecture, he has designed, built and operated technologically innovative growing systems that are still impacting the world of agriculture today.
Andrew is widely regarded as a thought leader in indoor agriculture, with focus on mushrooms,
commercial hydroponics, and greenhouse production.
Arik Kaufman co-founded Steakholder Foods (Nasdaq: STKH) after being inspired by the success of the plant-based alternative meat sector but not so much by the products themselves. Armed with a strong set of values and a clear vision about how to approach urgently needed changes in the meat industry, he set out to develop printed steaks from cultivated animal stem cells.
The result would be a more sustainable and authentic alternative to conventional meat. Today, the company’s portfolio of cultivated meat products under development includes chicken, pork, fish, seafood, and hybrid foods. With its innovative 3D-bioprinting technology and advanced animal stem cell cultivation techniques, Steakholder Foods is at the forefront of this growing industry.
Arik has also founded two other food-tech firms, both on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, and is a founding partner of the BlueSoundWaves collective, an investment vehicle led by Ashton Kutcher, Guy Oseary and Effie Epstein.
Lisa Feria is the CEO and Managing Partner of Stray Dog Capital, one of the most prolific and well-recognized venture capital funds in the plant-based market. With more than 45 investments in the United States, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Israel, and New Zealand, Stray Dog Capital invests in early-stage food, food-tech, and biotech companies that will transform our food system. Lisa brings more than 20 years of experience in food operations and consumer packaged goods and led billion-dollar brands in multinational companies such as Procter & Gamble and General Mills. Lisa has an MBA from the University of Chicago and a BS in Chemical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. A Kauffman Fellow (Class 22), Lisa has been selected twice to the “Top 100 Most Influential Latinas” list. Lisa serves on the boards of ISH Foods, Mercy for Animals, Miyoko’s Creamery, and the National Advisory Council on Innovation & Entrepreneurship (NACIE).
Originally from San Diego, 23 year old Jessica Schwabach began building Sundial Foods as a sophomore in college with the help of her partner and former classmate, Siwen Deng. Two met in 2019 during the Alternative Meats program at the University of California Berkeley, where they bonded over a shared passion for science and the desire to build a more sustainable, affordable food system. As a committed vegan, Jessica worked with Siwen to create proprietary technology that can offer a plant-based wing with a crispy skin, realistic texture, and “bone." After participating in the Nestlé R&D Accelerator and SOSV’s life sciences program, IndieBio, Jessica and Siwen brought Sundial Foods to foodservice in spring 2022.
At Sundial Foods, Schwabach combines her love of scientific exploration with her desire to help food systems sustainably meet protein demands to create healthy, innovative meat alternatives. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Molecular and Cell Biology – Genetics, Genomics, and Development from U.C. Berkeley.
Noramay Cadena is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Supply Change Capital, a venture capital firm investing in early-stage food tech. Over the last 7 years, Noramay has invested in over 75 companies across industries and stages. Prior to her career as an investor, Noramay spent over a decade in the aerospace industry as an engineer and operations leader. In 2022, she was recognized as one of 10 women of influence in private markets by PEI. She’s also been named one of 55 rising-star VCs who shook up the industry (2021) and one of 50 renowned women in robotics (2020), and has been named one of the top 100 influential Latinas in the United States by Latino Leaders Magazine for the last 3 years in a row. She is a Kauffman Fellow and holds 3 degrees from MIT.
Shayna Harris is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Supply Change Capital, a venture capital firm investing in early-stage food tech. With two decades as a food industry leader and operator, Shayna has been an executive at fast-growth venture-backed start-ups including Farmer’s Fridge and Sourcemap. She was a pioneer of the sustainable procurement program at Mars and has advised brands like Starbucks, Unilever, and Stonyfield on building more resilient businesses and supply chains. Shayna earned her MBA from MIT Sloan and a dual-BA from Boston University. She is a Fulbright Scholar, a published author, and a Forbes contributing writer.
Rosie is Co-Founder and Partner at Synthesis Capital, an investment manager transforming our food system through food technology. Earlier this year, Synthesis Capital announced the launch of the largest global food technology venture capital fund, raising over $300m to support the next wave of disruptive and innovative food tech businesses and alternative protein technology platforms. Before Synthesis, Rosie was an Investor at CPT Capital, where she helped to build a portfolio of leading alternative protein companies including Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, UPSIDE Foods, Perfect Day, and Redefine Meat. Rosie has a background in food sustainability and ESG, and in 2015 she launched the FAIRR Initiative, a global investor coalition focused on ESG risks and opportunities in protein production. Since launch, FAIRR has built a network of institutional investors with combined assets of over $60 trillion, which is working with large global food companies on issues such as protein diversification. Rosie holds a BA (Hons) and MA from the University of Oxford, and an MA from the Courtauld Institute.
David is Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Founder at Synthesis Capital, a new investment manager created to transform our food system through food technology. At Synthesis, David combines his background in plant biology, cell therapy, and alternative protein technology to identify exceptional technology-focused start-ups and support Synthesis portfolio companies with their technical and scale-up challenges. Prior to joining Synthesis Capital, David was Director of Science and Technology at GFI where he helped start-ups, investors, corporations, and universities accelerate the development, scale-up, and commercialization of alternative protein technology. David previously served in commercial roles within the life science industry at Thermo Fisher Scientific, Qiagen, Meso Scale Discovery, and 3M Healthcare, which included the product development and commercialization of cell reprogramming technologies, scaffolds, cell culture media, and immunoassays for cell therapy and pharmaceutical applications. David earned a B.Sc. in biology from the University of California at Berkeley and a Ph.D. in plant developmental cell biology from Utrecht University.
Taranis CEO, Ofir Schlam is a fourth-generation farmer. Raised in Israel, he comes from a family of farmers who have grown cotton and wheat for the last 4 generations. His professional career started when he began his B.Sc. in Math & Computer Science at the age of 16 as part of a program for outstanding students at BIU and graduated Summa Cum Laude at the age of 19. For his military service, Ofir served in an elite technological unit of the Prime Minister's Office, where he was involved in developing and leading groundbreaking technology projects. During that time he also earned his M.Sc in cryptography at age of 22. Ofir moved up in the organization and in his last position before starting Taranis he managed an R&D department of 15 software engineers on classified projects. Ofir and his 3 co-founders started Taranis in 2015 with a mission to help farmers protect their crops more efficiently.
Mike Rohlfsen brings deep international agribusiness experience to his role as Chief Commercial Officer for TechAccel, including 18 years with Cargill Inc. in a variety of financial, strategic marketing, product and business development positions.
Mike has experience directing agricultural strategies in companies ranging from multinational corporations to start-ups. He has practical experience in managing research and development, venture funding and business development. His career has consistently
focused on applying new technology, spanning aquaculture, organic food supply chains and
sustainable biomass product development among other areas.
Prior to joining TechAccel, Mike founded and led Somaris Global, a Minneapolis-based business development firm working in next generation ag technology. Earlier, Mike was director of business development at Pipeline Foods, a global supply chain firm working in organic and non-GMO food, feed and fertilizer. He also founded Signal Biologics, an algae-
based production technology company for organic, agricultural biologic applications. His past business development positions include work with Heliae, of Phoenix, Ariz., and Parabel, of Melbourne, Fla.
Prior to those positions, Mike worked for Cargill in a multifaceted career spanning agricultural and industrial commodity trading, corporate strategy and M&A, business and geographic development, and renewable energy work across three continents.
Nitza Kardish is widely regarded as a trailblazer in Israel’s agtech investment community. In 2012, under her initiative, Trendlines started the international AgriVest conference to bring together industry, business, government, and academia to discuss the trends, issues, and inventive solutions for the future of agriculture and agrifood tech. Nitza brings true passion to her mission that we must change for a better world, together with the humble realization that we are a single piece of a huge and complex, global agrifoodtech puzzle.
Nitza has 28+ years of experience working in senior management positions at life science companies. She served as VP Business Development at TechnionSeed, the technological incubator founded by the Technion R&D Foundation 2, Ltd., where she was responsible for the life sciences and cleantech fields.
Previously, Nitza managed business development at Rafael Development Cooperation; served as CEO of Clal Life Sciences, a R&D center for emerging life science companies; and was CEO of UroGyn, a start-up that developed minimally invasive surgical tools.
Nitza earned her PhD (life sciences) and MSc from Tel Aviv University (both with distinction) and studied law at Tel Aviv University. She was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Plant Genetics at the Weizmann Institute of Science.
Fengru founded TurtleTree in 2019 with one bold vision: to create a brand-new generation of sustainable nutrition that’s better for the planet, animals, and people alike. Leveraging on 8 years of sales and business development experience at Google, Salesforce, and UL, Fengru’s entrepreneurial acumen now steers TurtleTree on its path of redefining our future of food.
Diego Hoter has over 20 years experience as an entrepreneur & professional, with a demonstrated history of delivering valuable results across several industries, such as management consultancy, technology, agriculture, and the real estate industry.
Mihir Pershad is Founder & CEO of Umami Meats, where he is building a team pioneering cultivated, 'not caught' seafood by crafting delicious, nutritious, and affordable cultivated fish that is better for our health, our oceans, and our future. Mihir was previously Venture Partner at Early Charm Ventures and author of Cultivated Abundance. In his free time, Mihir enjoys climbing mountains, scuba diving, and exploring the remote and wild corners of the world.
Eric Schulze, PhD is a professional molecular biologist, genetic engineer, and former federal biotechnology regulator. He is currently Vice President of Product and Regulation at UPSIDE Foods, where he leads both design and development of the company’s meat products as well as its regulatory-, policy-, and government affairs. He previously served as Senior Scientist for UPSIDE Foods where he led the cell line development efforts. Before that, he served as a U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulator, handling a portfolio of novel food and drug biotechnology products. As a civil servant, Dr. Schulze also served as a federal STEM education policy capacity within the National Science Foundation and currently works with the National Academy of Sciences on undergraduate STEM education transformation. He holds a doctorate in genetic, cellular, and molecular biology with a specialty in embryonic stem cell engineering and is trained in broadcast communication, speechwriting, and risk assessment.
Elysabeth Alfano is the CEO of VegTech™ Invest, the advisor to the Plant-based Innovation & Climate ETF, EATV. With EATV, VegTech™ Invest has created a completely new impact asset class: plant-based innovation and alternative in the capital markets. The company has also launched the industry benchmark index, VegTech™ Plant-based Innovation & Alternative Proteins Index.
Elysabeth is a plant-based industry expert and speaks internationally on the intersection of sustainability and our global food supply system, including recently at the U.N. Global Leaders Compact Summit and the United Nations COP27. Her personable and approachable speaking style weaves the reality of a world in crisis with the power and hope of impact investing, hitting home how every person and every institution can make a tangible and meaningful difference in shaping a better future and a better bottom line.
A graduate of Northwestern University and the Thunderbird School of Global Management, Elysabeth started her career at Kellogg’s working on Special K and Frosted Mini-Wheats. She continues her impact on and leadership with major food companies today. As a renowned and respected thought leader in the plant-based business sector, Elysabeth consults and advises, through her company Plant Powered Consulting, multinationals and C-Suite Executives on the industry landscape, direction and whitespaces.
Elysabeth also hosts the Plantbased Business Hour, which features the CEOs and business leaders in the industry.
Jamie Burrows is the Founder & CEO of Vertical Future (VF), a global vertical farming technology and research company, founded in 2016. VF designs, manufactures, and provides proprietary hardware and software solutions on a global scale, including fully-integrated and automated vertical farms – from seed to harvest. Jamie has over 15 years of experience and prior to setting up VF, he worked in Life Sciences at EY, Deloitte, and the UK Department of Health. His experiences in health system improvement translated over to VF, with the company’s goal focused on both planetary and population health improvement. Jamie is also a graduate of the prestigious Leadership Enrichment and Development (LEAD) programme at the U.S. Air Force Academy and holds three degrees up to PhD level in the disciplines of energy, trade, and finance, and health economics. He is married with three children and currently resides in London, UK.
An architect by training, and already a partner in a successful design firm, Nona conceptualized Vertical Harvest in 2010 with co-founder Caroline Croft-Estay, to be North America’s first vertical hydroponic greenhouse and a pioneering enterprise focused on inclusive, customized employment for people with physical and/or intellectual disabilities. After 5 diligent years of raising money and partnering with the city of Jackson Hole and state of
Wyoming, Vertical Harvest opened its doors in 2016 with Nona as CEO. She has since overseen the team’s path to profitability and innovated a unique business model at the intersection of climate, food security and equitable employment. Vertical Harvest’s emphasis on maximizing social impact has helped Nona and team become exemplars of conscious capitalism. In 2020 CNN named her a Champion for Change and in 2021 Vertical Harvest was included in Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas in both their Food and Social Justice categories. Her experiences growing up with a brother with developmental disabilities, love of fresh and local food, obsession with great design, and long-standing community involvement, has turned her original passion project into a thriving business set to scale to 10 additional farms over the next 5 years. And it’s her organic connection to all aspects of the enterprise that continues to fuel Nona’s insight into the business and her dynamic leadership style. She holds an M.A. in architecture from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation, and a B.A. in architecture from the University of Michigan. But her most enduring credentials are her fierce optimism, ability to champion potential, and inspire people from wildly different walks of life to rally around a common cause. Her ability to connect people with ideas and move them to action is the engine behind Vertical Harvest’s success.
With 20 years of experience across multiple venture-backed ag-tech companies, Anna
joined Vestaron as President & CEO in April 2018 to help lead the transformation of
Vestaron from the R&D phase of its development through its commercial phase. Before
Vestaron, Anna was founder and CEO of NexSteppe, a company focused on the
development and commercialization of optimized crops for the biobased economy. Prior to
this, Anna led commercial and business development at Ceres, an agricultural
biotechnology company. Anna started her professional career at McKinsey & Co, focused
on corporate strategy, assessment of new business initiatives, and business building in
various technology sectors. Anna holds a JD from Yale Law School and a Master’s Degree
in Genetics from the University of Michigan. In 2016, she was awarded BIO's Rosalind
Franklin award for female leadership in industrial biotechnology.
Brita is a Managing Partner at Vita Ventures, an early stage food tech fund, bringing 20 years of food & tech investment, M&A execution, and strategy experience. She is recognized as an expert on the food tech ecosystem, and has recently been named a “Tech Power Player” by Business Insider and included on Nation's Restaurant News’ annual "Power List". Brita is the author of numerous food tech industry landscapes and analysis, which is regularly used by participants in the space to understand the evolving landscape. Previously, Brita launched Portfolia's Food & Agtech Fund, and has spent over a decade advising food & tech start-ups and incumbents through Culterra Capital (fka Rosenheim Advisors). Prior to starting her own firm, Brita was a corporate finance and M&A investment banker focused on the consumer and media industries at Robertson Stephens, Cowen Inc., and ThinkEquity Partners in San Francisco.
Nick McCoy is a Co-Founder and Managing Director with Whipstitch Capital, the largest independent investment bank in the U.S solely focused on the better-for-you consumer sector. Nick has over 20 years of transaction experience in investment banking and on the buy side with large corporations in venture investing and M&A.
Nick has worked with Whipstitch co-founder Mike Burgmaier since 2008 at a previous investment bank that Nick also co-founded.
Nick is passionate about advancing health and wellness by supporting innovation in the natural products industry and also accelerating permanent positive change in sustainability for the planet and in society. He is a data junkie who leverages his knowledge and insights by speaking frequently on trends and topics relevant to advance these goals. Nick is an active member of the World Economic Forum and has been admitted to its Expert Network as an expert in three areas: Food and Agriculture, Future of Food and Future of Economic Progress.
Personally, Nick is an avid road cyclist, runner, thinks it’s ok to cross country ski in below-zero temperatures, and has recently taken up the sport of kite skiing. He’s a health-focused foodie, cooks frequently and has an extensive knowledge of wine and whiskey.
Nick is a Chartered Financial Analyst and has an MBA from Wake Forest University and an undergraduate degree from the University of New Hampshire.