2016 Food+City Challenge Prize Mentors

Tom Stevenson, Encendre, LLC

Tom, CEO of Encendre, LLC, has over 25 years of marketing, strategy and start-up experience. He led Worldwide eMarketing for Bacardi Global Brands and served as Director of Strategy at WashingtonPost/Newsweek Interactive where he launched WashingtonPost.com and Newsweek.com. He has also held senior marketing positions at three successful start-ups, CentraForce, Barfly Interactive Networks, which sold to TouchTunes, Inc. in 2009 and SmartyPig.com, a combination online savings bank and social media property.

Kelsey August, Lone Star Direct

Kelsey is the CEO of Lone Star Direct, a direct marketing firm she founded at 24 years old. She has been a serial entrepreneur as well as an Angel Investor in the Austin Community for the last two decades. Kelsey enjoys mentoring her portfolio companies, SKU Alumni Companies and a variety of CTAN related start-ups.


Mary Ann Anderson is the Associate Director of the Supply Chain Management Center of Excellence.  In this role she serves as the Faculty Advisor for the Supply Chain Majors and the liaison between the students, faculty and corporate sponsors.   Prior to joining the Center, MS. Anderson graduated from MIT with a Master of Science in Engineering and has over twenty years’ experience in operations and supply chain management.  She has taught a variety of the supply chain courses here at UT since 2000 and is currently active in the MSTC program, in which she teaches launch and operational planning for start up companies.  In addition to her teaching, she has consulted with numerous firms, ranging from large multinationals to start ups, to improve their operational efficiency.  

John doggett, Department of Management, Red McCombs School of Business at the university of texas at austin

John Doggett teaches and lectures on international entrepreneurship, global competition, and sustainability and energy.  Since 1999 Doggett has spent part of each year teaching courses on entrepreneurship and global competition in Austria, China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. Since 2003 he has led MBA students on annual two-week observation tours of the People's Republic of China. In 2010 he led MBA students to both China and India.  Doggett received his BA from Claremont Men's College, his JD from Yale Law School and his MBA from Harvard Business School.

Kyle Cox, ATP fund

Kyle Cox has had the pleasure of managing and advising a broad range of engagements across the advanced technology and life science areas, including deep dives into healthcare services, medical devices, biotechnology and enterprise technology sectors with particular focus in the therapeutic areas of cardiology, oncology, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and urology. His expertise includes executive operating management, new venture creation, incubating disruptive innovations, market entry/commercialization planning, market assessment/segmentation, investment due diligence, channel/provider/managed markets strategies, and corporate strategy development.  Previously, Kyle served as Principal at SeedOne Ventures, various positions for St. Jude Medical, multiple positions with start-up healthcare companies including WebMD and QuickCompliance, now part of Discovery Communications.

Rob Keel, Agpro exchange

Rob has held global finance and general management roles within the airline and healthcare industries. Prior to joining Ag Pro Exchange, he was Director of Business Development at UK-based Alliance Healthcare. Before that, he oversaw the EMEA commercial supply chain organization at AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals and led several industry-leading distribution changes in the EMEA region. Rob began his career at Northwest Airlines where he worked in various finance functions, including more than three years based in the Asia Pacific division. Rob holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences from Northwestern University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Michael Klug

Michael Klug spent a lot of time on his grandfather’s vegetable farm where he developed a healthy work ethic and an appetite for good, fresh food.  He received a Bachelor and Master of Science degrees from the Spatial Imaging Group at the MIT Media Lab.  With support from Ford Motor Company, he co-founded Zebra Imaging, Inc. in Austin, Texas.  Zebra Imaging produced the world’s largest holograms, and supplied 3D holographic terrain and urban structure maps to US.  The company also developed real-time interactive holographic video display systems.  Michael left Zebra to join Florida-based augmented reality visualization startup Magic Leap, Inc.   Meanwhile, Michael has also continued to build on his childhood experiences on his grandfather’s farm in Arvada.  In Austin, he has worked with local, organic vegetable farmers to finance and expand their operations.  In 2013 he was elected to the inaugural Board of Directors of Farmshare Austin, a non-profit organization dedicated to accelerating organic farming knowledge to scale organic food access in Central Texas by offering on farm education and training to aspiring farmers, facilitating research for organic and sustainable farming practices, preserving land and natural resources needed for farming, and facilitating innovative giving programs that put organic food on the tables of those who are most food insecure in the community.  Michael currently serves as Farmshare’s Chairman, and is proud to announce the inaugural Farmerstarter School. 

Alison Martin, livestock conservancy

Alison Martin serves as the Interim Executive Director for The Livestock Conservancy.  She developed her business skills working in small entrepreneurial companies, and uses these along with more than 20 years of experience in agriculture to build strategic and technical capacity at The Livestock Conservancy. Martin has a Ph.D. in Genetics from Virginia Tech.

Guyanne Nichols, Trackingpoint, inc.

Guyanne is General Counsel and Director of Intellectual Property with TrackingPoint, Inc.  She's mentored several young companies, is a competitive tennis player, and was a mentor for Longhorn Startup in 2014.

Eric Roe, Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin

Dr. Roe is currently the Executive Director of the Cockrell School of Engineering’s Center for Lifelong Engineering Education (CLEE). At CLEE, he is responsible for the college’s executive education programs. Prior to the University of Texas he held positions in the Florida College System where he oversaw the shift to competency-based education and founded a statewide resource center for advanced manufacturing. In the private sector, Dr. Roe began his career at Tropicana Products and subsequently held various positions in research, technical services, and engineering with a focus on the food and beverage industry.

Ashley Shaffer, IDEO

Ashley Shaffer is a Senior Design Researcher, Brand Strategist, and Project Lead at IDEO in Cambridge, MA. She is fascinated first and foremost by people, and isn't afraid to ask a stranger anything.  With experience across a variety of industries including footwear, venture design, healthcare, spirits, hospitality, and social impact, Ashley is a big fan of matchmaking brands to people by understanding their hopes, fears, motivations, and influences.  She spends much of her time turning observations into insightful stories, and is excited by bringing clarity to the often convoluted design process.  Her most recent food experience comes in the form of restaurant design consulting, launching a new beverage project in partnership with a local food lab, and advising a collaboration between Target, MIT Media Lab, and IDEO in an ongoing effort to design the future of food.

Stephen Straus, serial entrepreneur

Stephen Straus is a serial entrepreneur and former venture capitalist. In his career, Stephen has started, ran and successfully sold two companies and was a General Partner at Austin Ventures.  Stephen is a graduate of Colgate University and received his MBA from Harvard Business School. He serves on the Engineering Advisory Board of the Cockrell College of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin and is a former member of the Board of Directors of Sustainable Food Center and Austin Film Society.

Jan Triplett, business success center

 CEO Dr. Jan Triplett ensures owners of new, growing, and challenged businesses have the strategies and processes in place to be more efficient and profitable. She sometimes functions as Virtual Marketing and Sales Manager, a funding partner or strategic ally to select companies. Her background with food companies runs from farm to table to store, from products to services, and from high tech to no tech. She has taken businesses from local to national and even international distribution. She is the author of The Networker’s Guide to Success available for the IPad, Nook, and Kindle, and co-author of Easy to Be Green and Thinking Big, Staying Small. She has been a presenter and mentor for SXSW Interactive, NACE (for catering executives), Texas Wholesale Food industry Association and others, and a mentor for SXSW Eco, SXSW V2V and runs her own mentoring programs, Profit Mover™ and 1st Looks™. She is a writer for Allbusiness.com, and a guest blogger for the resource team for the Business Bank of Texas and proud to have been a City of Austin certified green business since 2008 and a volunteer for the Austin Farmer’s Market for over 8 years.

ben runkle, salt and time

Ben Runkle is a former vegan who’s passion for fresh, flavorful and sustainable food drove him to reevaluate his dietary and career choices. Runkle began his career as a butcher’s apprentice at Marin Sun Farms Butcher Shop in Pt. Reyes Station, CA and was privileged to continue his education with David Budworth at Avedano’s Holly Park Market and Taylor Boetticher at the Fatted Calf. In 2009, he and his wife Natalie Davis moved to Austin, TX and started Salt & Time. Originally focused on producing Old World style salumi and charcuterie, Runkle partnered with Bryan Butler in 2010 to grow Salt & Time into Austin’s first whole carcass Butcher Shop, Salumeria and Restaurant. Runkle’s time in Texas has influenced his culinary point of view and he takes great pride in developing new products that highlight native flavors and ingredients.

Chelsea (McCullough) Collier, INTERCAMBIO

Through her consulting firm, Intercambio, Chelsea creates partnerships and encourages engagement in the areas of entrepreneurship, economic development, technology and social+civic good. She is also Co-Founder of Wake Up, a professional and personal development workshop series and Co-Founder of Impact Hub Austin. Previously, she served as: Executive Director of Texans for Economic Progress, a statewide technology coalition; the Founding Director for RISE, an Austin-based entrepreneurs conference; Marketing Director at MPOWER Labs, a mission-focused technology start-up and served in the Governor’s Office in Economic Development. She is a Leadership Austin graduate (2010); Austin Under 40 Award recipient in Science & Technology (2014) and BPE Ascendant Award recipient (2013). UT Austin 97/08.

Cindy R. WalkerPeach, PhD, Austin Technology Incubator in the IC2 Institute, University of Texas at Austin

Dr. WalkerPeach joined the Austin Technology Incubator in early 2010 as lead advisor for healthcare-focused life sciences startups.  She is responsible for critically evaluating new business ventures, managing a portfolio of bioscience startups and providing business mentoring to technology-focused entrepreneurs.  She brings more than 20 years of experience in the biotechnology sector as a member of a number of startup teams, including Ambion Diagnostics and Asuragen.  Her specialty areas include product development and technology assessment, business management/operations, corporate development and strategic product partnering, drug and companion diagnostic assay co-development, university and commercial collaborations, technology licensing and nucleic acid-based technologies.  Dr. WalkerPeach completed a BS in Chemistry, PhD in Chemistry and Molecular Biology, focusing on understanding disease pathways and disease management strategies.  


Claudio Bauza, QSPS Consulting/Food Connect LLC

Claudio Bauza is a food and beverage management executive with over 16 years of experience in the industry.  Among the highlights of his career are owning and managing two food manufacturing facilities and, more recently, running North American sales for a leading seafood importer. His areas of expertise include business strategy, sales and marketing, food safety and operations management.  Claudio holds an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from the University of Puerto Rico.

Juan Estrella, Whole Foods Market

Juan Estrella serves as the Associate Coordinator of Team Member Services at Whole Foods Market, overseeing Human Resources for the company’s Southwest Region. His journey with Whole Foods Market began seven years ago at the grocer’s Houston Bakehouse. His experience in the restaurant and retail industries as well as his passion for the company brought him to Austin in 2012, where he oversaw all Risk, Safety and Claims for the Southwest Region.  In his current role, he continues to support the more than 8,500 Team Members in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.  A first-generation college graduate, Estrella is motivated by inspiring others to reach their full potential.  For him, the most fulfilling part of any job is achieving a common goal through teamwork. 

Sandeep Kumar, TechRanch and Texas State University

Sandeep is Partner at TechRanch (incubator) and IBTP (international consulting); and Chairperson IAB at Texas State University. He has 30+ years’ experience building Technology Businesses, M&A, and Global Partnerships. His current engagements are in Semiconductors, MEM’s, Robotics, Wireless, Energy, Water, and Content Creation/Distribution in US, Israel, Japan, China, Taiwan, Chile, Russia and India. He was founder/CEO of multiple startups, VC, GM TI’s Broadband Business and TI’s Global MCU R&D.

Aaron Lyons, Dish Society

Aaron is the founder of Dish Society – a farm to table restaurant with two locations in Houston. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Greater Houston Restaurant Association. Aaron holds a BS and MBA from The University of Texas. Prior to Dish Society, Aaron was a Venture Partner at Texas Venture Labs.

Eduardo Wallach, Food Innovation Strategist

As Senior Director of Innovation for Edible Arrangements International, the worldwide leader in food gifting and previously Regional Development Director for Cencosud, one of the largest South American retail companies, Eduardo has develop his passion about combining food innovation and mass consumption, by launching over 1,000 food products and 5 brands in 6 different countries. He also serves as a board member for different Chilean startups at global nonprofit organization Endeavor, sharing his passion for entrepreneurship. Eduardo holds Master of Science in Management degree at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Trish Wesevich, Capital Kitchens

Trish Wesevich has been in the food business for 20 years starting out as a private dining chef and food writer.  She launched Capital Kitchens in 2012, Austin's largest commercial culinary co-working space for established food businesses and startups.  She currently writes for Austin Food Magazine, led a culinary tour to Italy in 2014 and still keeps a couple of personal chef clients.  She helps entrepreneurs move their food business ideas into the kitchen and cultivates an environment for them to thrive.  

Juan Whiting – Texas A&M University

Juan is finishing a Master’s degree in International Agricultural Development at Texas A&M in December.  He has over twelve years of experience in agricultural operations including ranching, farming, nursery management, international agricultural marketing, and cooperatives.  He recently organized a team of professionals to develop an organization called Yuko that improves youth engagement in agriculture by allowing them to design and develop their own agricultural cooperatives.  The team received national and international recognition and awards for their initiative.  Juan also has two years of human capacity building experience in East Africa and will be moving to Rwanda to work for the Conflict and Development Foundation as their Seed Systems Coordinator.  

David Wynne, G51 Amplify

David Wynne is a lifelong Texan that has spent most of his adult life working around cattle and agriculture on their family ranch.  David is the Director of Business Development at G51 Amplify, an Austin, Texas-based firm. The firm does strategic innovation research to identify early stage private equity investment opportunities, tech transfers and acquisitions. David develops relationships with key stakeholders for the business including, entrepreneurs, enterprises, family offices and universities. His personal domain has been focused on the Energy and AgTech areas.  Prior to joining G51 Amplify, David helped oversee product development, growth and strategic client relationships at Strat for Global Intelligence in Austin, Texas.   After graduating from the TCU Ranch Management Program, David developed a partnership and business plan to export quality grade beef to Amman, Jordan from Texas. Conducted market research, reviewed potential end market acceptance and distribution channels for quality grade beef.