Sacramento StartUp Weekend Women's Edition

    Friday, November 14 - 16, 2014

  1. Overview
  2. Schedule
  3. Speakers
  4. Judges
  5. Coaches and Mentors
  6. Sponsors
  7. Organizing Team
  8. Blog
Buy Tickets

Event Alerts and Updates

Get the latest on Techstars Startup Weekend, Sacramento, and other local events through Techstars Startup Digest.

Oops! Double-check that email address.

Sacramento StartUp Weekend Women's Edition

Friday, November 14 - 16, 2014

Friday, November 14 - 16, 2014
Event starts at 6:00 pm

The Urban Hive
1931 H Street
Sacramento, CA 95811

Buy Tickets

Lend Your Voice to Innovation - One Female Startup at a Time!

Women’s Startup Weekend is the first women’s hackathon in the Sacramento region. This is a welcoming and supportive environment for women to:
  • Turn their ideas into reality
  • Practice valuable leadership and networking skills
  • Receive beneficial coaching from local startup and tech experts
  • Have an opportunity to virtually compete in Global Startup Weekend

What is a Startup Weekend?

Startup Weekends are all about learning through the act of creating. This global grassroots movement of active and empowered community leaders and entrepreneurs from a variety of backgrounds are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. Participants with varying specialties come together to share ideas, form teams and launch startups from the bottom up.

What’s different about this event?

In support of Up Global's Startup Women initiative, designed to engage more female entrepreneurs and provide them the necessary resources for long term success, this startup weekend will be a focused on empowering women within our community to lend their voice to innovation.

While we understand it takes a community of creative thinkers to help build an idea from concept through to execution, this event will be supporting women pitches only to align with the initiative’s goal to launch 1,500 female-led startup teams in 2014.   In doing so, we ensure women are able to hone their creative and entrepreneurial talent in a safe environment that inspires risk taking and innovation with the help of the broader community of men and women ready to share their expertise to champion change and fuel new ideas.

And to the winning team goes an opportunity to battle it out with thousands of other like-minded entrepreneurs in over 200 cities as part of Global Start Up Battle 2014 (part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, the world’s largest celebration of innovators and job creators who launch startups that bring ideas to life). 

How does it work?

The concept is simple: women pitch their startup idea and receive feedback from their peers. Teams organically form around the top ideas followed by a 54 hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation. The weekend culminates with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders providing another opportunity for critical feedback before a final winning team is chosen.

Why should I participate?

Whether entrepreneurs find co-founders, meet someone new, or learn a skill far outside their usual 9-to-5 job, everyone is guaranteed to leave the event better prepared to navigate the chaotic but fun world of startups. 

To learn more about this important initiative and it’s mission to transform the paradigm for female entrepreneurs, please click here.


Still have questions? We have answers here.

Startup Weekend is part of Up Global, a 501c3 Non Profit organization; all funds are put toward supporting startup weekend events & the Sacramento region startup community. The Startup Women Initiative is supported by The Blackstone Charitable Foundation and Google for Entrepreneurs.


Friday November 14th

6:00 pm
Arrive at the venue and get checked in

6:30 pm
Dinner & Networking
Eat food, share ideas, practice pitches, get to know fellow participants

6:50 pm
Welcome & Speakers
Review agenda for the weekend and introduce speakers, coaches, and community leaders

7:30 pm
Pitches Start
Optionally line up to give your pitch

9:00 pm
Attendees vote for the top pitches

9:15 pm
Form Teams
Teams start forming and discussing ideas

10:00 pm
Begin Work
Start to formalize teams and take an inventory of skills. Be honest, and direct about what resources and skills are needed for the weekend. You may stay and work as late as the venue will allow

Saturday November 15th

9:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

9:30 am
Begin Work
Teams formed and setting up workspace for the weekend

12:00 pm

1:00 pm
After-lunch check-in, status reports, call for help

2:00 pm
Coach Meetings
Coaches help teams one-on-one. They are here to help!

6:30 pm

7:30 pm
After-dinner check-in, status reports, call for help

10:00 pm
Finished for the day. You may stay and work as late as the venue will allow

Sunday November 16th

9:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

10:00 am
Coaches arrive. Final opportunity to ask questions

12:00 pm

12:30 pm
Coach Meetings
Coaches arrive… ASK QUESTIONS

3:00 pm
Presentation Prep & Tech Check
Final hours of worktime should be focused on perfecting your presentation, tech-check for final presentations also takes place

4:00 pm

5:00 pm
Final Presentations

7:30 pm
Judging & Awards

8:30 pm

9:00 pm
Go Home!


Ari Horie
Founder & CEO, Women's Startup Lab

Ari Horie is the founder and CEO of Women’s Startup Lab located in Silicon Valley, CA. She is a Japanese native and was recently named in CNN’s 10 Visionary Women, 20 Women Who Are Changing the Ratio by Marie Claire magazine, a keynote speaker at UpGlobal and SXSW V2V, with media coverage by SUCCESS Magazine, Silicon Valley Business Journal, the Wall St. Journal, and a guest on Robin Morgan National live radio, as well as providing articles to the Huffington Post. Our mission is to empower female led startups to succeed by being stronger leaders, gaining an influential network of advisors and creating powerful startups that shape the world through innovation. The value provided by Women’s Startup Lab is resonating with the startup ecosystem, the business community, and groups focused on inclusion and diversity.

Event Judges

John Bodrozic
Co-Founder, HomeZada

HomeZada is an internet platform to manage digital home records throughout the homeowner lifecycle that helps consumers save money managing, selling and buying homes. John was previously the Co-Founder and President of Meridian Systems, a Folsom based company which is the leader in commercial construction project management software, which was successfully sold to Trimble [NASDAQ: TRMB] in 2006.

Kate Renwick-Espinosa
Chief Marketing Officer, VSP Global

As chief marketing officer of VSP Global, Kate Renwick-Espinosa is responsible for driving integrated marketing strategies and programs across the enterprise. At VSP for 22 years, Kate has been instrumental in expanding the role of marketing within the company, including rebranding multiple lines of business, developing new brands, launching new products, entering the online marketplace, and leveraging digital technology. She is the recipient of the “20 Most Influential Women in Optical” award in 2005 and the 2013 “Most Powerful & Influential Women Award” from the California Diversity Council. Kate is a current member of the Dean’s Advisory Council for the Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Davis, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in economics. She is also a Board member of the Optical Women’s Association and the Prevent Blindness America organization. Kate earned her master’s degree in marketing at California State University, Sacramento.

Tina Reynolds
Principal, Uptown Studios

Uptown Studios is a Sacramento visual communications firm specializing in graphic and website design, video production, social media management and marketing that has been delivering creative and effective marketing campaigns since 1992. As Founder and Principal of Uptown Studios, Tina and her innovative team help their clients see the "big picture" coming up with creative and environmentally responsible marketing strategies and supportive materials to help launch their client’s vision from concept to creation. Working with businesses, non-profits, municipalities and progressive political campaigns, Uptown Studios is a CMAS certified vendor, woman-owned and micro/small business.

Cheryl Beninga
Managing Director, Beninga Advisors

Executive with over twenty years experience building high growth and adaptive learning organizations in several new technology segments as a corporate development leader, consultant, venture capital investor and board member. She is active as an operations and board member in --technology startups-- and Managing Director of Beninga Advisors an advisory firm. She is a leader focused on building rapid learning teams and cultures.
Cheryl has worked with leading technology investors including GE and Intel Capital on all stages of venture investing. She has been involved at the board and operation level at all venture stages A round to IPO. Cheryl has been lucky to work with many great startup teams having successful IPO and acquisition exits. Her technology sector experience includes energy efficiency, consumer mobile software, enterprise software and semiconductors.

Gina Lujan
CEO and Cofounder, Hacker Lab

Gina is a Social Entrepreneur. She focuses on community, business, regional, and economic development at Hacker Lab. She has over 15 years technology experience in web development and is a re-purpose maker.

Denise Ferre
Partner and CFO, Moneta Ventures

Denise Ferre is a Partner and CFO of Moneta Ventures, a venture capital firm located in Folsom, CA. Moneta enables entrepreneurs to grow their early stage companies by providing capital, expertise, and operational support. Prior to joining Moneta Ventures, Denise was the CFO and Co-Founder at Sparta Consulting, a global IT consulting firm. She spearheaded the financial operations from conception through the company’s expansion to a $100+ million company. Before Sparta, Denise was the Business Unit Controller at Rapidigm, a global IT consulting firm, and later assumed the role of U.S. Controller when the firm was acquired by Fujitsu in 2006.

Jim Olson
Founder, WestShore Management Group

Jim Olson founded the WestShore Management Group in April of 2007, continuing a distinguished career after leading several high technology businesses for two Fortune companies and serving for nine years as CEO of SkyStream Networks. WestShore Management Group provides Interim CEO, corporate consulting, and executive development services for both public, and private, venture-financed companies. In addition to WestShore management, Jim helped start the Engineering Translational Technology Center (ETTC) at the University of California, Davis, which aims to accelerate the transition of high-impact innovative research from the college to technology development and commercialization. Jim serves as a Business Specialist, helping in all aspects of company formation, strategy, and financing. 

Jim is an active angel investor, guest lecturer at Stanford University’s Graduate 
School of Business and Executive Education program, where he lectures on leadership, entrepreneurship, and creating and sustaining growth, and also a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of California, Davis, Graduate School of Management where he teaches Teams and Technology, Negotiations, and Technology Management. Jim is an accomplished motivational speaker, and author. Jim holds a BSEE degree from the University of California, Davis, and MSEE and MBA degrees from Santa Clara University.

Deborah Simpson
Founder, EYE In America

Deborah Simpson is a business investor and executive with an entrepreneurial spirit and hope for the next generation that knows no boundaries. Deborah has over 30 years executive experience as CEO, COO, CFO and consultant from 1981 to present. She is an active angel investor with many start-up companies. She has been instrumental in securing over 30 million in investments for the launch of 19 new enterprises. Eleven companies have had successful exits ranging from 2x to 24x. Four companies are still growing and three have failed. She has been instrumental in many IPOs , mergers and acquisitions including corporate buyouts to Cisco, IBM, Boeing, Johnson & Johnson, Boston Scientific and Texas Instruments.    

After a long recovery and rehabilitation from a traumatic automobile accident, her passion for innovation as the way to address unmet needs led to the formation of the non-profit, EYE In America which provides education and funding for new business ventures conceived and launched by teens. To date EYE In America has provided $100K to fund 200 student companies, who raised over $20K in profits, which were allocated as scholarships for the students. Deborah is the mother of three grown children, grandmother to one beautiful grandson and is expecting her first granddaughter in December 2014.

Coaches and Mentors

Hemant Vaidya
Professor, UCD Graduate School of Management

Hemant Vaidya, PhD, is currently an independent consultant in the In-Vitro Diagnostics (IVD) space and professor at UCD Graduate School of Management teaching Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management. He has worked in IVD industry for 24 years and in his 14 years as Vice President  of R&D for Siemens Molecular and Microbiology diagnostics business, he was responsible for planning product development from concept to commercialization, including creating the annual operating plan, strategy and a technology road map. He was also part of the team at Washington University that developed the first monoclonal antibody for creatine kinase MB, a biochemical marker for myocardial infarction (heart attack), which was patented and widely licensed in the industry. He is member of the Sacramento Angels and has mentored several entrepreneurs in US. He also mentors entrepreneurs in India through a program at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.

Chris Minnick
Co-Founder of WatzThis?

Chris Minnick is an author, serial entrepreneur, trainer, software developer and CEO of WatzThis? ( Minnick has overseen the development of hundreds of web and mobile projects for clients ranging in size from small businesses to some of the world’s largest companies. He's authored or co-authored more than a dozen coding books for adults and children, including Coding with JavaScript For Dummies, JavaScript for Kids, HTML5 and CSS3 For Dummies, and Adventures in Coding.

Clare Price
President, CFP Media Group

CFP Media Group produces content that inspires, thrills and educates. From books to video, digital and traditional, CFP Media Group’s content is created to amaze, entertain and enlighten the world. We specialize in content marketing, branding and messaging for entrepreneurs, growing businesses and authors.
A former journalist, software marketing executive and industry analyst for the Gartner Group, Clare is the author of five marketing books, The 5 Easy Pages Essential Marketing System, and 700+ articles in the areas of technology, marketing and business strategies and growth. She has just published her first novel, Web of Betrayal, a chilling, pulse-pounding tale of murder and revenge set in Silicon Valley at the dawn of the Internet Age.

Matthew Eagan
Co-Founder, IDMLOCO

For 13 years, Matt Eagan has pursued one mission: making the world better through emerging digital media on the web. 

In 2011, Eagan co-founded IDMLOCO, a digital strategy and execution firm, specializing in digital campaigns for politics, public affairs, public relations and marketing. The firm's diverse client list includes San Francisco 49er LaMichael James, the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, and Singer Associates, San Francisco's premiere public relations agency.

From 2007 to 2011, Eagan served as creative director at Sacramento-based political Internet agency ID Media and San Francisco-based digital communications technology firm Activate Direct. Through these companies, Eagan provided strategic design and development advice to California’s leading political consultants, elected officials, candidates, and statewide ballot measure campaigns.

Before joining ID Media and Activate Direct, Eagan served as Director of e-Communications on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s successful 2006 reelection campaign. In this role Eagan spearheaded new media projects that included daily Web operations, video blog production and statewide e-mail and SMS text messaging campaigns reaching more than half a million Californians.

Eagan studied international relations at the University of California, Davis, focusing on National Security Policy and East Asian culture. He resides in Sacramento.

Douglas Bosley
Partner, Bosley Till Neue & Talerico

Douglas Bosley represents entrepreneurs and their businesses at all stages from inception to exit.  Mr. Bosley formed Bosley Business Law (BBL) in 2010 after a decade of sophisticated corporate and securities transactional experience at some of the world’s largest corporate law firms.  With offices in Sacramento and Newport Beach, BBL focuses on financings (venture capital, debt, private equity), mergers & acquisitions, securities law, technology and other business transactions, and general corporate and governance matters.  Mr. Bosley’s clients cover many industries, including technology, healthcare, franchising, professional services, retail, real estate and natural resources and the firm also represents angel and VC investors. Mr. Bosley currently serves on the Board of Directors of SARTA, the Advisory Board of HackerLab, and the Board of Directors of UCP of Northern California. He earned his law degree with high honors from Duke University School of Law, and holds an economics degree from CSUS.

Larry Bawden
CEO, Bloo Solar

As an entrepreneurial leader, Larry Bawden has been focused on building companies through winning go-to-market strategies. Larry was a founder of Jadoo Power, one of the leading portable fuel cell companies. He has held senior management positions in energy and aerospace companies dealing with technology, business development, investment management, corporate strategy and engineering. Larry served on several key technical and advisory committees throughout his career in the aerospace industry, and received the Group Achievement award from NASA. Larry is a co-inventor on fifteen pending patents. He also serves on the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technical Advisory Committee (HTAC), which advises the Department of Energy on policy. In 2006 Larry received the "Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award" for Emerging Markets - Northern California.

Corley Phillips
Founder, American River Ventures

Corley Phillips is the founder of American River Ventures, a $100M fund investing in early stage information technology companies.  He founded the firm in 2000 and retired as Managing Director in 2008.  He has been an active seed-stage investor in Northern California and Northern Nevada since 1993, both individually and in conjunction with the Sierra Angels and the Sacramento Angels, and has done much to expand the entrepreneurial activity in this region.  

Prior to his activities as an investor, Mr. Phillips had a distinguished entrepreneurial career.  From 1990 until its successful merger with State of the Art (NASDAQ:SOTA, now part of the Sage Group, LSE:SGE) at the end of 1994, he served as President and CEO of Manzanita Software Systems, an accounting software company based in Roseville, CA.  From 1984 to 1990, he was President and co-founder of Grafpoint, a communications software company based in San Jose, California, which merged with White Pine Software (NASDAQ:WPNE, now part
of Radvision, NASDAQ:RVSN).  He previously held various sales and marketing positions with Envision Technology and Hewlett-Packard. 

Mr. Phillips has been a Guest Lecturer at the University of California, Davis, where he co-taught the Business Development Clinic course in the Graduate School of Management.  He is also Director of the Sacramento Entrepreneurship Academy, www.sealink,org, a non-profit with a mission to educate, mentor, and nurture entrepreneurs in local community, with particular emphasis on college students.  He is currently on the board of directors of Capay Organic and the California Job Journal.  In addition, Mr. Phillips is Chairman of the Board of the Friends of the River and is an active angler and river conservationist.  He sings with a local barbershop chorus, .

Mr. Phillips holds a BSEE and MSEE from Washington University, St. Louis, and an MBA from Santa Clara University.

Tony ODonnell
Partner, Moss Addams, LLP

Tony has been in public accounting since 1994. He provides accounting and advisory services to publicly traded and closely held companies in the technology and manufacturing and consumer products industries. He leads all phases of the engagement, from planning to report review.  Tony regularly makes industry-related presentations at various conferences. He is the leader of the firm's California Central Valley Technology Practice and Assurance Department. Tony is a dedicated, loyal, and honest advisor to his clients; he was a recipient of the firm’s Technical Excellence Award. Tony is on the Board of Directors for SARTA (Sacramento Are Regional Technology Alliance) and Sacramento Entrepreneurial Academy.

Cecelia Sullivan
President and CEO, PTI Solutions

Cecelia Sullivan is the President and CEO of PTI Solutions.  For over 30 years, PTI’s professional team has delivered outstanding solutions that mirror the changing technology and needs in network services.  Prior to her position at PTI, an entrepreneur herself, Cecelia founded CLS Consultants which specializes in interim CEO and turnaround management services. Throughout her career, Cecelia has held key leadership positions in finance, business development, supply chain and manufacturing. As an executive at Intel, she also managed IT architecture and integrated systems development, and global supply chain operations. Cecelia is a graduate with an MBA from the University of Chicago, Booth and a BA from University of California, Davis. 

Ms. Sullivan serves on the executive board of the QuEST Forum, a global IT and Communications Quality Forum and is vice chair for the California CEOs Against Cancer Board for the American Cancer Society. Cecelia was selected for the Outstanding Woman Leader Award, Woman Innovator, by the Northern California Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners and  most recently was honored with the Outstanding Wise Woman Leader Award.  She is a member of Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and Astra, United States Telecom Association (USTA), and Woman in Technology. She is former Board President of Cottage Housing, executive board member of the Keaton Raphael Memorial and NAWBO, and is a long time sponsor of the Special Olympics of Northern California. In addition, Cecelia has guest lectured for Drexel University, the Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership, JFK University and the UC Davis Graduate School of Management and volunteers with the UC Davis undergraduate development program. Cecelia and her husband have three children.

Michael Rizzo
Senior Vice President-Commercial & Emerging Business Banking, Five Star Bank

Mike has been an integral part of Five Star Bank since 2005 and believes that being a banker is more than providing capital and depository services, but also providing connections to the community. He is the driving force behind Five Star Bank’s emphasis in Emerging Business Banking which focuses on technology, life sciences and clean technology companies. He also works on project finance, business acquisitions, commercial real estate purchase and construction, as well as, being an active SBA lender. Mike earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from California State University, Sacramento and is a graduate of the Pacific Coast Banking School at the University of Washington. Mike is involved in several groups in the capital region that support the emerging markets including service on the executive board of Sacramento Regional Technology Alliance (SARTA), as well as, on the Sacramento State Student Alumni Association and the executive board of the Center for Land Based Learning.

Jay Sales
Co-Head of the Shop & Innovation Strategist, VSP Global

Co-leading "The Shop" at VSP Global, Jay is leading exploration of the intersection between healthcare, quantified self, mHealth and high fashion. His team is focused on the future of technology and healthcare with the greater good of all in mind. Predicated on Design Thinking, Lean Methodologies and Disruption Theory, The Shop at VSP Global is breaking down boundaries between the digital physical worlds where Design, Fashion and Healthcare collide.  Jay is also a member of the Board of Directors of Aerospace Museum of California. Prior to VSP, held positions with Hewlett-Packard, DST Output and VIP Ltd.

Mark Randall
Chief Strategist-VP Creativity, Adobe Systems

As a serial entrepreneur, Mark’s career conceiving, designing and marketing innovative technology spans nearly twenty years and three successful high-tech start-ups. He has fielded over a dozen products which combined have sold over a million units, generated over $100 million in sales and won a total of 15 Product of the Year, 12 Best of NAB, 7 Best of Comdex, 2 PC Magazine Technical Excellence awards, and two Emmy awards.

Products that Mark’s startups developed are used by half the Fortune 500,
all branches of the U.S. government, and thousands of schools around the world. His products have been featured in Time, Newsweek, Fortune, Forbes, Wired, Rolling Stone, USA Today and NY Times. As an innovator Mark has ten U.S. patents, he’s been named to Digital Media Magazine’s “Digital Media 100″ and he is one of Streaming Magazine’s “50 Most Influential People”. As an entrepreneur he’s won a national Addy award, a DemoGod award and Advertising Age’s Corporate Video of the Year.

Mark speaks and teaches frequently on entrepreneurship, innovation and strategy and has appeared on CNN, ABC, NBC and CNBC. He sold his most recent startup, Serious Magic, to Adobe Systems where he is now Chief Strategist, VP Creativity. Mark also collects exceedingly rare but mostly worthless old computers and can do two cool magic tricks.

Jeff Louie
Founder, Capsity, Inc.

Jeff Louie is a Sacramento native and UC Berkeley Alumni. In 2008 he founded Capsity, Inc., a CA Benefit Corporation that serves as a hybrid model of business development and community engagement space for entrepreneurs and business professionals. As a serial entrepreneur Jeff has started several companies and projects revolving around video media & marketing, events management, and mobile app development. He has 13 years of broad experience across multiple industries including information technology, education, media, and real estate. Currently Jeff is working on a Startup mobile app platform built on geo-fencing technology which is aiming to launch soon. 

Jake Goldman
President, 10up

Jake Goldman is the President of 10up, a full service digital agency that makes web publishing and content management simple and fun with open platforms like WordPress. At 10up, he serves name brand clients like TechCrunch, ESPN, Consumer Reports, NBC Universal, and Google. In just over 3.5 years, Jake built 10up from 1 to more than 90 full time employees. Jake has been quoted on publications like c|net, written for Smashing Magazine, taught at Boston University, and presented at conferences around the country.

Ben Ilfeld
Founder, AdGlue

Ben is the Founder of AdGlue, an advertising platform that keeps advertisers and publishers from coming unglued. Ben is a media entrepreneur and creator of The Sacramento Press, Midtown CMS, and the first independent online local ad network, SLOAN. He was a founding board member of the Local Independent Online New Publishers.

Jonathan Cobb
Founder, Kiptronic

Jonathan Cobb is a serial entrepreneur who founded Kiptronic (acquired by Limelight Networks), a mobile video platform used by many global media companies including ESPN, NBC, Disney, and Viacom.   Jonathan is active in the startup community, speaking at industry events, advising new entrepreneurs, and judging startup competitions.  Before founding Cloudstead, Jonathan was Head of Engineering at Tout, a social video company transforming the way we experience local news and events.  Jonathan holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Washington University in St. Louis.

Jennifer Bourn
Founder, Bourn Creative

As founder of Bourn Creative, Jennifer is an award-winning designer with a penchant for writing, white space, chocolate, and Legos. She has been in the design, web, and digital strategy trenches since 1997, working with corporations, casinos, professional sports teams, magazines, creative agencies, political campaigns, small businesses, and entrepreneurs alike. Today she consults on brand, website, and digital strategy, leads all design projects, and specializes in WordPress theme design.

When not obsessing over pixels, margins, and type, Jennifer manages the Bourn Creative brand, writes for the blog, and manages the creation and iteration of internal systems and processes. Featured in the HuffingtonPost, RainToday, and The Sacramento Business Journal, Jennifer also writes for CoSchedule, WPElevation, and Today's Innovative Woman.

Jennifer is a mom of two who hired her husband to be her boss (go figure) and do everything she doesn't like doing. She loves tea and is learning to love coffee, swoons at the sight of colorful office supplies, and has never met a whiteboard she didn't like. When not working, she loves to cook, ride bikes, go on vacation, play board games, read trashy novels, and play Legos.

Yeshua Adonai
Executive Director, Sacramento Sustainability Forum 2.0

Yeshua is the Executive Director of the Sacramento Sustainability Forum 2.0. He is a systemic Innovation Change maker and visionary devoted to creating a regenerative economy.

Roger Akers
Managing Partner, Akers Capital, LLC

Roger has over 30 years of experience in technology related environments. As an IT Services executive, Roger managed the development and delivery of large-scale software systems in over 80 client environments. Efforts included technical and management assignments for a national consulting firm, Systems and Computer Technology Corp., as well as the building of a regional IT consulting firm as Managing Partner (PRODATA Inc.). Upon the successful merger of PRODATA with a national IT services firm, Roger developed a consulting practice (Akers-Waterman & Company) that provided management consulting to industry leaders such as Intel and Cisco Systems. In addition, Roger helped develop and invested in a number of technology companies in the US and internationally participating on a number of private-sector Board of Directors.   In 1998, he co-founded Akers Capital LLC. After successfully raising the Pac West Technology Funds, Roger and team continues to invest in, mentor and has matriculated a number of emerging technology companies. Akers has also been engaged in a number of merger & acquisition transactions in recent years serving as an intermediary, due diligence supervisor and buy/sell side consultant. In addition, as an Advisory Principal for international investment bank Gramercy Partners, participates in projects that provide partnerships and exits for companies between Asia and the US.

Melody Stone
Web Editor, Capital Public Radio

Melody Stone's participated in several hackathons, winning a couple here and there. She currently works as the web editor for CapRadio Music with Capital Public Radio, where she writes about bands and maintains the website.

Julie Hirota
Chief Operations Officer at University of California, Davis

Julie Hirota moved from New York, was raised in Southern California and attended UC Davis for an education in mechanical engineering and materials science. Following graduation, Julie pursued a successful engineering career with businesses like NEC and Hewlett Packard which allowed her to raise her family in beautiful Northern California. While Julie was moving up the ladder at HP, she also became an entrepreneur and developed her own business while serving as an adviser on many non-profit boards. Julie lives the motto “pay it forward.” Though she now works for UC Davis as the Chief Operations Officer in Biomedical Engineering, she gives back and serves as an elected official as the Vice President and trustee for the Roseville Joint Union High School District, she is an American Leadership Fellow of Class XVII, a 40 Under 40 Award Recipient and was named Art and Business Executive of the Year. Julie has two children, Ben (12) and Gracie (16), two dogs (Wes and Teddy), a cat and husband.

Ash Roughani
Founder & Product Manager, Public Innovation

Ash Roughani is founder and product manager at Public Innovation, a nonprofit incubator focused on building a civic innovation and social entrepreneurship ecosystem in the Sacramento region. In this role, he’s helped launch civic projects such as SAC2050, Code for Sacramento, CivicMeet Sacramento, Sacramento Hashtag Project, and Rooftop Alliance. Ash is a systems thinker who synthesizes his deep knowledge of public policy and business strategy with practical skills, including web development, marketing, and human centered design. He was formerly Senior Associate at California Forward and served as an Executive Fellow in the Schwarzenegger Administration. Ash is also production lead at TEDxSacramento, a freelance videographer, and a licensed skydiver. He holds a Master of Public Policy and Administration degree from Sacramento State, a BA in Philosophy from UC Santa Barbara, and completed half of the MBA program at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management.

John Bissell
CEO & Co-founder, Origin Materials

John co-founded Origin Materials in 2009. Origin Materials is a chemical technology firm that converts biomass into both conventional petrochemicals and new chemical intermediates. John is an inventor on two dozen issued and pending patents, was on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2014, and was listed as one of Goldman Sachs 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs in 2014. John received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the UC Davis. John raised $90 million in venture capital between 2008 and 2017, and has experience negotiating and structuring venture equity financings and complex commercial off-take agreements.

Sonny Mayugba
CMO, Waitr Holdings

Sonny is Chief Marketing Officer of Waitr Holdings, the highly successful mobile on-demand restaurant ordering and delivery company. In his role, he’s has been instrumental in positioning Waitr, which became a public company in 2018, for the national stage. Stewarding the Waitr brand, user acquisition, activation and retention and company revenue growth, Sonny has helped Waitr grow to serve cities in 22 states across the U.S. Sonny joined Waitr through the acquisition of the company he founded, Requested, a software platform that enabled diners to name their own price at restaurants. He is also the Founder/Owner of the popular Red Rabbit Kitchen and Bar, Solomon’s Deli and Tiger Bar.

Evelyn Milani
Founder & CEO, Avanti Recruitment Solutions

Evelyn Milani is a business leader, coach and recruiter for high impact technology talent in Sacramento.  As CEO of Avanti, founded in 1998, Evelyn and her team align growing, Sacramento companies to high impact I.T. and marketing talent. Avanti is differentiated by a focus on "fit" between the employer and the candidate based on success factors such as pace of work, level of structure and support and environmental culture. The result is higher work out-put, greater client and employee satisfaction and maximum organizational efficiencies and success.
Always the "builder" and entrepreneur, Evelyn participates in promoting a healthy business ecosystem in Sacramento.  Her interests lie in innovations and technology for improved health and well-being especially for the underserved.   Evelyn is Program Manager for NorCal HIMSS (Health Information Management Society) MeetUp groups and collaborates with Health2.0 initiatives promoting start up growth for healthcare innovation in Sacramento.

Beth Dodson
Co-Founder, HomeZada

Elizabeth Dodson is Co-Founder of HomeZada, an online home management portal that helps homeowners manage their largest asset through efficiency, visibility, and understanding. Elizabeth's career reflects the adaption to change from a corporate job, to joining an early stage startup that grew to a successful acquisition, to recently being a co-founder in her own consumer internet start-up.   She has a wide array of skills in sales, marketing, and partner management and her passion is to mentor other entrepreneurs and women through various organizations.  Elizabeth has an MBA from Loyola in Maryland, and a BS in Business from Stevenson University.

Clay Nutting
Owner, Lowbrau

Clay Nutting is the owner of Lowbrau, a beer hall located in the heart of Midtown, Sacramento. 

He is also a co-founder and architect of a nonprofit organization called Concerts 4 Charity with a mission to support music and arts education projects and foster an independent arts community in Sacramento and beyond. Through his work with C4C he has produced over 250 local shows and started the Sacramento Electronic Music Festival. He also worked with his business partner at LowBrau, Michael Hargis, to develop LAUNCH (now called TBD Fest) an annual celebration of music, art and design. Clay also serves as the Marketing Chair for the Midtown Business Association. 

Rob Winkler
Co-founder & CEO, 5th Planet Games

Rob Winkler is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of 5th Planet Games, a leading independent game development studio that combines hardcore gaming experiences with deep social interactions to create a new genre of social games. Rob oversees all game design for the company, including development of such hits as Dawn of the Dragons and Legacy of a Thousand Suns. Rob draws on his previous experience in the finance industry to apply an analytical framework to game design and development that has served the company well. Rob lives in Roseville with his wife and four young boys.

Scott Sambucci
Founder, SalesQualia

Scott Sambucci is the VP of Sales at Blend and the Founder of SalesQualia. He’s spent more than 15 years developing technology products and building sales the process for both startups and publicly traded companies, with a focus on data, analytics, and enterprise software.

He regularly teaches university courses such as Entrepreneurship, Business Strategy and Economics, and is speaker in the areas of customer development, sales, and organizational behavior, leading workshops at The Lean Startup Conference, Stanford University, and startup groups across the US and Europe. Scott is regular contributor on Quora and has published two books - “Startup Selling” and “52 Sales Questions Answered."

He lives in Northern California with his wife and son and is a three-time ironman triathlete. 

Stacey Powell
Founder & Chief Creative Director, Finance Gym

Stacey is the founder of Sacramento-based Creating Answers, a chief financial officer firm that offers an outside the box hybrid model of solid accounting and financial coaching. Having been a Big 6 auditor and CFO for a rapidly growing organization, her passion was sparked to help entrepreneurs maneuver through strategic, data driven decisions. Last year she sold the firm and has jumped back into startup mode launching Finance Gym, a company devoted to changing the way Americans interact with their money and finances.

Dale Taormino
VP-Client Services, Vistex

Dale has 20+ years in strategy-to-execution expertise in the High Tech industry. Her experience spans from Go-To-Market strategy development to tactical implementation of sales and marketing programs addressing acquisition, education, retention and revenue growth with in-direct and direct channels. As an executive at both small and larger companies, Dale has gained in-depth knowledge of successful alliance and channel partner engagements in the business-to-business, business-to-consumer, both domestically and internationally.

Prior to joining Vistex Inc., Dale has held Marketing, Business Development, Strategic Alliances, and Professional Services roles, at Lucent-Alcatel, Mindjet, Fon Wireless, and CCI. She has also done consulting for and grown revenue in such customer accounts as Verizon, Comcast, Dell, Motorola, VMware and Adobe. 
Dale graduated from the Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA) with a B.A in International Studies, and from IESE Business School (Barcelona, Spain) with an MBA in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. Dale lives in Davis, CA where she enjoys spending time with her husband and three children.

PheOnix RuachShaddai
Founder, LEEF Education

PheOnix RuachShaddai is the founder of Leef Education. LEEF is Leadership, Engineering, Entrepreneurship, and Financial literacy for non-traditional STEM learners in 6th - 12th grade. Leef works with local STEM partners to provide a hands-on, project-based, learning environment. Leef youth develop relevant, employable skills, build community, and learn how to build a business based on social or technological innovation.

Hailey Pate
Founder, Hailey Pate Unconsulting

Hailey spent over 9 years in civil service working to improve public health data for research and transparency. After moving to Sacramento, she attended meetups at Hacker Lab where she learned to write her first line of code, experienced her first hackathon, and spent a year as Co-Captain at Code for Sacramento. Lessons learned in the co-working and start-up space helped her achieve her proudest accomplishment to date -- helping California become the first State to join the NEMSIS 3 national emergency medical research initiative. Hailey's big mission is to demolish silos of public data so that local businesses and entrepreneurs can innovate in the civic space, particularly in emergency and disaster response. To fund her quest, she currently enjoys advising against the data status quo at CareMaestro, a local healthcare start-up. 

Shawna Fitzgerald
CEO, Creating Answers

Shawna Fitzgerald is a two time entrepreneur and visionary who currently owns Creating Answers, an organization dedicated to supporting Entrepreneurs and Executive Directors through financial clarity. To achieve this, they look, see and tell the truth about their clients’ finances emphasizing both simple financials and forward focused analytics including cash flow projections, cost analysis, pricing structures and budget management.

Saxon Peters
Associate, GreebgergTaurig

Saxon Peters focuses his practice on early stage company counseling, debt and equity financings, mergers and acquisitions, public offerings, corporate partnerships and general corporate counseling. Saxon has represented companies in a wide range of industries, including clean technology, biotechnology, software and hardware design and online services. Prior to joining the firm, Saxon was an associate in the emerging companies practice group in the Silicon Valley office of a national law firm.

Bob Bozeman
General Partner, Angel Investors LP

Bob is a General Partner with Angel Investors, LP (with with Ron Conway and Casey McGlynn); we believed that the Internet was going to be a big deal and constructed an investment approach that allowed us to be a part of LOTS of businesses that became leadership businesses in the early days of the Internet; this investment model was "first money" into businesses that were then followed in by major VCs such as Sequoia, Kleiner Perkins, Accel, and more than 50 others. Companies that would be recognized today from that investment focus include Google, PayPal, OpenTable. Retiring to Lake County, Bob does "one of a kind" opportunities (nanotechnology leader Nantero and a medical device company sold to Steve Jobs for example). Bob most recently started a small fund that serves investors and entrepreneurs in the 530 area code (including Chico, Sacramento, and Davis) and active with "worthwhile" companies like Rimidi Diabetes (Atlanta), DocBox (Boston), Magna Imperio Systems (Chico), and Nueon (Los Altos).

Event Sponsors, and Partners

The Sacramento StartUp Weekend Women's Edition team is grateful for the support of local community partners without whom this event would not be possible.
Learn how to become a sponsor here.




Organizing Team

Techstars Startup Weekend Sacramento is 100% led by volunteer community leaders.
Learn how to get involved here

  • Laura
  • Jeni
  • Magdalena
  • Briana
  • Mia
  • Deborah
  • Maelene
  • Alina
  • Ingrid
  • Rubie


Victoria Stoyanova
Community & Culture

Victoria helps startups and big companies build strong brands,
communities and culture. Her career began in advertising, where she worked at Buzzman (Paris), Your Majesty (New York) and Mother (London).

Hand-picked to head up startup community development in Europe, Victoria joined Techstars as Regional Manager. A journey that led her to the role of Director of Community and Culture at Second Home, and a steady diet of airport sightseeing and mentoring across Europe.

Victoria enjoys working at the intersection between industries, ideas and people. With expertise at the convergence of startup and big company culture, she has had the joy to work with exceptional people at places like
the BBC, EY and the Victoria & Albert museum.

In her free time, Victoria produces and facilitates talks, workshops and exhibitions. She also runs the London chapter of CreativeMornings, a monthly breakfast lecture series for the creative community taking place in 130+ cities globally.

Event Blog

See Full Blog