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Polsky Entrepreneurial Outlook: Food 2019

The Polsky Center’s new breakfast series brings together entrepreneurs, investors, and experts to highlight important emerging trends in select industries. In Food 2019, we will hear from a panel of expert venture capitalists and entrepreneurs in the quick-changing food space as they discuss the state of the field in 2019. Learn how RXBar has changed the game for food startups and innovation in the industry as a whole.

Additionally, the event will include the opportunity for networking and time for a limited number of 1-minute pitches from food startups before this engaged audience. Free breakfast is provided and registration is required.

Panelists include: //

  • Andrew Bluestein, Bluestein & Associates, LLC – Andrew is the cofounder and managing partner of Bluestein and Associates, LLC (B&A) which includes developing the firm’s investment strategy, leading the investment committee, and advising portfolio companies. He sits on three boards and is an observer on another three, including Factor 75, Bizzy Coffee, and Rethink Water. In addition to his work at B&A, Andrew has served on the steering committee of the Good Food Business Accelerator and as a mentor at 1871. Andrew brings to B&A a deep and diverse background working with emerging leaders to grow their businesses. Andrew spent over seven years as a strategy consultant at Monitor Deloitte, working on corporate, competitive, marketing, and organizational strategy across a diverse set of retail, CPG, hospitality, and business service clients. Andrew has an MBA with distinction from the Kellogg School of Management and a BS in industrial and labor relations with honors from Cornell University.
  • Tyler Huggins, Emergy Labs – Tyler is the CEO and cofounder of Emergy Labs, a startup operating at the intersection of biotech, material science, and sustainability to grow the food of the future. Emergy participated in the Polsky I-Corps Program, Polsky Accelerator Program, and the first cohort of Argonne’s Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI) incubator. Tyler received his PhD in environmental engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder while successfully running several cleantech startups. Tyler is passionate about fusing sustainability and economic growth to help develop a more robust circular economy.
  • Kenyata Martin, MBA ’09, Thought Process (moderator) – Kenyata is managing partner of Thought Process, a boutique strategy firm focused on delivering “Constituent First” business solutions leveraging proven frameworks and years of corporate expertise. He started his career in Cincinnati where he spent 11 years at Procter & Gamble in progressive product development and marketing roles on brands including Tampax, Crest, and Old Spice. He led the product qualification of the body spray re-stage and later played a significant global leadership role on the now famous brand reinvention of Old Spice. After leaving Procter & Gamble, Kenyata served as head of marketing strategy for Shell Oil, where he was responsible for delivering scaled marketing strategies that have direct to consumer impact on both the B2C and B2B businesses. Most recently, Kenyata served as the director of innovation at Nestlé, where he was responsible for delivering a new product and innovation pipeline and building a leading-edge competitive capability for the $3 billion group of well-known brands that include DiGiorno, California Pizza Kitchen, and Hot Pockets. Kenyata earned BS degrees in chemistry and chemical engineering from Morehouse College and Georgia Tech, respectively, and his MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
  • David Rabie, MBA ’15, Tovala. David is the CEO and cofounder of Tovala, where he is working to bring clean food, cooked fresh to homes across the country. David led Tovala to a first-place finish in the 2015 Edward L. Kaplan, 71, New Venture Challenge and also participated in Y Combinator. In June of 2015, David graduated with his MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. At Chicago Booth, David worked part-time for Foundation Capital, ran the Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital (EVC) club on campus and spent his summer interning at Google. Prior to Booth, David cofounded the mobile app Draftpedia, the first sports encyclopedia built exclusively for mobile. His first taste for small business came before that, when he was responsible for running a bi-coastal chain of frozen yogurt stores. Before that, he spent two years working directly under the CEO of the Veggie Grill, the largest chain of vegan restaurants in the country.
  • Sally Rogers, Parsnip – Sally is the cofounder of Parsnip, a platform that makes it easy for brands to find the right partners. Her work in food began after nearly a decade working in finance & consulting, first at Wellington Management Company as Chief of Staff to the CIO, where she led a resource transformation of the 1000-person IT organization and managed a $200M budget, and then at Deloitte, with a focus on business ops and marketing strategy for clients within their Greenhouse Corporate Innovation Lab. In 2016 she transitioned to working on challenges in the food system so she could bring more connectivity to people and their food choices, first starting Nibble  (a healthy snacking company) and then The Pickle (an editorial). She is a good food systems advocate and consultant, working with such organizations such as The Cooking Project, Fare Resources, the Good Food Foundation, and chairing the Slow Food San Francisco Board. Sally has an undergraduate degree from UNC-Chapel Hill (bassoon performance) and a master’s degree in musicology from Boston University.
  • Steve Sanger, MBA ’05, Evolv Ventures – Steve is a seasoned professional with experience in business and corporate development, strategy formulation, marketing, financial analysis, leadership, and project management. He is currently a general partner with Evolv Ventures, which empowers entrepreneurs to reshape the food industry. He was vice president of business development and an early member of the senior leadership team at Grubhub. Steve led business and corporate development activities for the company as well as helped define and execute on the company’s overall strategy. After Grubhub, he was a member of Geofeedia’s executive team responsible for business development efforts. He received his MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
  • Jason Starr, MBA ’07, CompanyFirst – Jason has over two decades of experience spanning operations, technology, venture capital, and private equity. Before founding CompanyFirst, Jason was the fund manager at CircleUp in San Francisco, through which he invested in dozens of consumer ventures. Prior to CircleUp, Jason spent over eight years at Winona Capital Management, a consumer-focused private equity firm in Chicago with over $300M under management. Before Winona, Jason worked at venture capital firm Opus Capital in Silicon Valley and was a founder or early employee at several high-tech start-ups in Denver, including BoldTech Systems, a “Deloitte Tech Fast 50” and “Inc. 500” company that was acquired by Perficient (NASDAQ PRFT). Prior to his entrepreneurial ventures, Jason spent five years at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture), where he was a project manager and software engineer. Jason earned his MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and holds a BSBA and MAS from the University of Denver, where he was an alumni scholar and graduated summa cum laude.


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