Entrepreneurship Symposium & Innovation Pitch Competition Speakers and Judges 2021



Dan Berelowitz

CEO & Founder
Spring Impact

Dan founded Spring Impact based on his experiences working across a range of social sector organisations, and his frustration on seeing great ideas not scaling up. With Spring Impact, Dan has developed scale strategies, innovation and implementation plans with over 150 organisations ranging Skoll Awardees to GlaxoSmithKline, Shell Foundation and its investments, Oxfam to a number of leading social businesses. Dan is always looking for the next social innovation that deserves to scale up.

A regular presenter and writer, Dan is a Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum, a Clore Social Leadership Fellow and a Rothschild Fellow at the Cambridge Judge Business School. He graduated from the University of Nottingham and the Harvard Kennedy School’s Global Leadership and Public Policy Executive Program. He relocated from London to San Francisco to continue building Spring Impact.

Jay Godsall

Jay Godsall

CEO & Co-founder
Solar Ship, Inc and the Peace + Freedom Challenge

Jay is a Canadian entrepreneur based in Toronto. At McGill University in 1989, Jay wrote an economics thesis proposing the use of airships for transport in landlocked countries in Africa. In the early 1990s, Jay created Idea Bank Inc., a venture catalyst that has launched 30 new ventures and raised over $100M in start-up financing - primarily in transport, health, environment and communications.
In 2006, Jay created Solar Ship Inc., a world leader in developing solar electric powered aerostats, airships and hybrid aircraft for connecting remote areas with the global community.


Evan Kidera

Evan Kidera (B.S., '04; MBA '13)

Señor Sisig

Evan Kidera grew up in San Francisco. As he got older, he helped out at his dad’s sushi restaurant, but Evan wasn’t just interested in learning how to make rainbow rolls. “I was interested in the whole process. I wanted to know both the business and the creative side of running a company,” Evan says, “I always had a passion for food and business but where I found the most value was in creating experiences for people and making them smile.”

By 2007, he began to wonder why San Francisco didn’t have a thriving street food scene. By 2009, when Twitter and other social media platforms were suddenly a force, Evan saw street food as a national phenomenon. “I knew it was time for SF to start its own movement,” Evan says. “And I knew the city would embrace food trucks and street food because I feel like this is the culinary melting pot of the world.” Sure that Filipino food captured something unique about the culture of San Francisco, Evan called his old friend Gil Payumo with the idea to start Señor Sisig.

Evan double-majored in Asian-American Studies and Business Administration at San Francisco State, where he later returned to get an MBA.

Gulshan Kumar

Gulshan Kumar (B.S., '15)

Vice President of Sales

Gulshan Kumar is a first-generation Indian/American born and raised in Silicon Valley, CA. Gulshan earned his bachelor’s degree in small business and entrepreneurship at San Francisco State University and now is the Executive Vice President at a company he helped start- PATHWATER; a socially conscious beverage company that is leading the revolution against single-use plastic bottled water pollution. Gulshan is a very passionate young entrepreneur and business leader who aims to build businesses as a tool for good to help solve some of the world's largest problems through innovative solutions. PATHWATER has quickly grown into a global brand sold throughout the U.S and 10 other countries internationally.

Allam El Qadah

Allam El Qadah (B.S., '94)

Restaurateur & President's Medal Recipient

After earning his degree in economics at SF State in 1994, he returned to put what he’d learned into practice by opening his first business: the Pub in the Cesar Chavez Student Center. Though he sold the Pub in 2001, his other ventures have expanded to include eight unique restaurants and an extensive catering service.

An immigrant to the United States — he was born in the West Bank and left the Middle East when he was 18 — El Qadah knows that higher education is one of the most effective paths to success. As a result, he has consistently invested profits from his on-campus businesses into initiatives that help needy SF State students achieve their educational dreams. These programs include scholarship opportunities within the College of Ethnic Studies as well as longtime support for the Guardian Scholars Program, which helps former foster care youth graduate from college. El Qadah also sponsors and manages special campus-wide events, such as a luncheon fundraiser in response to the 2017 wildfires where his corporation donated the food and matched donations by SF State staff dollar for dollar.

Michel Rugema

Michel Rugema

COO & Co-founder
Solar Ship, Inc and the Peace + Freedom Challenge

Michel Rugema is currently the COO at Solar Ship Inc. Michel has over 20 years experience as an operations manager in remote areas. He has been the manager of a diverse number of organizations ranging from Unicef, USAID operations in Africa and Haiti to restaurants in upstate New York. He is the founder and former managing director of Archipel Enterprises in Burundi, an owner and operator of bars, restaurants and a night club. Michel has a Masters in Hospitality Management from Cornell University and a BSc. from l’Université de Montréal.

Ryan Smith

Ryan Smith

Assistant Professor, Ph.D.
Lam Family College of Business, San Francisco State University

Ryan has been teaching F&B for over ten years and 3.5 years at SF State. Ryan obtained a Doctorate in Hotel and Tourism Management at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. His work experience has been around food and beverage with a diverse background in education, restaurants (quick service to fine dining), private clubs, ski resorts, and catering in hotel banquets around the USA and two countries in Asia. Ryan has worked on several industry consultancy projects over the years in different hospitality segments.

Ryan is currently an Assistant Professor at the Department of Hospitality & Tourism Management at San Francisco State University. 

Liz Subauste

Liz Subauste (B.A., '10)

Consultant & Founder

Liz Subauste is a seasoned restaurant professional who decided to focus on openings, training, and structuring restaurants. She started independently consulting for restaurant openings. Most recently she opened Toro in NYC, Kin Khao, Al’s Place, Mister Jiu’s, Sorrel in San Francisco, and the Carpenters Hall in Austin. On her time off she enjoys traveling, baking, eating, and running.

Sobremesa, is a restaurant consultant company that helps with openings, social media, HR and recruiting.

Nite Yun

Nite Yun

Chef & Owner
Nyum Bai

Pitch Competition Judges

Bruno Ceccarelli

Bruno Ceccarelli

Director, Strategic Initiatives & Sr. Program Manager
MUFG Union Bank

Bruno is currently the Managing Director and Market Executive for the Northern California and Pacific Northwest Regions for Union Bank in the Business Banking Group. As the senior executive for the region, he leads teams of Business Development Officers and Relationship Managers to serve the financial needs of their business banking customers. In addition to leading these teams of banking professionals, he is also the Strategic Initiatives and Analytics leader for the segment.

A proponent of using technology and data-based analytics to connect with customers and increase customer satisfaction & efficiency, he has worked on a number revenue increasing initiatives and re-engineering programs at all levels of the organization.

A 30-year veteran of the banking industry, he started his career with Wells Fargo Bank working in the business banking, retail, and commercial groups of the bank leading both regional and national teams in sites across the country.

As a native San Franciscan and active in the community, Bruno supports several nonprofit organizations and serves on the board of the Child Abuse Prevention Council of Contra Costa County. He additionally serves on the Union Bank Northern California/Central Valley Foundation Committee which identifies non-profits for the bank and team members in the region to support.

He graduated from the University of San Francisco with both a BA and MBA and the National Association of Credit Management (NACM) Certified Credit Executive program at Dartmouth College.

Bill Cecil

Bill Cecil

Scouting Director
State Farm

Bill is currently Scouting Director in State Farm’s Silicon Valley Office, leading global scouting operations for emerging technologies, products, and services. He also supports State Farm Ventures with deal flow and strategic analyses.

Prior to joining State Farm, Bill held positions in a wide variety of industries, including co-founding several small businesses. While at State Farm, he has served in several leadership roles in California, Florida, and at State Farm’s Corporate Offices in Bloomington, Illinois, where he held numerous positions, including Strategic Resources Consultant specializing in strategic alliances, mergers & acquisitions, and innovation.

Bill has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business from California State University, Northridge, and an Executive MBA from the University of Illinois.

Nancy Hayes

Nancy Hayes

Angel Investor & Founder
NKH Group

Nancy Hayes has been an active angel investor since 2014 and has a portfolio of more than 25 companies. She serves as a mentor to entrepreneurs, with a particular focus on women entrepreneurs and founders of color, by providing feedback on strategy, advising them on presenting to investors and providing introductions where appropriate. Nancy is a frequent guest speaker, panelist, and judge at pitch events. She also provides training for those who are considering becoming angel/venture investors.

Nancy was a senior executive of the IBM Corporation for almost 20 years and then served as CEO of two social services nonprofit organizations, the STARBRIGHT Foundation and WISE Senior Services. She became the Dean of the College of Business at San Francisco State University in 2005 and then was Vice President of Finance/CFO and Chief Administrative Officer of San Francisco State from 2011 to 2013. Nancy was cofounder in 2013 of a rewards-based crowdfunding site for women with small businesses called MoolaHoop and then transitioned to angel investing. Nancy served as a Managing Director of the Golden Seeds angel group Silicon Valley chapter for 3 years.

Stephen Vranes

Stephen Vranes (B.A., '08)

BoxLunch, Her Universe & Hot Topic

Steve Vranes has served as the CEO at Hot Topic Inc since June 2016. Prior to becoming CEO, Mr. Vranes was named President of Hot Topic in April 2016. Prior to serving as President, Mr. Vranes held a variety of management roles within the company, including Senior Vice President of Planning and Allocation. Before joining Hot Topic in October 2012, Mr. Vranes served as Director of Planning at Gymboree until July 2009. At Gymboree, Mr. Vranes was responsible for planning and cross-functional strategy development, partnering with marketing, merchandising, e-commerce and store organizations. Mr. Vranes received his MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business and a BA in Economics from San Francisco State University.

Alumni Happy Hour

Duggan McDonnell

Duggan McDonnell

Drinking the Devil’s Acre: A Love Letter From San Francisco & Her Cocktails

Duggan McDonnell was named a 'Leader of the American Cocktail Revolution' by Food & Wine magazine, and was nominated twice as 'Best Mixologist of the Year' at Tales of the Cocktail, in New Orleans. He has won Rising Star awards from Star Chefs, Cheers and the V.I.B.E. Conference.

His writing has appeared in San Francisco, SOMA, HI-Lux, Departures and Mutineer magazines, as well as in The Huffington Post; his cocktail recipes have been featured in many major publications, and over a dozen books.

A creative force within the Wine & Spirits Industry, McDonnell is Mixologist, Entrepreneur, Thought Leader and Community Organizer. He conceived and operated Cantina, San Francisco, the pioneer cocktail saloon dedicated to Artisanal Spirits and California Cocktails, from 2007 - 2015. He also co-founded Campo de Encanto Pisco and is a Lecturer at the Culinary Institute of America.

McDonnell holds a Master of Fine Arts in Writing, from the University of San Francisco. In addition, he has studied wine with the Court of Master Sommeliers, the Wine & Spirits Education Trust, and has visited hundreds of wineries, distilleries and breweries on four continents. #READDEVILSACRE