Adnan Agboatwalla “Boat”

Director of Innovation Programs for Product Innovation Team (PIT), Samsung Electronics

“Boat” is the Director of Innovation Programs for PIT at Samsung Electronics. He is responsible for commercializing products in North America and bringing Family Hub to market. He works with cross functional teams across user research, consumer marketing insights, design (UI/UX), engineering, marketing and sales. At the core, Boat is leading the product management team for next generation of Family Hub content and services.


Chris Albrecht

Editor, The Spoon

Chris Albrecht covers startups and other food and kitchen related technology for The Spoon. In previous roles, Albrecht has been Creative Director for Gigaom and Editor and Staff Writer at Gigaom. He was the MC for most of Gigaom's events and is Master of Ceremonies at the Smart Kitchen Summit.

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Clay Alexander

CEO, Ember

Clay Alexander is an American inventor and serial entrepreneur who holds over 100 patents worldwide and is the inventor of General Electric's LED light bulb, the GE Infusion™.

He started his first company, Radiance Lightworks, in 1999 at the age of 23. Radiance is now 18 years old and has become one of the top lighting design agencies in the country, boasting an extensive client list which includes Universal Studios, Mattel and 20th Century Fox.

Alexander formed his second company, Journée Lighting, in 2005 and created the world's first LED track light. He scaled Journée to be one of the most respected brands in LED lighting, and sold the company a decade later to EcoSense Lighting.

In 2010, Alexander founded Ember, a design-led temperature control brand and maker of the World’s First Temperature Control Mugs.

With Alexander at the helm, Ember is changing the way the world eats, drinks and lives, one person at a time.

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Tony Atti

Founder & CEO, Phononic

Dr. Anthony Atti is an experienced technology investor, entrepreneur and executive with a passion for revitalizing the food and beverage industry to build better in-store loyalty. He's committed to enhancing the grocery and retail customer experience through the use of cutting-edge solid-state technology. He is a grocery disruption expert and influencer, experienced at working with top food and beverage brands to increase in-store sales.

His expertise has been regularly featured on broadcast segments including Squawk Box and Cheddar TV. As founder and CEO at Phononic, Dr. Atti has led the development and growth of the company, which delivers disruptive solid-state cooling that breaks the boundaries of semiconductor innovation to deliver unprecedented performance and sustainability across multiple industries. In the grocery space, Phononic’s cutting-edge technology makes it possible for food retail executives to offer frozen and refrigerated goods anywhere in the store, so retailers can embrace more convenient and innovative store layouts.


Geoff Barnes

Senior Interaction Designer, Google

Geoff Barnes is a Conversation Designer working on the Assistant for Shopping in the Pittsburgh office, where he’s been since 2016. Before joining Google, Geoff was Lead Designer in Human Sciences at MAYA Design. Earlier still, he led the UX practice at Elliance in Pittsburgh, worked in startups, and helped create one of the country's first degree-granting Web Design programs at Robert Morris University. Before that, he also taught Painting and Design at Savannah College of Art & Design. In his free time, Geoff enjoys running, gardening, painting, and playing banjo


Bill Billenstein

Sr Director of Culinary & Nutrition Strategy, Guckenheimer

Bill Billenstein started his career in the kitchen at the age of 13 working on the weekends in a bakery and cafe in his home state of Connecticut. After several years of baking he decided that he wanted to pursue "hot" food and began his journey toward becoming a Chef. Since graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, California, Bill has worked with many acclaimed Chefs including Top Chef Masters Winner Chris Cosentino and Jeremy Fox at the now defunct Michelin starred vegetable focused restaurant Ubuntu in Napa California. He has cooked in and run several restaurants in California, Montana, Arizona, South Carolina and is one of the founding members of the Virginia Tech Dining programs, "The Right Track" which was one of the first programs nationally to bring vegan meals to students daily.

Bill spent several years on the Guckenheimer at Google team helping to co-create the Google Food brand and provide delicious plant forward options and dining experiences. Bill is currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area and is Sr Director of Culinary & Nutrition Strategy for Guckenheimer. When he is not cooking or enjoying food experiences Bill is an avid backpacker and hiker who has completed the entire John Muir Trail (270 Miles), Trans Catalina Trail, Grand Canyon, Mt Shasta, Mt Whitney and many more “Long Hauls” .

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Tejas Bhatt

Senior Director for Food Safety Innovations, Walmart

As Senior Director of Food Safety Innovations, Tejas Bhatt responsible for the Blockchain initiative, as well as other advancements in food safety, for the world's largest food retailer, Wal-Mart, serving over 200 million customers around the world on a weekly basis. Tejas’ scope of responsibilities includes food safety innovations across Wal-Mart’s stores, Neighborhood Markets, and Sam’s Clubs and their food supply webs. Accelerating the development, adoption and implementation of enhanced food safety innovations such as blockchain with Associates, food suppliers, industry partners, technology service providers and regulatory agencies also come under his purview.

Prior to joining Wal-Mart in 2018, Tejas was the Vice President of Science and Policy Initiatives at the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) and the Director of IFT’s Global Food Traceability Center. In 2011, he was also one of the IFT leads to conduct the groundbreaking food traceability pilots with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under the Food Safety Modernization Act. In 2012, Tejas received the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) Leveraging Collaboration Award by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Tejas earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and Master of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Food Science, both from Purdue University. He has also earned a Certified Food Scientist credential from the International Food Science Certification Commission. He has authored or co-authored several peer reviewed publications, book chapters, and has presented at numerous national and international conferences.

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Richard Blais


Perhaps most recognizable as the winner of Bravo’s Top Chef All-Stars, Richard Blais is a successful chef, restaurateur, cookbook author and television personality. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, he went on to train at The French Laundry, Daniel, Chez Panisse, and el Bulli.

Blais has appeared on Top Chef, Top Chef All-Stars, Iron Chef America and Chopped All-Stars as a competitor.  He is a recurring judge on Top Chef and Master Chef and has also judged episodes of Guy's Grocery Games, Cutthroat Kitchen and Cooks vs Cons. Blais has particularly enjoyed his hosting duties for the shows Burger Lab, Cook Your A$$ Off and Food Network's Halloween Baking Championship.

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Shelby Bonnie

CEO, Pylon AI

Shelby has a history of leadership in the industry. He was a co-founder and long-time CEO of CNet, co-founder and CEO of Whiskey Media, Managing Director at Allen & Company, and chairman of IAB. He is a leading innovator in both ad formats and research. In 2006, he was named IAB Publisher of the Year.

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Thomas Bowman

Director of Product Development, JUST, Inc.

Thomas Bowman is the Chef de R&D at JUST. He is a graduate of the world’s premier culinary college, Culinary Institute of America Greystone. With over 18 years of high level experience, he brings a unique blend of science and food to product development. Throughout the years, he has received much acclaim working with some very notable establishments such as Moto, Otom, Terra, Baume & Brix and ING. He is one of Zagat’s 30 under 30, received 3 stars from Chicago Tribune’s Phil Vettel, Michelin bib Gourmand and was nominated for James Beard’s rising star chef award. Since joining JUST he has developed several successful lines of products and is now helping drive the culinary science aspect of cellular agriculture.


Kevin Brown

Co-founder & CEO, Innit

Kevin is the CEO and Co-founder of Innit Inc. The Innit platform combines personalized culinary and nutritional science with cutting edge information technology to power the emerging Connected Food ecosystem. As CEO and Co-founder of Innit, Kevin is responsible for all cloud infrastructure, mobile applications, and big data aspects of the business.

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Jerry Callahan

CEO, Heatworks


An inventor at heart, Jerry founded Heatworks the day he realized the water heater he needed didn’t exist. Rather than buy an inferior product, he decided to find a better way to heat water. That has been his focus for the last 12 years. Now with over 50 combined patents, Jerry leads a team of heating, technology and plumbing veterans to continue to build Heatworks' family of products. 

Jerry grew up on Cape Cod, MA, and studied naval architecture at MIT and the Stevens Institute of Technology. After attaining his MBA from University of Chicago, Jerry co-founded Blue Rhino, the world’s leading propane cylinder exchange company.

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Chiara Cecchini

U.S. Director, Future Food Institute

Chiara is Future Food Institute Director in the United States. Based in California, she is also a Research Scholar at Food Science and Technology at UC Davis; she is a Researcher Barilla Center Food Nutrition Foundation, a Research Affiliate at Institute For The Future and a Global Shaper for the World Economic Forum. She writes for The Spoon, Food Tank and Make:.

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Nate Cho

Director of Connectivity Strategy & Ecosystems, Electrolux

Nate Cho is the Director of Connectivity Strategy & Ecosystems at Electrolux. He is responsible for the launch of connected appliances, driving new business models, and strategic partnerships in the IoT space. He is greatly enjoying this role in bringing meaningful innovations at the intersection of technology and food to the market. Before that, he led innovation for Cold products at Electrolux.

Prior to Electrolux, Nate spent eight years at Northrop Grumman in a variety of roles including leading their innovation activities.

Nate has an Executive Masters in Technology Management from The University of Pennsylvania and The Wharton School, and a Masters in Systems Engineering from Cornell University.


Jason Clarke

Co-founder, Crank Software

Jason is a co-founder of Crank Software, one of Canada’s Fastest Growing companies in the embedded UI software space. With over 20 years senior software engineering experience, he now leads an organization that helps graphic designers and engineers collaborate in a tool that brings their device user interfaces to market faster, without sacrificing performance or design. Recognizable consumer brands such as HP, Nintendo, and John Deere rely on the Crank platform. Prior to co-founding Crank Software, Jason was a senior engineer with QNX software - where he worked on multi-million dollars projects from UI for automobiles and consumer devices to autonomous vehicles.


Cheryl Clements

Founder and CEO, PieShell

Cheryl is the founder + CEO of PieShell, a new crowdfunding platform exclusively for food- and beverage-focused companies. Cheryl took her 18 years of experience installing the ERP system SAP at fortune 500 companies and her lifetime of helping her family with their own food startups, to create PieShell.

Cheryl spent summers helping her Mom run a pie business, with help from her Dad and brother they made close to 10,000 pies a year. You guessed it, her Mom's company was called The Pie Shell, and she is honored to carry on the name.

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Ilan Cohen

Director, Hardware & Equity Crowdfunding, IndieGoGo



Jason Cohen

CEO, Analytical Flavor Systems

Before starting Analytical Flavor Systems, Jason was the Founder and Executive Director of The Tea Institute at Penn State, which oversees 20+ researchers in 5 fields of study in traditional Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Tea. Jason did his research in sensory science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence - eventually developing the Gastrograph system after 3 1/2 years of research. Jason is a professional coffee, tea, and beer taster, and when he is not trying new products, he enjoys rock climbing, ice climbing, and fencing.


Jim Collins

CEO, Kitchen United

While the companies in Jim’s background are varied, the common thread is a focus on helping small and medium sized businesses succeed.

From his early days in tech, driving companies like Collection Data Systems, Apex Voice Communications, Signius Corporation and Affinity Internet, to his current capacity in building the restaurant industry startup Kitchen United, Jim’s blunt but thoughtful management style and focus on relentless evolution build strong, energized teams. Whether in highly distributed enterprises like Signius, Affinity or Pictage, or in smaller technology startups like Apex or Bizmago, Jim’s transparency with his customers is a hallmark of his career.

Dynamic change in the restaurant industry and the opportunity to combine his technical and enterprise background with his knowledge of restaurant operations connected Jim to Kitchen United as CEO in December of 2017. A love of food and hospitality drove Jim to take the plunge and buy a restaurant four years ago and Town Kitchen and Grill has become a fixture in its home community, Montrose, California. Not one to manage from the sidelines Jim can honestly say he’s done everything in the restaurant on the busiest nights, from bartending, serving and bussing in the front of the house, to cooking on the grill, hotline and pantry on busy weekend nights. 

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Ashley Colpaart

CEO, The Food Corridor

Ashley Colpaart is the founder and CEO of The Food Corridor, a virtual food hub that connects food entrepreneurs with commercial kitchen space. The Food Corridor is the first and only fully integrated software platform that manages scheduling, compliance, time tracking, billing, and client communication in the emerging shared-use kitchen industry. Additionally, The Food Corridor moderates the Network for Incubator and Commissary Kitchens, a community of kitchens that supports the food industry through sharing data, best practices, and technical resources to build and grow successful shared-use kitchen businesses. Their newest app, The Kitchen Door, provides the largest database of searchable commercial and shared-use kitchens in the country, giving rise to food entrepreneurs across the USA and Canada. 


Dana Cowin

Host, Speaking Broadly

Dana Cowin, best known for her two decades as the Editor-in-Chief of Food & Wine, is a tastemaker, talent scout, consultant, author, lecturer and podcast host. During her tenure at the award-winning magazine (1995-2016), she oversaw every editorial aspect of the brand from print to web to books to social media. She is currently the Chief Creative Officer at Dig Inn and host of Speaking Broadly on Heritage Radio Network.

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Jasmine Crowe

Founder & CEO, Goodr

Compassionate, Zealous, Visionary and Inspiring are just a few of the words that describe Jasmine Crowe, an HBCU alumna who is working to make the world a better place. In January of 2017, she launched Goodr, a sustainable food waste management company that leverages technology to combat hunger. Today Goodr redirects surplus food from convention centers, hotels, airports, and businesses to the millions of people who are food insecure.

Under Jasmine’s direction the company now has clients that include: Turner Broadcasting Systems, Hartsfield- Jackson International Airport, Gate Gourmet and more. She has been featured in Huffington Post, on CNBC, Fast Co., The HARRY Show, Upworthy, NBC, Black Enterprise, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls and featured as a Hero of Hunger in a Brawny Paper Towels commercial.


Ashley Daigneault

Vice President, Caster Communications

Ashley Daigneault is Vice President of Caster Communications, a full service tech and lifestyle PR, marketing, social and events firm. Ashley has worked with Mike Wolf and his team on SKS from the beginning; she has also contributed to The Spoon and can sometimes be heard on the Smart Kitchen Show. Ashley has consulted in consumer and B2B tech for over a decade and holds an MBA from Marylhurst University.


Dhairya Dand


Dhairya Dand is an award winning inventor and artist who runs ODD Industries a futurist factory+lab in NYC. His work investigates the human body as a medium for computation, new materials as a tool to embody interactions and design as a vehicle for mindfulness.

Past inventions include: bio reactive architecture, elastic computer screens, shape changing gadgets, shoes that tickle and guide, alcohol aware ice cubes, synthetic muscles, programmable hair, emotionally intelligent flowers, sensory apparatus for music learning and educational toys from eWaste, optically invisible fiber-optics among others.

Recent exhibitions at the V&A, Tokyo Design Week, MIT Museum, recognized in the 2015 and 2016 Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ list, WIRED Innovation Fellow, INK Fellow, FoST Fellow, ELLE’s ‘Names to know in 2015’, VOGUE’s ‘Cool People’ list, Globe’s ‘Top 25 Innovators’ list.
Previously a researcher at MIT Media Lab, amateur geologist in Saudi, toy designer in Singapore, sensory researcher in Tokyo, political activist in Bombay, MIT Media Lab and Harvard alumnus.



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CTO & co-founder, Markov Corporation

Arvind is the CTO and co-founder of the Markov Corporation, a startup in Palo Alto, California, which builds devices employing Artificial Intelligence to revolutionize industries that have not seen enough change. At Markov he is responsible for the overall architecture (especially the AI software), and leading a talented team of experienced engineers in researching and developing products such as the Level oven - the first oven that is capable of cooking multiple foods to different target temperatures by using thermal temperatures for feedback - a feat that would not be possible without novel AI controlling some innovative hardware.

Before founding Markov with Leonard Speiser, he worked in various capacities (both software and hardware) at Leonard's previous startup Clover, which has manufactured and shipped hundreds of thousands of POS terminals to various industries including restaurants.

He is excited about the huge positive impact Artificial Intelligence can have on the world. He believes that Markov can be a leader in helping bring AI in a big way to make kitchens of the future much smarter, more intuitive and more fun to cook in.

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Brett Dibkey

VP of Brands and Strategy, Whirlpool

Brett Dibkey was recently named Vice President, Brand & Strategy in June, 2017. Brett’s accountabilities include leading our brand and digital marketing efforts, IoT strategy, consumer and shopper marketing/insights, and our consumer products and licensing businesses.

He was appointed to lead our Integrated Business Units, in May, 2012. Previously, he was General Manager for the North American Dishwashing Category at Whirlpool.

Prior to joining Whirlpool, Brett spent seven years at Pfizer where he worked in various strategy and business development functions.

Before assuming this role, Brett spent six years at a national consulting firm where he lead a variety of strategic growth engagements for large, multi-national clients, primarily in the manufacturing and financial services sectors.

Brett earned his MBA from The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

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Riley Eller

CTO, Unium; Director at Nokia Advanced Wireless Research Center

Riley is a respected technologist and renowned hacker with numerous industry accolades and high profile patents. Previously, Riley worked at Cenzic, inventing significant advancements in vulnerability analysis software, including “fuzzing,” one of the most important tools in security testing today. He was also part of the team that won the DEF CON challenge, the world’s most prestigious hacking competition, three times in a row, and he continues to be engaged in the hacker community as a speaker, thought leader and mentor.


Alex Evans

Senior Engineer, Hestan Smart Cooking

Alex Evans is a Senior Engineer at Hestan Smart Cooking where he works to bring consistent, restaurant-quality results to home cooks of all levels. Alex has a passion for Usable Design and, since joining in 2016, has collaborated closely with the Design and Product teams to break down complex cooking actions and present them as simple, actionable instructions for Cue users. Prior to his time there, Alex worked in the Digital Products organization at Amazon where he built applications for the Kindle Fire, Fire TV, and Android devices. In his free time, Alex enjoys biking, practicing yoga, and downhill skiing.


Gordon Foster

General Manager, evertron America Inc.

Gordon is the General Manager of evertron America Inc.  Headquartered in Japan, evertron is creating innovation in multiple industries including the food industry by applying electronic wave technology to influence the behavior of water molecules.   

Gordon has an engineering background and has spent most of his career in business development for the automotive alternative energy industry.  Currently, he is building a team to pursue marketing, development, and production of evertron technology for the North American market. 


Alexis Fox

CEO, Lighter


Alexis Fox is the CEO (Chief Empowerment Officer) at Lighter, a powerful platform that helps the world eat better. Lighter is powering the meal planning technology used by leading healthcare providers, world-class athletes, global visionaries and some of the most influential celebrities of our day. Fox has dedicated her life to fixing our broken food system. She has worked in the movement as an attorney, political leader and entrepreneur. She also spent three years as an adjunct Professor of Leadership at Emerson College.


Brian Frank

Founder, FTW Ventures

Brian Frank is the founder of FTW Ventures, an early-stage investment and advisory firm for leading Food + Tech startups, major corporations and top tier investment firms. He's an investor in Square Roots, Spoiler Alert, Proper Foods, Nomiku, Geltor and an advisor/mentor with Farmers Fridge, Dishcraft Robotics, Food-X, Techstars Farm-to-Fork, Food Tech Angels & Nutrition Capital Network.

He's appeared on Bloomberg West, been profiled in Edible Magazine, keynoted at the Fancy Food Show and has spoken at many major conferences on how technology will transform the Food System.

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Masa Fukata

Director, Game Changer Catapult, Panasonic

Masa Fukata was appointed as Director in Panasonic Canada in 2010 and managed and executed product and marketing strategy in Consumer Products Division.  He also led new business development projects for future growth opportunities at Panasonic Appliances Company since 2015.  Masa started internal innovation accelerator Game Changer Catapult for Panasonic in 2016, an initiative to transform ideas into reality to make the people’s wish through open innovation for a better life, a better world.

Masa also serves on the Board of Directors for in BeeEdge Co.,Ltd. a joint-venture business incubation company with Panasonic and Scrum Ventures LLC, a US-based venture capital firm.

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Linda Gilbert

Managing Director, Consumer Insights Division, BDS Analytics

Linda is a recognized expert on consumer marketing and market research with a specialization in products offering wellness benefits. She has often been described as bringing “the voice of the consumer” to business strategies.

She am the founder of two marketing research companies: HealthFocus International and EcoFocus Worldwide. She works with state, national, and multi-national companies linking consumer attitudes with product benefits to successfully meet the toughest brand and growth challenges.

Her experience includes research and consulting for the food and beverage companies Campbell's, Coca Cola, Danone, Kellogg’s, Kraft, Nestle, PepsiCo, and Unilever; the supplement/pharma businesses Centrum, Ross Labs, and Pfizer; the retailers GNC, Walmart, Wegmans, and Whole Foods; the American Heart Association, the American Dietetic Association; and more.

She was Director of the Rodale Press Test Kitchen for Prevention, Men’s Health, and other magazines for ten years. She has contributed to numerous cookbooks, and trained master chefs at Campbell’s on natural foods and cereal scientists at General Mills on ancient grains.

She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Food Science from the University of Arizona. She has long held interests in the culinary arts, functional nutrition and nutritional biochemistry.

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Merril Gilbert

Co-founder, TraceTrust

The catalyst of creative development and investment for everything food and beverage, Merril leverages 25 years of experience to guide companies from development to launch of innovative new products, establish brand identity, and grow categories. Always at the forefront of emerging trends on the future of food, technology, health and wellness, the recent expansion of legal Cannabis became the next frontier. As a leader and advocate for food safety and transparency, Merril is the co-founder of TraceTrust, and A True Dose™ seal of excellence, a third-party dose certification program, providing cannabis edible manufacturers with a validated dosing methodology to provide the highest quality products to their consumers and distribution partners.

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Nathan Gilliland

CEO, Bellwether Coffee

Nathan is a veteran entrepreneur and leader in companies where technology meets sustainability. Nathan is currently CEO of Bellwether Coffee, which is transforming the value chain of coffee, from farm to cup.

Bellwether provides hardware and software to coffee retailers to not just make better coffee, but to make coffee better.

He also Chairs the investment committee of Evok Innovations, a venture fund investing in clean technologies targeting the oil & gas industries. Previously, he was CEO of General Fusion, and was also President and co-founder of Harvest Power, the nation’s leading organic waste to energy company.

Prior to Harvest Power, Nathan was an EVP at Bain Capital and started his career at Bain & Company.


Amy Gross

Founder and CEO, VineSleuth


Amy Gross doesn’t like being told what to like or not like... And hates to see others bullied in the same way. She is the Founder and CEO of VineSleuth/ Wine4.Me, the only company which uses sensory science and AI to help people discover what THEY like.

Amy’s work with VineSleuth has been noted in the New York Times, Fortune, CNN, and Better Homes and Gardens. She has keynoted for live audiences as large as 12,000, and presented on AI and wine at trade conferences in the US, Italy and Spain.


Dana Gunders

Next Course, LLC

Dana is a leading national expert on food waste reduction and was deemed "the woman who helped start the waste-free movement" by Consumer Reports. For almost a decade, she was a Senior Scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and one of the first to bring to light just how much food is wasted across the country through her 2012 report Wasted: How America is Losing Up to 40% of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill.

Dana is the author of Waste Free Kitchen Handbook, has testified in Congress, and is behind the Save the Food campaign (a national media campaign that has generated over $60M in donated media to date). Dana’s work to reduce food waste has been covered on CNN, NBC, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, NPR, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Dr. Oz and many other outlets. After leaving NRDC in January 2018, Dana now advises companies and others on food waste reduction via her new business, Next Course LLC. When not worrying about it professionally, she spends far too much time trying to get her two small children to throw less food on the floor.


Richard Gunther

Editor, Digital Media Zone

Richard Gunther is a Technology Experience Consultant and the Editor of The Digital Media Zone. He hosts Home: On, a podcast about DIY smart home technology. Richard looks at products through an experience lens, always seeking the right mix of utility and delight.

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John Ha

CEO, Bear Robotics

John Ha is the CEO of Bear Robotics, Inc.  During his tenure, he has overseen the development of an AI-driven robot able to perform running and bussing tasks in a restaurant.  Before this role, he was a Senior Software Engineer and Technical Lead at Google and Adjunct Professor at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST).  He holds a B.S. in Computer Science and Engineering from Seoul National University and Ph.D. in Computer Science from The University of Texas at Austin.

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Scott Heimendinger

Technical Director, Modernist Cuisine

Scott Heimendinger is the technical director at Modernist Cuisine. Prior to joining the Modernist Cuisine team, Scott spent his career in the software industry, working for Microsoft and IBM. During that time, his passion for food and technology led him to create, a blog on which he explores at-home adaptations of Modernist cooking techniques using inexpensive, often improvised equipment. Scott was also the co-founder of Sansaire, a record-setting sous-vide circulator funded through Kickstarter. In 2012, Forbes included Scott in their honorable “30 Under 30” list in the Food & Wine category.

As technical director at Modernist Cuisine, Scott oversees all projects that include the intersection of technology, photography, and film. He is heavily involved with photoshoots for Modernist Cuisine Gallery, whether it be working with lasers, helping to build robots, or customizing camera rigs to capture unique views of food. Scott’s background in the software industry along with his passion for innovative cooking make him a go-to resource for all things technical in the kitchen and behind the camera.

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Pablos Holman


Pablos is a futurist, inventor, and notorious hacker with a unique view into breaking and building new technologies.

Pablos is consulting worldwide on invention and design projects that assimilate new technologies – making wild ideas a bit more practical and vice versa. He helped create the world’s smallest PC; 3D printers at Makerbot; spaceships with Jeff Bezos; artificial intelligence agent systems; and the Hackerbot, a Wi-Fi seeking robot.

Currently, Pablos is working for Nathan Myhrvold at the Intellectual Ventures Laboratory where a wide variety of futuristic invention projects are underway including a fission reactor powered by nuclear waste; a machine to suppress hurricanes; a system to reverse global warming; and a device that can shoot mosquitoes out of the sky with lasers to help eradicate malaria.


Eli Holzman

Founder & CEO, The Intellectual Property Corporation

Eli Holzman is the founder and CEO of The Intellectual Property Corporation. He is also the co-founder of Project Foodie, a revolutionary app that offers real-time cooking instruction and food-related content.

He began his career in 1996 in the feature film department at Miramax Films, where he co-founded the company’s television department. He helped to create the documentary series Project Greenlight and created the multi-Emmy nominated hit Project Runway.

Holzman left Miramax in 2005 to run Ashton Kutcher's 20th Century Fox-based Katalyst Films where he developed the CW series Beauty & the Geek and successfully developed the company's inaugural slate in scripted television. As an independent producer Holzman set up, created and/or produced scripted and reality pilots and series for both network and cable (the CW reality series Stylista; the Bravo reality series Work of Art; ABC Family scripted pilot Longevity; G4's first reality series, The Block; and the Paramount feature film, Fix). 

Outside of television, Holzman created and produced the frozen novelty QBees (rice crispy treats & brownies filled with ice cream). And he is a founding and managing partner of The Meatball Shop a restaurant concept with six locations in New York City. Holzman has been nominated for the Emmy Award 10 times and nominated for the Producers Guild Award 3 times. He and his colleagues won back-to-back Outstanding Reality Program Emmys for Undercover Boss in 2012 and 2013.

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Rishi Israni

Founder & CEO, Zimplistic

Rishi Israni is the Founder and CEO of Zimplistic Inventions, a company that wants to make cooking intelligent, healthy and convenient with Rotimatic-- the world’s first IoT and AI enabled flatbread making kitchen robot that measures, kneads, rolls, cooks and puffs flatbreads in 90 seconds. The Rotimatic is now in 40,000 homes in 19 markets all over the world. He also wrote the first software for Rotimatic and was pivotal in making the machine more intelligent by adding IoT and AI features during the invention process. Rishi has been with Rotimatic since 2010 and has grown the company to a staff of over 100 and raised over $45M in funding, including $30M in their latest Series C round.

Rishi is an agile problem solver and thrives on finding deep-tech solutions. Prior to Zimplistic, Rishi founded TenCube, a mobile security company driven to leverage on technology to solve the problem of losing a phone. The technology was a combination of the ‘find my iPhone’ feature and Dropbox. TenCube was later acquired by McAfee.

Rishi draws from his varied experiences as an entrepreneur and delivers insights that are both inspiring and interesting. Connecting the dots between technology, health, wellness and innovation, he is constantly looking to add value to his creations. He believes health is the largest contributor to a good life and wants to do all he can through technology for people to achieve this and thrive.


Andrew Ive

Founder, Big Idea Ventures

Andrew founded Big Idea Ventures and is responsible for investing and building companies in the alternative protein and plant based sectors. Andrew recently stepped down as the MD of Food-X, after building it to become the #1 Global Food Innovation Accelerator (Fast Company) to focus on Big Idea Ventures. He has invested in more seed and pre-seed food companies than any other investor worldwide. Andrew is P&G brand management trained, & while in his Harvard Business School dorm room, launched his first hardware product line into major US retailers.

In his second Silicon Valley based company, Andrew raised $20M+ from VCs to focus on the data challenge between retailers and vendors. Serial founder raising and exiting multiple businesses, Andrew serves on the Advisory Board for Tufts Nutrition Council, Friedman School Entrepreneurship Advisor.


Jon Jenkins

Director of Technology, Hestan Smart Cooking

Jon has been a startup and technology addict for more than 20 years.  He spent close to a decade at Amazon working on everything from the e-commerce website, to developer tools, to web services, to the launch of the Kindle Fire tablet.  In need of more adventure he moved to San Francisco to become the head of engineering at Pinterest where he grew the tech team fivefold in two years.  In 2014 Jon founded Meld which joined forces with Hestan Smart Cooking in 2015 to bring the concept of guided cooking to home cooks.  In his current role as Director of Technology he focuses on the science of cooking and travels the world to establish strategic partnerships between Hestan Smart Cooking and other companies.


Adam Justice

Founder & CEO, ConnectSense

Adam Justice is the founder and CEO of ConnectSense. ConnectSense provides complete and cost-effective solutions for OEMs to get their smart home devices to market quickly. In addition to building their own products, the ConnectSense team has helped noteworthy brands such as Moen, Schlage, and more, release innovative, smart home products to the IoT marketplace.

Adam and the team at ConnectSense have extensive experiences building smart home products and integrating them with major platforms such as Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Google Assistant. Adam is an expert on the Internet of Things and has spoken on the topic at many conferences across the nation, including SxSW, IoT Influencers Summit, and Internet of Things World.


Akihisa Kaneko

Leader of Smart Kitchen Group, Cookpad Inc.

Akihisa is currently the Group Leader of Smart Kitchen Group at Cookpad Inc., where he is launching a Smart Kitchen service called "OiCy" for making daily cooking enjoyable. 
In 2004, Akihisa Joined Sony Corp. as a software engineer and developed new camera functions , mobile apps on tablet device, etc. In 2011, he went to Stanford University as a visiting scholar to study behavior design. And after a year, he took part in product concept and business development.

With the passion to fulfill his vision of smart kitchen combined with technology, he joined Cookpad Inc. in 2018.

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Hironao Kato

CTO, OpenMeals

Hironao Kato is the CTO at OpenMeals.
He is a graduate of Parsons School for Design. His creative career is very unique, started from a product designer at architecture design farm in NY, founding RepRap Community Japan which is well known as 3D printer community, leading design and edge technologies at MagnaRecta,Inc, and teaching at Tokyo University of Arts as the only national art university in Japan. He has been exploring the future of digitized human six senses which was presented TEDxuTokyo. Since joining OpenMeals project, he is leading both hardware and software for food technology in the OpenMeals project. 


David Kraft

Head of Innovation, Xinova

David Kraft is Xinova's global head of innovation services, where he developed the company’s food and agriculture practice. His collaborations with food brands span the globe, as he works to deploy innovative projects to start-ups and Fortune 500 firms.

In addition to presenting an international keynote on the future of global agriculture, David's experience spans over 15 years in program management of software development and technology commercialization. His expertise helps deliver global sustainable platforms for ongoing food innovation.


Christie Lagally

Founder & CEO, Seattle Food Tech

Christie Lagally is the founder and CEO of Seattle Food Tech, a plant-based meat production company designing and building automated, 'smart' production facilities to make delicious plant-based chicken products at low-cost and high volumes.

Christie is a mechanical engineer and holder of five patents in manufacturing technology. She spent much of her career in the aerospace industry working on commercial airplanes and spacecraft in testing, design, and manufacturing, and she served as the project manager for a $10M R&D effort for the 777X wing manufacturing unit at Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Until January 2018, Christie served as a Senior Scientist for the Good Food Institute uncovering the technical barriers in the development of plant-based meat and clean meat (i.e. cultured meat).

Christie holds Bachelor's degrees in Organizational Psychology and Mechanical Engineering and a Master’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering. She is also an active member of the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington, a co-founder of the Humane Voters of Washington (a political action committee) and serves as a Washington State Council Member for the Humane Society of the United States.


Catherine Lamb

Director of Community and Content, Smart Kitchen Summit

Catherine Lamb has spent years as a food writer, baker, farmer, social media consultant, and marketing manager. She received a Masters in the Anthropology of Food from SOAS, University of London, where she wrote her dissertation on public perceptions of lab-grown meat. While there she discovered a passion for the burgeoning field of food technology and found her way to Seattle, where she is the Director of Community and Content for the Smart Kitchen Summit and its sister website The Spoon. She loves gardening (poorly), trying new recipes, and meeting new dogs. 


Dr. Matthew Lange

Principal Investigator & Director, IC-FOODS

Dr. Lange is the Principal Investigator and Director of IC-FOODS, the International Center and Consortium for Food Ontology, Operability, Data, and Semantics ( at UC Davis. IC-FOODS is dedicated to building global computable infrastructure for the Internet of Food and the Semantic Web of Food.


Tal Lapidot

Founder & CEO, Silo

Tal is the Founder and CEO of Silo, a company developing a remarkably simple new way to take better care of your food. Silo will revolutionize the kitchen in the same way the refrigerator did, so seamlessly and significantly that we’ll all wonder how we ever lived without it.

Tal holds a Master's degree in System and Mechanical Engineering from the Technion (Israel Institute of Technology). He has more than a decade of hands-on R&D and product development experience in military technology, medical devices, and food industry hardware.

Tal has won two awards for creative ingenuity for products whose design he led. Recently, he led the design of the “Exo Inhaler” for syqe medical – The first in the world metered-dose cannabis inhaler which is now being used at RAMBAM hospital in Haifa, Israel.

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Mike Lee

Founder, Future Market

Mike Lee is the founder of The Future Market, a futurist food lab that explores what our food system could look like in the next 5-25 years through pop-up experiences and conceptual product prototypes. Mike is also co-founder of Alpha Food Labs, an Innovation Lab for next-gen food startups and corporations building products that are better for by People, Planet, and Profit.

Mike’s experience in food design & innovation has covered a wide range over the past 11 years. Prior to Alpha Food Labs & The Future Market, Mike led product development initiatives on the Innovation & New Ventures team at Chobani. At Chobani, Mike focused on building out the Greek Yogurt maker’s savory platform and drove the product design process from research, insights and ideation, to food, flavor and packaging development, and then finally to business planning and production. Mike also founded the Studiofeast underground supperclub, a sister organization to Studio Industries. Studiofeast creates unique dining experiences that use food as a medium to design experiences that range from the artful, to the educational, to the hedonistic. Mike is a frequent and influential speaker on food innovation and has been featured in numerous publications and conferences such as Esca Bona, PSFK, SXSW, Seeds & Chips, EXPO 2015 Milano, The Fancy Food Show, The National Restaurant Association’s Food Innovation Summit, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, FastCo Exist, CNBC, Edible Brooklyn, Food Navigator, and more. Mike is the grandson and son of Chinese restaurant owners in Detroit and was raised in those kitchens and dining rooms. He was trained in Business at the University of Michigan and Design at the Parsons School of Design. He now lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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CFO, Tyson Ventures

Tom is the Chief Financial Officer of Tyson New Ventures, the corporate venture capital division of Tyson Foods. In this role, he is responsible for sourcing investment, valuing and monitoring the portfolio. Prior to joining Tyson, Tom was the Chief Financial and Compliance Officer at Advance Vixeid Partners, a growth equity firm affiliated with Advance Publications. Prior to AVP, Tom was the Chief Financial and Compliance Officer at RedBird Capital Partners, Senior Vice President of Finance at The Electrum Group, and the Chief Financial and Compliance Officer at Augusta Columbia Capital Group.

Tom has fourteen years of experience in alternative asset management and received a BS in Accountancy from Villanova University. He is a Certified Public Accountant and holds the Chartered Global Management Accountant designation from the AICPA. Tom is a member of the AICPA, the New York State Society of CPA's and serves on the State Society's Private Equity and Venture Capital Committee.


Malachy Moynihan

Senior VP for Global Design & Engineering, Flex


Malachy Moynihan is the Senior Vice President for Global Design and Engineering at Flex, the global leader in Sketch-to-Scale development to distribution company managing several thousand engineers developing products for medical, automotive, consumer and industrial customers worldwide. He has worked on products as diverse as the worlds first connected cold-press juicer (Juicero, where he was the Chief Product Officer managing all engineering, manufacturing, product management and design), the most successful voice assistant, Echo and the leading streaming platform, FireTV (Amazon - Vice President for Lab126) and drove the amazing growth of the connected home with the Linksys WiFi products (Cisco).

He began his career in high-tech at Apple, where he worked for many years on their consumer product lines. He has been a significant contributor to the popularization of consumer technologies through his frequent interviews, presentations and tradeshows. He is currently an advisor to several start-up companies focused on wireless technology, medical devices and engineering services. Malachy holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from the National University of Ireland and has studied business and finance at the National University of Ireland and INSEAD, France. He lives in San Jose with his wife and son.


Stephanie Naegeli

Global Director of Marketing & Innovation, Nestlé

Stephanie is Global Director Marketing and Innovation Food and founder of Nestlé’s Silicon Valley Innovation Outpost. This team was established in 2013 to identify new disruptive ways to engage with consumers and develop digitally-enabled services and novel business models. In this role Stephanie has forged partnerships with members of the Silicon Valley community including startups, venture capitalists and thought leaders alike. Her work was honored in 2016, as she was named among Ad Age’s “40 Under 40”. Stephanie moved from Switzerland, her country of origin, to California to be closer to the Silicon Valley innovation ecosystem and work directly with entrepreneurs. Before living in California Stephanie spent the last 5 years working for Nestlé in Europe. During this period she had different roles and responsibilities in marketing, including brand management for brands like Nescafé and Nesquik in Switzerland as well as in Germany.


Carmen Palafox

Partner, Make in L.A.


Carmen is an Investment Partner at, an accelerator and venture capital fund that invests  in technology-enabled hardware, e.g., Internet of Things, robotics, wearables, Industry 4.0, frontier tech. Carmen’s focus at is coaching entrepreneurs on finance and strategic planning; and managing venture fund operations including developing investor relations. She was formerly Vice President at Dimensional Fund Advisors, where she scaled operations into new markets including Latin America, Canada, and Europe.

Carmen has an MBA from Berkeley-Haas, an MA in sports management from USF, and a BA in economics from USC. She is a board member of CCEO YouthBuild, on the advisory board at Santa Monica City College’s Business Department and Insikt, a venture capital backed Fintech startup. She chairs the NextGen Latino's initiative for the LA Latino Chamber of Commerce and is an Aspen Institute Ricardo Salinas Scholar.

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Christopher Payne

COO, DoorDash

Christopher Payne is the Chief Operating Officer at DoorDash, a technology company that connects customers with their favorite local and national businesses in more than 850 cities across the United States and Canada. Starting with restaurants, DoorDash is building the infrastructure and logistics platform to allow any local merchant to deliver their merchandise and expand their business. 

Prior to joining DoorDash in January, 2016, Christopher led the North American business at eBay, ran the development of MSN Search (now Bing) and mapping (Virtual Earth) for Microsoft, and led Amazon's expansion beyond books into video, electronics, wireless, PCs, and software. He holds a B.A. in US History from Dartmouth College.

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Victor Penev

Founder & CEO, Edamam

Victor Penev is a serial entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of Edamam. He is also a mentor and investor in food technology startups and advises early stage entrepreneurs. Previous to Edamam, Victor co-founded and sold Bulgaria’s largest Internet Company, NetInfo BG. Victor Penev also ran the international digital business of Playboy Enterprises, and was instrumental in starting the digital marketing efforts of BMG and in creating key e-commerce capability for Bertelsmann’s book clubs. Victor holds a MBA from Stanford.

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Michela Petronio

Vice President, Global Discovery Center at Barilla + Director, Blu1877

Michela Petronio is Vice President of the Global Discovery Center at Barilla and Director of Blu1877 the Corporate Venture Capital . She drives the long term research project portfolio coordinating global collaborative networks . She has a deep experience of most of the Food Technologies, Consumer understanding, Design Thinking, Advanced Laboratories, Nutrition, contributing to new products and business models , through proprietary developments and external alliances.

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John Pleasants

CEO, Brava

John is a long-time Silicon Valley executive and a veteran of the consumer technology industry.  He was CEO of Ticketmaster and its subsidiaries from 1999-2005, as both a public company and a leading division of IAC/InterActiveCorp.  After a stint as COO of Electronic Arts, he joined Brava co-founder Dan Yue at Playdom, where John served as CEO and oversaw Playdom's 2010 acquisition by Disney.  There, he served as Co-President of Disney Interactive Media Group, spearheading the development and launch of Disney Infinity and achieving the division's first-ever multi-quarter profitability.  He joins Brava from Samsung, where he was EVP of Media Solutions.

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David Rabie

CEO, Tovala

David is the co-founder and CEO of Tovala - a company that has built a smart oven and tandem meal service that allow you to enjoy fresh, healthy and home-delivered meals at the touch of a button.

David launched Tovala while earning his MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. At Booth, David worked part-time for the venture firm, Foundation Capital, ran the entrepreneurship club on campus and spent his summer interning at Google. Prior to Booth, David co-founded the mobile app Draftpedia - the first sports encyclopedia built exclusively for mobile. David’s first taste for entrepreneurship came before that, when he was responsible for running a bi-coastal chain of frozen yogurt stores. He trained for that role by spending two years working directly under the CEO of the Veggie Grill – the largest chain of vegan restaurants in the country.

David graduated with high honors from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 2009 with a B.A. in History. He's spent time living in China, and studying in London and Madrid. He speaks four languages, is an avid NY Jets and Los Angeles Lakers fan and has been passionate about eating right since attending a health retreat at age 18. He lives in Lincoln Park with his wife, Jessica, who he met at Chicago Booth.


Raja Ramachandran


Raja is a the co-founder of; a technology company creating the blockchain of food to help the food supply chain achieve transparency, efficiency and improved value to solve problems around traceability, food safety, quality assurance, regulatory compliance. Raja, a serial entrepreneur, was most recently on the founding team and headed product development at R3CEV, the world’s largest financial institutions consortium, to build and deploy distributed ledger and blockchain solutions. Raja has had 20-year career working at Bank of America, Citi, Silicon Valley Bank and Wells Fargo. Raja is passionate about connected technologies and how they can be utilized to revolutionize ways to create a more sustainable and healthier food business.


Shannon Ren

Engineer, Hestan Smart Cooking

An engineer at Hestan Smart Cooking, Shannon Ren harnesses real time data to help users become better cooks. Prior to this, she studied at the University of Washington where she led the computer science teaching assistant program. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her bike, traveling, and playing with dogs.

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Benton Richardson

Principal, Worldwide Business Development, Amazon Dash

Benton Richardson is Principal, Worldwide Business Development at Amazon, where he leads business development for Dash Replenishment Service (DRS), Amazon’s automatic re-ordering service designed to automatically resupply the smart home. He works with device manufacturers globally across a range of industry verticals to develop and launch connected devices that provide low-to-no-friction replenishment experiences for end customers. Prior to Amazon, Benton held business development leadership roles within the B2B ecommerce, education-technology, virtual world, and social media sectors. He is also a passionate entrepreneur, having founded, built and sold a wine-related venture to a major wine retailer in 2004.

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Scott Riefler

VP of Science, Tarukino

Scott is currently VP Science for Tarukino, a leader of innovation, materials development and edible product forms within the cannabis space. He joined Tarukino in June of 2017, he and his team developed a key water born platform for cannabinoid oils for the edible industry. Previously he was a member of TIC GUMS leadership Team, a privately held producer of hydrocolloids (gums) systems for the food, nutriceutical and industrial markets.

During his tenure at TIC Gums Scott’s roles included VP of Sales, VP of Science and Technology and President. He led TIC through significant growth cycles and related challenges. Scott joined TIC in 2000 after spending twenty years in the aerospace industry with industry leader, American Cyanamid/Cytec Industries, serving the aircraft industry with structural adhesives and advanced composite systems. After his role of Global Technical Director, he became involved in mergers and acquisitions, assisting industry consolidation.

He has spent the past 20 years translating his experience and applying it to food system innovation, literally bringing rocket science into the kitchen! Scott resides with his wife Diana in the Seattle area. He holds a BS in chemistry and is a Certified Food Scientist. Scott is an active member of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), National Association of Flavor and Food-Ingredients (NAFFS), Vistage and FEMA. He holds a BS degree in Chemistry awarded in 1979 from St. Bonaventure Univ. Scott has presented at numerous industry and university forums, short courses and classes.


Eric Rivera

Chef/Owner, Eric Rivera Cooks

Olympia, Washington, native Eric Rivera started his career in business. But cooking was always his passion, and he wasn’t afraid to hustle to get where he is today.

His journey to Eric Rivera Cooks, A Restaurant Group, has taken many noteworthy twists and turns, including a three-plus year stint at Alinea restaurant in Chicago, where he was Director of Culinary Research Operations working alongside chef-owner Grant Achatz. After that he moved on to Seattle’s Huxley Wallace Collective, where he opened the Thompson Hotel Seattle, plus four restaurants, in just one year.

Now, with his own restaurant group, Eric plays to his guests’ sense of discovery. “It’s an exploration of the whole flavor spectrum, where you can go from sweet to savory to sour in one bite,” he says. “We have all these great local ingredients at our disposal, and we’ll be highlighting flavors of the Pacific Northwest – but in a way that will feel fresh an

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Brita Rosenheim

Partner, Better Food Ventures

Brita brings 15 years of investment, strategy and M&A experience within the food and food tech verticals. She is recognized as an expert on the food tech ecosystem and works with start-ups, entrepreneurs, and institutions. Brita’s comprehensive Food Tech & Media Landscape map and analysis on the sector is regularly used by participants in the space to understand the quickly evolving ecosystem.

Before joining Better Food Ventures, Brita founded the food tech advisory firm Rosenheim Advisors, and previously was an investment banker focused on the consumer and media industries at ThinkEquity Partners, SG Cowen & Co. and Robertson Stephens.



Wilson Rothman


Wilson is the Personal Technology Editor for the Wall Street Journal. In the past, he was an editor at NBC News and Gizmodo, and covered tech for Time, the New York Times and others. When not editing his three columnists, he's on the hunt for the latest cooking technology to review.


Yuni Sameshima

Co-founder & CEO, Chicory

Yuni Sameshima is the Co-Founder and CEO of Chicory, the NYC-based technology company that makes recipes shoppable and uses artificial intelligence (AI) to create digital grocery shopping experiences. Under Yuni’s leadership, Chicory has grown to reach over 80 million unique viewers per month, and their clients and partners include Time Inc., Peapod, and many more.

Yuni has spoken globally about grocery trends and ecommerce. Prior to founding Chicory, he worked in the food and venture space at Chobani and ff Venture Capital. He graduated from Colgate University with a Bachelor of Arts in Molecular Biology and speaks fluent Japanese.


Luke Saunders

Founder & CEO, Farmer’s Fridge

Luke Saunders is the founder and CEO of Farmer’s Fridge, a rapidly growing network of 180+ automated smart Fridges stocked with chef-curated, restaurant-quality salads, sandwiches, bowls and snacks. A

n entrepreneur at heart, Luke ran his first business, Bears’ Bikes, as an undergraduate at Washington University in St. Louis while majoring in International Studies. Shortly after graduating, Luke headed to New York to run a small family business focused on manufacturing specialty industrial lubricants. He later relocated to Michigan while his wife attended law school and took a role as a traveling salesman.

Regularly challenged by finding fresh food on the road, Luke arrived at the concept for Farmer’s Fridge: good health starts with what we eat and eating well shouldn’t be hard. Drawing on his entrepreneurial experience, Luke set out to build a disruptive yet simple way to make fresh, healthy food as accessible as a candy bar.

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Deepak Sekar

Founder and CEO, Chowbotics

Dr. Deepak Sekar is the Founder and CEO of Chowbotics, a company that makes food preparation fun by automating tedious, repetitive tasks with robotics. Having started Chowbotics in 2014, Deepak has grown it to 30 employees in 3 countries and raised $8.5M of funding from Techstars Ventures, Foundry Group, Silicon Valley Bank, and the Geekdom Fund.

Prior to Chowbotics, Deepak served as a Director at Rambus and as a Chief Scientist at MonolithIC 3D Inc. He is an inventor of more than 125 patents, of which a dozen are used in every iPhone. Dr. Sekar received his B. Tech from IIT Madras in 2003, MS from Georgia Tech in 2005, and PhD from Georgia Tech in 2007. He enjoys learning about nutrition, food, and public health in his spare time and has a nutrition therapist diploma.

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Cliff Sharples

Co-founder & Co-CEO, Fexy Media

Cliff Sharples is an innovative technologist, with over 20 years experience in creating and leading consumer Internet companies, as well as founding several venture-backed start-ups. Cliff holds a B.S. degree in Information Systems from Carnegie Mellon University and a Masters in Management degree from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Business at Northwestern Universit.

iff’s favorite thing include road trips to the beach and beyond, skiing, mountaineering, and spending time with his wife Lisa, their five children, three dogs and bird. un facts: e loves latte art, dangling his feet over high places around the world, and gardening and somehow successfully grows a collection of tropical plants, including banana trees, at his home in the NW.


Michelle Smart

VP of Partner Operations, ezCater

Michelle Smart is VP of Partner Operations at ezCater, the only nationwide marketplace for business catering. Michelle has over 25 years of experience building strong relationships and growing talented teams. She held several SVP roles during her two-decade career at RR Donnelley.

Most recently as SVP of Global Business Solutions, Michelle led the business architecture and operations to design and grow a print management marketplace connecting Fortune 1000 print buyers with thousands of printing partners. Michelle has a B.S. in Business Studies in Organizational Leadership from Southern New Hampshire University.


Shawn Stover

VP of SmartHome Solutions, GE Appliances

Shawn Stover was appointed Vice President of SmartHome Solutions in December 2017. Shawn leads the end to end growth and profitability of the connected product offering and owns the connected strategy for the future success of the company. Previous to this role, Shawn held multiple leadership roles in Sales, Marketing and Product Management with GE Appliances. GE Appliances, a Haier company, is a leader in WiFi-connected appliance technology, making owners’ lives easier while improving their daily routines. Shawn is passionate about thoughtful innovation and bringing real value to their product owners. He and his team work diligently to develop an ecosystem of products and partners that work together to provide their owners with the choice and convenience they desire.

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Steve Svajian

Co-founder & CEO, Anova Culinary

Steve Svajian is the Co-Founder and CEO of Anova Culinary, the world’s leading provider of smart kitchen appliances, helping people cook restaurant quality meals in the comfort of their own homes. Steve is passionate about the smart kitchen of the future and believes that all kitchen devices should be accessible, affordable and connected in a meaningful way to help people cook like pros, every day.

A talented technology entrepreneur and marketing executive, Steve has spent nearly 20 years launching and establishing companies from creation through acquisition. Steve’s ability to define values that build mission-driven organizations, assess product-market fit, and scale end-user demand have allowed him to consistently help his teams and products evolve. Steve holds a bachelor's degree from Tufts University and a Juris Doctorate from the College of William and Mary Marshall-Wythe Law School.

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Hirotaka Tanaka

Director, SIGMAXYZ Inc.

As a continuation of his successful career at Panasonic and McKinsey, he joined Sigmaxyz in January 2017. Hirotaka is an expert in growth strategy, new business development, M & A, implementation and negotiation and other areas that span multiple industries, such as in high-tech, manufacturing, telecommunications. His goal is to define in a clear way, how Japan should grow in cooking space, and to help it evolve into a completely new industry.

Hirotaka has supported business transformations at multiple companies and his attention was caught by lifestyle and business that grows and evolves together with technology. While working together with clients he has visited multiple companies and exhibitions in Japan, USA, Europe etc. and observed the newest trends and ideas. He found smart home promising, and especially smart kitchen has caught his eye.

His focus is not only on making things smart, but also investigating and catching the way how "cooking" & "food", which are very important topics in our lives, will change. That is why he started "Smart Kitchen Summit Japan".

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Ashlee Clark Thompson

Editor, CNET

Ashlee spent time as a newspaper reporter, AmeriCorps VISTA and an employee at a healthcare company before she landed at CNET. She loves to eat, write and watch "Golden Girls" (preferably all three at the same time). The first two hobbies help her out as an appliance reviewer. The last one makes her an asset to trivia teams. Ashlee also created the blog,, where she writes about casual dining in Louisville, Ky.


Bruce Thompson


Bruce Thompson’s career is the convergence of two passions, the built environment and the digital revolution. Upon completion of graduate school, Thompson embarked on a 20-year career in the global technology industry in various corporate development roles.

Following two successful start-up exits, Thompson and his family migrated back to Michigan to start what would become URBANEER and today serves as its CEO. URBANEER is a compact living innovation working to help deliver next-gen living spaces that integrate the physical and digital worlds. After 17 moves to 5 states and 3 countries in 33 years, Thompson and his wife Brenda live in an URBANEER prototype home in Grand Rapids, Michigan that is a living lab for flexible space and smart home innovation.


Matt Van Horn

Co-founder & CEO, June

Matt is the co-founder & CEO at June. Previously Matt was the VP of business for Path, where he ran business operations and started the Path platform. Before Path he ran business development for Digg, where he led partnerships and started the publisher Digg button program. Matt also co-founded Zimride (well-known now as Lyft), the San Francisco based transportation company.

Matt is a University of Arizona alum, where he was Apple’s higher education marketer for the school. Today he lives in San Francisco with his wife Lauren and their two daughters.

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Christofer von Nagel

President & CEO, BSH Home Appliances Corporation

A seasoned leader with more than 27 years of experience within BSH, Christofer von Nagel is responsible for driving the company’s growth and managing business operations in North America. He oversees sales, marketing and service, all with a keen ability to transform ambitious goals into outstanding achievements. His work has guided Gaggenau, Thermador and Bosch to new heights in sales and profitability.

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Erik Wallin

Co-founder & CMO, Northfork

Erik Wallin is the CMO and co-founder of Northfork. Prior to being part of the founding team at Northfork, Erik was CEO and co-founder of BagHitch, a P2P transportation service, as the front runner in P2P Erik was awarded the status of spokesperson for the sharing economy in Scandinavia.

Erik started his career as a marketeer within the grocery retail industry with various leading roles at Barilla, before making a move into sales, with roles at both Arla Foods and Danone. Erik has a Master in Business Administration from Uppsala University in Sweden.

Michael Wolf

Creator and Curator, Smart Kitchen Summit

Michael Wolf is the creator of the Smart Kitchen Summit, host of the Smart Kitchen Show podcast and founder of NextMarket Insights a research and advisory firm focused on the connected home. He decided to put this conference together because he is fascinated by how technology will change the way we cook, eat and live. Mike has been advising companies large and small in the connected home, consumer technology and Internet of Things market verticals for over 15 years, and today he helps clients have used his advisory services to assist with product development, go-to-market strategy, marketing and advertising, and mergers and acquisition. Linkedin/Twitter

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Cynthia Yeung

COO, Cafe-X

Cynthia Yeung is the COO of Cafe X, which delivers a superior customer experience that will set the standard for human-robot collaboration in hospitality, one cup of coffee at a time.

Her previous roles have taken her around the world: leading next-gen product for SoftBank Robotics; leading platform for CheckMate, a hospitality SaaS startup that was acquired in 2016; sailing on a ship to 13 countries to launch a social enterprise startup accelerator whose mentors included the Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former Google VP/White House CTO Megan Smith; and leading product partnerships for various Google Maps and Google [x] initiatives.

Cynthia graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Management and Technology program with degrees from both the Wharton School and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. She was a Benjamin Franklin Scholar and a Joseph Wharton Scholar.


Chris Young

Co-founder & CEO, ChefSteps

Chris Young is the CEO and cofounder of ChefSteps, the James Beard and Dieline award–winning smart-product company behind Joule Sous Vide—the smallest, most powerful sous vide tool on the planet. Controlled by a video-rich app created entirely in-house, Joule has been used to cook more than 1 million meals and is Cook’s Illustrated’s top choice among sous vide tools. Prior to ChefSteps,Young was the principal coauthor of the acclaimed and worldwide best-selling six-volume work Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking.

He was also the founding chef of Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck Experimental Kitchen, the secret culinary laboratory behind the innovative dishes served at one of the best restaurants in the world. Prior to becoming a chef, he completed degrees in theoretical mathematics and biochemistry.


Kevin Yu

Founder & CEO, SideChef

Kevin is a serial tech entrepreneur who relentlessly builds the experiences of the future. He is a unique breed of visionary, a two time TEDx speaker, cultivated by more than 8 years at the world’s leading gaming companies, with his mainstay at Blizzard Entertainment. From political reform to cooking to e-commerce to management, a deep understanding of gamification and original ideation enables Kevin to create highly engaging, systemically transformational, and extremely viral ventures.  

Kevin is currently in Shanghai spear-heading product development and international expansion of SideChef, a game-changing cooking app, named 'Best Apps of 2014' by USA TODAY, that reinvents the entire cooking experience. SideChef features a premiere mobile first community platform, combining interactive step-by-step design and user-generated content to bring cooking into the 21st century

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Iri Zohar

Founder & CEO, Freshub

A serial entrepreneur and innovator always at the forefront of technology, Meir (Iri) is a proven authority on startup strategy, business modeling and strategy execution. He has founded, led and completed the successful sale of Oridian (acquired by Ybrant) and eXelate (acquired by Nielsen) and has built Freshub to become the industry leader in the Smart Kitchen Commerce space.