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Bill Birgen

CEO, Soggy Food Sucks

Bill is a recent convert to the food space. In a previous life he was a system developer and annalist in the space and defense industries. Bill now uses his innovative problem solving experience to launch products focused on food delivery; specifically food quality and security.

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Peter Bodenheimer

Program Director, Food-X

Peter Bodenheimer started his career in the food business before moving to technology and early stage ventures. Since joining his first startup in Boston in the mid 1990’s he has focused on building products that drive businesses forward. Prior to joining SOSV, Peter served as the Entrepreneur-in-Residence for the Idea Village in New Orleans and as the COO of Plantbid, an early stage technology company in the Agtech space. Before that, Peter was a partner in and helped grow software development firm Flatstack and co-founded and ran Launch Pad Ignition, an accelerator based in New Orleans, LA where he worked with dozens of companies to help refine and grow their business.

In addition to his work at Food-X, Peter is fascinated by the potential of Blockchain as a technology, loves the challenge of a good poker game, and occasionally can be found behind a bar mixing up something interesting.

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Ali Bouzari

Chief Scientist - Pilot R&D

Ali is the Chief Science Officer and a Co-Founder of Pilot R&D. As a culinary scientist, he has the ability to translate complex scientific concepts and esoteric culinary ideas into language that is approachable and accessible. Ideation is an integral part of every Pilot endeavor, and Ali leverages his background in scientific research and development to help the Pilot team devise creative and concrete solutions to culinary obstacles. The Pilot team regularly calls upon Ali's expertise in ingredient functionality to develop techniques that enhance and streamline production processes without compromising flavor.

Ali began cooking in restaurant kitchens while studying biochemistry as an undergraduate. In 2011, he started teaching at the Culinary Institute of America while pursuing his Ph.D. in Food Biochemistry from the University of California, Davis. For his dissertation, Ali stayed true to his roots as a cook and collaborated with the Three Michelin Star French Laundry to study a uniquely culinary topic: cooking vegetables sous vide. This interaction jumpstarted his career as a consultant to the culinary industry, allowing him to work closely with some of the most innovative restaurants in the country, including working as the Culinary Scientist for the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, a position created to utilize Ali's unique skill set. Ali recently channeled his expertise in applying the universal principles of culinary science to all corners of the food industry in his first book, Ingredient: Unveiling the Essential Elements of Food, published by Ecco in 2016.

Ali has been honored on both Zagat's and Forbes' 30 Under 30 lists.

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Dochul Choi, Ph.D.

SVP, Global Business and Technology Strategy, Digital Appliances Business, Samsung Electronics Co

Dr. Dochul Choi, Senior Vice President for global business and technology strategy, at Samsung Electronics, is based in Samsung office in Pine Brook, New Jersey, USA. He oversees business growth opportunities and product development activities for Samsung’s HVAC and appliance business, including air conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines, cooking ranges and vacuum cleaners. He also provides strategic advice to business and R&D executives on future innovations and emerging technologies to achieve disruptive business goals.

Dr. Choi’s responsibilities also include government affairs, global standardization and regulatory activities as well as trade association activities for Samsung household appliance division. Dr Choi serves as the treasurer and board of director of AHAM (Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers in USA) and a Steering Committee Member of APPLiA (Home Appliance Association in Europe) and EPEE (European Partnership for Energy and the Environment).

Prior to his current position, he was the head of Samsung Home Appliance Research Center, and Chief Technology Officer of Digital Appliances Business Division. He was responsible for global product development activities, business development, and also commercialization of appliances and core components for the division.

Before joining Samsung in 2004, he was with United Technologies Research Center as a Research Fellow, conducting pioneering research in computer simulation and modelling for applications in military and civil aviation. During his UTC tenure, he served as an Industrial Fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He also worked at AVCO Research Laboratory, TEXTRON, as a Principal Research Scientist. Before coming to the US for the graduate study, he was a Senior Research Scientist in Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute in Seoul, Korea.

He earned his PhD and MS degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pennsylvania.

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Mark Drucker

VP of Product and Strategy at Drinkworks

As VP of Product and Strategy at Drinkworks, Marc is responsible for driving product strategy, design and development. He plays an integral role in the company’s path to effectively define and position the product’s value to consumers. Marc joined Drinkworks with over 15 years of experience across innovation, product management and business development roles, most recently serving as AB-InBev’s Global Director where he focused on ABI’s long-term innovation portfolio, advanced technologies and external partnerships.

Previously, he was General Manager of Newlogic, a consulting firm for innovation, portfolio management, consumer insights and product management. At Arthur D. Little, he re-launched and led their innovation lab for customers in the medical and consumer categories.

Marc has received more than 10 patents and multiple product awards. He has contributed to outlets like BusinessWeek, Innovation Magazine and US News & World Report. He has presented on innovation topics at various industry events and to the FDA, DARPA, Department of Defense, NIH and the Office of Veteran's Affairs.
Marc studied Software and BioTech Engineering at California Polytechnic State University (San Luis Obispo, Ca.), before earning his Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design from Art Center College (Pasadena, Ca.) and an MBA from Babson College (Wellesley, Ma.).

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Hamed Faridi

Chief Science Office, McCormick

A renowned food industry leader, Dr. Faridi heads a global team of 500+ scientists responsible for thought leadership, scientific research, product development, Health & Wellness, and sustainability to support the global businesses of the world’s largest flavor company -- McCormick and Company, Inc. Dr. Faridi is the voice of science for McCormick & Company and advises the company’s CEO, and senior executives on strategic corporate initiatives such as technology investment and potential M&As and serves on several business councils.  

Under his leadership, McCormick’s R&D program has been transformed and is rated by investors and global customers as one of the most innovative in the industry. Morningstar, a respected leader in investment research, wrote, “Under Hamed Faridi, McCormick’s research labs have become the best in the industry, in our opinion.”  Bear Stearns reported “For McCormick, perhaps the most sustainable growth driver beyond even acquisition and marketing is R&D”. His science-based approach to “Flavorful Healthy Eating” is recognized as a groundbreaking platform for improving public health. His vision led to the formation of the McCormick Science Institute (MSI) in 2006 as a research-driven organization to advance scientific understanding of the potential health benefits of culinary spices and herbs. This research prompted a close partnership with USDA, HHS and the White House to help in implementation of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. He was also featured on the cover of the December 2015 Packaging World magazine, an issue which recognizes McCormick as one of the most innovative Packaging R&D organizations in the industry.

 

In 2013, in partnership with IBM, he initiated the creation of an AI platform for food and flavor product development with the potential to change the course of the industry and enhance the universal eating experience of consumers around the world by tapping in on over 40 years of sensory, culinary, chemistry and scientific data collected by McCormick R&D scientists in 14 countries.

 

He has published six books and dozens of scientific articles in food science and technology and has been a guest lecturer at conferences and research institutions in 22 countries. He has also served on several boards of professional and trade associations in the U.S. and Europe. He was elected and served as president of the American Association of Cereal Chemists (AACCI) and the Flavor & Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA).

In addition, he has served on Advisory Councils of food science departments for four major universities. He is the recipient of numerous awards and was honored as a Fellow by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) in 2010 and the AACCI in 2011.  He is the recipient of Kansas State University 2013 Outstanding Alumni Award. In 2015, he received the Flavor Industry’s most coveted Richard L. Hall Distinguished Service Award for “his significant and lasting contributions to the flavor industry”. He received the 2016 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, given to “Americans in recognition for accomplishments in their field and inspired service to the nation”.  On September of 2017 he received the Ohio State University’s Harris Award for his lifetime of dedication to excellence in food science. Dr. Faridi received the Upwardly Global 2017 Outstanding Leadership Award that recognizes individuals who have advanced the promise of an interdependent world and global economy by championing immigrants and refugees.

 Dr. Faridi is on the Board of Trustees at Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) in Laurel, MD, and has served on the Board of Directors of the St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, Maryland (2005-12).

Prior to joining McCormick & Company in 1997, Dr. Faridi served on the faculty of Washington State University (1979-1983) and held R&D executive positions at Nabisco Food Group from 1983 to 1997 where he received several awards for innovation and business impact.   Dr. Faridi received his MS (1973) and Ph.D. (1975) both in food science from Kansas State University, and an MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University (1987). He is a Certified Food Scientist (CFS).

 

 

 

Dieter Fox

Dieter Fox

Senior Director of Robotics Research, NVIDIA

Dieter Fox is the senior director of robotics research at NVIDIA. His research is in robotics with strong connections to artificial intelligence, computer vision, and machine learning.

He is currently on partial leave from the University of Washington, where he is a professor in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. At UW, he also heads the UW Robotics and State Estimation Lab. From 2009 to 2011, he was director of the Intel Research Labs Seattle. Dieter obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Bonn, Germany.

He has published more than 200 technical papers and is the co-author of the textbook "Probabilistic Robotics." He is a Fellow of the IEEE and the AAAI, and he received several best paper awards at major robotics, AI, and computer vision conferences.

He was an editor of the IEEE Transactions on Robotics, program co-chair of the 2008 AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, and program chair of the 2013 Robotics: Science and Systems conference.

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Perumal Gandhi

Co-founder, Perfect Day

Perumal Gandhi is a co-founder of Perfect Day, a food company on a mission to create delicious animal-free dairy products, while leaving a kinder, greener footprint on the planet. Perumal
studied Biomedical Engineering at SUNY Stony Brook where he worked in the Rubinstein Lab to develop functional tissue engineering scaffolds for the medical industry. Prior to that, he
studied Biotechnology at the Sathyabama Institute of Science and Technology in Chennai, India, and worked as a research assistant for the Shrivastava Lab at IIT Bombay.
As a child, Perumal’s love for animals was fierce. Although he’d been raised eating meat, he decided to become vegetarian in sixth grade after learning about the mistreatment of chickens.
In high school he volunteered for a nonprofit dedicated to caring for Mumbai’s many street dogs. He was disheartened, though, to learn more about the vast numbers of animals harmed
by agriculture. After some soul searching, he transitioned to a vegan diet in order to make an even greater impact for the world’s animals.
The transition wasn’t easy. He found that he really missed cheese and dairy products. Thanks to a coincidental twist of fate, Perumal—by this time a graduate student—was connected with
fellow dairy lover and aspiring vegan, Ryan Pandya. The duo put their combined engineering backgrounds to work, embarking on a journey to discover how to create dairy using well-known
fermentation techniques. Together, Perumal and Ryan set out to create a company to revolutionize the dairy industry, and thus Perfect Day was born.
Five years later, Perumal and Ryan lead a diverse team of chefs, food developers, scientists, engineers, and storytellers who are working in harmony to make their dream of animal-free
dairy a reality. Named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in 2019, Perumal is pursuing his passion of helping as many animals as possible while making delicious food that does less damage to our
planet.

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Victoria Spadaro Grant

CTO, Barilla

Victoria is Barilla's Chief Research Development and Quality Officer and, in addition, she is the CEO of BLU1877, the VC arm of the Barilla Group. Victoria acts also as Board Member of Team Foods.

Vision, strategy and passion about Innovation are Victoria's hallmarks. she has been recognized with numerous Global awards for Innovation and creativity and she acts as mentor of innovative food and beverages start ups around the world.

Throughout her career, she has brought to the market over $5.5 billion in product innovation and $3 billion in business transformations.

Victoria received B.S. degrees in Mathematics, Computer Science and Food Engineering, a Master in Business Administration and Ph.D. in Food Engineering. She is fluent in 4 languages and over her 30-year career she has lived in more than 10 cities around the world, making her a globally minded leader.

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Joe Heitzeberg

CEO, Crowd Cow

Joe Heitzeberg is the CEO and co-founder of Crowd Cow. Crowd Cow's mission is to help people discover and access the highest quality craft meats, and to bring people together — farmers and consumers, families and friends. Prior to Crowd Cow, he was the co-founder and President of Madrona Venture Labs, the in-house startup incubator of Madrona Venture Group which produced venture-backed high tech startups including Mighty AI and ReplyYes. Before that, he was the co-founder and CEO of MediaPiston (acquired by UpWork in 2012, IPO in 2018) and Snapvine (acquired by WhitePages in 2008). Joe was raised in Seattle, graduated from the University of Washington and has a MBA from MIT.

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Stacey Higginbotham

Stacey on IoT

Stacey on IoT is a news publication covering the Internet of Things.

Stacey Higginbotham has been covering technology for major publications for 15 years. She is an expert and influencer when it comes to the internet of things and technology in general. She has a bi-monthly column on the smart home in PCMag called “Get Smart With Stacey.” Her work has appeared in Fortune (where she was Senior Editor), MIT Tech Review, Gigaom and Worth magazine. She is also a co-host on This Week in Google.

This site is a companion site to Stacey’s Internet of Things Podcast and her weekly newsletter Stacey Knows Things.

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Nick Holzherr

Samsung NEXT (Whisk)

Whisk helps turn food inspiration into meals on the table, through software that makes the process seamless for users.

Nick now leads Whisk at Samsung NEXT, Samsung’s software and innovation division. Before Whisk was acquired by Samsung in March 2019, Whisk had grown from a team of 2 to 32, integrating the world's largest food ecosystem players in the US, UK, Australia and Germany.

As a serial entrepreneur, Nick raised over $2m in VC funding to first found Whisk after pitching Whisk.com to Lord Sugar in the final of the BBC Apprentice 2012, where he achieved the series' best task-win record.

In 2017 Nick was awarded an honorary doctorate from Aston University. Nick and his businesses have been featured in leading publications including Newsweek, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The BBC and The Next Web.

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Larry W Jordan Jr.

Principal Engineering Manager (IoT), Microsoft

I am a coder, maker, musician, trained Escoffier Chef and a lover of Porsches. My passions include food production, sustainable agriculture and clean water for the World. Currently my technical work is in the Internet of Things focused on the connected products in the physical world and communications with these devices.


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Stefan Kalb

Stefan is the Co-Founder and CEO of Shelf Engine. Shelf Engine uses AI to do demand forecasting and guarantees profits for grocery stores. Stefan started his career in the food industry in 2009 when founding Molly’s, a healthy and delicious grab & go company. However, after growing Molly's to over 400 retail locations across the Pacific Northwest, Stefan discovered the problems of food waste first hand. He co-founded Shelf Engine in 2016 to help grocery stores reduce waste and increase sales.

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David Kay

Sr. Manager of Communications & Operations, Memphis Meatts

David Kay is the Senior Manager of Communications & Operations and first employee at Memphis Meats, a food company developing a way to produce real meat by growing animal cells without the need raise full animals. David leads the company's public relations strategy as well as its efforts to mobilize mission-driven supporters at both an institutional and grassroots level. He also helps develop and execute the company's broader communications, operations and policy strategies. Prior to joining Memphis Meats, David studied political science at Stanford University.


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Isabella Lane

Managing Director, Smarter Applications

Isabella Lane is a cofounder and Managing Director of Smarter Applications, maker of FridgeCam, a wireless camera that can retrofit into any fridge turning it into a smart fridge, uses its best before tracker to show you which items are about to expire.

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Shawn Lange

President, Lab2Fab (A Middleby Corporation)

Shawn Lange is a successful entrepreneur with more than 20 years of global experience in the automation industry. In his role as co-founder and CEO, Lange led L2F Inc. to #2 in Engineering and #237 overall on the 2016 Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing private companies. In October 2017, he successfully led the sale of the organization to The Middleby Corporation (NASDAQ: MIDD). 

Now, as Brand President of L2F, Shawn looks to help Middleby increase its lead as the driver of innovation in the food service industry. 

Lange is a graduate of Kettering University with both a B.S. Degree in Mechanical Engineering and a B.S. Degree in Electrical Engineering. He also received his Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering with a focus on robotics from Santa Clara University. 

Shawn is an adjunct lecturer at Santa Clara University and a board member of the school’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. In his spare time, he volunteers as a mentor for SCU’s California Program for Entrepreneurship and Silicon Valley’s Plug-n-Play incubator. Lange resides in Silicon Valley with his wife and two daughters.

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Robin Liss

CEO, Suvie

As Co-Founder and CEO of Suvie, Robin brings her deep experience from covering the appliance industry, reviewing appliances, and analyzing smart home products. Robin is the founder and former CEO of Reviewed.com, a leading consumer technology and home appliance review publication. She led Reviewed.com as a startup and sold it to USA TODAY in 2011 where she expanded Reviewed.com to the largest home appliance review site on the web.

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Ben McInnis

Senior Manager, Amazon Devices

Ben McInnis is a senior manager in Amazon’s Devices division where he oversees the Alexa Connect Kit program. Alexa Connect Kit, combines Amazon-managed cloud services with a hardware module and developer tools to simplify and accelerate the process of creating Alexa-compatible smart devices, increasing the selection and diversity of devices available to Alexa customers.

Prior to his current role, Ben held senior product, engineering, and user experience roles at Socrata, a big data and IoT SaaS company focused on the public sector. Before Socrata, Ben served in several product strategy roles at Microsoft. In his free time, Ben, a Seattle native, is an avid skier, hiker, and advocate for the nature and wildlife of the Pacific Northwest.

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Lisa McManus

Executive Editor, Tasting & Testing, America's Test Kitchen

Lisa McManus is executive editor of equipment testing and ingredient tasting at America's Test Kitchen, home of Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country magazines. She researches and writes about kitchen gear and food, and she’s the on-screen Gadget Guru for America’s Test Kitchen. Lisa joined America’s Test Kitchen in 2006, after working as a newspaper food editor and a magazine and newspaper journalist in Boston, New York, and Palo Alto, California. She is a graduate of Brown University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

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Dr. Markus Miele

Markus Miele, born in 1968, is together with Dr Reinhard Zinkann a fourth generation Executive Director and Co-Proprietor of the Miele Group. Miele is known as the world's leading manufacturer of premium domestic appliances with a turnover of EUR 4.1 bn and 20,100 employees. He has a degree in Business Administration and engineering and, before entering the family company in Gütersloh in 1999, worked for Hella, the vehicle parts manufacturer. He is Chairman of the Entrepreneurs' Association for the Gütersloh region, Vice President of the Eastern-Westphalian Chamber of Commerce in Bielefeld and member of the supervisory board with the Ergo group of insurance companies. Markus Miele is married and has two children.

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Bernardo Novick

Bernardo Novick is the head of ZX Ventures, the global growth and innovation arm of AB InBev. Before joining ZX he was the Vice President of Client Services for Ambev and held roles in finance, operations and sales after joining the company in 2009. Novick holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.

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Björn Öste

Co-founder, Good Idea Inc, Oatly AB

Öste has more than 25 years of international experience from entrepreneural-driven companies (Dynasoft, OATLY, United Pancakes, Ottos Barnmat, Glucanova etc.). Öste is currently the cofounder and CEO of Good Idea Drinks. Good Idea is a flavored, carbonated water that will help those with normal blood sugar levels handle the blood sugar spikes following a meal. 

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Mario Pieper

Chief Digital Officer, BSH Appliances

After his studies of Business and Economics at Westfälische Business University of Münster Mario Pieper started his career in 1999 at the strategy consultancy of Accenture. In 2002, he moved on to Deutsche Telekom. After different positions in Corporate Strategy as well as in operational management of Telekom Germany, Mario Pieper co-founded a startup in the Smart Home environment. Since 2014, Mario Pieper is the Chief Digital Officer of BSH and since 2018 also Head of the Digital Business Unit.

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Ben Pote

Director of Culinary Strategy, Sweetgreen

A lover of all things food from a very young age, Ben Pote started his career in the food industry in the kitchens of the Hillstone Restaurant Group after graduating from Washington University in 2008. After working his way through a number of beloved Bay Area restaurants, Ben moved into the innovation and strategy side of the industry in 2012, and has since held culinary development, operations, and innovation leadership roles at a number of nationally renowned brands, including The Culinary Edge, Souvla, and Starbucks. Today, he leads Culinary Strategy for sweetgreen, measuring and qualifying omni-channel opportunities and structuring their culinary innovation pipeline. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two dogs.

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Tessa Price

Manager, WeWork Food Labs

Price has built her career in the food/hospitality industry, most recently as the Director of Operations for a shared kitchen space. She currently is Manager of WeWork Food Labs.

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Joe Ray

Writer, Wired

Joe has been writing and shooting food and travel stories for major dailies, news services and magazines around the world for more than fifteen years.

He is a contributing writer at WIRED, specializing in the smart kitchen. He is also a restaurant critic, cookbook author, recipe writer and tester.

In 2014, he moved to Washington State's remote Lummi Island for a year to write the award-winning "Sea and Smoke," a book and cookbook with chef Blaine Wetzel at The Willows Inn. It was published by Running Press in October 2015.

Joe was also named the 2009 Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of the Year by the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation. As a food critic, he wrote with Le Figaro's Francois Simon—"The Most Feared Food Critic In France"—on the English-language blog, Simon Says.

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Wilson Rothman

Personal Technology Editor, Wall Street Journal

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.

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Debbie Schaeffer

Owner, Mrs. G Appliances

Debbie Schaeffer is the third generation owner of Mrs. G Appliances located in Lawrence Twp, NJ celebrating 84 years in business. As a member of buying groups NECO Alliance and Nationwide Marketing Group with billions of dollars in buying power, Mrs. G, an independent community based retailer, competes successful against all other national, regional chains and internet retailers. Mrs. G is a certified women owned business -3 generations of women owners - with both WBENC and WBE NJ certification. Mrs. G state of the art showroom focuses on creating an exceptional in store customer experience, displaying more than 50 brands of home appliances including Sub-Zero, Wolf, Cove, Miele, Thermador, Bosch, Cafe, Monogram, Profile, GE, Frigidaire, Electrolux, Kitchen Aid, Jenn Air, Samsung, Hestan, LG, Signature Kitchen Suite and more. The Mrs. G Team's goal is to exceed our customers expectations before, during and especially after the sale. Mrs. G Community Kitchen features live cooking and smart kitchen interactive displays as well as live demonstrations of Home Connect, Scan to Cook, Hestan Cue, Yummly, Innit, Google Home Voice and more.

Debbie uses the same philosophy of her grandparents, taking care of the customer, having a great selection of brands in the showroom and keeping the long standing tradition of supporting the community and local charities. She plans on keeping Mrs. G as a foremost appliance dealer in NJ for a long while to come.

Debbie is a passionate crusader for local independent business. Community-serving businesses are the backbone of our local economy, civic life and local charities.

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Daniel Scharff

Director, Strategy & Analytics, JUST

Daniel Scharff is the director of Strategy & Analytics for JUST, Silicon Valley-based company on a mission to build a food system where everyone eats well. In this capacity, Scharff is focused on global consumer insights, product pricing, and revenue strategy. Prior to JUST, Scharff worked as a strategy consultant with Deloitte, and a global pricing executive for Mars Chocolate. He holds an MBA from The Wharton School, an MA in International Studies from The Lauder Institute (UPenn), and a B.A. in Psychology from Kenyon College.

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Susan Schwallie

Executive Director, NPD Group

Susan brings 22 years of insights experience to her position of Executive Director of the NPD Group. She has worked across a variety of North American CPG clients and categories translating insights about how Americans eat into action for marketing, sales, culinary, and corporate strategy professionals. She recently co authored The Future of Dinner, The Future of Snacking and Inside America's Kitchens studies which illuminates how each generation approaches food and cooking. Susan is a graduate of the University of Michigan and has a love of all things food and beverage.

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Jarret Stopforth

CTO, Atomo Coffee

Jarret holds a Ph.D. in Food Science & Microbiology from Colorado State University. He has 20 plus years of experience in the food & beverage arena leading innovation, product development and quality activities. He has held senior leadership roles at Campbell Soup Company, Chobani, Soylent and most recently at Kettle&Fire. Jarret is an active collaborator and advisor on a number of new and exciting CPG startups.

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Hirotaka Tanaka

Director, Sigmaxyz

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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Stacie Thompson

Cofounder, Ovie

Head of brand and marketing for Ovie, Stacie is a design lover, food lover, and people lover. She and Ty host a dinner at their house every single week for 20 of their closest friends. With a degree in Environmental Design, she’s put her skills to work on brands such as Fossil, New Balance, Disney, Corona, and Head & Shoulders. And now Ovie. In 2016 she one of the recipients of Design Retail Magazine’s 40 Under 40 award.

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Randall Wilkinson

CEO, Wilkinson Baking Company (Breadbot)

We want to help make the world a healthier and more enjoyable place.

Established in 1998, The Wilkinson Group LLC is a family of companies focused on harnessing technology to improve the delivery of fresher, healthier food to everyone. Its first commercial release is the BreadBot, which automatically bakes fresh, all-natural, preservative-free bread out where shoppers love watching the entire process.

By shifting the baking from central, industrial factories to where the people are, tens of thousands of expensive bread delivery trucks and vans are no longer necessary – opening up the roads and lessening pollution. And best of all, people are now able to enjoy the freshest, healthiest bread available.


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Andreas Wuerfel

An active intrapreneur and evangelist, Andreas Wuerfel is METRO Group Director US Strategic Partnering, with focus on international corporate innovation and business development. He also serves as CEO of HOSPITALITY.digital Inc., the US business practice of METRO Group’s international digital hospitality and retail solutions team. Prior, Andreas held various corporate and business development positions inside Deutsche Telekom USA, the North America offices of Germany-based Deutsche Telekom AG. Previously, Andreas held several music industry management and marketing posts, including General Manager Billboard TalentNet (a Billboard Magazine partnership), General Manager at Intuition Records (building and running North American business success), as well as International A&R Manager at MCA Music Publishing (now Universal Music Publishing). Andreas lives with his husband in Brooklyn, New York.