Dr. Dana Kanze is an Assistant Professor of Organisational Behaviour at London Business School. Her research applies behavioural insights to understand sources of labour market inequality, spanning the areas of judgement and decision making, ethics, motivation science and entrepreneurship. Dr Kanze’s work has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as the Academy of Management Journal and Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, as well as in practitioner outlets such as the Harvard Business Review. Her research has been featured as a TED talk, as well as by BBC Radio, Bloomberg, Business Insider, Chicago Booth Review, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Financial Times, Forbes, Fortune, Inc., MIT Sloan Management Review, Pitchbook, Scientific American, TechCrunch, The Wall Street Journal, and Wharton Magazine. Dr Kanze started her career as an investment banker and strategic consultant for Citigroup and Winterberry Group, going on to co-found and run a venture-funded start-up before re-entering education. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a Doctor of Philosophy from Columbia Business School.
Arlan Hamilton is a remarkable entrepreneur who built a venture capital fund from the ground up, while homeless. She is the Founder and Managing Partner of Backstage Capital, a venture capital firm dedicated to minimizing funding disparities in tech by investing in high-potential founders who are people of color, women, and/or LGBT. Started in 2015, Backstage has now invested nearly $10M into 130 startups led by underestimated founders and has been featured in Forbes, Fortune, Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, Inc., Entrepreneur, and Quartz.
Arlan made history by making the cover of Fast Company as the first Black woman noncelebrity to do so, and her new book “It’s About Damn Time” comes out on Penguin Random House’s business imprint Currency on May 5, 2020. She and Backstage Studio were also the subjects of Season 7 of the popular Gimlet Media podcast, StartUp. Arlan now hosts Your First Million, a weekly podcast featuring in-depth conversations with how the world’s most successful people finessed their first million dollars, customers, or downloads.
Arlan entered the venture investing world from an unconventional path. Before launching Backstage Capital, she authored the groundbreaking blog “Your Daily Lesbian Moment”, which she grew to a monthly readership of 50,000 fans worldwide. She has written for AOL, SuicideGirls, and Curve Magazine, and founded and published the internationally distributed indie magazine Interlude. Arlan was also a live music production professional, having served as a tour coordinator to numerous international artists including Toni Braxton, and Jason Derulo. Most recently she worked with Atlantic Records recording artist Janine.
In 2018, Arlan co-founded, along with Investment Partner Christie Pitts, Backstage Studio, a new venture studio designed to build products, services, and initiatives that serve the mission of eliminating underrepresentation in tech by empowering founders and their teams to succeed. Backstage is a fully remote team that has quickly scaled to 38 employees working together with an ever-expanding roster of world-class mentors and partners. Also in 2018, Backstage Studio announced the launch of four accelerator programs, in Los Angeles, Detroit, Philadelphia, and London, UK. Called the Backstage Accelerator, this three month program is designed to give founders the support they need to reach their next critical milestone, through mentorship, investment capital, and access to resources and networks. Arlan was recently named on Fortune magazine’s 40 under 40 list, as well as, Vanity Fair magazine’s The 2018 New Establishment List.
Christina Stembel started Farmgirl Flowers in 2010 from her dining room in her San Francisco apartment. Over the past nine years she has bootstrapped the company to over 140 team members doing a projected $50M in annual revenue in 2020. The once one-woman operation now spans five distribution centers between Ecuador and California with a soon-to-be sixth location launching in Florida later this summer. Today, Farmgirl Flowers ships its signature burlap-wrapped bouquets, hand-tied vase arrangements, plants and gifts to recipients all over the contiguous United States.
Gillian Muessig is the CEO Outlines Venture Group, general partner to the Mastersfund™, a global gender-lens venture capital fund. She is a co-founder of Moz, the world’s most popular provider of digital marketing software and serves on dozens of Boards of Directors and Advisors worldwide. Ms. Muessig has supported governments and organizations as a business and investment advisor, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, U.S. State Department and the German Marshall Fund, and SwissContact. Her weekly podcast, VC Confidential, rips the lid off the secretive world of venture capital to reveal the inner workings of VC funds for investors, entrepreneurs, and emerging fund managers. Over more than three decades, Gillian has helped thousands of companies to launch, grow, pivot and thrive.
Jackie Huba is the author of Fiercely You: Be Fabulous and Confident by Thinking Like a Drag Queen, which helps people become more self-assured and fearless at work and in life. The book has been endorsed by none other than the most famous drag queen in the world, RuPaul. She translated the book into an unforgettable TEDx Talk in Vancouver in 2015. Making TED Talk history, her presentation “Unleash the Power of Your Inner Drag Queen” was the first ever TED Talk to be done by a female drag queen. She is the author of three previous books on marketing and customer loyalty, including Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gaga Turns Followers into Fanatics. A sought after keynote speaker and consultant, Jackie is a Forbes.com contributor, and her work has frequently been featured in the media, such as the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, and Advertising Age. She lives in Austin, Texas.
Terri Hanson Mead is the multi-award winning author of Piloting Your Life, President of Solutions2Projects, LLC, Managing Partner of Class Bravo Ventures, and an advocate for women through all of her platforms including her YouTube channel and blog. As an angel investor, Terri invests in startups that have products or services that expand the power and influence of women. Terri is based in Redwood City, CA where she is also the mother of two teenagers and occasionally reluctant wife to Zeke, her husband of nearly 25 years. In her spare time, Terri loves to cook, play tennis, and loves to fly helicopters around the San Francisco Bay Area, especially under the Golden Gate Bridge.
Around age eight Natasha Zena was told it was a woman’s job to take care of the home and since then she has built a career out of telling women they can do whatever the hell they want to do. She is the founder of Lioness, the go-to news source for everything female entrepreneur. Natasha has mentored women entrepreneurs and moderated panels at a number of national accelerators, Startup Weekends and conferences such as The Lean Startup Conference, the Massachusetts Conference for Women, Women Empower Expo and Smart Cities Connect. Natasha is also the author of the popular whitepaper, “How To Close The Gender Gap In Startup Land By 2021.” In her spare time, she writes short fiction and hangs out with her son, Shaun.
Jennifer has a passion for all the elements that comprise a successful media property, whether it’s a e-commerce website, digital media property, or simply content strategy. She has spent nearly 20 years zeroing in on creative and business factors that can make the difference between success and failure, with a focus on driving connections with niche audiences. Seamlessly hopscotching between editorial/content strategy and development, marketing and brand strategies, best practices in UX/UI, and prescient technologies, she has worked on a wide range of winning properties that cater to high value consumer and business audiences. Jennifer is the founder and publisher of DAME Magazine.
Jennifer S. LeBlanc is the best-selling author of Launching for Revenue: How to Launch Your Product, Service or Company for Maximum Growth and Changing Tides: Powerful Strategies for Female Founders, and owns the publishing house, HAL House. She is the founder of the Changing Tides Movement, which was developed out of the pressing need for a collaborative community focused on the unique experiences of women founders, entrepreneurs and investors.
Jennifer is known as a high-energy and inspiring keynote speaker and workshop facilitator for startup accelerators and corporate teams. In her private coaching work, Jennifer works with female founders, entrepreneurs, and change agents to provide them with the tools and connections they need to succeed. Jennifer has also acted as an advisor to President Obama, Congress and the SBA via the National Women’s Business Council. The Silicon Valley Business Journal honored Jennifer with its Silicon Valley Women of Influence Award in 2016 and she was shortlisted as Advocate of the Year by Women in IT Silicon Valley for her work with the Changing Tides Movement to support female founders and women entrepreneurs.
Jennifer is also the founder and CEO of ThinkResults, which was ranked as the 10th Fastest Growing Private Company in Silicon Valley in 2017 and has been recognized as one of the top Silicon Valley agencies each year since 2013.
Ita is a Partner at venture capital firm GingerBread Capital, which backs high growth female founded companies. Her mission is to engage, educate, and elevate the next generation of successful women business leaders and investors. In 2014, Ita founded Tigress Ventures, an advisory and consulting firm that tapped her considerable network to bring together visionary entrepreneurs with seasoned professionals to help women scale their businesses and hone their leadership skills.
Ita also served as Venture Partner at Plum Alley Investments, where she oversaw investment opportunities and pipeline for high-growth female-founded and gender-diverse startups. Previously, Ita held product management roles at TravelClick and American Express. She began her career at Goldman Sachs as an analyst in Credit Capital Markets and an institutional trader of preferred stock.
Ita holds an MBA in Marketing and Entrepreneurial Management from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; and earned a Bachelor’s degree, cum laude, in Psychology, with a certificate in Finance, from Princeton University.
Maha spots technology trends early and partners closely with her companies to drive growth and exits. She focuses on e-commerce and enterprise / cloud, and was one of the first investors to recognize the potential of social gaming. She was also the first investor in The RealReal (REAL) and sat on the company’s board through the 2019 IPO. A champion of women in technology, Maha is passionate about funding and raising the profiles of female entrepreneurs and is a founding member of All Raise. She is also a trustee for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Maha holds a B.A. in Economics and an M.A. in Sociology from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in Economics from MIT.
Dr. Sophia Yen graduated from MIT, UCSF Medical School, and UC Berkeley’s MPH program. With 20+ years in medicine, she is a Clinical Associate Professor at Stanford Medical School and on the Executive Committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics’s Section On Adolescent Health. Her passion is Women’s Reproductive Health and she co-founded 3 non-profit projects to improve the lives of women: The Silver Ribbon Campaign to Trust Women, SheHeroes.org, and fffl.co (Female Founded, Female Led, B2C awareness campaign, by from a FFFL!)
Maria Malavenda is a leading authority on Business Trends including Big Data, Predictive Analytics and the future of Information. She currently serves as Founder and CEO of LOOK Enterprises, a personalized, data-driven care management platform for beauty and wellness services. Prior to LOOK, Maria catalyzed several award-winning high-growth ventures in healthcare, consumer products and technology –including companies acquired by Microsoft, Bosch and IMG. She previously served as a Fortune 50 marketing executive for Johnson & Johnson, a Strategy Partner for Deloitte and Accenture, and immersed herself in the “digital data revolution” as VP of Strategy and Corporate Development for Monster Worldwide and ZoomInfo where she played a main role driving their first exit in 2017.
Maria believes Innovation is a mindset, as well as a skill set. She has worked with a multitude of individuals and companies with the intent of helping to inspire and motivate them to sustain, grow, and succeed. Maria has raised over $3B in seed, venture capital, Private Equity, IPO and post IPO financings’ and achieved considerable returns for investors. In addition to Maria’s career success, she continues to provide her thought leadership as an advocate and mentor for women as a board member for Planned Parenthood, Harvard iLab, Brigham and Women’s Innovation Hub and TechStars.
Being “blessed” with a chronic skin affliction, Hillary learned early on that not all products work for everyone. Prior to Wheesearch, she developed B2C marketing solutions for F500 companies including Avon, Yahoo!, eBay and Visa. She’s an avid product searcher and is passionate about supporting women and female entrepreneurs, is Executive Director of the Founders Network, and was a 2018 Finalist for Entrepreneur of the Year with the Women in IT Awards.
Kyla Lam has been a bartender in the industry for 18 years and is bootstrapping Startender, a much-needed app for the bars/restaurants/nightclub industry, now in beta testing. If there’s anyone who has questions about building an app, she can definitely help avoid the expensive mistakes and pitfalls she has experienced and offer help in designing and building an app from scratch. Champion for other females and lover of cats!
Jennifer Saxton is the Founder and CEO of Tot Squad, which she founded in 2011 during her time at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Saxton is well regarded as an expert in the baby and parenting space, and has been featured on CNBC, Fast Company, Forbes, Bloomberg BusinessWeek and made six appearances on CBS’s The Doctors but none of her accomplishments make her as proud as her daughter, Charlotte, who was born in September 2018. After successfully divesting the legacy service business of Tot Squad in March 2020, Saxton now serves as CEO of the new Tot Squad company: a digital marketplace for parenting services, from lactation consultations to sleep support, and many more.
Xandra Laskowski is a startup advisor with over 25 years of entrepreneurial experience with large multinational tech companies as well as startups as founder, investor, advisor and board member. She has held positions as Worldwide Commodity Manager and National Major Accounts managerial roles before moving into the Angel Investment and startup worlds. She founded OSEA Angel Investors in 2017, a woman focused angel investment group based at the UCI Cove, University of Irvine, California. OSEA Angel Investors is an investment partner with Tech Coast Angels, Titan Angels (CSUF) Angel Syndication Network and Family Office Networks. Through Xolas, Ms. Laskowski provides startup consulting assisting entrepreneurs in producing their “Startup Roadmap”.
In 2019 Ms. Laskowski was included in the Orange County Business Journal OC 500 Directory of Influence for Innovation and in February 2020 was nominated to the Orange County Business Journal Woman in Business Awards. In March 2020 Ms. Laskowski was nominated as a Women of Influence Awards finalist for the Gamechanger Award.
Kate is a Board Director at ABD Insurance and Financial Services and a Business Advisor and Executive Coach. She is also an author and a Senior Fellow at Georgetown University.
Kate is a passionate advocate for diversity at the highest levels of business and is a firm believer that unwavering optimism can transcend even the most daunting systemic barriers in the workplace. She has spent decades as an executive coach, bringing out brilliance in leaders and their teams. Kate launched her career as a member of Palm Inc.’s founding management team before becoming a Senior Vice President at SanDisk.
She has subsequently served as CEO and COO for several start-ups and privately held companies, and serves as an Independent Board Director. Kate now applies her expertise to research gender equity in the C-Suite as a Senior Industry Fellow at Georgetown University.
Kate is a guest lecturer at Stanford Graduate School of Business, University of Michigan’s Ross school of Business and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. She is the author of The Moonshot Effect: Disrupting Business as Usual. Her second book, The Impostor Breakthrough, will be published in 2021.
Morvareed Z. Salehpour is Managing Partner of Salehpour Legal Consulting, a law firm specializing in handling a diverse range of complex legal matters both in and outside the courtroom. She is experienced in negotiating a variety of contracts and legal agreements and handling cases from inception to trial and appeal. She has represented clients across the nation ranging from entrepreneurs and small businesses to Fortune 500 companies and works in a variety of industries, including technology, media and entertainment, and real estate among others. Ms. Salehpour is a graduate of UCLA and UCLA School of Law, where she also served as a Managing Editor for the UCLA Law Review. Ms. Salehpour previously practiced at BakerHostetler, a national firm where her work included being a member of the legal team seeking to recover the principal lost in the Madoff Ponzi scheme, and then at Strange & Butler, a complex litigation boutique. Ms. Salehpour is also President-Elect of the Santa Monica Bar Association, Board Member of the UCLA Westside Alumni Network, Board Member of the Rabbit Hole Network Women’s Blockchain Community, and a regular speaker and writer on tech, real estate, and business law issues.
Briana is a writer, creative & business woman of many trades. As a self-professed “literary artist”, her talents lie primarily in using her communication/storytelling abilities to bridge gaps & cultivate community. Having put her skills initially to work through her ventures, The English Major Takes Tech & Just B. Frank, she later pivoted into wellness before shifting focus following the George Floyd protests to champion for equity via The Prosp(a)rity Project.
Christy’s professional education expertise has afforded her the opportunity to work around the world. Since achieving a Masters Degree and Teaching Credentials in Sussex, England, she has created and developed two companies focused on Leadership Development Programs through education and conservation projects overseas.
She has delivered leadership initiatives internationally to individuals, universities, small companies, and non-profits in the UK, Europe, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, South Africa, Canada, the USA, and Australia.
Through her company, Venture Within, she creates transformational experiences for personal and professional growth. She lives a full and meaningful life while inspiring and enabling others to do the same.
- Expert in leadership development amongst professionals
- 20 years an Educator, CEO of Venture Within, and formerly Co-Founder of EDventure International
- Curated strategic leadership workshops catered for traveling professionals, with a focus on personal development and growth.
- Utilizes cultural immersive experiences as transformative opportunities.
Dr. Ashie Bhandiwad is an entrepreneur, scientist, and educator. She is a strong advocate for food based STEM education for young children. Ashie founded StemChef on this principle to keep STEM interest kindled and alive in children to inspire the next generation. Happily she also tackles the female “pipeline” issue that is blamed for under-represented female gender in STEM careers. Prior to that she had dedicated a decade of her life working on renewable energy to combat climate change. Her papers have been published in top scientific journals. Now Ashie is out to inspire the teeny tots to take on global issues of their generation. Ashie holds a PhD in Engineering from Dartmouth College.
Suzanne is a General Partner with Prime Movers Lab investing in breakthrough scientific startups in energy, transportation, infrastructure, manufacturing, human augmentation and the future of computing. She has 20 years of experience working in the technology and investment space. Most recently, she spent five years at StartX, the Stanford University focused entrepreneur community, managing the Stanford-StartX Fund and working directly with hundreds of entrepreneurs. Prior to that, she spent ten years doing secondary private equity investing. Suzanne started her career at Morgan Stanley in the Technology Financial Sponsors Group. As Fund Manager at StartX, Suzanne oversaw $175M of direct investment in 300 start-ups across 500+ rounds, from seed through Series D, in industries ranging from Enterprise, Consumer, Hardware and Medical. She earned an MBA from Stanford University and a BS in Finance and Information Systems from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania magna cum laude. Suzanne lives in Silicon Valley, she is happily married to an entrepreneur, and is a mom to human twins & lot of pets!
Maria Tamellini, is a co-founder of GamerSafer, a company designing technologies to help online games prevent fraud, toxicity and child exploitation. She was named a Headstream Innovator this year for creating positive, ethical and healthy technologies for teens and is a Child Safety co-chair at XR Safety Initiative. Before GamerSafer, she had a successful CSR consultancy B Corp certified company and advised eighty businesses across the world. Maria is a UC Berkeley SkyDeck alumna, a Board Member of Latinas in Tech, holds an international certification in social business. She is also a gamer, a mom of two passionate gamers and an Ambassador for Women in Games.