Howard Chao is an investor, lawyer and counselor to entrepreneurs. He began his work life as a corporate lawyer with O'Melveny & Myers and for many years was the Chair of the Firm's Asia Practice. He helped establish the firm's offices in Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing, and practiced for many years as a cross-border investment specialist based in Asia. Since 2001 Howard has been based in Silicon Valley, but continued to dedicate substantial time covering the Asia markets.
In recent years Howard has moved to the principal side of investing and deal-making. Howard actively makes angel and other VC investments in earlier stage companies through his personal vehicle, Doon Capital, usually in collaboration with other investors. He maintains close working relationships with various VC and PE funds. Howard invests primarily in startups located in the Silicon Valley and China. Because of Howard's extensive experience with Asia, many of his deals have an Asian (particularly Chinese) nexus.
Howard also maintains an active strategic consulting practice. Howard's extensive experience with investment and financing transactions in both the US and China leads him to advise and assist various clients in both places. His transactions span many different sectors, and include multinationals, financial investors and startup companies.
Nick Sramek is a Managing Director of Doon Insights, leading workshop development, content creation, and outreach. Nick has extensive experience assisting organizations in preparing for a world not yet visible. An exceptional communicator of complex issues to diverse stakeholders, Nick has focused expertise in understanding and communicating global macroeconomic, technological, and geopolitical trends, as well as the importance of the economies of the Asia-Pacific region.
Previously, Nick served as the Director of International Relations of Silicon Valley Forum, a Silicon Valley organization that focuses on startup mentorship, corporate digitization, and government innovation strategies. Prior to that, he was the Program and Knowledge Director for the Pacific Pension & Investment Institute, a non-profit educational organization based out of San Francisco that assists corporations, pension funds and financial institutions in carrying out their responsibilities in respect to the Asia-Pacific. Through research fellowships, he has also developed a passion for understanding the role of technology in society, particularly in developing economies.
Nick received a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and History from Trinity University (Texas), and a Master’s degree in International Affairs from the University of California, San Diego’s school of Global Policy and Strategy. He is conversational in Mandarin Chinese.
Mariano is evolutionary plant biologist from Duke University, where he saw massive opportunity in explaining the evolution of plants, not over geological time frames, but in a timeframe that is digestible to industry. In particular, his work focuses on the genetics of plasticity and complex traits. Mariano has been an invited speaker at the Society for the Study of Evolution, the American Society of Plant Biologists, and several academic consortia. He has worked in global collaborations, including projects in Brazil, France, China, Japan, and Argentina. Mariano received his PhD from the University of South Florida and did his postdoctoral work under the supervision of Kathleen Donohue at Duke University.
Charlie grew up on a fruit and vegetable farm. This experience led him to believe that all tedious farm labor should be automated, and simultaneously to understand the many challenges that robots face in agriculture. He founded Burro after gaining experience with Case New Holland, John Deere’s largest competitor, where he reported to the head of the North American operating unit and worked on special projects across sales, marketing, manufacturing, distribution, and autonomy M&A. He received a BA from Amherst College, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Sarel has over 20 years proven experience in business leadership, sales, business management and operations. Serving as EVP Business at Kornit Digital Ltd (NASDAQ: KRNT), Sarel spearheaded business development, growing sales from $0 to over $100M. Prior to joining Kornit, Sarel held several executive positions within the Israeli startup arena.
Gareth is a Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Acre Venture Partners, a Santa Monica, CA based venture fund primarily focused on disruptive technologies, products and services for better outcomes in the food system. Prior to founding Acre, Gareth was a key executive team member in multiple leveraged buyouts, including Bolthouse Farms. Early in his career Gareth worked in private equity and investment banking at Willis Stein & Partners and Lazard, respectively. Gareth holds a BS from DePaul University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He is a trustee at Windward School in Los Angeles and is also a Board Member of Kiss The Ground, a non-profit focused on educating various stakeholders on the benefits of regenerative farming practices.
Bill is an executive and entrepreneur in the sustainable energy and advanced materials industries. He has successfully led large complex global organizations, and has created value in building emerging technology businesses. A frequent presenter on technical and strategic aspects of sustainable energy and materials, Mr. Brady has testified before the United States Senate, Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Currently, he serves as Founding CEO and Director for Kula Bio, a sustainable and organic nitrogen fertilizer company. Bill is co-founder and director of Monolith Materials, a sustainable carbon black and hydrogen company, and he also serves on the board of directors of advanced material companies Hollingsworth & Vose and Teknor Apex.
Previously, Mr. Brady served as President, Chief Executive Officer and a Director of Mascoma Corporation, a leading industrial biotechnology company. Mascoma’s bioconversion products have been used to produce billions of gallons of biofuels. Mascoma was successfully sold to Lallemand Corporation.
Mr. Brady also served as Executive Vice President of Cabot Corporation, a $3 BN specialty chemical company. Throughout his twenty-three year experience, Mr. Brady held numerous positions at Cabot in the United States and Asia, including President of the $2 Billion Carbon Black business which operated 23 manufacturing plants in 17 countries.
He is a graduate of the University of Scranton with a B.S. in Chemistry and received his M.B.A. from Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Dr. Ashlie Burkart is the Chief Scientific Officer at Germin8 Ventures. As a double-boarded anatomic and clinical pathologist with expertise in gastrointestinal/liver pathology, Dr. Burkart is uniquely skilled at investigating the causes and nature of gastrointestinal diseases, as well as the laboratory application of biologic, chemical and physical sciences. She is also a grant-funded researcher conducting gut barrier mechanistic studies with far reaching implications for human health and disease.
Drawing upon her deep pathology and research background, Dr. Burkart plays a key role in extending Germin8’s scientific capabilities and actively supporting Germin8 portfolio companies. Dr. Burkart’s extensive knowledge across health and nutrition, microbiome, agro-ecology, and climate alike positions her effectively as a medical-ecologist bringing intellectual horsepower to shepherd a new standard of care for people and the planet, enabled by our food.
Dr. Burkart received a B.A. in biology from Brown University, where she graduated magna cum laude with an honors in neuroscience, and an M.D. from McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Dr. Burkart completed residencies in anatomic pathology and clinical pathology at John Hopkins Medical Institutions, as well as a fellowship in gastrointestinal/liver pathology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. She is a recipient of the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching, the highest teaching award that is awarded by the graduating medical school class. Dr. Burkart was also awarded the National Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award, which the medical college awards to “one faculty member who demonstrates both clinical excellence and outstanding compassion.” She is based in Pennsylvania.
Howard Cai is an executive with more than 20 years of experience in Global Food and CPG industry. Howard successfully built category management and global procurement programs for several top tier companies. With a deep understanding of how global food industry, Howard helps connecting customers demand with manufacturers’ capability.
Howard just returned to the US after serving as VP of Merchandising for the largest B2B Foodservice Ecommerce company Meicai.cn in China. He led Meicai’s Category Management, Private Label and Global Sourcing programs. Prior to join the ecommerce world, Howard spent more than 12 years working for Sysco. Howard built Sysco’s direct global sourcing program. His team manages all the international suppliers that were part of Sysco’s category management program. In Daymon, Howard led a team to help retail companies around world to build private label programs. Howard is currently in transition after moving back from China. He is actively engaging in the community to help both US and Chinese companies finding new ecommerce opportunities.
Howard received his BA from University of Washington and MBA from Rice University. In addition to English, Howard speaks Mandarin and Shanghainese.
Kendall is co-founder & CEO of Kingdom Supercultures. Prior to Kingdom, he was a microbiome and machine learning researcher at Columbia University, where he built new high throughput systems for isolating and functionally characterizing gut microbes. His interest in the microbiome was driven by personal health issues that he dealt with earlier in his life, and that were linked to his gut.
Previously, he was the co-founder of two consumer tech startups that were acquired by public businesses, and began his career as a strategy consultant at McKinsey & Company. He graduated from Duke University, and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to conduct research in Mexico.
Michelle Davenport is an entrepreneur and clinical advisor to high growth food and health startups, including Ritual, a direct-to-consumer supplement company. Dr. Davenport earned her PhD in Nutrition from New York University, and received her clinical training as a registered dietitian from the University of California, San Francisco. She has earned a reputation as one of the most sought after health experts in food and tech, having scaled startups ranging from on-demand delivery, direct-to-consumer and consumer packaged goods. Previously she served as the President and Co-founder of Raised Real, a DTC baby and toddler food company. As the fastest growing kids’ food brand in the US, Raised Real currently delivers to thousands of families nationwide. Prior to Raised Real, she worked on the founding team as the Director of Nutrition for Zesty (YCombinator ’14, acquired by Square), where she helped develop the food and nutrition API and a proprietary nutrient analysis program.
Seana brings 20 years of investment, M&A advisory and technology experience to Better Food Ventures and Culterra Capital. She is a regular Ag ecosystem contributor and publishes an annual AgTech Landscape highlighting technology in the Ag value chain. Seana previously held advisory and investment roles in Food and Ag including Director of Strategy and Business Development at AgTech Insight, Fish 2.0 Associate and Managing Director at Centerra Capital providing Agribusiness investment advisory. Prior to her involvement in Food and Ag, Seana was a technology investment banker at AGC Partners in London, Ridgecrest Capital Partners and Headwaters Merchant Bank. Her background also includes Head of Restructuring and Operations at Versata Enterprises. She is now based in her hometown of Turlock, in the heart of California’s Ag-land.
John F. Diener is an agri-food tech entrepreneur and investor who is passionate about applying technology to sustainable food production. He recently co-founded Vertical Oceans, a high-tech vertical farming system that produces fresh and sustainable urban seafood.
During the extensive period of time in which he served as a senior executive and on various boards, Diener led significant business and technology development initiatives across the agri-food tech. He is an advisor to multiple startups, venture capital funds, corporates and governments in the field of agri-food tech development. In addition to investing in his own funds, Diener is also on the Investment Committee of the Trendlines Agri-Food Tech VC Fund.
Diener received a degree in economics with honors from the University of Chicago and a master's degree in sustainable aquaculture from the University of St. Andrews.
Mahmoud has an academic background in chemical engineering and business. He has experience in market research, waste recycling, and farming industries. He built one of the fastest-growing impact startups serving the underserved communities in Egypt while helping the environment at the age of 23 and has been featured at Startup Scene’s 25 under 25. Now, he is a co-founder & CEO at Proteinea.
Charlie Emrich is the CEO and co-founder of Pow.Bio, with over 10 years experience in synthetic biology, at Allopartis, a directed evolution company he cofounded, and later at Novozymes, which acquired Allopartis. He started in materials science and microelectronics before moving into biology, earning a PhD in Biophysics at UC Berkeley.
Phil Erlanger is Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Pontifax AgTech, a growth stage private equity firm focused on the food and agriculture technology space. He has more than 25 years of investing and advisory experience across a wide array of transactions, markets and industries, with expertise in agriculture technology investing, as well as private equity and financial institutions corporate finance, mergers & acquisitions and capital markets transactions of all kinds. Prior to Pontifax AgTech, Dr. Erlanger was the Managing Partner of PREv2 Holdings, a holding company focused on investments in and advising companies in food, agriculture and sustainable technologies. He was previously a senior investment banker and executive at Barclays Capital and its predecessor, Lehman Brothers, with senior responsibility for financial institutions and financial sponsor investment banking. Dr. Erlanger has also served as a board member for various public companies, including Ares Dynamic Credit Allocation Partnership (NYSE: ARDC), Ares Multi-Strategy Credit Partnership (ARMF) and Caesars Acquisition Company (NASDAQ: CACQ). Dr. Erlanger has a PhD in Economics and Finance from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Wharton School. He lives in Los Angeles.
Working in traditional industries such as oil and gas, not-for-profit, and local government, Robert developed a passion for working against the conventional ways of doing business. Now, as Co-Founder & CEO of Milk Moovement, he and his team are focused on building a more data-focused dairy industry and building better, more reliable food supply chains. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Memorial University and is an MBA Candidate at the Sobey School of Business. He is based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Matt grew up in Auckland, New Zealand. He studied microbiology and genetics at the University of Auckland before co-founding New Culture, a venture-backed cell ag startup based in the Bay Area, making cow cheese without the cow.
After studying law, Sara spent her early career managing her family business, a top performing manufacturing company with the mission of developing, patenting and producing innovative products for the HVAC industry. Sara held several key roles in her family business including driving the company’s IP and trademark strategy, as well as supporting the finance and marketing divisions. She also served as a member of the Board of Directors where she helped oversee a successful exit with a private equity firm. Sara has also been an active member of FCEM since 2016, the first international organisation for women entrepreneurs. Sara holds a degree in law and an MBA from INSEAD where she met her FUL co-founders to launch a blog and research initiative on innovations in the sustainable food sector.
Himanshu is the CEO of ClimateAI- a spun out of Stanford University- creating resilience as a service platform for food and agriculture supply chains. Prior to that Himanshu worked with Vice President Al Gore and in the Government of India leading emissions modeling for the Paris Climate accord and crafting renewable energy vision for India in the 12th five-year plan. He was in the Forbes 30 under 30 India list of 2016. He has been published and quoted by MIT Technology Review, Business Standard, Stanford Social Innovation Review among other publications, and has co-authored a book on India's low carbon economy. Himanshu is a graduate of an MBA/MS in Environmental engineering dual degree program at Stanford.
Jayce grew up on a livestock farm in Virginia. Before FarmRaise, she invested in agriculture with SLM Partners, completed a Fulbright Fellowship in Trinidad and Tobago, and founded a record-breaking coalition that mobilized 100K citizens to advocate for the Arctic Refuge. She has an MBA/MS in Agriculture and Land Use from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
John is a Managing Partner at DCVC Bio. Prior to joining DCVC, John was a VP at Monsanto and Managing Director of Monsanto Growth Ventures (MGV). Before joining MGV, John was a Managing Director at Burrill & Company. Prior to his career in venture capital, John was an entrepreneur, initially at Paradigm Genetics, where he joined as a visiting scientist before becoming Chief Science Officer and eventually President and CEO following the company’s IPO. After Paradigm, John founded and served as CEO of Arête Therapeutics, which earned backing from leading life science venture firms.
John started his career in academia, rising to the rank of Full Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Purdue University, where he earned the David and Lucille Packard Fellow award in 1989. John received a B.Sc. and an M.Sc. from the University of Windsor and a Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of California, Davis.
Matilda Ho is founder and managing director of Bits x Bites, China’s pioneer food tech venture capital investing in startups tackling global food system challenges.
To date, Matilda has invested in companies advancing nanoscale contaminant detection, gene editing for high-performing crops, as well as a company advancing non-GMO meat production directly from animal cells without an actual animal.
Before Bits x Bites, she founded Yimishiji, China's first online farmers market and farm-to-table e-commerce platform that has engineered food education and transparency into the entire supply chain and customer experience.
Her earlier career includes leadership roles at IDEO and BCG (The Boston Consulting Group) in Shanghai and Washington DC. She holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Josh Hofheimer combines two decades of corporate, commercial and technology law practice with the experience having run a public company to bring his clients focused, practical counsel to help them grow their business and maximize their value and returns. His practice focuses on representing clients in agribusiness and food, life sciences, and information technology sectors. Notably, he represented Monsanto Company in its efforts to advance agriculture research and development leveraging gene-editing technology through a joint venture with Pairwise Plants. Josh also has negotiated research, funding and commercialization agreements, licenses and technology spin-outs, as well as developed strategies to exploit proprietary products growing out of the research programs of agri-tech and bio-tech clientele.
Josh leads the firm’s Global Agribusiness and Food industry group, which has been acknowledged as the only law firm consistently ranked Band 1 in the category by Chambers Global (2016–2020).
From 2008–2010, Josh was the CEO/Managing Director of Australia’s first publicly listed ag-biotech company, Hexima Limited (HXL:ASX). While at Hexima, Josh led the company’s successful effort to forge a commercial path for its disease control platform, entering into a development and commercialization agreement with DuPont company, Pioneer Hi-Bred. The company established further commercial relationships with leading agribusinesses, Monsanto and Bayer Crop Science and Australian research centers.
Prior Sidley work includes representing start-up companies, agriscience companies, convergence technology companies, a semiconductor tooling manufacturer and broadband Internet content providers for whom Josh has acted as general outside corporate counsel.
Gil Horsky is part of the founding team for SnackFutures, the venture & innovation hub from Mondelēz International. Gil, and his team in SnackFutures, are on a mission to invest and develop innovative snacking ventures that are good for people, kind to the planet and deliciously fun!.
Today he is focusing on identifying and investing in high-growth well-being snacking brands and foodtech capabilities. Throughout his career, Gil Horsky had the privilege to innovate for some of the most iconic global food brands: Milka, Pepsi, Quaker Oats, Toblerone, Cadbury, Oreo, Tropicana & Nestle, and to work across the globe at the: US, Europe and the Middle East. He is a regular contributor to leading industry journals and a speaker in international conferences about the topics of innovation, FoodTech and corporate venture investments.
Dr. Jen-Yu Huang is the co-founder of Lypid, a food-tech company to bring plant meat taste like animal meat. He has a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the Cornell University.
Ilanit Kabessa Cohen is an Agri-FoodTech venturing & innovation expert with a proven track record of over 20 years. Career positions include: Venture Partner Novozymes SOA, Head Dole Ventures, Head of Innovation and Digital Business unit, Nestle and Head of Nestle Open Innovation Hub in Israel. All positions and innovation related units were founded and established by Ilanit from strategy to execution, including end-to-end responsibilities. Ilanit developed an innovation and collaborations portfolio for over 20 brands bringing hundreds of products to markets. Ilanit has been working in the Agri-Food startup scene since its nascent days and is an instrumental member as co-founder of the Israeli Agri-FoodTech ecosystem as well as an active player in the Global Agri-FoodTech VC scene. Ilanit is an investor, a public speaker, startups mentor, and a great believer in the role of innovation & start-ups in shaping the global economy.
Mark Kahn is a Managing Partner of Omnivore, a venture capital firm, based in India, which funds entrepreneurs building the future of agriculture and food systems. Omnivore pioneered agritech investing in India, backing over 20 startups since 2011, and currently manages INR 9.35 billion (approximately $130 million) across two funds. Every day, Omnivore portfolio companies drive agricultural prosperity and transform food systems across India, making farming more profitable, resilient, and sustainable.
Previously, Mark was the Executive Vice President (Strategy & Business Development) at Godrej Agrovet, one of India's foremost diversified agribusiness companies. At Godrej Agrovet, Mark was responsible for corporate strategy, M&A, R&D, and new business incubation. Earlier in his career, Mark worked for Syngenta and PFM. He earned a BA (Honors) from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he graduated as a Baker Scholar. Mark is the Co-Chairman of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Task Force on Agri Startups and a member of the Governing Council of the Maharashtra State Innovation Society.
Nora is a mathematician with a PhD in Molecular Evolution and Bioinformatics.
Throughout her career, Nora’s ambition has been to disrupt the status quo in areas that have been void of technology by introducing new ways of thinking, big data, and new algorithms.
Previous to Nuritas™, Nora was the first scientist to show gene transfer between multi-cellular species. This groundbreaking find put into question many of the phylogenetic methods currently in use today.
Nora founded Nuritas with the mission to improve the lives of billions of people globally. Using revolutionary AI methods, Nuritas is discovering life-changing peptides with huge potential to improve global health in a sustainable and healthy way.
Nora has won multiple awards including the EU Women Economic Forum Woman of the Decade. She was inducted into the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders class of 2019.
Over the next few years, Nora plans to lead the Nuritas team in their goal of reaching billions of people with their life-changing ingredients.
A serial entrepreneur, technology expert, and investor, Kelby has started and led multiple successful businesses both inside and outside of the ag technology industry. Most recently, since its launch in 2014, Kelby served on the management team at FBN, helping to lead the company’s unprecedented farmer technology adoption and revenue growth in the production agriculture sector.
Allison Kopf is the Founder and CEO of Artemis, the market-leading Cultivation Management Platform in the horticulture industry. Artemis won the highly coveted Disrupt Cup at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco in 2015. Kopf was named one of Forbes 2019 30Under30 as well as one of New York Business Journal's 2019 "Women of Influence." She is a sought-after speaker on the future of agriculture, giving keynotes at such conferences as TEDx, Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit, Forbes AgTech Summit, and the Alltech Ideas Conference.
Allison is an Investment Partner at XFactor Ventures and serves on Cargill’s Edge Innovation Board, Cornell University's Controlled Environment Agriculture Board, and Santa Clara University's College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Board. She holds a BS in Physics from Santa Clara University.
Noel is a Principal at Equilibrium and President of Capital Markets. He is responsible for ‘markets’ related activities including capital gathering, investor relations and strategic (including partnerships and collaborations) transactions. Noel also serves on Equilibrium’s Board of Directors.
Before joining Equilibrium, Noel spent more than 20 years as an investment banker – with a specialty in strategic advisory in diversified financial services and financial technology, for Salomon Smith Barney (Citigroup), Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch & Co. Based in New York, San Francisco, Palo Alto and Hong Kong, he worked extensively with a broad range of diversified financial services companies, banking institutions and governments in Asia, United States, Europe and the Middle East.
Noel has served on numerous boards of companies in the U.S. and Asia and currently serves as
Director of KGI Securities (Thailand) plc in Bangkok, Thailand
Director of NextCapital (an asset management software company) in Chicago, IL
Member of Dean’s Advisory Council of the McCormick School of Engineering, Northwestern University in Evanston, IL
Noel graduated from Northwestern University with BS and MS from the McCormick School of Engineering and MBA in Finance and International Economics from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management.
Sunny Kumar is a tech entrepreneur with a focus on the intersection between food and innovation. Sunny started his career as a product manager at The Economist Newspaper, where he conceptualized and built the magazine’s iPhone, Android and web apps. Sunny then received his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management in 2014 before heading to Amazon to work as a Technical Product Manager in Prime Video. In 2017, Sunny joined Finless Foods, a cell-based fish company. It was at Finless that Sunny and his future Black Sheep Foods co-founder Ismael Montanez had an “aha” moment. Realizing that flavor in fish ultimately comes from what fish eat, the duo was eager to crack the flavor equation in cellular and plant-based meats. In 2019, they set out to create Black Sheep Foods with a focus on plant-based heritage lamb.
Christopher Lai is a Founding Partner in The March Fund (“TMF”), a fund that invests in companies at the intersection of synthetic biology and data. Prior to founding TMF, Lai was the Director of Consumer and Retail investments at Horizons Ventures. Lai served on numerous boards including Bevi, Celsius Holdings (NASDAQ:CELH; as co-Chairman), Perfect Day, etc. and has a stellar investment track record, garnering industry honors and recognition including Forbes 30 under 30.
Hanson Li is the founder and managing partner of Salt Partners, a F&B holding company. Salt’s portfolio ranges from fine dining like Crenn Dining Group (which includes the 3-michelin star Atelier Crenn, 1-michelin star Bar Crenn) to take-out focused dining like Lazy Susan (Chinese take-out built for today’s consumers) to national brands like Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream to impact concepts like HomeCourt by Tracy McGrady (sports family restaurant where we partner with sports stars
In addition to the restaurant portfolio, Hanson is an active advisor and investor of companies at the intersection of food and technology: PlateIQ, Territory Foods, VitaBowl, Sufferfest Beer (sold to Sierra Nevada Brewing Company), Servy (sold to Resy, then AMEX), and Pared. He co-founded his first concept, Halcyon, in 2002 – now with 4 locations in Texas.
Prior to founding Salt Partners, Hanson spent 10 years as Managing Director at The Hina Group, one of the largest merchant banks focusing on China. Hina has been recognized as the Best Boutique Merger & Acquisition Bank, Best Private Equity Firm, and Best Cross-border Investment Bank in China. He started his career at Capital One.
Hanson earned an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business where he was named a Siebel Scholar in recognition as one of the top 5 graduates in his class and was also recognized as an Arjay Miller Scholar. He graduated from Stanford University with a BA in Human Biology and MA in Sociology (Organizational Behavior). He currently serves as a director on the board of Center for Asia American Media. Originally from Hong Kong, Hanson grew up in Hong Kong, Taiwan, New York, and Malaysia and now makes his home in San Francisco with his family.
XinYi Lim is Executive Director, Sustainability and Agricultural Impact at Pinduoduo. She is responsible for Pinduoduo's international corporate strategy efforts and innovation in sustainability and agri-tech. Before joining Pinduoduo in late 2018, she worked for Singapore's sovereign wealth fund, GIC, in both its Singapore and New York offices as a technology and media analyst in its Public Equities division. XinYi holds a Bachelor's degree from the University of Oxford and a Master's degree from Harvard University.
Agnetix develops intuitive and efficient lighting solutions for controlled environment facilities. In 2015 Nicholas founded Agnetix, which manufactures heat recovery LED horticultural lighting. Nicholas has worked to provide energy efficiency design assistance to Bioclimatic Design Engineers and actively sponsors custom energy efficiency projects throughout California in collaboration with Pacific Gas & Electric and the California Energy Commission. These on-going efforts to design and implement energy efficient solutions have made significant contributions to reduce the carbon footprint of controlled environment agriculture in California.
Cross Functional Leader of Innovation and Strategy in the food and beverage industry with 35 years proven experience. Currently, VP of Innovation and founder of MISTA, a new venture funded by Givaudan, the world's largest flavor company. MISTA's mission is to help startups and corporate partners optimize ideas, products, people and investments by connecting them to a world-class food and beverage development facility, capabilities and ecosystem located in the heart of San Francisco. I leverage my passion to explore new opportunities, making innovation a way of life and corporate success. Being a consummate futurist, combined with the strong ability to execute, enables me to create new ways of thinking, doing and being.... from product creation, to strategic partnerships, to new business models, culminating in the delivery of breakthrough change and results.
Ellis McCue is the CEO of Territory Foods, a venture-backed, fresh food platform that brings artisanally crafted healthy food from local chefs and restaurants directly to customers. Territory is a fresh take on the food preparation and distribution industry, providing chef-prepared meals with nutritionist-approved menus to support dietary preferences, powered by a proprietary personalization algorithm. Territory marries Ellis’ belief that consumer led design yields disruptive growth to traditional industries with her personal belief that delicious food should be healthy.
Recently, Ellis has been featured as a top 25 Consumer Health Tech Executive for her foundational work in the Food as Medicine space, and top 15 CEOs of start-ups and small / midsize businesses, with Territory being featured as one of the top places for women to work in the US. Before joining Territory Foods, Ellis led successful, forward-looking business strategies for major global companies such as Deloitte, Gap Inc., and ZX Ventures(AbInBev). Ellis received a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies and East Asian studies from The Johns Hopkins University.
Ron Meeusen, PhD is a Managing Director of Cultivian Sandbox and co-founder and Managing Partner of Cultivian Ventures. Ron has over 42 years of experience bringing new technologies and products to market. He led biotechnology R&D for major corporations in agricultural chemicals, field crop and vegetable genetics and breeding, animal health and industrial materials. Ron led the world’s first field trial of a genetically engineered crop trait in 1986, development and launch of one of the first insect and herbicide resistant corn hybrids in 1996, introduction of a trans-fat free canola oil, and development of dozens of new varieties of field and vegetable crops on three continents. Ron has been a frequent speaker at conferences, a consultant to Federal policy on biotechnology regulation, and active in industry trade groups. Prior to forming Cultivian Ron led the expansion of the biotechnology R&D program of Dow AgroSciences, served as chief scientific officer of the Indianapolis NGO BioCrossroads, led a review of the food and agriculture economy of Indiana, and co-founded a biopharmaceutical company, Immuneworks, Inc. Ron represents Cultivian Sandbox on the boards of directors of Agrivida Inc. (Board Chair), Vestaron Inc., and Sound Ag. The Cultivian Sandbox funds Ron co-founded with Andy Ziolkowski, Nick Rosa and Bob Shapiro are considered a leading fund in the food and agtech fields, and have raised over $280 million dollars to support over 30 innovative venture-stage companies in the food and agriculture sectors. Ron holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in plant cell biology, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee in plant physiology.
Roy has 20 years of experience in the CPG industry, holding a variety of roles within leading multinational companies, SodaStream VP commercial and MD in Mondelez to name a few.
In his career, Roy has worked across multiple categories and geographies leading green field operations and turning them into successful and profitable multi million dollar business.
Xavier Naville was the founder and CEO of Creative Food which is a key supplier to major restaurant chains in China (e.g. McDonalds, KFC, Starbucks). He grew the company to what is now an organization with 9 factories serving 6,500 restaurants a day and $150m in revenue. If you ate soups, sandwiches, or salads at Starbucks, KFC, Pizza Hut or McDonald’s in China, you have likely eaten Creative Food products. He sold the company to Bakkavor PLC from the UK in 2007 and ran the business until 2011.
Since then, Xavier has worked on numerous strategy and M&A projects in the food sector for multinationals in China.
In 2020, he started a coaching practice to guide Vision clients as they execute their strategies. As a business coach he also helps small and mid-size business leaders to scale their business faster with measurable growth and results.
He is currently based in Oakland, CA, and allocates his time between there and China.
Brian Niven is a Managing Director at Karis Cold a national boutique real estate development platform focused on of cold storage infrastructure assets. Before joining Karis, Brian was the cold storage lead for Bridge Development Partners an international industrial developer headquartered in Chicago.
Brian is a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute and an MBA from Loyola University of Chicago.
Dan is a seasoned private equity investor in the food and consumer products industry having completed more than $1billion in acquisitions over the past decade. Currently Dan is the CEO of NR Instant produce PCL a global leader in sustainable food production and is the first purpose driven company to list on the Stock Exchange of Thailand. Dan is also a member of the Executive Council of Proterra Partners in Asia one of the world’s largest food funds, a member of the steering committee on environment for the UN Global Compact in Thailand And Impact Champion focused on food for YPO
Jennifer Place is an Investment Director at Finistere Ventures, a leading global agrifood technology venture capital fund. She has been actively involved with Finistere’s investments in CropX, Farmer’s Fridge, Invert Robotics, Plenty, Taranis and Tovala. Jennifer also leads Farm2050, an initiative committed to advancing the future of food through supporting entrepreneurs and startups. Prior to joining Finistere, Jennifer was an investor at Energy Capital Partners, a Private Equity firm with over $13 billion AUM focused on existing and new-build energy infrastructure projects. Previously, Jennifer was an Investment Banker at Credit Suisse in New York. Throughout her career, Jennifer has been guided by her passion in accelerating sustainable technologies that drive towards the more efficient use of our natural resources, with an emphasis on the agriculture, food and energy sectors. Jennifer received a B.S. in Energy Resources Engineering from Stanford University.
Jason is the Founder and CEO of Fyto. Prior to Fyto, Jason was the Director of Translational Research at the MIT Tata Center for Technology and Design. There, he led the Center’s efforts to select, shape, and position projects for large scale deployment, and helped develop 8 spinout companies in 18-months across the energy, health, agriculture, and water sectors. He was also an instructor of entrepreneurship courses at Sloan School of Management. Prior to his role at MIT, Jason was the CTO and Co-Founder of Factor[e] Ventures, a venture development and investment firm. In addition to leading the firm’s technology strategy, Jason led Factor[e]’s expansion into India. Prior to Factor[e], Jason was a Research Scientist and Director of the Tech-to-Market Program at The Energy Institute at Colorado State University, where he served as a commercialization resource for 160+ faculty. Prior to his graduate research, Jason worked as Process Engineer for the world's first algae-to-biofuel company, GreenFuel Technologies. Jason earned a BS in Physics with Honors from Brandeis University, a MS in Mechanical Engineering from Tufts University, and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Colorado State University.
Anand Prasanna is the co-founder and Managing Partner at Iron Pillar. Anand sits on the board of directors of FreshToHome and Servify. He was also a member of the board of directors of NowFloats before its acquisition by Reliance Jio.
Previously, Anand was a Director with Morgan Creek, a global investment management firm, where he helped manage their Asia portfolio out of Shanghai. Anand also have extensive work experience in India and rest of Asia, with Sequoia Capital, McKinsey & Co and Squadron Capital.
Anand is a member and an active contributor to YPO, a global leadership community of chief executives.
Cristina has developed her career in the energy world, driving large capital projects across Asia, Africa and Europe. During her last venture, she led large scale decarbonization projects and large facility build outs. Besides her professional endeavors, Cristina has collaborated with several non-profit organizations in Nepal and India to bring wider access to productivity-enhancing technologies. Cristina holds three masters degrees in chemical and industrial engineering, as well as an MBA from INSEAD where she met her FUL co-founders to launch a blog and research initiative on innovations in the sustainable food sector.
Sofia is an Adjunct Partner of AgFunder based out of Santiago, Chile and is a business professional with broad experience in AgriFood technology. As a founding team member of Liventus, the leading agtech solution to preserve the quality of fresh produce during its post-harvest, she spearheaded the company's market introduction, sales, and global expansion with major clients across Europe, Asia, Africa, North America and LatAm, growing its global market share from 0 to 30% in three years. She has studied Business and Communication at UC Berkeley, Singularity University and Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, and has worked in multiple locations including Singapore, Chile, Mexico, and San Francisco.
Steve Sanger is a Partner with Evolv Ventures. Steve has been a part of high-growth technology leadership teams identifying organic growth opportunities as well as through corporate development and strategic business development efforts. Steve's extensive network within the technology community, venture capital firms and corporate / business development professionals help companies leverage various strategic growth alternatives.
Prior to joining Evolv, Steve held a variety of leadership roles including as an early member of GrubHub's executive team as their VP, Business Development that grew the business from $8M to over $400M resulting in a successful IPO (NYSE:GRUB) in 2014. Steve was responsible for the company's business and corporate development efforts as well as helping to launch the company's delivery initiative. He has held executive / senior roles at Tronc (formerly known as Tribune Interactive), and Diamond Management and Technology Consultants (acquired by PwC) as well as an advisor to many food tech brands. Steve received his M.B.A. from the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business in and holds a B.S.J from the University of Kansas.
As Founder and CEO, Luke guides the company’s vision and provides strategic direction for the executive team and business as a whole. An entrepreneur at heart, Luke started Farmer’s Fridge while working as a traveling salesman after struggling to find fresh, healthy and accessible food options on the road. Since 2013, the rapidly expanding business has grown to hundreds of Fridge locations across multiple regions of the country and now includes home delivery, providing customers with greater access to chef-curated, restaurant-quality meals.
Based on their pioneering approach, the company has been featured in The Atlantic, New York Times, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Inc., Chicago Tribune, Crain’s, USA Today, NBC Nightly News, Wall Street Journal and O! Magazine. As a leader on the rise, Luke was honored as a Forbes “30 under 30” in 2016, a Crain’s Chicago Business “40 under 40” in 2018 and one of Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People in Business” in 2019. In addition, Time Magazine named Farmer’s Fridge one of the “Best Inventions of 2019.” Luke holds an undergraduate degree from Washington University in St. Louis.
Katherine has a background in molecular biology and genetics from the University of Pennsylvania. She founded Strella in 2019 after becoming intrigued by food waste and supply chain inefficiencies. Since its founding, Strella has monitored over half a billion pieces of fruit with its novel ripeness-detection technology and saved customers hundreds of thousands of dollars with maturity-based inventory management.
Darren Streiler is the Managing Director of ADM Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of ADM. At ADM, Darren makes strategic investments in startups in the human / animal health and nutrition, AgTech and sustainable materials industries. Prior to ADM, Darren was at Monsanto Growth Ventures. As well, he served as Business Development Lead for Monsanto’s Global Strategy group. Darren has over 20 years of investment and deal making experience at top-tier venture capital funds, hedge funds and investment banks. He holds an MBA from University of California at Berkeley and a Finance degree from Boston College.
Prior to co-founding FUL, Julia helped launch and scale a for-profit for-good venture-backed technology startup in Silicon Valley where she built the company’s sales and marketing strategy – partnering with global corporates such as Cisco, Dropbox and VMware, as well as leading strategic product partnerships with NGOs and foundations. Along the way, Julia also co-founded a nonprofit project on effective philanthropy, and worked on health education initiatives in the U.S. and Thailand. Julia has a B.A. from Brown University in international development/gender studies and an MBA from INSEAD where she met her FUL co-founders to launch a blog and research initiative on innovations in the sustainable food sector.
Manik is the Founder and CEO of Therma, a technology startup whose mission is to help protect our food, health, and planet. Therma builds safety and sustainability tools to eliminate food waste, energy inefficiency, and refrigerant emissions to protect consumers and combat climate change. Therma is deployed across major restaurant chains, manufacturers, and logistics operators worldwide with leading brands including McDonalds, Taco Bell, NOW Foods, 7-Eleven, and Wyndham Hotels.
Previously, Manik co-founded the Governance Lab (GovLab), an innovation center at NYU that developed technology solutions to improve government. He is a former Affiliate of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society and has held positions at global investment firm D. E. Shaw & Company and the White House National Economic Council.
Manik holds an A.B. in Government summa cum /aude from Harvard College, an M.Phil in International Relations (Highest Honors) from Cambridge University, where he studied as Harvard University's annual Paul Williams Scholar, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School, where he earned numerous Dean's Scholar commendations. He is admitted to the California Bar, has published in leading academic journals, edited volumes, and national media outlets, and has been a Visiting Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania and a Truman Security Fellow. He writes on technology, climate change, public policy and tweets @ManikVSuri.
Philipp is a Research Fellow at the University of Oxford's Martin School (OMS) where he leads the work on sustainable cold chains as part of the OMS "Future of Cooling" programme. His work focuses on sustainability transitions in emerging economies and climate-compatible growth. He has ten years of experience working in the energy and industrial sector of emerging economies, both as a researcher as well as a strategy consultant for McKinsey & Company. He has worked with several African governments, the European Parliament and the International Renewable Energy Agency on national energy policies, renewable energy expansion plans and rural electrification as well as productive use of energy policy instruments. Philipp holds a PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Bath, an energy engineering degree from RWTH Aachen University, an MSc in Politics of the Developing World from the London School of Economics. He has been a visiting scholar at Carnegie Mellon University as well as the University of California at Berkeley. His research has been published in leading international journals such as Nature, Nature Energy and Nature Sustainability, and covered by New York Times, the BBC, Reuters, Bloomberg, Forbes, CNBC and others.
Danny was previously at Farmers Business Network for six years, where he was a member of the founding team and also head of product. He grew up on a farm in California and has previously operated his own agrofood businesses.
Founder and CEO of FarmTrace, Chris is a top global expert on food supply chains, technology, and agriculture. Chris was born and raised on a dairy farm in the Netherlands, and learned the ins and outs of farming before turning to the agfood business sector in college. As a business professional, Chris built a career in food processing technology, feed ingredient sales, and business development management, before founding two successful ag-tech companies in Europe and Asia, including the world’s first SaaS platform for cattle trading. Now, with FarmTrace, he hopes to continue this mission of digitization, connecting the agfood world with SaaS digital infrastructure.
Dr Anastasia Volkova is a TEDx Speaker, MIT 35 Under 35 Innovator, and Amelia Earhart Fellow. In late 2016 she founded FluroSat, an agritech company to offer next-generation decision support and monitoring systems for farmers and their advisors. FluroSat has gone through a transformational journey of commercializing agricultural science, attracting leading investors (Microsoft M12, AirTree, Space Angels), and scaling into the global market. In early 2021 FluroSat acquired soil health leading startup Dagan to form Regrow - a company with a broader mandate to help holistically rejuvenate the potential of agricultural soils and drive the transition to resilient agriculture globally.
Dr. Volkova’s passion is to make science-based agronomy and sustainable crop management an industry standard and to foster close collaborations between industry and research.
Most recently Dr. Volkova has been included in the BBC 100 Women - a list of 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world for 2020.
As Director at LDC Innovations, Laura is responsible for all aspects of corporate venture capital, from sourcing and due diligence through to negotiations and portfolio support. Prior to joining LDC, Laura was a Venture Partner at New Crop Capital, an early stage VC fund investing in alternative proteins. She supported investments in Good Catch, Meati, and others, and also incubated Wicked Foods, a plant-based CPG company. Before New Crop, Laura cofounded and exited a startup in the recruiting industry. She is pursuing her MBA at Wharton, and excited to bring the expertise, resources and global reach of LDC to the pursuit of diverse, sustainable and just food systems worldwide.
Eli Ziskind is a Vice President in the Credit Suisse Industrials group focused on global Agriculture Productivity companies. Based in London, Mr. Ziskind works with major industry leaders as well as emerging growth companies in the Agriculture Productivity space. He focuses on a broad range of investment banking transactions within the Seed, AgroChemical, AgriTech and Fertilizer fields. Mr. Ziskind has worked on transactions such as Israel Chemicals investment in Allana Potash in 2014, Syngenta’s acquisition of DevGen, the unbundling of Sibanye Gold from Gold Fields, and the acquisition of Dematic by AEA. Prior to joining Credit Suisse, Mr. Ziskind worked in NM Rothschild in London and Tel Aviv and in Delloitte & Touche. He is a Certified Public Accountant in Israel and served in the Israeli Defence forces for five years. He received his MSc. in Finance from the Technion Institute and his B.A. in Economics from Haifa University.