Women Startup Challenge DC Judges

DC 2015 | Finalists | Judges | Mentors


Ten finalists pitched their startups to these investors at 1776 and General Assembly in Washington, DC on June 30, 2015. The grand prize winner, On Second Thought, received $50,000 as a cash grant.

Meet the Jury

Lorine Pendleton
Business Development Executive
Angel Investor and Advisor to Start-Ups

lorine
Lorine Pendleton is a seasoned business development executive with extensive experience in the legal, internet/new media and entertainment industries. She is the US Director of Business Development for the largest global law firm in the world. She previously worked at Simpson Thacher one of the oldest and most prestigious law firms in the US. Previous stints include working at a number of startups such as SelectMinds, developer of web-based social network programs for corporations acquired by Oracle and Community Connect, the publisher of the leading ethnic social networking websites BlackPlanet, AsianAvenue, and MiGente, acquired by Interactive One.

She is a former practicing attorney at Londell McMillan PC, a leading entertainment boutique law firm, where she structured and negotiated multifaceted entertainment and media deals on behalf of her clients such as Prince, Spike Lee, Ruff Ryders Records, Faith Evans, Stevie Wonder and Chaka Khan.

Lorine is an active angel investor who invests and advises women and minority-led companies. Her portfolio includes Cisse Trading, Traklight and Hire an Esquire. She is an alumna of Pipeline Fellowship, an angel investing bootcamp which trains women to become angel investors and increase diversity in the US angel investing community.

Lorine serves on the board of directors for the National Black Programming Consortium, which provides funds and distributes films and TV programs relating to African-Americans with principal funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting/PBS. She served on the board of Living Labs Foundation, which organized the TEDxHarlem conference in Harlem in 2012. She was recently named by Marie Claire in its 2nd Annual New Guard feature as one of the “50 Most Connected Women in America” and named “20 Angel Investors You Should Know” by Black Enterprise. She has been featured in numerous publications including Fast Company and Forbes. She frequently speaks about entrepreneurship, and raising capital and has previously spoken at Columbia Business School, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Brown.

She received her JD from New York Law School and her BA in Economics from Brown University.

Kelly Keenan Trumpbour
Founder, See Jane Invest

kelly
Kelly Keenan Trumpbour, founder of See Jane Invest, is an investor dedicated to educating women who want to fund women-owned companies. A longtime advocate for women’s increased representation in business and politics, she draws on her experience in Washington, DC lobbying on behalf of the National Association of Women Business Owners, supporting the Women Under Forty Political Action Committee (WUFPAC), and recruiting young professional women to enter politics through the nonprofit she co-founded, Running Start, which equips high school, college and post-graduate women with the skills they need to excel in public office. A frequent media commentator and guest speaker at numerous universities and conferences, she is dedicated to teaching young women how to navigate the world of business and entrepreneurship. She is a board member of the Baltimore Angels, a Maryland-based investment group, and holds an MBA from Johns Hopkins and a law degree from the University of Maryland.

Follow me on Twitter at @kktrumpbour

Jeffrey Cherry
CEO and Managing Partner, The Porter Group, LLC
Founder and Executive Director, Conscious Venture Lab

Judge Cherry Headshot
Over the last 29 years Jeff has been a designer, CEO, educator, consultant and investor. He enjoys the creative process, both from an artistic and organizational perspective. Currently he’s bringing these divergent experiences together in order to help companies develop more conscious, purpose-driven business models; and to help investors build societal as well as financial value. He tries to bring right and left brain thinking to problem solving, business creation and investing ideas; hopefully asking better questions and using his expertise to make the lives of those around him more fulfilling and successful.

As the CEO of The Porter Group and Founder and Executive Director of Conscious Venture Lab, Jeff is an evangelist for the transformation of capitalism. The Porter Group is a venture capital firm that invests in early-stage and growth-stage companies that are operating at the intersection of profit and purpose. The Conscious Venture Lab is an accelerator for these same types of business using the tenets of Conscious Capitalism® and societal purpose as the foundation for creating long-term sustainable value. With the Conscious Venture Lab as an emerging brand in this fast growing field, Jeff is also a frequently invited speaker on the topic of impact investing and new models of business. He has recently had the honor to present at The University of Maryland, The Darden School at the University of Virginia, Yale University, and Columbia University, The Booth School at the University of Chicago, Howard Community College and The University of Baltimore.

Jeff is a recovering NCAA DIII Football player, has a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do and currently studies Krav Maga, the martial art and self-defense system developed by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).

Dr. Steve Davis
Director of Advanced Projects at Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX)

Dr. Steve Davis has worked at SpaceX since 2003 and was one of the first employees in a company which has grown to 4000 employees. At SpaceX, Steve has also worked as Chief Engineer on the Falcon-1 Guidance, Navigation, and Control system and as Lead Systems Engineer on the Dragon Spacecraft Program. The latter culminated in SpaceX’s “Dragon Demo C1 Mission,” the first time in history that a private entity launched, orbited, reentered, and recovered a space capsule.

Steve has founded and still owns several retail food businesses, his favorite concept being the Mr. Yogato frozen yogurt stores, where customers can earn discounts in goofy ways, such as doing the Thriller dance, getting a stamp on their forehead, or reciting the Braveheart speech.

Steve has a B.S. in Finance and a B.A.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, an M.S. in Particle Physics from the University of Durham, an M.S. in Aerospace Engineering from Stanford University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Economics from George Mason University.

ROUND 1 JUDGES

Sarah Kunst
Partner of Fortis Partners

Sarah Kunst is a entrepreneur, investor, advisor and philanthropist. She is from rural Michigan and attended Michigan State University. She has worked at Apple, Red Bull, Chanel, Mohr Davidow Ventures and a number of media and consumer startups. She is currently a partner at Fortis. Her philanthropic interests include Help Us Adopt, Code2040, USA State Department’s Tech Women program, Technovation Challenge and being on the boards of Venture for America and the New York City Department of Education Finance and Business Commission. She also mentors and advises racially, geographically and gender diverse startups through NewMe, Digital Undivided, Mergelane, The Startup Factory, Boost.vc and Techstar’s Patriot Bootcamp.

Kunst is on the 2015 Forbes Magazine 30 under 30 list and has been recognized for her work in Business Insider as a 30 under 30 and Top African-American in Tech and Marie Claire Magazine named her a Young Gun to watch. She also writes for The Daily Beast and Entrepreneur.com and speaks on venture funding and startups frequently, including at the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Push Wall Street conference. Sarah is a passionate leader who is focused on global inclusiveness and helping traditionally underrepresented people find success.

Follow me on Twitter at @sarahkunst

Natalia Oberti Noguera
Founder and CEO, Pipeline Fellowshop

natalia-oberti-noguera
Dubbed “The Coach” by Marie Claire, Natalia Oberti Noguera) is Founder and CEO of Pipeline Fellowship, an angel investing bootcamp for women that’s changing the face of angel investing and creating capital for women social entrepreneurs. Natalia holds a BA in Comparative Literature & Economics from Yale. She has been featured in Bloomberg Businessweek, Mashable, Newsweek, Reuters Money, TechCrunch, The New York Times, and Fast Company’s Co.Exist Change Generation series. Natalia was named to the Forbes list “Top 20 Women for Entrepreneurs to Follow on Twitter,” as well as Latina.com’s “25 Latinas Who Shine in Tech.” Women’s eNews recognized her as one of 21 Leaders for the 21st Century for 2012 and Fortune highlighted her as one of the “55 most influential women on Twitter.”

Follow me on Twitter at @nakisnakis

Kate Shillo
VC Investors, Director, Galvanize

kate-shillo
Kate’s path to venture capital is a unique one; hailing from a family of self-starters and small business owners she’s worked in various industries: sports, service, old media, new media, and tech. She’s witnessed New York’s technology industry flourish into the competitive landscape it is today. She’s an entrepreneur at heart; she thrives at the earliest stages of ideas, and at the opportunity to problem solve and build.

In her current role she helps manage investments for Galvanize Ventures. Previously she helped build and manage Lerer Ventures as Director of Operations for 4 years – an early stage tech investment firm in NYC with over 190 investments. Prior, she was an EA to Kenneth Lerer, Founder of Lerer Ventures and The Huffington Post, and launched her career as an EA to Martha Stewart at MSLO.

Follow me on Twitter at @Kshillo

Lisa Stone
CoFounder of BlogHer and Chief Community Officer at SheKnows Media

Lisa became Chief Community Officer when SheKnows Media acquired BlogHer Inc., which she co-founded with Elisa Camahort Page and Jory Des Jardins in 2005. As CEO, Lisa charted BlogHer’s path from a grassroots conference into a leading cross-platform media company reaching 100 million unique visitors monthly and powered by a proprietary scalable technology platform. She was honored in 2013 with a Fortune Most Powerful Women Entrepreneur Award and Fast Company’s The 1000 Most Creative People in Business.

Previously, Lisa launched the first sponsored blog network for Law.com and blogged about the 2004 Democratic National Convention for LATimes.com. Lisa was the first Internet journalist to receive a Nieman Fellowship by Harvard University in 2002 after helping to grow Women.com into a top-30 site. There, she oversaw all original programming, integrated with Hearst and Rodale magazines and worked with E! Television/ Online, HBO’s “Sex and the City,” Bloomberg and Gallup, among others. She left the traditional newsroom (Oakland Tribune, CNN) in 1997 but continues to write regularly about gender and digital storytelling (New York Times, LATimes.com, The Huffington Post, to name a few).

Follow me on Twitter at @LisaStone

Diane Tate
Program Manager of Mozilla

Diane helps talented tech innovators realize their audacious visions by developing their messages, programs and events and wrangling teams of people to get stuff done. She also loves to public speak (really) and coach entrepreneurs on how to effectively present their pitches.

Diane’s had the privilege to work with amazing people at Mozilla, Charles Schwab, a myriad of Internet startups, a venture capital firm and an executive search firm, and speak at events including TEDx, South by Southwest (SXSW), the HTML5DevConf and the ForwardJS conference.

She went to Stanford University to study history, UC Berkeley’s Haas School to study business, and completed the Coro Community Fellowship to gain a greater understanding of big-picture complexities.

Follow me on Twitter at @tbiz

Kelly Keenan Trumpbour
Founder, See Jane Invest

kelly
Kelly Keenan Trumpbour, founder of See Jane Invest, is an investor dedicated to educating women who want to fund women-owned companies. A longtime advocate for women’s increased representation in business and politics, she draws on her experience in Washington, DC lobbying on behalf of the National Association of Women Business Owners, supporting the Women Under Forty Political Action Committee (WUFPAC), and recruiting young professional women to enter politics through the nonprofit she co-founded, Running Start, which equips high school, college and post-graduate women with the skills they need to excel in public office. A frequent media commentator and guest speaker at numerous universities and conferences, she is dedicated to teaching young women how to navigate the world of business and entrepreneurship. She is a board member of the Baltimore Angels, a Maryland-based investment group, and holds an MBA from Johns Hopkins and a law degree from the University of Maryland.

Follow me on Twitter at @kktrumpbour