Date & Time
Thursday, March 5, 2015 - 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Soda Activity Center: Claeys Lounge, 1928 Saint Mary's Road, Moraga, CA 94575
View a map and get directions.

2015 Business Idea Competition RegistrationJoin us for Saint Mary's College 2015 Business Idea Competition on Thursday, March 5, 2015 from 5:30 - 9 p.m. at the Soda Center. Selected presenters will have an opportunity to work with industry expert coaches and further develop their idea and pitch before the competition. The objective of this Business Idea Competition is to help School of Economics and Business Administration students and alumni refine their ideas to get to the stage where they can actually present to investors. 

This event will focus on showcasing business ideas/pitches from Saint Mary's College School of Economics and Business Administration (undergraduate and graduate) students and alumni.

  1. Interested applicants are required to submit an application and to Professor Berna Aksu by Sunday, February 22. Only interested in watching? Just RSVP here!
  2. Six presenters will be selected and announced on Tuesday, February 24.  
  3. Selected presenters were required to attend at least one of coaching workshop on the Rheem Campus on Friday, February 27 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m or Sunday, March 1 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  (PowerPoint draft required for coaching session.) If you have questions regarding this requirement please contact Professor Berna Aksu.
  4. Presenters will pitch their ideas at the competition and may use three PowerPoint slides as visual aides.
    (Format: 2 minute pitch - 4 minute Q&A - 4 minute feedback) 
  5. Presenters will receive feedback from a panel of Keiretsu Forum investors and partners. (Note: you don't have to be funded, in revenue, or even be incorporated - this is a great opportunity for even early stage business ideas. The application form will guide you through the relevant aspects of your idea.)

Graduate 1st Place- $3,000, 2 hours of legal counsel at Ramsey Law Group valued at $700a substainial discount for the Keiretsu Academy, and the coveted opportunity to present at an upcoming Angel Capital Expo - a Keiretsu Forum premier gathering of the angel capital community.
Undergraduate 1st Place- $2,000, 2 hours of legal counsel at Ramsey Law Group valued at $700, a substainial discount for the Keiretsu Academy, and the coveted opportunity to present at PitchForce, an event platform for early stage ventures. 
People's Choice Award - $1000, voted on via text by the audience. 

5:30pm  Registration and Networking
6:00pm  Welcome, Introductions and Update from 2014 Winners
6:20pm  Undergraduate Presentations 
7:00pm  Graduate Presentations 
8:30pm  Award Announcement and Networking

Appetizers and drinks will be served.
This is a business casual event. Please come in appropriate attire. 

Free for Saint Mary's College current students, presenters and Keiretsu Forum members
$10 for Saint Mary's College alumni 
$20 for Saint Mary's College friends/community members

Don't wait, register now:

Register Now


Assim Gupta: Gupta has a background in eCommerce, SaaS, mobile and ERP/CRM space. In last 20 years Assim has played several roles ranging from a software engineer to a product manager to the CEO of start-ups. He specializes in taking an idea from "a gleam in the eye" to the "hands of the consumer". He has worked on product strategy, architecture, development, deployment and global operations.

Assim not only brings a strategic vision along with deep technical expertise, he also adds managerial depth to the team. He has created wide spectrum technical teams from scratch and has led/ directed several complex projects as a people manager and a program manager for companies like Oracle and VMware. He has worked extensively in  distributed software development scenarios and has been recognized for his expertise in lean software development. Some other companies Assim has worked with are Apple, Google and SGI.

Assim has a bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Computer Sciences as well as an MBA in International Business from leading schools in India. Assim lives with his family in Palo Alto and in another life his hobbies were flying and sky-diving - but a wife and two kids soon put a stop to that :-). Currently the only hobbies are changing diapers and being a pony.

Sophia Collier: Collier is executive manager and key strategist at Point Reyes Management, LLC. She is an active investor, entrepreneur and artist with a 40-year career including executive positions and successful startups and exits in consumer products, financial services and technology.

For 16 years, Collier was the CEO of Citizens Advisers, Inc., a SEC registered investment advisor that attained $2.5 billion in assets and Citizens Securities, a 50 state registered broker-dealer. At Citizens she participated in the purchase and sale of billions of dollars of securities, created a number of funds and structured products, in addition to being an active investor. Collier and her partners sold Citizens Advisers in April 2008 to the Sentinel Funds, a unit of National Life of Vermont.

Prior to founding Citizens, Collier co-founded American Natural Beverage in her kitchen in Brooklyn, NY when she was 21 years old. Under her leadership, the company grew to over $25 million in retail sales and was sold to the Seagram Beverage Company in 1989. Rockefeller and Co. was among the early investors in American Natural. The company's product Soho Natural Soda was the first in the new wave of alternative beverages and launched an industry generating billions of dollars in sales today.

Shirley Gee: Gee has extensive executive-level experience driving increased efficiency and performance across organizational tiers. As a retiree of the Executive University Officer and Department Head at Stanford University’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, a multi-purpose laboratory for astrophysics, photon science, accelerator and particle physics research (recent retiree). She is currently the Managing Partner at Angel Plus, LCC, a trusted validation firm of latter stage, start-up corporations in anticipation of capitalization. The firm performs deep dive due diligence reviews on emerging corporations including assessments in the following areas: management teams, product, addressable market, financials, capitalization history, manufacturing end, pricing, regulatory needs and timetable, patents, competitors, quality assurance program, risk and mitigations, and exit strategy. 

Gee is an active Accredited investor; Chair, Life Science Committee; Member of Technology Transfer Committee; and Team Lead for Due Diligence at Keiretsu Forum, an international angel investment organization with 24 chapters throughout the world. She enjoys participating as a panelist and guest lecturer on due diligence process, capitalizing start-ups, exit strategies and technology transfer, board service and strategic planning.

Gee has extensive experience and background in strategic business planning, operational assessment, intellectual capital alignment, conflict resolution and mediation, human resource management, financial management, sustainability, governmental and regulatory compliance, and pre-litigation investigations (Chief Executive and Operating Officer equivalent). Shirley is a serial entrepreneur (real estate and multi-residential development, retail and service businesses)and expert in public policy development and regulatory compliance at the local, state, and federal level with considerable experience as a principle in social, economic, judicial, and political initiatives. Shirley earned her BA in Business Management and MBA from Saint Mary’s College, Moraga, California.

Brad Winegar: Winegar is currently a Managing Director with Salt Creek Capital, a San Francisco Bay Area private equity firm  that partners with talented executives to acquire companies in the lower middle market. Prior to Salt Creek, he was with Pacific Private Capital, a private equity firm that specializes in equity and mezzanine financing for growth, acquisition and recapitalization investments in small and lower middle market companies. Prior to joining PPC, Winegar served as Senior Vice President of Prudential Capital Group (PCG) where he managed a portfolio of assets in various stages in the alternative energy, discount retail, cable, transportation, technology and printing industries. Prior to PCG Brad was stationed in Hong Kong with Prudential Asia, a private equity and venture capital unit of The Prudential, where he was responsible for investments by the Asian Infrastructure Mezzanine Fund, which focused on investments in the power, telecom, transportation and water sectors of the emerging markets of Asia.   

Randy Williams:  Williams founded Keiretsu Forum in September 2000 to provide a disciplined and structured approach to angel investing.  Williams passion for investing and bringing together like-minded community leaders has created a powerful and giving environment for entrepreneurs. With over 1,400 angel investor members throughout 36 chapters on 3 continents Keiretsu Forum is the largest angel investment community in the World.


Williams is also the founder of the Keiretsu Forum Charitable Foundation.  Since its inception in 2001, 114 deserving charities have been granted sizable donations.  The goal of the Keiretsu Forum Charitable Foundation is to grant $250,000 annually, to worthy local charities throughout the Keiretsu Forum regional chapters.


Williams has 30 years of experience in finance, real estate, and marketing including in various alternative asset classes.  He was co-founder and Director of Diablo Valley Bank.  Williams was President of Pacific Union Commercial Brokerage, founder of the LaMorinda Bank, and Managing Director of Kennedy-Wilson International, an international real estate investment company.


Williams is a frequent guest speaker at investment conferences, leading universities, and business schools on alternative asset investment and entrepreneurialism. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California Berkeley and a Master’s degree from St. Mary’s College of California. 


This is a Center for Regional Economy event hosted in partnership with Stull Grant for Entrepreneurship and the Keiretsu Forum. 

About Saint Mary's College Center for Regional Economy

The Center for the Regional Economy (CRE) brings together faculty, students and alumni at Saint Mary’s College with business, governmental  and non-profit groups in the San  Francisco East Bay, the Greater San Francisco Bay Area in support of an economy that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.

  • It carries out research, both academic and applied, on the issues and problems related to its mission, and provides access to research results as broadly as possible.
  • It provides consultancy and advisory services to its constituents leveraging the expertise of Saint Mary’s faculty and students.
  • It organizes events that bring together internal and external constituencies for shared discussion of topics of joint interest

About Keiretsu Forum

Keiretsu Forum Logo

Keiretsu Forum is the largest global angel investment network with 36 chapters on 3 continents. Our members are accredited private equity (angel) investors, VCs and corporate investors. Keiretsu Forum members provide early-stage capital in the range of $500k-$2 million. The organization itself does not invest in the presenting companies. Our members collaborate on screening and due diligence but make individual investment decisions in the presenting companies. Our Northern California members invested in 29 ventures in 2013 with a total of $8.66 million. So far in 2014, Keiretsu Forum Northern California members have invested over $14 million in 26 ventures.


Questions about the event? Interested in sponsorship opportunities?  Contact Dr. Berna Aksu

Maps & Directories

Mailing Address

Saint Mary's College of California
1928 Saint Mary's Road
Moraga, CA 94575
(925) 631-4000
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