Business Idea Competition

Date & Time:
Thursday, March 3, 2016 -
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.

Business Idea CompetitionJoin us for Saint Mary's College 2016 Business Idea Competition on Thursday, March 3, 2016 from 5:15 - 9 p.m. at the Soda Center. Finalists will have an opportunity to work with coaches, seasoned entrepreneurs, and industry experts, and further develop their ideas and pitches before the competition. The objective of this Business Idea Competition is to help participants 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 undergraduate and graduate students and alumni from SEBA, SOLA, SOS, KSOE.

  1. Interested applicants are required to submit an application to Professor Berna Aksu by Monday, February 15. Only interested in watching? Just RSVP here!
  2. Eight presenters will be selected as finalists and announced on Friday, February 19.  
  3. Finalists are required to attend at least one, preferably both, coaching workshops on the Rheem Campus on Friday, February 26 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and/or Sunday, February 28 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  (PowerPoint draft required for coaching session.) If you have questions regarding this requirement please contact Professor Aksu.
  4. Finalists will pitch their ideas at the competition and may use three PowerPoint slides as visual aids. 
  5. The format is 2 minute pitch - 4 minute Q&A - 4 minute feedback. 
  6. Presenters will receive feedback and votes from a panel of Keiretsu Forum investors and partners. (Note: This is a great opportunity for even early stage business ideas; you don't have to be funded, in revenue, or even be incorporated. The application form will guide you and help you think through the relevant aspects of your idea.)
2016 AWARDS:
*All the finalists presenting will receive a 25% grant off the price of the Entrepreneur Academy
1st Place - $3,000 Cash Prize, 4 hours of legal counsel (2 hours of partner time at Hanson Bridgett from Eric Clarke and 2 hours of partner time from Neil Kripalani, Esq. ) valued at $1,870, a scholarship for the Forum's Entrepreneur Academy valued at $1,549, and the coveted opportunity to present at an upcoming Angel Capital Expo - a Keiretsu Forum premier gathering of the angel capital community, a opportunity valued $2,850. Total award package valued at $9,269.

2nd Place - $1,500 Cash Prize, 4 hours of legal counsel (2 hours of partner time at Hanson Bridgett from Eric Clarke and 2 hours of partner time from Neil Kripalani, Esq. ) valued at $1,870, and the coveted opportunity to present at PitchForce, an event platform for early stage ventures. Total award package valued at $2,870.

People's Choice Award - $1,000 Cash Prize donated by the Stull family, voted on via text by the audience at the event.

5:30pm  Registration and Networking
6:00pm  Welcome and Update from Past Competitor - Ganesh Vishwanath
6:15pm  Introductions, Rules and Format Review
6:30pm  Presentations

7:45pm  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


Eric Clarke: Clarke is a partner in the firm’s corporate department whose practice focuses on mergers and acquisitions, private equity investments, private investment funds, and general company representation.

Clarke regularly represents businesses and private equity funds in connection with formation, investments, acquisitions, dispositions, mergers, recapitalizations, equity and debt financings, joint ventures, strategic alliances, and other activities, as well as representing financial institutions in connection with fund investments, co-investments, and secondary LP interest transfers.

Clarke also advises clients in connection with a wide range of general business and commercial matters, including commercial contracts, licensing arrangements, employment and consulting arrangements, compliance matters, and corporate governance.

Representative Work
Clarke also serves as coordinating legal counsel to a leading multi-national material science design, development and manufacturing company, counseling the corporation with respect to business and legal issues which include protection, development and licensing of its intellectual property, strategic alliances, manufacturing and outsourcing, joint ventures, and corporate governance.

Shirley Gee: Gee is the Managing Partner at Angel Plus, LLC and has extensive executive-level experience driving increased efficiency and performance across organizational tiers.   She has a strong track record of achievements and in building relationships with investors, entrepreneurs, academic community, executive peers, users, business partners, and external partners both within the United States and internationally.  Her expertise includes technology transfer from academia to commercialization; vetting companies for investors, evaluating corporate business and strategic plans, establishing operation infrastructures, and helping companies navigate through the venture capital eco-systems. She is a highly sought out consultant and comes with stellar recommendations from the investment community.

Gee is an active Accredited Investor; Chair, Life Science Committee; Member of Technology Transfer Committee; and Team Lead for Due Diligence at Keiretsu Forum. She is a mentor and lecturer for the UC/Davis Entrepreneurial Academy for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory LLNL and Sandia National Laboratory and works regularly with scientists and their entrepreneurial aspirations supporting and advancing technology in the commercial space.

Gee was a Venture Partner with Forest Ventures, LP, a private equity fund operating in San Francisco, CA.  She was also the Chief Operating Officer at Coyote Nest, Inc., an international firm with aspirations to manage an incubator/accelerator complex for science, technology, and health entrepreneurs and start-up's from Latin America including Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Columbia, and Mexico. Her role was to facilitate strategic partnerships for the incubator/accelerator particularly with respect to educational content and capitalization.  This project was designed to include a consortium of universities and capital funders to provide educational support and capital liftoff, respectively to start-up's coming to Silicon Valley.

Prior to working in the investment space, she was an Executive Senior Member and Department Head for Stanford University’s multi-purpose, international research laboratory reporting to three Directors, in turn, including the Founder and a Nobel Laureate.  She worked “at the pleasure of” the Stanford University President for much of her 25+ year career interacting at multiple levels within the $450M research laboratory and providing specialized guidance to 200+ senior managers.

Gee has served on a number of Boards, both in the “for-profit” (pharmaceutical and medical device) and “non-profit” arena. She holds a Masters in Business Administration and Bachelors in Business Management from St. Mary’s College, Moraga, California.

Aleks Gollu: Gollu is a veteran of the supply chain and the Bay Area venture start-up eco-system. Dr. Gollu holds a BS degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and MS and Ph.D. degrees from University of California, Berkeley, all in EECS with a focus on system management. His early industry experiences include positions at Oracle, Teknekron Communication Systems, and Sapient.

In 1998, Gollu was Co-Founder of OTelNet, a pioneer of SMS-based cell phone applications. He was instrumental in establishing Verizon, Vodafone, and T-Mobile as the company’s tier-1 customers, which ultimately led to its acquisition by Telecommunication Systems (TSYS) in 2002. Having served as VP of Product and Services Marketing at TSYS, he moved his focus to asset tracking solutions and the supply chain.

In 2004 he founded PINC Solutions. PINC has since become the premier provider of yard management and transportation visibility solutions. PINC’s customers deliver their shipments with higher accuracy and velocity at lower cost by collaborating with their trading partners on PINC’s hosted solution platform. As a Board Member and special advisor to PINC, Gollu drives further innovation for the company's best-in-class asset visibility solutions.

In 2013, Gollu received the Pros to Know award from Supply & Demand Chain Executive. He remains active through Bolis Forum and provides consulting and training services in supply chain execution and venture/start-up strategy.

His most recent start-up 11Sight provides a video interaction platform for businesses to establish first contact and to accelerate lead conversion. 

Gollu holds 3 patents with 3 pending.

Mary Jo Potter: Potter is a founding venture partner at 1000 Angels and the founder and CEO of Healthcare Angels. As an advisor and investor, she has been actively involved in the healthcare sector for 30 years. Having sold a company to McGraw Hill, Potter has started and exited a number of organizations. In addition, she has been an active investor in early stage innovators in health care, and has been on a number of boards including CHW/Dignity, CHI, CHRISTUS, ocular Sciences, the UC School of Public Health, 7 nonprofits, and 3 private companies.  

She is especially involved with health systems, physician groups, and payers who are migrating to next generation delivery approaches, using technology, evidence-based practices, and actionable data systems to improve access and quality of care nationally as well as globally.

Jennifer Schneidermann:  Schneidermann is a Keiretsu Forum East Bay Chapter member. For the last 12 years, she has served as a financial advisor to successful entrepreneurs, professionals, divorcees and widows, as well as small/mid-sized institutions including family foundations. In 2002, Schneidermann partnered with Paul Sanderson, a Senior Vice President of Wealth Management and Family Wealth Director, and created the Praxis Group at Morgan Stanley. They are joined by a fantastic team members: Yvonne Gray, their Registered Associate and Consulting Group Analyst, Greg Shawver. The team manages in excess of $340 million of client assets and has a combined 80 years' experience in wealth management and client service as of 8/2014.

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 1,500 angel investor members throughout 40 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 the 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 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 LogoKeiretsu Forum was founded in 2000 by Randy Williams in the San Francisco Bay Area. With over 1,500 investor members throughout 40 chapters on 3 continents, Keiretsu Forum is the world's largest angel investor network. Keiretsu Forum membership is comprised of angel investors, venture capitalists, corporate/institutional investors, and serial entrepreneurs who provide early-stage capital in the range of $250,000 - $2 million to high-quality, diverse investment opportunities. Keiretsu Forum is not a fund and does not invest as an LLC. Keiretsu Forum members collaborate in the due diligence but make individual investment decisions.

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