Our Team

Our Network of more than 100 staff and consultants spans across generations, regions and backgrounds. We are energetic, diverse and fully committed to the success of our clients. Get to know our leadership staff or visit our location page to view more about our staff who range from current or former business owners to practicing attorneys, angel investors, procurement experts, former bankers, marketers, web designers, CPAs, student interns and more.

We speak: Arabic, Farsi, French, German, Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi, and Spanish

Directors

LaunchPad SBDC Consultants and Staff

SBDC @ UCI Beall Applied Innovation Consultants and Staff

EPIC SBDC Consultants and Staff

Dave Beck

Director

Areas of Expertise 

  • Sales Operations 
  • Customer Service 
  • Marketing Automation 
  • Healthcare Industry 
  • Professional Services 
  • Entertainment and Media


Experience
David studied Entrepreneurship at USC and got his MBA from UCLA.  He was 1 of 600 startup leaders selected for his company’s Accelerator Launchpad program.  He’s worked for small companies with 8 people to Fortune 100 companies where he was VP of Customer Service. He has managed 600 people and a P&L of $200M.

The best advice I have ever been given is: 
Your thoughts become your words, which become your actions, which become your habits, which become your character, which finally becomes your destiny.

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Julie Cranston

Director, SBDC @ UCI Applied Innovation

Areas of Expertise

  • Equity Funding
  • Marketing
  • Operations
  • Back Office Workflow


Experience

Julie has over 25 years of experience in marketing, business development, client service, and project management. She has founded both non-profit and for-profit businesses in the philanthropic, service, and fintech sectors.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Remember your “WHY”.

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Scott Brovsky

Director

Areas of Expertise 

  • Angel and Venture Capital
  • Fundraising and Go-To Market Strategy
  • Deep tech startups
  • Cleantech
  • Agtech
  • Biotech


Experience
Scott has been a Founding Executive of five tech startups including Mobile Games Studio, Muti Labs, and the Temecula-based sports tech company, NZN Labs/LIT Pro. As a brand marketing executive, Scott has a successful track record in launching and driving global product revenue for leading entertainment companies like Disney and Marvel. Scott has a Humanities honors degree from The University of Texas, Austin where he graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa.

The best advice I have ever been given is: 
Immunity from what other people think can lead to outsized results. Don’t spend too much time tranquilized by the trivial.

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Elsa Kondri

Administrative Assistant

Areas of Expertise

  • Pitch Decks

 

Experience

Elsa is an experienced technology analyst and small business development professional with expertise in technology evaluation and entrepreneur development in the life sciences and high-tech industries. She is skilled in building partnerships with academic institutions, commercial enterprises, nonprofit sectors, and investors. Elsa received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Irvine.

 

The best advice I have ever been given is:

The greatest mistake is to be afraid of making one

 

Languages

Farsi


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Jonathan Riecker

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Investors
  • Capital Funding
  • Biotechnology


Experience

Jonathan’s start-up experience began in Arizona. He and a small team developed a wearable medical sensor that was previously used in non-human primate (NHP) research. Jonathan gained valuable experience in project planning, product development, capital funding, and pitching that extended to him joining the Octane OC LaunchPad team. This gave Jonathan the unique opportunity to provide his insights on engineering principles, funding strategies, and pitch decks to upcoming start-ups.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
The pitch deck is the hype-man to its narrative. Keep it visual.

 

Make an Appointment!

 
Kenneth Stanigar - Kenneth Stanigar Headshot-min

Kenneth Stanigar

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Finance
  • M&A
  • Sales
  • Operations

 

Experience

Kenneth’s experience is primarily in corporate strategy and finance in large telecom, where he had years of experience doing M&A and business development. He was a key player in the company’s strategy to acquire relatively new companies in non-traditional areas of telecom and to internally develop a portfolio of startup entities to explore opportunities beyond its core telecommunications business.  He spent several years as CFO of one such entity operating in the video gaming industry.

 

The best advice I have ever been given is: 

If you haven’t failed, then you haven’t tried hard enough.

 

Make an Appointment!

 
 
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Marc Bellotti

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Life-Sustaining Systems
  • Drug and Device Systems
  • Intellectual Property
  • Biomedical Development

 

Experience
Marc is highly regarded as the product of a medical system development executive, experienced at leading organizations to innovate, develop and deliver patient-based medical and therapeutic systems and associated ancillaries. He is known for bridging the gaps between business needs, customer needs, and technology. He is also renowned for solving complex technical and organizational problems. Marc offers a track record of successfully growing organizations via process-driven product and pipeline development. 

The best advice I have ever been given is: 
If someone offers unsolicited advice, ask if they have ever done what they are telling you about. If they say yes, take notes- if they say no, walk away.

Make an Appointment!

 
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Paul Symczak

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Business development
  • Operations management
  • Board of Directors management

 

Experience

Paul has been advising start-up tech and med-tech companies for over 10 years at several SBDCs in the Southern California region. He uses the LaunchPad process to assist them in refining their investment presentations. His background is in high tech, including working with large telecom companies in new ventures and new business development.

 

The best advice I have ever been given is: 

“A long illness is always fatal.”  Don’t continue to pursue something that is a lost cause.  Move on.

 

Make an Appointment!

 

Shaun Sanders

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Marketing and Branding
  • Commercialization
  • Pitch Decks
  • Investor Presentations
  • Operations

 

Experience

Shaun works with companies of all sizes but is particularly passionate about startups and small businesses. In 2014, he managed the creation of an angel syndication network that tied together resources and members from more than a dozen investment groups throughout the country. Later, Shaun joined other local investors in building out the startup-focused Innovation Institute at the University of California, Irvine. Currently, in addition to advising and working with numerous startups, which has included Reddit, Hipmunk, and several Y Combinator portfolio companies, he invests much of his time into further developing the Southern California startup ecosystem.

 

The best advice I have ever been given is:

In the end, the “A Students” work for the “B Students,” the “B Students” lease their buildings from the “C Students,” and the “D Students” show up on a red carpet to dedicate the building.

 

Make an Appointment!

 

 

 
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Tom Mattoon

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • General Management
  • Finance
  • Operations

     

Experience

Tom has scaled businesses from startups to over $1B. He has experience working with companies in a range of fields including Medtech, computing, communications, and software.

 

Make an Appointment!

 
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Bill Waldo

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Sales and Marketing
  • Food Service
  • Go-to-Market Strategies
  • Funding

 

Experience

Bill was the founder of a food service, sales, and marketing company that grew to over 85 employees with offices throughout Southern Nevada and Southern California. After more than 25 years, he decided on an exit strategy. Once he completed the sale of his company, he joined TechCoast Angels and has been an active investor, Membership Chairman, and Board Member for 14 years. Bill joined the SBDC as a Senior Consultant in 2008, and has counseled over 900 different clients and assisted them in raising over $120 million.

 

The best advice I have ever been given is: 

Maintain passion and enthusiasm, and nothing will stop you.

 

Make an Appointment!

 
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David Friedman

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Marketing & Sales
  • Strategic & Product Planning
  • Operations
  • Technology 
  • Management

     

Experience

David is a former tech executive with a couple of engineering degrees and an MBA in Econometrics. He has been a small business consultant for about 10 years and has experience working in smaller technology and service companies. 

 

The best advice I have ever been given is: 

Focus and PODFU (plan, organize, delegate and follow-up).

 

Make an Appointment!

 

HanahKhaled

Hanah Khaled

Marketing Manger

Areas of Expertise

  • Digital and Social Media Marketing
  • Marketing Strategy and Brand Management
  • Website Development
  • PPC Management
  • Operations

 

Experience

Hanah manages the marketing for the entire network by maintaining brand identity and advertising. She is typically curating content, analyzing post-performance, and developing promotional campaigns. She has worked on state-wide initiatives that have helped small businesses. She has her Master’s in Business from the University of California, Irvine, a dual Bachelor’s in Business Administration Marketing and Business Administration Entrepreneurship from California State University, San Bernardino, and her Associates in Baking and Pastry from The Art Institute of the Inland Empire.


The best advice I have ever been given is:
Don’t take criticism from people you wouldn’t take advice from

Languages
Arabic

 

 

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Laura Beken

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Software
  • Pitch Decks
  • Go-to-Market Strategy

     

Experience

Laura Beken specializes in working with startups in the tech and healthcare space (life science and medical device/apps). Equity funding, strategy, and SBIR/STTR government funding are her specialties. She has degrees in Psychology, Visual Arts/Media, and a Healthcare MBA.

 

The best advice I have ever been given is: 

Life begins on the edge of your comfort zone. 

 

Make an Appointment!

 
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Molly Schmid

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • SBIR, STTR
  • Biotech startups

 

Experience

Molly Schmid has had distinguished careers in both academia and in the biotechnology industry.  In the Molecular Biology department at Princeton University, she raised over $1.2MM in grant funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), and American Cancer Society.  Research findings from her laboratory led her to the biotech industry, she was part of executive teams that raised over $100MM in funding through venture capital, corporate partnerships, public markets, and US and Canadian federal research grants. Molly has been part of the Southern California entrepreneurial community since 2005.

 

The best advice I have ever been given is: 

Go Long!

 

Make an Appointment!

 
 
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Philip Topham

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Pitch Decks
  • Strategic Marketing and Operations
  • Software
  • Healthcare 

 

Experience

Philip Topham is a renaissance man with a wide breadth of interests and accomplishments. As part of the executive team, Philip has experienced the wild ride when a traditional company gets a $20M venture capital infusion to become the next big thing. He has also built a company without venture backing from zero to profitability selling more than $5M to big pharma and changed the way the pharmaceutical industry operates. Since joining the SBDC, Philip focuses on helping founders build their capacity and skills so they can see their dreams come true.

 

The best advice I have ever been given is: 

Ideas are worthless. Revenues are priceless. Surround yourself with smart people. Walk around to the other side of the Elephant.

 

Make an Appointment!

 
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Richard Creager

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Medical Devices
  • Strategic Planning and Marketing
  • Product Development and Manufacturing
  • Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Financial Analysis


Experience
Richard has more than 35 years of experience in the vitro diagnostics industry. Currently, Dr. Creager is the founder of NaviDx LLC, a management consultant firm. He also is a business consultant for the SBDC @ UCI Beall Applied Innovation and an advisor to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) RADx program for SARS-CoV-2. He currently serves on the board of directors for the 1for2 education foundation, OnRamp Bioinformatics, and Ubiquitome. Richard has a B.S. from Muhlenberg College, an M.S. from Duquesne University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Don’t ever stop growing and learning. The world is constantly changing. One must continue to learn and evolve to thrive and succeed.

Make an Appointment!

 

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Steve Mednick

Senior Consultant

Areas of Expertise 

  • Corporate Law
  • Venture Capital
  • Global Business Development

 

Experience

Steven has launched and been a part of a number of early-stage businesses in technology and health care. He has also been a part of the corporate counsel to a number of small businesses.

 

The best advice I have ever been given is: 

Listen to your customer. 

 

Make an Appointment!

 

Arthur Salyer

Arthur Salyer

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Startups
  • Operations
  • Manufacturing
  • Overseas Operations

 

Experience

Arthur has helped start several startups in the technology, medical, media, and renewable energy industries.

 

The best advice I have ever been given is:

Network. Friends are important in business.

 

Languages

Spanish 

 

Make an Appointment!

 
CROSAS

Carolina Rosas-Saavedra

Administrative Assistant

Areas of Expertise

  • Biotechnology
  • Biology
  • Technology Research and Development
  • Fundraising
  • Business Formation
  • Patent Strategies

 

Experience

Carolina is a Molecular Biotechnology Engineer and holds a Master’s in Molecular, Cellular, and Neuroscience Biology from the University of Chile. She is the founder of VitrotechSpA and a co-founder of Klein Biotecnología Ltda. Carolina has been Director and Co-director of several R&D grants and currently is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Office of Technology Partnerships at the University of California Riverside. In this capacity, she mentors entrepreneurs and promotes the development of small businesses and scalable start-ups in the Inland Empire. 

 

The best advice I have ever been given is:

Be humble and unstoppable.

 

Languages

Spanish

 


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Christos Kritikos

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Product Strategy, Design, and Launch
  • Funding
  • Leadership

 

Experience

Christos Kritikos is a startup coach/mentor, product expert, and the founder of EmergingHumanity.com that helps entrepreneurs tackle startup chaos, gain market traction, and become fundable. His education includes a Master of Science in Computer Science from UCLA and certifications in Design Thinking, Product Management, Brand Management, and Product Marketing. He focuses on consumer-facing products in health & wellness, education, travel and hospitality, economic development, and social impact.

 

The best advice I have ever been given is:

The treasure you seek is found in the work you are avoiding. 

 

Make an Appointment!

 
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David Pearson

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Marketing
  • Planning

 

Experience

David worked for twenty years in the international pharmaceutical industry before starting his career leading smaller life sciences companies in medical devices, medicinal chemistry services, biotech drug discovery, and biopharma commercialization.  His experience includes winning approval at the FDA for a novel ophthalmology medication and building the commercial organization to launch the product.  David has worked closely with scientific founders to bring new technologies forward and continues to do so in his role as Managing Director of Entrepreneurial Programs at UC Riverside.

 

The best advice I have ever been given is:

“Segment, Segment, Segment – reduce the problem you face to its simplest elements.” – Arnoldo Hax, MIT Sloan

 

Languages

French, German

 

Make an Appointment!

 

 

 
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Doug Kollmyer

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Biotechnology and Biology
  • Technology Research and Development
  • Fundraising
  • Business Formation
  • Patent Strategies


Experience

Doug has a background in marketing, sales management, and business operations. He worked at startups along with small and large companies. Working as the Director of Sales in these companies, he grew revenues from $700 million to $1.3 billion in three years.

 

The best advice I have ever been given is:

Understand your customers’ wants and needs, and your competitors’ weaknesses.

 

Make an Appointment!

 
 
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Eric Gosink

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Biomedical Technology & Cellular Biology Research
  • Intellectual Property
  • Grant & Investor Funding
  • Licensing

 

Experience

Eric has supported the development of early-stage technologies, both in licensing to established enterprises and assisting the creation of many inventor-led startup companies.  He assesses the intellectual property position of many new technologies, evaluates their market potential, and negotiates different types of contracts and licenses not only for commercialization but to support funding and investment in further development. Eric comes from a biotechnology background and has been involved in commercializing many research technologies as well as medical products and hardware, in addition to data, software, agricultural, and manufacturing processes. 

 

The best advice I have ever been given is:

You don’t have to start this company yourself, so tell me why you want to do this.

 

Make an Appointment!

 
 
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Martin Kleckner III

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • SBIR/STTR
  • Equity Capitalization
  • Strategic Planning and Management
  • Finance and Operations
  • Research Translation and Commercialization
  • Healthcare Economics
  • Public Policy, Legislative Advocacy, and Regulatory Affairs

 

Experience

Martin has 29 years of experience in operations and business development in the life sciences, healthcare, and sustainability. He has advised over 115 emerging and Fortune 100 companies with corporate planning and strategy, commercialization, economics, and public policy throughout Europe, Asia, and the Americas. He founded five venture start-ups with two exits. His SpyFinder, a hidden camera locator, was showcased in an episode of CSI Miami. He is a nationally trained instructor for the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps™ having taught Lean LaunchPad® business model discovery and validation principles at universities throughout the U. S., the University of California, Riverside (an I-Corps site), and at research universities throughout Chile.

 

The best advice I have ever been given is:

Don’t do that! You’ll poke your eyes out!

 

Make an Appointment!

 

 
 
 
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Richard Kuntz

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Equity and Debt Financings
  • M&A
  • Corporate Partnering
  • Team Building
  • Corporate Governance

 

Experience

Richard is a venture capital investor for 30+ years with deep domain expertise in healthcare and life sciences. He has operating, start-up, and board-level experience with multiple early-stage technology-based businesses. As an instructor and mentor, Richard works to guide entrepreneurs through the process of matching business opportunities to technology capabilities.

 

The best advice I have ever been given is:

Don’t do anything in business that you wouldn’t be comfortable explaining to the CEO.

 

Make an Appointment!

 
 
Steve Sharp - Steve Photo-min

Stephen Sharp

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • B2B and B2C Marketing
  • Operations and Related Best Practices
  • Consumer Goods

 

Experience

Stephen has over 39 years’ experience as an executive, board member, and business consultant, spanning startups to F500 companies as a Sr. VP of Corporate Marketing, COO, and General Manager. He has run businesses with a collective value of > $800M. He is currently in his 4th year as an EIR at UCR, with particular depth in marketing, operations, and organizational excellence. Stephen’s background is primarily in manufacturing businesses, though he has mentored teams in medical, Agtech, diagnostics, education, and consumer goods industries. 

 

The best advice I have ever been given is:

The first person speaking in a negotiation loses

 

Make an Appointment!

 
 
Vasu Pestonjamasp, Ph.D., MBA, CLP - Headshot - Vasu Pestonjamasp-min

Vasu Pestonjamasp

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Clean/Environmentally Friendly Technology
  • Therapeutics
  • R&D reagents
  • Medical Devices
  • Drug Delivery Platforms
  • Regenerative Medicine
  • Diagnostics, Comparative and Telemedicine 
  • Genetic Engineering

 

Experience

Dr. Vasu Pestonjamasp has over 20 years of combined experience in chemical, physical, and life sciences, and business, which has spanned work with startups along with mid and large size entities. She has also worked alongside funding agencies and technology transfer offices regarding their commercialization decisions. Her expertise includes mentorship within the NSF I-Corps program, evaluation of innovations generated by academic faculty and global companies, new product development, advisory for proof-of-concept and investor presentations, and strategic partnerships. Additionally, she has experience with the maximization of various SBIR/STTR and other opportunities in terms of millions of dollars of funding and has served as a judge at an innovation pitching competition.

 

The best advice I have ever been given is:

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” ― John Muir

 

Languages

Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati 

 

Make an Appointment!

 

 

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