2021 KEYNOTE SPEAKER

Victor Hwang

Victor is an economic growth expert. His ideas have shaped the economic lives of millions of people worldwide.

His work has helped over 300 communities, cities, states, companies, and even entire countries in creating greater economic prosperity.

His economic development clients have included the World Bank, Ford Foundation, Inter-American Development Bank, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. 


He has also worked with corporate clients seeking to grow entrepreneurial innovation, including Accenture, IBM, and Microsoft.

He is founder and CEO of Victor & Company, an economic growth consultancy.


He is founder and CEO of, a campaign fighting to rebuild the economy by making entrepreneurial opportunity available to all.

At Kauffman, he led initiatives that impacted over 200,000 entrepreneurs, including efforts in catalyzing capital formation, transforming economic development practices, launching a national policy roadmap, and breaking barriers for underserved entrepreneurs.


Victor was co-founder and CEO of the startup Liquidity, a Silicon Valley venture-backed firm making safe drinking water filtration based on nanotech manufacturing. He led the company through product launch, early revenues, and winning the TechCrunch Disrupt startup competition.  

 

He was CEO and co-founder of T2 Venture Creation, a venture firm that built startup companies and designed ecosystems that fostered entrepreneurial innovation in dozens of countries and cities.  

Previously, he was Vice President of Entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation, the world’s leading philanthropy supporting entrepreneurs with an endowment of $2 billion.

 

Victor pioneered the use of the metaphor “rainforest” in a business context. He applied it to show how communities can replicate the historical innovation dynamics of Silicon Valley. 

 

His co-authored book, The Rainforest, was awarded Book of the Year, Gold Medal, by ForeWord Reviews for “a big idea that defines a way of thinking.”

 

Victor received his bachelors degree (with honors) from Harvard University, where he studied Government, plus additional studies in Computer Science. He received his law degree from the University of Chicago.

ICON PANEL

Erica Spangler

Director of Product Digital Commerce, Build Ferguson

Erica Spangler leads a team of Product and UX talent to create delightful experiences for Ferguson and Build customers. She is always looking ahead to help craft a vision and strategy that pushes her teams forward. Erica's Product approach balances a Right to Play and a Right to Win but making sure her teams start with a clear understanding of the problem.

Robert Craw

President & CEO, AqueoUS Vets

Robert Craw has over 28 years in the water, wastewater and environmental industries providing treatment technologies and services, Mr. Craw has had direct responsibilities including field services manager, branch operations manager, regional manager and regional business development manager for leading national firms. He has been supporting the Federal water and wastewater industry since 1995.

Kathryn and Michael K. Redman

Owners, Half a Bubble Out/Fulfilled the Book

Kathryn and Michael K. Redman are the husband-and-wife team behind Half a Bubble Out (HaBO), a marketing and business consulting firm that develops the whole leader for the whole business. They’re the co-authors of Fulfilled: The Passion & Provision Strategy for Building a Business with Profit, Purpose & Legacy. Michael and Kathryn have been featured in Forbes and Entrepreneur magazines, built two 7 figure companies, been visiting professors at multiple universities, are frequent guest speakers, and are the creators and co-hosts of the HaBO Village Business and Leadership Podcast. For over 18 years, they’ve helped business leaders grow their companies through marketing, business coaching, and leadership development. They currently reside in their hometown of Chico, California, where they love going to work every day.

Tim Vanderheiden

CEO, SafePath Products

Timothy Vander Heiden, CEO of Van Duerr Industries, Inc. DBA SafePath Products has significant experience and expertise in product recycled product development, he holds a Juris Doctorate and consults on various access code laws, and has published many articles in national journals regarding ADA and compliance. He also develops innovative uses for commercialization of recycled tire products specific to state-federal compliance regulations. He was solely responsible for the introduction of the first recycled rubber product to the door hardware industry and the national architectural construction and design community. He developed a national sales marketing network and currently markets recycled tire products to various disciplines including door hardware, flooring manufacturers, industrial supply, and many other market channels.

Lance Blanshei

Founder & CEO, Tea Innovations, LLC

Lance began his creative marketing career with Ketchum Advertising in San Francisco managing many of their national packaged goods accounts. From there he founded Blanshei Partners, a brand development and advertising agency that specialized in new product innovation for national consumer packaged goods companies such as Proctor & Gamble, General Mills and Whole Foods. After 15 years of brand and new product consulting, tea entrepreneurship was Lance's next professional challenge. With his partner Shelly, they created the TBar, what many national foodservice leaders refer to as the industry's most unique and successful fast casual tea concepts in the country today. He was solely responsible for the introduction of the first recycled rubber product to the door hardware industry and the national architectural construction and design community. He developed a national sales marketing network and currently markets recycled tire products to various disciplines including door hardware, flooring manufacturers, industrial supply, and many other market channels.

GROWTECH STARTUP STORIES

Mark Sorenson

CEO, Social High Rise

Mark is the founder and CEO of Social High Rise, a company that professionally manages social media and customer reviews for restaurants and small businesses. Prior to Social High Rise, Mark was the founder of Karmakey, which provided a digital loyalty solution for restaurants and bars. Over the past decade, Mark and his team at Social High Rise have helped hundreds of businesses create and manage their social media presence. Mark is an active mentor to aspiring entrepreneurs and women in leadership. He is also a husband, father, cancer survivor, and runner.

John Aylworth

Chief Executive, Xytogen & Specs Bio

I am an optimist, researcher and businessman - pretty much in that order. I founded Xytogen in 2015 to explore the potential of human stem cell therapeutic medicine. As an arm of our research, we launched FACTORFIVE Skin Care which has gone on to win many awards and become the number one brand of its kind in the dermatology space. We will be announcing our next major venture during Growtech.

Miles Rampel

CEO, Party Pic, Inc.

Miles Rampel is an American internet entrepreneur, investor, and semi-professional poker player. Rampel sold over $10 million online since 2015 using organic traffic from Google (SEO) and famously beat a man in ping pong using a butterknife as a paddle. Starting as a consumer-app for sharing pictures anonymously, Party Pic's first incarnation failed miserably. From the ashes, Party Pic, Inc. has become a end-to-end marketing company specializing primarily in affiliate SEO and lead generation.

Cliff Mitchell

CoFounder & CEO, ClockShark

One of the biggest headaches when I ran a construction company was tracking our crews' hours for payroll. We wasted hours on every payroll tracking down timesheets. We understand how it feels to lose your money and waste your time on frustrating and inaccurate timesheets. So we built ClockShark to solve the problem! We exist to give businesses back the valuable time and money they need to grow and succeed, and improve the lives of the people that run them. Starting as a consumer-app for sharing pictures anonymously, Party Pic's first incarnation failed miserably. From the ashes, Party Pic, Inc. has become a end-to-end marketing company specializing primarily in affiliate SEO and lead generation.

GROWTECH STARTUP PITCHES

Wendy Owens

Founder & CEO, Hexas Biomass

Wendy Owens is the Founder and CEO of Hexas Biomass, a biomaterials company producing plant-based raw materials. She is a serial entrepreneur with experience across multiple industries. Hexas combines her background in materials engineering and biotechnology with a passion to save the Earth. Concurrently with past entrepreneurial endeavors, she spent 14 years as an executive-level appointed advisor to the US Secretary of Commerce and US Trade Representative. Ms. Owens is a published author on a variety of subjects and has a Master of Art degree from Tufts University.

Brayden Young

Co-Founder, Sendoso

Jeremy Fishel

Founder, Tanglible Research

Jeremy Fishel has more than 12 years of successful research, development, and commercialization experience with biologically-inspired tactile sensing and applications as the co-founder and former CTO of SynTouch, where he was responsible for the direction of more than $5M in federally funded SBIRs and contracts leading to the development of SynTouch’s core products and technologies. In 2019 he founded Tangible Research to explore the development of high-fidelity telerobot systems incorporating the sense of touch.

Chuck Nadeau

President, MC Fiber Solutions

Chuck Nadeau is the founder and President of MC Fiber Solutions, a company that specializes in end-to-end connectivity products for data centers and telecom carriers. Through our integration partners, our products are used in some of the largest networks in the world including Netflix, Apple and Amazon. We also build easy to use, turnkey packages for mobile operators who are currently building out the infrastructure and digital backbone that supports 5G and edge computing. In addition to MC Fiber Solutions, Chuck has also started and is currently on the boards of many local non-profits in the Chico area.

Sedale Turbovsky

CEO, opengrants.io

Sedale is a CEO @OpenGrants. Startup Junkie. Professional Human Being. Investor. VC Scout. Business Designer. Strategic Consultant. Guide. Musician. Sedale brings with him a history of leading successful teams, experience with—and deep connections to—the public sector, and a passion for building companies with a strong social mission.

Matt Theide &
Melissa Thiede

Stoble Coffee