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Innovation and Entrepreneurship Symposium 2018

February 2, 2018 - 5:00pm to February 4, 2018 - 1:00am


Pitchfest Prizes $$$

Jane Binger and Robert Bernstein Individual Prize in Entrepreneurial Communication

- 1st prize=$200, 2nd prize=$100, 3rd prize=$50

Mike and Lori Gallo Group Prize in Entrepreneurial Communication

- $300


There will also be prizes for innovation exercise winning team members, an opportunity drawing, and a prize for the student with the most referrals.



In this series of workshops:

  • Meet successful entrepreneurs and hear how they have brought their dreams and ideas to life.
  • Learn successful entrepreneurship essentials. Gain foundational knowledge, and explore the strengths and weaknesses of your entrepreneurial plan.
  • Hear from experts how to develop a pitch that will get you heard. Pitching your business idea is a key element on getting your plan moving.
  • Forge network connections and learn from challenges others have encountered on their journeys. Take the opportunity to network and make connections that will help you make your ideas and dreams become a reality.
  • Find out about the resources that are available to you both in and outside of our communities.

At the end of the program you will have had a chance to meet with successful entrepreneurs, develop a plan and skills to pitch your ideas and network to improve your chances of successfully launching your business ideas.

Students who attend all IES modules identified below (creative innovation and team exercises, entrepreneurial training and pitching, and make a pitch in Pitchfest) will be granted an Innovation and Entrepreneurship Symposium (IES) completion award.



Pick one of the two options below:

***CLOSED Register for attending the entire symposium AND receiving an IES Award of Completion (certificate)***


***CLOSED Register for attending individual sessions***



Module I: Innovation and team building exercises

Module II: Introduction to innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership

Module III: Startup foundations

Module IV: Startup finance

Module V: Pitching your idea



Friday, February 2, 9:00am-5:00pm, Kolligian Library 355

Creative innovation and team exercises; business luncheon and panel discussion; introduction to innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership; startup foundations

9:00am-9:30am Registration; coffee and pastries

9:30am-11:15am Creative innovation and team exercises (Facilitators: Alexander Petersen, John Haner, Jane Binger) - IES module I

11:15am-11:30am Break

11:30am-12:00pm Creative innovation and team exercises debriefing (Alexander Petersen) – IES module I

12:00pm-1:30pm Business luncheon and panel discussion: what does it take to succeed as an entrepreneur? (Mix of former students and entrepreneurs: Louis Gonzalez Haro, Augustin Roldan-Sweep Energy, Forrest Yeh, Nick Fong-LimeBike) (Moderators: John Haner, Hector Cuevas, Russ McBride) (Lunch will be provided)

1:30pm-2:00pm Ideation: analyzing a business idea (John Haner) - IES module II

2:00pm-2:15pm Break; beverages and cookies

2:15pm-2:45pm Disruptive innovation (Fanis Tsoulouhas) - IES module II

2:45pm-3:15pm Entrepreneurship (Russ McBride) - IES module II

3:15pm-3:45pm Leadership (Jane Binger) - IES module II

3:45pm-4:00pm Break

4:00pm-4:30pm Business modeling and planning (Fanis Tsoulouhas) - IES module III

4:30pm-5:00pm Building an effective team (Anita Bhappu) - IES module III


Saturday, February 3, 9:30am-5:00pm, Kolligian Library 355

Startup finance; angel investing; innovative finance; networking event; keynote address by a CEO; pitching your idea; PITCHFEST

9:30am-10:00am Coffee and pastries

10:00am-10:30am Financing new ventures (Fanis Tsoulouhas) - IES module IV

10:30am-11:00am Angel investing (Tom Cervantez-Accelerator Ventures and Board Member of Harvard Business School Association of Northern California, Phil Rettger-Chairman of Entrepreneurship at Harvard Busness School Association of Northern California) (Moderator: Fanis Tsoulouhas) - IES module IV

11:00am-11:30am Innovative access to capital: crowdfunding and initial coin offering (ICO) (Fanis Tsoulouhas) - IES module IV

11:30am-12:00pm Networking event

12:00pm-1:00pm Keynote address by a CEO (Victor Wang, CEO (Lunch will be provided)

1:00pm-1:30pm 30-sec Mastering the short pitch: 30-sec "elevator" pitch to 3-min pitch (Karim Lessard) - IES module V

1:30pm-2:00pm The magic slides: 20-minute pitch (Niki Santo-President of Harvard Club of Silicon Valley) - IES module V

2:00pm-2:15pm Break; beverages and cookies

2:15pm-3:00pm Pitchfest practice and preparation in groups (Mentors) - IES module V

3:00pm-5:00pm PITCHFEST group challenge, individual competitions and prize ceremony (Judges) (Facilitator: John Haner) - IES module V



Anita D. Bhappu is an associate professor of management with expertise in team development, consumer research, business model and customer validation, and digital and services retailing.

Jane Binger and her teams have provided leadership education for nearly 5,000 professionals, researchers, and students in the US and Canada.  Presently, she is Co-Founder & Chief Learning Officer of DeepTok, and a Senior Advisor, Center of Excellence in Diversity in Medical Education, Stanford Medical School.

Tom Cervantez works in operations with Accelerator Ventures (AVC), is a real estate investor and lawyer/advisor for early stage ventures. Tom has been a venture deal lawyer since 1992 and completed hundreds of financings and M&A transactions in Silicon Valley. He has co-founded 2 companies, Geonet and Britton Silberman & Cervantez LLP. He presently is a founding partner with Bizlaw, a law firm that works with venture capital and startup clients in Silicon Valley. On the investment side, Tom has been an active angel investor since the early 1990s, with investments including Open Table, Friendster, Knowledgeweb, Virtual Chips, Three Rings, Specialty Café & Bakery and Survox. Tom also co-founded the HBS Alumni Angels, and the HBS Latino Alumni Association. He is on the board of the HBS Alumni Association of Northern California and recently completed his 3 year term on the HBS Global Alumni Advisory Board.

Nickolas Fong works in operations at LimeBike where he was responsible for launching LimeBike's first dockless bikeshare system in the US. LimeBike connects communities, campuses, and businesses together through the use of dockless GPS-connected bikes equipped with smart locks that are unlockable with any Android or iOS phone. LimeBike is backed by top investors Andressen Horowitz and Coatue Management. Prior to LimeBike, Nick worked for other startups. 

John Haner is a lecturer in the Karen Merritt Writing Program at UC Merced teaching business communication.

Luis Haro is currently taking on a sales and recruiting role with Southern Glazers Wine and Spirits and he is the top sales person in Northern California. Notable achievements include winning the Milan World Expo Innovation Challenge besting 500 individuals from all over the world; working on his startup with the premium distribution and warehousing company in Dubai (Dafza); being featured by Wired and various newspapers from Italy to the Mena Region. At UC Merced he was a winner of Pitchfest, a member of Alpha Kappa Psi, and the President of TESUM for 2 Years.

Karim Lessard is the CEO of a software company in Seattle and an experienced startup entrepreneur, bringing lean methodologies to develop new business ideas.

Russ McBride is an assistant professor at UC Merced and former director of a succesful startup incubator, doing theoretical work on the structure and activity of entrepreneurship.

Alexander Petersen is an assistant professor of management working on innovation and information diffusion.

Phil Rettger has over 30 years of experience in the renewable energy sector, including large-scale solar power, energy conservation, small-scale hydroelectric power generation, biomass power generation, unconventional oil production and processing, and waste fuels. He is an inventor on 13 issued patents and several additional patent filings. He is an active angel investor and mentor to university students and recent graduates interested in energy and Clean Tech careers. He is a board member of the MIT Club of Northern California, Chairman of Entrepreneurship, HBS Alumni Association of Northern California, co-founder and CEO of Aetherix Co, board member of several companies, founder and CEO of Aeneid Technologies, co-founder of OptiSolar, OPTI Canada, ORMAT Process Technologies and Oxford Energy.

Augustin Roldan is a founder of Sweep Energy, which develops energy-monitoring equipment to predict equipment failure for food processing and other manufacturing facilities. In 2016, Agustin won first place at the San Joaquin Entrepreneur Challenge. He has served as president for the society of automotive engineers, the society of hispanic professional engineers and the entrepreneurial society at UC Merced.

Niki V. Santo serves as a Director for Brandman University, Chapman System, where she administers programs in arts and sciences, education, and business in the SF Bay Area.  She serves as the President of the Harvard Club of Silicon Valley, a sponsor of the One Harvard New Venture Competition. She also serves as a judge for the European American Enterprise Council's (EEAC) start up competitions at CES in Las Vegas and in Eindhoven, Netherlands, and advises a number of ventures on strategy.

Theofanis "Fanis" Tsoulouhas is a professor of financial management at UC Merced. His research interests include corporate governance and finance, entrepreneurship, tournament theory, contract theory and the economics of information. He teaches Corporate Finance and Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice. He directs the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab (ieLab).

Victor Wang is CEO of, a startup that provides digital patient support avatars for hospitals and health plans.

Forrest Yeh Is a 2017 UCM alumni who won 3 consecutive Pitchfest events and 2 second place prizes. As a bioengineering undergraduate, he secured almost $80,000 in funding for various campus improvement projects, events, and research projects. In 2013 he co-founded LEDA Energy and served as the CTO. In 2017 he and his capstone team won the Innovate to Grow competition and Margo F. Souza Entrepreneur in Training Team Scholarship for inventing a medical device that quantifies peripheral neuropathy.



The Entrepreneurial Society (TESUM) and the Office of Student Life

Office of the Dean, School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts (SSHA)

Management of Innovation, Sustainability and Technology (MIST)

Center for Career & Professional Advancement (CCPA)

Jane Binger, EdD, and Robert Bernstein, MD

Mike and Lori Gallo




Microfinance Project

Center for Career and Professional Advancement – Hector Cuevas

Development – Kelli Abrescy and Gigi Mitchell

Extension – Tammy Johnson and Veronica Kemp

SSHA - Austyn Smith

Alexander Petersen

Anita Bhappu

Fanis Tsoulouhas

UC Merced Foundation - Jane Binger

John Haner

Russ McBride


Contributing Student Clubs and Campus Entities

Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab

The Entrepreneurial Society at UC Merced (TESUM)

Center for Career and Professional Advancement

UCMiRISE: Institute for Research in Innovation, Sustainability and Entrepreneurship

Microfinance Project at UC Merced

Marketing Club at UC Merced

Merritt Writing Program


Directions to Campus


Parking Maps