Young Entrepreneurs: Ben Waters, CEO & Co‑Founder, WiBotic, Inc. & Belle Pan, Primary Innovator, Founder & Student Member, iRummage
Ben Waters co-founded WiBotic, Inc., in 2015 to commercialize the wireless charging solutions he developed at the University of Washington. WiBotic provides wireless power solutions and fleet management systems to charge the rapidly growing ecosystem of aerial, mobile, and aquatic robot fleets.
As a graduate student, Ben developed the FREE-D System — a wireless power system for implanted medical devices called left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) — to eliminate power cables that penetrate through the skin to power these implanted heart pumps.
Belle Pan is the main innovator of iRummage, turning used goods into money for schools. Users buy and sell items on the iRummage mobile platform, and the proceeds go to schools. Buyers gets cheap goods, and sellers have raised money for a school and received a tax deduction from their donation. User studies show 100% interest and support from buyers, sellers, and schools alike, with the strongest interest from schools.
iRummage is also a business education platform for kids. School campaigns will be run entirely by students, structured in the form of a company.
Colin Berg has been a professional writer for 30 years. He has worked for Eddie Bauer for a total of 19 years over a 29‑year period.
For the last 9 years he Colin has been the brand historian and curator of the company archives. In that role, he has traveled to New York and Munich, Germany, to give presentations to media representatives. He has given interviews to several trade publications, including Inventory, Gear Patrol, Mental Floss, and Outside.
Scott Svenson is the co-founder and CEO of MOD Super Fast Pizza, LLC, the pioneer in the fast casual pizza market. MOD, which was the fastest growing restaurant chain in the US in 2015 (according to Technomic), is a culture-centric business inspired by a purpose of making positive social impact. As of October 2016, the company had 172 stores trading across the US (up from 92 at the beginning of 2016). Scott is also the Founder and Managing Partner of The Sienna Group LLC, a long-term orientated Seattle-based investment holding company with a diverse set of holdings.
A Seattle native and a graduate with honors from Harvard University, Scott spent 11 years (1988 to 1999) living and working in London. After six years advising high growth middle-market companies (at Drexel, Burnham Lambert and then Apax Partners), Scott became Deputy CEO of CrestaCare plc, a public company and the third largest long-term healthcare provider in the UK.
Jennifer Tisdel Schorsch, President of Water.org, “Accelerating Impact: Mobilizing Capital to Solve the Global Water Crisis”
Jennifer Tisdel Schorsch serves as President of Water.org, a global nonprofit dedicated to solving the water crisis. Founded by Gary White and Matt Damon, Water.org pioneers innovative, community-driven and market-based initiatives to ensure all people have access to safe water and sanitation, giving women hope, children health, and communities a future.
Armen Stein, President & Founder, J Street Technology, “Way Up North — Consulting Above the Arctic Circle”
Armen Stein is the Founder and President of J Street Technology in Bellevue. J Street is a team of developers that builds custom database applications. When a company can’t find an off‑the‑shelf software package to meet its needs, J Street can design and build it to fit its exact requirements. J Street has designed and built database systems for hundreds of clients around the US over the past 22 years, including Microsoft, IKEA, Fluke, Harborview, Bosch, and K2 Sports.
Michael Nassirian is a senior executive, quality architect, and leader with over 30 years of experience building and inspiring teams that delight customers with innovative solutions, spanning many emerging and existing technologies in the US and International markets.
After receiving his Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Texas, Michael started his career at Texas Instruments, where he led various teams in designing and delivering an ASIC chipset used in military applications. Later on, Michael took the leadership in delivering advanced processors used in SPARC stations.
Dr. Lorraine McConaghy is a public historian in Seattle, and worked at the Museum of History & Industry for nearly 20 years. She retired in 2013, but then un‑retired and is now happily working on a number of contract projects, including corporate history, WWI history, editing, exhibit curation, and writing. Her particular area of research interest continues to be the Pacific Squadron of the U.S. Navy, 1850‑1865.
Dr. McConaghy’s most recent book concerns master and slave in Washington Territory. “Free Boy” explores the twin biographies of James Tilton and Charles Mitchell, and is being developed as a musical by Fifth Avenue Theater, for middle school audiences.
Tony Mestres is the President and CEO of Seattle Foundation, one of the largest community foundations in the country. Recognized for his leadership and expertise in navigating change and working cross sector with business leaders, elected officials and community and philanthropic partners, Tony has redefined Seattle Foundation’s role as a voice for community needs, developing effective philanthropic strategies to address inequities in the region.
In his role, Tony directs the strategic counsel and support provided to more than 1,200 individual, family and corporate philanthropists and oversees the investment of $100 million in charitable grants annually. With more than $800 million in assets, Seattle Foundation’s mission is to ignite powerful and rewarding philanthropy to make Greater Seattle a stronger, more vibrant community for all.
Debbie and Michael Campbell felt they had one more adventure in them before considering retirement in the traditional sense, so they downsized until almost everything they owned fit in a small storage unit. They filled two rolling duffle bags with life’s essentials (including their own pillows), and hit the road to explore all of Europe and beyond. Three years later, having sold their home in Seattle their “Senior Nomad” lifestyle has no end in sight. They have visited 170 cities in 56 countries, including all of Europe, as well as Morocco, Turkey, Israel, Russia, Mexico, and Cuba.
King County Council Member Claudia Balducci & Bellevue City Council Member Kevin Wallace, “ST3 Forum”
Claudia Balducci has been a passionate supporter of transportation and transit since first taking office as a Bellevue City Councilmember in 2004. Since then, she has been a member and past Chair of the Puget Sound Regional Council’s Transportation Policy Board and the Eastside Transportation Partnership. She currently serves on the Sound Transit Board of Directors as one of three Eastside representatives.
After spending time as Bellevue’s Mayor, Claudia was elected to the King County Council in 2015.
Kevin Wallace oversees all development and acquisition activity for Wallace Properties. He is also responsible for all legal matters for the company’s three divisions: Brokerage, Property and Asset Management and Investment/Development.
Wallace Properties builds sustainable, transit-oriented mixed-use development projects in urban centers throughout the Puget Sound region. Under Kevin’s leadership, Wallace was awarded NAIOP Developer of the Year in 2012 by the Washington Chapter of NAIOP.
Stephanie Bowman, Port of Seattle Commissioner, “Port of Seattle: Spurring Economic Development in Our Community”
Stephanie Bowman currently serves as the Executive Director of Washington ABC, a statewide non-profit organization promoting policies and programs to help economically disadvantaged communities build assets through investments in education, homeownership, savings and small business development.
Stephanie has more than 18 years of experience working in the areas of transportation and economic development on the local, state and federal levels, including at the Port of Tacoma and Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce. She has been active with the American Association of Port Authorities; the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors and the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association.
Dick Blumenthal began boating on the North shores of Lake Washington at age five. His “yacht” consisted of an eight foot homemade dingy and a pair of oars. He quickly learned how to row, spending many hours fishing and exploring the lake. By age seven, he graduated to a three-horse Evinrude, an engine that seemingly weighed as much as he did. Within a couple years, the family bought a small ski boat and Dick became proficient in that sport using bindings made from tennis shoes nailed to their homemade skis. From this early exposure to the water, Dick’s interests continued to grow. Throughout his childhood, and beyond, he cruised in the San Juans with family and friends, learning of the secrets held by the numerous islands.
Bryan Johnston, Creative Director/Idea Guy, VMG/studio520, “Almost Live! — The Show That Wouldn’t Die”
An eleven-time Emmy® award winner, Bryan has been a television and video writer/producer for three decades. He has written several books and has been a contributor to numerous magazines and websites. Bryan was also blessed with being a movie reviewer on radio and TV for ten years.
Bill McSherry, Vice President, State & Local and Global Corporate Citizenship, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, “2016 Update: Boeing in Washington”
Bill McSherry was named to his position at Boeing Commercial Airplanes in June 2014. He is responsible for Commercial Airplanes’ state and local operations, including Global Corporate Citizenship, in the Northwest and South Carolina regions. He leads a team of specialists who manage relationships with elected officials and business leaders, advocate for key issues that advance Boeing’s business objectives, and find philanthropic opportunities to give back to the communities where Commercial Airplanes employees live and work.
Prior to his current assignment, McSherry was director of State & Local Government Operations in the Northwest region. In that capacity, he was responsible for the company’s government relations strategy and Northwest network, which covers Washington, Oregon, and Hawaii.
Bo Darling and his wife Patricia are members of the Rotary Club of Mercer Island, where Bo served as President from 2007‑2008, Vice President from 2011‑2014, and was a multi-year Director of the Club’s major fund-raiser, the Mercer Island Half‑Marathon.
Bo was born in Houston, TX , but grew up in New York City, with a college education from both Oklahoma State and Yale Universities.
Ken North, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development & Kristin Bedard, Ph.D, Vice President of Research & Development & Head of Virology, “Developing Novel Therapies for Critical Diseases”
Ken North heads corporate development and is responsible for generating financing for Kineta — an emerging and sustainable biotech company — and its array of drug development programs. He strategically matches Kineta’s short and long-term goals with those of investors. As a member of Kineta’s executive team, Mr. North manages the finance department and also contributes to high level financial and strategic planning. He also ensures that investors are given high quality and frequent updates on Kineta’s scientific and business developments.
Dr. Kristin Bedard is a founding scientist at Kineta and heads discovery and research programs. This encompasses Kineta’s diverse pipeline of therapeutic and vaccine adjuvant candidates. She leads a multi-functional scientific team responsible for the selection and advancement of drug candidates focused on immunology and infectious disease. Under her direction, Kineta established the AViid™ platform for identifying novel innate immune modulators, including broad spectrum antivirals and vaccine adjuvants. Additionally, her team has progressed the direct-acting antiviral lead LHF-535 into formal preclinical development for the arenavirus Lassa Fever.
Lorenzo Romar has been the men’s basketball coach at the University of Washington since 2002. He also played basketball for the University of Washington from 1978 to 1980. After college, Romar was drafted by the Golden State Warriors and spent five years in the NBA.
After the NBA, Romar played and coached for Athletes in Action. He was then hired as an assistant coach at UCLA, under coach Jim Harrick, from 1992 to 1996, and was credited with recruiting many of the players on the 1995 national championship team. Romar became the head coach at Pepperdine University and then at Saint Louis University before taking the job at the University of Washington.
Since 2001, John Schoettler has lead Amazon’s global corporate real estate portfolio, overseeing the rapid expansion in office space from 1M to 18M square feet in 15 years. John and his team are responsible for leasing, asset, and construction management of a global portfolio spanning 190 locations in over 30 countries.
In 2006, John’s team worked with Vulcan Real Estate to develop 1.7M square feet in Seattle’s South Lake Union area, creating a dynamic urban campus which has grown to encompass 30 buildings, comprising 6M square feet. In 2012, John and the same team negotiated and executed purchase and sale agreements for $1.4B of real estate investments in South Lake Union, as well as three city blocks in Seattle’s Denny Triangle.
J. Lennox Scott, Chairman & CEO, John L. Scott Real Estate, “Residential Real Estate Forecast: Recap on Current Conditions & Outlook for the Next 12 Months”
Lennox Scott is the third-generation chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, which was founded in 1931 by his grandfather in Seattle. He is very involved with the National Association of Realtors, as Chair of the Large Residential Firms, and is recognized by Realtor Magazine as one of the Top 25 Most Influential Real Estate Brokers in the Nation.
John L. Scott Real Estate is the fourth largest regional brand in the nation, with over 110 offices and more than 3,000 brokers and sales associated in the States of Washington, Oregon, California, and Idaho.
Frank A. Blethen, Publisher & CEO, The Seattle Times, “The Seattle Times and America’s News & Information Crisis — Time for a Local Bellevue Start‑Up?”
Frank Blethen is publisher of The Seattle Times/seattletimes.com, the second largest newspaper/website on the West Coast. The Times is known for its strong local coverage and its aggressive investigative reporting. The Times has won ten Pulitzer Prizes and has been a Pulitzer finalist 15 other times since 1990. The Times was most recently awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting.
The Seattle Times is one of America’s last independent and locally-owned newspapers. It is a values-based journalism/community service family business in its 120th year of Blethen family stewardship. Frank is a member of the fourth family generation. Currently, there are eight members of the family’s fourth and fifth generations active in the journalism company’s management and governance.