Skandalaris Center

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Experts on Call

The Experts On Call program allows students, faculty and staff to connect with experts in the Skandalaris Center or remotely, free of charge. These meetings help inspire the current innovators on campus and connect them with subject matter experts, to network and build relationships. Our community of innovators and entrepreneurs benefit from connecting with experts with diverse backgrounds and industry expertise. Experts benefit from joining an exclusive professional network dedicated to giving back, staying connected to new ideas, and helping the WashU community thrive through unique professional learning experiences.

Jennifer Bardot 

Area of Expertise: Finance 

Jennifer Bardot is a VP Senior Business Banker for Enterprise Bank and Trust. She has over 20 years of experience working in small businesses in the St Louis Community in the areas of Customer Service, Sales, Marketing, Finance, Business Development and Recruiting. Jennifer Earned BA in Business Administration, and has Two Masters Degrees in Secondary Education Counseling & Private Practice Therapy. She also has certifications in Real Estate, and Leadership. Jennifer was named top business banker, top 100 people in St Louis to know to grow your business by small business monthly, and was awarded Presidents Circle by Enterprise Bank & Trust. She completed Focus St. Louis Coro Women Leadership Program Cohort 72 and is involved in Focus St Louis Leaders Program 2021. She is a published and bestselling author in the US & 8 Countries on her book called “Owning Your G.R.I.T.” She is involved in the St Louis community by volunteering on the Recruitment & Service Supplier Committee for the Associated of General Contractors of Missouri, Corporate Partner for St Louis Art Museum, Innovation Mentor for Saint Louis University, and Committee Member for Diversity & Women’s group for the Association of Corporate Growth. She has three boys and is a full time mother to her young family.

Natasha Conley, PhD 

Area of Expertise: Entrepreneurship 

Natasha Conely serves as President of PRSI Technologies, LLC which she founded in 2001. She previously supported the Skandalaris Center's Diversity and Inclusion efforts as the leader of the Ascend planning grant from the JP Morgan Foundation. Natasha has a PhD in Management and Sustainable Systems with an emphasis in Entrepreneurship from Case Western Reserve University and holds the distinction of being a Fellow for the Fowler Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit. Her research interests include race, gender, and faith-based entrepreneurship. 

Bob Francois (BS '80)

Areas of Expertise: Branding/ Design, Communications Strategy, Customer Acquisition, Finance, Human Resources, Innovation, Commercialization, Intellectual Property, Legal/ Contracts, Marketing, Operations/ Supply Chain, Sales

Bob has over 39 years of experience in manufacturing; sales; marketing; product and brand management; new product, market, and business model innovation; business turnarounds; M&A transactions and negotiation and business leadership in medical imaging, printing, apparel, fibers, polymers, chemicals. He has worked with DuPont and Koch Industries. He is currently engaged with several investment banks on a project basis, competing a bit as an equestrian, and is engaged in advisory roles with two universities. He and his wife Paulette live in Avondale, PA. Bob earned a BS in Chemical Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis, a BS in an individualized program from Providence College, and an MBA from the Simon School of Management at the University of Rochester. 

Dr. Verena Kallhoff

Areas of Expertise: Biomedicine, Healthcare, Innovation Commercialization, Medical Device, Regulatory, Heath Tec, AI & ML

Dr. Verena Kallhoff is a scientist with a keen sense for converting entrepreneurial vision at the intersection of biomedical science, healthcare, business and emerging technologies into sound strategies and tactics. She has deep experience working with entrepreneurs and innovators to position their technology in the healthcare industry and crystalizing a clear strategic path to commercialization. She is now blending her broad experience in biomedical science, healthcare, business and emerging technologies as VP for Omics and Precision Medicine and Sr. Director for DILN Business Operations at Equideum Health. In this role, she focuses on the opportunities of true precision medicine through equitable, inclusive data liquidity, mediated by federated AI, blockchain, and self-sovereign identity technologies. Dr. Kallhoff received her PhD in Molecular and Human Genetics from Baylor College of Medicine and an MBA with a focus on healthcare administration from University of Houston - Clear Lake. She attended St. Louis Community College at Meramec and University of Missouri - St. Louis for her undergraduate education. 


Derek Leiter (MBA '21)

Areas of Expertise: Customer Acquisition, Innovation Commercialization, Web3, P2E, Crypto

Derek Leiter is the CEO and Co-Founder of Coastal Kong Club (CKC), a Web3 based eSports club participating in 3v3 basketball in Rumble Kong Leagues Athlos while building a lifestyle brand within the metaverse. Matt is a WashU alum who graduated with an MBA (Entrepreneurship Platform with a Concentration in Finance) in 2021. 



Philip Loew

Areas of Expertise: Fundraising/VC/Angel, Innovation Commercialization 

Philip Loew currently serves as the Senior Director and Head of Expansion for Activate. In this role, he proactively maps and assess key innovation ecosystems, develops expansion plans and strategies, builds relationship and key partnerships, negotiates and executives any new market launches to expand Activate's impact. Prior to Activate, he contributed to the leadership and management of the National Science Foundation's Innovation Corps (I-Corps) programs at MIT and in the broader New York City ecosystem. During those years, he helped recruit, train, fund, and advise hundreds of aspiring founders, scientists, engineers, and researchers on how to commercialize their startup ideas and go-to-market strategies. Before joining the world of early stage startups, Philip worked as a banker at J.P. Morgan. 


Pat Mathias

Area of Expertise: Communications Strategy

Patricia (Pat) Mathias served as an adjunct instructor at Harris-Stowe State University. She worked at the Federal Reserve Bank for 20+ years, and currently works for SCORE, an association that assists with business start-ups and business growth. She currently owns and operates Master It! Seminars, LLC, and Mathias Resume & Editing Services. As a former member of Toastmasters International, Pat earned three Competent Toastmaster Certificates, an Able Toastmaster Certificate, and a Competent Leadership Certificate. She placed in 40+ speech contests and conducted training at the District level. In addition, she has traveled to 11 countries for missionary work, training, speaking, or touring. Pat holds a BA in Corporate Communications and a MA in Training Development for Lindenwood University. 

Cheri Renee (MSW '98)

Areas of Expertise: Innovation Commercialization, Intellectual Property, Marketing 

Cheri Renee, MBA/MSW, is a Private Business Consultant and entrepreneur with over 20 years of combined business management and non-profit leadership experience. After working in leadership and Director roles in non-profit sectors the first half of her professional career, Cheri launched what would become an award-winning and profitable free-standing retail store. She provides non-profit entities with grant/RFI/RFP proposal writing, strategic planning, and new social program development, and offers business development and emergency restructuring planning. As President of the Invent-ED Network Connection and Inventors Association of St. Louis, she creates inventor and business development presentations/workshops for community organizations and professional groups. Cheri has a BA in Psychology, an MBA in Management and Marketing, and from Washington University in St. Louis an MSW in Non-profit Organizational Management. 

Phillip Sangokoya (BSBA '11)

Areas of Expertise: Finance, Marketing

Phillip Adeniyi Sangokoya has five years of Business Banking and Commerical Lending experience with small businesses and over four years of experience in Community Development financing including New Market Tax Credits, Historic Tax Credits, and lending to Community Development Financial Institutions. Philip now works on US Bank CDC's Speciality Finance team as a Relationship Manager to help originate, underwrite, and asset manage investments into CDFIs, NMTC entities, and Affordable Housing developers. He also serves as a management consultant for BRAND of St. Louis, a social enterprise he co-founded with his wife Chavelle. BRAND of St. Louis recently launched its Startup League Rewards Program to encourage entrepreneurs along their business journey. Phillip graduated from Olin Business School of Washington University in St. Louis with a double major in Entrepreneurship and Marketing and a minor in Psychology. 

Rick Shang (PhD '21)

Areas of Expertise: Entrepreneurship, Operations/Supply Chain

Rick Shang received his B.A. in Anthropology, History and Philosophy from Northwestern University, his M.A.s from University of Chicago and Brandeis University, and his PhD in Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis. He is currently the CEO of Vulpes Corp, a manufacturing holding corporation that he built from the ground up while pursuing his doctoral degree at Washington University in St. Louis. He is extremely passionate about addressing industrial challenges in the business world, including supplying chain and manufacturing challenges. He also serves on a number of charitable organizations, such as United Way Greater St. Louis and Contemporary Art Museum.

Chisom Uche (BS '14)

Area of Expertise: Fundraising/VC/Angel

Chisom Uche is a former Senior Investment Associate where he spent nearly 5 years sourcing, vetting, and investing in early-stage startups from around the world. He has experience working with entrepreneurs spanning the industries of FinTech, InsurTech, Information Security, and Digital Health. Chisom also has experience evaluation opportunities that have social impact at the heart of the business model as an Investment Associate at the Social Venture Fund within the University of Michigan.

Dr. Cheryl Watkins

Areas of Expertise: Marketing, Strategy

Dr. Cheryl Watkins serves as the Director of BioSTL's STEM Entrepreneurial Inclusion Initiative, where she responsible for creating partnerships, processes, and programming that strengthens the St. Louis region's  STEM entrepreneurial ecosystem. Dr. Watkins is a serial entrepreneur, most recently the Founder & CEO of Rare Obsidian Inc, co-founder and Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer of REAL Cannabis Co, co-founder and CEO of Accelerated Rehabilitation Technologies, LLC, and co-founder and co-host of Entrepreurially Thinking podcast. Dr. Watkins has served as an Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University Law School, as an Entrepreneur in Residence with BioGenerator, as well as a judge in several local and national business plan competitions. She is on the Board of Academy of Science-St. Louis, Barnes Jewish College Goldfarb School of Nursing, The Magic House St. Louis, St. Louis Civic Pride Foundation, BALSA Foundation, Viosera Therapeutics, STEM Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Harris-Stowe State University, Innovative Technology Education Fund, and Society of Physician Entrepreneurs St. Louis Chapter. Dr. Watkins holds an MBA from the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management and a BA in Biology from Fisk University. 

Larry Yavner (AB '87)

Area of Expertise: Investment/Funding Strategy

Larry Yavner is the Managing Partner and Founder of LBY Partners.  The firm makes income-producing investments in proven businesses with strong leadership characteristics. Prior to founding LBY Partners in 2012, Larry spent almost 25 years on Wall Street focusing on investments in all aspects of the capital structure. Larry has an AB in Economics from Washington University in St. Louis and an MBA from Fordham University. 

SCORE St. Louis

SCORE St. Louis helps start, build, and grow small businesses through education provided by a team of experienced business professionals. They offer free business counseling and resources, low-cost workshops, and free business consulting services. 

SCORE is offering free seminars and workshops for WashU students. Students must complete a form to receive a voucher for the workshops and seminars found HERE.

A list of upcoming workshops and seminars can be found on the SCORE St. Louis Bi-State Regional Chapter website HERE.

Looking for Help?

Need help with your idea or advancing your venture? Experts on Call are available to help address your challenges.

Before connecting with an expert, you must post your idea to A two-minute video pitch is not required, but recommended.
Click or drag files to this area to upload. You can upload up to 5 files.
This can include a business plan, pitch deck, customer discovery data, etc.