Skandalaris Center

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The Skandalaris Center In-Residence program serves the Washington University in St. Louis community of students, faculty, staff and alumni by providing industry experience and insights to encourage development of new ventures. The goal of the IR program is to help teams learn from professionals with extensive industry experience and motivate the teams to take action on their ideas. The In-Residence program will feature a diverse collection of experts, including artists, designers, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and executives that will share their experience and networks to exponentially expand opportunities for success. 

Pryce Adade-Yebesi

Areas of Expertise: Engineering, Finance, Information Technology, Operations/Supply Chain

Pryce is the Co-Founder and COO of Utopia Labs, a Web3 startup focused on helping crypto native companies and communities better manage their payroll and accounting. Utopia has raised $25 million+ in Venture Capital from top investors like Paradigm, Kindred Ventures, Coinbase, Circle, and Gusto. Before founding Utopia, Pryce worked as a software engineer at companies like Facebook (now Meta) and Invisibly Inc. Pryce also has been named a fellow of the Kleiner Perkins Fellows, On Deck Catalyst Program, and the New Stack Ventures Fellowship. He is also an hobbyist Angel Investor with a focus on web3 and underestimated founders counting companies like Boba Network, DeWork, Big Whale Labs, Household, Klava, Boot Up, and Booster.

Daphne Benzaquen (MBA '17)

Areas of Expertise: Branding/Design, Communications Strategy, Consumer Goods, Customer Acquisition, Marketing, Public Relations/Social Media, Sales 

Daphne is the Creative Designer and CEO of daph. a handmade leather goods company that gives back. During her MBA studies, Daphne was in search of a functional, fashionable backpack that not only carried her essentials but also looked sleek and polished. In 2016, she embarked on an adventure that led to a self-taught crash course in designing leather goods, meeting with leather makers across Peru, and a website designed from scratch. She wanted to create a brand that bonded her unique style with her Peruvian roots. A brand that showcased the high quality and durability of Peru's leather craftmanship and resources through everyday bags and accessories made to last through life's different experiences; and most importantly a brand that gave back to local and global organizations. An avid believer in paying it forward, she uses her branding and strategy experience to work with entrepreneurs in brand creation and website design through Daphne Benzaquen Consulting focusing on the fashion, lifestyle, food, and coworking industries. In her free time, you can find Daphne cooking different recipes or visiting local eats in her hometown of St. Louis, MO. Food plays such a big part in her life that she co-founded The Chomp food blog. 

Sam Cabral

Areas of Expertise: App Development, Customer Acquisition, Engineering, Information Technology, Marketing, Product Development, Public Relations/Social Media, Sales, Software Development

Samuel Cabral is a successful tech entrepreneur who cofounded and successfully exited his tech startup, Pluma. Pluma (now Skillsoft Coaching) is a digital platform offering executive-quality coaching that is personal, scalable, actionable, and measurable. Pluma partnered with Fortune 1000 clients and global enterprises including Adobe, Ernst & Young, Gap Inc., and S&P Global to support and develop their employees. Pluma worked with over 200 executive coaches serving clients from over 60 countries to deliver over 90,000 coaching sessions before being acquired. Upon acquistion, Sam joined Skillsoft as Vice President of Product to assist in the transition of the business. 

Prior to starting Pluma, Sam worked in the tech industry as a product manager and software engineer for various startups. Sam holds an MBA with concentration in entrepreneurship from Nova Southeastern University.

Abby Cohen (BS '13)

Areas of Expertise: App Development, Biomedicine, Communications Strategy, Consumer Goods, Customer Acquisition, Healthcare, Innovation Commercialization, Marketing, Sales 

Abby Cohen is Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Sparo, an award-winning, digital health company dedicated to helping people breathe better. Abby was named to the Forbes 2017 30 Under 30, Healthcare List. In 2015, Abby and her co-founder Andrew Brimer, were selected to represent Sparo as 1 of 30 companies from across the U.S. to exhibit at the first-ever White House Demo Day. Abby and Andrew won 10 of 12 technology, public health, and business competitions they entered as students, which ranged from the regional to the international stage, resulting in $275,000 in grant competition winnings. Abby was a Pipeline Fellow in 2013, an exclusive community of entrepreneurial leaders building high-growth companies in the midwest region. Abby serves as President of the Board for the St. Louis Chapter of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. She previously co-chaired the $10 million Evolve Capital Campaign with George Paz, President of the Board of Express Scripts, to further develop T-Rex, downtown St. Louis's innovation center. Abby graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering. 

Elise Miller Hoffman (LA '11, MBA '16)

Areas of Expertise: Biomedicine, Communications Strategy, Finance, Fundraising, Healthcare, Innovation Commercialization

Elise Miller Hoffman is a venture capital investor and startup executive with expertise leading digital health companies as an operator, board member, and investor. Elise has advised dozens of healthcare companies at all stages of the startup life cycle including idea generation, scale up, and exit. As a General Partner at Cultivation Capital, she invests in Seed - Series A stage healthcare IT startups. After investing in ImageMover on behalf of Cultivation Capital in 2018, she joined the company as COO in 2022. Elise is active in the St. Louis and Midwestern entrepreneurial ecosystems, and serves as a Board Member of the Mid-America Healthcare Investors Network, Co-Chair of the Board of the St. Louis Equity in Entrepreneurship Collective, and an Advisory Member at Arch Grants. She can often be found on the campus of her alma mater, Washington University, where she serves as an Investor in Residence at the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a Director of the Holekamp Seed Fund, and a member of the Olin Alumni Board. In the St. Louis community, Elise serves as a Board Member at Forward Through Ferguson, an Advisory Board Member for the Center for Civic Research and Innovation, and a member of St. Louis Forum.

Elise holds a BA in Spanish Literature and Latin American Studies, and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. She was recognized as a St. Louis Business Journal “30 under 30” awardee in 2018 and an Olin Business School Emerging Leader Award recipient in 2020.

Tamara Keefe

Areas of Expertise: Branding/Design, Communications Strategy, Consumer Goods, Marketing, Public Relations/Social Media

Proud to serve as a board member of the St. Louis Civic Pride Foundation. An active member of EO Entrepreneurs Organization, currently serving as MyEO Chair 2019/2020/2021, James Beard 2020 WEL recipient, 2019 Tory Burch Fellow, and Goldman Sachs entrepreneur alumna. Over 20 years of experience working across global brands (DuPont, Ensure, Coke, Nestle, Kraft, ConAgra, Mead Johnson, Heritage Foods, Campbells, Mars, etc.) in the FMCG - Consumer Package Goods industry in the international and domestic areas in multiple functions with main focus in Strategy, Brand Management, Consumer Insights & Innovation responsibilities. Ranked in the top 1% of the MES global marketing competency test by 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2019, 2020, and 2021 Marketing Leadership Council – Corporate Executive Board. Expertise encompasses an extensive marketing background (Corporate & product marketing management, value proposition creation, brand strategy, global commercialization, new technology/product launches, strategic planning, channel sales & marketing, and EIQ - Emotional Intelligence. Six Sigma Green Belt Certified.

Vikram Lakhwara

Areas of Expertise: Venture Capital

Vikram Lakhwara has two decades of experience in the startup ecosystem as an investor, consultant, and business professional. A San Francisco Bay Area native, Vik is the co-founder of Green Cow Venture Capital (GCVC), a seed-stage fund investing in startups leveraging AI and robotics to solve problems in foundational industries. The fund has had two exits from ten investments, including Bear Flag Robotics which was acquired by John Deere for $250M. Prior to GCVC, Vik led business development and partnerships for the Startups & VC practice of technology and life sciences law firm, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (WSGR). At WSGR, his responsibilities included working with the firm's startup clients on fundraising strategy and building their pitch, establishing partnerships with accelerators, angels, early- and growth-stage VCs, and acting as a deal flow catalyst. His first experience as a VC was as the first external hire of $100M SK Telecom Ventures. Vik played an integral role in each of the firm's 15 investments, resulting in exits to Apple, Autodesk, Uber, and Zynga amongst others. Immediately after graduating, he joined executive education consulting firm Reinventures. Vik graduated from Vassar with a degree in Economics.

Keisha Mabry

Areas of Expertise: Branding/Design, Communications Strategy, Customer Acquisition, Marketing, Sales, Other -- Digital Marketing

Keisha is a connector, convener and social entrepreneur on a mission to change the world one connection at a time. She is the owner of Heydays, a business incubator and coworking space for women and founders of color to connect, create and curate anything. Keisha has been featured on National Public Radio, The Daily Show, Fast Company, Success Magazine, Huffington Post, Essence, Black Enterprise, Fox 2 News, Nine Network, The Business Journal and more. In addition, Keisha is the Grow With Google Digital Coach for Missouri—a program that provides free digital skills training to Black and Latinx entrepreneurs to close the digital divide gap. Keisha is also an adjunct lecturer at the University of Missouri, an Aspen Ideas Scholar, a Hatch Fellow, a TEDx speaker and her book Hey Friend: 100 Ways to Connect with 100 People in 100 Days is a movement to make the world friendly again, or at the very least, friendlier than it’s ever been. She’s delivered more than 150 keynote speeches for Fortune 500 companies and top brands like Spotify, Mastercard, Edward Jones, Square, Bayer, Facebook, YUM!, Ikea, SHRM, US Bank and Brit + Co. Learn more at and

Jerry Rosen (BFA '81)

Areas of Expertise: App Development, Branding/Design, Communications Strategy, Consumer Goods, Customer Acquisition, Finance, Innovation Commercialization, Intellectual Property, Marketing, Public Relations/Social Media, and Sales.

Jerry Rosen is a WashU alumnus with a career spanning over 30 years, having morphed from advertising art director to serial entrepreneur. He has launched multiple marketing and technology focused businesses serving roles as BOD Chair, CEO, CMO, CRO, and multiple director seats. Rosen’s experience includes media, content creative, eCommerce and SaaS software. His client list includes Coca Cola, McDonald’s, Arby’s, Wendy’s, MetLife, Roche/Genentech, Lufthansa, American Express, The Kennedy Space Center, Chicago White Sox, Bulls, Bears, Blackhawks, Fire and Frank Thomas’s Big Hurt Enterprises to name a few.

Samantha Rudolph

Areas of Expertise: Consumer Goods, Fundraising, Healthcare, Innovation Commercialization.

Samantha (Sam) Rudolph is the co-founder and CEO of Babyation, a venture-backed startup that exists at the intersection of healthcare, data, and technology. The company's first product is TIME and Good Housekeeping award-winning breast pump with nearly 30 patents issues worldwide. Prior to Babyation, Sam spent nine years as a serial entrepreneur within ESPN, where she launched a variety of products, departments, and technologies. She subsequently leveraged her expertise in sports data and video platforms as a consultant for private equity firms and management consulting companies. Sam graduated with a BS in Economics from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a lead mentor for Stadia Ventures startup accelerator, the treasurer of the St. Louis Breastfeeding Coalition and a Certified Lactation Counselor. She is also mom to two boys, Exton and Oden. Sam is deeply passionate about supporting other founders, especially female and diverse founders. She frequently participates on panels about entrepreneurship, impact investing, and how women fit into the startup ecosystem as both founders and investors. 

Katie Silversmith (AB, MSW '12)

Areas of Expertise: Social Impact, Branding/Design, Communications Strategy, Customer Acquisition, Marketing, Operations/Supply Chain, Public Relations/Social Media, Sales

Katie received her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Social Work degrees from Washington University in St. Louis. After practicing clinical social work in nonprofit and private practice settings for 10 years, she co-founded and served as CEO of ThriveCo, a growing co-working space brand. After completing two expansions and scaling a virtual membership, Katie exited the company in the summer of 2021. Since then, she has been consulting with therapy practice owners and social impact startups around increasing their profitability, streamlining operations, scaling, sustainability, and exit planning.

Doug Spencer

Areas of Expertise: App Development, Branding/Design, Communications Strategy, Consumer Goods, Customer Acquisition, Marketing, Public Relations/Social Media, Sales

Doug is the co-founder and CEO of Bold Xchange, a gifting marketplace empowering busy leaders to send their teams more memorable gifts. Bold Xchange sources its gift items from underrepresented makers and creatives. Its early adopters include people leaders from several Fortune 500s such as CarMax, Capital One, and Centene. In 2020, Bold Xchange received an Arch Grant, relocating operations to St. Louis. In 2023, the company received an additional non-dilutive grant from Arch Grants as part of a larger pre-seed fundraise to accelerate innovation in the employee gifting industry. Doug is a graduate of Georgetown Law School and holds a degree in Business Management from Elon University.

Brian Wolfe (JD '09)

Areas of Expertise: Customer Acquisition, eCommerce, Public Relations, Sales, Legal/Contracts, Commercialization, Fundraising (startups, venture capital firms)

Brian is a corporate partner at Kirkland & Ellis, where his practice focuses on private equity and venture capital transactions.  Brian previously co-founded SearchWorks, a technology investment platform formed in 2017 to “buy and build” SAAS-related assets in the martech software space, which was acquired by Alpine Investors in 2018.  Prior to law school, Brian was a member of the finance team at Amazon, and has also served as Deputy Superintendent and COO of the St. Louis Public Schools.  Brian also currently serves as an adjunct professor at Washington University School of Law and has extensive investment experience across the capital structure.

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