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. 

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. 

Scott Bernstein

Areas of Expertise: Consumer Goods, Customer Acquisition, Finance, Information Technology, Innovation Commercialization, Marketing 

Scott is currently Chief Financial Officer of Freely Pet, LLC. Prior to joining Freely, Scott was Principal at Lewis & Clark Ventures, a $130m Series A stage venture capital firm focused on investments and active board participation in high growth technology startups. During his time at Lewis & Clark Ventures, Scott held board positions with Adarza Biosystems, BigSquid, OneSpace, and Kaizen Health. Scott's background also includes investment and technology roles with Chicago-based financial corporations such as BMO Harris Bank, Nothern Trust Omnium, an affiliate of Citadel Investment Group. Scott holds an MBA with concentrations in Finance and Economics from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a B.A. in Economics from the University of Colorado Boulder. Scott is a Kauffman Fellow and was named to the St. Louis Business Journal's "40 Under 40" in 2015. Scott serves on 2 non-profit boards, Crown Center for Senior Living, and Trailnet. 

Bill Brizzard, PhD

Areas of Expertise: Innovation Commercialization, Intellectual Property, Legal/Contracts

Bill Brizzard is an independent consultant based in St. Louis. He was previously the Executive Director of the Innovation and Commercialization Office at Indiana Univerity (IU). Prior to IU, he was a business development manager and R&D scientist at Sigma-Aldrich Corporation, a senior research scientist at Eastman Kodak, and an assistant professor of biology at DePaul University. 


Ben Burke (MBA '14)

Areas of Expertise: Customer Acquisition, Human Resources, Marketing, Operations/Supply Chain, Public Relations/Social Media, Sales

Ben is a business model and marketing strategist who partners with entrepreneurs and small business owners to integrate their personal goals into actionable business strategies. Ben understands the dilemmas and opportunities specific to business owners. He has an exceptional ability to consume complex and vast amounts of information and distill it into its simplest form. He specialized in supporting early-stage companies and new entrepreneurs. Ben earned his Bachelor of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications and Technical Writing from Illinois State University, graduating with honors in just three years. He also holds an MBA in Entrepreneurial Studies from Washington University's Olin Business School and was awarded the class' professional achievement award upon graduation. 

Mike Bynum Jr. (MBA '19)

Areas of Expertise: Communications Strategy, Customer Acquisition, Operations/Supply Chain 

Mike hails from Bettendorf, IA, and is a recent MBA Graduate from Washington University in St. Louis, MO.  Mike has a military background having served as a Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) in US Army Intelligence and a Commissioned Officer in the US Army Infantry Branch.  Mike's expertise is in Cross-Functional Team Leadership, Organizational Process Improvement, and Business Development.  Mike also serves as the Chair of St. Louis based non-profit, The BALSA Foundation, which focuses on funding first-time entrepreneurs from underserved communities in St. Louis.

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. 

Ben Franklin

Areas of Expertise: Branding/Design, Marketing 

Benjamin Franklin is a British designer, artist, and business owner living in St. Louis, MO. He grew up in a small town in Nottinghamshire, England, and studied art and design at West Nottinghamshire College and completed his education in graphic design at the University of Humberside, graduating with a First Class Honors degree. He was accepted as a member of the Society of Typographic Designers and The Royal Society of Arts through his recognition as a designer. In 2009, Ben founded Yank and Limey, Inc., a branding, design, and marketing firm that serves a global clientele. Ben understands the critical components of what it takes to differentiate a business and its brand, he brings the experience of working with international and local corporations to help clients get more from their business. He also teaches graphic design with an emphasis on indentity/branding and typography at Washington University in St. Louis. 

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

Areas of Expertise: Biomedicine, Communications Strategy, Finance, Healthcare, Innovation Commercialization, Fundraising (startups, venture capital firms)

Elise Miller Hoffman is a Principal at Cultivation Capital. Managing the firm’s Life Sciences Funds I and II, Elise helps promising healthcare and biotechnology startup companies gain the funding they need to develop life-saving technologies, drugs, and devices. Her responsibilities include investment strategy, fundraising, deal sourcing, due diligence, transaction negotiation, board service, and financial reporting. In addition to her work at Cultivation Capital, Elise is active in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, serving as a Steering Committee Member of the St. Louis Equity in Entrepreneurship Collective and an Advisory Council 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 and a Director of the Holekamp Seed Fund. In the St. Louis community, Elise serves as a Board Member at Forward Through Ferguson and an Advisory Board Member for the Center for Civic Research and Innovation, an initiative of the St. Louis Community Foundation. Elise holds a BA in Spanish Literature and Latin American Studies, and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis.

Chandler Malone (AB '18)

Areas of Expertise: App Development, Customer Acquisition, Finance, Innovation Commercialization, Sales

Chandler is a two time entrepreneur who is now investing in early stage companies through Atento Capital. His journey began as a college student, building an events business that hosted shows for Billboard top 10 artists including the Chainsmokers before launching his first software company, The Moves, which he exited in 2019. He is an angel investor in MedFlik and Ideate and has a passion for helping underrepresented entrepreneurs and using technology to improve quality of life.

Matt Plummer (MBA '18)

Areas of Expertise: Accounting, Communications Strategy, Customer Acquisition, Finance, Innovation Commercialization, Intellectual Property, Legal/Contracts, Marketing, Sales

Matt is an Associate with Lewis and Clark AgriFood.  An investment firm in St. Louis specializing in investing in innovative agriculture and food products.  Matt is a Wash U alum graduating with an MBA in 2018.


Veronika Redmann

Areas of Expertise: Diagnostics, Medical Device, Small Business SBIR/STTR grants

Dr. Veronika Redmann is a scientist and entrepreneur with a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences serving as a consultant to large and small companies in the life sciences, providing regulatory documentation for medical devices to manufacturers, advising and strategizing regarding R&D projects, product commercialization timelines, and the pursuit of non-dilutive funding through federal SBIR/STTR grants. In the last several years, she has founded two companies of her own and assisted twelve start-up companies with 15 different grant applications/proposals (NIH and NSF), across the gamut from medical devices, biologics, digital healthcare and energy applications to cancer and cardiovascular drugs. She serves as an NSF reviewer of SBIR/STTR grants. She also performs literature searches of clinical data and prepares clinical evaluation reports for medical device manufacturers in order to meet post-market regulatory requirements in the EU. Prior to her work as a writer and consultant, she worked for 10 years as a bench scientist, completing two postdoctoral fellowships at WashU, enabling her to critically assess preliminary data from a broad variety of biomedical areas for both grant applications and market research.

Katie Silversmith (AB, MSW '12)

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

Katie Silversmith 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 and her husband founded a personalized coworking space, ThriveCo, where Katie serves as CEO. ThriveCo’s mission is to provide small businesses with access to the office space, customized furnishings, services, funding, support, and community needed to have a thriving business. Since opening their doors in January 2019, ThriveCo has completed two expansions to meet the demand. In addition to her work at ThriveCo, Katie owns an operations consulting business, and serves in an advisory role with start-ups for House of Genius and as a judge for Arch Grants. She has been volunteering with Healing Hearts Bank, a microlending bank for women in the St. Louis area, since 2013.

Ronak Sheth (EMBA '11)

Areas of Expertise: Consumer Goods, Customer Acquisition, Information Technology, Innovation Commercialization, Intellectual Property, Legal/Contracts, Marketing, Operations/Supply Chain, Sales, Venture Capital, Fundraising, Exit Strategy, Product Market Fit

Ronak serves as a Board Director, Executive Advisor, and Entrepreneur-in-Residence to help early-stage companies with go-to-market, customer acquisition, product-market fit, and fundraising, and works with nonprofits in the St. Louis area to drive economic development and improve racial and gender equity. Ronak has spent the past 20 years in venture-backed SaaS companies, and is an expert in growing startups and working with VCs/boards. Most recently, as co-founder of Label Insight, Ronak led product and sales, then the company as CEO, for eight years. Ronak holds a BS Industrial Engineering from Northwestern University and an MBA from Washington 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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