MEET THE MENTORS
Who Are They?
Our mentors are carefully chosen based on their extensive experience in entrepreneurship and their passion for helping others achieve their goals. They are successful business owners, executives, and professionals who have demonstrated a deep commitment to mentoring and supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Get started today. Book a session with a mentor now!
Adam Kost — Founder and CEO, Country Luau Spirits
Adam Kost is the dynamic Founder and CEO of Country Luau Spirits, a purpose-driven brand specializing in premium ready-to-drink cocktails. With headquarters in Austin, Texas, Adam has been leading the company remotely for over two years. As a socially responsible entrepreneur, he allocates 2% of the brand's annual sales to nonprofits supporting musicians.
Prior to Country Luau Spirits, Adam held the position of Vice President of Marketing at Waterloo Sparkling Water and Milestone Brands, LLC, where he played a pivotal role in brand management, marketing strategies, and innovation. His extensive experience in the beverage industry began at ZX Ventures in New York, where he supported the owned eCommerce operations of AbInBev’s global accelerator. As a Global Director, Adam was responsible for building direct-to-consumer commerce capabilities and developing the company's first low-cost, last-mile supply chain network.
Throughout his career, Adam has demonstrated a strong commitment to strategic partnerships, innovation, and corporate social responsibility, making him an influential figure in the beverage industry.
Amber Wagenknecht — Managing Director, Deloitte Consulting
I provide sales strategy coaching, orals coaching, competitive intelligence, pricing and sales training as part of our Sales Excellence organization. As a pursuit coach I work with pursuit teams to support their strategy, competitive positioning, and presentations in order to increase our probability of winning the pursuit. Working with our Sales Excellence leadership I create and present our best practices for winning.
I am also a mentor and chair emeritus of United Way of Metropolitan Dallas’ Innovation Lab which includes an Incubator, the Social Innovation Accelerator and a Model Replication Workshop. Each supports innovative solutions to community challenges and supplies them with the critical resources - mentorship, funding, connections - to bring those ideas to life.
Andrew Ladden — Client Success Associate, Octaura
I just began my professional career after my graduation in December of 2022 at the FinTech company, Octaura. Octaura is an early stage startup that aims to disrupt the the way fixed income markets are traded on a day to day basis. As an account manager, I work directly with the buyside to ensure integration, functionality, and practical use of our innovative platform.
I am an easy-going individual that is social and talkative. I am happy to give advice on joining the financial industry or anything in general.
Chris Sundberg — Managing Partner, LA WY Capital Partners
Chris Sundberg has spent the last decade working in a variety of financial roles including consulting on tax matters, governance and philanthropy for family offices and small business owners; investing in startups, venture capital funds, and real estate private equity; and consulting entrepreneurs on strategy, finance and capital allocation decisions. Chris earned his MBA from the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin and his BS Accounting (cum laude) and MS Taxation from the G. Brint Ryan College of Business at the University of North Texas.
Past Companies (and Functions): Deloitte (Tax Consulting), Mullis Newby Hurst (Management), Bold Move Beverages (CFO), LA WY Capital Partners (VC Investing), Willow Capital Partners (Search Fund/Prive Equity).
I've been married to Sarah for 5 years and we have two daughters. I've traveled extensively (Europe, India, SE Asia, South America) and enjoy experiencing new cultures and foods.
Cindy Lo — CEO/Chief Event Strategist, RED VELVET
I started RED VELVET over 20 years ago with only $8K. RED VELVET is a full-service experiential agency HQ in Austin. Proudest moment to date since the COVID pandemic devastated our entire hospitality industry is that we're still standing and operating fully now in 2023 without taking on additional debt.
I am a mom of two teenagers; happily married to a fellow entrepreneur. I LOVE to travel, and I am a dog mom to a very spoiled Frenchie.
Colin Ellis — Program Administrator, UT Austin, McCombs, Entrepreneurship Minor
Doug Fairbanks — CEO, Advanced Scanners
airbanks, the current CEO of Advanced Scanners, a deep-tech 3D optical solution for surgical robotics, navigation and AR/VR, brings more than a decade of experience at the intersection of technology, surgical intervention, and commercialization. Most recently, he served as the Global Commercial Development Lead of Robotics for Johnson and Johnson MedTech’s orthopedics division, Depuy Synthes, where he was responsible for the first in human and global commercial effort for the Velys Robotic Assisted Device (VRAS). Fairbanks draws on a robust background in business turnaround, go-to-market strategy, and high-tech surgical device expertise in both Fortune 500 and startup companies.
Like most in Austin, I like live music and good food. I enjoy skiing and was a snowboard instructor in my college days. Most recently, I have taken up free diving, have a max depth of over 70 ft, and can hold my breath for close to 4 minutes. Finally, I am participating actively in Toast Masters to continue to develop my public speaking as a hobby.
Eddy Faulkner — CEO/Founder, Eddy Faulkner Music LLC
I am an Asian American music artist and entrepreneur whose original music has been placed in a variety of film, tv, and celebrity projects. I also consult for startups to larger corporations and am developing the Make An Impact Series with schools worldwide.
I enjoy working out at the gym, meeting new people, trying new restaurants, and in my spare time volunteering in the community.
Greg Davis — Partner, EIV Capital
Greg Davis currently serves as Partner and Investment Committee member for EIV Capital, a Houston-based private equity firm that provides growth capital to entrepreneurs across the energy value chain. He is actively involved in the firm’s strategy and is responsible for originating and stewarding investments across EIV Capital’s areas of focus.
Greg earned his B.B.A in finance from The University of Texas at Austin in 2004, graduating summa cum laude.
Greg is a 1st generation college graduate who loves to fly fish, watch Astros baseball and raise his 9-year-old daughter, Kate.
Isabella "Bella" Hughes — Co-founder, Better Sour and Roya Capital
Isabella "Bella" Hughes is an award-winning CPG founder, angel investor and mentor. She's the co-founder of Better Sour, a new, globally-inspired sour candy company and Roya Capital, a seed-stage CPG investment fund focused on backing women founders. Her last CPG company, Shaka Tea, was acquired by Irresistible Foods Group in 2022. In the non-profit space, she's also the co-founder of Hawaii Triennial and Hawaii FoundHer. Born and raised in Honolulu, she's now based in Austin.
Bella is also a contemporary art curator, journalist and non-profit professional, avid art collector and traveler!
Jill Kreindler — Marketing Specialist, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Upon graduating from UT McCombs in 2004, Jill began her career in Advertising Account Service before starting at Dell where she was a key player on the Partner Marketing team managing relationships and funding allocations for Intel and Microsoft. A long-time outdoors enthusiast, Jill got back to her roots in nature when she started working at REI in downtown Austin in late 2016. While still moonlighting at REI, Jill became an Operations Manager on the Global Merchandising Reset Execution team at Whole Foods Market. In November 2022, she was thrilled to transition to a role in marketing at Texas Parks and Wildlife. This opportunity has been the perfect combination of her personal passion for the outdoors and environment with her professional experience in marketing.
Outside of work, you can find Jill just that - outside! A longtime triathlete, she completed an IRONMAN in 2017. She also enjoys waterskiing, camping and spending time with her miniature dachshund, Roxie.
Kolten Morris — Associate M&A and Capital Markets, Vinson & Elkins
Kolten is an M&A and Capital Markets Associate at Vinson & Elkins, with a broad-based corporate transactional and securities practice across a variety of industries, including private and public-company clients.
Kolten enjoys running, pickup basketball, and golf.
Lance McNeill — Founder and CFO, Dovetail Communication Group
Lance is a small business owner, professor and author. In addition to running his business, he teaches business courses at Austin Community College and St. Edward's University.
Lance was born and raised in Austin, Texas. After graduating from Texas State with a MBA, he joined the Peace Corps and worked as a small business adviser in Namibia where he taught entrepreneurship at a rural secondary school and consulted with small businesses in the community.
After coming back to the U.S, he attended the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas in Austin and was selected as a Curtis Meadows Jr. Social Enterprise Fellow by the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service. Bridging the disciplines of business and economic development policy, Lance worked for almost seven years in the City of Austin's newly created Office of Innovation and then in the Economic Development Department.
Outside of work, Lance enjoys reading, exploring the outdoors, and spending time with his wife and two kids.
Loretta Soffe — SVP, Director of Global Retail, Assemble Inc.
I am a lifelong retailer and brand builder. I am currently leading the Global Retail practice for a Seattle based technology company. My primary role is to bridge the gap between foundational retail best practices and the technologies that enable success.
Previously, I lead a global consultancy focused on brand positioning and growth strategies.
My professional career started at Nordstrom, where I spent 25 years, and retired as Executive Team member and EVP, General Merchandise Manager for Women's Wear.
I am passionate about mentoring and teaching the next generation of creators and entrepreneurs.
My super power is BALANCING my jobs as a Wife, Mom, Retail Tech Exec, Friend, Swimmer and Yogi.
Lucy Wu — Director of Corporate Development and Strategy, SparkCognition
Lucy Wu leads Corporate Development and Strategy at SparkCognition, an Austin-based industrial AI enterprise. Her previous roles include seed advising, growth investing and investment banking. She graduated from UT McCombs with a BBA in Accounting.
She enjoys reading, playing tennis, golf and pickleball and attending live sporting events.
Mark Matterhorn — Newlin Ventures
Startups are my passion.
UT alum, former founder, and recent transition into venture capital. Let me help you take that first step.
I am a military veteran and experienced, professional cook.
Mike Feldman — Senior Vice President, Alithya Group inc
I started my career in public accounting and transitioned into consulting. After working at a couple of large, Big 5 firms I started and sold 2 Oracle Consulting businesses. I also, as a side project, started and sold a carwash business. I know work for a publicly traded digital transformation company that purchased my last company.
I moved from Dallas to the mountains near Jackson Hole, WY. I love the outdoors (trail running, climbing, biking, etc.). I also study Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and am passionate about both mental and physical health including nutrition, sleep, meditation, etc.
Nate Schmiedehaus — Founder, Homesick Candles
I'm a co-founder of Homesick Candles, a popular home fragrance brand with 9 figures in sales since its founding. I co-created the brand and its parent company within a year of graduating from the University of Virginia with an initial $400 investment. After the company was acquired, I pivoted to exclusively consulting, advising, and developing custom software solutions for CPG brands and private equity firms, focusing on strategy, growth, team management, and branding. I've also had stints leading development of a product division at BuzzFeed and heading growth at Thursday Boot Company. I'm passionate about supporting the next generation of business leaders to make it more thoughtful, ethical, and well-equipped.
I'm a recent NYC-to-Austin transplant and have a love for running, analog photography, vinyl collecting, and cooking.
Nathalie Rovall — Senior Product Strategist, Indeed.com
Hi, I'm Nat. I'm a founding member of the Product Strategy at Indeed.com. In my role as a Product Strategist, I help lead market research and product incubation efforts for one of the largest job boards in the world. Fundamentally, I believe every problem has a solution. Oftentimes as a founder, one may find themselves lost analyzing all of the different strategies that one can take to grow their business. If this sounds like you, let's chat! I'd love to help you think through what strategy makes the most sense for your growing company.
Additionally, I am personally very familiar with the UT entrepreneurship ecosystem and am a former member of the Longhorn Entrepreneurship Agency (first ever Freshman Founders class) as well as a former Longhorn Startup Lab founder (Shopviews, 2017).
Fun things! I'm a former Board Member of the Greater Austin Aquarium Society and am very passionate about our local waterways and conservation efforts. Currently, I am serving as a Community Ambassador for Partnerships for Children which helps provide resources to children and families in the Texas foster care system.
Quoc Tran — CFO, FarBridge, Inc.
Quoc is the CFO for FarBridge, Inc. where he helps manage the financial and strategic growth of a startup dedicated to making games and immersive experiences.
Previously, Quoc has worked as an entrepreneur for a variety of startups. His first startup was a no-code mobile-app creation platform that grew to 100m MAU and at one point powered 11% of all apps on the iOS App Store. He has developed computer-vision based shopping assistants, virtual asset generation systems that can populate metaverse applications, and software for medical devices that can remove tumors in outpatient surgery. His most recent startup, SURVIVR, enabled police trainees to learn life-or-death skills within the safety of a virtual reality environment. He advised the company and later became their VP of Operations, eventually leading the acquisition process when they were purchased by a PE firm.
Quoc previously worked on a game directed by Steven Spielberg. Spielberg’s feedback for Quoc's game levels was, "That was fun."
Tucker Villarreal — Attorney, Richards Rodriguez & Skeith LLP
I provide a wide variety of legal services including guidance on commercial transactions, entity structure, mergers, sales and acquisitions, services agreements, corporate governance, and outside general counsel services.
I enjoy traveling, watching/attending Texas athletics, and attending concerts.