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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.


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Amanda Levinson — Cofounder, NeedsList

Amanda Levinson is the cofounder of NeedsList, an award-winning humanitarian tech startup that has created a real-time marketplace for crisis response that has moved over $34 million in resources to organizations in 25 countries. She is on the list of Inc. Magazine Female Founders 100.

"I'm also a meditation, yoga and breath work teacher and love working with founders and "helpers" to manage stress, anxiety and burnout."

LinkedIn Bio

Amber Wagenknecht — Managing Director, Deloitte Consulting

Amber Wagenknecht, Managing Director, Deloitte ConsultingAmber provides 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."

Amber is 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.

LinkedIn Bio

Andrew Ladden — Client Success Associate, Octaura

Andrew Ladden, Client Success Associate, OctauraAndrew began his professional career after graduation (UT Austin '22) at the FinTech company, Octaura.  Octaura is an early-stage startup that aims to disrupt the way fixed income markets are traded on a day-to-day basis. As an account manager, he works 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."

LinkedIn Bio

Angelia McFarland — Founder & CEO, EOP Media

Angelia McFarland is a serial innovator who has created and led innovation and reinvention in Fortune 50 corporations, startups, nonprofit organizations, and entrepreneurial ventures. Her current role is Founder and CEO of EOP Media, an idea studio that helps individuals and growing businesses harness the benefits of innovation. She is also the Founder and CEO of a stealth startup developing solutions for the future data economy, co-founder of Pearl’s Girls Publishing, and board member and development committee chairperson for Austin Partners in Education. A long-time proponent of the future of work, Angelia is engaged in connected activities that extend beyond roles and titles to create real value personally and in the communities she serves. She is recognized as a marketing, entrepreneurship, data, and web3 thought leader. And is the co-host of a seasonal podcast exploring the future of marketing and technology called The Tech Aunties.

"I love problem-solving and all types of puzzles; it's like gymnastics for the brain."

LinkedIn Bio

Boyd Christiansen — Founder, Lovage / Associate, Boston Consulting Group

Boyd founded Lovage (Y Combinator W22) while in college and successfully raised a ~$2M seed.  He ran the Prod 2.0 accelerator ( and helped teams raise >$50M in seed capital.  Boyd was the number one referrer to Y Combinator's S23 batch, helping to admit >3% of the batch and 25% of their woman-only founding teams.

He has helped teach Harvard's ES95r: Startup R&D course and has significant experience working in APAC, renewable energy, deep tech R&D, and corporate strategy.

"Big fan of EDM and tuning cars in my free time."

LinkedIn Bio

Chris Sundberg — Managing Partner, LA WY Capital Partners

Chris Sundberg, Managing Partner, LA WY Capital PartnersChris 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."

LinkedIn Bio

Colin Ellis — Assistant Director, Harkey Institute, McCombs School of Business, UT Austin

Colin Ellis, Program Administrator, UT Austin, McCombs, Entrepreneurship Minor

Colin is a life-long educator and business leader with more than thirty years of experience in post-secondary education, including over fifteen years in senior management. His experience in corporate environments, graduate level education and training in leadership and ethics, and strong EQ, allow him to enhance the work environment and outcomes for all stakeholders.
Colin has experience working and leading in organizations ranging from small single-owner school operations, to start-ups, mid-sized regional corporations, and some of the world’s largest private sector school groups running campuses that train in business, trades, legal, information technology, culinary arts, massage therapy, transportation and allied health arenas. This depth of his professional background allows him to be a leader in diverse educational platforms and in different organizational structures. Colin has also served his community as a volunteer member of the Board of Directors for three non-profit organizations.
Most recently he has returned to his alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin, helping to run the Harkey Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies and the Entrepreneurship Minor program in the world-renowned McCombs School of Business.

LinkedIn Bio


Chris De Ayala — AVP, Banc of California

Chris has been involved in the Austin startup ecosystem since September 2021. 

After beginning his career with Wells Fargo, he joined Banc of California’s (formerly Pacific Western Bank) Venture Banking team in Austin, TX, where he assists venture capital-backed startups with banking needs and capital solutions. 

"In my role, I support the originations and business development efforts for early and expansion stage companies across the various innovation hubs in the state of Texas as well as the Midwest and Rocky Mountains regions.

Outside of the office, I enjoy walking my dog, golfing, hunting, fly fishing and being outdoors. I am also a founding member/sponsor of the Texas Venture Alliance."

LinkedIn Bio

Doug Fairbanks — CEO, VISIE

Doug Fairbanks, CEO, Advanced ScannersDoug Fairbanks, the current CEO of VISIE, formally Advanced Scanners, a deep-tech 3D optical solution for surgical robotics, navigation, and AR/VR.  He brings over a decade and a half 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, 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.  I am drawn to high-risk activities like free diving and …STARTUPS.  I am married and have a growing family with two crazy little boys.”

LinkedIn Bio


Eddy Faulkner — CEO/Founder, Eddy Faulkner Music LLC

Eddy Faulkner, CEO/Founder, Eddy Faulkner Music LLCEddy is an Asian American music artist and entrepreneur whose original music has been placed in a variety of film, tv, and celebrity projects.  He also consults for startups to larger corporations and is 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."

LinkedIn Bio


Garrett Evans — Founder, EWA Strategies

Garrett is a 3x founder with 2 successful exits and knows how to take a business from 1-100. Thrives in all things scaling, operational efficiency, and finance.

LinkedIn Bio


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!

LinkedIn Bio


Jacob Guss — Founder, CEO, Bold Move Beverages

Jacob is a double Longhorn having received his BBA & MBA from UT Austin. Prior to founding Bold Move Beverages, Jacob co-founded a non-profit and worked in revenue strategy at Fortune 500 companies. Jacob is a passionate entrepreneur who is fueled by a desire to make the world a more fun & joyous place to live by creating products that bring people together.


LinkedIn Bio

Jeff Grimes — Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer, Shades Media, Inc.

After 7 years as a product leader at Google with a side gig as a Scout for Sequoia Capital (pre-seed and seed investments), I quit my job to co-found Shades -- a way to consume news & culture from multiple points of view. We're building and launching a mobile app that we think will change the way that people stay informed.

Born and raised in San Francisco Bay area. Love reading books, watching TV/movies, playing video games. Went to college at Penn in Philadelphia. Favorite sports team: Las Vegas Raiders.

LinkedIn Bio

Jill Kreindler — Marketing and Brand Manager, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Jill Kreindler, Marketing Specialist, Texas Parks and Wildlife DepartmentUpon 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, and she was just recently promoted to the Marketing and Brand Manager for Texas State Parks. 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.

LinkedIn Bio

Katherine Mayer — Owner & Licensed Private Investigator, Mayer Consulting, LLC

Katherine is the owner of Mayer Consulting which was established in 2012.  It's a criminal defense consulting firm specializing in fact investigation and death penalty mitigation for criminal defense attorneys.  She employs private investigators and social workers and has been successfully managing for over 10 years.  

"I am extremely physically active and firmly believe in mind and body wellness and work/life balance."

LinkedIn Bio

Kenny Liao — Head of Marketplace, Upwards

Kenny serves as an advisor for early-stage startups and is currently leading the Marketplace team at Upwards, a tech-enabled childcare marketplace helping families, caregivers, employers, and local governments work together to make childcare accessible to all.

Prior to Upwards, he led the supply-side of Wonolo’s staffing marketplace for 3.5 years where he oversaw growth / retention / support functions, as well as guided the company’s COVID response. His previous experiences include Cargo (first Head of Driver Ops; scaled the team to 65 employees across 11 markets), Chariot (first GM; launched first 2 expansion markets), Uber (first Territory Lead; spearheaded efforts to open SJC airport to rideshare), Yahoo!, and Boston Consulting Group. Aside from his UT BBA, Kenny also earned an MBA from UCLA Anderson.

"In my free time, I run an online trading cards business and also frequently attend concerts and sporting events (at my peak, I averaged a concert a week) when not chasing around my twin boys (5 yrs old) and daughter (2.5 yrs old)."

LinkedIn Bio


Kolten Morris — Associate M&A and Capital Markets, Vinson & Elkins

Kolten Morris, Associate M&A and Capital Markets, Vinson & ElkinsKolten 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.

LinkedIn Bio

Lamarr Houston — Co-founder/President, Boxxtech

Lamarr Houston Attended the University of Texas as an undergrad, earning his bachelor's in corporate communication. He went on to play eight years in the NFL.

After he retired from the NFL in 2020, he attended Red McCombs Business School in 2022, getting his MSTC degree.

Since then, he has co-founded Boxxtech, leading the self-serve alcohol technology market.

LinkedIn Bio

Lance McNeill — Founder and CFO, Dovetail Communication Group

Lance McNeill, Founder and CFO, Dovetail Communication GroupLance 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.

LinkedIn Bio

Loretta Soffe — SVP, Director of Global Retail, Assemble Inc.

Loretta Soffe, SVP, Director of Global Retail, Assemble Inc.Loretta is a lifelong retailer and brand builder. She is currently leading the Global Retail practice for a Seattle based technology company. Her primary role is to bridge the gap between foundational retail best practices and the technologies that enable success.

Previously, she led a global consultancy focused on brand positioning and growth strategies.

Her professional career started at Nordstrom, where she 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 superpower is BALANCING my jobs as a Wife, Mom, Retail Tech Exec, Friend, Swimmer and Yogi."

LinkedIn Bio

Lucy Wu — Director of Strategy and Corporate Development, SpinLaunch

Lucy Wu, Director of Corporate Development and Strategy, SparkCognitionLucy Wu is the Director of Strategy & Corporate Development at SpinLaunch.  Her previous roles include Corporate Development and Strategy at SparkCognition, an Austin-based industrial AI enterprise, 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.

LinkedIn Bio

Mark Matterhorn — Newlin Ventures

Mark Matterhorn, Newlin VenturesMark is an experienced military officer and startup founder with expertise in venture capital and fundraising operations. He is proficient in various venture fund competencies, including market sizing, due diligence, deal sourcing, and valuation. Mark is a data-driven leader with a deep understanding of market trends, emerging technologies, and strong networking abilities to build and maintain relationships within the venture capital ecosystem.

"Startups are my passion. I am a 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."

LinkedIn Bio

Mike Feldman — Senior Vice President, Alithya Group inc

Mike Feldman, Senior Vice President, Alithya Group incMike started his career in public accounting and transitioned into consulting.  After working at a couple of large, Big 5 firms Mike started and sold 2 Oracle Consulting businesses.  He also, as a side project, started and sold a carwash business.  He now works for a publicly traded digital transformation company that purchased his 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."

LinkedIn Bio

Nate Schmiedehaus — Founder, Homesick Candles

Nate Schmiedehaus, Founder, Homesick CandlesNate is a co-founder of Homesick Candles, a popular home fragrance brand with 9 figures in sales since its founding. He 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, he 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. He has 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."

LinkedIn Bio

Nathalie Rovall — Senior Product Strategist,

Nathalie Rovall, Senior Product Strategist, Indeed.comNat is a founding member of the Product Strategy at  In her role as a Product Strategist, she helps lead market research and product incubation efforts for one of the largest job boards in the world.  Fundamentally, she believes every problem has a solution.

"Hi, I'm Nat.  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."

LinkedIn Bio

Nick Christensen — Head of Marketing, AppSumo

Nick currently runs the marketing team at, a store for entrepreneurs with a community of 1M+. $15M+ spent on paid ads, built a partnership program from 0 to 8 figures and runs a 20-person team. 

He also runs two companies on the side, a teeth whitening clinic and a marketing agency. 

Nick has been in digital marketing for almost 15 years (UT class of '09) and all of that has been in Austin working for digital agencies and software companies.  

"I am a dual citizen (UK/US) and spends a good portion of the year working remotely from parts of Europe. 

I also enjoy hunting around Texas and of course a good UT tailgate."

LinkedIn Bio

Paris Bland — CEO, Founder, Digital Executive

Paris started her entrepreneurial journey in 2018 at the University of Texas at Austin, booking bar tabs for student organizations. After graduating in 2020, she co-founded a tourism business, which Covid-19 destroyed. To recover, she started selling mattresses at Mattress Firm, achieving $1.3 million in sales in one year. After saving some runway, she learned to code and took a sales engineering job with a company outsourcing to India.

Paris saw the inefficiency of coordinating with a team across time zones. Realizing this was a widespread issue, she founded Digital Executive, a nearshoring agency to help companies find staff in South America. Since its inception, Paris has employed over 50 people and continues to expand her company. 

Paris specializes in sales, cost reduction, and building services businesses.

When Paris is not working, she is likely hosting a networking event. She has even combined her love of travel with networking, attending events around the world. Paris has a goal to visit all 195 recognized UN countries and is 25% of the way there, with 50 countries.

LinkedIn Bio

Quoc Tran — CFO, FarBridge, Inc.

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."

LinkedIn Bio

Ryan Duffy — Head of Commercial BD at Array Labs

Ryan is a writer, operator, and founder who spends most of his time in the world of deep tech (or hard/frontier/emerging tech).

By day, Ryan leads BD at Array Labs, a YC satellite startup building the first real-time, 3D map of Earth. Business Development at Array Labs, a Y Combinator space startup launching radar satellite constellations and building a living 3D atlas of Earth. By night, he runs Duffy Industries, which partners with startups and VCs on storytelling, strategy, and GTM. As employee #10 at Morning Brew and founding editor of Payload, Ryan built $M+ media properties with 100,000s of engaged users and 85+ NPS scores. 

Ryan's writing has appeared in the New York Times, Fast Company, and USA Today, among other outlets, and he has spoken at SXSW; the world's leading "space debate" in Abu Dhabi; and university events hosted by MIT and Harvard.

"From Boston, raised in Texas, have lived in four states + DC, and in a past life, briefly called Europe and the Middle East home. Hobbies include flying drones, aerial photography, reading, writing, lifting, traveling, and memes."

LinkedIn Bio


Tom Wala — Corporate Entrepreneur, Start-up Entrepreneur & Lecturer

Tom has 25+ years of high-tech Executive experience, both as a Start-up Entrepreneur and Corporate Entrepreneur.  He founded two companies in the Digital Marketing and Trusted AI space, with innovative SaaS & Subscription (ARR) business models.

He has had the privilege to lead global Digital Business Transformations at Fortune 500 high-tech companies, including Dell, Dell Technologies and VMware.

He is passionate about mentoring students, helping them to envision new companies (and business models), while guiding them to identify their ideal career journeys.

"I enjoy spending time with my family and traveling to our favorite places such as Vail, Colorado and Seaside, Florida. We have lots of fun playing tennis, golf and snow skiing."

LinkedIn Bio

Tucker Villarreal — Attorney, Richards Rodriguez & Skeith LLP

Tucker Villarreal, Attorney, Richards Rodriguez & Skeith LLPTucker provides 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."

LinkedIn Bio