The Advisory Board meets quarterly to implement suggestions made by the SDSI Board of Directors and staff. Advisory Board meetings generally have an educational component to them - for some recent speakers, look at our past events page
Bill Walton, Executive Chairman of The Board
William Theodore Walton, III (Bill) was born on November 5th, 1952, in San Diego, California. He was introduced to the game of basketball while in the fourth grade at Blessed Sacrament Elementary School by Coach Frank “Rocky” Graciano. Walton then attended Helix High School, where the basketball coach was Gordon Nash. At Helix, his team won the California Interscholastic Federation High School title two years in a row, while winning their final 49 consecutive games. Walton enrolled at UCLA in 1970 and played center for John Wooden’s Varsity team for three seasons (1972-1974). He was a member of two NCAA championship teams compiling an NCAA record 88 consecutive game winning streak. He was the recipient of several awards, including the NCAA Player of the Year Award in 1972, ’73 and ’74. At UCLA Walton was a scholar-athlete who also earned Academic All-American honors three years in a row. He graduated with honors earning a B.A. in History. Walton’s professional career began when he was the number one overall pick in the 1974 NBA Draft by the Portland Trailblazers. He won championship titles with the Blazers and the Boston Celtics. He also played with the San Diego Clippers, and the relocated Los Angeles Clippers. Over the course of his NBA career, he was honored with numerous awards, including NBA’s MVP and All-Star Team. Eventually Bill was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Walton started his broadcasting career in 1990 as an analyst for the then Prime Ticket Network. Walton worked for CBS Sports in the early 90’s during the NCAA Final Four and then for NBC for many years, including work on the 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney Summer Olympic Games. Over the last 15 years he has worked for ABC, ESPN, NBC, CBS, Fox, MSNBC, Turner Sports, KCAL, and the NBA. In 2001, Walton won an Emmy for best live sports television broadcast.
John Sarkisian, Vice Chairman & Founder, SKLZ & Industry Chairman of The Board, SDSI
John Sarkisian, is Vice Chairman & Founder, SKLZ, the innovator in Athletic Training. John is also the Founding Investor and current Chairman of the Board of Semtek Innovative Solutions which developed and is commercializing patented encryption technology protecting sensitive data for the credit card industry. John is the Chairman of the Board and Founding Investor in Brightscope which has developed the industry standard for measuring company 401(k) performance. With his family he founded and developed Pat and Oscar’s Restaurants which was sold in 2001 to a public company. John is active in Real Estate development and investment in San Diego County through his company Del Mar Heritage. John was awarded the 1999 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for San Diego County. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the YMCA of San Diego County and as a Trustee of the San Diego Sports Commission.
Jarrod Barker, VP of USA Operations, Outerspace Designs
Jarrod Barker is VP of USA Operations for Outerspace Design, a full service international product development team with an extensive portfolio in consumer electronics, health & medical devices and connected technologies.
Jarrod has a unique combination of experience in mechanical engineering, design strategy and IT. He also brings a focused energy to fast growing organizations and technology startups.
Jarrod has headed up engineering and customer training at Catupult Sports, a tracking system for elite sports professionals. He was also instrumental in developing next-generation optical systems for sample preparation and plasma generation at Varian. His work at Ceramic Fuel Cells Ltd resulted in published work and patented commercial innovations in the field. Jarrod’s development engineering research into micro technology resulted in wireless micro weather stations for wine growing regions in collaboration with Motorola and various government departments and universities.
As part of Outerspace Design’s management team Jarrod is able to see the big picture and contribute to strategic growth. Taking a hands-on approach, Jarrod is able to quickly assess the value and ramifications of a new idea or technology and enjoys a close working relationship with client partners. Recently he’s contributed to the product development success of CleverPet – a crowdfunded pet trainer, growing 3D printer company Robo 3D as well as Lifeproof and Otterbox protective cases.
Jarrod has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Melbourne, is a private pilot and lives with wife and three children in La Jolla.
Mark Birge, Partner, Aldrich CPAs + Advisors
Mark provides tax and financial planning services to high-net-worth individuals and business owners. He helps clients identify their overall financial goals and creates tax planning strategies to accomplish them. He recognizes the importance of coordinating estate planning and personal financial planning matters and advises business owners on business succession strategies.
Michael Brower, CFO, MDRejuvena
Michael Brower is currently the the CFO for Sente Inc., a privately held specialty aesthetics company. Michael has over 25 years of experience in senior financial and operational roles primarily in the consumer products markets. Most recently, Michael served as Chief Financial and Operations Officer at LifeSaver, a San Diego based company developing innovative and patent pending saliva diagnostic testing. Prior to LifeSaver, he served as Chief Financial and Operations Officer at Gunar Optiks, a leader in computer technology eyewear and was recognized as one of San Diego’s 100 fastest growing private companies. Additionally, he served on the executive team at leading brands Spy Optic and Odyssey Golf, where he played a key role in each of their successful exits. Over this career, Michael has raised over $80 million in private and public equity and debt capital. Earlier in his career he was a staff accountant with KPMG LLP where he earned his CPA license. He received a Bachelor Degree from Chico State, and earned an MBA from the University of San Diego.
Elisette Carlson, Founder, SMACK! Media
Prior to founding SMACK! Media in 2009, Elisette Carlson was the Director of Marketing at Zoot Sports, a global leader in multi-sports products. While at Zoot, she was responsible for driving the brand expansion for innovative apparel, wetsuits, footwear and compression clothing. During this time, the company’s revenues tripled and expanded into 28 new international markets.
Previous to Zoot Sports, Elisette was a Senior Account Manager at The Active Marketing Group, where she implemented strategic online and event marketing campaigns for Timex, Nike, Gatorade, RoadID and United Airlines. Before joining Active, she spent 3 years managing Reebok’s triathlon and running initiatives, in addition to serving as a key liaison to the NFL and NBA. Elisette also spent 2 years in sponsorship and media sales for sports programming at IMG.
Elisette’s passion for sports marketing started at a young age while assisting her father with World Cup soccer events and athletes. Whether it was drafting proposals, coordinating hotels, executing game-day logistics, or traveling to South America on scouting trips, the key principles of integrity, eye contact and the value of strong relationships were deeply ingrained as pillars for excellent business practices.
A graduate of Princeton University, Elisette was named NCAA First Team All- American and All-Ivy League in Women’s Rowing. As a National Champion coxswain for 2 countries, her competitive drive and determination molded her into a leader and motivator. Further, she has completed numerous marathons and triathlons, including the Boston Marathon and finishing her first Ironman in 12:37. Fluent in Spanish and proficient in French and Italian, Elisette is a mother of two young boys, a public relations contributor to Forbes.com and puts ultimate value on personal relationships
Reid Carr, President & CEO, Red Door Interactive, Inc.
Reid Carr is the President & CEO of San Diego-based Red Door Interactive. They also have offices in Carlsbad and Denver. Among numerous awards for work, Red Door has twice been named one of the Best Places to Work in Media & Marketing by Advertising Age magazine as well as a Top Small Company Workplace by Inc Magazine. They have annually been named a Best Places to Work in San Diego by the Business Journal and have 3x received Awards of Excellence by the SD Society for HR Management. They count clients such a Bosch, Thermador, Shea Homes, Charlotte Russe and Rubio’s among others on their enviable client list. Reid was honored with the SD Metropolitan’s “40 under 40” award in 2005, the SD Business Journal’s Most Admired CEO Award in 2007, 2009, 2010, and in 2011 won there Exemplary Award. In 2009 and again in 2012, Reid was a finalist for Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young. In 2010 he was named to the New Leaders Council’s 40 Under 40 list, as well as named a SD Daily Transcripts Young Influencer. In 2011, iMedia Connection named him one of the 25 Hottest Digital Marketers.
BJ Cook - Founder, Digital Opertaive
BJ co-founded digital operative inc. in 2008 and serves as its Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Cook has been in “digital” since 1998 and has a hybrid skillset – design, marketing & technology – that has enabled him to translate solutions across consumer touch points. He is also very active locally, hosting Social Media Breakfast for 3 years, involved with SDSI, SDMBA, speaking for iMarketers/IDSD and at local universities on digital marketing best practices. One of his most proud moments is helping a nonprofit gain exposure by garnering an appearance on CNN’s “Weekend at War” simply by using LinkedIn. He’s been recognized on lists covering the Most Influential Marketers in 2009, Top 25 Marketers of the Decade in 2010, a Member of The Purple List from PSFK, a writer for SearchEngineGuide.com, a mentor/advisor and most recently a judge for the Webby Awards.
Craig Dado - EVP and CMO, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club
Craig Dado is the Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. He has been with Del Mar since 2001 and oversaw the racetrack’s brand overhaul, which lead to substantial attendance and revenue gains. He was also instrumental in attracting the Breeders’ Cup World Championships to San Diego in 2017, in which the Breeders’ Cup enjoyed record wagering and revenue levels. Previously, Craig was the Vice President, Marketing for Santa Anita Park racetrack where he began working in 1991. Before getting into the horse racing industry, Craig worked in San Francisco and Brussels, Belgium as a senior staff accountant for Ernst & Young. He has an undergraduate Business degree from the University of California at Berkeley and an MBA from the Anderson School of Management at UCLA. Craig and his wife Linda live in Encinitas and have three children.
Danny DeMichele - Chairman, Quiverr
Danny has been building and managing online businesses for the last 17 years. In 2010, his company eVisibility.com was Inc Magazine’s 169th fastest growing company in the US.
He sold the company in late 2010 to LSF Network, Inc., a top 5 private digital agency. Danny is currently the CEO of Elevated.com, a premier Internet marketing agency located just a block from Quiverr. Danny brings his experience and connections in the online marketing space to help facilitate the growth of Quiverr — and ease the pains of online brands.
Melissa DeVita - VP Division Counsel, Qualcomm Technologies
Melissa DeVita is Vice President, Division Counsel for Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., overseeing the legal team which supports Qualcomm Research and Qualcomm Engineering. Melissa is responsible for advising the CTO and his organization in cutting edge areas of new development, which currently include 5G wireless solutions, autonomous driving, drones, robotics, machine learning and satellite communications. Melissa joined Qualcomm in 2006 to lead content licensing at FLO TV, a subsidiary which provided live television to mobile devices. Prior to her current role, Melissa supported several Qualcomm emerging global market development efforts through entire business life cycles- from conception to launch to spin out - including businesses focused on wireless health, education, geolocation advertising triggers and Bluetooth low energy proximity beacons. She served as chief counsel for Qualcomm’s smart cities and industrial internet of things business before accepting her current role.
Melissa is an elected member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (which determines the EMMY® Awards), served on the Board of Directors for the Marshall Faulk Foundation for over five years and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Girl Scouts San Diego, where she is the Chair of the Development Committee and sits on the Executive Committee. Melissa volunteers her free time at the Humane Society.
Melissa received her B.A. from University of California, Los Angeles, cum laude, receiving the UCLA President’s Medal and the Chancellor’s Service Award. She received her J.D. from University of Southern California, after serving on the board of the Hale Moot Court Honors Program.
Kevin Dusi – Tax Senior Manager, Moss Adams LLP
Kevin Dusi, Tax Senior Manager, has over ten years of experience working in public accounting serving the manufacturing and distribution industries. During his career, he has served a variety of clients ranging from closely-held businesses to large, public, multinational corporations. He has extensive experience in preparation and review of tax provisions and analysis of income tax positions under ASC 740 to support client financial statement presentation related to income taxes. In addition, Kevin specializes in research and development tax credit optimization and international tax matters, as well as being experienced in equity-based compensation issues, entity structuring, and state and local taxation. Kevin is a leader in the San Diego office having conducted internal training on stock-based compensation issues, inventory capitalization (263A), and international reporting requirements, including FATCA. He is also a member of the firm’s International Services Group. A California native, Kevin attended California State University, San Marcos, earning a Bachelor of Science in Business with an emphasis in accountancy. In his spare time, Kevin loves to be involved in sports and is an avid soccer player and triathlete.
Earl W. Edwards - Director of Athletics, UC San Diego
Earl W. Edwards accepted the position of Director of Athletics at UC San Diego in March of 2000. Since his arrival, UCSD Athletics has consistently been recognized at the national level for its academic and athletic achievements. Under his guidance, the 23-sport program has made a very successful transition from the NCAA Division III ranks to Division II. In fact, UC San Diego has surpassed all expectations at the D-II level, capturing women’s soccer national championships in both 2000 and 2001 and the softball national title in 2011. Edwards has served on many national and regional committees and organizations throughout his career. Currently, he sits on the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Division II Board of Directors and the Minority Opportunities Athletic Association (MOAA) Board of Directors. Edwards is also an ex-officio board member of the National Association of Athletic Development Directors (NADD) and has served as the organization’s president. In addition, he is a member of the CCAA’s Executive Council. In the San Diego community, Edwards serves on the La Jolla Country Day School Board of Trustees and the Executive Board of Summerbridge San Diego, a program that supports elementary and middle school students’ development in preparation for college and career opportunities. He is also a member of the San Diego Chamber of Commerce, San Diego Sports Commission and San Diego Sports Innovators. Edwards has published several articles in Athletic Management and was featured on the cover of the June 2007 issue. Also in 2007, Edwards was named the West Region Athletics Director of the Year by NACDA. In addition to working as Athletics Director at East Stroudsburg University and UC San Diego, he has athletics administration experience at the University of Massachusetts, UC Davis, the University of Michigan and Drexel University. A 1972 graduate of East Stroudsburg, Edwards earned a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education. He went on to receive a master’s in Sports Administration from the University of Massachusetts in 1973.
Steve Espino – SVP Commercial Banking Center Manager, Banner Bank
Steve Espino brings over 25 years of experience in commercial banking to Banner Bank, formerly AmericanWest Bank and Security Business Bank. As a founding member of Security Business Bank, Steve served as Executive Vice President, Senior Lending Officer. He served on the Executive Management Committee, Loan Committee and Asset Liability Committee of the publicly traded company. Founded in 2002, Security Business Bank built a reputation for providing small and midsized business customers with financial innovation, access to management and superior client service. The Bank merged with AmericanWest Bank on July 2, 2012. Prior to joining Security Business Bank, Mr. Espino served as Senior Vice President for California Bank & Trust, managing its downtown San Diego Commercial Office. He was responsible for the management of a full service bank office serving commercial banking, real estate and private banking clients. Before joining CB & T, he was Senior Vice President and Regional Manager for Manufacturers Bank serving San Diego County from 1991 to 1998. Mr. Espino has been active in commercial lending to small and midsized businesses in the greater San Diego area since 1981. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of LEAD San Diego, Downtown San Diego Partnership and the Advisory Board of San Diego Sport Innovators (an affiliate of CONNECT). Mr. Espino has also served as the Chairman of the Board of LEAD San Diego, President of the Hispanic Bankers Association and Chairman of the Board of the Centro Cultural de la Raza. Steve is married to Sandy and has a son Adam.
Andrew Ewald - First Vice President, CBRE
Andrew Ewald has recently joined CBRE’s San Diego Occupier Services group as a Vice President. Mr. Ewald has over thirteen years of experience representing corporate tenants in the leasing of office and industrial space, transaction management, construction management and strategic consulting. “Andrew has an impressive record of navigating highly complex transactions for local and national corporate users,” said John Frager, Managing Director of CBRE San Diego. “We are thrilled to have him as part of the team and anticipate that CBRE will afford him an even greater level of success.” Prior to joining CBRE, Andrew led the Tenant Advisory Service Group at Cassidy Turley in San Diego, where he represented companies such as Qualcomm, Brixton, WESC, 686, ActionFreight, and Wounded Warrior Project. Mr. Ewald received a Bachelor of Arts in Communications Management & Political Science from the University of California, San Diego. He is a member of Connect, LEAD San Diego, UCSD Alumni Athletic Association and is an active participant in Project Mercy’s home building program in Baja California. He is still active in the sports community, enjoying the waves, the snow and playing soccer in his free time.
Jason Femrite – Partner, Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP
Jason Femrite is a Partner in the Sports and Active Lifestyle Group of the largest San Diego corporate law firm, Procopio. His practice focuses on assisting entrepreneurs and executives commercialize their business concepts, from idea to exit. In such capacity Jason has represented companies in a wide range of transactions, including more than 150 financings and acquisitions, while simultaneously assisting them to protect and expand their brands on a worldwide basis. Although Jason represents clients involved in many industries, his emphasis is representing companies in the sports and active lifestyle community. Prior to joining Procopio, Jason spent more than 12 years with Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps LLP, where he formed and led the firm’s Action Sports Group. In addition to his law practice, and his position on the advisory board at SDSI, Jason is an active member of the San Diego community, where he holds memberships with and has sponsored several other organizations, including: the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association, the San Diego Venture Group, the Association of Corporate Growth, the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce and the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, San Diego Chapter. A Southern California native, Jason earned his B.A. in Political Science at UC San Diego in 1996 and his J.D., cum laude, at the University of San Diego in 1999. .
Chris Finley - Senior Manager, KPMG
Chris Finley is a Senior Manager at KPMG LLP and is responsible for delivering audit and accounting services to large and small, global and local, public and private clients in San Diego, and is primarily focused on life science, consumer markets, and retail industries, including start-up and middle market companies. Chris has provided professional audit services to public and private multinational companies in accordance with SEC and PCAOB requirements and U.S. GAAP, as well as is fully certified in IFRS. His audit experience ranges from initial public offerings to stand-alone financial statements of small, privately owned organizations. Chris is active in civic and charitable organizations, including serving of the board of directors for Junior Achievement San Diego. He was born and raised in San Diego, and earned his B.A. in Economics from UCLA in 2007. Chris currently lives in San Diego with his wife of 5 years and his young son.
Tony Finn– Founder and CEO, LiquidForce
In the early 1980s San Diego surfer, Tony Finn, developed the Skurfer the first ever wakeboard. The boards were a cross between a surfboard and a water ski, and Tony began selling them to his friends on Mission Bay. In 1985, he decided to make a business out of it, and started mass producing Skurfers. He began to sell them worldwide and traveled relentlessly for the next few years, teaching people how to ride the boards, doing exhibitions, improving the product by adding foot straps and modifying the shapes, and selling boards to water sport enthusiasts around the globe. In 1988, Skurfers were being successfully sold in more than 400 stores in the U.S. and 40 countries worldwide, and Tony was featured on the cover of “Water Ski Magazine.” In 1989, Skurfer was sold to Kransco, who at that time also owned Hydroslide, Morey Boogie, and Frisbee. Tony continued to develop the sport for Kransco and became their sales manager. He was hired by ESPN as the voice of wakeboarding, and announced multiple events for ESPN, including the X games. In 1997, Tony founded Liquid Force, a company that sells wakeboards, wakeboard bindings, wakesurfers, wakeskates kiteboards, kites, and apparel; and is dedicated to relentless innovation, progressive design, maximum functionality, and unparalleled quality. Liquid Force is widely recognized as the No. 1 wakeboard brand in the world!
Norb Garrett – EVP Sports and Entertainment, The Enthusiast Network
Norb Garrett is the Executive Vice President/General Manager of TEN: The Enthusiast Network’s Sports & Entertainment Group, which includes TEN’s action/adventure sports business featuring brands such as SURFER, SNOWBOARDER, TRANSWORLD SKATEBOARDING, and TRANSWORLD MOTOCROSS as well as BASEBALL AMERICA, SLAM and TEN’s Home Tech Group. Since joining the company in 2010, Norb has overseen the acquisition and integration of the Grind Networks digital media group (October 2010), which includes a content partnership with GrindTV.com and Yahoo! Sports, the re-branding of the Action Sports Group into GrindMedia (July 2011), and the acquisition/integration of TransWorld Media (May 2013). Norb also is an entrepreneur who started and owns Picket Fence Media, a Southern California-based community media business that includes San Clemente Times, Dana Point Times, and The Capistrano Dispatch. Prior to joining TEN, Norb served as VP Content at Miller Publishing Group, where he oversaw and directed all editorial, online, and new media efforts for Tennis, Smash, Spin, Vibe, and Where magazines and websites. Before that, Garrett was VP, Group Publisher/Editorial Director for Primedia from 2001-2004, after serving as creative director at EMAP Metro Sports Group, running properties such as NFL Insider, Sport magazine, and celebrity annuals with Dick Vitale, Joe Montana, and Bob Griese. He joined Petersen Publishing in 1997 as Sport magazine’s Editor-in-Chief. A graduate of the University of Maryland’s Journalism School, Norb lives in San Clemente, CA, with his wife Alyssa and children Taylor and Peyton.
Alison Gerlach – Host, The Unapologetic Capitalist
Alison Gerlach has more than 20 years of experience as a serial entrepreneur, strategic management consultant, investor, business executive, and lecturer with expertise in, and a passion for, building and growing businesses. Ms. Gerlach has done extensive research in optimizing the business start-up process and has founded, built, and sold businesses in industries that include consumer packaged goods, media, technology, and professional services.
Today, Ms. Gerlach continues to build and invest in companies in a variety of stages and industries. As a strategic management consultant, she continues to work with executive teams of select companies, as well as advise notable venture capital and private equity funds. She has written various papers focused on leadership, entrepreneurship, and optimal business and investment strategies. She is the host of the popular podcast, “The Unapologetic Capitalist” which focuses on building value of ventures at any stage.
Ms. Gerlach graduated at the top of her class from the MIT Sloan School of Management earning an MBA with focus on New Venture Development and Systems Optimization. She earned her BA in economics and mathematics from Cornell University.
Ernie Hahn - General Manager, Valley View Casino Center
Ernie Hahn, a partner of Arena Group 2000 and Senior Vice President of AEG Management SD LLC, has served as the General Manager of the Valley View Casino Center/San Diego Sports Arena since December of 1996 and received his CFE in 2003. Hahn has been with Arena Group 2000 since 1991, when he started as the Event Coordinator and later became the Business Manager in November of 1992. Hahn was an owner and operator of The San Diego Gulls from 1995-2006 and was a member at the Board of Directors of the WCHL (West Coast Hockey League) and was part of 5 Taylor Cup Championships. His current responsibilities as General Manager are to oversee the booking, development, sponsorship, sports team relationships and other day-to-day management of the Valley View Casino Center with an added emphasis on all revenue generating opportunities. Hahn is the Arena’s liaison with the City of San Diego and all civic organizations. Hahn serves on the Board of Directors of The Downtown San Diego Partnership, Boys to Men Mentoring, Blacks Beach Foundation and he is a member of Rotary International Club #33. Hahn is a 1990 graduate of Santa Clara University with a B.S. in Economics. He and his wife Kristin reside in Rancho Santa Fe, California with daughter Alexis and two sons Ernie III and Carter.
Michael Lawrence, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management
Michael Lawrence works in Wealth Management at Morgan Stanley. Michael works for one of Morgan Stanley’s Global Sports and Entertainment Directors and Alternative Directors. Morgan Stanley Global Sports & Entertainment is a specialized wealth management division of Morgan Stanley, dedicated to serving the unique and complex needs of athletes, entertainers and top professionals in the sports and entertainment. Michael assists in delivering the full resources of Morgan Stanley to our clients that include aspirational goals such as philanthropy, business development, and monetizing revenue streams from their work. Michael started with Morgan Stanley private bank as an associate where he worked directly with the head of Morgan Stanley private bank in San Diego and had the opportunity to address complex lending, liquidity and commercial needs to solutions that complemented an overall wealth strategy. In 2014 Michael was recognized as the top private banker associate in his class by Morgan Stanley. On the alternatives side Michael assists entrepreneurs and startups with securing growth or expansion capital by leveraging Morgan Stanley’s large network and vast resources.
Outside of Morgan Stanley, Michael, also serves on the board of Traveling Stories where they help transform reluctant readers into confident ones by create engaging, social reading experiences that help kids fall in love with reading by the fourth grade. Michael has almost 20 years of Sales and Marketing experience. Michael is a Veteran of the U.S. Army serving as an Infantry Soldier. He was deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina as part of the first American unit under NATO command since WWII. He lives in San Diego with his Wife, Christie, and their 2 kids and lives a very active lifestyle fully enjoying Americas Finest City!
John Lococo, CEO & Founder, soccerloco
John Lococo is the CEO and founder of San Diego based soccerloco, a widely recognized leader of soccer specialty retail and web sales in the United States. John is the owner of several Southern California brick and mortar locations along with soccerloco.com and SoccerNation.com. Together, these businesses are leaders in soccer footwear, team apparel, and field equipment with a mission to ignite a passion for soccer.
John has been involved in a variety of business from the San Diego tuna fleet in his early heydays, to owning the “Best Beach Bar” in Mission Beach, Johnny’s Sur Club. In addition, he is an active volunteer at the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center at San Diego State where he mentors the next generation of students as they forge their future businesses, at the entrepreneurial center at San Diego State. Today, he continues to establish his strong roots in the local costal community of Southern California by leading soccerloco, outfitting thousands of young athletes every day.
Brandon Lowery, CA Skateparks
Brandon is a multiple startup (co)founder, advisor and angel investor who works with ventures particularly in action sports, events and property development. Brandon’s core competencies are in due diligence, strategy, fundraising, strategic partnerships and M&A.
John Luff - President & Founder, Surf Park Central
President and Founder of San Diego based Surf Park Central, the world’s leading resource for surf parks, surf pools and the development of man-made surf destinations. John is also Co-Founder and a Managing Director at Surf Park Solutions. Together, these businesses are leaders in development, consulting and media services to the emerging surf park industry.
In 2013 John and Dr. Jess Ponting of San Diego State University’s Center for Surf Research co-founded Surf Park Summit. The world’s first Surf Park Summit event was held in Laguna Beach, CA in September of 2013 and hosted over 300 invite-only attendees from 30+ countries. Surf Park Summit 2 is currently scheduled for September 7, 2016 at Surf Expo in Orlando, FL.
Previously, he worked at American Waves Machines, a leading wave technology provider. In his role John worked together primarily with developers in the hospitality, entertainment, leisure, waterpark and retail real estate sectors.
John earned his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and studied internationally at Bond University on the Gold Coast of Australia
John McLean – President, Abington Emerson Capital
John McLean is the President & Managing Partner of Abington Emerson Capital, an investment company focused on providing capital to innovative and growing companies. John is an experienced senior executive who enjoys working with entrepreneurs and helping businesses achieve their goals. Over the past six years John has funded more than $35 million across 300 deals. His extensive experience in sales, retail and marketing strategies, operational efficiencies, and general business development, has allowed him to deliver growth in all types of business environments. Prior to returning to San Diego in 2012, John spent two years in Portland, OR leading the U.S. Sales and Business Development for Nike – Golf Division where he guided the company through a successful restructure of its U.S. sales organization. Prior to Nike, John was an executive at TaylorMade-adidas Golf as the VP of U.S. Sales. There, he oversaw all U.S. sales and business development; including the centralized strategic accounts, corporate accounts, management group and mass merchant business. John helped lead the sales organization to record U.S. market share numbers in their two main product categories. From 2002-2008 John was responsible for rebuilding the Cobra Golf Brand at off-course retail as the Director of Strategic Accounts. Implementing sales, marketing, and merchandising strategies, he helped deliver record revenue for the organization in 2007. Originally from Roseville, Minnesota, John graduated from the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver where he played Division 1 Hockey for the Pioneers.
Jay Meerbergen - Executive Director of Corporate Development, SONY
Jason (Jay) Meerbergen is Executive Director of Corporate Development of Sony Electronics Inc. Headquartered in San Diego, Sony Electronics serves as the U.S. sales and marketing arm of Sony’s global electronics business. Jay began his career with Sony in 2006. He is responsible for the formation and execution of business development, investment and M&A transactions within Sony’s consumer (CE) and professional electronics and services businesses. During his tenure, he has lead the formation and execution of hundreds of strategic content distribution and technology partnerships, many with some of the largest technology and media companies in the world. Prior to Sony, Jay worked as an Associate in the investment banking firm Appleby Capital. He was also a founding member and early employee in two technology start-ups, Mediconsult.com and Operon Networks; and served as an Analyst within a strategic marketing consulting group operated by Columbia Business School professors. Jay has a
Bachelor degree in Environmental Design Architecture from the University of Colorado, Boulder and an MBA in Finance from New York University, where he served as Co-President of The Entrepreneurs’ Exchange, a non-profit 300+ member organization focused on the development of start-up businesses associated with NYU. As an avid surfer and scuba diver, you will likely find Jay spending his free time somewhere in the waters off Encinitas.
Dave Nash – President & CEO, Sun Diego Boardshops
David Nash has over 40 years Sf retail experience and is the founder, president/CEO of Athleisure, Inc., dba: Sun Diego Board Shops, an eight store chain of retail stores doing business throughout San Diego County since 1981. Sun Diego Boardshops was voted the best beach wear/surf shop for eight straight years by the readers of The San Diego Union Tribune. Sun Diego was also voted Retailer of the Year in 2005 and Women’s Retailer of the Year in 2008 by the Surf Industry Manufacturer’s Association and their retail peers though out the country. Dave is a founding and active board member of the Board Retailers Association (formed in February 2003), a non profit trade association representing over 550 action sport retailers in the surf, skate, snow, wake, kite and wind industry with approximately 3000 storefronts across the country. Dave and Sun Diego are actively involved in the community and promoting the industries Sun Diego represents. Dave and Sun Diego work with The Surfrider Foundation, Feeding America and Keep a Breast Foundation as well as helping local high school find funds for their programs. Sun Diego also provides a competitive surf series for surfers of all ages as well as AmSlam a competitive skate series. Prior to Athleisure, Inc., Dave was the EVP of Snowden-Mize Companies, Inc., dba: Snowden-Mize Sports and The Athlete’s Foot, a leading retailer in the 70’s and 80’s in the athletic shoe and apparel industry. A chain of 26 company owned stores in five states and a Franchisor of 150 The Athletes’ Foot stores.
Dr. Sean Newcomer - Assistant Professor, Kinesiology, CSUSM
Dr. Sean Newcomer, is an avid surfer and Ph.D. faculty researcher at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM). Little did he know his passion for surfing, which began at the age of five on the beaches of Cardiff-by-the-Sea, would someday become the focus of his graduate work. After receiving a Bachelor of Science in Exercise and Movement Sciences at the University of Oregon (1994) he went on to complete a Master of Science in Kinesiology (1996) at Humboldt State where his surf research began. His Master’s thesis entitled: “Aerobic Capacity of Humboldt County Male Surfers” focused on characterizing the physiological requirements of participating in recreational surfing across the lifespan. In 1999 he moved back to Southern California to serve as a Research Assistant in Physiology at UCSD (1999-2000). Sean completed his Ph.D. in Kinesiology at Penn State University (2004) followed by a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Missouri (2007). Today, he is an assistant professor of Kinesiology at CSUSM, and one of very few researchers worldwide concentrating on innovative surf research. He utilizes his expertise in Kinesiology to study the biomechanical and physiological requirements of surfing while working with industry partners to develop and test surf related products. Research projects investigating the impact of surf equipment on paddling efficiency, oxygen uptake, heart rate, thermoregulation, and mechanics are currently underway in his outdoor surf laboratory. His aims are accomplished by using the latest technology, innovative thinking, strong collaborations, and curriculum that encourages undergraduate research.
Tim Norris - Co-founder, J!NX
Tim "Queue" Norris is one of the owners here at J!NX and is in charge of all of the finances here. He has been playing games since the Atari 2600 days and has fond memories of finding ways to beat the old games.
After the Atari phase, Tim moved onto bigger and better computing with the Commodore 64. From that point on Tim spent a lot of time in front of computers. Graduating from Ohio University with a degree in Computer Science, Tim has always had a interest in games and programming.
In addition to the finances here at J!NX, Queue also does a lot of strategy, planning and brainstorming for the company. Tim spent much of his youth in front of a computer, on his GT Performer, or playing golf…funny enough Tim’s adult life consists of playing games on his computer, playing golf, and spending time with his family (Sorry GT, no time for you anymore).
Bryan Pate - CEO, ElliptiGO
After graduating from Stanford University in 1995, Bryan joined the Marines. As a Marine Officer he led a platoon of USMC Scout Snipers through a deployment to the Persian Gulf and served as an intelligence officer on an admiral’s staff. He left the Marines in 1999 and accepted a strategic marketing position at a semiconductor equipment manufacturer where he helped lead two new product development efforts. In 2005, Bryan received a J.D. from Columbia Law School. After graduation he clerked for a federal judge and then joined McKinsey & Company, a management consulting firm.
Bryan left McKinsey in 2008 to co-found ElliptiGO Inc. where he helped commercialize the world’s first elliptical bicycle. He currently serves as ElliptiGO’s CEO.
Bryan is a named inventor on more than twenty issued patents and a recognized expert in the field, having participated on numerous panels pertaining to patents and testifying before a Congressional subcommittee on the potential impacts of pending patent legislation. He is also an accomplished endurance athlete, having completed numerous running, cycling and triathlon events across the country.
Nate Raabe, Managing Partner - RX3 Ventures
Nathan Raabe joined Roth Capital Partners in 2014 to lead the venture group within the investment banking firm. Nathan has extensive experience in the healthcare market having served in both finance and operational roles. Prior to Roth, Nathan was part of the founding team of Sapheon, Inc, which was acquired by Covidien/Medtronic in 2014. At Sapheon, Nathan held various management roles in business development, sales, and marketing. In addition, Nathan spearheaded Sapheon’s fundraising efforts raising $40M through high net worth accredited investors. Prior to Sapheon, Nathan was president/CEO of various healthcare practice management companies, including Acamedic which was sold in 2009. Nathan
Adam Roth - Roth Hale Advisors
Adam Roth is a Vice President in the Investment Banking department. He joined the Institutional Sales group at ROTH in 2003, and transitioned to Corporate Finance in 2005. He has assisted in public and private equity financings in the healthcare, clean energy, and consumer sectors. Mr. Roth is currently a key participant in ROTH’s development of the OpenRound online investment platform, where accredited investors can obtain access to investments in early stage growth companies. Adam holds a degree in Business Administration from the University of Colorado.
Mark Schmid– CEO, Art Function Grope of Companies
Over the past 30 years Mark Schmid has developed multiple industry- leading companies in the action sports space. He has over 25 years of experience in product design, brand launch, management, manufacturing, marketing, and distribution in both hard goods and soft goods in both specialty & big box retail. Currently, Schmiddy is the CEO of ArtFunction, Inc., which manufactures and distributes patent-protected display and organizational systems for products that have strong emotional connections to their users. Schmiddy is also the founder/owner of Click Carabiner Company & Sk8ology. Sk8ology is a company focused on the professional skateboard market & Click Carabiner Company designs & manufactures functional niche specific jewelry. Schmiddy’s past includes being the western USA Learning Director for the Entrepreneurs Organization, President of the San Diego Chapter of Entrepreneurs Organization, & founder/owner of Syndrome Distribution and Pro Skate Products where he was directly responsible for the manufacturing of over 4 million professional skateboard decks. Prior to life in business, Schmiddy was a professional skateboarder. Outside of family & business, Schmiddy sits on multiple NPO Boards including CONNECT’S San Diego Sport Innovators (SDSI). With all this time spent on a board & in business, he hopes someday to be awarded a college diploma.
Ken C Schmitt – CEO & Founder, TurningPoint Executive Search
Ken, a San Diego native, has been placing mid and senior-level professionals for more than 18 years. After entering the executive search industry in 1998, after working for local, regional and global firms, Ken launched TurningPoint Executive Search in 2007. Based in North County, TurningPoint works nationally, placing top notch, mid and upper level marketing, sales, operations and general management talent. Ken and his firm are committed to providing a research-based, customized, direct recruiting solution to start-up ventures and legacy operations, publicly traded businesses and family owned operations. TurningPoint is proud of its 96% fill ratio, 94% retention rate, combined 70 years of experience, and a network that spans multiple geographies and sectors.
Prior to launching his recruiting career, Ken spent 5 ½ years with Enterprise Rent A Car, advancing through the organization in San Diego and Orange Counties.
In 2011, Ken also founded the Sales & Marketing Leadership Alliance, a professional organization committed to providing peer-2-peer networking and professional development to the region’s mid and senior sales and marketing leaders. In 2015, Ken launchd the Dynamic Disruption Summit in San Diego, showcasing some of the country's most innovative and disruptive businesses.
An avid user of social media to identify top talent and brand his business, Ken has been educating professionals on the merits and use of this medium since 2006. With one of San Diego’s largest LinkedIn networks and a profile that ranks in the top 1% of all users, Ken has developed a reputation as the “go-to” professional for LinkedIn in San Diego. He served as the Social Media Instructor at Cal State University, San Marcos for their “Career Transition & Development” program, and has presented to nearly 75 organizations and companies, about the value of “Leveraging LinkedIn”.
Ken earned his BSBA in Economics from the University of San Diego and is a former board member of USD’s School of Business Alumni Association. Ken serves as an Executive Board Member for Junior Achievement, San Diego, and the San Diego HR Roundtable. Ken lives in North County with his two kids and wife of 24 years, a Marriage and Family Therapist.
Dana Shertz – Managing Partner, Contineo Ventures
Dana Shertz has a 30-year history of record sales growth, marketing innovation, revenue enhancement and expense reduction in management, sales and marketing roles at EnDev Enterprises, MacGregor Golf and Callaway Golf. From 2006 to January 2009, Shertz was COO and CMO of EnDev Enterprises, a partnership that owned and operated several nightclubs and restaurants in San Diego. Prior to EnDev, Shertz spent more than 20 years in the golf industry. He served as president and COO of MacGregor Golf. Prior to MacGregor, Shertz spent 13 years in senior sales and executive positions at Callaway Golf. His ability to consistently deliver unprecedented results led him through a rapid rise in the company’s ranks, eventually resulting in an appointment as Callaway’s Vice President of Sales. As a leader of the company’s sales and marketing, he oversaw revenue growth from $5 million to $840 million, annually. Prior to Callaway, Dana founded and operated a successful retail golf operation in Palm Springs, Desert Golf and Tennis. Shertz also brings a unique understanding of business financial management. Prior to the golf industry, he worked in investment banking at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. Shertz is a business consultant who provides consulting and successful growth strategies to the Hospitality industry, Retail, Apparel, Consumer products and the Sports and Golf industries.
Doug Smith – Cofounder, True Nutrition
Doug Smith is an adventurer/traveler who perpetually lives outside of his comfort zone. He thrives on knowledge, especially when it comes to health. After watching many people around him, including himself, suffer from the negative effects of poor nutrition, he took it into his own hands to learn everything there is to know about proper nutrition and health. Doug acquired a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology (with an emphasis in physiology, biology and sports nutrition) and subsequently co-founded True Nutrition, a dietary supplement and nutrition company, over 10 years ago. Through his ongoing quest for knowledge and heightened consciousness of the effects of his own nutritional path, he continues to pursue a mission to educate people on the largely untapped and immense potential of proper nutrition. Doug’s goal for True Nutrition is a simple one, to inform the masses of the realities within the industry and to provide the highest quality products for the most economical price.
Roger Spatz - President, Reef and Eagle Creek
Roger M. Spatz, is President of Reef and Eagle Creek brands within the VF Outdoor/ Action Sports Coalition of VF Corporation (NYSE:VFC). In his 13 year tenure with VF, he has held various senior leadership roles including CFO of Reef and Eagle Creek and prior to that CFO for VF Outlet.
Before joining VF, Mr. Spatz spent 10 years with Cambridge-Lee Industries, a multi-national manufacturer and distributor of copper products, and last served as Executive Vice President and C.O.O.
Mr. Spatz has an MBA in Finance from St. Joseph’s University and his undergraduate degree in Computer Science and Business from Juniata College. He has also taken executive coursework at Harvard Business School and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
His community service currently includes Outdoor Outreach, and SDSI (San Diego Sports Initiative), and has served as chairman of The Children’s Home of Reading and Berks TalkLine, with additional service on the boards of United Way and the Manufacturer’s Association.
Mr. Spatz resides in Carlsbad, CA with his wife. They have three children.
Marco Thompson - Serial Entrepreneur
Marco Thompson is the founding board member of SDSI. Marco advises several local firms on finance and growth, and successfully raised growth capital in 2008 for a Connect S.I. member company. Marco is also a Managing Director of Express Ventures, an early stage technology venture firm. He has operational experience at up to $50-million revenue run rates, and he has led marketing & sales strategy development for diverse technology enterprises. He founded and self funded Doctor Design, which grew to become San Diego’s most successful Engineering Design Services firm and was eventually acquired by Wind River and then Intel. Marco has founded, financed, guided, and mentored numerous startups, and he currently sits on the board of directors or advisors of several early stage companies. Some of these companies include: MaintenanceNet, Entropic, Profitline, Intellitouch, Rosum, Drivecam, Objectiva, V-Enable, Benchmark Revenue Management, Qthink, and Philometron. Marco has been very active as a startup CEO mentor in the San Diego community, thru programs such as Connect Springboard, Commnexus Next Stage, and the Chairman’s Roundtable. Marco is a founding board member, past president, and past chairman of CommNexus. He holds three patents and has written a book on memory design. He has been honored as “Technology Supporter of the Year,” and is the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering Alumni of the year for 2003. Marco has also been awarded the Gray Cary Award for Technology Innovation in 2003. Marco graduated with a BSEE from UC San Diego.
Scott Tilton – Co-founder / CEO, hookit
A born entrepreneur and athlete, Scott invested everything as a child and teen into his first passion…racing motocross. Shortly after college in 2001, his former life as an athlete interconnected with a natural business sense and SponsorHouse was born. The original mission was simple…support and connect amateur athletes with sponsors through the ‘Internet’, which was the first concept of its kind. That vision later evolved into Hookit, a supercharged version of the original vision powered by a groundbreaking brand marketing and commerce platform that will disrupt a $300B+ sports economy. Today, Hookit aggregates nearly 1B pieces of athlete data and content each month to help them quantify their value, earn recognition and get deals. For the first time ever, brands now have a clear and effective solution to quantify and maximize their athlete and sports marketing programs.
Socially responsible and community driven, Scott is active with several business and sports organizations, including Founder Institute, UCSD Connect, San Diego Venture Group, SDSI (San Diego Sport Innovators) and SIMA (Surf Industry Manufacturers Association). Regarded as an expert on the topics of sponsorship, sports marketing, social media and digital technologies, Scott is passionate about sharing his experiences and has been invited to speak at several industry events, including: SDSI – Leveraging Social for Brand Engagement (San Diego, CA), CommNexus – Location-Based Services meets Social Media (San Diego, CA – 2010), YPulse Youth Marketing Summit (San Francisco, CA – 2009/2010), Sandios Round Table – Startup Bootstrapping & Fundraising (San Diego, CA – 2009), Where’s Waldo LA – Finding Social Influencers (Los Angeles, CA – 2009), National Sports Forum (Los Angeles, CA – 2008) and most recently DIBRACA Digital Brand Camp at Weber State University (Ogden, Utah).
Scott holds a degree in Sports Medicine from Elon University and a Master’s degree in Internet Business Systems from Mercy College. He resides in San Diego, CA and is married with two children.
Peter"PT" Townend– Founder & Owner, ActivEmepire
The first World Champion of Professional Surfing (1976) has held numerous industry positions in a 25-plus year career in action sports, including a 10-year term as advertising director/associate publisher of Surfing, Bodyboarding and Volleyball magazines; eight years as the marketing director of Rusty; and more recently this decade as publisher of Primedia’s Surfing Group and marketing and events director for the Primedia Action Sports Group (ASG) division. Townend also served as president of SIMA (’88-89) and president of Surfing America (’97-04) which he founded. He served as head coach of the USA Surf Team in 1982-1984, when he led the team to a Gold medal win in ’84, and most recently from 2004-2007 when he brought the USA Surf Team back to international credibility with a return to the dias in three of five international ISA World Championship appearances. Townend currently serves on the USA SkateBoarding board of directors, the umbrella organization that is endeavoring to bring skateboarding into the Olympics, and will field the USA National SkateBoarding Team. Townend also serves on SIMA’s senior advisory board.
Dante Trudel – Cofounder, True Nutrirtion
Many people know him on the internet as DC, a world renowned bodybuilding trainer with very unorthodox styles of training. He has degrees in both Electrical Power/Instrumentation and an Engineering associate of science degree, but his passion is and has always been anything fitness or bodybuilding related. He has studied training, nutrition and supplementation for 25 years now. He is a science junkie and places great worth in independent double blind studies. Of late his passion has been fixing any and all problems that arises on people’s blood work or health markers (blood pressure/cardiomyopathy) with supplements. For the people that know him (and maybe you have gotten a feel for this with his writings online), anything he involves himself in has to be topnotch or he walks in the other direction. His fortitude and insight of bodybuilding concepts will be what keeps this company cutting edge and always on its toes. He is a very known entity in the fitness world, a large part of that being both his and Doug’s reputation of “telling it like it is” with a no BS approach. That approach has created a huge following of loyal customers who appreciate that they will get the truth out of this company True Nutrition.