Meet The Judges

Florida Atlantic University’s College of Business is proud to present the annual student Business Plan Competition judged by South Florida business executives. Local business leaders bring realistic experience and first-hand knowledge to promising FAU student entrepreneurs. Students pitch their business ideas to these judges and receive invaluable feedback in return.

*BPC contestants should not contact judges, doing so may lead to disqualification from the BPC contest.

 

 2021 JUDGES 

Finals Judges


Jan Bednar

Jan is the founder and CEO of ShipMonk, a third-party order fulfillment company. In 2014, as an undergraduate at FAU, Jan won first place at the Business Plan Competition as well as the Florida
Venture Forum Collegiate Competition. Later that year, he was given the opportunity to participate in the FAU Tech Runway incubator, making ShipMonk one of the earliest startups to be accepted into the program.

Since then, Jan and ShipMonk have achieved tremendous success, racking up several awards and
recognitions from publications such as Forbes' 30 Under 30, Inc. 5000, Deloitte, and Entrepreneur.
Today, ShipMonk employs over 1,000 team members nationwide and has, of late 2020, amassed
over $355 million in growth equity funding from Summit Partners and Periphas Capital.

 

 

 

Ahmed Bekhit

Ahmed is the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Magic Studio. Ahmed started his career in Software Engineering and Entrepreneurship at 12 and ever since then his work has been critically acclaimed worldwide by the Wall Street Journal and major international publications. Throughout Ahmed's decade long career in Software Engineering, he built products with millions of active users and hundreds of thousands in sales, developed and published a course with Stanford, awarded awards by Apple, Facebook and Ford for his work in software, and currently authoring a technical book. At Magic Studio, Ahmed leads and manages the technical teams developing state-of-the-art technologies to provide the ultimate Esports & Gaming experience.

 

 

 

 

Ali Mandsaurwala, M.D.

Ali Mandsaurwala is the Franchise Owner/President of Accessible Home Health Care of Aventura based in North Miami Beach, Florida. He was born in Mumbai, India and moved to Miami Beach at the age of three with his parents where he grew up working in the family business of retail groceries. His exposure to the family business created an entrepreneurial spirit that drives Ali to this day.  After completing medical school at the age of 24 and working with a cardiology group in Miami, Ali’s love for business flourished when he made the conscious decision to move away from medicine and become a Franchisee with Accessible Home Health Care at 30. Currently, Ali and his team care for 110 lives and supervise over 150 caregivers, nurses and therapists. In addition to Ali’s success in the home health field he has a substantial real estate portfolio and successful CrossFit box with over 240 members.  In addition to contributing to a number of charitable organizations that include the Alzheimer’s Association and Best Buddies International, Ali is a member of EO: Entrepreneurs Organization, BNI Biscayne Connection and is a proud board member with Nicklaus Children’s Young Ambassadors. Ali’s greatest achievement and love is his four-year-old daughter Naaya, and wife Danielle. 

 

 

 

Ilyse Terri Shuster

Ilyse Terri Shuster is the founder of Ilyse Terri LLC, a full service, 360-degree advertising and creative agency specializing in marketing for medium and large brands. Her firm’s clients include Viacom, Nickelodeon brand, United Talent Agency and Thompson Hotels among others. Ilyse also manages the holding company I Group Ventures, Inc. that owns Ilyse Terri, LLC and other subsidiaries. For 20 years, Ilyse worked in various marketing roles for different companies before opening her own firm. Originally from South Africa, Ilyse hails from a long line of entrepreneurs and lawyers including the founder of Lion Country Safari in Florida that connects her to South Florida business leaders. Ilyse is a visionary, creative entrepreneur, wife and mother residing in South Florida with her family.

 

 

Erica Sullivan

A born and raised local south Floridian, Erica attended the Art Institute at Broward Community College and Construction School of South Florida. She is the Managing Member and Founder of Erica's Plumbing & Restoration founded in 2008. An employer of 21 fantastic team members, she holds several licenses: Florida State Licensed General Contractor, Florida State Licensed Plumbing Contractor, and Florida State Licensed Mold Remediator. Erica's Plumbing & Restoration has 13 trucks on the road and specializes in multiple home services: Plumbing, Water Damage Restoration, Mold Remediation, Reconstruction and HVAC. She is a mother of two furture women contractors, 15 & 3 years old. Her hobbies include spearfishing, boating, traveling and snowboarding.

 

 

 

Semi-Finals Judges

 

Jessica Del Vecchio

In April 2015, Jessica Del Vecchio joined the City of Boca Raton as its first economic development manager and was tasked with leading the newly established Economic Development Division. Since its inception, the Office of Economic Development has successfully facilitated over a dozen corporate relocation and expansion projects; including one of the largest corporate deals in Palm Beach County, which committed to creating 838 new jobs in Boca Raton.  Jess attended Lynn University and has a bachelor’s degree in business management and an MBA in Finance. 

Kuka Elemesova

 

Kuka Elemesova is an entrepreneur and investor with over 20 years of experience in financial advisory, principal investing, healthcare and other industries.  Having lived in 4 countries and successfully conducted business in over 20 countries across North America, Europe and Asia, she is passionate about building businesses, developing teams and making a positive social and environmental impact.  Kuka has an MBA from Harvard Business School and BSBA in finance magna cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis. 

Kurt Gehlsen

 

Dr. Kurt R. Gehlsen has more than 30 years of experience in basic research, pharmaceutical and medical device product development, clinical development, regulatory, investment, company formation and executive management and leadership. Dr. Gehlsen is currently Founder and CEO of Mira Life Science Ventures, an early-stage life science investment and development company. Dr. Gehlsen has published over 140 manuscripts, book chapters and meeting abstracts and has over 100 patents and patent applications. Dr. Gehlsen received his bachelorette of science degrees in Civil Engineering and General Biology, with minors in math, chemistry and physics from the University of Arizona and his Doctoral degrees from the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson. 

Brian Javeline

 

Brian Javeline is a four-time serial entrepreneur and co-founder of MyOnlineToolbox.com, a leading marketing and website education company for residential home builders and remodelers and commercial contractors.  He has raised millions from multiple investors and has written for Fast Company focusing on topics such as The Entrepreneur Way of Life, What Gets Investors Excited, and Angel Investors Are More Powerful than VCs.   

Ravi Seepersad

Ravi Seepersad is a transactional and business law partner at The Concept Law Group (one of South Florida’s leading law firms focused on the protection and monetization of intellectual property).  Mr. Seepersad holds both a M.S. in Human Resource Development and a Doctor of Jurisprudence and has over 16 years’ experience practicing law.  He has served in the capacity of General Counsel and Chief Strategy Officer successfully leading legal, compliance, human resources, strategy, and training teams. His clients are involved in a broad range of major industries including the airline, automotive, medical, cruise ship, and defense industries.    

Ron Tarro

Ron Tarro is the former CEO of a telecommunications software and management services company founded in Boca Raton, Florida.  He led the company from its early stages, led its expansion across nearly 40 countries, and then led its sale to a publicly held corporation where he served as a corporate Vice President. Ron began his career as an IBM software engineer and product manager. He moved to Fortune 500 management consulting at Ernst & Young. Today he helps early-stage and growth-stage companies focus their products and services, prioritize their customers and markets, and accelerate their growth. Ron is a New World Angels board member, an investment committee member and he chairs New World Angel’s investment screening committee. 

Rhys Williams

Rhys L. Williams serves as the Managing Director of the FAU Tech Runway Investor Network, as an Associate Vice President within Florida Atlantic University’s Division of Research.  From 2016 to 2020, he ran the highly successful FAU Tech Runway technology incubator/accelerator program.  Mr. Williams has almost two decades of experience in the early-stage life sciences realm, having co-founding three biotech spinouts from three of Florida’s institutions of higher learning.Mr. Williams received his undergraduate degree from Harvard College magna cum laude and both a law degree (JD) and an MBA (with honors; class president) from the University of Florida. 

 

 

 2020 JUDGES 

Finals Judges

 

Shay Berman

Shay Berman

Shay Berman is the founder and president of Digital Resource, a full-service digital marketing agency in West Palm Beach. Digital Resource partners with forward-thinking companies, assisting them with building reputable, lead-generating online presences. Since starting DR in 2014 at the age of 23, Shay has scaled the business to new heights. Digital Resource has ranked on Inc. 500–the list of America’s fastest-growing private companies–two years in a row and was named the 49th most entrepreneurial company in the nation by Entrepreneur Magazine in 2019. Additionally, Shay is proud to be the youngest 2019 “40 under 40” entrepreneur, as named by South Florida Business Journal.

 

Jonathan Beskin

Jonathan Beskin

Jonathan Beskin is a dynamic business executive, entrepreneur and investor with more than 15 years of marketing, sales and leadership experience. He is the CEO and Founder of SinglesSwag, a monthly subscription box for single women in May 2016 with less than 50 subscribers in the US and has grown the company to more than 130,000 subscribers, over one million verified Instagram and Facebook followers and $14 million+ in current annual revenue in less than three years. Beskin also founded Mollie Jacob, an all-natural cosmetics brand with national distribution and the jewelry brand, Violet Harper. Beskin and his businesses featured on the TODAY show, Cosmopolitan, Mashable, USA Today, Fast Company, Marie Claire, INC, Business Insider, InStyle and much more. Beskin holds a BS in Finance from Florida State University and an MBA from Florida Atlantic University.

 

Judith Haddad

Judith Haddad

Judith Haddad is President and CIO for SD Refinery, an AI technology start-up that converts unstructured language data into actionable and useful outcomes for businesses. Previously she was founder and CEO of hDC Solutions, a visionary company that provides access to high-end digital solutions to the insurance industry. Judith was named one of 25 Most Influential Woman in Business by South Florida Business Journal, and her career was featured in Profile Magazine. Ms. Haddad is known as a dynamic leader and entrepreneur with vast experience building profitable organizations, having a passion for developing new products, software and teams. She has pioneered numerous initiatives in the areas of digital technologies, virtual infrastructure implementations, and AI/enterprise data warehouse solutions. Ms. Haddad is also very active mentoring and advising several start-up organizations. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts and received her MBA degree from Nova Southeastern University. She has also completed courses at INSEAD in France and keeps current on new technology with certification courses at MIT.

 

Brian Javeline

Brian Javeline

Brian Javeline is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of MyOnlineToolbox.com, a leading marketing and website education company for home improvement remodelers. He has raised millions from multiple investors and has written for Fast Company focusing on topics such as The Entrepreneur Way of Life, What Gets Investors Excited, and Angel Investors Are More Powerful than VCs. MyOnlineToolbox was recently awarded a Top 100 Product for the Remodeling Industry.

 

 

Bernard Paul-Hus

Bernard Paul-Hus

Bernard Paul-Hus is the President and CEO of Hypower, Inc. Hypower is one of the southeast USA’s largest specialty electrical contractors and has completed over a thousand projects valued at over $1bn. Paul-Hus grew Hypower from 11 employees to over 600 employees since 1991. He was actively involved in several signature projects including Brightline’s All Aboard Florida, the first Formula EPrix on American soil, and Disney’s Epcot Solar Site where Hypower installed 48,000 solar panels in the shape of Mickey Mouse in four months. Paul-Hus has been a member of the TEC/VISTAGE committee since 1997 and is on the ABC (Associated Builders and Contractors) Board of Directors.  He is personally involved as a leader and a mentor with quite a few local charities – HANDY (Helping Abused Neglected Disadvantaged Youth), Boys and Girls Clubs of Broward County, 4Kids of South Florida and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Hypower donates over $100,000 to local charities every year.

 

Bob Rubin

Bob Rubin

Bob Rubin is president of Rubin Wealth Advisors, a Boca Raton-based wealth-advisory firm that provides wealth management solutions to more than 150 clients nationwide. Founded in 1998, Rubin Wealth Advisors is a fee-only registered investment advisory firm specializing in financial planning for business owners and entrepreneurs. Bob is also currently president of Your401kSource.com, a subsidiary of Rubin Wealth Advisors, and co-founded Machine Gun America. Bob is a member on the Board of Trustees for Florida Atlantic University and supports the university as Vice Chairman of the International Center for Emergency Management.

 

Ilyse Terri Shuster Frohman

Ilyse Terri Shuster Frohman

Ilyse Terri Shuster is the founder of Ilyse Terri LLC, a full service, 360-degree advertising and creative agency specializing in marketing for medium and large brands. Her firm’s clients include Viacom, Nickelodeon brand, United Talent Agency and Thompson Hotels among others. Ilyse also manages the holding company I Group Ventures, Inc. that owns Ilyse Terri, LLC and other subsidiaries. For 20 years, Ilyse worked in various marketing roles for different companies before opening her own firm. Originally from South Africa, Ilyse hails from a long line of entrepreneurs and lawyers including the founder of Lion Country Safari in Florida that connects her to South Florida business leaders. Ilyse is a visionary, creative entrepreneur, wife and mother residing in South Florida with her family.

 

Semi-Finals Judges

Jon Belgrad

Jon Belgrad joined Knight Foundation as a Miami program associate in May 2019. His work focuses on establishing Miami as a hub of innovation and high-growth entrepreneurship.

 

Elizabeth Kelley Grace

Elizabeth Kelley Grace is a co-founder and partner of The Buzz Agency, a women-owned public relations and social media agency based in Palm Beach, Florida. The Buzz Agency is one of the top-ranked public relations agencies in South Florida, according to the South Florida Business Journal. 

 

Tyler Kelly

Tyler is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Pitch Madness, a new debate-style startup competition that features at the annual Synapse Innovation Summit, organizes contests in Europe, Dubai, and is coming soon to San Francisco in partnership with GSVLabs.

 

Pragya Malhotra

Pragya brings 15 years of professional experience, a bachelor’s degree in Information Science from the University of Delhi, and a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Iowa to her role as Director of Products at Ultimate Software. In this role, she is responsible for translating vision and north stars into real products.

 

Khalid Saleem

Khalid is the Chief Digital Officer of TBC Corporation, one of North America’s largest marketers of automotive replacement tires, and all wholly owned subsidiaries. He joined TBC in 2019 from Office Depot where he led the e-Commerce team as Vice President of e-Commerce & Digital Business Platforms.

 

 

Gina Simpson

Gina is a financial advisor with Morgan Stanley in Boca Raton. Prior to working at Morgan Stanley Gina worked at Lockheed Martin, serving as a budget and schedule planner on a multi-million dollar engineering development contract for the U.S. Army.

 

Isaias Sudit

Isaias has spent the last 20 years creating high growth technology companies. His latest venture TROVE is a data engineering firm that uses the latest algorithms from artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning to provide clients with insightful data analysis.
 

 

 

2019 JUDGES

Finals Judges

 

jan_bednar

Jan Bednar

Jan is the founder and CEO of ShipMonk, a third-party order fulfillment and distribution service company. In 2018, Jan became one of Forbes 30 Under 30 in the Retail and Ecommerce category and ShipMonk was ranked #29 on the INC 5000 list. Jan is an FAU College of Business graduate from the Class of 2014. As an FAU undergraduate, he won the Business Plan Competition and another business contest to gain funding for his startup shipping business. He then enrolled in and graduated from the FAU Tech Runway program to accelerate his business. Now Shipmonk employs over 400 people across four locations and generates over $70,000,000 in annual revenue.

  

terri_brown

Terri-Ann Brown

Terri-Ann Brown currently serves as a mentor for the Venture Mentoring Team, a nonprofit educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to fostering the startup community by training and credentialing Mentors and then connecting them with the best and brightest entrepreneurs to help startups reach their full potential.  In 2015 she helped to launch the South Florida chapter of the Founder Institute, a global accelerator program that prepares entrepreneurs from idea stage to launch. Terri previously co-founded a startup in the dental technology field and mentors in the Broward College Startup Now program.

 

tony_chvala

Tony Chvala

Tony is the Chief Operating Officer of 4Ocean. He has 15 years of executive leadership experience in ecommerce, marketing, merchandising, private label, 3rd party marketplaces, and international expansion. He drove revenue growth for large companies as Amazon, Groupon, GE and Sears. Tony also led ecommerce transformations for private equity and venture capital exits with companies valued between $50M and $100M. Under his direction, the 4Ocean team and business have grown over 5x in the last year. He received his B.A. in Business Management from the University of Wisconsin.

 

tim_marshall

Tim S. Marshall

Author, entrepreneur, and speaker Tim S. Marshall (https://timsmarshall.com/) built a Florida-based tech start-up featured as one of Inc. Magazine's "Fastest Growing Companies in America" for 4 years in a row, experiencing record-breaking growth and "thriving through three of the toughest years, seen in the living memory of Corporate America." - Inc. magazine. Tim has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, CEOs, and professional athletes (he was the keynote speaker at the 2016 and 2017 NFL Jacksonville Jaguars Draft Days) and has appeared as a keynote speaker at universities and corporate seminars throughout Florida.

 

tony_ramudo

Tony Ramudo

As a founding partner of Urban Solar, Tony delivers a high level of business & construction expertise through his financial services and construction background. Growing up surrounded by architects, developers, and engineers, along with a Degree in Finance from FAU, shaped his ability to help build the solid foundation on which Urban Solar was born. His project management expertise, dedication to the customer experience and attention to detail challenge all departments of Urban Solar.

 

amalia_santiago

Amalia Santiago

Amalia Santiago currently works for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as a patent administrator where she is engaged in quality, data, and process improvement projects. Throughout her 31 years at the Patent Office, she has worked as the Chief of the Data Analysis and Process Improvement Branch, Chief Administrator of the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences, and as a patent examiner in the chemical engineering arts. Amalia received a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, she is an FAU MBA alum (1987), and received a Master’s Certificate in Project Management from the George Washington University.

 

alan_g_stanford_jr

Alan G. Stanford Jr.

Alan Stanford is currently the founder and Managing Partner of Dash Two Partners. Alan was previously the VP of Finance for Nordic Aviation Capital, the largest lessor of regional aircraft and the fourth largest commercial aircraft lessor in the world. Alan currently heads the company’s Special Projects Group focused on acquisitions, operating and financial strategy and is now based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Before working at Nordic Capital, Alan was the Chief Financial Officer of Jetscape Aviation Group, a private company engaged in commercial aircraft leasing to airlines worldwide based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He graduated from the University of Colorado – Boulder with a Master of Business Administration and from the University of Denver with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration.


Semi-Finals Judges

Karen S. Herman

Karen S. Herman is an author, entrepreneur, and leading design expert on disruptive retail. She founded Gustie Creative, a design firm that creates end-to-end sustainable design solutions, in 2013.

 

Cristian Nieto

Based in Cherry Bekaert’s South Florida practice, Cris is a Partner in the Firm’s Audit and Assurance practice. Experienced in working with domestic and international investment funds, Cris provides guidance to partnerships, privately held and publicly traded companies in the U.S. and abroad.

 

Carlos Pernia

Carlos works as a business relationship manager at HSBC Bank. He has for worked 12 years within the financial industry supporting small business clients.

 

Karrie Prehm

Karrie C. Prehm is the founder and CEO of Global Regulation Advisers Corp. (GRA), an asset management compliance consulting firm based in South Florida. GRA consults senior executives and businesses on how to comply with various local and federal financial regulations.

 

Paul Tanner

Paul Tanner is the Managing Director and Founder at Las Olas Capital Advisors. He has 34 years of experience in the financial industry. 

 

Jim Walker

Jim Walker is the CEO and founder of CloudHesive, a cloud integration and managed services company with headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, FL and a satellite office in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Prior to starting CloudHesive, Mr. Walker worked in multiple executive positions in IT.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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