Cocktail Reception

Alec Lee

CEO, Ava Winery

Alec received his Bachelor of Science degree in Honours Biotechnology the University of British Columbia where started his first company, M Prep, focusing on pre-medical education. He ran M Prep for six years, capturing significant market share with top and bottom line growth. At M Prep, Alec launched innovative products that would become industry-standard among competitors. In 2014 Alec transitioned out of a full-time role with M Prep to attend Harvard Business School’s MBA program. He spent a year at the MBA before leaving to pursue new startup ventures. He teamed up with co-founder Mardonn Chua to launch Extem, developing novel stem cell technologies for tissue engineering research. Mardonn and Alec later identified an opportunity to craft wines from their individual molecular components, and the two founded Ava Winery where Alec is currently CEO.

Monica Martinez

Founder and Owner, Don Bugito

Monica Martinez is a native of Mexico City, she is a designer, educator, and entrepreneur. She is the founder and owner of Don Bugito, a San Francisco-based food company (and recently an urban farm) focused on sustainable protein snacks featuring tasty edible insects. She received her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. Monica is a fellow of the MacDowell Colony as well as Sculpture Space and in New York. Her work has been featured on Nova, PBS, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, PRI’s The World and the United Nations FAO report on Food Security.

Fernando Diaz Mendoza

Founder and Captain, caffeinated chaos

A fourth generation coffee purveyor, Fernando Diaz officially launched PROYECTO DIAZ COFFEE in May 2014 with a mission: to rebuild one coffee farm at a time. PDC (as its affectionally called by the illicit masses) sources, roasts, packages, and delivers coffee. Oh, and to sweeten the deal, the company donates 10% of its profits back into the project farm being rebuilt, currently the Diaz family farm."

Simon Cheng

Founder and CEO, Pique tea

Suffering from several ailments, founder Simon Cheng embarked on a quest for inner health that led to his discovery of Cha Gao (tea paste), a 1,300 year old process for turning tea into medicine. Originating in Yunnan, China, Cha Gao is used by native tribes as a wellspring of vitality and energy to withstand the rigors of life and travel in this unspoiled mountainous region.

This primitive innovation so encapsulated the wisdom of the ancient health practices Simon developed – plant based medicine, meditation, inner and outer balance – in a convenient, accessible format that he was inspired to share it with the world. Partnering with the leading experts in tea cultivation and Chinese medicine, Simon invented a patented Cold Crystallization process to extract and crystallize the amazing flavor and active ingredients in tea at their maximum potential.