Startup Pitch Competition Judges

Brad Kintzer

Chief Chocolate Maker, TCHO

Brad Kintzer serves as Chief Chocolate Maker of TCHO Ventures, Inc. Mr. Kintzer spent months working on cacao plantations throughout Latin America, learning firsthand the crucial agricultural and post-harvest processes that influence chocolate flavor. Continuing his quest for chocolate knowledge, he began product development work with pioneer artisan chocolate producer Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker, in 2003. Following the 2005 acquisition of Scharffen Berger by Hershey's, his product development responsibilities expanded to include Joseph Schmidt Confections and Dagoba Organic Chocolate. In addition, he has worked with other fine chocolate industry leaders including Lake Champlain Chocolates, Michael Recchuiti Confections and others. He studied botany at the University of Vermont.

Rob Trice


Rob started organizations that link companies to venture innovation. In 2001 he co-founded the Service Provider Investment Forum (now part of the Telecom Council of Silicon Valley). In 2011 he started the Corporate Innovators Huddle and its Corporate Venture Forum. And in 2013 he started the Mixing Bowl to link food, agriculture and IT innovators.

Claire Chang

Founder and Managing Director, igniteXL

Claire is a Founder and Managing Director of igniteXL, a Silicon Valley based accelerator/seed fund focusing on promising startups from Korea and other parts of Asia.  Having gone through the immigrant experience herself, Claire intimately understands the unique challenges foreign entrepreneurs face as they bring new ideas, products, and services to the global market.  Be it cultural barrier or lack of network, Claire leverages her 20 years of global marketing expertise and network to help entrepreneurs take a chance at the global market.  igniteXL currently focuses on consumer technology with particular interests in mobile, IoT, fashion, health, education, and of course in food innovation. Claire is an avid golfer and is proud to be called the ‘biggest golf geek’.

Ron Yerkes

Director, RocketSpace

Ron Yerkes is a director on RocketSpace’s Corporate Innovation Services team, leading its new Industry Tech Accelerator program. Previously, he’s led innovation and product teams at companies including Turner, Samsung, and Microsoft.