Our Team

Statewide Leaders

Ash Kumra

Co-Leader Startup California – Southern California Regions


Ash Kumra is an award winning entrepreneur and public speaker most recently recognized by the White House as one of the top 100 young entrepreneurs making an impact for America. Ash is a founder of DreamItAlive.com; an online community dedicated to guiding people to create, believe and live out their dreams using virtual dream boards. Ash has been recognized for excellence in entrepreneurship from institutions and luminaries such as the White House, Reverend Rick Warren, TED talks, and the Young Entrepreneur’s Council. Ash is also part of the 2012 California State Team for White House/Steve Case founded “Startup America” and the incoming 2012 chairman for southern california based Tech Coast Venture Network.

Ash has spoken to over 10,000 people on entrepreneurship, social media and branding for many colleges, institutions, and organizations world wide. Ash works as a business advisor for many leading educational institutions including Occidental College, Chapman University, Concordia University, and UC Irvine Merage Business School.

Ash is also co-founder of digital content distribution agency DesiYou; the 2010 recipient for “Best Digital Media” company by the Irvine Entrepreneur Forum and advisor/investor to various entrepreneurial ventures.

Digital Media, Content Distribution, Entrepreneurship, Business Coaching, Speaking, Video Production, Branding, Social Media

Howard J. Leonhardt
Co-Leader Startup California – state spokesperson The JOBS ACT and Crowdfunding

Howard Leonhardt is an inventor and serial entrepreneur.  He has 20 patents for products for treating cardiovascular and heart disease.  These include;  cardiovascular balloon catheters, stent grafts for aneurysm repair, percutaneous heart valves, heart pacemakers with stem cell recruiting capabilities, electrical stimulation devices for promoting blood flow, electrical stimulation device for converting stem cells to heart muscle, stem cell compositions for heart repair, stem cell delivery systems, biological pacemakers and artificial lung catheter.  His TALENT stent graft developed in the early 1990’s holds a leading world market share for repairing aortic aneurysms without surgery.  In early 1999 Leonhardt founded Bioheart, Inc. www.bioheartinc.com a leader in applying adult muscle stem cells to treat heart failure.  Bioheart has raised over $105 million in paid in capital and additionally $40 million in loans and grants. Bioheart MyoCell is in Phase II/III clinical trials at 33 leading centers in the USA (The MARVEL Study).  MARVEL Phase II/IIIa results were published in the American Heart Journal October of 2011 and demonstrated Bioheart MyoCell patients improved 95.7 meters in exercise capacity over placebo patients receiving optimal CHF drugs, whom declined minus 4 meters.  Leonhardt has founded 20 companies to date, most them majority funded by his venture firm Leonhardt Ventures and their associated angel network www.leonhardtventures.com.  These include:  The California Stock Exchangewww.calstockexchange.com, Lionheart Adventures, MyoStim Pacers www.myostimpacers.com, Leonhardt Vineyardswww.leonhardtvineyards.com, Leonhardt’s Launchpads www.leonhardtslaunchpads.com, Kindheart Lionheart Media Co.www.kindheartlionheart.com and Wine Country Baseball www.winecountrybaseball.com


271661v2-max-250x250Danny is a professional motocross rider turned husband, father, and entrepreneur. He is married to his lovely wife Sarah and they have a little boy named Daniel Raymond Beckett the III.
Family is first, and after that, he is all startups. He is the statewide leader of California for Startup America Partnership and an early stage founder and advisor to several startup companies that include: Fundourcommunity, Think Tables, Citizenshirt, Startup Generation, Konnect, schwagon, and more.
Danny is also the the co-founder and chairman of FLF, where they are on a mission to feed the hungry startups and entrepreneurs that feed our global economies at FLF locations around the world. Free Lunch Friday (FLF) is a non-profit with a simple goal; to provide community, content, connections and access to capital to the hungry startups and entrepreneurs who drive our economy.
Prior to Danny’s current startups and co-founding FLF, Danny helped start four E-commerce companies that produce today between 90-100M in revenue per year, he built a professional race team, started a digital agency that grew to more than 25 employees and two locations, and has had the privilege to work with some incredible brands like Meijer, Kawasaki Team Green, Monster Energy Drink, Smith, Fly Racing, HJC Helmets, WMG, Yamaha, Suzuki, YMCA, FCA, Monster, Harley Davidson, SPY, Babbittsonline.com, and more.
Working closely with startups and brands, Danny has helped to define profitable new growth platforms and built the products, systems, marketing, strategy, distribution, metrics, and funding to help make them a reality.


2639833_origKelley Rajala -

Co-Leader Startup California – Northern California Regions – Senior Advisor Local Investing


Kelley is best categorized as a Social Enterprise Entrepreneur. She has started ten successful small businesses and has been nationally recognized as a leader in building resilient communities. In 2010, she was Sonoma County’s Sustainability Trailblazer of the Year. Kelley is the cofounder of the Livability Project, Sonoma County GoLocal Cooperative, Share Exchange, Made Local Marketplace and the Local Economy Institute. Her newest company is a Flexibly Purpose Corporation called Local Works, incubating businesses in local production of food and goods. Kelley holds a BA in Environmental Studies with an emphasis in renewable energy from UC Santa Barbara. She was a Comprehensive Planner for the County of Santa Barbara and the Marketing Director and Territory Sales Manager for her family business, Rajala Rehab Products. She is a Community Mapping consultant and her goal in life is to create Local Economy Centers across the country. She predicts the future to be filled with hundreds of regional ‘Livability Centers’ that support solutions for sustainable living.

Startup CA Region Champions

Startup LA Champion/Region Leader – Carrie Norton

Carrie Norton, Founder and President, Green Business BASE CAMP
Carrie’s professional mission is to prove the business case for sustainability, and she has spent over a decade accumulating expertise in sustainable business and entrepreneurship in a broad range of companies, including Garage Technology Ventures and Idealab.  Today, Carrie serves as the Founder and President of Green Business BASE CAMP, a global acceleration and on-line education platform for green entrepreneurs.  Immediately prior to founding GBBC, she held a succession of Senior Management roles in Market and Project Development in the commercial solar power industry, serving early-adopting clients such as Google, Sony, British Telecom, Dow Corning and Toyota. Carrie’s community leadership includes work with Grid Alternatives, the Clean Economy Network, Net Impact, the Sustainable Business Council of Los Angeles (an organization she co-founded in 2005), and as an Adjunct Faculty member at the Graziadio School of Management at Pepperdine University. She is a member of the 2010 class of Catto Fellows of the Aspen Institute.  Carrie earned an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management and a BA from Trinity University.



Startup Bay Area Champion/Region Leader

Nick Frost

After serving 5 years in the US Navy as a mechanic, he chose to get out and pursue entrepreneurship, which brought him to San Francisco in August 2011.

When he was overseas, he created StartupLi.st, a platform to connect startups with early adopters.  After moving to San Francisco, he’s been involved in a handful of projects; helped create AngelHack, joined the Startup Region California team, mentors at Startup Weekend, is an AngelList Scout, advises a few startups, organized DesignStartups and Veteran Entrepreneur Meetup Groups, and is the Director of Growth Strategy at Startupperz.  Startupperz builds the business foundation of startups, so founders can focus on their product.

Overall, Nick is a key connector in the startup community.

Gabriela-Dow-headshot-120x120Gaby Dow

Leader Startup San Diego

Gabriela is a consultant based in San Diego who works with global corporations, national firms, tech startups and local government agencies. Her specialty is modernization and innovation through eGovernment, often helping public agencies implement emerging technologies, practices and programs. As a founding member of the eGov firm GovPartner, Gabriela led business development and marketing efforts for twelve years helping to establish the company as an industry leader in the US and UAE. She currently serves as VP of Strategic Initiatives for StartupCirlce and advisor for Locbit and NEAD Technologies, in addition to her consulting work for companies like Atkins Global, Cumming Corp. and cities in Southern California. Gabriela’s career began as a journalist, working at two CNN bureaus (DC and Los Angeles) and CBS in Los Angeles. Her political experience began at the White House Office of Public Liaison, followed by Press Advance for the Clinton / Gore re-election campaign and as an Intergovernmental Affairs Officer for Governor Pedro Rossello’s Washington DC office. Gabriela is a native of Guadalajara, Mexico and graduate from UCLA.



As a founding champion of Startup California and Startup Orange County, it is my mission to bring together an alliance of the country’s most innovative entrepreneurs, corporations, universities, foundations, investors, and other leaders, to work in concert to dramatically increase the prevalence and success of this country’s entrepreneurs. It is my fundamental belief that anyone with a solid business plan and a willingness to work hard can turn even an improbable idea into a successful business. It is my honor to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with these American heroes — entrepreneurs with skin in the game.

When it comes to putting more eyeballs on your company and product brands, you will need a seasoned professional who knows how to develop a hybrid communications program. Maples is a professional with experience with some of the best brands in technology including Western Digital, AST Research, Toshiba, Texas Instruments, Hitachi, Fujitsu, (ISC)2, eMachines, Ingram Micro, and many startups such as Networks In Motion. Maples has represented these companies and others on multiple occasions when they needed a jump start or to rise to the next level.

Maples is proud of the fact that he has always succeeded with a company of any size that has a story to tell and will work with him to tell it.

Sanjay Dalal is the CEO & Founder of Ogoing, Social Network for Small Business Community. 3,500+ SMBs, Startups, Entrepreneurs, Small Businesses & Owners have joined, are making connections, and attracting new customers!

At WebEx, Sanjay introduced innovative collaboration products, WebEx Training Center and WebEx Sales Center and made them market share leaders. These products are used by over 50 million professionals worldwide since launch! He grew the combined training product line revenue to $70 million, filed joint U.S. Patent on “Hands-on Labs” for hands-on training, led the first two mergers, and drove 30+ strategic partnerships.

Sanjay is the author of market leading Innovation eBook & Resource Kit, Apple’s Innovation Strategy and WOW! Product Guide used by thousands of innovators worldwide. Sanjay introduced the Innovation Index that correlates innovation, business, and stock performance. Sanjay founded India Business Network USA.

Sanjay helped Educomp Solutions with USA e-learning business. Sanjay launched Visual Rendezvous, collaborative whiteboard, at eComLive and worked in key product roles at IBM and Honeywell Bull.

Sanjay has B.S from the University of Texas at Austin in EE (Computer Engineering), completed coursework for M.S. in Computer Science at Arizona State University, and Leading Management Teams certification from Cornell University.

Current affiliations: President-Elect, Asian Business Association Orange County; Director New Generations, Rotary Club Newport-Irvine; Co-Founder, Startup California; TiE SoCal, Irvine Chamber of Commerce. Sanjay founded the non-profit Osteoporosis Foundation. Past: Turtle Rock PTA & School Site Council, Basketball Coach NJB for son’s teams, Art Master daughter, Technology Advisory Committee for Fremont School District.

“I am a proud father of two boisterous kids, and husband to my beautiful wife for 18 years. I enjoy the opportunity, entrepreneurship and education that USA provides, and am grateful of my India heritage”

Lorraine DuVernay has been director of the Small Business Development Center at Santa Rosa Junior College since February, 2001. Before relocating to Santa Rosa, she was a Senior Vice President/Team Leader for City National Bank in Beverly Hills and has more than 25 years experience in commercial lending. Prior to joining the SBDC, Lorraine served as a loan officer at SAFE-BIDCO, specializing in Small Business Administration and other government loan programs.  She also was the Loan Fund Manager for the Napa Valley Economic Development Corporation and active in economic development activities for Napa County.  Lorraine has a B.A. from the State University of New York at Albany and an MBA from Loyola Marymount.


Eric Ullrich is the director of VentureStart, a startup accelerator and program of the Sacramento Area Regional Technology Alliance www.sarta.org.  He was an entrepreneur from the beginning, joining his first startup venture while enrolled at San Diego State, in the home energy efficiency space.  Since that time he has worked with multiple renewable energy startups, most notably Sierra Energy, and The Renewable Energy Testing Center.

For the past two years he has been building community around technology entrepreneurship throughout the Sacramento region, taking a leading role in hosting events, running a mentoring program, and facilitating investor deal flow.

His current initiative is to make an impact on the way regions can rally around, support, and invest in businesses close to home.  Above all, his passion is working with great people to implement world-changing ideas.

Kirk Nagamine
CEO, The Central Valley Business Incubator
Kirk Nagamine is the President/CEO of the Central Valley Business Incubator and the Water, Energy & Technology Center.  CVBI operates the WET Center on the campus of Fresno State, as well as the Small Business Development Center Program in the Central Valley, for which Kirk serves as the Director.  CVBI is a leading provider of training and networking and support services for entrepreneurs and innovators in the Central Valley.  Through the WET Center and its partners, we are positioning the region as a leader in Water, Energy and Technology Innovation.

Kirk also serves as Director of the CalValleyTech iHub, one of 12 innovation hubs throughout the state.  The CVT iHub provides greater access to key partners and resources and is the sole iHub in the region, working to confront the challenges of water and energy needed to sustain the world’s food supply.

Kirk has over 20 years of Executive Management experienceand continues to advise and invest in new companies and technologies. He holds a degree in Business and Economics from St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California.


Gideon Rubin
Gideon Rubin is the Chief Marketing Officer at Local Market Launch and is the Santa Barbara Champion for The Startup America Partnership. He currently serves on the boards of: LifeShift.co a socially responsible technology company, the Clean Business Investment Summit, a clean business investment event; and the MIT Enterprise Forum, a technology commercialization group focused on connecting entrepreneurs with investment capital and expertise.

Gideon was the founder at the Performance Marketing Agency, Simply Ideas (acquired by Lenco OTC: LNCM) and MicroGravity Media, an organic search marketing software company. He was the principal at Proper Hosting, a green hosting company, and several highly regarded social media ventures, including Twitroduce.com and DoDraw.com. Gideon has contributed to Search Engine Journal, Performance Marketing Blog, has been featured on Webmaster Radio, and his ventures have been selected by KillerStartUps.com and The Launch Pad.

Prior to launching Simply Ideas, Gideon was the Executive Director of Marketing, Finance & Analytics for a Washington Post (NYSE: WPO). He began his career at Young & Rubicam Advertising (LSE: WPP) where he was responsible for production management on the Citibank (NYSE: C). His account team won a silver Effie for advertising effectiveness on behalf of their innovative “PC Banking” campaign.

Gideon graduated Cum Laude from Brandeis University with a B.A. in History and a certificate in Legal Studies and received his MBA from the University of Miami with honors in Finance and Applied Statistics. He is also a member of the international business honors society, Beta Gamma Sigma.

Kyle Ashby
Travel in Central America
Kaldera Marketing
Kyle is the founder of Kaldera Marekting and Travel in Central America. Kaldera Marketing focuses on brand development, business strategy, and marketing management for startups, high-tech and software companies, product-based companies and non-profits. Travel in Central America, provides specialized travel experiences to unique locations in Central America. Kyle has also worked with a number of international software and product companies in marketing and web operations roles.

Kyle heads up StartupSB a 700+ member meetup group and soon to be non-profit organizaiton that provides a venue for local startup companeis to engage with the local business community. He has also organized two Startup Weekends in Santa Barbara and is on the board of the MIT Enterprize Forum of the Central Coast and the Clean Business Investment Summit. Kyle also teaches marketing in the Technology Management Program at UC Santa Barbara and is a Mentor in the Program’s New Venture Competition.

Kyle earned an MBA from Babson College, in Global Management, and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Film Studies and Geography from UC Santa Barbara. He is also a certified Project Manager and Scrum Master. In his free time he enjoys traveling, surfing, paddling, outdoor activities, playing music, spending time with family and continuing to learn.