All entrepreneurs are current or alumna(e) members of the Mentor Capital Network

Elliot Roth leads Spira, a B2B hardware company that creates devices to grow, process and engineer spirulina protein for human nutrition. Protein consumption is projected to rise 70% by 2050. They are building equipment to meet the growing demand of the $40.8 billion alternative protein market by tapping into the power of microalgae, the most nutrient-dense and fastest-growing organism, and making it even better. Our scalable and modular IoT devices produce the fastest-growing, cleanest and cost-effective protein using microalgae. 

Mr. Roth graduated Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in Biomedical Engineering; he spent five years consulting in product design and business strategy before starting Spira and has 10 years of experience in synthetic biology. He is a Kairos Fellow, a Seasteading Ambassador, and sits on the Virginia Governor’s Council for Youth Entrepreneurship. Elliot has spoken at Synbiobeta, SXSW, and Thought for Food on social impact, synthetic biology and food. Spira was chosen for the RebelBio, Lighthouse Labs, and the World Food Programme accelerator programs, and is the winner of the CommBeBiz award and Halcyon Fellowship.  More Information: 

Eugene Faison is the CEO of DGridEnergy, the manufacturer of the Solar Cool Cube. The Solar Cool Cube is a 20-cubic-meters Off-Grid Solar Powered Walk-in modular refrigeration system that is expandable in increments of 20 cubic meters. The system can expand incrementally to fit the cold storage needs required for storing vegetables, fruit, dairy, seeds, beverages, meat, fish, medicines, vaccines and bodies.

Mr. Faison has worked in more than 50 countries around the world providing technical assistance, communication and marketing services to governments, private sector, non-governmental  organizations, donor organizations, civil society and U.S. based non-profits.  As a social entrepreneur he has led companies that have conceptualized and implemented major campaigns for the United States Agency for International Development, GlaxoSmithKline, Nike, The World Bank, Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation, Zain Mobile, ImagineNations and other global organizations. These business initiatives have focused on investment promotion, agricultural and rural development, and import and export promotion. 

Francie Wasser is the CEO & Founder of FranciePants, which produces is a line of beautiful, embellished 100% cotton women’s underwear that is handcrafted by US resident Sewing Artists. Sewing Artists train in an apprentice-like model that not only teaches time-honored skills, but allows them to earn a generous wage for their work, on a flexible schedule, working as much or as little as they choose. This business model empowers members of our communities to take control of their careers and incomes while balancing other priorities. FranciePants are available in an extensive range of sizes that fit the entire market and fit well during pregnancy.

Ms. Wasser earned an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis and worked in business strategy consulting for six years, including two with Imagine Minded, a consultancy she founded. Prior, Francie earned a BA in Cinema Production from the University of Southern California and produced and assistant directed various independent film productions. Francie also worked in Global Media for the Walt Disney Company and Human Resources Strategy for Caesars Entertainment. Francie has been sewing since age 7 and has taught and mentored in a variety of environments. Francie loves to organize and mobilize teams for creative outcomes. She currently resides in College Park, MD and mentors high school entrepreneurs with BUILD. More Information: 

Jimmy Edgerton is a co-founder of Watusee Foods.  Watusee Foods’ brand promise is “Simple, Tasty Ingredients Packed with Protein” — what you see is what you get — transparency throughout our business practices and ingredients. Watusee Foods has been in business since 2013 and was founded by college friends who later became a cardiologist and sustainability engineer, and together wanted to have a greater public health effect. Watusee Foods is proud to partner with the Capital Area Food Bank and support their work to take hunger off the map. For each purchase of Popped Chickpeatos, we donate a portion of profits or snacks to CAFB’s Family Market and Partner School programs that deliver food to Americans in need. We market and distribute Popped Chickpeatos that are like healthy cheetohs, Chickpea Crumbs, which are a delicious gluten-free panko, and our Crispy Chickpea snacks!

Mr. Edgerton lives in Washington, DC, where he built a sustainability focused real estate company as a licensed professional civil engineer. When not managing development projects, Jimmy utilized his personal training and nutritional consultant certifications, and passion for action, to local bootcamp workouts and organize urban triathlons. More Information: 

Cullen Gilchrist is the CEO and Co-Founder of Union Kitchen. Through that work, he has partnered with food businesses of all sizes to grow and accelerate their success. Cullen and his team work with exceptional food businesses to connect entrepreneurs with  the resources, capital, and networks that they need to establish sustainable success.

Mr. Gilchrist oversees the operations and management of Union Kitchen’s accelerator program as well as Union Kitchen’s commercial kitchen, distribution company, and grocery stores. More Information at or @unionkitchendc.