Ejnar Knudsen

  • Business Partner
  • Founder/CEO, AGR Partners
Ejnar Knudsen and AGR Partners sponsor the Big Bang’s Food + Agriculture Sector Award, along with the Gowan Co. The $10,000 award recognizes innovations in food and agriculture. Knudsen is founder and CEO of AGR Partners, and oversees the company’s investment strategy, providing capital to cultivate long-term growth in leading food and agribusiness companies.

Hanna Koster

In her current role, Hanna researches novel nanomaterials for targeted cancer diagnostics using extracellular vesicles and Raman spectroscopy, and she is the current president of the Biomedical Engineering Student Organization(BESA) and sits on multiple departmental committees.

Pam Marrone

  • Business Partner
  • Founder and CEO, Marrone Bio Innovations
Marrone Bio Innovations (MBI) is co-sponsoring the 2020 Big Bang! Business Competition’s First Place Award, given to the top innovation across all categories. Pam Marrone founded MBI in 2006 to discover and develop effective and environmentally responsible, biologically based products for pest management and plant health. In August 2013 she led the company IPO on the NASDAQ stock exchange.

Profiles in Success

Sana Karimi

Sana Karimi graduated from the UC Davis College of Letters and Science with a B.A. in sociology and a minor in community regional development. Today she is an undergraduate academic advisor for the Psychological & Brain Sciences Department at UC Santa Barbara.  Karimi is a student of Taekwondo, a certified open-water diver, a reader and lover of nature. She participated in the first EQUIP program in 2019.

Mathew Magno

Mathew Magno combined his UC Davis education in computer science and technology management with his passion for entrepreneurship to co-found Japa Inc. with his classmate Charles Chen. “As a student it would take me 20 to 30 minutes sometimes to find a spot, circling parking lots and getting stressed out,” Magno recalls. “I decided to fix the problem of parking.” Magno is also the director and co-founder of PLASMA at UC Davis, the Aggie incubator that develops early stage startups into companies that can grow.

Anna Sadovnikova

Anna Sadovnikova, MPH, M.A., IBCLC started her career in public health and is now a M.D./Ph.D. candidate in mammary gland biology and breastfeeding medicine at the UC Davis School of Medicine. Sadovnikova is a NIH-funded investigator, receiving a 5-year F30 fellowship from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to define the molecular mechanism by which stress negatively impacts lactation.

Christy Serrato

Throughout her career, Christy Serrato has made her mark in Northern California—and especially at UC Davis and in Sacramento. Serrato is the founder and CEO of Pair Anything, Inc. and the program director and a founding fellow of the Sacramento Entrepreneurship Academy. She obtaining a B.A. in economics from UC Davis and later returned to campus to compete in the 2019 Big Bang! Business Competition, taking home the $10,000 Food + Agriculture Sector Award. Most recently, PairAnything has been featured on Good Day Sacramento and in the Davis Enterprise to showcase how the digital platform became even more relevant during COVID-19.

Eilee Shahidi

Eilee Shahidi is a junior-year business/managerial economics major, a marketing intern for UC Davis Undergraduate Admissions and a social media representative for Victoria Secret Pink for the UC Davis campus team. She is a 2021 EQUIP alumnus.

Michael Vilardo

Michael Vilardo is the co-founder, president and COO of Emile Learning. He won the $10,000 Technology Sector Award in the 2020 Big Bang! Business Competition while an MBA student at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. His venture, VHomes, which Vilardo scaled up with guidance from mentors at the Anderson Venture Accelerator, turned vacant and distressed motels and other locations into weekly and monthly rentals for budget-minded travelers and tenants. “It was profitable from Day 1 and won many competitions,” Vilardo says. A year after launching, he sold VHomes to a Bay Area short-term rental company and became a minority owner of that technology platform, now called NomΛd, which pays him monthly revenue.

Business Development Fellows

Brandon Cutler

  • Business Development Fellow
Brandon Cutler is a fourth-year PhD candidate in physical chemistry and a graduate researcher in physical chemistry for Professor Matt Augustine, providing consultation work for various businesses and developing new techniques in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study emerging industrial-setting problems.