The Innovation Open connects global brand sustainability goals with startup products and solutions. Sustainable Brands wants to catalyze the progress and impact of the next generation of better brands by featuring the startups who, given the right support and exposure, can contribute to a flourishing future economically, socially and environmentally. Our 11 finalists will benefit from a week of introductions to influential brands, investors, experts and designers at the SB’15 San Diego event.

Co-Sponsored by:

Technology Provider:
You Noodle

Congratulations to our Semi-Finalists

These 11 finalists are coming to SB’15 San Diego to take part in the Activation Hub, pitch in front of our judges and the the SB attendees.

Baby Hero

Bitty Foods

Blue Box Air

Blue Planet Ink






Plug Solar (Veeyah)



Watch what happened last year


The Timeline

March 23, 2015 Entry form closes
March 24, 2015 Public vote begins – A shortlist of entries will be presented for the SB community to vote for who they want to see make it to the Innovation Open finals.
April 3, 2015 Public vote closes
April 7, 2015 Public vote winner announced and confirmed to pitch at the finals
April 13 – June 1, 2015 11 finalists are interviewed for the Sustainable Brands website and presented to the News & Views  community.
June 2, 2015 The pitch! The 11 semi-finalists will pitch their ideas to our esteemed panel of judges. Four finalists will be chosen to present at the conference on the following day.
June 3, 2015 The finals! The top 4 pitch in front of the full SB audience on the main stage. A live vote will be held to pick a ‘People’s Choice Winner’ and the judges will determine the overall ‘SB’15 Innovation Open Winner’.


The Prizes

11 Semi-Finalists

  • A full conference pass to SB’15 San Diego
  • Expo space for 3 days in the Sustainable Brands Activation Hub.
  • Pitch to the Activation Hub audience, filled with influential brand representatives and thought leaders
  • Promotion leading up to the conference through SB News & Views
  • One on one time with our expert panel of judges
  • 4 days worth of networking opportunities
  • Company description published in conference event guide


4 Finalists

  • Present on the conference main stage as part of the headline session on Day 3.
  • This presentation is broadcast around the world and published in the SB Library to extend its reach and longevity.


Target Award

  • $1,000 Target gift card.
  • 2-hour consultation session from Target’s sustainability, merchandising and marketing teams to strengthen the winner’s business case/model.


Overall Winner

  • $5000!
  • Golden SB ticket to grant access to all SB Conference in the next 3 years.


The Judges

Melissa McLean
Manager of Sustainability

Melissa McLean is a Manager of Sustainability for Target, a Fortune 50 company that has more than 1,800 stores in 49 states. In her role, she leads several strategic initiatives that drive sustainability into the enterprise. In Melissa’s tenure at Target she created the Target sustainability policy program, launched the Target Sustainable Product Standard and most recently designed the Beauty and Personal Care Sustainability Summit – the summit and its subsequent activities aim to improve sustainability performance in the personal care & beauty industry.

Melissa earned her B.A. in Sociology from Augsburg College and her M.P.P. from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

Sandy Skees
Managing Director
California Fenton

Sandy Skees is west coast managing director for Fenton, responsible for San Francisco and Los Angeles teams who are accelerating progress through social change communications. She currently works in the LGBT and human rights, recycling and product stewardship, and national climate change policy sectors. She brings over 25 years in communications strategy with expertise in the sustainability, cleantech and social sectors, creating programs that give organizations a way to focus, share, and motivate change in the world. Skees previously ran her own firm Communications4Good, where she served early stage and Fortune 500 companies. Previously a partner at Porter Novelli, she managed the global HP account team in 20 cities/10 countries around the world and created programs, processes and predictive integration points as a framework for ensuring global implementation of cutting edge communications techniques. She sits on numerous boards including 100 Women Who Care, Breaking the Glass Ballot, Sustainable Brands, EORM, Mini Mermaid Running Club, and the Boomerang Foundation, advises the Bellevue University Communications Department and is a seasoned speaker on brand, messaging and communications strategy.

Mary Jo Cook
Chief Impact Officer
FairTrade USA

As Chief Impact Officer at Fair Trade USA, Mary Jo Cook oversees impact strategy all along the supply chain, from marketing to business development to producer services, with a focus on ever increasing impact to the farmers and workers who provide fair trade goods to consumers in North America and beyond. Before joining Fair Trade USA’s team, Mary Jo Cook was Vice President – Innovation at The Clorox Company where she created and led the company’s first cross-functional innovation group which developed and launched products like Clorox Bleach Pen and GreenWorks from Clorox. She also established the position of Vice President of Sustainability to help Clorox use an environmental sustainability lens to both decrease its footprint and cost, as well as become a catalyst for growth. In 2006, BusinessWeek recognized her as one of the “Top 25 Innovation Champions.” In addition to her business career, Mary Jo contributes her time to numerous local nonprofit organizations, including LeaderSpring, which provides leadership development and management training to Executive Directors.

Thomas Odenwald
Senior Vice President

Thomas Odenwald is Senior Vice President of Sustainability at SAP, located at SAP’s Silicon valley offices and responsible for developing SAP’s sustainability strategies across all industries. He is driving thought leadership in the area of sustainable design, supply chains, sustainable manufacturing, recycling and integrated reporting. Thomas joined SAP from PE International, a global leader in integrated product and enterprise sustainability performance, where he was Chief Technology Officer and global Alliance Director. During that time Thomas was also advisor to the board of Mavericks7, a start-up company derived from engineers leading Stanfords Gravity Probe B project pioneering a methodology called M7Hub&Spoke Prototyping® using M7HSP® software®. Prior to that Thomas was Executive Vice President at Intercomponentware, a leading healthcare technology provider. Before joining Intercomponentware, Thomas was already 20+ years with SAP holding various leadership positions, including bringing SAPs first industry solution to the market, leading SAP’s first development organization outside its headquarters in Germany, and pioneering early efforts in the Sustainability area as part of SAP Research. Thomas holds a MS in economics and computer science from Fredericana University in Karlsruhe, Germany. Thomas Odenwald owns multiple patents and has published numerous publications and journal entries.

KoAnn Vikoren Skrzyniarz
Sustainable Brands

KoAnn is a seasoned business-to-business media executive who’s involvement with the intersection of environmental and human issues in business dates back to the mid-1980s when she launched international conferences on improving log utilization, reducing Waste Paper, and eliminating ozone-layer destroying chemicals (CFCs or chlorofluorocarbons). Throughout her career she has been engaged in testing the connection between purpose driven leadership and competitive bottom line performance. As a result, her teams have consistently outperformed peers in both growth and profitability. Since 2003, she has devoted her full attention to the emerging field of social and environmental sustainability, launching Sustainable Life Media in 2004. She has helped various media entrepreneurs and NGO’s including Sierra Club and establish their own paths to effectiveness and economic sustainability. In 2005, she produced the First International Conference on Cradle to Cradle Design in Practice with Bill McDonough, Michael Braungart, Peter Senge and others. In 2006, she launched what has now become and in 2007, the widely respected Sustainable Brands Conference. The Sustainable Brands community has grown dramatically each year, and has become the premier international community of sustainable business innovators, with engaged community members represented from all continents.Prior to founding Sustainable Life Media, KoAnn founded Organizations That Work a management consultancy focused on her passion for helping companies deliver breakthrough financial performance through purpose-driven leadership and improved organizational alignment and learning. Prior to that she served as Sr. Vice President of Miller/CMP Media, a multinational B2B media company, where she launched and built a $50million division focused on serving various emerging technology markets including the Computer Game Development market and others. While there, she launched several product brands, spearheaded a corporate rebranding initiative, and brought systems thinking and organizational learning principles to the executive level management team of the company.KoAnn has attended graduate level programs in business management and sustainability at Cornell and Wharton, and currently sits on the Advisory board at the Center for Sustainability at Pennsylvania State University. She regularly speaks to corporate, academic and professional audiences about sustainability as the basis of a new renaissance of business innovation and value, as well as the role brands must play and the steps they must take to survive and lead the way to a flourishing future. She lives with her husband Steve on the San Francisco Peninsula and is most proud of her two sons, Josh and Jake, who are each pursuing their individual passions in music, physics and philosophy.

Kate Olmschenk
Marketing Manager, Wellness

Kate Olmschenk has 10 years of marketing experience at both specialty and mass retailers. During her eight years with Target, she has held various positions in Marketing leading Grocery, Home and Enterprise-wide initiatives. Currently, Kate leads marketing for Wellness and Made to Matter at Target; managing a cross-functional team of agency partners, creative, media and channel experts. She creates meaningful, mutually beneficial partnerships with 30+ vendors – all of which ultimately drives traffic, guest engagement and brand love.

Prior to her time at Target, she led marketing efforts for Whole Foods Market where her passion for Wellness and corporate social responsibility began. She received her MBA from the University of Minnesota culminating with a class in Scandinavia studying CSR.

Eric Carl
Wellness Merchant
Target Corporation

Eric Carl is a Wellness Merchant for Target Corporation, a Fortune 50 company that has more than 1,800 stores in 49 states. In this role, Eric helps drive the continued expansion of Target’s wellness product offerings and services and along with furthering the awareness of Target as a key wellness partner for our guests. One of the key initiatives that Eric leads for Target is the Made to Matter platform, which initially launched in 2014. Made to Matter is a platform for pioneering Wellness brands to collaborate with Target and other Wellness brands to establish Target as the credible destination enabling our guests to live better lives for themselves, their families, and communities.

Prior to this role, Eric served in Merchandising leadership positions in Electronics and Grocery categories. Prior to Target, she was a consultant with environmental consulting firms on the east coast. He earned her B.A. in Social Studies from Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota.

Natalie Malloy
Director of Sales & Marketing

With over 15 years experience, Natalie is an innovative marketing and public relations executive with a proven track record of successfully developing and implementing strategic marketing and PR programs for startup, mid-size, and large global corporations.

Natalie has experience in both managing and judging startup competitions such as Make it Wearable: Challenge by Intel and the Verizon Powerful Answers Award. Prior to YouNoodle, Natalie worked at Amazon Web Services in Seattle, WA where she created and implemented scalable marketing programs for startups worldwide who are using cloud computing as part of their business solution.

She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. In her free time she enjoys exploring new restaurants in San Francisco, and volunteering at the SPCA animal shelter in the Mission District.

Wood Turner
Vice President
Equilibrium Capital

Wood Turner is a VP at Equilibrium Capital, where he brings over 20 years of experience in corporate sustainability, environmental management, and consumer engagement. Most recently, he was on the executive team at organic yogurt pioneer Stonyfield Farm as the company’s VP Sustainability Innovation. Prior to that, he was founding executive director of Climate Counts, an international NGO focused on measuring and scoring the world’s largest consumer companies on their concrete, enterprise-level responses to climate change. Wood has consulted to brands, elected officials, and public agencies on mobilizing the public around ideas that improve the environment and build community. Early in his career, he was instrumental in developing Urban Ecology’s “Blueprint for a Sustainable Bay Area.” Wood earned his undergraduate degree from Duke University and a graduate degree in urban and environmental planning from the University of Washington.

Cedric Charles Dunlap
Vice President Client Relations
Sicasoft USA

Cedric Charles Dunlap currently holds the position of Vice President, Client Relations for Sicasoft USA a sustainability management software reporting company based in Chicago, Illinois.

Mr. Dunlap has been working in the international business development field for over 20 years serving as Sr. Worldwide Sales Director. He has traveled to over 40 countries conducting and closing business for AT&T and Easylink Services international Corp (Formally AT&T) during his tenure. Recruiting international business partners, agents and resellers have been a major part of his responsibilities. His exposure to working with entrepreneurs from all over the world has proved to be a tremendous asset during his professional and academic career.

Professor Dunlap has been an Adjunct Professor at New York University for 17 years, lecturing within the Sustainability and International Entrepreneurship disciplines. Professor Dunlap has also had the responsibility of lecture and course development for several related technology disciplines that included Business Presentations, Internet Marketing, E-Commerce and Internet/computer technologies.

Mr. Dunlap served in the U.S. Army and obtained the rank of Major during his military career.

Mr. Dunlap earned his BS in Administration from the University of Delaware and a MPS in Emerging Technology from New York University, Tisch School of the Arts.

Darren Beck
Dir, Environmental Initiatives & CR Innovation

Darren Beck serves as Director of Environmental Initiatives & CR Innovation for Sprint. He is responsible for driving initiatives at Sprint that help reduce environmental impact while enhancing the company’s reputation and its bottom line. Darren achieves this by advising a range of working teams focused on areas like waste reduction, water conservation, sustainable packaging, responsible procurement, and ‘winning with corporate responsibility’ in business sales. Darren also is responsible for developing an innovation pipeline for Corporate Responsibility (CR). He works with partners inside and outside the company to identify “shared value” opportunities that generate new streams of revenue for Sprint while helping to create a better world. Darren has an MBA from the University of Kansas and brings more than 20 years of experience in marketing, business development, strategy and corporate responsibility to his current role.

Dimitri Talantov
Medical Director
Janssen Healthcare Innovation (JHI)

Dimitri Talantov, MD is a Medical Director with the Janssen Healthcare Innovation (JHI), where he is a part of a multi-disciplinary group working toward the goal of propelling the company to become the leader in the healthcare solution business. Janssen Healthcare Innovation is an entrepreneurial team within Janssen (Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson) established to meet the emerging healthcare needs of healthcare providers, patients and consumers. JHI’s vision is to accelerate Johnson & Johnson’s leadership in the transformation of healthcare. Under the master brand Care4Today™, JHI is building and launching integrated care solutions and enabling technologies that improve healthcare delivery and empower patients and consumers. JHI is currently addressing areas that can significantly improve health, such as medication adherence, cardiac rehabilitation, post-surgical recovery and mental health care. In JHI, Dr. Talantov leads clinical evaluation of the JHI products across the lifecycle of the integrated care businesses. He plays a leading role in developing the research and publication agenda for the JHI Care4Today Integrated Care Businesses and is an active contributor to growth of the integrated care business portfolio. Prior to joining JHI team, Dr. Talantov was with Johnson & Johnson for over 13 years. Previously, he was spearheading multiple projects in the area of genomics and molecular cancer diagnostic with the Medical Diagnostic & Devices sector of Johnson & Johnson, including participation in the FDA submission of novel genomic-based diagnostic arrays. After that, he was the strategic and tactical lead for the development and implementation of the translational medicine component of compound development plans with the J&J Pharmaceuticals, encompassing translational medicine, external collaborations and novel proof of concept design. Dr. Talantov is a physician by training (Internal Medicine); graduated with MD from Kazan State Medical University in Russia. He has authored multiple scientific peer-reviewed publications and has been presenting at many conventions and conferences.


How to Win



In delivering environmental or social benefit, coupled with identified impact metrics (for example, “our business innovation helps customers lower their carbon footprint by XX% compared to the product we’re disrupting”, or “our innovation will help customers increase savings by XX% and keep their money local, leading to more stable local economies.”)


Team quality

Particularly as it relates to demonstrated track record and understanding of systemic issues of sustainability


Economic scalability

Growth and impact potential


Above and Beyond

Bonus points for disruptive innovation. The idea has approached the issue from a new perspective and is offering a solution that will truly shift the market as we know it.


Share the SBIO with Your Network



It is free! Thanks to our sponsors we are able to put on the competition without an entry fee.

This new venture showcase is focused on identifying and promoting innovative new consumer brands, AND ventures that support existing corporations in achieving their sustainable brand innovation goals. We are looking for companies in their:

  • Post-Launch Phase: The venture is operational and has some early operating metrics and/or proven Beta/prototype to share. In investment terms we are considering “Late Stage” and “Series A” funded companies.

All semi-finalists are given booth space at our Activation Hub which runs June 3-5, 2015 so we recommend taking advantage of at least those 3 days. We are awarding semi-finalists an Expo Staff Pass so that you can man your booth with one team member and have another be your pitch expert. The semi-finals are on the 3rd and the 4 finalists selected will pitch again on the 4th. So it’s possible that the person on your team who will pitch could still compete but only be present for those two days.

We offer one full conference pass to each semi-finalist startup, one Expo Staff Pass and can provide at-cost passes to any additional team mates should you wish to bring them.

No. The Activation Hub is open Tuesday 12-7pm, Wednesday, Thursday 12-5pm but there will be plenaries or breakouts in the mornings which you are encouraged to take advantage of. If you do take advantage of the Hub Staff pass then you can leave one team member with the booth while the other explores the afternoon content.

Not for this competition although we encourage you to find out more about our Causeway. For this competition we’re looking for businesses who can successfully balance People, Planet AND Profit.

Not at this time. We are convinced that the networking, introductions, leading-edge speakers & publicity generated by taking part make any expense a worthwhile investment. We will however offer any discounts when/if available to us.