InnoVentures 2021: Meet the Judges
Aria Wilson

March 20, 2021

Introducing our ALL-WOMEN judging panel for InnoVentures 2021!

InnoVentures is the culmination of a three-month training program and competition where contestants hone their five-minute pitch with the help of Judges and Business Coaches teaching them the best techniques in public speaking and presenting. Even better, if they make it to finals, they go home with cash and prizes to grow their businesses.

Judges have seen InnoVentures contestants’ pitches evolve over the past few months. They’ve heard 30 entrepreneurs share their strategies to achieve their goals and grow their microenterprises. Judges score each pitch in five areas: market demand, vision, innovation, feasibility, and presentation. Our volunteer judges provide constructive, specific feedback to each entrepreneur after their pitch to help make them more compelling.

Join us April 29th to see the culmination of their and our entrepreneurs’ hard work.

Thank you, InnoVentures Judges, for your time and dedication.

Our Judges bring a variety of backgrounds and experiences to their positions. This year we’ve brought together six Judges that are local business owners, leaders, and advocates.

Valentina Vitols

Co-Founder of Seattle Women’s Impact Fund

Valentina is an angel investor and an attorney. A native of Venezuela, she is a member of Pipeline Angels, Next Wave Ventures, and Portfolia. She worked as a political consultant in Caracas and ran as a candidate for the Latin American Parliament and the House of Representatives of the State of Miranda. She holds a graduate degree in Integrated Marketing Communications, an MFA in Photography, and a law degree. She has worked at the Venezuelan Supreme Court and in tech companies in Venezuela and the US. She is also a photographer with work from all over the world. Valentina delights in and is excited to be able to make a serious business out of something good as an angel investor focused on supporting female entrepreneurs in the social impact space.

Why are you volunteering for InnoVentures?

“I see the experience of volunteering with Innoventures as a unique opportunity to share what I’ve learned as an angel investor throughout the years. I enjoy supporting entrepreneurs and helping them get ready to access resources, to network, and to be someone they can rely on during their entrepreneurship journey and its challenges. I also find it incredibly inspiring and a wonderful opportunity to learn myself from the entrepreneurs.”

Judith Estrada Echegaray

CEO of Glamsnaps LLC

Judith Echegaray is a passionate artist and entrepreneur. She was born in Mazatlan, Mexico, and has resided in the Pacific North West for more than 15 years.

From a young age, Judith showed a strong interest for visual arts. She entered and won several paint contests, inspiring her to learn more. This led her to take art classes where she learned art techniques such as: pastel, watercolors, acrylic and oil paint. In 2012, Judith enrolled at Everett Community College, where she studied Visual Arts. She took classes in drawing, design, painting, photography, and history of art. Besides her strong passion for the arts. Judith has found an interest in the business world. She has taken several courses that focus on business management.

In 2018, Judith founded Glamsnaps, LLC in the Seattle area. Her company focuses in providing photo booth services for social events. In the year 2020, Judith won 1st place in the Innoventures competition, organized by Ventures Nonprofit. This has given her the motivation and trust that she should continue growing and innovating as an entrepreneur.

In the middle of an unexpected change caused by the pandemic, Judith has needed to adapt her business to fit the new demands. She has found new ways to serve her community. Together, with her work partner Melisa Estrada, she decided to create an agency (by the name of Studio 504) that specializes in providing graphic design services.

Emily Powell

Corporate Development Associate of Laird Norton

Why are you volunteering for InnoVentures?

To support the local business community and give back to my new home of Seattle

If you could only give one piece of advice to our contestants, what would it be?

Follow your heart and trust your gut.

Karinda Harris

Senior Community Relations Manager at Vulcan Inc.

Why are you volunteering for InnoVentures?

Investing my time is one way I like to support causes I believe in. I’m excited to play a role in an event where business and community come together to empower small businesses. Vulcan and Ventures have built a strong partnership, and sponsoring InnoVentures is one way we are able to show up as a partner.

If you could only give one piece of advice to our contestants, what would it be?

Be passionate and be yourself because your gifts and talents will always make room for you.

Ilona Lohrey

VP of Membership and Programs at GSBA

Ilona Lohrey is the VP of Membership & Programs at GSBA, Washington’s LGBTQ & allied chamber of commerce, which represents over 1,400 businesses. Her work focuses on business development, technical assistance, and supplier diversity. She helped create the Ready for Business recovery grant for small businesses with a focus on LGBTQ-, BIPOC-, and women-owned businesses. She is passionate about small business and previously lead her family’s small business and served several years as a small business banker. She lives with her wife of 24 years in Snohomish County, but is deeply rooted with her decades of work in Seattle.

Why are you volunteering for InnoVentures?

I volunteer for InnoVentures because I love watching entrepreneurs grow their business from an idea into a thriving company. Entrepreneurs are innovative, have a special talent to share in form of products or services and have grit, always re-inventing themselves to balance what the world throws at them.

If you could only give one piece of advice to our contestants, what would it be?

Be yourself, have fun, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. We all learn from our mistakes every day.

Donna Moodie

Owner of Marjorie Restaurant and the EVP of Community Roots Housing / ED Capitol Hill EcoDistrict

Why are you volunteering for InnoVentures?

I like the work that InnoVentures does, and I am an entrepreneur and like to support our City’s support of businesses, innovation as well as the ecosystem that diverse small businesses create.

If you are a business owner, what has been your biggest challenge? How did you overcome it?

COVID has been the biggest challenge I have ever faced in business.  One key component of “facing it” has been acknowledging that I am in a similar situation to many of my peers, and that we can overcome it by working together and communicating and supporting each other.  Entrepreneurs and small business owners are a rich community of resources, connections and innovative ideas.

If you could only give one piece of advice to our contestants, what would it be?

You will have to compromise along the way, but don’t compromise your ethics or your passion.  Start every day with an action that will make your life as a business owner or your business better, no matter how small!