Growing global entrepreneurs through competitions
YouNoodle helps startup founders get advice, prizes, and opportunities from our network of startup competitions. Having run over 400 different contests and challenges, we try to learn more about our entrepreneurs and introduce them to opportunities unavailable to most. We connect entrepreneurs with advisors and investors, and we fast-track startups into accelerators and other programs.
You can use our technology, too
We work with universities, accelerators, corporations, as well as governments. Some use our judging platform to accept, screen and evaluate applicants for competitions or accelerators. Others tap into our global network of talent in order to do brand or technology engagement. We also help governments and corporations on implementing entrepreneurship programs. Clients include Stanford BASES, Amazon Web Services, Start-Up Chile, and the Intel Foundation. Contact us to find out how we can work together.
We’re a startup ourselves
YouNoodle was founded by Rebeca Hwang and Torsten Kolind in 2010, funded by an international group of business angels. The company was spun off an ambitious project started by Bob Goodson and Kirill Makharinsky in 2007 with support from Peter Thiel (Founders Fund), Max Levchin (PayPal) and Charles Lho (Amicus Group), our founding investor and Chairman of YouNoodle today. This project also spawned Quid (Goodson) and indirectly Ostrovok (Makharinsky). YouNoodle is run by a dedicated team of 10 different nationalities, all based in YouNoodle’s eclectic basement office in SOMA, San Francisco.
Meet the founders
Torsten Kolind, CEOFormer CEO of Venture Cup in Denmark, Torsten has built web products since he started his first company at age 16. Has judged competitions at Stanford, MIT and Imperial. Loves algorithmic challenges and is an avid musician.
Rebeca Hwang,Co-founder of Clean Tech Open and Startup Malaysia, Rebeca is a true entrepreneur. Chemical and Environmental Engineer from MIT, and teaches technology entrepreneurship at Stanford. Korean/Argentine by culture.
Meet the Team
Former CEO of Venture Cup in Denmark, Torsten has built web products since he started his first company at age 16. Passionate about the Global Startup Revolution and how entrepreneurs are changing the world in increasingly novel ways, and often gets the opportunity to share a few YouNoodle data insights at conferences around the world. Has judged competitions at Stanford, MIT and Imperial. Loves algorithmic challenges and is an avid musician. Danish at birth, European at heart.
Priyanka came to sunny California from Mumbai to pursue her Masters in Computer Science at USC. She then moved to San Francisco to follow her dream of joining a startup and found a home at YouNoodle. Priyanka now serves as our Product Manager and official amatuer baker. When she’s not noodling, she fills her days with salsa dancing, painting, and indulging her competitive spirit in various board games.
Jay Shah is YouNoodle’s resident ping pong champion and one of our rockstar software engineers on the YouNoodle developer team. Hailing from Mumbai, India, Jay honed his craft at the University of Southern California before moving up the coast to SF. Jay’s true passion lies within Formula One racing and cricket.
Adele is our Director of Client Happiness, and thrives upon making others happy. She approaches the world with an implementation mindset and has worked in various sectors including government, education, and the corporate world, but her heart lies with startups. She truly believes that the world can be saved through the innovation and creativity of startups globally.
Making the journey from the Midwest to California three years ago, Tate’s sparkling personality is almost as original as his designs. Serving as the keeper of YouNoodle’s branding guidelines and YouNoodle’s lead UX designer, Tate has more than 14 years of experience, specializing in user interface design, interaction design, visual design and prototyping. A graduate of West Virginia University, Tate is a staunch advocate for the eradication of Comic Sans and paints in his free time.
With 15 years of experience building software, Leo Shin serves as the official “father” of YouNoodle and the Director of Engineering. Born in South Korea, Leo moved to the US to pursue his love of engineering in the startup scene. At YouNoodle, Leo focuses his efforts on the development and improvement of YouNoodle’s core technology and competition product. When away from work, Leo is a an official Lego master builder and father to two daughters.
Born and raised in San Francisco, Raymond, is YouNoodle’s resident Quality Assurance Engineer. Raymond enjoys problem solving and breaking something just to put it back together again. By applying these interests to his current role, Raymond exterminates “bugs” all day and still finds time to improve his programming skills. Raymond also has a passion for motorcycles and enjoys teaching the engineering team about various tech trends.
Alex serves as our resident Data Analyst and software engineer. Hailing from the frosty kingdom of Sweden, he descended to the faraway territories of California to wreak havoc on our codebase and devour Tofurky. When he isn’t busy perfecting his vegetable cutting skills, Alex enjoys juggling, tending to his beard, or debating his true origins in a civilized manner.
Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Nicola came back to the bay from an educational interlude at Occidental College in Los Angeles where she studied International Relations and Film. As the Communications Manager, Nicola spends her day preaching and articulating the mission of YouNoodle and promoting the variety of innovative competitions hosted on YouNoodle’s platform. In her free time, Nicola enjoys listening to NPR and cultivating her passion for pie.
Born and raised in the magical state of Colorado, Nicole holds two Bachelors of Business Administration degrees in Management (cum laude) and Economics minoring in Entrepreneurial Finance from the University of Colorado. Nicole is the “hub” of YouNoodle, acting as both the gatekeeper of operations knowledge and client-facing account manager. When Nicole is not color coding tasks, or putting out fires you will find her spending every opportunity skiing or hiking the Rockies.
Lael Sturm is a serial entrepreneur who has worked with, advised, started and invested in dozens of startups. His startup career began at CNET in the mid-90′s and later took him to NY where he ran online promotions for several record labels and ultimately MTV. He has an MBA from Columbia Business School and is a San Francisco native. When not working to further YouNoodle’s cause, Lael continues to advocate for the incorporation of bow tie Fridays.
Henna serves as YouNoodle’s Global Partnerships Director. Henna grew up living in various places around the world but settled in San Francisco achieving her BA in International Business. Henna’s passion lies in opening up gateways for entrepreneurs across the world. When not working on establishing and cultivating various partnerships, Henna spreads her puppy-like personality and happiness both in the office and as she traipse around San Francisco on her bike.
Natalie has experience in both managing and judging startup competitions such as AWS Global Startup Challenge and Verizon Powerful Answers Award. Prior to YouNoodle, Natalie worked at Amazon Web Services where she developed scalable marketing programs for startups worldwide who are using the Cloud 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.
Mariel realized that helping to grow startups was her calling when she began working with startups a year ago offering services and credits through the AWS Activate program. She attended Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ and in her free time she likes to bake, snowboard, wakeboard and binge watch Netflix.
Taking the big leap from the land down under – Australia – Ruwanie brings her track record in advertising, marketing and PR to the YouNoodle plate. As Head of Marketing, she focuses on brand strategy and developing marketing campaigns to promote YouNoodle competitions, startups, organizers and more. Ruwanie is constantly looking for ways to fill the gap in her heart where Sydney used to be and to reduce how much she uses “look and feel” in conversation.
Martin enjoys long walks on the beach, cooking– whoops, wrong tab. Martin was born in the Swedish tundra, where his favorite pastime was using his nerf guns to hunt polar bears. He then moved to China to teach english for a year. After he realized that it was easier to blend in as a tall blonde guy in the US, he moved to San Francisco. Now, he mostly slouches away in the dark corners of YouNoodle towers typing code and drinking too much coffee.