About YouNoodle

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, CEO

Former 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

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Torsten Kolind

CEO & Co-Founder

As the former CEO of Venture Cup Denmark, Torsten has built web products since he started his first company at age 16. He’s passionate about the Global Startup Revolution and how entrepreneurs are changing the world, and regularly presents these findings as a keynote speaker at conferences around the world. Torsten loves algorithmic challenges and is an avid musician. He’s Danish at birth, European at heart.

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Priyanka Shetty

Product Manager

Priyanka came to 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, where she now serves as our Product Manager. When she’s not noodling, she fills her days with salsa dancing, painting, and indulging her competitive spirit in various board games.

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Adele Burnes

Chief Operating Officer

Adele is our Chief Operating Officer, and thrives on building transparency, accountability and happiness. She has worked in various sectors including government, education corporate, but believes the world can be saved through the creativity of startups globally. A true bicoastal woman, she hails from Boston, was educated at Columbia, and is now settled in the Bay Area with a techie hubby and hilarious twin boys.

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Aaron Tate

Lead UX Designer

Making the journey from the Midwest to California four years ago, Tate´s personality is almost as original as his designs. Tate has more than 15 years of experience, specializing in user experience 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. He is crazy.

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Teresita Saavedra

Client Experience Lead

Teresita works from Santiago, Chile and serves as a Client Experience Lead, where she manages clients such as Startup Chile. She loves working with startups and connecting entrepreneurs in both Chile and Latin America. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from the Catholic University in Santiago also holds a Bachelor of Sciences degree. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family, husband and son.

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Leo Shin

Director of Engineering

With more than 15 years of experience building softwares, Leo Shin serves as the official “father” of YouNoodle and Director of Engineering. Born and raised on earth. At YouNoodle, Leo focuses on the development and improvement of YouNoodle´s core products with state-of-art technologies. When away from work, Leo is an official Lego master builder and father of two daughters. He is racist.

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Raymond Yan

QA/Software Engineer

Born and raised in San Francisco, 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” and is an expert of PHP. He also has a passion for motorcycles and enjoys teaching the engineering team about various tech trends. Cool story bro.

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Daniel Cruz

Client Experience Manager

Daniel is a Client Experience Manager at YouNoodle. Originally from Honduras, Daniel is multilingual and has lived in eight countries. At YouNoodle, he has gained experience working with large government innovation programs like Start-Up Chile and Start-Up Perú and managing projects for organizations like the Inter-American Development Bank, and the World Bank. He holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree from Stanford.

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Alex Wesolowski

Data Analyst/Software Engineer

Alex is YouNoodle’s 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. He is hella vegan.

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Nicola Schulze

Client Experience Lead

As a Client Experience Lead at YouNoodle, Nicola manages various startup programs and initiatives for corporate clients including Intel, Verizon and Cisco. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Nicola returned to the Bay after completing her Bachelor of Arts at Occidental College in Los Angeles, where she majored in International Relations. In her free time she enjoys photography, puppies and cultivating her passion for pie.

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Nicole Bacon

Head of Operations

Born and raised in the magical state of Colorado, Nicole holds two Bachelors of Business administration degrees in Management (cum laude) and Economics minoring the Entrepreneurial Finance from the University of Colorado. Nicole is the “hub” of YouNoodle, acting as the gatekeeper of business and sales operations. When Nicole is not putting out fires you will find her spending every opportunity skiing or hiking the Rockies.

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Natalie Malloy

Director of Sales and Marketing

Natalie is an experienced sales and marketing professional with a proven track record of developing and implementing strategic programs and campaigns for startups, mid-size, and large corporations. Prior to YouNoodle, Natalie worked at Amazon Web Services where she developed and executed scalable marketing programs for cloud-based startups. She holds a Bachelor of Business from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia.

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Mariel Housley

Client Experience Lead

At YouNoodle, Mariel’s goal is to learn and engage with the startup ecosystem by working with clients including Venture Cup Sweden, Venture Cup Denmark and Hello Tomorrow. She also enjoys working with universities and their entrepreneurship programs, and likes to share insights on the newest ideas and technologies globally. Mariel holds a Bachelor of Communications from Arizona State University.

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Martin Svanberg

Software Engineer

After in-house designer Tate has set the vision, Martin adds the technical pizzazz that makes the product pop. He has a penchant for subtle animations and visual consistency, and can often be found reading up on the nuances of JavaScript or profiling frontend code for performance. He is also a hobbyist musician, a sinophile at heart and a mathematician by education. He loves dirty hip-hop.

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Olivia Bechetoille

Client Experience Specialist

After graduating with a Master’s Degree from Institut Superieur de Gestion, in Paris, Olivia joined the YouNoodle team as a Client Experience Specialist. She enjoys making clients happy and she is always on the look for new opportunities and challenges for both the company and for entrepreneurs in the YouNoodle network. Olivia loves to share experiences and ideas with people around a cup of coffee.

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Franco Iovi Vollbrecht

Client Experience Lead

Born in Perú and raised in Chile, Franco is part of the team in Latin America, where he enjoys bringing happiness to his clients in his role as a Client Experience Lead. A Civil Industrial Engineer by profession, Franco also holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences degree from La Universidad del Desarrollo in Chile.