Introducing our 2018 finalists...

Christina Ciaccio – Mindful Cupcakes

About 10 years ago, Christina began researching the world of health and nutrition in order to find a healthier and happier self.  She became aware of gluten intolerance and realized she had a lot of the ailments associated with it. She also realized refined sugar, dairy, soy, and grains also caused her discomfort and she had to eliminate her favorite foods from her diet. She knew she could not live without cake and frosting, and 6 years later Mindful Cupcakes was created. Now, a single mom of two little girls, Christina is changing the world one cupcake at a time! Mindful Cupcakes is a delicious and healthy way of eating for everyone. Free of Gluten, Refined Sugar, Grains, Dairy, and Soy, this is a delicious product everyone can enjoy.  

Jessica Schneider – Junkee Clothing Exchange

Upon walking into Junkee, it is pretty obvious that someone has a knack for display and a deep love of all things junk. Jessica has been doing display for more than two decades and even had her own interior design business. You may have seen her work in downtown shop windows. In 2008, when the recession hit, Jessica’s phone quit ringing and she had to come up with a recession-proof business, so she rented a historical building in the heart of Midtown. The rest is history. Junkee has unexpectedly become a costume shop right in the heyday of themed parties. The other half of the store is an antique mall filled to the brim with antiques and collectibles, upcycled and repurposed furniture, and more!

Matt Johnson –
IMBĪB Custom Brews

2018 Level Up winner

Matt’s story starts with two homebrewers who came together through a love of experimentation and a respect for traditional brewing methods. They met through their wives, both teachers, and quickly learned that they shared a passion for barrel-aged brewing and Belgian brewing traditions. Over a year of conversations, beer drinking, and brewing knowledge-sharing they decided to plan a business that would focus on brewing beers that were not currently being offered in the Reno market. Since then, they have developed a selection of beers that please every beer drinker including brewing traditional and experimental styles. Today, you can stop by the taproom for tasters, pints, growlers, or crowlers, or find the beer in one of many locations in Nevada, now that their beer is being distributed statewide.

Mena Spodobalski – Evoke Fitness

2018 People's Choice

Mena realized one day that she had a choice: continue the upwards weight climb she was experiencing after her second child or become healthy and fit for herself and her family. She chose to get in shape, and as she continually put forth the effort, the acknowledgement from others and the results she was getting proved additionally motivating. It didn't take long for her to become hooked on fitness, as her achievements in the field began to expand, first starting as a kick-boxing instructor then getting NETA certified, and now owning her own training facility. EVOKE Fitness is a 14,000 sq. ft. Reno based training facility that trains a variety of clients to meet every type of goal, including the Breast Cancer 2 Bikini program that offers a new road to survivorship through fitness, nutrition and stepping on stage at a local NPC fitness competition, participating in a bikini division that was especially designed for Breast Cancer survivors.


And our 2018 Panelists & Speakers...

Marilyn York – Marilyn D York, Inc.

As the sole owner of the Exclusive Family Law Office known as Attorney Marilyn D. York, Inc., Marilyn’s firm specializes in representing men in their divorce, custody and all family law battles.  Marilyn is a certified Family Law Specialist by the Nevada State Bar.  After 3 years of working for other law firms, including two very elite Beverly Hills family law firms to the Stars, Marilyn started her own firm in 2001 with just one part-time employee.  Today, 17 years later, her firm has 4 attorneys, 4 paralegals, and 4 business staff employees, and is the largest exclusive family law firm in Northern Nevada.

Marilyn was featured as a “Rising Star” in the National Super Lawyers publication in 2008 and a Nevada Top 20 Under 40 Award recipient in 2010.  Marilyn is also a proud member of the Prospectors Club.  Marilyn regularly speaks publically, and makes local and sometimes National radio and television appearances.  She was featured in the box office film Divorce Inc., recently made an appearance on Tosh.O, is currently being filmed for a possible national reality show and has been a featured expert in several nationally published books on the topic of Divorce.

Kasey and Christian Christensen - Süp

Süp is a labor of love coming from the heart and dreams of Christian and Kasey Christensen. More than a decade ago, the couple’s desire to create a new and excitingly different dining experience in Reno was fed by their combined 40 years in restaurant service and ownership, and their passion to create healthy, fresh soups. So, in August 2007, Süp Restaurant opened its doors, in MidTown Reno, and has had a line down the street during lunchtime ever since!

As the winner of the first ever Level Up, Kasey and Christian know better than anyone what it takes to grow their business.  Over the past decade, they have, at times, had to learn the hard way, but on this journey they have discovered a true passion for business, as that has what has kept their restaurant alive.

Süp has been awarded the 2018 “Family Owned Small Business of the Year” by the Nevada District of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

SEASON AND JARROD Lopiccolo – Noble Studios

Usability expert Jarrod Lopiccolo, and his wife, Season, have grown Noble Studios from a single laptop into one of Inc. magazine’s fastest-growing private companies in America for five years running.

Jarrod translates brand, strategy, design and technology into the ultimate user experience for a client roster of global brands. In the past, Jarrod has held leadership roles with several non-profit and public-private initiatives in Nevada. He previously served as co-Executive Director of the San Francisco/Silicon Valley Inc. Magazine’s Business Owners Council and was an advisory board member for NCET (Nevada Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology). He also served on the board of the Reno-Tahoe American Marketing Association.

Season develops strategic goals, policies and procedures for Noble. She oversees all financial, HR and legal matters to ensure a sustainable and successful business environment. She serves as co-Executive Director of the San Francisco/Silicon Valley Inc. Magazine’s Business Owners Council. Season is also a strong advocate for bringing technology into the classroom and is actively involved with the Carson City School District’s Technology Textbook Committee.

Tanya McCaffery - VAST

Tanya McCaffery is passionate about entrepreneurship. Through her unique approach to accounting, she works to empower small business CEOs with financial information that allows them to meet the benchmarks they have set for their company and for themselves.

Tanya is a sought after speaker, consultant and confidant teaching entrepreneurs to embrace their finances. She is also a best-selling author with her book, The Entrepreneurial Standard – Taking Your Company from Garage to Great, quickly earning the number one slot in three categories on Amazon. Tanya’s unique approach to finance has earned her the title “The Financial Bodyguard” with many clients and colleagues - a title she has come to love!

Tanya is a CPA and the President/CEO of VAST: Powered by The CFO Group. She works with countless entrepreneurs in taking their companies from where they “are” to where they “want”. To help with that mission, Tanya’s extensive accounting and finance team at VAST Headquarters in the beautiful Reno/Tahoe area provides a full range of virtual accounting, tax and CFO services to hundreds of small businesses throughout the US and in seven countries. VAST brings the power of a Fortune 500 accounting department to your small business. It truly is better for your bottom line.