Innovate State is a collaboration between the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation and the MSU Innovation Center.
Hosted in the Gaynor Entrepreneurship Lab, Innovate State welcomes successful Spartan alumni back to campus for a fireside chat. Guests share their perspectives on everything from launching start-ups to experiencing success and failure to building dynamic and nurturing work cultures.
About the speakers
Tom Ryan is an amalgam of many things. He is a food scientist, earning his bachelor’s, master’s, & doctorate in flavor & fragrance chemistry from Michigan State University. During his studies, he became intrigued by marketing and consumer research.
His development and product innovation leadership at Proctor and Gamble, Pillsbury, Pizza Hut, McDonald’s,
and Quiznos have brought new flavors to families across the globe.
In 2007, Smashburger was born, becoming an industry icon for quality, growth, and business acumen. Smashburger has been named twice by Forbes as “America’s Most Promising Company,” has won countless local awards for best burgers, and earned Tom a spot on Gourmet Magazine’s ”25 Top Food Entrepreneurs of the Last 25 Years” list. Smashburger was acquired as a strategic growth concept by JFC, a Manila-based restaurant powerhouse, in 2018.
Jeff Sinelli serves as Founder, CEO, & Chief Vibe Officer of Sinelli Concepts and its subsidiaries. He is the creator of growing iconic brands, including Which Wich? Superior Sandwiches; Genghis Grill; Paciugo Gelato & Caffè; Burguesa Brands; and Supernova Coffee—concepts that have grown domestically & internationally to nearly 1,000 locations.
Sinelli grew up in Detroit. After earning his BA at Michigan State University and an MBA from City University, he headed to Dallas. Sinelli has been named one of The Top 25 American Food Entrepreneurs, an honor he shares with Howard Schultz, Martha Stewart, and Emeril Lagasse. Sinelli is also a dedicated philanthropist & conscious capitalist, launching Which Wich’s Project PB&J. This charitable endeavor donates PB&J sandwiches to people in need. The goal of the project is to “spread the love,” one PB&J at a time.
About Innovate State
Every year, Innovate State invites Spartan entrepreneurs, innovators, and disruptors to join our community for a fireside chat. In these 60-minute interviews, guests share their perspectives on everything from business to family life; the hard knocks of the hustle to maintaining work/life balance. These are stories of success, stories of failure, and stories of uncommon will.
Innovate State is proudly brought to you by the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation in collaboration with the MSU Alumni Office, MSU Foundation, & MSU Innovation Center. Innovate State kicks-off at 6 p.m. (EDT) and are free to the community. Events will be held via Zoom. Early registration is highly encouraged.
Please join us for Innovate State, with Tom Ryan & Jeff Sinelli, on Tue., Sept. 22nd, at 6 p.m. (Eastern Daylight Time).