thinkBIG! Speaker Profiles

thinkBIG! Speaker Profiles

thinkBIG! Summit

Speaker Profiles 2019

Keynote Speaker:


Student Inventor & CEO of Makotronics Enterprises

Ann Makosinski is a 20-year-old student, serial inventor and media darling doing numerous global appearances and keynote talks. Her first toy was a box of transistors, which launched her journey into the world of inventing. Ann participated in local science fairs starting grade 6, and in grade 10 her inspiration grew when her friend in the Philippines failed her grade because she had no electricity or light to study with at night. The Hollow Flashlight was created… a flashlight that runs off the heat of the human hand! Ann won numerous awards at the Intel Science and Engineering Fair, and ultimately won her age category at the 2013 Google Science Fair. Ann has received the US patent for her flashlight and is currently working on extending her patents in other countries.

Ann’s next invention was the eDrink, created out of necessity after listening to her friends complain about their hot coffee taking too long to cool down and that their phones were always running out of battery. Coffee and phones being a mainstay to her generation, Ann combined the two to solve their problem. This invention converts the excess heat of your coffee while cooling into electricity, which will give your phone or iPod a boost of energy. The eDrink won at the 2015 Intel Science and Engineering Fair.

Ann is one of the most sought-after inventors and global influencers of her generation. She has been featured in numerous media outlets, including two appearances on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and being named the global brand ambassador for Uniqlo fleece. Ann has been named one of Forbes 30 Under 30 as well as one of Times 30 Under 30 World Changers. She has done five TEDx talks and was awarded the 2015 SEA Award (Sustainable Entrepreneurship Award) in Vienna, which Obama received the year prior. Ann was also the recipient of the $50,000 Quest Climate Change Grant from Shell Canada and Canadian Geographic. Ann was chosen by Teen Vogue to be one of the eight “Global Earth Angels” (An Eco Activist Saving the Planet). Popular Science has named Ann “Breakout Young Inventor of the Year” and Ann is also a global ambassador for the AAT Project as well as a chosen influencer for McCann Erickson.

Follow Ann on Twitter and Instagram at @annmakosinski

Check out Ann on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon!


  Lani Lazzari, Simple Sugars

Lani Lazzari  is the 24-year-old CEO and founder of the all-natural skincare company Simple Sugars and a 2017 Thiel Fellow. Simple Sugars manufactures and sells all-natural sugar scrubs especially formulated for sensitive skin. Lani founded Simple Sugars in December of 2005, when she was just 11 years old, in an effort to create natural skincare products that would be safe to use on her ultra-sensitive skin and relieve her eczema. What started in the basement of her parents’ home is now a multimillion-dollar business that employs over 20 people.

Over the past eight years, Lani’s brand has been endorsed by beauty editors at some of the world’s most prestigious beauty magazines and has garnered a loyal fan base all over the world. The Simple Sugars line consists of a wide variety of body, facial, and foot scrubs in addition to a men’s line called Smooth For Men. Simple Sugars products are sold internationally online and are available in over 100 retail locations across the US.

On March 29, 2013, after being pursued by the show’s producers, Lani appeared on ABC’s hit TV show, “Shark Tank” where she secured an investment for Simple Sugars with billionaire Mark Cuban. Simple Sugars received one of the biggest responses in the history of the show and the company literally exploded overnight receiving more than 25,000 orders in just three days. Despite being just 18 years old and the youngest entrepreneur to ever make a solo pitch, The Sharks deemed Lani’s pitch the best they had ever seen.

Since graduating from high school at The Ellis School in Pittsburgh in 2012, Lani has been the full-time CEO of the now multi-million dollar company, forgoing college to work full time on her company. Lani has a firm belief that no one should have to choose between a job that they love and a life that they love, and her mission is to make Simple a truly great place to work for all of her employees.

   Ethan Holmes, Holmes Mouthwatering Apple Sauce

Ethan Holmes  At the age of 15, Shaker Heights native Ethan Holmes launched Holmes Made Foods LLC with his grandfather’s applesauce recipe and ambitious dreams of entrepreneurial success. From humble origins in his family’s kitchen – acquiring raw materials as Christmas gifts – Holmes built his brand of all-natural applesauce through sweat equity and persistence. Over the past 8+ years, Holmes has diligently grown his operations and distribution by leveraging his personal network, pitching his product at every opportunity, and listening to the advice of business mentors. Along the way, Holmes and his company have won a number of entrepreneur pitch competitions, earning capital infusions to fuel business growth, including an investment from The Cleveland Foundation in 2017.

Today, Holmes Mouthwatering Apple Sauce is available in more than 250 retail locations throughout the Midwest, including Kroger, Heinen’s, Target, Whole Foods, Marc’s, Giant Eagle Market District and more. Looking to the future, Holmes has his sights set on national and international markets for his products.

In 2015, Holmes created the Young Entrepreneur Initiative, giving local students an opportunity to learn about small business operations and earn a wage by working in the production and sale of Holmes Mouthwatering Applesauce.

  Zach Latta, Hack Club

Zach Latta is the founder of Hack Club, a nonprofit network of computer science clubs now in 2% of US high schools and has doubled its reach every year since launching in 2016.

After developing apps with millions of users as a teenager, he dropped out of high school and received a $100,000 grant from Peter Thiel to forgo college and start Hack Club. He is currently 20 and is a Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree for his work with Hack Club.

  Jacob Goodman, Fresh Prints

Jacob Goodman is an entrepreneur and angel investor from New York. He sold his first company when he was 22 and is currently the co-president of Fresh Prints. Fresh Prints aims to bolster student entrepreneurship through its Campus Manager program.


  Justin Lafazan, Next Gen Summit

Justin Lafazan is the Co-founder and CEO of Next Gen Summit, the premier community and conference for millennial entrepreneurs. Since its inception in 2014, Next Gen Summit has served as a vehicle to bring together the world’s most talented young entrepreneurs to connect, collaborate, and inspire each other, and give them the resources they need to be successful.

Justin is an experienced entrepreneur, consultant, speaker, investor, and best-selling author.


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