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General Session / Monday / October 10, 2022 / 8:00 AM

The Perfect Pitch

Following a global contest, five concepts have been selected to be part of The Perfect Pitch. Listen and learn as entrepreneurs pitch their fast casual concepts. The pitchers will address not only the Summit’s attendees but also a panel of advisers who will give them advice about how to grow their concepts.

It’s our “nicer” version of “Shark Tank,” which means it’s all about helping small but innovative concepts get off the ground. The audience members will vote on their favorite pitch, and the winner will receive bragging rights (of course), a $3,500 prize and 6 months of free service with Ovation!

2022 Finalists:


Ron Bolden | COO | Paradise Smoothie Juice Bar
After 20 years in the Marines, it’s safe to say that Ronald Bolden learned about fitness. “I left Gary, Indiana, to join the Marines and after running 20 miles a week for 20 years, a fitness regime grows on you. You learn to run, stay in shape and eat correctly. It’s a lifelong mission.” Bolden was reared by his grandmother who “loved to cook and she cooked a lot of vegetables, so I learned to eat them at an early age.” Ron, who serves as COO of Paradise Smoothie Juice bar, say that the Marines not only taught him to stay and eat healthy, but the intangible skills to run a successful business. “I learned people skills, discipline, and how to be of service — all of which prepared me to run a business. Owning a smoothie bar is the natural transition for me. I’ve lived my whole life waiting for this. This is preparation meeting opportunity.” Bolden says their customers range from their 30s on up to those who are eligible for Medicare.
Bill Johnson | CEO | Paradise Smoothie Juice Bar
Bill Johnson, CEO of Paradise Smoothie Juice Bar, has been into health and fitness since the 1970s. Even though he is a graduate of Southern College of Technology and an electrical engineer by trade, he is a serial entrepreneur and owned several franchise restaurants as well as a vending machine and residential real-estate business with his brother. He came into the smoothie juice bar business as a result of taking care of his father. For 10 years of his life, his father lived with him and his wife and they looked for ways to control his health issues, such as high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure. With healthy eating, they eventually weaned him away from all but one of his medications. As a result, they became more conscious of what they ate. Johnson’s wife is a vegetarian, and he is “primarily a vegetarian who will occasionally eat fish or chicken.” Adding, “We truly believe in the power of healthy living and eating. Paradise really does power performance.”
Todd Kirby | Franchise Development Partner | Hot Chikn Kitchn
Todd Kirby was recently named Franchise Development Partner for Hot Chikn Kitchn, a fast casual restaurant brand that serves up Nashville-style food that’s kicked up with their signature premium sauces. In this role, Kirby is focused on finding great franchise partners to meet the company’s stated goal of 200 new locations in the next three years. Prior to joining Hot Chikn Kitchn, he served as Vice President of Sales for Xponential Fitness. The group features more than 2,000 fitness studios including Club Pilates, Purre Barre, and CycleBar Indoor Cycling. Kirby is an entrepreneur and launched two companies. In 2014, he founded and served as Director of Sales for CycleBar Indoor Cycling. The company is the largest indoor cycling franchise with more than 200 studios worldwide. Earlier in his career, Kirby founded and served as Director of Sales for St. Gregory Development Group. Under his leadership, the company developed thousands of health and wellness franchise locations.
Hanson Li | Co-Founder & CEO | Lazy Susan
Hanson Li is the co-founder and CEO of Lazy Susan, a Chinese take-out concept. Lazy Susan highlights the long history of Chinese food in America while adopting it for today’s taste and consumers. In 2014, Hanson Li founded Salt Partners Group, a food, beverage, and restaurant group. Salt Partners is currently the managing partner of Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream, High-Proof (beverage group that owns the bars Horesfeather and Last Rites), and B-Side. Salt’s legacy portfolio includes Crenn Dining Group (Atelier Crenn 3-Michelin Star, Petit Crenn, Bar Crenn 1-Michelin Star, Boutique Crenn) and LocoL (fast food concept that was named best restaurant by LA Times in 2017). He’s an active advisor and investor of companies at the intersection of food and technology: Bikky, Workstream, Entrée, Ritual, Expo, Territory Foods, PlateIQ and Servy (sold to Resy/AMEX). He’s also an investor in several food and beverage companies: Sufferfest Beer, Sunday Group, Sanzo, and Bacon Bacon.
Todd Smith | Co-Founder | Flake Pie Co.
Todd Smith, is the Co-Founder of Flake Pie Co. He has been in the restaurant industry for over 16 years with companies like Yum! Brands, Wendy's, and Sonic Drive-in. Prior to starting Flake Pie Co. he was the President & CMO at Sonic Drive-in. He has a passion for building brands with great food and great customer experience, which is what he and his partners have built at Flake Pie Co. Todd is an avid sports fan and a car nut. He and his family currently live in Utah.
Ryan Thorman | CEO | Bango Bowls
Ryan Thorman left a career in advertising sales at LinkedIn in 2019 to take over as CEO of Bango Bowls. Bango Bowls, a quick serve concept that was founded in 2017 by four long life friends, has started to see their constant menu innovation start to pay dividends. Since 2019, the focus of the menu has shifted from just acai bowls to a larger offering that includes salads, warm grain bowls, poke bowls and now avocado toast and flanini’s (its name for a flatbread panini).
Rick Timmons | Co-Founder | Flake Pie Co.
Previously, Rick Timmons was a marketing executive in the cellular phone business for 15 years with Motorola, British Telecom and Voda. Then, Rick relocated to the Salt Lake City area and he and his brothers decided to become Sonic Drive-in franchisees. Rick oversaw the Sonic franchise organization and expanded the business along with his brothers to 21 locations. They were recognized as the Sonic National Turnaround Operator of the Year in 2012. Rick and his brothers sold their Sonic business in late 2021 after navigating the pandemic and managing through significant sales growth and challenging staffing. In mid 2020, Rick and his business partners developed the concept for Flake Pie Company and opened their first location in South Jordan, Utah in November of 2020 followed by a second location in St. George, Utah in early 2022. This was truly a group effort with partners, spouses and children involved in branding, recipe development, menu design, social media, etc.
Dave Wood | Chief Strategic Officer | Hot Chikn Kitchn
Dave Wood was recently named chief strategic officer for Hot Chikn Kitchn, a fast casual restaurant brand that serves Nashville-style food paired with signature premium sauces. Wood joined Hot Chikn Kitchn in late 2021 and hit the ground running to expand the company’s presence. He currently also serves as Founder and CEO for Mahana Fresh LLC.

Jim Balis | Managing Director, Strategic Operations Group | CapitalSpring
Jim Balis joined CapitalSpring in 2014 where he serves as Managing Director and Head of the Strategic Operations Group. He has over 40 years of restaurant experience and has served as CEO for more than 19 restaurant companies. Jim is currently CEO of Sizzling Platter which is a 660 unit multi-branded franchisee business operating restaurants in the US and Internationally. Previously he served as CEO of Buddy’s Pizza (the originator of Detroit Style Pizza), Norms Restaurants (an iconic family dining brand), and many other restaurant companies. Jim also serves on the board of directors of more than 10 different restaurant and restaurant service companies, and as an advisor to other boards. Prior to joining CapitalSpring, Jim was Founder and President of the Restaurant Management Group, a boutique advisory firm specializing in the restaurant industry.
Zack Oates | Founder & CEO | Ovation
Zack Oates is an author, husband, father, entrepreneur, and hot tub aficionado (but not in that order, necessarily). He grew up in restaurants before getting into startups. He was voted Top 100 Entrepreneurs, rang the NASDAQ bell, won the world’s biggest business competition, has been to 50 countries, and started 3 companies. He went on over 1,000 dates before he got married and wrote a book, “Dating Never Works…Until it Does.” He currently is Founder and CEO of Ovation, the no. 1 restaurant feedback platform in America, voted Top 50 Most Influential Supplier by Nation’s Restaurant News, and host of “Give an Ovation: A Podcast for Restaurants.”
Max Sheets | Founder & CEO | Chick N Max
Max Sheet’s love of restaurants began back in his teenage days, scraping cheese off the pans in a Pizza Hut kitchen. With a career in restaurant development that now spans almost three decades, he conceptualized Chick N Max and assembled a team of culinary professionals to perfect the menu. As founder and CEO, Max is grateful to put his past to work in a restaurant that prioritizes people and high-quality food as the foundation of every guest experience. Prior to the development of Chick N Max, Max served as an executive in development for Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, Smashburger, Ted’s Montana Grill, Fox & Hound, and Lone Star Steakhouse.
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