A $15,000 Innovation Grant was awarded to Jasmin Hume founder of Shiru, and a $5,000 Impact Grant was awarded to Amy Divaraniya, founder of Oova.
Marlon Nichols is the founding managing partner at MaC Venture Capital (formerly Cross Culture Ventures), which finds entrepreneurs who are building the future for the rest of America.
He’s a former Kauffman Fellow and Investment Director at Intel Capital, with an extensive background in technology, private equity, media and entertainment. Marlon’s unique eye for global trends and shifts in consumer behavior has helped him capture many high-potential investments and companies that reflect overlooked markets, including Gimlet Media, MongoDB, Thrive Market, PlayVS, Fair, LISNR, Mayvenn, Blavity, and Wonderschool.
Marlon is the recipient of MVMT50’s SXSW 2018 Innovator of the Year award, Digital Diversity’s Innovation & Inclusion Change Agent award and was a TechWeek 100 winner. He was named Pitchbook’s 25 Black Founders and VCs to Watch in 2018 and 2019 and one of Silicon Republic's 26 VC professionals spearheading change. He’s been featured on TechCrunch, Fortune, Blavity and NBC, and is adjunct faculty in entrepreneurship and venture capital at the SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell University.
Cat is a people first investor, former operator, and accidental work therapist.
By way of background, Cat spent a decade operating in early stage startups before joining the Primary Ventures partnership where she played a critical role in shaping the firm's post-investment approach for the better part of five years. Today, she is an investment partner and founding team member at The Venture Collective (TVC), a transformational, early stage venture business that is on a mission to bridge the funding gap for underrepresented founders. In her spare time, Cat also works closely with PeopleTech Partners, NYC BLEND, and the 1k Project. If you'd like to get in touch, she is @catmhernandez on all the social networks.
Jim Lockheed is an Investment Principal with JetBlue Technology Ventures, where he focuses on investing in early stage companies across commercial aviation and travel. Some of his interests include travel-related developments in areas like AI/ML, e-commerce, biometrics/identity, data science, mobility, process automation, predictive analytics, augmented reality, sustainable travel, and robotics.
Prior to working at JTV, Jim spent five years as an entrepreneur, including founding one of the first commercial drone services businesses in the Pacific Northwest. He also spent four years with a Boeing subsidiary called Insitu, where he operated surveillance drones and then managed operations for DoD programs. Jim is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and holds a MBA from the University of Oregon and a B.S. in Technical Management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Minal founded K2 Global to invest in early and late-stage tech start-ups. K2 Global is one of the largest women-run venture capital firms. Prior to founding K2 Global, Minal was outside counsel to Uber, Twitter, Square, Medium, and Zuora, among other start-ups, ranging from two founders with a deck to public companies to everything in between. She oversaw over 150 venture financings and billions of dollars of acquisitions and IPOs. As a lawyer, Minal “wrote the book” for secondary sales that are now considered industry standard. Minal previously served as VP of Stanford Angels, which seed invests in start-ups coming out of Stanford University and has invested in companies like SoFi. Minal is also an active angel investor. Early in her career, Minal worked in product marketing at a mobile company and in journalism as a columnist for The San Jose Mercury News.
Bio coming soon!
Kate Brodock is a Founding Partner of the W Fund and CEO of Women 2.0, a global brand for gender equity and inclusion in the tech industry. Women 2.0 has catalyzed over $91m in funding to women-led startups, provided programming for women at any stage in the industry, and engaged with numerous firms and companies to promote internal diversity and inclusion. Kate is a regular speaker, appearing on stages at SXSW, 15 Seconds, Collision Conference, Fast Company's Innovation Uncensored, and Techstars. She has been featured in the Washington Post, TechCrunch, Al Jazeera, and MSNBC, and she's a contributor for Forbes.com.
Tyler also organizes the Founder Summit, a gathering of founders, entrepreneurs, and makers.
After 5 years of bootstrapping his own SaaS business, Storemapper, he sold it and later launched Earnest Capital.
Damilola Thompson is Vice President and Co-Director of EchoVC Partners and has over a decade of experience investing and supporting entrepreneurs improving quality of life and solving frictions in emerging markets.
Dami has core competencies leading Venture Capital and Private Equity transactions and leads the corporate development arm at EchoVC as a director. In her years of experience, she drove seed and early-stage financing transactions in startups across geographies and sectors – TMT sectors, Financial services sector, Healthcare sector, etc.
Ms. Thompson is passionate about startups and venture financing and providing early-stage companies with much needed mentorship required for scaling. She has graduate degrees from the University of Lagos, Nigeria and University of California, Berkeley. She has also completed various post-graduate courses including the Kauffman Fellows Academy course on Venture Capital. She is a co-founder of Ventures Dialogue, a non-profit platform that connects entrepreneurs with investors alongside other resources to help them build sustainable businesses; the Sponsorship and Partnership Lead for Rising Tide Africa; and a part of the leadership team of the SingularityU Lagos Chapter.
Clay is a partner at Lowercarbon Capital where he invests in startups and research organizations developing technology to reduce emissions, suck carbon out of the air, and cool the planet. He is also a partner at Lowercase Capital. Previously, Clay served as an Executive in Residence at the Pramana Collective, a strategic advisory firm in San Francisco. Before that, he was the Chief of Staff for the White House Office of Digital Strategy, a team tasked by President Obama with connecting people with purpose. In 2017, he was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. At the start of President Obama’s second term, he served as an aide in the Chief of Staff’s office. Before joining the White House, Clay worked on President Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns.
Shawn Xu is an early stage investor at Floodgate, working under Mike Maples and Ann Miura-Ko as the firm's first senior associate. He was previously managing partner of First Round's Dorm Room Fund, where he made more than 20 pre-seed investments in startups built by student founders. His writing on the university startup ecosystem has been featured on Forbes, TechCrunch, and Startup Grind. Before venture capital, Shawn managed international expansion at Square and Vungle (acquired by Blackstone for $780 million). He was also on the founding team of a Y Combinator-backed startup that built data analytics software for government agencies.
Gaurav works with Advanced Innovation at Philips Healthcare. He is interested in building intelligent systems (Human+AI) in medicine and healthcare. He works on solving problems and challenges during design and development of intelligent HealthTech for patients, provides, and payers.
Gaurav has a PhD in Artificial Intelligence from University of Pittsburgh, where his dissertation was on designing interactive methods for Natural Language Processing on Clinical records. He has served a reviewer for several Biomedical Informatics conferences and journals. He is also the founder of the meditation club at Pitt and continues to teach workshops for university students.
Daisy is a passionate investment analyst at JetBlue Technology Ventures, where she optimizes investments by conducting in-depth analyses and due diligence of early stage startups. Her analytical focus is on startups that operate at the intersection of travel, hospitality, and technology. Some of her areas of interest include artificial intelligence, sustainability, and cybersecurity. She previously lived in Sweden for over two years, where she worked with an early stage VC and angel syndicate, while acquiring an international education. Her career has also taken her abroad to Israel, Uganda, India, and Latvia. She holds dual MSCs in International Business from the Stockholm School of Economics, and double BAs in Mathematics and Environmental Economics from UC Berkeley.
Jane is an investor at DaVita Venture Group (an independent investment vehicle of DaVita) and leads investments in health care technology, therapeutics and technology-enabled services companies. Prior to joining DaVita Venture Group, she founded a startup in the maternal health space with Children’s Hospital LA and has worked with several other early-stage health tech startups. Before that, she was a management consultant at Bain & Company’s New York office. During her time at Bain, she did an externship at Massachusetts General Hospital leading strategy, operational redesign and digital health projects. Jane has an MPH from Harvard and a Bachelor of Business Administration from the Ivey Business School in Western University.
Jonah Cool is a cell biologist and geneticist by training, and is currently a Science Program Officer at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, where he leads the organization's efforts to support the international Human Cell Atlas consortium. He was an American Heart Association fellow while completing his PhD at Duke Medical Center, with a focus on the role of vascularization during cell differentiation and organ morphogenesis, and was subsequently a Ruth Kirchstein Fellow at the Salk Institute studying nuclear organization during stem cell differentiation.
Dr. Cool previously worked in intellectual property litigation, as well as ran an industry research group working toward therapeutic application of 3D bioprinted human tissue. He has a deep love of cell biology and, in particular, the origins of cellular heterogeneity and how diverse cells assemble into complex tissues.
Sarah is a former education startup founder with 16+ years of experience scaling innovative education programs/schools, coaching founding teams of EdTech Startups globally, and investing in future-of-learning/future-of-work companies (seed-Series C).
Previously, Sarah was a member of the startup operations teams within organizations dedicated to educational equity such as The KIPP Foundation, GreatSchools.org, and The Fulbright Teaching Fellowship. In 2006, she founded an education company in Shanghai, China and grew that business over four years, eventually exiting. She has since leveraged my experiences in US and East Asian education markets to launch international preK-12 programs, coached Stanford MBA students, and helped grow a network of Montessori schools around the world.
Today, Sarah invests in education/edtech and future-of-work companies with Peak State Ventures and advises early stage startups with EdVentures International Group. She completed her Bachelors of Economics at Mills College and her Masters of International Education Policy at Harvard University and currently resides in Oakland, CA.
Sergio Marrero is a serial entrepreneur, founder, investor, and coach who graduated from the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He previously worked at PepsiCo, Teach For America, and the Deloitte Consulting Strategy Operations group. While in graduate school he conducted his thesis on venture studios and accelerating impact innovation at the intersection of business and government. He set up operations for two emerging venture capital funds each seeking to raise $100M, produces a VC and CEO LiveStream Series called RBL1 Live, and is Founding Partner of Rebel One - a double bottom line investing fund and investor network accelerating rebels innovating for a better world.
Samina is passionate about empowering women through health and wealth. In an effort to close the gender funding gap, she leads a boutique advisory for women-led startups, primarily in femtech and consumer, helping founders get fundraising-ready. Samina has experience investing across venture, growth, and buyout. Most recently she was on the Investment Team at American Securities (AS), an operationally-focused private equity firm in New York with $23 billion of assets. At AS, she focused on evaluating new investment opportunities and helped management teams at her portfolio companies, Learning Care Group and Mortgage Contracting Services. She also initiated and led diligence of the global fertility market, becoming the first Associate in the firm’s history to successfully pitch and lead a subvertical. Prior to joining AS, Samina co-founded SLK Venture Capital in Austin, TX, serving as interim-COO. In addition to closing 10 investments, she established the fund's Advisory Board, infrastructure, and systems of sourcing. Previously, Samina was an early employee at ICONIQ Capital, a San Francisco-based private equity firm and multi-family office serving the founders of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, among others. At ICONIQ, she performed diligence on potential investments and helped develop the firm's investment strategy. Samina graduated from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Finance and Behavioral Economics. While there, she co-founded the Penn chapter of Smart Woman Securities, a women's investing club, and served as the elected Wharton Class Chair for four years.
Karishma Patel is Partner at Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund and Manager of Draper Venture Network. She has held positions at Sony Music, ClassPass, and LiveIntent before starting her own travel tech startup. As a transition into VC, she went through Venture University's apprenticeship program, where she was a part of the sourcing, diligence and closing process for the following 6 investments: The Riveter, Court Buddy, 3TEN8, OurHealthMate, Blokable, and QunoMedical.
She holds a B.A. from New York University and received her Master's from USC Marshall School of Business.
René Azeez is the Director of Engagement at the Toronto based MaRS Discovery District, North America’s largest urban innovation hub. As the head of venture engagement, he is responsible for the development and execution of the MaRS Growth Services venture engagement strategy, including establishing the mission, objectives, venture assessment metrics, and operating plans to enable the support of over 1400 technology ventures in the Enterprise, FinTech, Health, CleanTech, Advanced Manufacturing & Materials, and Transportation & Mobility sectors. He leverages a deep understanding of technology venture needs to develop and deliver effective portfolio engagement methodologies that maximize MaRS’ influence on venture progression and valuation across all sectors.
Prior to joining MaRS, René started his career as a medical device industry analyst and was ultimately promoted to lead a global data driven medical device market intelligence team based in Toronto, India and China, with the Millennium Research Group (MRG), a division of the Decision Resources Group (DRG). From there, René utilized his depth of research expertise to secure a position as a Senior Strategist with Insync, a division of Publicis Health, focusing on driving strategies for companies in the pharmaceutical space. René focused deliverables on insight generation through the lens of behavioral economics, providing a unique approach to healthcare market research.
Rene attended Woodsworth College at the University of Toronto, where he achieved a Honours BSc. in Developmental Biology. He is currently participating in the Executive MBA program at HEC Paris, pursuing a major in Entrepreneurship and Innovation from Babson College, Boston.
Juliette-Marie Somerset is a VC and angel investor. As a transformational leadership executive and tech startup advisor she's dedicated to accelerating social impact investing, philanthropy, innovation, insight and compassion. She excels in strategic growth partnerships, leadership development, mentoring tech entrepreneurs building and creating disruptive solutions.
Chaarvi is currently investing in social enterprises in early-stages in the US, with the AmFam Institute.
Chaarvi has woven her professional journey extensively around social entrepreneurship, impact investing and ecosystem building. Prior to AmFam, she mentored women entrepreneurs in South-East Asia, curated a podcast for social entrepreneurs in emerging markets, invested in startups in India and Vietnam, created social impact measurement frameworks, and founded a handicrafts social enterprise. Chaarvi graduated from Columbia University with a Masters in Public Administration.
For over 30 years, Robert Garber has invested in, advised and led early-stage healthcare and technology companies, co-managing three venture funds and holding leadership positions with three high-growth companies. Robert is currently a Partner at 7Wire Ventures, a preeminent venture capital firm that invests in early-stage digital health companies supporting an “Informed Connected Health Consumer” - the epicenter of a consumer-first, tech-enabled convergence of the health and wellness markets. Fund successes, such as Livongo Health, are due in large part to the team’s experience as both seasoned operators and investors with extensive industry experience. As highly selective investors, the firm works side-by-side with founders to build companies at scale that change the status quo and empower consumers to be better stewards of their health.
As a 2x immigrant growing up in a single-mother household with a younger sister, gender equality in tech and startups are very important to Henry Love. At Facebook, he was a top performer part of a small elite team that supported up-and-coming startups driving north of $450M in product sales. As a next step, Henry stepped up as the Chief Investment Officer for a Digital Assets focused Family Office to speak at prominent conferences such as SXSW and Money2020 and made investments all around the world. In 2018, Henry founded YGC - a corporate venture studio serving Fortune 500 companies and corporate executives - with his colleague at the Family Office. They now have 120+ corporate executives that are part of their council that meet on a quarterly basis.
Ali Jamal is a Product Leader, Growth Expert, Data Scientist, & Angel Investor. He combines his passions for strategy, analytics, product, data, marketing, and technology in his current role as a Director of Growth and Performance Marketing at PayClip, one of LatAm's largest and fastest growing FinTech startups. He is also the Founder of First Check Ventures, an angel syndicate that invests in early stage startups across the globe. The syndicate has supported and invested in startups all over the world including the US, Pakistan, Venezuela, Mexico and Colombia.
Previously, Ali was the Head of Performance Marketing at Rappi, leading 80+ people on 7 teams across 8 international offices and responsible for generating over $1 billion in total transaction value per year globally. Prior to joining Rappi, he was the Head of Marketing Innovation at Agoda, where he led 3 teams across 3 international offices and was responsible for expansion into the China market. Ali also held Product and Analytical leadership roles at RockYou, Zynga, and Maxim Integrated Products. He began his career as an investment banker specializing in mergers and acquisitions in the software and internet sectors. Ali has a Bachelors in Economics and a Masters in Statistics from Stanford University.
Rebecca is a Vice President at DRI Capital, a leading life sciences investment firm based in Toronto, where she focuses on sourcing and supporting investments in pharmaceutical royalties. Prior to DRI Capital, Rebecca worked for several biotechnology companies in business development roles and at BMO Capital Markets in biotechnology equity research. She graduated with a B.Sc. in Pharmacology and Toxicology from Western University and an MBA from The Richard Ivey School of Business.
Vic Lanio is a Principal at Flare Capital Partners.
Prior to joining Flare Capital, Vic was a Product Strategy Manager at naviHealth, responsible for enterprise product strategy during the integration of legacy naviHealth, Curaspan and RightCare businesses. Vic joined naviHealth by way of Curaspan, where he worked on their successful strategic sale to naviHealth, a Cardinal Health company.
Previously, Vic was a manager at McKinsey & Company serving healthcare providers. He focused primarily on health system strategy within the context of the Affordable Care Act and the transition to value-based care models. He helped build the Objective Health new venture, a tech-enabled consulting model for small to mid-sized health systems that is now a part of McKinsey’s Healthcare practice. Out of college, he worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers in their Health Industries Advisory Practice, focusing on operational improvement, revenue cycle, and personalized medicine. He also helped launch and served as the President and Executive Board Chair of Boston Young Healthcare Professionals, a 501(c)(3) organization aimed at providing educational, networking and community service opportunities for young healthcare professionals in Boston.
Vic obtained his B.S. from Boston College, with majors in Physics and Finance. He also obtained his M.B.A. from the MIT Sloan School of Management. While completing his M.B.A., he worked concurrently with Curaspan, Wellframe and was a Flare Capital Scholar. He also co-Directed the inaugural MIT Healthcare Innovations Prize, a pitch competition for health tech entrepreneurs in Boston.
Change is the only constant, especially in the business of technology. With 20+ years in software business, Shakeel has seen many such emerging technology disruptions, from client-server to web to social, cloud to mobile to IoT, Data Warehouses to Data Sciences to Machine Learning/AI. He has also worked in major industries, including Finance, Telecom, Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals, Consumer Goods, Advertising, Distribution, Retail, Oil and Gas.
Shakeel thanks Trilogy/pcOrder.com for getting him to Austin, TX, the city he fell in love with and for showing him a path to startups. Co-founded Olivesystems, a telecom provisioning startup. Lead a consulting company to spin off two startups, Context (enterprise marketing optimization) and Treasury Sciences (Enterprise Cash Flow and Treasury management).
Advisor and angel investor in many startups in TX with Capital Factory and rest of US with HBS Angels. Shakeel helps them from concept through multiple funding rounds.
Shakeel has a Bachelors of Engineering in Computer Science and Engineering from India, Masters in Management Sciences from George Washington University and completed the Program for Leadership Development from Harvard Business School.
Suzanne is a VC investor and accomplished business leader with 20 years experience specializing in digital transformations, brand strategy, growth marketing, entrepreneurship and startup operations; building new brands and successful businesses. Following 13 very successful years working for leading corporate brands (IBM, HSBC, GE Healthcare, SapientNitro) leading innovation and growth strategies, her passion for entrepreneurship led her career shift to build startup businesses since 2012. She joined Power2Switch, a deregulated energy shopping platform, as Chief Marketing Officer in 2012 and experienced an acquisition by Choose Energy, a portfolio company of Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, in 2013. She continued with Choose Energy as Vice President of Marketing leading brand development and marketing to take the marketplace national across all deregulated energy states. In 2015, she joined Mira Fitness, her third startup, as Creative Director leading growth strategy, marketing & product design.
In 2016, she joined Uplift Data Partners, a drone technology SaaS and service company for the enterprise construction market, as President & CEO leading it from inception to acquisition by PrecisionHawk in 2018.
Del Johnson is a venture capital investor, tech writer, and keynote speaker who builds organizations that identify outlier talent beyond the reach of traditional networks and signals. A graduate of U.C. Berkeley and Columbia Law School, Del declined his big law firm offer to join Backstage Capital, a VC fund dedicated to eliminating tech disparities through investing in high-potential underrepresented founders.
As part of the Kauffman Foundation and Indie.vc's "verified scout program," Del deploys $25,000 - $50,000 investment checks into high-potential early stage companies. At Backstage Capital, Del led the fund’s scouting, diligence, and operations in New York. He remains close to the fund in a consulting capacity while he builds his own structure. To date, his funds have invested over $7 million into over 100 startups led by founders from groups traditionally overlooked by venture capitalists.
Janine is an angel investor and tech entrepreneur. She founded and built legal startup NextChapter, serving as CEO and Founder for 6 years until it was acquired in September 2019 by Fastcase. In that time, she grew her team to 20 employees, 14% month-over-month revenue, and 5,000 attorney users in all 94 US Districts.
Janine was recognized as a Fastcase 50 Honoree in 2019, Women of Legal Tech 2017 presented by American Bar Association’s Legal Technology Resource Center (LTRC) and celebrated in the 2017 Women Who Lead campaign by Pledge 1% for her philanthropic efforts with NextChapter.
Bio coming soon.
Leah is a Senior Investment Associate at NextView Ventures based in its New York office. Her career spans many industries and functions, from working as journalist to operating at early-stage startups, angel investing, and hedge fund management. Leah has a penchant for community businesses, social innovation, media, and intersectional feminism.
Most recently before joining NextView, she led editorial and brand voice at Chief, the private network for executive women. Prior to Chief, Leah was a staff reporter at Quartz, focusing on gender, technology, and the future of work.
Leah previously worked as a venture investor at Slow Ventures, and is particularly devoted to advising startups led by female and BIPOC founders. She began her career in management at Bridgewater Associates, and has received notoriety for her writing on sexual and romantic relationships.
Kenneth is the CEO/CIO at Ortus Africa Capital where he provides leadership and strategic oversight to harness investment into and finding capital for entrepreneurs and businesses to drive Africa’s growth. Kenneth oversees The 97Fund a venture investment vehicle managed by Ortus Africa Capital.
Prior to founding Ortus Africa Capital, Kenneth was a financial advisor and management consultant at Deloitte, initially in the UK and then in East Africa, based in Uganda where he advised on a number of assignments including the formation and fundraising for an agribusiness private equity fund domiciled in Uganda which achieved a $20m close.
Kenneth has co-founded and invested in companies including ventures in fintech/e-commerce, research and data analytics, transport & logistics, energy & infrastructure. Kenneth likes working with and supporting entrepreneurs and businesses to grow. He is also the Co-Founder of the Kampala Angel Investment Network (KAIN), a platform that prepares and matches early stage entrepreneurs to angel investors locally and globally.
Cheryl is Head of Venture Growth & Partnerships at Republic and is an Investment Partner at The Community Fund.
Stephanie Bauer Marshall
From leading an innovative (and mostly remote!) team at a Fortune 15 through the challenging process of developing and marketing patented products, to refining early-stage offerings, Stephanie Bauer Marshall is an industry-recognized leader in successfully bringing products and services to market.
As founder of M3 Advisors, Ms. Marshall advises early to mid-stage start ups and association clients as they define, position, market and evangelize new products and services.
She currently serves as Board President of Citrine Angels, and as a mentor and instructor for FedTech.
Neku Atawodi-Edun is passionate about social change and believes in empowering social entrepreneurs to address many of the challenges facing the African continent.
Neku served as Regional Director and Country Director for the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), training and investing in African entrepreneurs aiming to create Africa's next leading Technology platforms and create employment across the continent. Neku is a self-starter entrepreneur, having spearheaded the launch-to-market of companies in various sectors under her watch.
Prior to this, Neku worked as a Senior Technical Advisor to the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) where she developed the FCT’s revolutionary File Tracking System. The system was further deployed at the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Ministry of Defense. Neku is passionate about empowering African entrepreneurs through technology and was a member of the founding team for Africa’s pioneer Impact Investment Tracking Platform.
Neku has been a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, an Associate Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society and a Clinton Global Initiative Lead Mentor. She was named as one of Forbes Africa’s 30 under 30, was a nominee for CNBC's Young African Entrepreneur and, in 2020, was honoured by the Guardian newspaper as one of 60 Africans who have impacted the last decade.
Neku holds a Masters Degree in International Business from the European Business School, London and, in her spare time, is an avid equestrian having founded Ride to Shine, a not for profit organisation creating future opportunities for disadvantaged children, through introducing them to equestrian sports.
Tahira Dosani is the Managing Director of Accion Venture Lab, a seed-stage venture capital impact investing fund focused on inclusive fintech. Venture Lab provides capital and support to early-stage startups that leverage technology to improve the access, quality, and affordability of financial services for underserved consumers globally. Tahira works with the fund’s portfolio companies to provide strategic and operational expertise that accelerates their growth trajectories and enables stronger performance. Additionally, she supports investment decisions, manages portfolio relationships, and drives the strategy and growth of Venture Lab.
Tahira previously led strategic projects at LeapFrog Investments, an emerging market private equity impact fund focused on financial services. Prior to that, she worked as Director of Strategy at the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development. Based in Dubai, she drove strategic initiatives for portfolio companies and led new investments in telecoms, technology and infrastructure in South and Central Asia. She also worked at Roshan, Afghanistan’s leading telecommunications operator, where she was Head of Corporate Strategy and helped launch the country’s first mobile money platform. Tahira began her career as a management consultant with Bain & Company in Boston.
Tahira holds an MBA from INSEAD and BAs in International Relations, Computer Science, and Education from Brown University.
Namrata is an early stage investor and advisor, passionate about supporting founders, especially women and underrepresented minorities. She is the Director of VentureBridge Accelerator at Carnegie Mellon and invests alongside Republic, Indie VC, and angel groups.
In previous roles, Namrata worked at an early stage industry-agnostic VC fund and an incubator in Zimbabwe supporting entrepreneurs in Southern Africa. Prior to that, she worked in product development in startups and large organizations in B2B, B2B2C, and B2C. She co-founded 3 startups, two of which she took from idea to revenue. In her spare time, she serves as an independent consultant.
She holds a BS in Biology and a diploma in Software Engineering from India, MA in Professional Writing from Carnegie Mellon, and an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley.
A coffee aficionado, she loves to wake up to a good cup of coffee.
Named Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, Sarah’s career spans across venture capital (VC) and innovation, in Asia and the US. She is Co-Founder of The Billion Dollar Fund for Women, a global consortium of venture funds that have now pledged to invest and are actively deploying beyond $1 billion towards women-founded companies, to begin to address the venture investment gap where women founders receive less than 3% of total VC funding. Going Beyond The Billion, her mission is now to catalyze capital deployed to these venture funds, ensuring their continued capacity to invest- by mobilizing LP commitments, convening LPs and connecting them to GPs who invest in venture-backable companies founded by diverse women founders.
Previously, she pioneered a corporate venture capital unit within $13Bn publicly traded Asian conglomerate, Sime Darby, investing in later-stage biotechnology companies. Since then, she has been at the forefront of multi-million cross border investments, structuring and executing commercialization plans for her portfolio companies. Named Forbes 30 Under 30, she is a recognized speaker and adviser on VC/innovation and women in leadership, having been featured among others on Der Spiegel, the Wall Street Journal, and at the United Nations.
Driven by a mission to fuel women's ambition, power and influence, she currently sits on multiple boards including 131 & counting, a bipartisan effort backed by Bloomberg Government and Holland & Knight to fete the unprecedented number of women serving in the House and Senate in the US and encourage more qualified women to run for office; and Lean In Malaysia, which she co-founded, a platform accelerating women into leadership, recognized as the voice of credibility for professional women issues in Muslim- majority Malaysia. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Laws, LL.B (Hons.) from King’s College London. A proud Malaysian, she spends her time between the US- Asia.
Vera Schroeder joined Safar Partners as an Associate in 2019, after supporting the team as an Analyst during the founding of the Fund. As an early stage tech investor at Safar Partners, Vera evaluates and mentors entrepreneurs, conducts diligence, and supports portfolio companies.
In addition to her work at Safar, Vera is a Board Directors at MIT's Social Entrepreneurship Alumni Group (MIT SEAG) and co-chair of MIT SEAG’s Social Entrepreneurship Lab. She also mentors MIT and Harvard students interested in entrepreneurship and acts as a judge and panelist for local startup and VC events.
Vera earned a PhD in Chemistry from MIT where she built Carbon Nanotube-based gas sensors to detect toxic and carcinogenic gases as well as smell cheese, liquor, and edible oils she obtained her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Chemistry from the RWTH Aachen.
Bio coming soon.
Kookai is an investor at Pangaea Ventures, the world-leading venture capital in advanced materials innovation. We invest in hard tech companies leveraging materials science, chemistry, biology, & physics to solve the world's most fundamental problems.
Prior to her role as a VC, Kookai is widely recognized as a social innovator with experience in using impact evaluation, numbers, and stories to help organizations capture untapped growth opportunities. Previously, she launched an acclaimed startup that won 7 awards globally and was a partnership consultant for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Blending this formal background in operations, marketing, and partnership strategy, her goal is to help companies translate ideas into reality.
Kookai sits on the Board of the VEF (Vancouver Entrepreneurs' Forum) and is a mentor at Plug and Play and Founder Institute. When not investing, she devotes her time to championing more diversity and inclusion in the world of venture capital and startup communities. She's a regular speaker and mentor at various events.
Outside of work you can find her diving in the tropical oceans or conquering the next mountain summits.
A forward-thinking policy expert with over a decade of experience across the public, private and non-profit sectors. Xevion is currently Assistant Vice President of Emerging Tech Initiatives at the New York City Economic Development Corporation, where she builds and manages relationships with businesses, academia, and government agencies to promote equitable economic growth. Xevion is respected as a deeply strategic thinker, and known for her clear understanding of stakeholder interests, the business implications of policy decisions, and how to align those needs.
Prior to EDC, Xevion served as Chief of Staff at the Black Economic Alliance, where she was responsible for driving the organization’s policy agenda and overseeing the execution of the first Presidential Candidates Forum focused on Black economic issues, televised by Black Entertainment Television.
Xevion has provided strategic advice on communications, partnership development and market expansion to start-ups and Fortune 500 companies. She previously held roles at American Express, Univision Communications Inc. and served as a White House Intern for the National Economic Council.
Xevion earned her Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard University, with a specialization in Business and Government Policy, and her B.A. in Political Science and Economics from the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter, City University of New York.
Ana Maury Aguilar
Ana Maury is a VC Investor at AC Ventures, Arca Continental's Corporate Venture Capital fund, where she is responsible for leading investment opportunities and collaborates in portfolio management in Industry 4.0 focusing in Supply Chain and Logistics.
Ana has previous experience as an M&A analyst for EY. Prior to that, she was an investment analyst at a Mexican Private Equity Fund, where she supported portfolio management activities and the investment process.
Ana graduated from Tec de Monterrey with a degree in Financial Management.
Bio coming soon.
Wendy Howell is the COO and Executive Director at YGC and a former Chief of Staff at Cisco. By day, she is a tech executive - By night and in every other waking moment, Wendy is a passionate advocate for “all things girl”. She is deeply involved in non-profit as the Managing Director for Girls In Tech, a board member at The Kindness Campaign, Chair of both STEM Scouts & Girl Scouts Women of Distinction, Founder’s Circle at DivInc and the Greater Austin STEM Ecosystem. She considers herself a “rebel with a cause” and is known for her dogged tenacity and creativity to support her passions! There are few things that excite her more than raising the next generation of confident and empowered female leaders. These non-profits are the vehicles by which she drives her mission forward.
Rafa de Haro
Bio coming soon.
General Partner and CEO of BlackShiip VC, Erik Díaz has experience in project management, digital transformations, and open innovation in the health and educational sectors. He has experience in the Design of Policies and Procedures under the Quality Standards, the use of Employer Branding strategy and Organizational Culture. Leader in the implementation of Integrate Management Systems for Mining. Mentor in the global uprising method for base technological startups. Professor in People Management, Organizational Development and Advising. Synodal in graduation test for Organizational Psychology.
Buffy Alegria is a Managing Partner of SteelSky Ventures LLC, an early-stage venture fund that invests in and supports women’s healthcare solutions. She is passionate about redefining the venture capital model, elevating female entrepreneurs and investors, as well as continuing work to advance healthcare and medicine, specifically for women and children.
Buffy is a member in the SeaChange Fund, Portfolia's Femtech Fund, Pipeline Angels, and Sage Growth Capital, all of which are female managed funds. Additionally, she has personally invested in 5 female-led health care companies. Buffy currently serves as Vice Chair on the Virginia Mason Memorial Board. She founded an initiative and is passionately working to transform how Women’s and Children’s Health Services are delivered within the Virginia Mason Memorial community. Buffy also serves as a board member for the Washington State Hospital Association and for Signal Health, a clinically integrated health care network. She earned an MST (Master of Management in Science and Technology) from Oregon Graduate Institute of Science & Technology in Oregon (now part of OHSU), as well as a BS in Psychology & Biology from Pacific University in Oregon. She lives in Washington state with her husband and three daughters.
Ryan Bethencourt is the CEO of Wild Earth, the leading Plant based Pet food company in the US and India. He’s also a Partner and Co-Founder at Sustainable Foods Ventures, a pre-seed future of food rolling fund and Partner at Babel Ventures, an early stage consumer biotech VC firm. Ryan has years of experience in leading, building and advising high-growth food and biotechnology companies.
Ryan was previously, co-founder, former Program Director, and Venture Partner at IndieBio and has invested in 140+ early stage biotech and food startups and served as the head of life sciences at the XPRIZE Foundation.
A mission-oriented business leader, Eloho is an early-stage investor and an advocate for gender & inclusion in technology & entrepreneurship in Africa.
As a co-founder of FirstCheck Africa, she is an early believer in the massive underleveraged potential of Africa’s next generation of female founders. With Mustard Seeds, Eloho is building a virtual community to give ambitious women living & working in Africa the tools to create modern, dynamic careers and grow their wealth.
In 2018, Eloho launched Endeavor Nigeria, an entrepreneurship network for high-impact founders leading high-growth technology companies at the scaleup stage. In 2017, in collaboration with the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund, in Nigeria, she conceptualised, built and launched Lagos Innovates, a portfolio of startup support programs — a first-of-its-kind by a sub-national government in Africa.
With over 15 years prior spent in finance roles across investment banking and growth private equity covering U.K., European and African markets, Eloho is an expert in finance, capital and related matters for companies at all stages, including startups.
She is a board member at Endeavor Nigeria, an advisory board member at Utopia Lagos and Chair of the finance & capital sub-committee of the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund’s MSME Recovery Fund.
A purposeful mentor for high-potential leaders taking on their first mid- to senior-roles in business and entrepreneurship, Eloho helps women make complex career decisions and navigate important career transitions, with purpose and clarity,
Eloho holds an undergraduate degree in Economics from the London School of Economics & Political Science, and a masters in Business Administration from the London Business School.
Niki is a seasoned professional with over ten years of experience in growth equity and venture capital, management consulting, and startup operations in both Canada and China.
Niki is Founder of Gravitii Finanical Advisory. Before that Niki served as Lead Strategist at Element AI and led AI advisory projects for global financial institutes. Before that, Niki worked at RBC Capital Markets. Before coming to Canada, she was a founding member of Meritco Services and in charge of their PE/VC practice, where she accumulated extensive experience in due diligence and portfolio management. Earlier in her career, she also worked at McKinsey and PWC.
Niki holds an MBA degree from Ivey Business School and a Master’s degree in Economics from UCL.
Julia is a Principal at Supply Factory Brands, a venture studio focused on inventing and investing in consumer brands bringing tailored solutions to underserved and overlooked communities. Her experience in the consumer space pans across Fortune 500 companies and startups alike.
Julia’s background stems from creative strategy and marketing for brands like Lancôme, Giorgio Armani Beauty and YSL Beauty to finance and strategic operations. Before moving on to the venture capital world, Julia also worked in private equity, where she focused on consumer, logistics and niche business service industries.
There, she found a deep love for technology and ways to create efficiencies within businesses and joined Resonance, an intelligent platform and venture accelerator focused on re-imagining the world of fashion. At Resonance, Julia helped create and build vertically integrated unit-of-one systems, frameworks, and an action-oriented customer acquisition platform that helped scale luxury D2C fashion brands like THE KIT, Tucker NYC, Pyer Moss, and Little Minkoff.
In 2020, Julia joined Supply Factory Brands to help create exceptional brands focused on underrepresented consumers in niche markets.
Shilpi is Venture Partner with Urban Us, an investment platform focused on urbantech and climate solutions. She specializes in customer development and product strategy for early-stage companies, with experience as both a consultant and early employee. She previously led go-to-market and early sales efforts at Filament, a startup focused on deploying secure wireless networks for connected physical assets.
As an investor, Shilpi is focused on hardware, mobility, energy, IoT, and robotics. She is passionate about leveraging technology to decarbonize industry, upgrade cities, and fight climate change. Before Urban Us, Shilpi worked with with VTF, First Round Capital, and Village Global. Shilpi graduated from Duke University with a degree in Neuroscience and Economics.
Gayathri Radhakrishnan is a Director at the investment team at Micron Ventures, investing from the $100M AI fund. She invests in startups leveraging AI/ML to solve critical problems in the areas of Manufacturing, Healthcare, Automotive, and AgTech.
Gayathri brings 20+ years of multi-disciplinary experience across product management, product marketing, corporate strategy, M&A across Fortune 500 companies such as Dell and Corning and in startups. She was also an early stage investor at Earlybird Venture Capital, a premier European venture fund based in Germany. She has a Masters in EE from The Ohio State University and MBA from INSEAD. She is also a Kauffman Fellow.
Daria Abbaei is the Director of Investor Relations at Naples Technology Ventures, where she is responsible for interacting with all of our current and future LPs.
Prior to NTV, Daria held several senior level positions at SKOUT Cybersecurity including Customer Success Lead, Chief of Staff, and Director of Partner Enablement. In her role as Director of Partner Enablement, Daria was responsible for all client deployments and onboarding functions, and oversaw all professional service engagements. While focusing on the direct client and partner experience, she managed relationships and built a high level of trust with top tier customers where she sustained business growth and profitability by maximizing value. Daria’s team was responsible for onboarding direct clients and partners in a seamless, rapid, and efficient manner. In order to do so, Daria believes in a transparent, open communication model where she always makes herself available in order to ensure the client’s needs are always met.
Daria attended Florida Gulf Coast University where she earned a degree in Psychology and Management. While in school, Daria also worked as an Operations Manager for a spirit company.
Simran is an Analyst at Equal Ventures. Prior to joining Equal, Simran was introduced to venture through internships at Greenspring Associates, SoGal Ventures, and VC-backed startup Predata. Simran also worked as Managing Partner of JHU’s student-run fund, A-Level Capital. At A-Level, Simran led numerous investments in early-stage companies founded by Hopkins students, alumni and faculty.
Simran is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she received a B.A. in International Studies and Sociology through the Global Social Change & Development program.
Radha is a Partner at Unitus Ventures. She leads new investments and portfolio management for the firm. Radha brings experience building and commercializing technology products for global markets and evaluating early-stage startup investments in India. She helped make technology investments at Mumbai Angels, drove Product Marketing at GupShup, a cloud messaging startup and led product and engineering efforts at Texas Instruments and Motorola.
Natasha is an investor at Anthemis where she works on the Financial Wellness vehicle. Anthemis is an investment firm focused on cultivating change in financial services by investing in and building businesses committed to improving the world. Founded on three guiding principles — authentic collaboration, virtuous cycle outcomes, and diversity and inclusivity. The goal is to use the world of finance to solve the financial services’ most pressing challenges faster, better and for the benefit of all. Natasha herself embodies those Anthemis vales, with her non-traditional VC background in Science and Startups. She has a masters in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley, an MBA from Oxford, and is an operator who helped scale the largest white-label microinsurance company in Africa. She uses those skills to identify financial services and healthtech startups that have the potential to redefine human’s relationship to their money and their health for the better.
Jessica Robinson is a mobility investor, entrepreneur, educator, and champion of Detroit.
As Co-Founder and Partner of Assembly Ventures, she invests in and strategically supports the entrepreneurs and mobility companies moving the Western world. She joined Assembly Ventures from her prior role establishing the Michigan Mobility Institute, an organization she co-founded to accelerate the development of talent for the mobility industry.
Jessica previously led the development of next-generation mobility efforts at Ford Smart Mobility where she was the Director of City Solutions, a team which supported go-to-market strategies for the company’s entire mobility portfolio. As an early leader in the new mobility industry, she was a key field leader at Zipcar, the world’s largest car sharing organization, where she held roles in growth, operations, and marketing across North America.
Her background in technology and innovation includes prior work at Techstars launching corporate startup accelerators with industry-leading partners like Target and Virgin Media. She is an active startup mentor, advisor to the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund at the University of Michigan, serves on the advisory board for the MS Robotics program at Wayne State University, and is a micro lender who invests in women entrepreneurs and business owners in Detroit.
In recognition of her public-private work, Jessica has been named a Next City Vanguard, a competitive distinction for top young urban innovators working to make change in global cities. She previously served as advisory board chair for PlanetM, an initiative of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, to connect startups to resources, testing, and pilot opportunities in the state. In 2020, she was appointed to the State of Michigan’s Workforce Development Board to represent mobility businesses.
Jessica graduated with highest honors from the University of Massachusetts with a BA in anthropology and brings an unexpected perspective to the challenges that fall at the intersection of mobility and technology.
Jessica Millstone, MPS, Ed.M, is a leading expert and advisor on the use of educational technology, and an investor in early-stage technology companies. Prior to launching Copper Wire Ventures, a venture capital fund focused on direct investments into women-led tech companies, Jessica was Director of Engagement at BrainPOP and also the inaugural Education Fellow at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, a research + innovation lab within Sesame Workshop.
Jessica holds master’s degrees from New York University's Interactive Telecommunication Program and Bank Street College of Education, and organizes the NYEdTech Meetup, a professional networking organization comprised of over 9000 educators, entrepreneurs and investors working in the edtech space.
Sarah Alexander is a Venture Partner at Andav Capital, an New York-based venture capital firm for early stage tech-enabled companies. Previously, as an investment banker in Houlihan Lokey’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications group, Ms. Alexander provided financial advisory services to companies including Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), ShopNBC, and Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Ms. Alexander spent the majority of the past decade working at leading multinational toy manufacturing company, Mattel, where she was Head of the Global Consumer Products Finance team and utilized her expertise in financial planning and analysis, product development, and brand marketing. In addition, she led the finance team for Mattel's marquee Barbie brand, where she partnered closely with global management teams to set targets, manage budgets, analyze product economics, develop GAAP and non-GAAP financials, and approve deals with inventors, celebrities, and entertainment companies during the greatest restructuring of the Barbie line in company history. She also structured and managed hundreds of licensing deals to sell Mattel products in over 150 countries and 100+ product subcategories.
Earlier in her career, she worked at the social commerce company Beachmint (backed by VC investors Accel Partners, NEA, and Goldman Sachs) and in marketing at Fanscape. Ms. Alexander holds an MBA with Honors from UCLA's Anderson School of Management where she studied finance and entrepreneurship and a B.S. summa cum laude in Finance and Management from Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business.
Sarah is a Senior Associate at Bull City Venture Partners where she invests in seed and Series A opportunities. Prior to joining BCVP, Sarah was an investment banker at Lazard Middle Market where she specialized in M&A execution for Consumer, Food and Retail companies. Sarah began her investment banking career at Deutsche Bank where she focused on valuation, capital structure optimization, mergers and acquisitions and strategic advisory in the Real Estate, Gaming, Lodging and Leisure sectors.
Sarah received her MBA with concentrations in Entrepreneurship, Finance and Accounting from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. She received her AB in Economics from Dartmouth College where she was a member of the track and field team.
Ashlyn is an associate at New York Life Ventures, the strategic venture capital arm of New York Life Insurance Company. She sits on the Business Development Team, focusing on topics such as Community, Future of Work, and Low Code / No Code Solutions. Prior to NYLV, Ashlyn began her career in New York Life’s Digital Organization, building out products for the company’s field employees. Ashlyn graduated from Princeton University, where she received a B.A. in Anthropology & Entrepreneurship.
Holly Jacobus is an Investment Partner with Joyance Partners, investing in companies with the capacity to deliver Delightful Moments in US and EU. Her focus is new foods, consumer packaged goods, sexual wellness, femtech, farmtech and earth-positive manufacturing methods.
Holly spent her career growing startups through early stage sales and PR, most recently as the Chief Revenue Officer at Citia, a NYC based global content creation, storage and distribution platform servicing Fortune 500 brands including GE (global), Mastercard (US), Viacom (global), and P&G (global).
Holly was raised on a farm in California where she became the first graduate of Stanford University’s online high school (EPGY OHS) and an Academic All American Volleyball Player. She later studied bioengineering at UC Berkeley and French at Georgetown University where she played D1 Volleyball.
When Holly isn’t investing or helping companies scale, you can find her backpacking the Tetons with her dog Smoky. Recent investments include: Unbound, Bubble, Planted, Finless Foods, Loli, MANTL, MushLab, Weller, Mission Barns & Sigrid Therapeutics.
SET Ventures is a Europe-wide investor that specialises in digital solutions in the energy system transition. She is part of the investment team at SET and in addition is responsible for diversity and inclusion as well as implementation of ESG.
Victoria began her professional career in the nuclear industry, gaining Accredited Health Physicist status in 2016. In 2017 she was awarded a Daiwa Scholarship and moved to Japan, where she worked at two tech-enabled start-up companies. Since 2019 she has been working in venture capital specialising in energy and mobility. She is the director of Energy Tech Meetup in the Netherlands and founder of the Dutch energy transition Female Founder network.
Deb Bronston-Culp is a veteran investor, board member, advisor and operating manager. Deb is a Managing Partner and co-founder of Samothrace Partners, which invests in early-stage companies with diverse management teams. She earned her angel-investor wings as a Managing Director and co-head of Enterprise Technology at Golden Seeds.
Deb served as COO and CFO of Declare, a premier platform helping clients attract and retain diverse teams through executive placement, while offering leadership development programs and networking forums to women. She also sits on the advisory boards on several portfolio companies and mentors entrepreneurs.
Deb is a Trustee of UC San Diego Foundation, chair of its investment committee which stewards a $1B endowment, serves on the University’s Economics Department Leadership Council, is Chair of the NY Campaign Cabinet for UC San Diego, and an advisor for the Pacific Center of Asset Management at UC San Diego.
Deb amassed a career spanning 25+ years on Wall Street, with significant roles managing equity research departments. Deb was a Managing Director and Deputy Director of Equity Research at Morgan Stanley for 6 years. Prior to that, Deb led Equity Research at NatWest Securities (US). She spent 15 years at Prudential Securities where she managed and trained Equity Research analysts and was a top ranked consumer analyst for each of the years she followed stocks. She was the Institutional Investor’s All-American Research Poll winner in Textiles and Apparel for eight years.
Deb earned her undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of California, San Diego and is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).