Brett Topche is a Co-Founder and serves as Partner at Red & Blue Ventures. Brett Topche serves as Managing Director at MentorTech Ventures. He also serves as Advisor at entreprenYOURS. He joined MentorTech Ventures in 2007 and has more than a decade of venture capital and private equity experience. He has spent much of his career primarily focusing on investments in ecommerce, digital media, mobile applications, marketing technologies and B2B software. He represents MentorTech on the Boards of Directors of Cloudmine and PayPerks and served on the Board of Wanderfly prior to its acquisition. He also serves as a Board Observer at Curalate, Quad Learning, Burrow, Soft Tissue Regeneration and TicketLeap and was a Board Observer at SeniorHomes.com prior to its acquisition by Bankrate. He also served as a member of the Investor Advisory Board of SnipSnap prior to its acquisition by Slyce. Prior to joining MentorTech, he was a member of the Fund Investments Team at Hamilton Lane Advisors, a fund-of-funds manager and private equity investment consultant. In this capacity, he evaluated private equity funds across a broad spectrum of stages and strategies on behalf of both discretionary and non-discretionary clients. During his time at Hamilton Lane, Topche reviewed more than 100 funds, including venture capital, mezzanine, buyout and real estate funds. Based in part on reports he drafted, more than $1 billion was invested into these funds. Prior to working for Hamilton Lane, Topche spent more than four years as an Associate with NJTC Venture Fund, where he focused on investments in early-stage companies in the software, Internet and communications sectors. His responsibilities included deal flow generation, initial company reviews, performing due diligence on potential investments, participating in deal structuring, reviewing legal documentation and working with companies post-investment, occasionally as an Observer on Boards of Directors. Topche is a magna cum laude graduate of the Wharton School, with a B.S. in Economics, with concentrations in Finance and Legal Studies and a Political Science minor from the College and Arts and Sciences.
Pietro Dova was Corporate Controller and Finance Director at Google from 2001 to 2007. He was partly responsible for the Google IPO and roadshow, and directed Google’s operational and transactional accounting responsibilities worldwide. Immediately prior to joining Google, Pietro was CFO of Employeeservice.com. From 1996 to 1999, Pietro was VP Finance of Quote.com, an early online pioneer providing financial news and stock information to active investors. Pietro began his career in technology in 1988 at Oracle Corporation and held various executive finance positions through 1992. From 1993 to 1996, Pietro headed Fulcrum Technologies’ European finance operations based in Paris, France. Pietro received his undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering from Imperial College, London and his Masters in Management from M.I.T.’s Sloan School of Management.
Mike Collett is Founder and Managing Partner of Promus Ventures, a venture capital firm based in Chicago and San Francisco investing in deep-technology software and hardware companies in the U.S., Europe and New Zealand. Mike has been a venture capital investor in software and hardware for over 15 years. He has invested in more than 65 private technology companies, including areas such as artificial intelligence/machine learning, space, fintech, robotics, syn bio, computer vision, connected car, blockchain, healthcare, insurance, agriculture, nanotechnology and others. Mike currently serves on numerous Boards of Directors of private technology companies, including Spire, Gauss Surgical, Dispatch, ICEYE, CrossLend, Rhombus and others. Mike previously was Founder and Managing Partner of Masters Capital Nanotechnology Fund, a venture capital firm. Investments included companies in quantum cascade lasers, quantum dots, photonic integrated optoelectronic devices, nano-engineered fabrics and others. While at Masters Capital, a hedge fund, Mike invested in private technology software and hardware companies. Prior to venture capital, Mike was a Vice President at Merrill Lynch in their Mergers & Acquisitions group as well as an Associate at Duff & Phelps. Mike holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Math and Bachelor’s of Arts in English from Vanderbilt University. He also holds a Masters of Business Administration in Finance from Washington University in St. Louis. Mike and his wife Paige have four children and live in Chicago.
Dara Akbarian serves as Chief Financial Officer of APIMA & Senior Vice President at Omnicom Group. He also is an Angel Investor. Prior to his association with Highline, Akbarian spent five years at Omnicom as Senior Vice President, overseeing corporate M&A initiatives. Before his initial stint at Omnicom, Akbarian spent seven years with Wasserstein Perella & Co.'s private equity investment unit, most recently as a director in charge of sourcing, negotiating, and structuring venture capital, growth equity, and leveraged buyout investments across a variety of industries. During his tenure, he played a key role in advising and serving on the board of directors of a number of Wasserstein & Co. portfolio companies. Akbarian began his career at the Federal Reserve, performing economic research and econometric modeling for the Board of Governors and senior economists in the Fed's international finance division.
''Seth Berman is co-founder and General Partner at Susa Ventures, where he focuses on investments in frontier tech, logistics, marketplaces & consumer. Seth led Susa’s investments in Flexport, Pericope Data and Expanse. Prior to Susa, Seth was an active angel investor. He has invested in 100+ seed stage companies in total, and his portfolio includes Nest, Optimizely, Wish, Omio and Docker. He also served as the VP of Strategic Marketing for The Richemont Group, a publicly traded company (CFR:VX) which owns brands and e-commerce sites Cartier, Net-A-Porter.com, Mr. Porter, Montblanc, and Chloe. Seth graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder with a bachelor’s degrees in Business and Finance.''
Ayaz ul Haque serves as Managing Director at Exalt Capital Partners. A boutique advisory and principal investment firm, Exalt Capital Partners is a subsidiary of Exalt Capital Management, a privately owned investment manager. Exalt Capital Management manages a series of hedge funds that employ fundamental analysis to make investments in the public markets primarily in the United States, and more recently, through Exalt Capital Partners, in the private equity markets. Exalt Capital Partners specializes in growth investments across the globe, with a particular emphasis on the emerging markets, in venture capital backed revenue-stage companies that have achieved market validation and are well-positioned to be leaders in their markets. On a highly selective basis, Exalt Capital Partners also looks at early-stage investment opportunities where we feel our strategic advisory angle can significantly enhance deal value. Our focus, in this context, is generally on deals that combine technology/innovation with various service sectors and on businesses that are looking to build the next global franchises. Ayaz specializes in investing in companies at various stages of development (early, expansion, growth, secondary market transactions as well as special situations/roll-ups ), particularly targeting investments in Internet and digital media, communications and wireless, enterprise IT, financial services, consumer/retail and education. Ayaz possesses broad investing, operating, and transaction experience in private and public companies. His current investments/board affiliations include: Acceptly, Assured Labor, buzzArab, CaliberVantage, Coho Solar, EdEqual, Envision Telecom Group, Hungrybuzz, inmobly, Ovagen, Secret Builders, Simularity, Teamly and Vufind. Previous investments/board affiliations include: Clickmarks, Cyanea, Ember, Friendi Mobile, HiSoft, IXI Mobile, Manthan Systems, Naseeb Networks, Pachube, Seventymm, Techpacific and Visto. Prior to joining Exalt Capital Partners, Ayaz was a Managing Director with ePlanet Ventures and a Director with Draper Fisher Jurvetson ePlanet Ventures focusing principally on expansion and later-stage investments in the United States, MENA as well as in India. Notable DFJ ePlanet investments include Baidu, Skype and Focus Media. Prior to joining DFJ ePlanet, Ayaz was the Director of Mergers & Acquisitions at Crosby Financial Holdings in London, where he managed the cross-border corporate finance advisory and investment initiatives of one of the leading Asia-focused specialist investment banks. While at Crosby, Ayaz focused on both mergers and acquisitions and private equity investments and worked in London, Bangkok, Singapore and Seoul covering various sectors including technology, media, telecom, financial services, transportation, aviation and manufacturing. Prior to his involvement with Crosby Financial Holdings, Ayaz served as an Associate Director of Corporate Finance at Peregrine Investments, a pan-Asian investment bank, where he was responsible for developing Peregrine's corporate finance and private equity businesses in the Middle East, and identifying and evaluating Middle East to Asia investment opportunities. Previously, Ayaz was an Associate in the Corporate Finance Group of Bear, Stearns & Co. in New York, where he was involved in the execution of North American and Asian transactions. Ayaz is a summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Middlebury College holding a B.A. in Economics.
Jonathan Abrams is the Founder and serves as Chief Executive Officer at Nuzzel. He serves as Advisor at Darwin Ventures. He is also an Angel Investor. He is a Co-Founder & serves as a Managing Partner at Founders Den. Previously, Jonathan was the founder and CEO of Socializr, Friendster, and HotLinks, and a software engineer at companies such as Netscape and Nortel. Jonathan is a mentor in Steve Blank's entrepreneurship classes at Stanford and Berkeley, a top-rated mentor at The Founder Institute, an advisor to AngelList and LeanLaunchLab, and has been extensively involved in the Silicon Valley entrepreneurial community for over ten years, including as a long-time member of the advisory board of the Silicon Valley Association of Startup Entrepreneurs (SVASE), co-chair of the SDForum Venture Finance SIG, moderator of the SVASE CTO Forum, and a judge for the Stanford Entrepreneur's Challenge business plan contest, the UC Berkeley Business Plan Competition, the Stanford-Berkeley Innovators' Challenge, the Intel Challenge, and Start-Up Chile. He has a BS in Computer Science from McMaster University. He is an Angel Investor.
Sohin Shah is a Co-Founder & Chief Compliance Officer at iFunding. Sohin has managed the crowdfunding listing and reporting process for the tens of millions of dollars raised via iFunding, and is a liaison for investors and operating partners. He also oversees the development team building the platform infrastructure, mobile application and interfaces to integrated solutions. Sohin holds a Series 82 license as a representative for private securities offerings. He previously has worked at investment banks in NYC and is a graduate from New York University, with a Masters degree in Finance & Risk Engineering. He also is the creator of Valuation App, an app that allows finance professionals to analyze businesses and start-ups, making use of valuation techniques that are at par with what is used in the real world. Sohin successfully raised capital to develop this app by crowdfunding it from 57 backers. He is also an Angel Investor.
Pritzker Group Venture Capital
Peter joined Pritzker Group Venture Capital in 2012. Prior to joining Pritzker Group Venture Capital, Peter was an investment banking analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York, where he advised clients in the consumer and retail sectors on debt and equity offerings, mergers and acquisitions, and the structuring and origination of leveraged buyouts. Prior to working in investment banking, Peter completed a summer analyst program in the Investment Grade Debt Capital Markets group at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York. Peter is an attendee of national technology and venture capital events where he meets with entrepreneurs and their startups. He also participates at numerous events held at 1871, Chicago’s hub for digital entrepreneurship. Peter is a graduate of The McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Commerce with concentrations in Finance and Management. Peter also completed a semester abroad at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology where he studied Finance and Information Systems.
Christian Faes is a Co-Founder and serves as the Chief Executive Officer & Board Member at LendInvest. He also is an Angel Investor. He started his career as a real estate lawyer in Australia with Allens Arthur Robinson. He was subsequently a partner at a boutique law firm and founded a mezzanine mortgage finance business. He has also practiced as a securitisation lawyer at Clifford Chance and in-house legal counsel at Deutsche Bank, both in London. In 2008, Christian co-founded Montello, the leading UK bridging finance lender, before spinning it out to create LendInvest in 2013. Christian is a keen advocate for the fintech sector, as well as an active supporter and early investor in several startups, including Seedrs, Crowdcube, Plentific and Onfido. He holds a LLB (Bachelor of Laws) Honors in Law from Bond University.
IA Capital Group is a New York based private investment firm and manager of the Inter-Atlantic funds. The firm is dedicated to partnering with innovative entrepreneurs in venture and growth capital investments. It primarily invests in Insurance Technology, Insurance Services, Payments, Retirement, Education Finance, Asset Management, and Business Process Outsourcing.
Robert Siegel serves as Partner at XSeed Capital. He is the Advisor at Pixlee. He serves as Board member at Sparta Science. He served as Advisor at K5 Ventures. His investment areas include enterprise software, business operations where computational technology helps automate / improve company performance, and computing platforms that shape both business and consumer behaviors. He sits on the Board of Directors of Zooz, Lex Machina, Cape Productions and DropThought, and he led XSeed's investments in CirroSecure (acquired by Palo Alto Networks - NYSE: PANW), Chatous, Dispatcher, Breezeworks, The League, Teapot, Smart Coffee Technology, Neon, Pixlee, Caller Zen and SIPX (acquired by ProQuest), and also supports other portfolio companies such as Citrine Informatics. He is currently on the faculty at the Stanford Graduate School of Business where he teaches Strategic Management of Technology and Innovation, Formation of New Ventures, The Industrialist's Dilemma and Entrepreneurial Finance. In these classes he has led research and written cases on companies including Google, Box, AngelList, SurveyMonkey, Medium, Wikimedia Foundation, Zuora, Minted, 500 Startups, TrueCar, Axel Springer, General Electric and Starbucks (La Boulange), amongst others. Robert is the Co-President of Stanford Angels & Entrepreneurs, an alumni association that fosters relationships to strengthen the Stanford startup community, as well as the Chairman of the Strategic Advisory Board for TTTech in Vienna, Austria. He has co-authored several articles for California Management Review, is a Wall Street Journal Startup Guru, and is a frequent contributor to Forbes and VentureBeat. Prior to joining XSeed, Robert was General Manager of the Video and Software Solutions division for GE Security, with annual revenues of $350 million. Robert was also Executive Vice President of Pixim, Inc., a fabless semiconductor firm specializing in image sensors and processors (acquired by Sony). Before Pixim, Robert was Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Weave Innovations Inc. (acquired by Kodak), a network services developer that invented the world's first digital picture frame, and delivered photos and other digital media to PCs and internet / mobile devices. Robert served in various management roles at Intel Corporation, including an executive position in their Corporate Business Development division, in which he invested capital in startups that were strategically aligned with Intel's vision. Previous to Intel, Robert was promoted to a series of senior sales and marketing positions at GeoWorks, which went public in 1993. Robert holds a BA from UC Berkeley, an MBA from Stanford University, is the co-inventor of four patents and served as lead researcher for Andy Grove's book Only the Paranoid Survive.
Dev brings nearly twenty years of operating, entrepreneurial and investment experience in India and the U.S. to his role as Managing Director of Lightspeed India Advisors Partners LLP (LSIP). Investments include Byjus, Darwinbox, Innovaccer, Oku Tech and Sharechat. He is a Charter Member of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TIE). Prior to Lightspeed, Dev was an investment professional at venture capital firm Venrock in Silicon Valley where he focused on early-stage investments in Internet, mobile and software startups. While there, he served on the boards of Aha Mobile (acquired by Harman), Appia, Lavante, Slideshare (acquired by LinkedIn) and Turnhere. He also was board observer and supported investments in Aria Systems, BillFloat, INRIX and Redbeacon (acquired by Home Depot). Prior to Venrock, Dev led market development at Symbol Technologies’ Mobile Software Division (now part of Motorola). In 2003, Symbol acquired Covigo, a Silicon Valley-based mobile application software company that Dev co-founded in 1999. Prior to Covigo, Dev worked in product management at CrossWorlds Software and Aditi Technologies as well as in corporate finance at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette and Jefferies & Company. Dev holds a BS in Economics from Wharton, a BS in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Harvard Business School.