We are honored to have a thriving network of mentors at Backstage Capital. With diverse experiences, skills, and personalities, this group of talented individuals offers invaluable help to our Headliners. They believe in our mission, and we can’t imagine achieving it without them.
Interested in becoming a Backstage Mentor?
Kristy Tillman currently serves as the Head of Communication Design at Slack. In this role, she is leading a team who’s charged with the mission of building powerful tools and stories that enable millions of people to understand Slack’s mission and products. Kristy believes in a future where design is a tool that aids underserved communities in solving sociocultural problems. As the co-founder of the Detroit Water Project and founder of Tomorrow Looks Bright, Kristy has a strong commitment to furthering the accessibility of design.
Sanjiv Sanghavi is the Co-founder of Tulip and ClassPass. He thrives on building companies and products that improve and extend lives through promoting positive energy and encouraging healthy habits. He came into the startup world after a stop in investment banking. Since then, he’s built some cred in branding, customer segmentation, and product development, all without any formal training. Sanjiv is passionate about inspiring his own team as well as fellow entrepreneurs to be proactive and think strategically when reaching for their goals and challenging norms.
Sian Morson is the ultimate multi-hyphenate. Entrepreneur-Author-Investor-Producer… Having studied film at NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts, Sian headed west and plunged into technology, working in the world of advertising, producing large websites and online media for the likes of MGM, Coca Cola, and Audi. In 2014, she started working on what would become Cast Beauty, a data-driven beauty recommendations platform, which saw a successful exit. Sian has recently taken on a new role as EIR (Entrepreneur in Residence) at Cross Culture Ventures.
Holly is currently a Director within the Ecosystem Development team at Anthemis Group, an investment and advisory firm focused on reinventing financial services for the 21st century. Her expertise is in business development, human capital strategies, investor relations, and event management. She lives and works in London, UK, but spends time in the U.S. every quarter.
Aklil is in corporate development at LinkedIn responsible for M&A, investments and corporate strategy. He was previously in investment banking at Deutsche Bank and a proud Santa Clara University alum. Aklil serves on the Board of Directors at SF Achievers, a nonprofit providing scholarships and mentoring to African-American men in San Francisco’s public schools. Aklil is passionate about equality of opportunity and in his spare time, fancies himself a would-be tech historian, aspiring product manager, and stand-up comedy enthusiast.
Christina is an angel investor and a former entrepreneur. She held multiple patents for products which she developed from concept to globally recognized products in four years. She has hands-on experience in identifying product and market fit, strategic partnership, and global business expansion. As an active investor she identifies, backs, and mentors some of the most driven and talented founders to grow from Pre-seed to Series A round fundings. She’s also involved in nonprofits where she promotes entrepreneurship and leadership, hosts tech events, and conferences in Silicon Valley.
I’m an LGBT UX Director who’s been creating products, designing services, and scaling UX for more than a decade. I have a mix of startup, enterprise and agency experience in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, New York City, and London. I’m excited by new domains and investing in a thriving technology community that truly reflects and meets the needs of all of us.
Mir Anwar is currently the VP of Operations at Quip, a company focused on designing and delivering refreshing tools & tips that simplify oral health. Previously he was at ASML, littleBits, and most recently before Quip, at Walker & Company leading Product Development and Supply Chain for products like the Bevel Trimmer. Mir loves building things from the ground up, whether it’s physical products, supply chain systems, or teams. Mir’s career has been a combination of R&D, Engineering, Manufacturing, and Operations across multiple industries, including semiconductors, precious metals, consumer electronics, and consumer packaged goods. Through his experience he is determined to change the popular opinion that “hardware is hard” that we often hear when hardware startups fail.
Helen helps founders navigate corporate formation, negotiate the fundraising process, manage board structure and handle operational issues (including, employee/consultant matters and incentive compensation). She is an avid fitness and health enthusiast and enjoys running and bootcamp-style workouts. Helen loves running outdoors, and has run the NYC marathon as well as a few other half-marathons. She truly enjoy working with dynamic and diverse founders who are trying to change the world through technology and to solve problems with innovative solutions.
Rand Fishkin goes by the ludicrous title, Wizard of Moz. He’s founder and former CEO of SEO software startup Moz, host of Whiteboard Friday, co-author of a pair of books on SEO, co-founder of Inbound.org, and serves on the board of the presentation software firm, Haiku Deck. Rand’s currently writing a book for Penguin/Random House on the ups and downs of startup culture, due out in 2018.
Sharif is currently the Lead User Experience instructor at General Assembly in Los Angeles, CA. Just before teaching, he was a Senior Designer with SADA Systems (Google Cloud Partner) and NBCUniversal (acquired by Comcast). Previously, Sharif worked in various roles in the creative and new media content space. His commercial experience includes hands-on content strategy, UI animation, and UX design for the private and public sectors. Born and raised on an island in Hawaii, Sharif spent much of his early life surrounded by the Pacific culture, nature, and art attending the Honolulu Waldorf School. His interest in the intersection of art and technology brought him to Silicon Valley to study at Santa Clara University. Today, he works with some of the most recognizable brands and innovators to build seamless interactive digital products using Human-Centered Design principles.
Twum Djin is the CTO and an Operating Partner at Goodwater Capital where he leads the firm’s tech strategy. Founded in 2014, Goodwater is a series A investor that’s raised 3 funds with $750M in assets under management. The firm has invested in two dozen companies around the world. Prior to Goodwater Capital, Twum was the first engineer at an AI startup called Accompany (acquired by Cisco in 2018) where he built up the engineering team and the startup’s early infrastructure. Before Accompany, he was an engineering leader at Google for 8 years where he led the development of the consumer payments platform, which he built up from an initial team of 3 developers to over 70 across Google’s global offices, processing over $8B annually. Twum enjoys meeting entrepreneurs and advising startups on developing technical talent and scaling their engineering organizations.
Ben Jackson is a recovering engineer and the Founder of For the Win, a consulting firm that helps early-stage startups build the processes and culture they need to win the talent war. He’s passionate about employee happiness and believes successful companies are driven by successful employees. Ben served as Director of Mobile Apps at VICE Media after 15 years building mobile and web products for brands like UNIQLO, Artsy, and The New York Times. He’s been featured in TechCrunch, spoken at SXSW, and written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Fast Company.
Nima started out as an entrepreneur and, following a small but successful exit, has spent a significant amount of his career in executive, operational, and account management roles in the areas of e-commerce and enterprise SaaS. For the last 12 years, Nima was at Razorgator, a VC-backed secondary ticket marketplace which created the enterprise SaaS platform, “TicketOS” (used by companies like Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and Pepsi/Gatorade). In 2011, he was named CEO and tasked by the board to lead a turnaround of the company. Nima has an MBA from the Paul Merage School of Business at UCI, which is nice – although he feels that much of his learnings have come from getting his hands dirty.
Betty Junod heads up Product + Partner Marketing at Docker, the enterprise container platform company. With an emphasis on enterprise IT, Betty’s marketing experience ranges across the go-to-market disciplines inclusive of campaigns and programs, product and partner marketing for infrastructure and software companies like Riverbed and VMware. Having spent her entire life in Silicon Valley, she is also no stranger to startup life ranging from the dotcom era boom/bust, to consulting with modern infrastructure SaaS companies, to containerization at Docker. She believes in the power of storytelling to connect the dots between people and technology, and in helping others find their voice to tell their story.
Radz is an enterprise technology professional with over half a decade of experience in software and sales. He was the first sales hire at both Ashley Bridget and Tulip, helping the latter source 25% of its first 12 customers alongside the initial sales team. He helped drive the company’s growth until its Series B with Kleiner Perkins. He’s currently one of the first enterprise sales hires on the East Coast at PagerDuty, where he oversees their relationships with Fortune 100 companies. Radz has played a key role in landing new logos in the financial services sector. His educational background is in marketing and computer programming. In his free time, he enjoys reading, writing, and traveling. He’s based in Toronto, Canada.
Chae O’Brien began her career with Shell Global, gaining unparalleled experience in the Oil & Gas space, while also recently establishing herself as the founder of an independent growth consultancy, Thought Bakery. Currently working with small- and mid-sized companies, Thought Bakery aims to educate startups on organic methods of growth via powerful brand storytelling, building a positive work environment, and communicating effectively through traditional, digital and social media channels. Chae is also the Platform Marketing Manager for a video management platform (SaaS provider) called Telaria, and loves to spend her downtime with her husband and two dogs in Long Island.
Jill Wetzler is Director of Engineering at Lyft, where she leads their Infrastructure org. Jill’s teams provide the infrastructure necessary to scale some of Lyft’s most critical services and keep engineers shipping code. Prior to Lyft she managed teams of engineers and data scientists at Twitter, and she’s also been a manager and lead engineer at salesforce.com. She has led diversity and inclusion efforts at each company, and believes strongly in tech’s ability to uplift our communities.
Merline Saintil is head of operations for the Product & Technology group at Intuit. She is an international technology executive, business advisor and operations leader, having distinguished herself in fast growing sectors of cloud computing, mobile, online payments and commerce. She was previously the head of global engineering operations for mobile and emerging products at Yahoo!. Merline has been involved in the process of creating software as well as managing global teams to produce world-class products in a variety of positions at Sun Microsystems, Adobe, PayPal, and Joyent. As an advocate for diversity in technology, she sits on Watermark’s Board of Directors and provides support and guidance to several other organizations working to close the gender gap in tech and beyond.
Mike is currently VP of Finance at Arena Solutions, a private equity-backed software company. He is an operational finance leader with broad experience in accounting, planning, M&A, HR, and sales operations — spanning technology organizations in size from small start-ups to large public companies. Mike began his career with public accounting firm KPMG LLP and has been a key leader in multiple successful transactions including acquisitions, spin-outs, and public offerings. Outside of work, he enjoys spending time with his family and giving back to his community as a Planning Commissioner for the City of San Mateo.
Allison Clift-Jennings is the co-founder and CEO of Filament since 2012. With an engineering background in both hardware and software as well as experience with startups in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City, she is well suited with both the business and technical aspects of Filament’s industrial IoT platform. Allison also serves on the Computer Science ∓ Engineering advisory board at the University of Nevada, Reno. Her personal interests lie in systems theory, permaculture, and analog music synthesizers.
Ben is a compliance officer at SynapseFI where he is responsible for the fintech startup’s Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) / Anti-Money Laundering (AML) compliance program and products. He started his career in investment banking, helping early-stage tech startups with valuation, M&A, and fundraising. Eventually, he joined Boom Financial (acquired by Digicel Group) and spent time working on strategic partnerships at Trulioo. Ben is based in San Francisco/Oakland, California.
Michael Kriak is a digital media and entertainment executive with extensive experience operating and funding emerging growth companies. With 20 years of experience, Mike has run the operations of leading consumer and business brands focused on creative storytelling across distributed platforms. He has led the strategic capital funding and mergers + acquisitions on both the buy and sell side. Recently, he served as COO/CFO of Mashable where he oversaw fundraising for 3 rounds of capital from venture and strategic investors, including Time Warner. Mike is also a Tony Award-winning producer of Dear Evan Hansen and on the board of Lincoln Center Theater. He lives in Manhattan with his husband, Hall, and their dog, Eric. Aside from his immense love for, and work in, the theater, Mike also enjoys hiking in the Hudson Valley, reading contemporary world literature with his book club, and nerding out about all things Star Wars.
Chia-Lin Simmons is the CEO of LookyLoo, a Retail Tech / AI platform company that focuses on increasing sales conversion, customer confidence in fit and driving down return rates for apparel and online retailers. Prior to LookyLoo, she was the Head of Global Partner Marketing for Google Play, VP of Marketing & Content for Harman International’s (now Samsung) Connected Car business, as well as the VP of Strategic Alliances at Audible (an Amazon company). Chia-Lin currently serves on the Board of Directors for Servco Pacific, a $1.3B global automotive / goods company. In her free time, Chia-Lin founded the #bindersproject, which helps connected women tech founders with global funders looking to accelerate female founded startups.
As Diversity and Inclusion Director at R/GA, Carl develops, implements, and oversees all diversity and inclusion practices within a fast-paced, technologically- and creatively-driven environment. As a member of the executive team, he uses his years of industry experience to enrich the diversity of talent, cultivate an ecosystem of respect, foster a global community, and celebrate the tapestry of culture within R/GA’s global network. Carl graduated from Harvard University and continued to Miami Ad School. In addition to his continued advocacy for diversity, Carl enjoys running, photography, brewing beer, Taekwondo, and spending time with his family.
Gavin is a Partner at Anthemis and is responsible for maximizing the value of the ecosystem for all members, spanning across Anthemis’ portfolio companies, advisory clients, investors, key influencers and future thinkers. As part of this role he holds the accountability for investor relations, as well as continuing to drive Anthemis’ talent business which he joined to build. Prior to joining Anthemis, Gavin ran the Financial Services talent business across Europe, Middle East, and Africa for Heidrick & Struggles.
Heather Cabot is an award-winning journalist, adjunct professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and co-author of Geek Girl Rising: Inside the Sisterhood Shaking Up Tech (St. Martin’s Press, May 2017). She is a former ABC News correspondent and anchor of World News Now/World News This Morning. Cabot jumped into the digital revolution when she was hired to serve as Web Life Editor for Yahoo! in 2007. During her tenure through 2012, she reported on how the Internet was transforming our everyday lives for Today, GMA, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News Channel and dozens of local TV and radio stations around the country. Cabot is an adviser to several women-led startups and an alum of Pipeline Angels and Golden Seeds She is married to her best friend, Neeraj Khemlani, President of Hearst Entertainment and her Columbia J ’93 classmate. They reside in the NYC area and are parents to tween twins and a Goldendoodle named Midnight.
Onyeka Obiocha serves as the Director of Innovation at Dwight Hall, Yale’s student-led center for public service and social justice. At Dwight Hall, Ony leads the Social Justice Innovation Lab, an incubator for students interested in building organizations and movements dedicated to social change. Outside of Yale, Onyeka is a Partner at Breakfast Lunch & Dinner, a design studio leveraging arts and culture to empower communities.
Matt is currently a member of Amazon’s Startup Business Development team, where he connects startups and investors with Amazon Web Services, Alexa, and beyond. In parallel, Matt serves as Entrepreneur-in-Residence with Techstars Music, a startup accelerator investing in and supporting early-stage music companies. Prior, Matt was the Founder + CEO of Chromatik (acquired by TakeLessons) and a professional saxophone player.
Leslie Campisi is the Chief Marketing Officer of Anthemis, a firm that cultivates change in financial services. Leslie moved to New York City from Louisiana to be a part of the dot com revolution in the late 90s and just kept sticking around. Her career has taken her from in-house roles at startups, to launching and running award-winning tech PR agencies, to Anthemis, where she manages the firm’s brand, ecosystem of marketers, and side hustle, Hacking Finance.
Andre Blackman is a pioneering strategist and brand builder within the health and social impact innovation landscapes. He is the Founder and CEO of Onboard Health, a platform connecting diverse talent across tech, design, strategy, and communications to forward-thinking companies who have a lens on sustainable health innovation. Andre is also a sought-after advisor to companies building the future of health and brand coach for the leaders who run them. His contributions have been featured in Forbes, NPR, Reporting on Health, U.S. News, and World Report.
Joanne Fedeyko is an expert in innovating through collaboration. She serves as the CEO of Connection Silicon Valley, an organization that helps companies collaborate, innovate, and partner with Silicon Valley’s world-renowned technology ecosystem. She is particularly passionate about driving innovation through diversity. She is the Founder of the Canadian Women’s Network in Silicon Valley, whose mission is to support female founders and women in tech scale their business, drive economic growth, and bring foreign investment dollars into Canadian companies through active engagement and participation of the network. Joanne also manages theBoardlist in Canada, a curated marketplace that matches emerging talent with public and private board service. Prior to Connections SV, Joanne served as Executive Director of the C100 Association where she grew an extensive network in tech across Canada and in the Valley.
David J Bland is the Founder + CEO of Precoil, an innovation agency in the San Francisco Bay Area. He advises global corporations and Silicon Valley startups on how to find product-market-fit using Lean Startup, Design Thinking, and Agile methodologies. David has pioneered GE FastWorks with Eric Ries, advised emerging product teams at Adobe and even mentored Toyota on Lean Startup practices. Prior to Precoil, David was a Principal Advisor at Neo and BigVisible, where he created Lean Startup services. Before his transition into advising, David spent over 10 years of his career at technology startups.
Sunil has been helping startups and engineering teams scale their culture and technology since 2010. In 2012, he joined Buffer as the second engineer and grew to become CTO, helping grow the remote team to over 40 engineers worldwide. At Buffer, he built out the engineering functions for mobile, data, systems, product, marketing, and customer support. Sunil left in 2017 to help the US Department of Veteran Affairs modernize the systems and processes behind the benefits appeals process — the current process takes veterans nearly 5 years to receive a decision. At the VA, Sunil leads a team of 20 engineering contractors doing product and development work. He’s located in Alexandria, VA, and loves to scale thoughtful and empathetic engineering teams ensuring they can grow and adapt quickly.
Dr. Crystal is a board-certified, Stanford-trained Ob/Gyn physician who is interested in health innovation and design. She is presently a mentor at several startup incubators with a focus on healthcare including Stanford’s StartX and Philips HealthWorks. In addition, Dr. Crystal has been an instructor for classes at the Stanford d.school focusing on redesigning medical care, building medical devices, and changing disparities in healthcare. In her latest startup ventures, Dr. Crystal has been working with a pocket ultrasound company and a new telemedicine platform.
Jason is an entrepreneur and investor based in Austin, TX. He’s a founding executive at startup studio Saturn Five. Jason’s first company, FeedMagnet, was acquired in 2014 by Bazaarvoice. Prior to Saturn Five, Jason was CTO at May Designs, an e-commerce paper goods company. He supports Backstage Capital as a mentor advising our portfolio founders and others within our network. He’s also a husband and father of two. Read his bold perspective on topics like privilege, racial justice, and adoption on Medium.
Dr. Asha S. Collins is Vice President of the U.S. Clinical Trial Sourcing business at McKesson Corporation, where she leads the restructuring of the multi-hundred-million-dollar business that sources commercial products for research purposes. Within her first year in this executive capacity, she established a new organizational operating model, implemented a new technology platform, and standardized processes across a matrix organization that spans the U.S. In addition to her passion for transforming biopharmaceutical companies, Asha is equally passionate about using her skills and experience to build communities. She is a Board member of Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association, an angel investor with Pipeline Angels, and has ongoing work focused on improving healthcare access in East Africa.
Most of Noah’s career has been a mix of product, engineering- and GM-style leadership roles. His experience ranges from a small startup to publicly traded enterprises. A recurring theme in his work has been software products that leverage data via machine learning, analysis, or visualization in areas such as medicine, finance, and ad tech.
Wes helps founders and startups get the recognition they deserve. As a marketing consultant, she brings 10+ years of in-house experience at brands like Flite (acquired by Snapchat), Bare Escentuals, L’Oreal, and Gap Inc. Most recently, Wes was the founding Executive Director of Seth Godin’s altMBA. Under her leadership, the altMBA grew from zero to 550 cities in 45 countries in three years of high-growth. Wes is committed to helping founders tell better stories and build marketing engines that inspire audiences to take action.
Rick Turoczy has been working in the Portland startup community for 20+ years. He is the Co-founder and General Manager of PIE (Portland Incubator Experiment), an ongoing experiment exploring the potential for mutually beneficial collaborations between the Portland startup community and more well-established entities like corporations, government, and educational institutions. Rick is also a founder of Built Oregon, Oregon Story Board, Silicon Florist, and TechfestNW. He regularly mentors for a variety of startup programs.
Adam is a verified startup junkie – a seasoned entrepreneur, operator, angel investor and 5x startup founder. An inventor at heart with a passion for great teams and big ideas, Adam has started and grown business from in the toy, beauty, consumer marketplace, B2B SaaS, B2C software and professional services industries. A former management consultant at LEK and Bain & Co, Adam developed and helped execute growth strategies for more than a dozen Fortune 500 clients around the globe. Adam is currently a partner at Novo Venture Partners, an early stage investment and advisory firm.
Monica is an executive data science and AI advisor with a passion for turning data into products, actionable insights, and meaningful stories. She works with dozens of companies, from stealth startups to Fortune 500, on their most impactful data and AI needs (technical or strategic). Former VP of Data at Jawbone; early LinkedIn data scientist. Equity partner at the Data Collective, an early stage VC firm focused on the big data space. CS PhD from Carnegie Mellon (applied machine learning).
Sahil is the Founder and CEO of Gumroad, an all-in-one eCommerce solution for digital content creators. Before that, he was an early designer and engineer at Pinterest. Listen to Sahil’s interview on Season 1 of Backstage Capital podcast ‘Mission & Values’.
Scott is an entrepreneur and entrepreneur enabler. He’s founded, grown, and advised startups, organizations, and venture funds. He was the founding Director of Chobani’s Incubator and consulted for ZXVentures (Anheuser Busch’s Venture/Accelerator arm), Pernod Ricard’s global innovative-tech team, and numerous independent startups and VCs. Scott has been a Venture Fellow for Rubicon Venture Capital, a founding board member of Georgetown’s Alumni Ambassadors, and a board member of Venturing Hoyas. Scott is currently the Co-Founder and COO of Margin.
Maureen is the President + COO of an early-stage enterprise mobile app company, Mobile Helix. Her background is in sales, marketing, and management in technical products including semiconductors and enterprise software. If you are trying to figure out how to sell to large companies, she can help you. When not living and breathing the early stage company life, Maureen is biking, running, doing yoga, and trying to play the doggone guitar.
Stephen Green is a recovering banker and venture capitalist in Portland, Oregon. He’s worked tirelessly to support, connect, and grow underrepresented founders on the west coast for nearly two decades. By day, he’s a Community Manager at SF-based startup Townsquared. He spends his time supporting PDX area startups through events like “PitchBlack” and serving on a number of boards, including the Oregon Growth Board and the Oregon Small Business Advisory Cabinet. Stephen is the father of 3 and, more than likely, has more shoes than you do.
Sean is the CEO of Outlier, a new company that is reinventing business intelligence. Prior to Outlier, Sean was the founder of Flurry, the leader in advertising and analytics services for mobile applications acquired by Yahoo! in 2014. He is also an advisor, mentor and angel investor in the San Francisco bay area. You can read his advice and thoughts on building businesses on Sean On Startups.
Elisabeth Rosario is an independent PR strategist who works with founders of VC-backed startups, consumer brands, and venture capital firms. She’s worked in a wide variety of industries from aerospace & satellites, robotics, and holograms, to e-commerce and consumer tech. Previously, she was the Head of Communications at Spark Capital, an early and growth stage VC firm with investments like Twitter, Oculus, Warby Parker, and Tumblr. Prior to Spark, she played an integral role in the growth of several PR agencies, leading PR campaigns for companies like ClassPass, HowAboutWe, HelloFresh, Squarespace, Zola and Academy award-winning sci-fi film Ex Machina. In 2015, Adweek included her on its 30 Under 30 in the PR Industry list. In her spare time, she’s working on a project called The Latinx Collective, that exists to celebrate, inspire and create thoughtful dialogue within the Latinx community.
Jason started professional life as a corporate lawyer and was fortunate enough to realize early in his career that he wasn’t born to do things that mean nothing to him. He joined a bootstrapped startup as part of their founding team, and since then, he’s sought out exciting, mission-focused brands to help them build their most important competitive edge: culture and teams that compliment their brand and power their innovation. Then: People Guy at Casper and WeWork. Now: Founder + CEO at Black Unicorn, People Guy + Ambassador at Huckletree, Advisory Board Member at colorintech, and, of course, Mentor at Backstage Capital.
Wendy is a lawyer and angel investor. She’s the founder of the New York office of Jayaram Law, Inc., where she focuses her practice on advising high-growth companies on intellectual property, corporate, fundraising, and structural matters. While taking a hiatus from practicing law in 2010 she helped launch and run a startup herself. She is passionate about promoting female founders, so she guides many through their challenging early development. Wendy is also a mother and loves gardening, creative solutions, and family time.
Tyler Palmer is Patreon’s VP of Operations. He works with the business teams to ensure Patreon is funding the creative class. Before Patreon, Tyler held a similar general management role as Stageit’s VP of Operations. Tyler received his Bachelors of Science, Music Industry from USC’s Thornton School of Music. Outside of the office, he enjoys hockey, tennis, and favoriting clever tweets.
Gaelle is a seasoned business development and strategy executive who is passionate about innovation, value creation, and embracing technological change. With over 20 years’ experience in the asset management and technology sectors, she has worked at global industry leaders including Credit Suisse, UBS, and Cisco Systems, where she led key initiatives including the development of a Fintech and innovation strategy as a director at Credit Suisse, as well as designing and implementing competitive intelligence best practices to fend off emerging competition at Cisco Systems. Gaelle has also worked with successful high-growth companies in business development roles and is a Fintech mentor at Startupbootcamp in London.
Tony is a mentor and interim C-level executive. He uses his psych degree, corporate operations background, and startup experience to help founders thrive. Tony launched Hidden Heritage, a gift catalog for people of color, right out of business school and has been helping early-stage founders ever since. He co-founded Optionetics, which Schwab acquired, and he now works with startups needing multifaceted operations guidance. Startups, superheroes, time-travel books, and his son are his great passions.
Jess Oynick has built a career helping others build theirs, and continues to do just that as the Director of Talent at Benchmark. In her current role, Jess supports Benchmark’s portfolio companies on all things talent, human resources strategy, and early-stage operations. She focuses on levers that help companies attract, retain, and develop their growing teams, and is excited about empowering others to do the same across this dynamic community.
Tyler Willis helps our founders understand marketing and business strategy. In his career, he has led marketing, partnerships, acquisitions, HR and sales at various successful startups. Now he is the Co-founder and CMO of Customer Science (which uses machine intelligence to help companies better understand their customers). Tyler is an angel investor and serves on the board of directors for Acre Designs, the Turing School of Software & Design, and The Rare Cancer Research Foundation.
Aaron Peck is the Co-founder + CEO of Bolt. He’s a Co-founder and former Head of Product at Backstage Capital portfolio company Skurt. Aaron also co-founded Y Combinator-backed Beatdeck, which offered actionable analytics and predictions for musicians, and was signed to Interscope Records as recording artist with ATFEH, a post-hardcore band from Chino Hills, CA.
Rob is a strategy consultant who partners with government agencies and private companies to help them solve their most critical business challenges. As a trusted advisor, he has helped his clients optimize systems and processes, drive efficiencies in operations, and enable data-driven decisions. Over the past decade, Rob has delivered solutions in a range of areas including process design/improvement, stakeholder engagement, and regulatory compliance.
Tom joined Riot Games as an early engineer where he helped develop League of Legends and is now working on an upcoming game title. He has also held developer positions at Blizzard Entertainment and Electronic Arts. In collaboration with Stanford professors, he launched the university’s first game development course, CS146. Tom holds an MSCS degree from Stanford and enjoys helping startups with product advice and connections to passionate people. In his free time, he follows emerging industries including VR/AR, deep learning, cryptocurrency, and eSports.
Megan is a Partner at PharmaLogics Recruiting where she is responsible for leading all business development and sales operations efforts as well as growing global team. Megan was a key player in closing a successful sale of PharmaLogics to a Private Equity firm. Her expertise is in leadership development, business development, talent identification, marketing innovation, and product/services strategy. Previously, Megan was a Division I women’s basketball coach. She’s a mother of two daughters and has a passion for music, which has led to a healthy collection of Sonos speakers.
Chebem is currently serving on the Board of Directors at MobilSense Technologies, Inc. Previously, he was the Co-founder and CEO of MobilePhire, successfully leading the company to an exit in 2018. He has several years of technical, operational, and business development experience with major wireless carriers. Outside of the office, Chebem is best described as a geography nerd, the result of living on five continents and speaking multiple languages. He is currently based in Santa Monica, CA.
Steve – aka ‘The Merchant of Light’ – is an AI startup force multiplier who shapes serendipity to connect and illuminate the dots that matter. He specializes in supporting under-appreciated startups leveraging relationship capital and personal branding to help with business strategy, product-market fit, pitching and funding, and business development for smart tactical execution. Steve is an active speaker at AI events – for example, how #AugmentedIntelligence will become the #futureofwork.
Rachel currently serves as the Director of Brand for SEEVA, a women-led organization designing the future of visibility for mobility. She also side hustles her own creative projects through Fukaya Creative. Rachel loves being on the ground floor of realizing amazing ideas alongside energetic teams. For the past decade, she’s helped businesses of all sizes develop holistic brand identities — dreaming up the big ideas and managing the teams that make the marketing and PR magic happen for companies like Atlantic Records, the GRAMMY’s, Coachella, Techstars, Bloomscape, and Tome Software.
Bryan is Reddit’s Director of Sales and an active angel investor in over 30 startups. At Reddit, Bryan manages the New York office where he leads the revenue team, focused on partnering with Fortune 100 brands like Coca-Cola, Google, HBO, and P&G. Previously, he was at Twitter, where he worked with emerging brands such as Casper, Blue Apron, Harry’s, and Jet.com on acquisition marketing. Bryan works closely with early-stage startups advising them on online + offline marketing channels and acquisition strategies.
Marcel Weekes is a Senior Engineering Manager at Slack, where he works on the Core Product experience. He has extensive experience building high-functioning teams that deliver great user experiences across mobile and web apps. Marcel enjoys working with product development teams to iterate towards “product-market fit” and is excited to see the next wave of products built for empowered communities.
Nate Williams is currently an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Kleiner Perkins focusing on opportunities in HardTech (IoT, Robotics, AI/ML, Virtual Reality, Autonomous Vehicles). He has over 15 years of experience as a technology executive, entrepreneur, and investor in Communications Infrastructure and Internet of Things, serving as CRO/CMO at August Home (acquired by Assa Abloy), Greenwave Systems, and 4Home (acquired by Motorola). Nate is an active advisor to leading frontier tech organizations such as The Internet of Things Consortium and Techstars. Outside of the office, he’s a competitive cyclist, documentary film enthusiast, and father to 3 beautiful kids: Vivian Sloane, Eli, and Avery.
Lewis Dackam is passionate about working collaboratively with others on big ideas — to make them a reality. Prior to working as a full-stack engineer, he earned his BSc in Mathematics from StonyBrook University. He later founded Flaxseed, a software consultancy based in Toronto, Canada. More recently, he has been working on his startup Flaxpro, a mobile app that helps professionals stay organized with their clientele, and reach potential new customers hassle-free. In his free time — when he is not watching cartoons — he enjoys helping and mentoring aspiring software developers by volunteering in the community or online.
Adam brings a fresh approach to Organizational Transformation. With a decade of experience in the technology and startup space, he has a passion for working with aspiring leaders and teams. He brings a dynamic, creative perspective with a strong orientation for driving results. He’s a conference speaker and facilitator of conversations around bias, diversity, inclusion, and belonging. As a Partner of The Kedar Group, Adam coaches and consults startup executives, supporting them in acquiring and developing their leadership muscles as they grow alongside their companies.