VC Fast Pitch Investor panelists

Learn more about our investor panelists:

SCOTT KELLY

Founder & CEO at Black Dog Venture Partners

Scott Kelly is a 30 year fundraising, marketing, sales, training and publicity veteran. Scott has raised hundreds of millions of dollars in capital for disruptive companies, garnered national media coverage for hundreds of regional and national brands and generated hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues for the companies he has represented.

He has also trained over 1,000 sales people and has taught marketing at the university level in the United States and Europe. Scott is currently an Adjunct Professor in the College of Business at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, AZ.

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RENEE NIEMI

Partner at Mighty Capital

Renee Niemi is currently a partner at Mighty Capital and a Chair for CEO Peer Advisory Board at Vistage.  She has spent most of her career creating high-impact products and businesses that make a difference in consumers’ lives. Currently, Renee is the Chairman of the Board for Scientific Adventure for Girls. She has also held a number of product and executive leadership roles at Logitech, Google and Plantronics. Renee holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from Santa Clara University.

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JON WARNER

CEO at Silver Moonshots

5 time company CEO, Jon Warner is an entrepreneurship expert having founded and led 3 startups (with 2 successful exits). Jon’s career started in the corporate world with Air Products and Chemicals, working in the US and across Europe before joining Exxon-Mobil. At Exxon, Jon worked in the UK, the US, Australia, and Nigeria, ending his career there as Deputy CEO. Following his 15 years in the corporate world Warner founded and grew a management consulting business-The Worldwide Center for Organizational Development, which had 30 people carrying out a range of strategy assignments for large companies such as Ford Motor Company, L’Oreal, British Airways, HSBC, Microsoft, Glaxo, Foster-Wheeler, Toyota, Johnson and Johnson, Coca-Cola, PWC, The UK NHS, Roche and MasterCard. Much of this work focused on building an innovative culture and establishing greater internal entrepreneurship skills. As CEO of Silver Moonshots today, Warner manages the deal flow into a Los Angeles based Healthcare investment fund-Adaptive Health Capital and is CEO of Silver Moonshots-a research organization and “virtual accelerator” for startups focused on the 50+ population. Warner is a noted speaker at businesses and colleges across the world. He is also a prolific author having published 40 books, all concerning business, management,leadership, innovation and technology.

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BEN BERGSMA

Principal at Munich Re Ventures

Ben is a Principal for Munich Re Ventures (MRV) and is based in San Francisco. At MRV, Ben focuses on Series Seed-B investments in the InsurTech, FinTech, and AI/ML verticals with check sizes ranging from $1M-$20M. He’s been on the deal teams for portfolio companies including Hippo, Next Insurance, At-Bay, Acko, and Spruce, among others. Prior to MRV, Ben spent time as an investor at Samsung NEXT Ventures, Alpha Venture Partners, and JetBlue Ventures, as well as a founder of a mobile software startup. Ben holds degrees from Columbia Business School and Claremont McKenna College.

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CHRIS GRAEBE

CEO at StartupCamp

Chris Graebe is the co-founder and CEO of StartupWire.  A first of its kind, Angel Investing Community that provides free information and interviews from the world of Angel Investing.  As an entrepreneur himself, Chris is uniquely positioned to ask founders the questions that investors want to know and hear. 

Chris is passionate about Angel Investing and especially in the world of equity crowdfunding.  He knows that there is a revolution coming where the everyday investor will start to see returns that have only been available to the multi-millionaires and big banks until now. 

In 2020, Chris was the lead investor in 7 equity crowdfunding startups.  Collectivity these startups raised close to 10 Million dollars in funding. When he’s not interviewing founders, writing articles, or researching the next big idea, Chris can be found spending time with his wife and 5 kids… and family puppy, Keller.

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CHRIS HALL

Principal at Escalate Capital

Chris is a Principal at Escalate Capital Partners, an Austin-based growth equity/private credit firm. Escalate primarily focuses on high growth SaaS, tech-enabled services, and healthcare IT companies. Before joining Escalate, Chris received his MBA at McCombs (The University of Texas) and started his career as a management consultant.

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JUSTIN RENFRO

Strategic Growth at Wefunder

Justin leads growth and operations at Wefunder, an investment platform helping entrepreneurs raise capital.  Wefunder has a global audience of investors and makes it easy for founders to raise capital from both accredited and unaccredited investors.  Justin enjoys working in collaboration with founders to help them find the best avenues for capital raises.

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SERGIO MARRERO

General Partner at Rebel One Ventures

Sergio Marrero is an investor and serial entrepreneur who graduated from the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He previously worked at Gotham Ventures, PepsiCo, Teach For America, and Deloitte Consulting. 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 rebel founders innovating for a better world. 

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ANGELO DEL PRIORE

Partner at HP Tech Ventures

Angelo is a Partner at HP Tech Ventures, where he focuses on AR/VR, Gaming, AI Edge and Data Science tools. He leads all aspects of deal sourcing, negotiations and portfolio support, and currently serves on 6 boards. Angelo is also an Advisor at Berkeley’s SkyDeck accelerator where he serves on the Selection Committee and is also an advisor to startups from a broad range of industries.

Previously he led corporate strategy teams at HP, with a focus on M&A and growth strategies. Before joining HP, Angelo was VP Business Development at Couchsurfing, where he helped raise $23M in VC funding. Angelo previously ran a tech sector focused management consulting company and clients included Apple, Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, and Oracle.

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KATHY CHIU

Managing Partner at DeepWork Capital

Kathy Chiu is a managing partner at DeepWork Capital, a Florida based venture capital firm focused on early stage technology and life science companies.  Previously, Kathy worked at a wireless technology venture capital firm, was a quantitative analyst in an economic consulting firm, held various strategy and product management roles in technology companies, and advised client companies in business development issues and new market entry.  She has an BS and an MS in Electrical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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STEVEN LEVY

Founding Member at Unorthodox Ventures

Steven is a founding member of Unorthodox Ventures and leads deal execution for UV.  Before joining Unorthodox Ventures, Steven worked for over 20 years as an investment banker, having held senior roles at Lehman Brothers, Stifel Financial and Cowen & Co.  Steven has executed over 100 transactions globally with aggregate value in excess of $30 billion.  Following his time on the sell side, Steven has found he loves nothing more than finding new business ideas and working with and encouraging entrepreneurs who are trying to break old molds.

Steven received his B.A. from Binghamton University and graduated as a member of Phi Beta Kappa and received his M.B.A. from the Wharton School, at the University of Pennsylvania. Steven resides in Westchester, NY with his wife and children.

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PHIL NADEL

Founder & Managing Director at Forefront Venture Partners

Phil Nadel is a well-respected serial entrepreneur, angel investor, published author and frequent speaker at industry conferences and events. He has started and sold several companies and has invested in more than 100 startups with several exits. Phil co-founded Forefront Venture Partners in 2014 and has been its Managing Director ever since. Phil is also one of the investors on Gimlet Media’s The Pitch podcast. 

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SHEETAL JAITLY

Founder & CEO at TribalScale

Sheetal is an entrepreneur, avid investor, and 20 year veteran of the tech space. First and foremost he is the CEO of TribalScale–a digital firm that specializes in the design and development of world class digital products. Throughout his career, Sheetal has seen the potential of technology to transform businesses and is dedicating his life’s work to support brands in creating digital solutions that innovate businesses and delight users.

Sheetal began his work at Keating Technologies with the launch of the Palm Pilot. At Xtreme Labs, later acquired by Pivotal Software in 2014, he led the Media vertical for the organization, gaining an industry reputation for his mobile expertise.

Sheetal is an active speaker and a volunteer and member of the Board of Directors for the Ontario Association of Food Banks. He is also an Advisory Council Member for Tech4SickKids, Mentor for DMZ at Ryerson University, Founder Institute, and TechStars. He is committed to fostering growth and innovation within the tech community in Canada and abroad.

Areas of Expertise: Entrepreneurship, Startups, Digital Transformation, Scaling your business, Agile Methodologies.

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TAJ AHMAD ELDRIDGE

Partner at Include Venture Partners

Taj Ahmad Eldridge is a 25+ year investment professional whose career has included high level executive roles in banking, asset management, alternative investments, and entrepreneurship. As General Partner of Include Venture Partners and Senior Director of Investments at the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), Taj has built a long standing career with expertise in the fields of fintech, media, energy, transportation, and the circular economy. 

At LACI, Taj helped establish both the LACI Impact Fund I (LIF I) and the LACI Debt Fund to allow cleantech companies to grow with diverse capital. These funds utilize an equity impact lens to encourage invested companies to have environmental, economic, and social impact – particularly on increasing the number of underrepresented voices in the cleantech industry. In addition, Taj created programs such as LACI Investor Talks (LIT), the LACI Investor in Residence program, and the Player to CEO Athlete-Investor Impact Summit Series with JP Morgan Chase. Taj has been named one of the 53 Investors to Watch in 2021 by Pitchbook & 101 Black Titans in Tech while nurturing and building a team of investment activists.

Prior to LACI, Taj was the Director for the Incubator at the University of California in Riverside, California. During his tenure as Director, Taj’s team brought a $10M venture fund (Highlander Fund) to the Inland Empire – the first for the region.  Because of Taj’s focus on blending entertainment, policy, and entrepreneurship, the region was named the #4 city in the United States for minority entrepreneurs via Entrepreneur Magazine.

Taj began his career as a banker and economist with Wells Fargo Bank, UBS Investment Bank, and TRW Investments. Taj has also been a Founder, Board Member, and Investor in companies such as ILTG Media, Boswell Official Apparel, Voter, Xtopoly, Rookielook, iListen, KYC Hospitality, KIGT, Majira Project, CleanTek Capital and ConCreates. Taj also serves on the Climate Finance Advisory Team of the Community Investment Guarantee Pool (CIGP), the Executive Board of the Homeboy Ventures Fund, The Majira Project, and Advisory Board of VC Include.

Taj has been profiled in publications such as Impact Alpha, Los Angeles Business Journal, Pitchbook, Forbes, GreenBiz, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more regarding his tireless efforts on achieving alpha while also advancing equity. 

Taj has undergraduate degrees in poetry & literature and graduate geopolitical economics from Texas A&M University-Commerce, Pepperdine University, and Claremont Graduate University. Taj also studied abroad at The Universidad Adolfo Ibanez in Santiago, Chile, The Universidad Do Porto in Porto, Portugal, and The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) in Hong Kong, China. 

Taj is an avid audiobook bibliophile and a lover of music of all genres.

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BRETT ANDREWS

Venture Associate at MicroVentures

Brett Andrews is currently a Venture Associate for MicroVentures, a venture capital and investment banking firm in Austin, TX, where he is responsible for sourcing various types of investment opportunities, managing the front end due diligence, and negotiating and executing the term sheets for those engagements. Prior to joining MicroVentures, Brett worked for NewGate Capital Partners, an Angel Investment and M&A firm out of Orlando, FL. 

Brett began at NewGate as an Analyst performing due diligence and industry analysis for incoming angel investment opportunities. He later was promoted to Partner, where, in addition to sourcing and evaluating angel investments, he helped develop and grow the company’s M&A division 10-fold. Brett holds a Bachelor of Science in Finance from the University of Central Florida. He also holds his Series 7 and Series 63 and maintains his FL Real Estate license.

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ANGEL GAMBINO

CEO at Alchemist Collective

Over the last 20 years, Angel Gambino has been a servant leader in companies big and small. She started her career as a public interest environmental lawyer before becoming a senior executive in large media and entertainment companies and a serial entrepreneur across four continents. She’s been an active angel investor for the last two decades and hosts a community of angel investors and founders of early-stage companies at Angel Club

As an entrepreneur, her average exit is an astonishing 48x and her average return as an angel and corporate investor is 14x. As a WIRED Top 100 leader, her average YoY growth is 20% when she’s managed multi-billion dollar P&Ls. She’s advised and mentored hundreds of startups and corporate senior leaders as an innovation agency and venture studio CEO, Partner, and Techstars Mentor. 

 As a former professional soccer player and manager for the Gold Medal-winning US Women’s Soccer Team, she’s a team player through and through.  She brings a wealth of knowledge, network, and empathy to the teams she works with regardless of stage and size. 

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HEM SURI

Founder & Managing Partner at Spark Growth Ventures

Hem is an accomplished investment, board and executive management leader with two decades of experience as an venture capital & private equity investor, entrepreneur, board professional, investment banker, general management executive as well as a researcher. His passion lies in early-stage companies where he loves “rolling-up his sleeves” to help create and executive 360⁰ strategies to maximize commercial outcomes. 

Hem’s industry experience spans software, technology services, consumer products, food manufacturing, industrials, transportation, financial services, property & casualty insurance, restaurants, education tech, healthcare and digital marketing. Outside of his work with Spark Growth Ventures, Hem also serves as a Venture Partner with NextGen Venture Partners, an early and late-stage venture capital firm. Previously, he was the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of ClearVision Equity Partners (a boutique VC firm), a 2x Interim CEO of emerging companies, an executive of a KKR Private Equity portfolio company, an investment banker on Wall Street as well as a functional leader in multiple Fortune 500 companies in the US. 

Hem has also served on over 15 startup and social enterprise boards across US and is heavily involved with several prominent incubators and accelerators in Southern California supporting budding entrepreneurs. He has executed 30+ venture, private equity and M&A transactions with over $2B in total capital spanning ten years at Spark Growth Ventures, ClearVision Equity Partners, Deutsche Bank, a KKR private equity portfolio company as well as an independent board professional working with startups. 

Hem has an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, an M.S. in Industrial Engineering from University of Illinois and a B.Tech. in Mechanical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi. He is passionate about the environment, equality and education for under-privileged children and loves reading, traveling and active pursuits.

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MELINDA MOORE

General Partner at Moore Ventures

Melinda Moore is the General Partner at Moore Ventures, and works in business development for Burkland and Associates. She is an entrepreneur, investor, advisor and global speaker with over 20 years of experience, and two exits (STV Communications and LovingEco). Melinda is the author of How to Raise Money: The Ultimate Guide to Crowdfunding and has raised over 100 million via equity crowdfunding. She served as the Senior Vice President for Entertainment Media Ventures. Her work has been widely recognized by Digital LA (Top 50 Digital Women in 2015), the Green Business Bureau and the National Association of Women Business Owners’ Hall of Fame. Melinda serves on the Board of A Sense of Home and has a B.A. from UCLA.

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MARISA ALMA MCGINNIS

Managing Director at Golden Seeds & LP in Blumberg Capital Fund III 

Marisa is a startup investor in many startups including RenovoRx, Merge, Namogoo, Kreditech Holding SSL GambH, FundBox Ltd, FeeX Wisdom of the Crowds, Inc. Trulioo Information Services Ltd., WunderCar Mobility Solutions GabH, Yotpo Ltd, Seek Mobile Ltd., Sqream Technologies Ltd., Seek Mobile Ltd., Roam Analytics, SimplyCredit Inc., Arcadia Data, BioCatch, Ltd, Zibby, Inc. Acquired startups are Cyvera by Palo Alto Networks and Zooz (acquired by PayU).

She has an undergraduate degree in Microbiology, a law degree (member of the California State Bar) and a broker’s real estate license (licensed by the California Department of Real Estate).

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ASHER LEIDS

Angel Investor

When I worked, I specialized in practicing venture capital, securities, mergers & acquisitions and general corporate law. My clients ranged from start-ups, such as Scour.net (founded by, among others, Travis Kalanick-who went on to be the founder and CEO of Uber) and Ceiva (founded by, among others, Paul Yanover, who went on to be the CEO of Fandango), to Fortune 100 companies, such as IBM.

I also worked on the initial public offering for Shopping.com (one of the first internet IPO’s) that was subsequently acquired by Compaq Computer Corp. within one year of it’s IPO for approximately $1 Billion. My being disabled has led my wife and me to angel investing where we look for new companies and technologies that can help with, among other things, spinal and nerve injuries and pain management. 

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GREG BRAINARD

Associate at Blumberg Capital

Greg is an associate at Blumberg Capital, based in San Francisco. Greg connects with entrepreneurs, researches potential new investments, supports portfolio companies and develops emerging investment roadmaps.

Prior to joining Blumberg Capital, Greg was an investment banking analyst at Financial Technology Partners where he advised fintech & software companies in private capital raising and M&A transactions.

Greg holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Notre Dame, with a minor in theology.

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JAMIE SHORTILL

General Partner at Strand Venture Partners

Jamie founded Strand Venture Partners in 2018 to identify and invest in early stage, disruptive and high growth companies. SVP currently has over a dozen investments in multiple sectors including Sports & Entertainment, Food & Beverage / F&B Tech, Consumer/CPG, NavTech & Future of Mobility. He sits on several boards and was non-founding CEO of an early stage technology company that exited.

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RILEY FINCH

VC Partner Manager at Clearbanc

Riley leads Venture Capital Partnerships at Clearbanc, a financial technology firm based in Toronto Canada, where he focuses on connecting high growth firms with alternative financing solutions. In addition, he is a member of SF based Susa Ventures Inaugural fellowship program where he works closely with the partnership on investment related activities. Prior to Clearbanc, he spent 4 years campaigning for the Rio 2016 games on the Canadian National Sailing Team. Outside of work — he is an avid cyclist, sailor, and skier.

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BLAKE PENNINGTON

Senior Associate at Fusion Fund

Targeting B2B enterprise solutions with core technology innovations in infrastructure, security and AI/ML. Background includes Fortune 500 consulting, startup operator, and venture experience across diverse industries including enterprise software, complex manufacturing, energy and deep tech. 2019 Global Venture Capital Competition Champion and 2010 Entrepreneurship Student of the Year.

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JAKE BEREC

Analyst at Framework Venture Partners

Jake Berec is an Analyst at Framework Venture Partners. Located in Toronto, Jake is responsible for deal sourcing, due diligence, and expanding Framework’s network in the startup ecosystem.

Prior to working at Framework, Jake worked at the Royal Bank of Canada, BDC IT Venture Fund and TD Securities as part of various technology and finance related teams. Jake graduated from Brock University with a Bachelor of Business Administration (Honours) and is pursuing his CFA designation.

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SUNNY SINGH

President at Tech Coast Angels

Digvijay “Sunny” Singh is an investor based in Los Angeles. Sunny started his investment journey as an electrical engineer at the end of his Ph.D. at UCLA in 2013. Since then, he has been part of the creation and sale of two technology startups in the IT and medical devices fields. He now oversees the acquisition and management of real-estate and technology investments in Southern California.

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KRISHAN ARORA

Founder & CEO at The Arora Project

Krishan Arora is the Founder & CEO of The Arora Project, a crowdfunding and product launchpad agency with one goal in mind: To help entrepreneurs fundraise for and scale their businesses. The Arora Project has raised over $75+ Million for high-growth ventures around the world.

Krishan graduated from Harvard with a concentration in Economics and has since gained over a decade of experience in product launches, crowdfunding, and growth marketing. 

Krishan’s core expertise is in scaling up innovative ventures and initiatives across industries by creating and converting global online communities (with an emphasis on data-driven decision making). To date, the campaigns Krishan and his team have led have reached hundreds of millions of people around the world and have generated tens of millions of dollars via crowdfunding & growth marketing. 

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DINESH GAUBA

Angel Investor

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Our VC Fast Pitch event is scheduled for April 8, 2021. Event details and registration can be found here: Click Here.

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