By Courtney Buie Lipkin, Partner at Susa Ventures
Since we launched the Venture Fellows Program in August 2020, twenty five aspiring investors and technologists have joined the Susa Family. We’ve known all along that the fellows are extraordinary. Now that many of our fellows have successfully transitioned into venture by joining the teams at A16z, Afore Capital, Corazon Capital, OnDeck and Techstars (to name a few) we have the data to confirm this sentiment!
Susa started the Venture Fellows Program to open a career in venture capital to a more diverse talent pool. Venture outcomes are driven by companies that break the mold. However, the venture capital industry is built on deep and often impenetrable personal networks that reward sticking with the status quo when it comes to building investment teams. We’ve been very encouraged by the enthusiasm with which the broader venture community has embraced the Fellows Program and we thank every investor, angel, founder and LP who has volunteered their time and expertise to each cohort.
This year’s fellows cohort includes a security and defense specialist, three founders, and operators with experience in urban design, crypto, and zero-emission electric vehicles. We love the variety of lenses the fellows bring to each investment as they join our pitches and support our diligence process. Fellows also work with our portfolio companies on support initiatives and join bi-weekly curriculum sessions with the Susa team to cover topics like structuring a fund, conducting diligence, angel investing, and building LP relationships.
As you’ll see below, the new group of Venture Fellows is incredibly talented. We feel lucky to be a small part of their story and couldn’t be more excited to welcome the 2022 cohort to the venture community!
Alex leads the post-sales customer organization at Zeal. As the first non-engineering hire, he has built 0 -1 programs across sales, operations, marketing, implementation, and account management. He also leads the Crypto GTM strategy. Before joining Zeal, Alex worked in consulting. Outside of work he enjoys exploring books, traveling, and being active. Alex graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with degrees in Political Science and Finance.
Angeline is a product manager at Bolt working on payments and 0->1 products. Previously, she spent three years at Airbnb helping scale the B2B2C business after stints in investment banking and machine learning. Angeline grew up in Houston and is always down to talk about basketball and traveling.
Betty is the Chief of Staff at Capable Health, a software company democratizing access to digital health infrastructure. She’s passionate about partnering with founders from Day 0 who are building technologies that solve the thorniest challenges we face — from affordable healthcare to climate resiliency. Previously, Betty managed an investment fund to improve women’s and children’s health in developing countries at UNICEF, created national STEM education and COVID-19 response programs at Luminary Labs, and researched novel urban design practices to develop smarter cities at Sidewalk Labs.
Danh is currently the Founding Product Manager at Turnstile, a startup building a usage-based revenue platform to help companies price however they want. Previously, he was an early employee/PM at Blend ($BLND), Growth PM at Mux, investor at Bridgewater, and Chief Business Officer at Breathe For Change. Danh earned dual degrees in Finance and Computer Science from Wharton and UPenn. Danh was born with achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism, and hopes to elevate the ideas and perspectives of underrepresented entrepreneurs. Outside of work and when not playing with his 1-year-old daughter, Danh is trying to get back into his prior running and badminton form (7x Boston Marathoner, 2x Gold Medal in Para-Badminton for Team USA)
Isabella is excited about all things cybersecurity, industrials, and defense. She studied CS with a focus on AI at Stanford, and spent the past two years diving into the cybersecurity industry with the Krebs Stamos Group. Most of her client work at KSG was focused on threats facing the manufacturing and industrial automation sectors. Recently, Isabella took a new position with the investment team at Bridgewater. Outside of work, Isabella enjoys long runs and arranging charcuterie boards.
Prateek is the founder and CEO of Plutoshift. He has authored 13 books on machine learning and has a readership in 200+ countries. He writes a weekly newsletter on machine learning and hosts a podcast where he interviews world-class machine learning practitioners. He has been featured on Forbes, CNBC, TechCrunch, and Bloomberg. You can visit prateekj.com to learn more about him.
Rufaro Makanda is the VP — Strategy & Operations at ZEVV, a startup that is electrifying the mobile food industry with zero-emission food carts, trucks, and container kitchens. Prior to this role, she spent six years in Investment Banking at Bank of America and Independence Point Advisors (IPA), where she mostly worked with private equity clients on acquisition financings, M&A, and IPOs across a broad spectrum of industries. Rufaro started her career in wealth management at AllianceBernstein, serving high net worth individuals. Outside of work, Rufaro serves on the Steering Committee of Alvin Ailey American DanceTheatre, the National Cathedral School Alumnae Advisory Group, and serves as the Treasurer ofEyebeam, an intersectional arts and technology non-profit founded by John Seward Johnson III. She is also an alumna interviewer for Dartmouth College, primarily interviewing students from Sub-Saharan Africa, and in her spare time is committed to facilitating opportunities for Zimbabwean high school students to obtain acceptance into US universities. Previous board and junior board commitments include the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Eastern MetroRegion, Dartmouth Club of New York, FC Harlem, and Indego Africa. Rufaro received a B.A. from Dartmouth College, majoring in Intellectual History, and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Rufaro was born in Zimbabwe, raised in the DC Suburban Area, and currently lives in Brooklyn with her partner. She enjoys playing and watching tennis, and is learning how to play the drums.
Shre recently left his start-up, which was in the employee engagement space for remote companies after leading it to $40k+ in sales. He works part-time as Head of Community for Lenny Rachitsky and is building a bootstrapped business for Julia Lipton’s Awesome People fund. Before his start-up, he worked in Product for Upwork and Strategy & Analytics for LinkedIn. Shre is originally from Kathmandu, Nepal, and grew up in multiple countries. He is a graduate of the London School of Economics and the University of Warwick. Outside of work, he is a passionate soccer fan and an avid all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ diner.
Having grown up in the Bay Area, Victoria is a startup enthusiast who’s hacked on early-stage products across ed-tech, consumer, and B2B SaaS. Outside of work, she enjoys playing soccer, going on long runs, and learning new languages. Victoria received a BA in Economics and MS in MS&E, both from Stanford, and is taking leave from a PhD at MIT in Operations Research.
Introducing the 2022 Susa Venture Fellows Class was originally published in Susa Ventures on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.