By Courtney Buie Lipkin, Partner at Susa Ventures
Last year was unprecedented on almost all fronts. 2020 pushed us to reinvent how we ran our business, supported founders, and stayed connected with the broader venture community. While many of the adaptations we made turned into permanent elements of the Susa experience, nothing was more transformative for our firm than the Venture Fellows Program. The fellows who joined us last year are now deeply valued members of the Susa Family. While many have gone on to join other firms, companies, or transitioned into or out of graduate programs, in many ways the 2020 fellows feel closer to us than ever as we continue to co-invest and support Susa founders together.
It’s hard to imagine topping last year’s cohort, but as you meet the 2021 cohort below, it’s clear how they just might do it! This fellows class includes a leading podcaster, sponsored ice climber, lifelong teacher, and medical doctor. We were incredibly fortunate to receive hundreds of qualified applicants for just a handful of slots.
The fellows will learn from the Susa team and other mentors within the VC community on a paid, part-time basis. We pair each Susa partner with three to four fellows to create a smaller group environment for feedback and collaboration. The fellows are also encouraged to source, evaluate, and participate in the economics of the fund’s deals. They join founder pitches, support in our diligence process, and have a front-row seat in the operations of our firm. All of this is supplemented with bi-weekly curriculum sessions designed to deepen their understanding of these day-to-day experiences with our team.
We are thrilled to welcome the 2021 Susa Venture Fellows Class into the Susa Family. Sincere thanks to everyone in our community who has supported this program and made it possible for us to open the door a bit wider to the world of venture capital.
Fuad is a recent graduate from McMaster University in Canada. His passion for using software to solve hard problems led him to internships at Tesla, SpaceX, and the CIA. He just moved to SF to work at Twitter, where he’s building tools to combat hate speech and misinformation on the platform. Fuad also hosts the Next Iteration Podcast, where he interviews leaders in tech and business tackling challenges from new perspectives. When he gets a bit of a break, Fuad’s favorite things to do are trying new food with friends or curling up with a good book.
Grant is an investor on MetLife’s Private Capital team, where he invests in companies and credit funds. Grant was the first Student Athlete to graduate from Boston University’s Kilachand Honors College. In his spare time, Grant explores essays, books, and podcasts spanning everything from history to biology; he shares his learnings on Embers. The world isn’t one bright person away from solving its problems. What it needs are groups of people that come together to achieve something special. Grant wants to help these people turn their visions into reality.
Hamna is currently a Business Operations Manager at Robinhood. She helps scale key initiatives across Marketing and Growth teams, and she helps the company explore new business opportunities. Before Robinhood, she worked in FinTech and financial inclusion in Colombia. She’s lived in multiple countries, speaks four languages, and has a continued interest in exploring new business models and start-ups in emerging markets. Hamna’s originally from the Midwest and graduated from Harvard. Outside of work she enjoys cooking, backpacking, and reading fiction.
Kia is a Product Compliance Manager at Square, where she manages relationships across the organization to build tactical roadmaps, design go-to-market strategies, and identify product requirements for the launch and growth of Square in domestic and international markets. Before Square, she spent most of her career in the financial services industry, including roles at JPMorgan and Credit Suisse, where she was responsible for business and technology solutions for portfolio management, underwriting, and risk reporting. Kia’s interest in blockchain and cryptocurrencies led to her working at Omega One, an early-stage startup, where she served as the Senior Risk and Compliance Officer. Kia is a graduate of the University of Southern California, where she majored in International Relations and Political Science.
Most recently Natalie was Head of Product at Trustworthy AI, where she built systems to evaluate the risk of safety-critical autonomous systems (acquired by Waymo July 2021). She’s a systems-oriented product builder that thrives on complex problems at the intersection of hardware, software and research. In the past she’s developed location-based platforms for robots, built virtual worlds for self-driving cars, coded autonomous drones at NASA and deployed robots in the Arctic to collect ice cores. Outside of work, she decompresses by climbing frozen waterfalls as a sponsored ice climbing athlete.
Nicholas grew up in Italy & Greece before moving to California for university. After graduating UC Berkeley with a degree in Computer Science, he spent 2 years at Airbnb in SF and two years at Petal in NYC. Nicholas has a passion for cooking and hospitality, which brought him to intern in the kitchen at Noma in Copenhagen for three months at the end of last year. He is currently at Creative Juice as one of the first engineering hires building financial tools for the next generation of creators. Nicholas loves meeting people, learning new things and skills (latest obsession is kite surfing), and playing with bold new ideas.
Nina was most recently Vice President and Chief of Staff for an inclusive growth equity and advisory firm. Prior to this, she worked as an investor with Baird Capital with a focus on Industrial Technology. Prior to Baird, Nina was an Associate with a consumer tech angel investment fund (Black Angel Tech Fund), an Associate with a generalist private equity fund (RLJ Equity), and an Analyst with an African mezzanine debt fund (Vantage Capital). Nina began her career in investment banking with Credit Suisse, focusing on industrial businesses.
Nina graduated with honors from Spelman College and received her MBA from Stanford University.
Oliver is banking lead at Mos, where he works across product, partnerships, and operations on Mos’ banking solution for student financial health. Previously, Oliver worked on strategy and analytics at Aura, a consumer lending startup, and at Andela. He has also worked in consumer protection, helped build a nonprofit fintech product, and organized volunteer civic technology projects. Oliver is interested in expanding opportunity at scale through building companies in fintech, education, and policy-adjacent spaces. He graduated from Princeton with a degree in public and international affairs. Outside of work, Oliver enjoys endurance sports and discovering new music.
Paloma is a career educator and lifelong learner dedicated to advancing best practices across the education sector. When Paloma entered the classroom a decade ago, the ingenuity and resiliency of young learners solidified her commitment to social emotional learning and academic excellence. After delivering on her promise and supporting 100% of her students in passing state wide exams, Paloma left the classroom to expand both her impact and understanding of the education landscape. She has since been providing instructional management and professional development to educational professionals across the United States at the Lavinia Group. Paloma is a native New Yorker and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Relay Graduate School of Education.
Sanchay is interested in early-stage investments in the healthcare sector. Prior to Susa, he co-founded a VC backed medtech company and worked across multiple healthcare verticals including digital health, biotech, and payer/provider. Sanchay completed his Bachelor’s in biochemistry at Stanford University and later moved to Boston to complete his MD and MBA at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Business School. Outside of work, Sanchay enjoys performing/teaching dance, cooking with his fiancé, and traveling.
Sonya’s life mission is to improve healthcare access and equity. Currently, she is at Verana Health, where she partners with biopharma companies to use real-world data for evidence generation and drug development. Previously, she was a strategy consultant at ClearView Healthcare Partners, specializing in commercialization of novel drugs and digital therapeutics. Sonya is a New York native who recently moved to Oakland, CA. She can be found hiking in national parks and exploring local farmers’ markets. Sonya graduated from Columbia University where she studied Biochemistry and East Asian Studies.
Stephanie is the co-founder and CTO of a seed-stage YC-backed healthcare company focused on telenutrition. Prior to starting her own company, Stephanie built underwriting and partnership products at Ethos Life, a life insurance startup, and student-focused products at Handshake, an early-career recruiting platform. Stephanie holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Computer Science with a minor in Spanish from Princeton. Outside of work, Stephanie enjoys dancing, surfing, and skiing.
Lightning Struck Twice: Introducing the 2021 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.