Global New Venture Challenge (GNVC)

2022 Judges

Melissa Harris, MBA ’16

Melissa Harris, MBA ’16

CEO, M. Harris; Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Polsky Center

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Melissa Harris, MBA ’16

CEO, M. Harris; Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Polsky Center

Melissa Harris began her career as a journalist, capping 15 years in media as a business columnist for the Chicago Tribune. While earning her MBA from the Chicago Booth, Melissa joined a real estate private equity firm as vice president of marketing.

Facing a mountain of MBA student debt and with a newborn infant, Melissa took the greatest risk of her life: She left the world of private equity to start her own company. Three years later, M. Harris & Co. has become one of the fastest-growing marketing firms in the Midwest.

 

Venetia Kontogouris, MBA ’77

Venetia Kontogouris, MBA ’77

Managing Director, Venkon Group LLC

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Venetia Kontogouris, MBA ’77

Managing Director, Venkon Group LLC

Venetia Kontogouris is the managing director of Venkon Group LLC, a company that invests in real estate and early stage ventures, with an emphasis on technology and cloud-based services. Current investments include Zumigo, Ruby Seven Studios, Flow Inc., Be Health, Energy Savvy, and Simple Mills. Prior to her employment with Venkon Group, Kontogouris was the senior managing director for Trident Capital, where she oversaw venture capital investing. She was one of the original members and co-managing partner for Funds IV, V, and VI with over $1.5 billion of venture investments under management. During her time at Trident Capital, she was responsible for many successful investments and exits including, Odyssey Logistics, Outsource Partners International, Microland, Advantec, Infotrieve, Sphere, Viant, Daou Systems, Vality, PBN/Taleo, IPro, Invention Machine, and CrossMedia.

Dipa Mehta, MBA ’12

Dipa Mehta, MBA ’12

Vice President Corporate Ventures and Innovation, Advocate Aurora Health

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Dipa Mehta, MBA ’12

Vice President Corporate Ventures and Innovation, Advocate Aurora Health

Dipa leads the Corporate Development and Ventures group at Advocate Aurora Enterprises (AAE). AAE is a subsidiary of Advocate Aurora Health, one of the largest health systems in the United States. She supports the AAE category leaders in sourcing, diligence, negotiating, and post- transaction reporting for a variety of different transaction types. Dipa was formerly a Managing Director at Sandbox Industries, a Chicago-based venture capital firm which is the investment manager to the Blue Venture Fund. The Blue Venture Fund is a unique collaboration between BCBS companies, BCBSA, and Sandbox.  Sandbox is an independent company that provides healthcare-related investment management exclusively for the Blue Venture Fund. Prior to Sandbox, Dipa was at Amgen Ventures, the corporate venture fund of Amgen. At Amgen, Dipa worked closely with the global commercial and marketing organizations to identify companies in the digital health space for Amgen’s commercial products. Dipa started her career in the Global Healthcare Group at UBS and the Healthcare Fund at Paul Capital Partners, which invested in late-stage pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

Dipa earned a BS from the New York University Stern School of Business and an MBA from Chicago Booth where she received the Chicago Booth Leadership Award of Distinction. Dipa is also a Kauffman Fellow.

She lives in Chicago, IL with her husband and twin toddler boys.

Kathleen Swan

Kathleen Swan

Partner at Locke Lord, LLC

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Kathleen Swan

Partner at Locke Lord, LLC

Kathleen Swan is a partner in the Chicago office of Locke Lord LLP where her practice focuses on corporate finance, venture capital, private equity, and institutional private placements. Kathleen has represented clients within a number of diverse industries, including health care, retail, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, and utilities operations. She has represented both venture capitalists and angels in connection with their respective purchases of common and preferred stock; institutional investors in connection with the purchase of both senior and subordinated secured and unsecured notes; and investment bankers in connection with the sale of several corporations.

Koichiro Nakamura, MBA ’07

Koichiro Nakamura, MBA ’07

Founding Partner, Sozo Venture

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Koichiro Nakamura, MBA ’07

Founding Partner, Sozo Venture

Koichiro “Koh” Nakamura has led numerous investments including Coinbase, Palantir, and Square. He is also actively involved with Zoom, Fastly, Insightly, One Concern, Chainalysis, and Clearbanc among others. Koh, a Waseda University Law and Chicago Booth MBA graduate  and two times finalist of NVC, was a member of Kauffman Fellows Class 12, and was given the Jeff Timmons Memorial Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to that program. 

He was an early pioneer in Japan’s IT scene as a member of the founding team of Yahoo Japan, and led the seed investment into Scigineer. He co-founded Sozo Ventures in 2012 to guide globally ambitious founders looking to maximize Japan and Asian expansion opportunities. Koh, who says, “Iconic companies go global, and global markets go through Japan,” points to Palantir as the portfolio company that took the long-term view, which has rewarded them with a $150M joint-venture in Japan, and over $550M in the pre-IPO round from Japanese partners.

Koh, having shepherded hundreds of companies through international expansion, has shared his expertise in Nikkei, MarketWatch, Forbes Japan, Venture Capital Journal, Newspicks and many other publications.

Steve Sanger, MBA ’05

Steve Sanger, MBA ’05

Partner, Evolv Ventures

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Steve Sanger, MBA ’05

Partner, Evolv Ventures

Steve Sanger is a Partner with Evolv Ventures. Steve has been a part of high-growth technology leadership teams identifying organic growth opportunities as well as through corporate development and strategic business development efforts. Steve’s extensive network within the technology community, venture capital firms and corporate / business development professionals help companies leverage various strategic growth alternatives.

 

Prior to joining Evolv, Steve held a variety of leadership roles including as an early member of GrubHub’s executive team as their VP, Business Development that grew the business from $8M to over $400M resulting in a successful IPO (NYSE:GRUB) in 2014. Steve was responsible for the company’s business and corporate development efforts as well as helping to launch the company’s delivery initiative. He has held executive / senior roles at Tronc (formerly known as Tribune Interactive), and Diamond Management and Technology Consultants (acquired by PwC) as well as an advisor to many food tech brands. Steve received his M.B.A. from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business in and holds a B.S.J from the University of Kansas.

Steve resides in Clarendon Hills, IL with his wife, Andrea, and two children, Elizabeth and Colin. 

Saurabh Sharma, MBA ’10

Saurabh Sharma, MBA ’10

Partner, Jump Crypto

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Saurabh Sharma, MBA ’10

Partner, Jump Crypto

Saurabh Sharma is a Partner and Head of Venture Investments at Jump Crypto where he invests across Blockchain Infrastructure, Open Finance and Web3 primitives. Saurabh has been instrumental in setting up and scaling Jump’s crypto investing efforts and has witnessed closely the rise of this technology paradigm and asset class. Saurabh is an active participant in DAO governance for some of the leading protocols and enjoys studying new token driven economic models.

Prior to this, Saurabh was a General Partner at Jump Capital where he led Infrastructure and Application Software investments and sat on multiple boards. Saurabh started his career as a High-Performance Computing Researcher at French National Research Institute, worked as a quant trader with Lehman Brothers and led data science, operations, and marketing teams at Groupon.

Saurabh received a Masters in Computer Science from Cornell University and an M.B.A. from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Jump Crypto is a leading research, development and investing firm building the next frontier in crypto infrastructure. Jump Crypto has been partnering, innovating, and trading in the crypto world for years with the aim is to help lay down the pavers and conduit that will shape the future of the industry.

Gale Wilkinson, MBA ’12

Gale Wilkinson, MBA ’12

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Gale Wilkinson, MBA ’12

Gale Wilkinson is the founder and Managing Partner at Vitalize, a seed fund and angel community investing in transformative work-related technology. Previously, Wilkinson founded IrishAngels, one of the largest angel groups in the world. Gale has led $65M+ in early-stage deals across 80+ portfolio companies, and she has made over 30 personal angel investments. Her experience prior to VC includes founding two failed startups, consulting for new product launches with Nielsen, and strategy with Orbitz.

Wilkinson received a BBA with honors from Notre Dame and an MBA with honors from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. She was a founding Board member of the C200 Scholars Network, and she is currently a founding Board member of Chicago Blend, an organization focused on increasing diversity in VC and startups.

You can find her on Twitter @galeforceVC or on “The Vitalize Podcast.” She lives in Chicago with her husband Matt and very lovable yellow lab Samson.

2022 Regional Judges

Mario Aquino, MBA ’99

Jessica Bliesner, MBA ’08

Arnaud Bonzom

Vladimir Cara, MBA ’07

Andrew Chen

Cornel Chiriac, MBA ’12

Lawrence Chu, BA ’01

Trang Chu, MBA ’96

Ben Ellis, MBA ’05

Jonathan Ellis

Magdalena Gatzinska, AB ’96, MBA ’00

Tong Gu

Melissa Harris, MBA ’16

Troy Henikoff

Kenny Ho, MBA ’93

Alan Kuan Hsu

Borislava Karageorgieva, MBA ’04

David Kokonas

Phil Leslie, MBA ’09

Duc Luu, MBA ’18

Renata Merino, MBA ’02

Kevin Monserrat

Julia Monfrini Peev

Christophe Pompee, MBA ’20 (EXP-25)

Alyssa Rapp

Ralph Shayne, MBA ’95

Susan Silver

Marko Srsan

Kathleen Swan

Sam Tsui, MBA ’00

Stella Zhou, MBA ’18 (AXP-17)

Katherine Ziegelbauer, MBA ’18

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