Edward L. Kaplan, '71, New Venture Challenge (NVC)

Edward L. Kaplan, '71, New Venture Challenge (NVC)

2022 Judges

Cindy Bayley, PhD ’90, MBA ’97

Cindy Bayley, PhD ’90, MBA ’97

Affiliate, ARCH Venture Partners

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Cindy Bayley, PhD ’90, MBA ’97

Affiliate, ARCH Venture Partners

Cindy is an affiliate at ARCH Venture Partners. She focuses on life science businesses and is a cofounder of several ARCH portfolio companies, including deCODE genetics, an Icelandic diagnostics company; Adolor, a pharmaceutical firm developing novel analgesics; and Elixir Pharmaceuticals, an anti-aging and metabolic disease company. Cindy has worked with ARCH since 1992 and has been instrumental in sourcing companies like Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Agios Pharmaceuticals. She has also participated in the planning and diligence for many other companies in the portfolio. Early in her career, she was a general field engineer with Schlumberger Offshore Services. She holds a BS in physics from the University of Rochester and an MBA and PhD in virology from the University of Chicago.

Dan Caruso, MBA ’90

Dan Caruso, MBA ’90

Chairman of the Board, Endeavor Colorado

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Dan Caruso, MBA ’90

Chairman of the Board, Endeavor Colorado

Dan Caruso is managing director of Caruso Ventures, a 3x decacorn entrepreneur and an avid supporter of entrepreneurship.

 

In 2020, Dan and Cindy Caruso founded Caruso Ventures, which represents their investment portfolio, family office, and not-for-profit activities. Most of Caruso Ventures’ direct investments are in support of the Colorado ecosystem. Current investments include Radia, Boom Supersonic, Honest Jobs, Maybell Quantum Industries, Spark Grills, Arryved, ColdQuanta, Outside Interactive, Voyager Space Holdings, Codigo Tequila, Mindful Urgent Care, Ninja Nation, Firefly, Chamba, and Zayo Group. Exited investments include euNetworks, Bolder Surgical, Envysion, GTS Central Europe, and Galvanize.

Dan was the founding partner, chairman and CEO of Zayo Group Holdings, where investors enjoyed a $8.5B equity exit on a $1.0B investment. Dan was a co-founding executive of Level 3 and joined Metropolitan Fiber Systems as it began to scale. All three exited for enterprise values > $10B. Dan also led the take private of ICG, which achieved a 25X return and led to the ideation of Zayo.

 

Dan is a supporter of Colorado’s and Chicago’s entrepreneurial community, and is particularly interested in the intersection between tech scaleups and inclusion. He serves as chairman of

the board for Endeavor Colorado and is on the boards of Colorado Thrives, the Polsky Center and CU Boulder’s Chancellor Strategic Advisory Council. Dan was the original Steering Committee Chairman of Colorado’s Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network.

In 2015, Dan and Cindy established The Caruso Foundation to Support Initiatives that Inspire Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Inclusion. The Caruso Foundation supports a number of impactful organizations including Startup Colorado, University of Chicago’s New Venture Challenge, University of Colorado Boulder’s Startup Summer, [Catalyst], and New Venture Challenge, Chicago Quantum Exchange’s Accelerator Duality, Greenhouse Scholars and EforAll.

Dan is a recipient of several awards including the Chicago Booth Distinguished Alumni Award for Entrepreneurship, University of Illinois Alumni Award for Distinguished Service, Colorado Technology Association’s Bob Newman Lifetime Achievement Award, University of Colorado Leeds Corporate Partner Award (Zayo), and Colorado Governor’s Corporate Citizenship Medal.

Dan holds a BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Chicago Booth.

Joanne Chen, MBA ’14

Joanne Chen, MBA ’14

Partner, Foundation Capital

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Joanne Chen, MBA ’14

Partner, Foundation Capital

Joanne is a partner at Foundation Capital where she works with gritty entrepreneurs who build and leverage proprietary data assets to disrupt business functions. She studies the impact of AI, and invests in AI-first B2B applications and data platforms that are the building blocks of the automated enterprise. Joanne’s passion for technology developed early, when her mathematician dad and computer scientist mom taught her how to program. By the time she was nine years old, she had turned her skills into a business and made her first webpage for a client. Joanne began her career as an engineer at Cisco Systems and later cofounded a mobile gaming company. She also spent many years working on Wall Street at Jefferies & Company, helping tech companies go through the IPO and M&A processes, and at Probitas Partners, advising venture firms on their own fundraising process. She was an angel investor for two years at Hyde Park Angels prior to joining Foundation in 2014. Joanne is on the board of TubiTV and Findera, and observes the boards of Mya Systems, Custora, and Localytics. She has also invested in Simppler, Quilt Data, Brightback, Oasis Labs, CaptivateIQ, and Zengaming. Joanne has a bachelor’s degree in science from the University of California at Berkeley and an MBA from Chicago Booth.

Jake Crampton, MBA ’98

Jake Crampton, MBA ’98

Founder and CEO, MedSpeed

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Jake Crampton, MBA ’98

Founder and CEO, MedSpeed

Jake Crampton is the founder and CEO of MedSpeed, the market-leading provider of same-day transportation services to the healthcare industry. Under Jake’s leadership, MedSpeed has grown from a Chicago-based startup to a national enterprise with over 140 operations across 29 states and a client base that includes one-quarter of the top 100 health systems in the country. Jake and his classmates created the concept for MedSpeed at Chicago Booth as the final project for Professor James Schrager’s New Venture Strategy course which they further developed as a participant in the second annual Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge. After winning the competition, Jake changed his postgraduation plans to focus on launching MedSpeed.

An entrepreneur by nature, Jake founded and nurtured a successful language-training business in Mexico City prior to launching MedSpeed. Jake was named Entrepreneur of the Year Midwest by EY in 2017 and received the Chicago Booth Entrepreneurial Distinguished Alumni Award in 2021. Jake earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and an MBA in entrepreneurship from Chicago Booth.

Jai Das, MBA ’99

Jai Das, MBA ’99

President and Managing Director, Sapphire Ventures

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Jai Das, MBA ’99

President and Managing Director, Sapphire Ventures

Jai Das is a managing director, president, and cofounder at Sapphire Ventures. He invests in startups which he believes are developing ground-breaking products and services, and have embarked on their journey to become a company of consequence. Das has more than 15 years of experience helping companies innovate their product and marketing strategies in order to scale and become market leaders. Eleven of his investments have become publicly traded companies including Alteryx, Box, Five9, Square, and Nutanix as well as nine of his investments have been acquired including Apigee (Google), CloudHealth (VMware), ExactTarget (Salesforce), and MuleSoft (Salesforce). Das is currently a member of the board (director or observer) at AllyO, Catchpoint, Clari, DataRobot, JFrog, Narrative Science, OpsRamp, Portworx, PubNub, Punchh, Splashtop, Sumo Logic, and ThoughtSpot. Prior to joining Sapphire Ventures in 2006, Das worked at Oracle, Intel Capital, Agilent Ventures, and MVC Capital. He earned a bachelor’s in electrical engineering from Brown University and an MBA from Chicago Booth, where he was awarded the George Hay Brown Prize for academic excellence.

Laura Desmond

Laura Desmond

Founder and CEO, Eagle Vista Partners

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Laura Desmond

Founder and CEO, Eagle Vista Partners

Eagle Vista Partners has focused on Senior Advisory work with CEO’s at Live Ramp, Uptake Technologies, Anaplan, Active Campaign along with media, financial service and emerging SaaS sectors. Eagle Vista Partners has also invested in several early to mid stage companies in the martech, adtech and ecommerce companies.

Desmond was Chief Revenue Officer of Publicis Groupe and Chief Executive Officer of Starcom Mediavest Group, the #1 media and marketing services agency globally for 5 straight years under her leadership. While CEO, the business at SMG more than doubled and successfully pivoted to a digitally centric organization focused on emerging channels, data, analytics and content. She led a diverse team of 6500 employees across more than one hundred offices who bring unconventional thinking and a passion for the art and science of marketing strategy, consumer behavior and media investment.

Laura has worked closely with some of the biggest and most successful marketers worldwide, including Samsung, Coca-Cola, Visa, Bank of America, P&G, and a host of emerging online consumer brand such as Airbnb, Spotify, EA Sports and Twitter. In her work, Laura forged a new breed of partnership with media companies such as Google, Facebook, and Tencent.

Laura is also an Operating Partner at Providence Equity Partners, working with the Technology & Media Group on two investments in the adtech and datatech sectors.

Laura serves on the board of directors for Adobe Systems (2012) and is Lead Director of Double Verify (2017) and smartly.io (2020) She is also past Chair of the Advertising Council.

Laura and Eagle Vista Partners are both based in Chicago.

Jackie Dimonte, MBA ’17

Jackie Dimonte, MBA ’17

Partner, Chicago Ventures

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Jackie Dimonte, MBA ’17

Partner, Chicago Ventures

Jackie is a partner with Chicago Ventures and heads up their Austin presence. She focuses on vertical SaaS and marketplaces.

Prior to joining Chicago Ventures, Jackie was a principal at Hyde Park Venture Partners, working with portfolio companies such as RoadSync, Podchaser, Fixer, FactoryFix, and PartySlate. Before that, she worked at Silver Spring Networks (now Itron), an IoT company for critical infrastructure, driving development and pilot projects for emerging smart city technology. She began her career as a consultant at Accenture in the Business & Technology practice, focused on ERP (enterprise resource planning) software and SaaS enablement projects.

She is also a member of the board of directors for Chicago:Blend, Starting Block Madison, and Venture Atlanta. She is also a coach at the Polsky Center.

Jackie holds a BS with honors in general engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MBA with honors from Chicago Booth.

Jim Dugan

Jim Dugan

CEO, Cofounder, and Managing Partner, OCA Ventures

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Jim Dugan

CEO, Cofounder, and Managing Partner, OCA Ventures

Jim has over 20 years of corporate finance, capital markets, and venture capital experience. He serves on the boards of EdMap, TradeKing, Cleversafe, TDJM, Javlin Capital, SumRidge Partners, Campus Explorer, Apparel Media Group (CustomInk), Automated Insights, Pangea, Falcon Insurance Group, Solovis, Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, 1871, IIT, and NU Wave. Prior to cofounding OCA Ventures, Jim oversaw the OCA Ventures pledge fund, which made direct investments for the O’Connor Partners Investment Office. He also traded derivatives at the Chicago Board of Trade and worked in corporate finance with Continental Bank. Jim is a founding member of the Illinois Venture Capital Association, where he has served as treasurer, director, member of the executive committee, and chairman of the legislative committee, helping to establish HB 3212 as Illinois law. Jim received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Rochester and an MBA from Northwestern University.

Brent Hill, MBA ’98

Brent Hill, MBA ’98

Partner, Origin Ventures

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Brent Hill, MBA ’98

Partner, Origin Ventures

Brent Hill is a partner at Origin Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm focused on software, marketplace, and consumer companies. He serves on the board of directors of portfolio companies Backlot Cars, 15Five, Fountain, Apptentive, Bound, Bonsai Analytics, Mighty, Pronto, and Kidizen. He is a board observer for the firm’s investments in Cameo, AppDetex, DirectScale and ViralGains. Other previous investments include Grubhub (NYSE: GRUB) , Tubemogul (acquired by NASD: ADBE), Ahalogy (acquired by NYSE: QUOT) and Teem (acquired by WeWork).  Prior to joining Origin, Brent led sales organizations for Twitter, Google, and Feedburner. Before joining FeedBurner, he was the president of a national consumer services business, an entrepreneur-in-residence, and an EVP with a unit of Interactive Corp. He also cofounded MVP.com, an early e-commerce business. Brent started his career with Accenture, where he spent 10 years developing CRM software for the telecom industry. He received a BS in finance from Bradley University and an MBA from Chicago Booth.

Van Jones, MBA ’14

Van Jones, MBA ’14

Deal Lead and Vice President, Wellington Management

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Van Jones, MBA ’14

Deal Lead and Vice President, Wellington Management

Van is a deal lead and vice president at Wellington Management. Previously, he was a partner at Drive Capital, a firm based in Ohio and the largest Midwest-based venture capital firm with over $1.2 billion in AUM. Van invests across verticals with a particular focus on enterprise SaaS and cloud-based data infrastructure. At Drive, Van most recently lead and now sits as a board observer in the Series A investment in Meroxa, a real-time in-stream change data capture platform.  Prior to Drive Capital, Van co-founded Hello Tractor an agricultural equipment SaaS platform based in Nigeria and which now operates across Africa and South Asia. While at Chicago Booth, Van launched Hello Tractor and won the 2014 Social New Venture Challenge.

Van began his career in China advising large multi-national corporations on leveraging predictive analytics to de-risk new product launches within emerging markets. Van was honored by the Chicago Booth community in 2018 as the recipient of the Chicago Booth Young Alumni Distinguished Alumni Award and currently sits on the Distinguished Alumni Awards Selection Committee. Van also serves on the Business Advisory Council for the University of Cincinnati’s Lindner College of Business. Van earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati and an MBA from Chicago Booth.

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.

Mark Koulogeorge

Mark Koulogeorge

Managing General Partner, MK Capital

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Mark Koulogeorge

Managing General Partner, MK Capital

Mark Koulogeorge is managing general partner of MK Capital where he leads the firm’s digital marketing and software investment practices and has over eighteen years of venture capital experience. Mark’s functional expertise is in developing sales, marketing and distribution strategies to achieve market leadership and in the building of high performance executive teams.

Mark has served on the boards of directors of over 20 technology companies which have generated over $400 million of realized gains for his investors. He has been the lead or first institutional investor in a number of significant technology companies including: Tradex Technologies (sold to Ariba for $1.8 billion), Aprimo (sold to Teradata for $540 million), Initiate Systems (sold to IBM for $424 million) and The Cobalt Group (sold to ADP for $400 million).

Prior to founding MK Capital, Mark was a managing director at First Analysis and served as a general partner of The Productivity Fund III & The Productivity Fund IV. Prior to his career in venture capital, Mr. Koulogeorge was an Executive Officer of Eagle Industries, a $1.5 billion diversified manufacturer, controlled by Chicago entrepreneur Sam Zell and earlier a consultant with Booz Allen. He earned a BA from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Stanford University.

Mark Leahy, JD/MBA ’89

Mark Leahy, JD/MBA ’89

Partner, Fenwick & West LLP

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Mark Leahy, JD/MBA ’89

Partner, Fenwick & West LLP

Mark is co-head of the startup and venture capital group of Fenwick & West. He advises technology and life science companies, including those focused in the software, telecommunications, and semiconductor sectors. His practice includes startup counseling, venture capital financings, public offerings, corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions, and joint ventures. Mark represents companies in varying stages, ranging from privately-held startups to publicly-traded companies. Earlier in his career, Mark worked as an engineer. He received a BS in industrial engineering from Stanford University and a JD/MBA from the University of Chicago.

Mark Leavitt, MBA ’83

Mark Leavitt, MBA ’83

Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Enlightened Hospitality Investments

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Mark Leavitt, MBA ’83

Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Enlightened Hospitality Investments

Mark is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Enlightened Hospitality Investments. Mark is actively involved in all of EHI’s portfolio companies, and serves on the boards of Joe Coffee, Salt & Straw, Goldbelly, Dig and Banza, and is a board Observer at Madison Reed. Additionally, Mark sits on the board of Union Square Hospitality Group, is a member of the Council on Chicago Booth for the University of Chicago, and serves as Chairman Emeriti at Jacob’s Pillow, a dance school and performance space in the Berkshires. In 2020, Mark was included in Nation’s Restaurant News’ Top 50 Technology Power List which features the 50 most influential leaders of technology and innovation in the restaurant industry.

Prior to founding EHI, Mark was head of the Technology, Media, and Telecommunications Investment Banking group at Piper Jaffray & Co. He previously served on the boards of Trinity College, the Harlem Globetrotters, Centennial Communications, Citadel Communications, T/SF Communications (TSF), US Radio, and Leap Wireless (LEAP) where he also served on the Finance Committee and Transaction Committee during its sale to AT&T.

Mark earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Trinity College.

Matthew McCall

Matthew McCall

Partner, Pritzker Group Venture Capital

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Matthew McCall

Partner, Pritzker Group Venture Capital

Matt McCall is a partner at Pritzker Group Venture Capital and was formerly a founding partner with DFJ Portage. Over his 20+ years in the business, he has backed over 70 companies, completed more than 400 financings and evaluation over 20,000 business plans. He has had over $3 billion in exit value. He also has a strong interest studying the drivers and derailers to high performing cultures and sustainable entrepreneurial success. He has been honored on Crain’s annual “40 under 40”, Crain’s top Tech 25 list, the Re/code top 30 tech power list, a Top 100 VC, a Media 100, and a Hollywood 100 Power Player. He is the founder and trustee of the McCall Family Foundation. He has served on numerous regional high technology advisory boards. Prior to 1995, Matt worked in the Boston Consulting Group’s Chicago office, where he managed consulting and client teams on projects in the telecommunications, healthcare, and financial services industries. Matt earned a bachelor’s in economics and history from Williams College and an MBA with honors from Kellogg. He also earned a master’s in manufacturing management from Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering.

Bob Mylod

Bob Mylod

Founder and Managing Partner

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Bob Mylod

Founder and Managing Partner

 

Bob is the founder and managing partner of Annox Capital Management, a private firm that focuses on early-stage to mid-stage venture investing. Prior to founding Annox, he held positions within Booking Holdings, Inc., including CFO, head of worldwide strategy and planning, and vice chairman. He played a major role in transforming Booking Holdings into one of the most profitable and valuable e-commerce companies in the world. Bob began his career at Merrill Lynch Capital Partners, the private equity investment arm of Merrill Lynch & Co. He has expertise in identifying innovative, industry-shaping companies and guiding them to broader global implementation. He serves on the board of directors of several innovative public companies including Booking Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: BKNG), Dropbox, Inc. (NASDAQ: DBX), and Redfin Corp. (NASDAQ: RDFN). He also serves on the boards of directors of many other private companies in which Annox has made investments, including ClassPass, Evolve Vacation Rentals, Freightos, Sakara Life and Vroom. Bob holds a BA from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Chicago Booth.

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.

Eric Pérez-Grovas

Eric Pérez-Grovas

Cofounder, Jaguar Ventures

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Eric Pérez-Grovas

Cofounder, Jaguar Ventures

Eric Pérez-Grovas is founding partner of Wollef, a VC Fund focused on LATAM early-stage internet companies, among its investments it has unicorns such as Jeeves, Kavak, Konfio, Loft and Nubank. Eric is also co-founder and president of the board of the Mexican Association of Online Sales (AMVO), which among other things, organizes the most relevant e-commerce event in Mexico: HotSale. He also serves as board member of Walmart of Mexico and Central America, Kinedu, Solvento and Nexu. Eric actively participates in nonprofits, serving as board member of CMR Foundation. Eric’s internet experience began in 1999 when he opened and managed Mercadolibre’s Mexican operations. He also worked in consulting at McKinsey & Co. and Bain & Co. and held management positions at Cemex and Satmex. Eric holds a BS in industrial engineering, summa cum laude, from the Tecnológico de Monterrey. He received an MBA and MPP from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he was elected co-president of the GSB Latin American Student Association and vice-president of the Mexican Student Association at Stanford. Eric is a Kauffman Fellow, Class 22.

Jonathan Shulkin

Jonathan Shulkin

Partner, Valor Equity Partners

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Jonathan Shulkin

Partner, Valor Equity Partners

Jon is a partner and co-president of Valor and the fund manager for Valor Siren Ventures (VSV). He serves as a member of all Valor investment committees. Jon has over 20 years of experience in private equity investing. Jon’s responsibilities include fund management for VSV, as well as investment prospect generation, due diligence of potential investments, investment structuring and execution, and capital raising for both the growth fund and VSV. Jon oversees Valor’s growth fund operations team and Valor’s finance function.

Over the years, Jon has focused on investment opportunities in the food and retail technology sectors. Jon began this focus with Valor’s 2006 acquisition of Sizzling Platter. Currently, Jon is a director of several Valor growth fund and VSV portfolio companies, including Gopuff, Misfits Market, Fooda, Wow Bao, and Atmosphere.

Prior to Valor, Jon was part of MG Capital’s investment and portfolio team. During his tenure at MG Capital, Jon worked on acquisition teams focused on executing transactions in the electronic connector industry. Jon served in operational roles at MG Capital’s portfolio companies, including chief operating officer of Connector Service Corporation’s plating division, where he managed the business through 100% growth over a 12-month period. Jon also served as president of electronic plating service and chief operating officer for Amax Plating, Electronic Plating Service, and Associated Plating Company. Prior to joining MG Capital, Jon worked with Bain & Company as an associate consultant. At Bain, he worked on assignments for various Fortune 500 clients in Texas and Australia.

Jon has served on the boards of directors of several charitable organizations, including the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, the Chicago Children’s Museum, and he most recently co-founded Prosper Chicago. He is the former chair of the board of trustees for the Lycée Français de Chicago.

Jon holds a BBA in accounting (with honors) from the University of Texas at Austin.

Ian Taylor

Ian Taylor

Partner, Pear VC

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Ian Taylor

Partner, Pear VC

Ian Taylor is an investment partner at Pear VC. He focuses his attention on supporting student and recent graduate founders to build the next wave of world changing companies.

Pear VC empowers entrepreneurs to find product-market-fit. Our team has built eight companies and invested early in startups now worth over $80B. We use this knowledge to support founders in customer development, product development, crafting GTM, recruiting, and fundraising. We have been fortunate to collaborate with many startups from day zero to $1B+ valuations, including DoorDash, Branch, Aurora Solar, Gusto, and Guardant Health.

Immanuel Thangaraj, MBA ’93

Immanuel Thangaraj, MBA ’93

Managing Director, Essex Woodlands Health Ventures

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Immanuel Thangaraj, MBA ’93

Managing Director, Essex Woodlands Health Ventures

Immanuel Thangaraj joined Essex Woodland in 1998, and serves as managing director of the firm’s legacy venture capital funds Essex Woodlands Funds IV, V, VI, VII, and VIII. Mr. Thangaraj has 20 years of experience as a seasoned investor in operations, venture capital and growth equity opportunities. He began his career at ARCH Venture Partners (“AVP”), a leading venture capital firm with over $2 billion under management which makes early stage technology and healthcare investments.  During his tenure at AVP, he managed one of its portfolio companies, HealthQual, a medical information company, until its sale to Nellcor, a large hospital supplies company.  He left AVP in 1995 to run a start-up telecommunications services company called Integrated Telemanagement, which was later sold to Cam-Net Communications. Mr. Thangaraj earned both a BA and a MBA from the University of Chicago.

Guy Turner MBA ’10

Guy Turner MBA ’10

Managing Director, Hyde Park Venture Partners; Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Polsky Center

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Guy Turner MBA ’10

Managing Director, Hyde Park Venture Partners; Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Polsky Center

Guy has been with HPVP since its beginning in 2011. Prior to HPVP, Guy worked for the Boston Consulting Group where he focused on corporate strategy across a variety of industries. Previously he served as an associate and investing member with Hyde Park Angels, and spent his early career as a mechanical engineer with Raytheon and General Electric. Guy has led investments in a number of software companies and manages HPVP’s investments in Fixer, MarketWagon, Upfront Healthcare, and Zipnosis, among others. He writes about venture capital and startups at vcwithme.co.

Pete Wilkins

Pete Wilkins

Managing Director, Hyde Park Angels

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Pete Wilkins

Managing Director, Hyde Park Angels

Pete Wilkins is a Purpose First leader committed to creating a positive impact on the world.

Before he was thirty, he was a critical part of two technology startups that sold and IPO-ed for more than $2.8 billion. He later went on to lead the turnaround of a medical education company from record losses to record profits and build one of the premier online physician education communities, which he followed by starting a double-bottom-line company focused on college attainment for Latino families. Not every step was successful, but they were all purposeful.

Today, Pete leads HPA—one of the most successful early-stage venture investor groups in the country. He and his firm have partnered with hundreds of founders to help turn their dreams into reality, helping them scale their businesses from start-ups into industry leaders, many of which have gone on to join the exclusive “Unicorn Club.” As a venture investor, board member, and advisor to many entrepreneurs, Pete has created billions of dollars of economic value, but more importantly, he has helped countless founders manifest their purposes into thriving businesses that are improving the world.

In his first book, Purpose First Entrepreneur, Pete draws on a lifetime of lessons and research into value-driven principles and proven methodologies, plus the vast insights he’s garnered from working with and investing in some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs. The book and online resources offer a new approach to help entrepreneurs discover their purpose, turn it into a thriving Purpose First Business, and harness it to perform at an elite level in all aspects of their lives.

In the spirit of giving back, Pete shares his perspective and insights about investing in companies and people as a Forbes contributor. He is also passionate about building Chicago’s entrepreneurial community and is actively engaged in World Business Chicago Leadership Council, Future Founders, and P33, a bold initiative to make Chicago a global technology leader. In recognition of his contributions, Pete has been named one of the Top 100 Chicago Innovators by the Chicago Tribune, was recognized as an “Innovation Blazer” by Chicago Inno, and won the Illinois Technology Association CityLIGHTS Industry Champion Award and the Chicago Innovation Award.

Sam Yagan

Sam Yagan

Co-Founder & CEO, Corazon Capital

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Sam Yagan

Co-Founder & CEO, Corazon Capital

Sam Yagan serves as co-founder and CEO of Corazon Capital, an early stage venture capital firm. He recently served as the chief executive officer of ShopRunner, which provides its millions of members with free two-day shipping and seamless checkout at over 100 leading online retailers; in 2020, he led the sale of ShopRunner to FedEx. Prior to ShopRunner, Sam served as vice-chairman of Match Group, a position he assumed after leading the company as chief executive officer through a period of explosive growth that culminated in its IPO in 2015. 

In addition to its two early-stage funds, Corazon Capital also manages a fund-of-funds and two crypto-focused special-purpose vehicles. Several of Corazon’s portfolio companies have achieved meaningful success, including Pretty Litter, LitCharts, Brilliant Worldwide, Pinterest, Knock, and Telnyx. 

Sam’s prior entrepreneurial ventures in the consumer internet sector include SparkNotes (founded in 1999), still the dominant brand of study guides and eDonkey (founded in 2002), once the largest peer-to-peer file- sharing network in the world. He sold SparkNotes to iTurf and then to Barnes & Noble, where he served as vice-president and publisher and oversaw the expansion of the digitally-native brand into an expansive multi-platform media business. He also co-founded OkCupid, which he led as its CEO through its sales to Match Group in 2011. 

Outside of work, Sam devotes himself to mentoring technology entrepreneurs and civic leaders. In 2009, he co-founded Excelerate Labs (now TechStars Chicago), a leading start-up accelerator, and served as its first chief executive officer. Sam sits on the board of several private companies, including Chamberlain Group, SpotHero, Brilliant Worldwide, and Grindr. He also advises several venture capital funds, including Hyde Park Venture Partners and the FireStarter Fund, which he co- founded. He serves on the Illinois Mathematics & Science Academy Fund Board, and previously served on Target Corp’s Digital Advisory Council, the Stanford Graduate School of Business Management Board, and as an advisor to Procter & Gamble. He also sits on the boards of nonprofits Start Early, Leaders in Tech, and the Rush University Medical Center. 

Sam has earned recognition on TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World,” Fortune Magazine‘s “40 Under 40,” Crain’s Chicago “Tech 50″ and “40 Under 40”, Billboard Magazine’s ”30 Under 30,” D Magazine’s “Dallas 500” and ranked #19 on Silicon Alley Insider’s “Most Inspiring and Influential People.” He has received the Chicago Innovation Awards’ “Visionary of the Year Award,” IMSA’s “Distinguished Leadership Award,” the DCIA’s “Pioneer’s Award,” and admission to Chicago Innovation’s Hall of Fame. Sam has testified before the United States Senate Judiciary Committee and has spoken at the CATO Institute, Digital Hollywood, IRCE, the Federal Trade Commission, and numerous other industry events. 

Sam has a BA with honors in applied mathematics and economics from Harvard College and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he earned distinction as a Siebel Scholar, an Arjay Miller Scholar, and the Henry Ford Scholar, the award granted to each class’s valedictorian. 

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