The amazing people helping our startups



The amazing people helping our startups

Kerry Rupp


Venture Partner, True Wealth Ventures

Leveraging over 20 years' experience launching and growing startups and new lines of business, Kerry advises clients on innovation and strategy.   

Kerry is also a Venture Partner at True Wealth Ventures, an early-stage VC fund investing in women-led businesses in consumer health and sustainable products and technologies. She is an active startup coach who judges startup competitions nationwide and speaks on entrepreneurship, innovation, and investing. She is a mentor at Capital Factory and International Accelerator and an Advisory Panel member of the Texas Health Catalyst program at Dell Medical School.

Prior to this, Kerry was CEO at DreamIt, a Top Ten startup accelerator and venture fund, where she was directly involved with the launch of over 150 companies. She grew DreamIt's programs to five cities, raised a $15+M follow-on fund, and initiated the DreamIt Access (minority entrepreneur), DreamIt Athena (female entrepreneur), and DreamIt Health programs. 

Kerry founded an online travel service, Holiday Golightly, which organized unique group travel excursions for women. She has also advised senior executives at, ReadersDigest, LexisNexis, Payscale, and Taleo. She has held Vice President level positions at, Jobster, and LexisNexis. Kerry began her career as a consultant with McKinsey and Andersen Consulting (now Accenture).

Kerry holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA in Biology from Duke University. She serves on the board of Texas 4000 and on the leadership teams of Women@Austin, The Angel Forum, and the Austin chapters of Harvard Business School Alumni Club and Alumni Angels, and the DukeGEN Global Entrepreneurship Network. She is an avid adventurer who has visited over 50 countries and 49 US states.

Aya Zook

Principal, Microsoft Ventures

Aya Zook is a Principal at Microsoft Ventures, responsible for managing marketing and PR, and is passionate about building new initiatives designed to source and engage promising early stage startups for the fund program. Aya joined Microsoft Corp. in 2006, and has worked in various senior marketing roles, first with MSN then Windows Live, Bing, and the Bing Fund.

Before joining Microsoft, Aya worked for an interactive agency as a designer and a project manager. He sits on the executive council of the Internet Marketing Association. He graduated from the University of Washington where he studied philosophy.

Dr. Werner Vogels

CTO, Amazon

Dr. Werner Vogels is Chief Technology Officer at where he is responsible for driving the company's technology vision, which is to continuously enhance the innovation on behalf of Amazon's customers at a global scale.

Prior to joining Amazon, he worked as a researcher at Cornell University where he was a principal investigator in several research projects that targeted the scalability and robustness of mission-critical enterprise computing systems. He has held the positions of Research Engineer, VP of Technology and CTO in companies that handle the transition of academic technology into industry.

Vogels holds a Ph.D. from the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam and has authored many articles for journals and conferences, most of them on distributed systems technologies for enterprise computing.

jay steinfeld


As founder and CEO of, Jay was an early mover in e-Commerce, in 1993 bootstrapping his website built in his garage into the world’s #1 online window covering store. In January 2014, was acquired by The Home Depot. Jay is still active as CEO, driving and integrating the platform into Home Depot’s interconnected retail strategy.

Jay earned a BBA in Accounting with Honors from the University of Texas in Austin, after which he worked for KPMG Peat, Marwick. Jay is a 10-year member of Vistage International, The Houston Technology Center Tech 100, Houston Jewish Community Center board member, American Leadership Forum, and the XPRIZE Innovation Board.

He is an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year and writes for Inc. Magazine about becoming a more effective leader.  In 2013, was ranked globally as one of the Top 60 CEO's on Social Media. Jay is an advocate and frequent speaker on how company culture and authentic core values drive profitable growth.


Dominic Ybarra Ekarius

Technology PR Lead

Dominic brings more than 15 years of experience in global technology communications and has worked in a variety of high-tech markets including Silicon Valley, Washington, DC, London, UK and Austin. She has developed and managed thought leadership campaigns for a wide array of companies, ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100 leaders. Dominic’s work is focused on driving partnerships, branding, media relations and strategic brand programs. She is working with Qukku to help them in formulating their brand and articulating their story.



Ben Wilson is Chief Technology Officer at GE and is located in Houston, Texas.  He holds several degrees and certifications but is basically a caffeine-based life-form that enjoys tinkering in the cloud, opening up anything to see what’s inside, ignoring instructions for anything that needs assembly, writing bios in the third person and wondering why bios are needed when LinkedIn exists.  If you feel compelled to know more please read on….
Ben oversees Global Infrastructure Operations across more than 600 locations, global application support, enterprise cyber security and Industrial Internet deployment and operations.  Ben is also one of the global Cloud leaders for the General Electric Corporation and actively engaged in IoT with GE's customers.       
Prior to GE Ben was CIO and Head of Global IT Trading Operations at BG Group, CIO for Siemens Fossil Power Generation Division and a Partner with PwC.

Jeff Valk

CEO, Admetsys

Jeff Valk is co-founder and CEO of Admetsys. Prior to taking the helm of Admetsys, he was the company's Chief Technologist, responsible for development of its artificial pancreas system for hospital care and the state-of-the-art visualization and network monitoring technologies that support it. Jeff is a hardware and software engineer by background, specializing in the design of adaptive systems and has technical expertise in areas including machine learning, distributed systems, human-computer interaction and mobile/web technologies. Jeff holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and is a member of numerous technical, engineering and research organizations.

Jenny Fielding

Managing Director, Techstars

Jenny Fielding is a Managing Director at Techstars, where she leads both the Fintech and Internet of Things Accelerators in NYC. Prior to joining Techstars, Jenny headed up corporate venture and digital innovation at BBC Worldwide where she made strategic investments and led business development deals. She has also started several companies, most notably Switch-Mobile, a mobile VoIP company that was acquired. She began her career as a lawyer. You can find Jenny somewhere between NYC, London and San Francisco.


Chief Operating Officer, RideScout

Craig Cummings is the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of RideScout, the “Kayak” of Ground Transportation.  RideScout was acquired by Daimler (Mercedes-Benz) in September 2014.  In his free time, Craig actively invests in technology start-ups through his company, Moonshots Capital, which he co-founded with Kelly Perdew.  Since leaving the military in 2009, Craig has co-founded and served as COO of BTS (exit 2011) and co-founded APX Labs (NEA backed).

Prior to transitioning to the private sector, Craig spent 17 years in the Army, most of that time as an Intelligence Officer serving in multiple National Security Agency (NSA) assignments and locations.  In 2006-2007, Craig deployed to Afghanistan with the Joint Special Operations Command where he earned the Bronze Star.  During his military career, Craig also served as an Assistant Professor of Political Science in the Department of Social Sciences at West Point, NY.  Craig graduated in the top 2% of his West Point class and later earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University.  He was the first-ever Truman Scholarship winner from a Service Academy, a U.S.-Italy Young Leader, a former Term Member with the Council on Foreign Relations, and is a Board member for several of companies.

In March of 2015, Craig was selected by HillVets as one of the 100 most influential and impactful veterans in the United States.

Craig is married to Lawton Cummings, a former Law Professor and television legal analyst. They have two children, Addison (13) and Cooper (11), and reside in Austin, TX.



Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers

Lynne Chou joined Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers in 2013 and focuses on life science investing in medical devices, diagnostics, and digital health.

Before joining KPCB, Lynne had over twelve years of healthcare operating and investing experience at Abbott Vascular and Guidant in multiple roles and worked on the launch of over ten interventional cardiology and cardiac surgery products both in the US and internationally. Lynne lead the global launch of Absorb, recognized by Wall Street Journal as Medical Device Technology Innovation of the Year and Popular Mechanics. Earlier in her career, Lynne worked at Apax Partners with a focus on software venture capital investing. In addition, Lynne worked at Goldman Sachs in the Mergers and Acquisitions group and worked on multiple multi-billion dollar acquisitions and sell side transactions in various industries.

Lynne earned a B.S. degree in industrial engineering from Stanford University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.


Chief Innovation Officer, Hearst Health

Justin Graham is Chief Innovation Officer for Hearst Health, where he leads the development of new technology and content-enabled solutions that improve patient outcomes and drive efficiency. He directs the Hearst Health Innovation Lab in South San Francisco, supporting internal projects and those developed in collaboration with outside clinician-entrepreneurs. Before joining Hearst, he was Chief Medical Information Officer at NorthBay Healthcare in Fairfield, California. Between 2003 and 2009, he held executive leadership positions in medical informatics at the California Prison Healthcare Receivership and Lumetra, and consulted as lead physician content designer for Kaiser Permanente’s national electronic health record deployment.

Dr. Graham is a medical doctor with board certification in infectious diseases and holds a master’s degree in biomedical informatics. He received medical training at UC San Francisco, Harvard University, and Stanford University.

Dylan Boyd

Director, R/GA Ventures

Dylan loves working with early growth companies. He is currently the Director, New Program Development of R/GA Ventures where he works with global brands to develop in house, partner and accelerator programs. R/GA is a global Digital Agency that creates early stage products, digital services and experiences. He recently led the growth and launches of the Techstars vertical accelerator programs like Sprint (Mobile Health), R/GA (Connected Devices/IoT), Barclays (FinTech), Nike (Digital Health and Sport), Disney (Entertainment and Content) and others.

In his past lives, he has built start up companies, global e-commerce initiatives, online business solutions for large corporations/major brands with integrated interactive content and strategy programs. He has been fortunate enough to be honored with creative and business awards, including three INC 500/5000 awards. He is conditioned to growth.

He lives and works obsessively in Portland, Oregon, allowing him to focus on the fast-paced world of early growth start up development while still always being connected to life here and abroad. He enjoys spending time with his wife, two sons and their friends.

You can frequently find him in a metal tube at 36K feet. He is always trying to change that.

Krishna Srinivasan

General Partner, LiveOak Venture Partners

Krishna Srinivasan is a co-founder of LiveOak Venture Partners and has been investing in early stage Texas based companies and entrepreneurs since 2000. His current and past board involvements at LiveOak include CS Disco (e-discovery platform), Hive9 (Marketing planning and performance measurement software), OJO Labs (AI based customer service agent), Razberi Technologies (video surveillance appliance), RxWiki (Pharmacy patient engagement platform), StackEngine (Docker / container management) – acquired by Oracle, StepOne (predictive, contextual self-support), and Written (content marketing platform).

Prior to co-founding LiveOak, Krishna was a Partner at Austin Ventures. At Austin Ventures, he worked with companies such as Augmentix, Entorian (NASDAQ: ENTN), Caringo, Coldwatt (Nasdaq: FLEX), Spatial Wireless (NASDAQ: ALU), Mavenir Systems (NYSE: MVNR) and BlackSand Technologies (NASDAQ: QCOM). Prior to joining Austin Ventures, Krishna was with Motorola where he wrote large scale optimization software for supply chain planning and worked with a variety of business units on strategic and operational issues. He started his professional career at SEMATECH.

Krishna received his MBA from Wharton where he graduated with highest academic honors as a Palmer Scholar. He also has an MS in Operations Research from the University of Texas at Austin, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, where he graduated with the highest all-round honors.

Krishna also currently serves as Chairman of the Miracle Foundation board, an Austin-based organization that supports orphanages in India and is one of the founding members and a past board member of TiE Austin.


HATCH pitch Judges for SXSW 2015


HATCH pitch Judges for SXSW 2015

John Frankel

Partner, ff Venture Capital

John Frankel is the founding partner of ff Venture Capital, and has been an early-stage investor since late 1999. John has served as a director of over 35 companies and an investor in more than 76 companies, including Cornerstone OnDemand (CSOD on NASDAQ), Indiegogo, Ionic Security, Klout, SkyCatch, Plated, 500px, Distil Networks, and Bottlenose.

Prior to founding ffVC, John worked at Goldman Sachs for 21 years in a variety of roles that involved technology development, reengineering, and capital markets. In capital markets, he worked closely with some of the world’s leading hedge funds, and developed a keen understanding of portfolio risk/return management. He started his business career in London with Arthur Andersen having earned a Master of Arts from New College, Oxford where he studied Mathematics, Philosophy and Logic. He is a Fellow Chartered Accountant of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

John is a frequent keynote speaker and author of dozens articles on venture capital and entrepreneurship. He has also appeared in leading publications such as The BBC, Bloomberg, BusinessWeek, Business Insider, The San Francisco Chronicle, TechCrunch, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and on CNBC and Bloomberg TV.

Jon Karlen

Partner, FKA

Jon Karlen is a partner in the technology group at Atlas Venture and focuses on investments in software and online services.

Jon joined Atlas in early 2014 and sits on the boards of CustomMade, Fashion Project, Kinvey, PillPack, and Robin. Prior to joining Atlas, Jon was a partner at Flybridge Capital, where he led seed investments in disruptive software businesses including Open English and Digital Lumens. He also pioneered investments in Virtual Computer (acquired by Citrix), ZING Systems (acquired by Dell), and Restorando. Jon began his career at Greylock where as an EIR he developed an investment opportunity in Oat Systems, an RFID software company.

Jon is a frequent contributor and advisor at local incubators, and founded the University Research and Entrepreneurship Symposium, a one day conference that connects investors with technology startups spun out of university research. He received an MBA from Stanford University and an AB from Harvard College.

Rami Essaid

CEO and Co-Founder, Distil Networks

Rami Essaid is the CEO and Co-Founder of Distil Networks, the leading public and private cloud security provider that blocks malicious bots. With over 11 years in telecommunications, network security, and cloud infrastructure management, Rami has advised enterprise companies around the world, helping them embrace the cloud to improve their scalability and reliability while maintaining a high level of security. Rami is a frequent contributor to news publications such as Fox Business, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.

Rami founded a mobile communications start-up resulting with him making a successful exit. He was recently selected as one of the most promising CEO's to watch by Under30CEO. He pitched at SXSW Interactive HATCH Pitch competition where he was named the winner and is a regular judge for the competition.  His current company is frequently in the press for online security achievements notably with Forbes, The Washington Post, and Microsoft.

Balaji Gopinath

Evolution Labs

Over the last twenty plus years, Balaji has worked with leading media, technology, and entertainment companies spearheading digital initiatives in global roles as a GM, SVP and VP at both private and public companies including Turner/Media Camp, Delivery Agent, and Nike.

He was instrumental in helping launch and among others in the dot com era. Balaji also founded and directed the first media focused accelerator (Media Camp) investing in 27 digital entertainment startups over 3 years and holds multiple patents in the entertainment and digital advertising space.

He has been a founding member of several companies, is an angel investor, and has been involved with corporate development, corp VC, and investment roles.

Balaji earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Rick Pleczko

President & CEO, symplr

As a 25+ year veteran of the software industry, Pleczko has held senior executive, marketing and technical positions in a number of leading software companies across a wide range of industries, including systems and database management, application development, healthcare and aerospace. Prior to symplr, Pleczko was the founder, president and CEO of Idera, which he grew to become a multi-national company with a broad product portfolio used by over 12,000 companies worldwide. Previously, he was Chief Marketing Officer at NetIQ Corporation, vice president of Products and Marketing at Mission Critical Software, vice president of Marketing at Platinum Technology, and senior vice president of Marketing at LBMS. Rick has also served as an Entrepreneur in Residence at Austin Ventures, is active as a board member and advisor for a number of early stage companies, and has been nominated for the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Stephen Forte

Managing Director, Fresco Capital

Stephen Forte a managing director at Fresco Capital, an early stage Venture Fund, and is involved in all aspects of investment and operations with a specific focus on enterprise, big data, and IoT. Previously, Stephen was the Chief Strategy Officer of Telerik, a leading vendor of developer and team productivity tools acquired by Progress Software in 2014. Stephen was the founder of Mach5, a Silicon Valley based startup accelerator and co-founder of AcceleratorHK in Hong Kong. Involved in several startups, he was the co-founder of Triton Works, which was acquired by UBM in 2010 and was the Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of Corzen, Inc., which was acquired by Wanted Technologies in 2007. Prior to Corzen, Stephen served as the CTO of Zagat Survey. Stephen has an MBA from the City University of New York. He is a Scrum Alliance board member. An avid mountain climber, Stephen leads a trek in the Mt. Everest region every fall to raise money for charity.

Jared Stasik

Vice President, Detroit Venture Partners

Jared is a VP with Detroit Venture Partners. He manages finances and operations for DVP's $55m seed fund and takes an active role working in the trenches with DVP's portfolio companies on sales, marketing, operations, and finances. Jared is a graduate of the University of Michigan and received an MBA from UC Berkeley-Haas.



Joel Yarmon

Investor, Draper Associates

Joel is an investor at Draper Associates. Prior to joining Draper Associates, Joel served as a Director for the United States Senate Commerce Committee, advising Senators on technology legislation and policy. Joel also co-founded an IT consulting startup, Iceware Technologies, where he specialized in wireless application infrastructure. Joel holds an MBA from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business, and a BA from the University of Puget Sound where he was an NCAA skier. Joel also attended the United States Naval War College where he studied Joint Maritime Operations. In addition to skiing, Joel enjoys running, biking, and flying.

Nicole Glaros

Managing Director, Techstars New York

Nicole got her entrepreneurial start in the 4th grade, orchestrating cousins into theatrical plays and charging neighbors admission.  Later, she founded three startups including Property Management Shop, all still operating.  She has spent nearly a decade working to improve the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Colorado through leadership roles at various organizations and incubators such as CTEK, Investor Avenue, CleanLaunch, and the Advance Colorado Center. She considers herself privileged to have worked with nearly 100 brilliant and gutsy seed-stage web software entrepreneurs. Nicole graduated with a Master’s from the University of Florida, likes to do at least one philanthropic thing annually, and shares the wonderment of parenthood with the love of her life, Mark. When not thinking about Techstars, you’ll find Nicole on the slopes or on her bike, hanging with her big fat greek family, traveling to some exotic destination, or generally making a fool of herself to entertain others.

Sumeet Jain

Director, Intel Capital

Sumeet Jain joined Intel Capital in 2013 and focused on Internet and Mobile enabled Consumer products and services. His primary interest areas are Data Driven Consumer Experiences, Innovative Ecommerce, Marketplaces, Wearable Technologies & Internet of things, Marketing Services, and lightweight SaaS software.

Sumeet brings a perspective to investing that comes from having been intimately involved with entrepreneurship and technology from multiple angles - as a startup executive and operator, an engineer, a strategy consultant, and an investment banker.

Prior to Intel Captial, Sumeet was a Partner with CMEA Capital. At CMEA, Sumeet invested and worked with disruptive technology companies and was intimately involved in the firm’s investments in companies such as Intermolecular (Nasdaq: IMI), Cafe Press (Nasdaq: PRSS), Apriso (Acq by Dassault), AWR (Acq by National Instruments), Foro Energy and Surgiquest.

Patrick Eggen

Director, Qualcomm Ventures

Patrick is a Director at Qualcomm Ventures and based in San Francisco. He oversees Qualcomm Ventures’s Seed program, focused on very early stage opportunities. Additionally, he serves as the group lead for investment opportunities in the mobile software and services sector.

Prior to joining Qualcomm, Patrick worked for Salomon Smith Barney’s Investment Banking unit in their Chicago, London and Hong Kong offices. He was a member of their Global Telecommunications team, involved in both M&A advisory roles and capital-raising transactions. Patrick has an M.B.A. from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management and a B.A. from Northwestern University.

Patrick currently manages and/or actively serves as a Board Observer for Qualcomm Ventures investments in ChaCha, Clarifai, EduPath, Kaleo Software, M87, MightyText, Matterport, Noom, OpenSignal, Plivo, Starmaker, Tempo AI, and Trigger. Prior investments (exits) include Aicent, Clicker (acquired by CBS), Divide (acquired by Google), Plixi (acquired by Lockerz), ThinkNear (acquired by TNAV) and Viewdle (acquired by GOOG).