Meet the judges for Women Startup Challenge Europe. The final pitch competition will be held May 3, 2017 at City Hall in London.
Mary McKenna MBE
Director at Elemental Software and Co-Founder of Learning Pool
Mary McKenna is a well-known Irish technology entrepreneur and angel investor. She co-founded the successful Northern Irish e-learning company Learning Pool following a long public sector career and a spell as a Silicon Valley dotcommer. She exited from Learning Pool in 2014 so that she could return to working with earlier-stage startups.
Mary is interested in helping to start and grow indigenous Irish and UK tech companies. She is also keen to work with female and young entrepreneurs. She is a resident expert at the University of Oxford’s Said Business School; one of the Entrepreneurs in Residence at the Northern Ireland Science Park in Belfast; a trustee of the Centre for Acceleration of Social Technology; and an active member of Tech London Advocates.
She has invested in six early-stage tech startups to date, three of which have female founding teams. Mary was awarded the MBE by Her Majesty the Queen in the 2014 New Year’s Honours for services to digital technology, innovation, and learning.
Co-Founder and CEO of Zapnito
Charles is Co-Founder and CEO of Zapnito, a publishing platform that allows organizations to build their own online, branded knowledge networks. Together with his co-founder, Charles created, bootstrapped, developed, and pivoted Zapnito from an idea to a thriving SaaS business that won Digital Startup of the Year at the 2015 Professional Publishers Association Awards.
Prior to Zapnito, Charles worked as Chief Technology Officer at Informa Business Information. In this role, he managed a portfolio worth $400 million for one of Informa’s most successful business units. Charles also worked as Interim Chief Product Officer and Digital Systems Director at Nature Publishing Group, where he created and developed the first product office for Nature.com.
A former triathlete and triathlon coach, Charles excels at helping founders build their businesses from bootstrap to profit. Creating world-class digital products with outstanding colleagues gets Charles out of bed each morning.
Managing Director (London) at Techstars
Max is currently Managing Director of Techstars London. Techstars is the world’s leading accelerator program for early-stage startups. Prior to Techstars, Max spent 12 years at Virgin where he was responsible for the strategy of the group and for starting new companies. Virgin Insight – which delivered big data consultancy to all the Virgin companies, including Virgin Mobile USA – grew to revenues of $1 billion within 18 months. Additionally, Virgin Mobile Canada was voted the best Canadian network in its launch year, while Virgin Healthbank froze stem cells cryogenically. These companies exited for more than $500M for Richard Branson.
Alongside his Virgin commitments, Max also co-founded lastsecondtickets.com which was successfully sold in 2014. He started his career at L’Oreal running the UK’s largest haircare brand – the irony was lost on no one. He was a scholar at Oxford University, where he obtained a First Class Degree in Chemistry.
Chief Strategy Officer at We Are Social
Mobbie serves as Chief Strategy Officer at We Are Social, a London-based global media agency. In this role, Mobbie owns the strategic model for global client relationships as well as driving thought leadership across the agency. She also engages across a range of We Are Social’s global clients.
Mobbie previously worked as Head of Digital Strategy at JWT. During her three years at JWT, she developed the digital strategy and planning for a range of clients including Unilever, HSBC, Shell, and Nestlé. Previous roles also include Head of Planning at MRM Worldwide, Business Director at Wunderman, and Marketing Director at Digitas.
Mobbie earned her BA (Hons) in English from the University of Oxford. In 2016, she was included in the Holmes Report’s Innovator 25 EMEA list.
Co-Founder of SCM Private and the True and Fair Foundation
Gina Miller co-founded SCM Private in 2009 as a disruptive modern investment manager offering low access to high-end wealth management. Gina has worked in the UK retail financial services sector since 1996 and is passionate about transparency, accountability and consumer protection.
Her business principles are characterized by innovation, efficiency, a profit for purposes model and putting the customer at the centre of all decision-making processes. In 1996, she launched SWAY Marketing, one of the first specialist retail financial services marketing agencies in the UK. Prior to this, Gina worked for BMW’s events and marketing team in the UK.
Gina’s feisty advocacy for transparency, scrutiny, and ethics in the UK financial services industry led to her launching the True and Fair Campaign in 2012. She also created the True and Fair Calculator, a free online tool that helps users see their true investment costs. Her campaigning work resulted in influencing and drafting text in 3 EU Directives – MiFID II, PRIPS, and the Shareholder Directive in 2014.
In September 2014, Gina launched SCMDirect.com and MoneyShe.com as direct-to-consumer online wealth management brands which use technology as an enabler of efficiencies and dis-intermediation, as well as on-boarding smaller clients.
Gina is a passionate philanthropist and conscious capitalist. She has funded and authored / co-authored reports on modern-day slavery, social justice ,and the charity sector. Her True and Fair Foundation campaigns for greater transparency, accountability, and governance in the UK charity sector. It also directly supports small, dynamic, community charities that are making significant impacts.
Gina has studied Law, Marketing, and Human Resource Management. In 2016, Gina was the lead claimant in a historic constitutional legal case against the UK Government seeking to preserve Parliamentary sovereignty by claiming that the Government could not bypass Parliament and trigger Article 50 without primary legislation.
Martha Lane Fox
Doteveryone, Founder and Executive Chair
Baroness Lane Fox is the founder and executive chair of Doteveryone.org.uk. In April 2016 she was appointed as a non executive director of Twitter. Martha became a crossbench peer in the UK House of Lords in March 2013. In March 2014 she was appointed Chancellor of the Open University. Martha co- founded and chairs LuckyVoice, revolutionising the karaoke industry. She is a non executive director of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Creative industries federation, the Scale Up Institute and the Open Data Institute.
In 2007 Martha founded her own charitable foundation Antigone, and also serves as a Patron of AbilityNet, Reprieve, Camfed, and Just for Kids Law. In 2013 Martha was awarded a CBE. In 1998, Martha co-founded Europe’s largest travel and leisure website, lastminute.com with Brent Hoberman. They took it public in 2000 and sold it in 2005.
Founder and Creative Director of Make Your Words Work™ and Co-Founder of Flock Global™
Emma Sexton is the Founder and Creative Director of design business Make Your Words Work™, and the Co-Founder of Flock Global™, a collaborative network for entrepreneurs. Emma is also a presenter on talkRADIO; winner of the Kantar Inspiration Award and the Future 100 Award; and was shortlisted for The Drum’s Creative Woman of the Year 2016.
Founder, Wikimedia Foundation
Jimmy Wales is an American Internet entrepreneur best known as the founder of Wikimedia Foundation, the charity which operates Wikipedia.org, and as the co-founder of Wikia.com.
Wales received his Bachelor’s degree in Finance from Auburn University and his Master’s in Finance from the University of Alabama. During his academic career, he published an academic paper, “On the pricing of Index Options when all the underlying assets follow a lognormal diffusion”. Before he started his career as an Internet entrepreneur, he worked as a futures and options trader in Chicago, trading mostly short-term interest rate derivatives and currency futures.
In 2007, The World Economic Forum recognized Wales as one of its Young Global Leaders. This prestigious award acknowledges the top 250 young leaders for their professional accomplishments, their commitment to society, and their potential to contribute to shaping the future of the world. In addition, Wales received the “Time 100 Award” in 2006, as he was named one of the world’s most influential people in the “Scientists & Thinkers” category. He was appointed a fellow of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School in 2005, and in 2006, he joined the Board of Directors of the non-profit organization Creative Commons.
In January of 2001, Wales started Wikipedia.org, the online encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Today, Wikipedia and its sister projects are among the top five most visited sites on the Web. In mid-2003, Wales set up the Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit organization based in San Francisco, CA, to support Wikipedia.org. The Foundation, now based in downtown San Francisco, boasts a staff of close to 150 focusing on fundraising, technology, and programming relating to the expansion of Wikipedia. Wales now sits on the board of trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation, and continues to act as a key spokesperson.
In 2004, Wales co-founded Wikia.com, a completely separate company that enables groups of people to share information and opinions that fall outside the scope of an encyclopedia. Wikia’s community-created wikis range from video games and movies to finance and environmental issues. Wikia’s network is now ranked 16th most popular website according to Quantcast.com, and strong growth continues.
In 2014, Wales was appointed Co-Chairman of The People’s Operator, a UK-based mobile operator that enables the user to donate 10% of their phone bill to a cause of their choice, at no extra cost to them. In January 2016, Wales became a non-executive director of the Guardian Media Group.
Wales is currently living in London, where he intends to make his permanent home.
Marie-Laure Sauty de Chalon
CEO, aufeminin group
Marie-Laure is CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors of auFeminin.com, the world’s leading internet portal for women. Before joining the auFeminin Group in June 2010, Marie-Laure started her career in media working in media agencies. She previously served as as CEO of Aegis Media Southern Europe (including France) from 2004 – 2010.
Marie-Laure is a member of the Antitrust Authority, board member of LVMH, and has been teaching “Changing Media” at SciencesPo Paris since 2007.
Partner and Co-Founder at Bootstrap Europe
Fatou is a partner and co-founder at Bootstrap Europe in Zurich, where she focuses on the sourcing, risk evaluation, negotiation, and due diligence of new investment opportunities.
Prior to starting Bootstrap, Fatou co-founded TREE. In this role, she focused on investment, selection, due diligence, and performance optimization of clients’ direct holdings in private companies. Fatou also contributed to the setup and implementation of the African Risk Capacity, a $100m sovereign risk insurance facility against drought in 22 countries.
Fatou worked at Citigroup in their London and Johannesburg offices, where she spent over five years advising clients in Europe and emerging markets on cross border acquisitions, high yield debt, and equity financings. Her work experience also extends to strategic advisory to the CEO at SFR, France’s second largest mobile operator, as well as the sovereign credit ratings team Standard and Poor’s in London.
Fatou is originally from Senegal. She holds a BSc in Economics and Finance from the University of Calgary and graduated from the HEC Business School in Paris, where she majored in Finance. Fatou is fluent in French, English, Wolof, and Spanish.
Presenter, Badass Women's Hour on talkRADIO; Founder of The Guardian's Women in Leadership section
Harriet Minter is a journalist and broadcaster, specialising in female leadership. She founded and edited the Guardian’s Women in Leadership section, which focussed on women in the workplace, and now writes a column for them on women in tech. She is also a columnist for Psychologies magazine and hosts The Badass Women’s Hour on TalkRadio. She’s written for publications including The Times, Huffington Post, and The Pool.
Prior to working at the Guardian, she completed a Politics degree at Newcastle University following which she started her journalistic career at RollonFriday.com, the leading news site for lawyers. She is a regular speaker on women’s rights, the future of work, and digital media. In the past two years she’s given two TED Talks, the first on the importance of learning to fail and the second on yoga, which have had tens of thousands of views. Outside of work, her passions include high heels and big boats – just not together.
General Manager, Digital Valley Business School (Barcelona)
I have two degrees in Business Administration and Marketing. I’ve worked for big companies for most of my life (Nielsen, Warner Bros, Cadbury, and HP) in the Sales and Marketing departments. After 8 years at HP, I decided that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life working for a multinational and quit.
After a 2-year trip around the world, I returned to Barcelona in 2012 and I decided that I wanted to start my own business. In 2013, I created Kuotus, an online booking system for tours and leisure activities. After months preparing a business plan, I decided to invest in and join The Valley Digital Business School based in Madrid. In January 2015, I opened The Valley DBS in Barcelona. I’ve managed the School since then, and consider it my second startup experience.
General Partner, Ventech
Claire joined Ventech as General Partner in 2008. She focuses on Internet/mobile services and software. Claire currently sits on the boards of Bonitasoft, Botify, and Vestiaire Collective in France, and Asgoodasnew in Germany. She was board member of Stickyads, a video programmatic adtech solution (acquired by Comcast – US in May 2016) as well as b-process (acquired by Ariba – US) and Arkoon (acquired by Airbus group).
Claire started her career at Crédit Lyonnais working on project financing activities in France and the USA. She later participated in the creation and development of Crédit Lyonnais’ Venture Capital department (which later became Crédit Agricole Private Equity) from 2000 to 2005. She went on to lead their investments in companies such as Musiwave (sold to Openwave) and Meiosys (sold to IBM).
In 2005, Claire co-funded the “Infrastuctures” fund for AXA Private Equity. She managed investments in the Utilities sector (energy, water, waste), with specific focus on renewable energies in Europe. Claire is an electronics engineer (Institut Supérieur d’Electronique de Paris) and graduated from ESSEC. She supports the non-profit organization Ashoka, which allows her to meet and collaborate with passionate social entrepreneurs.
Community Editor, Tech North
Martin Bryant is the Community Editor at Tech North, where he tells the story of technology in the North of England. He uncovers world-class companies, people, and initiatives that often fly under the radar of major tech publications. Martin was previously Editor-at-Large at The Next Web and is a regular fixture on technology conference stages in Europe and the USA. He often appears on global TV and radio programs to discuss technology.
Based in Manchester, UK, Martin co-founded the city’s Social Media Cafe events that helped kickstart a lively cross-discipline digital community in the city. More recently, he has become part of the founding team behind TechHub Manchester. He is also a member of Manchester Digital‘s council. A Broadcasting graduate, he is well-versed in the British media industry and moved into the online media industry after having worked in education, helping children learn TV and radio skills.
Founding Editor, Tech.eu
Robin is a seasoned European technology journalist and the Founding Editor of Tech.eu – the premier source of European technology news, data analysis, and market intelligence. He was formerly the European Editor of The Next Web, and before that a senior editor at TechCrunch.
Eva de Lera
Executive Director, Raising the Floor International
Eva de Lera is an idea and concept developer, an innovation strategist and advisor focused on applying her diverse and multi-disciplinary background to help steer change in organizations interested in improving people’s lives. Her work and research focuses on emotions/psychology, education, design and technology. She is also a serial entrepreneur and an artist. She currently serves as the Executive Director of Raising the Floor International, in the Advisory Board of the Doug Engelbart Institute and at Sekg.
Partner, Elaia Partners
Pauline joined Elaia Partners early 2014. She began her career as an equity research analyst at Crédit Agricole Cheuvreux (former broker of Crédit Agricole CIB). She moved on to an independent firm, Genesta Finance, where she spent three years covering European midcap stocks in the internet and video games sector. In 2011, she joined the Corporate Finance team at the investment bank Bryan, Garnier & Co. Still specializing in the Internet and TMT industries, Pauline has realized more than 10 transactions, from M&A to fundraising/IPOs and capital restructuring.
Pauline is Partner at Elaia Partners and sits – among others – on the board of Agriconomie (AgTech marketplace), EasyRECrue (HRTech SaaS), and Talent.io (selective marketplace for developers). She also follows others companies such as tinyclues (predictive emailing CRM) or Cryptosense (security analysis in cryptographic systems). Pauline’s expertise lies in ad tech, Internet, marketplaces, AgTech, and SaaS. She was educated at EM Lyon and Corvinus University of Budapest.
Partner at Hoxton Ventures
Hussein is a founding partner of Hoxton Ventures, a London-based, early stage European venture capital firm. He currently represents Hoxton on the boards of bd4t ravel, Darktrace, and TourRadar. Hussein is an angel investor in Bea’s of Bloomsbury, GoCardless, Halo Neuroscience, Popxo, Signpost and Yieldify. He is also an advisor to Tarmin and was previously an advisor to the chairman of Eros International (NYSE:EROS). He has occasionally assisted the UK government with technology policy, and regularly appears on the BBC, Bloomberg, CNN, and Sky News.
Formerly, Hussein was an associate at Accel Partners, where he focused on consumer internet, financial technology, and software investments. He helped invest in OpenGamma, Playfish (acquired by EA), and Dapper (acquired by Yahoo). Hussein joined Accel from Microsoft Corporation, where he was a platform planner, product manager, and senior manager. He also helped build Safe-View (acquired by L-3), and worked at Radiance Technologies (acquired by Comcast) and Studio Verso (acquired by KPMG). Hussein holds an MBA from London Business School and did his undergraduate studies in Symbolic Systems at Stanford University
Benedetta Arese Lucini
Co-Founder, Oval Money; Former General Manager, Uber (Italy)
Benedetta Arese Lucini was born in Milano and earned her Bachelor’s degree in International Economics from the University of Bocconi. She began her career in investment banking at Morgan Stanley in London. Then, she earned her MBA from NYU”s Stern School of Business, where she specialized in technology, media, and entertainment.
Upon graduation, Benedetta took her newfound passion for tech startups to the West Coast. She led startups to the public market through her role at Credit Suisse. Once she felt ready for a new adventure, Benedetta moved to Malaysia and led the operations of Zalora – an e-commerce company under the Rocket Internet Group. After nearly 10 years of global tech experience, Benedetta returned to Italy and worked as the Italian General Manager at Uber, where she managed the brand’s expansion through Italy and the launch of new products, like its peer-to-peer solution.
The knowledge and exposure that she gained at Uber drove Benedetta to start something new. As Co-Founder of Oval Money, she wants to tackle another highly regulated industry -finance. Her goal is to build a web and mobile app that uses behavioral data and artificial intelligence to help users make smarter financial choices.
An entrepreneur and MsC in Media and Communication Carla Zaldua’s latest project is acceXible, a company that focuses on stakeholder engagement and exploitation strategies for ICT R&D projects. She also works as a consultant building communication campaigns for companies and institutions. A few of the organizations she has collaborated with are: the Council of Europe, OECD, Repsol-YPF and Microsoft Iberica.
Serial entrepreneur she is now working on a new idea (early stage) to help unemployed young people develop a professional career.
General Partner, LocalGlobe
Ophelia is a General Partner at LocalGlobe, a seed-focused venture capital fund that has backed some of the UK’s biggest success stories – like Zoopla, Graze, and TransferWise – and helped build global leaders like Skype, Just Eat, and King. Fascinated by user behavior and experience, she loves working with design-led teams and founders with strong product DNA. She also has a keen interest in digital health and financial services.
Previously, Ophelia was with Index Ventures for four years, where she led investments in Big Health, Call9, Osper, Typeform and MarvelApp. She also worked closely with Robinhood and Credit Benchmark. In 2016, Ophelia was named by Forbes Magazine as one of the 30 Under 30 in Finance.
Founder, CEW Communications; Former Head of Communications at Tech City UK
Cathy specializes in working with startups and the organizations that support them. She has a real passion for working with growing companies where she can make an impact.
Before founding CEW Communications, she was Head of Communications for Tech City UK, an organization to accelerate the growth of digital startups and skills in the UK. She previously worked as the Communications and Marketing Manager for Seedcamp, the first round fund that invests in pre-seed and seed-stage tech startups. In her role at Seedcamp, she advised early-stage companies within Seedcamp’s portfolio on their own marketing and PR activity.
Ahead of Seedcamp, she was Senior Account Manager on the Startups and Fast Growth team of Albion Drive and was recognized for her work in the agency by PR Week in June 2014, when she appeared as a ‘Rising Star’ of the industry. She has worked on international campaigns for US and European companies in a range of sectors across the tech space. These include some of Europe’s leading startups and VCs, such as Index Ventures, DFJ Esprit, Transferwise, Etsy, Brainient, Moo.com, and Klarna.
Outside of her day-to-day, she is an organizer for GeekGirl Meetup UK, which highlights female role models in the tech industry and provides women with events to learn, connect, and be mentored. Cathy is also the host of GeekGirlMeets, a podcast series that interviews women in technology in order to inspire others.
Senior Manager, Energy at Village Capital
Marilyn Waite’s vision is a world where sustainability’s values of social cohesion, environmental consciousness, intergenerational equity, and economic health drive decision-making and business practices. A multi-lingual engineer, project manager, and author, she has experience across four continents in investment (Lincoln International in China), renewable and nuclear energy (AREVA in France), education (Kaplan and Shanghai Normal University), economic development (United Nations in Madagascar), tourism and Internet start-ups (SustainableVisit), and public policy (National Academy of Sciences in the United States).
As the author of Sustainability at Work (Routledge-Earthscan 2016), Marilyn has addressed global audiences worldwide on sustainability in careers, manufacturing, climate change, water, and energy. She also founded SustainableVisit, an app and online platform that provides users with sustainable travel and tourism suggestions for locations worldwide. Marilyn holds a Master’s degree with distinction in Engineering for Sustainable Development from the University of Cambridge and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering (magna cum laude) from Princeton University. Marilyn currently leads the energy practice at Village Capital; serves on the Board of Directors for Engineers for a Sustainable World; and is a Senior Research Fellow at Project Drawdown.
Co-Founder of SoftwareCornwall.org
Belinda Waldock is an Agile business coach, author of Being Agile in Business, and a Computer Science graduate. Her book was shortlisted as the CMI Management Book of the Year and has been published internationally, including its translation into Chinese. Belinda works with private and public sector teams and businesses supporting growth and improvement. She specializes in whole business agility from a teams and business perspective. Her “Being Agile” approach has been adopted by a broad range of high-growth businesses across sectors such as tech, fashion, manufacturing, and marketing.
Belinda is part of the organizing committee for the award-winning conference www.AgileontheBeach.co.uk. She is also a regular speaker at events , where she shares her experiences adopting agile within and beyond the tech sector.
Belinda is a co-founder and director of www.SoftwareCornwall.org, the second fastest-growing digital cluster in the UK (TechNation2015). Software Cornwall represents a community of businesses, education, and support organizations dedicated to connecting, promoting, and supporting Cornwall’s tech community. Learn more about Belinda on her website – www.beingagile.co.uk – or follow her on twitter @belindawaldock
General Manager and Co-Founder, BIME Analytics
Rachel is the General Manager and Co-Founder of BIME Analytics, a SaaS cloud Business Intelligence (BI) startup originally located in Montpellier, France. BIME Analytics was acquired by Zendesk in October 2015.
As a young, female financial controller, Rachel saw a real business need for BI tools in the age of Big Data. This led her to found BIME in 2009. The company offers true cloud BI service and was the first front-end analytics partner of Google BigQuery. BIME Analytics became an international success story via Paris, Montpellier, and Kansas City. Rachel is a firm believer that today, a business can be built from anywhere, and that by using the Cloud to connect teams and reach global markets, geographical boundaries no longer exist in the world of startups.
Rachel is also one of France Digitale’s board members, an association of startups and VCs lobbying for pro-startup legislation in France and beyond. Prior to BIME, Rachel held finance positions at Carrefour and FM Logistics Russia. She holds a Masterʼs degree in Finance from the Euromed Management Business School in Marseille.
Founder, A Very Good Company
Natalie has carved a unique path in social entrepreneurship. She started her first substantial business at the age of 19 and went on to create a pioneering organization called ‘A Very Good Company’ that drives businesses to be a force for good. Natalie was a member of the Review Panel on Mission-Led Business for the Cabinet Office, where she played a decisive role in the future of social impact through business in the UK economy. She is currently a Board Member for UnLtd – the leading provider of support to social entrepreneurs in the UK and the largest such network in the world – and Big Lottery Fund UK, the largest social funder in the UK. She was appointed to the role by the Minister of State at the time, Lord Francis Maude.
Natalie was Co-Chair of Grant Thornton’s Vibrant Economy Commission, a corporate-led movement to make economic growth inclusive and beneficial for all. She stood down to serve as Chair of Nominet Trust, the corporate foundation of Nominet. Most recently, Natalie was appointed by the Mayor to join the London Local Enterprise Panel, which shapes London’s economic strategy. In 2016, Natalie was named one of City AM’s PowerList 100 and was awarded the ‘Community Spirit’ Award at the Women of the Future Celebration in November of that year. In 2015, she was on Management Today’s 35 under 35 list. In January 2017, Natalie launched Badass Women’s Hour – a new lifestyle and current affairs radio show on talkRADIO that she co-created and pitched to the station.
CEO at TheFamily
I love impulsive people who design beautiful and emotional products because they couldn’t dream of doing anything else. When we started TheFamily, Nicolas, Oussama and I wanted to kill the toxicity of the French tech environment. How? We looked to design an ambitious infrastructure for startups, by scaling education, tools and access to capital in order to create billion dollar startups.
With TheFamily, I work tirelessly to make changes to a landscape ruled by elitism, where neither youth nor diversity are welcome. We’re driven by a strong belief in the ability of local talent – no matter where it comes from – to build international champions.
I was born in 1984 to an open-minded and loving family. With a father from Casablanca and a mother from Paris, my siblings and I grew up around plenty of music, drawings, and culture. They pushed us to find our own quests for meaning. For me, having grown up in a suburb of Paris, part of my quest came from always being aware of the discrimination and racism that was present yet largely ignored in France.
Throughout my life, I enjoyed developing my artistic skills, but a strong desire to compete with decision makers made me choose business studies. So for university, I selected a French management school, EM Lyon. After university, I ended up discovering the tech culture by pure chance. After spending time in art galleries and with artists’ collectives, a friend forwarded me a job posting from a non-profit organization involved in digital innovations. I immediately fell in love with this new world. Artists, engineers, and doers were all fighting the same battle. Digital was providing the tools necessary for breaking down the walls that prevented them from working together.
In 2009, YCombinator was already a big deal. I travelled all over Europe, discovering different ecosystems and using this experience as an inspiration to create something new for the French market. I launched Le Camping – the first startup accelerator in France. After 3 seasons, 36 startups, and 18 fundraising rounds, I left for a new adventure – serving as CEO of TheFamily.
Partner, Elaia Partners
Samantha joined Elaia Partners in 2008. She began her career as a consultant at Eurogroup, a consulting firm that specializes in organization and strategy, within the Bank and Finance division. She then joined Clipperton Finance, a corporate finance firm dedicated to high-tech growth companies, before moving to Elaia Partners in 2008.
Samantha became an investment manager at Elaia in 2011, then a partner in 2014. Her expertise lies in SaaS, e-commerce, marketplace, digital media, and mobile. Samantha earned her Bachelor’s degree from the Schulich Business School at York University in Toronto and her MBA from Loyola University of Chicago.
Executive Director, COADEC
Romilly is the Executive Director of the Coalition for a Digital Economy (Coadec), an advocacy group for UK-wide digital and tech startups. She acts as their policy voice and biggest champion to the UK government. She also represents policy concerns in debates, thought leadership, and the national media.
Prior to joining Coadec, Romilly was a Special Adviser to the British Government and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. She also has extensive experience as a political consultant to global social enterprises, development bodies, and African governments.
CEO and Cofounder, On Second Thought
Maci Peterson is the CEO and co-founder of On Second Thought, a messaging app that lets you take back text messages before they get to the other person. In 2015, she was named “Tech’s Newest Innovator” by Essence Magazine and recognized among Washington Business Journal’s “40 Under 40”. On Second Thought won First Place at SXSW’s annual pitch competition #StartupOasis in 2014, was named “The Texting Savior” by AT&T, and won 1st Place in the inaugural Women Who Tech Startup Challenge, in partnership with Craig Newmark of craigslist and Fred and Joanne Wilson. Before launching On Second Thought, Peterson was a brand manager at Marriott International and a marketing strategist for The Root. Peterson received her Bachelor of Arts in public relations and advertising from Chapman University.
Follow Maci on Twitter: @OnSecondThought
Diana Verde Nieto
Co-Founder and CEO, Positive Luxury
Diana Verde Nieto is the co-founder and CEO of Positive Luxury, the company behind the Butterfly Mark – a unique, interactive trust mark awarded to luxury lifestyle brands. The Butterfly Mark denotes a brand’s commitment to having a positive impact on people and the planet. Positive Luxury was founded in partnership with Karen Hanton MBE, Founder of toptable.com. The two trailblazing entrepreneurs use technology to demystify sustainability and communicate brands’ positive actions to consumers.
Prior to co-founding Positive Luxury, Diana founded Clownfish – a sustainability communications consultancy – in 2002. She expanded Clownfish to have a presence in five global markets – including China and the USA – before exiting the business in 2008. Diana is a globally recognized figure in the sustainability field, having been trained by Al Gore at the Alliance of Climate Change in 2007 and honored by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader in 2011. She currently serves as a board member for the World Economic Forum Young Global Leader community. In 2015, Diana was named as a Luxury Woman to Watch in 2016 by Luxury Daily. She is also an advisor to the British Fashion Council, House of St Barnabas, and the European Chapter of Conservation International.
Co-Founder and Managing Partner at MOOR
Kerstin Cooley is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of MOOR Capital, a Stockholm-based venture capial firm which she co-founded with Kaj Hed, majority shareholder in Rovio – the creators of Angry Birds. MOOR is an early-stage tech investor focused on digital opportunities with a global outlook. Previously, Kerstin held senior positions in SEB’s hedge fund practice. Her role focused on investing in startup hedge funds and developing alternative investment products for institutional clients.
Kerstin started her career at Silicon Valley-based Echelon and now has 20 years of experience in the financial/IT industry. In 1998, Kerstin co-founded Cognito – a global integrated communications agency. She also spent eight years at Trema Group managing M&A transactions and the company’s consulting organization in the US. Kerstin holds a Master of Science from Umeå School of Business and Economics.
Associate, Balderton Capital; Mentor, Techstars
Prior to joining Balderton Capital, Anna worked with a business angel on advising and investing in early-stage UK startups. Before moving to London, Anna spent three years in New York, where she worked as a data product analyst at YipitData. In this role, she built operational skills while growing the data team.
Anna also worked as an associate on the investment team at Global Infrastructure Partners, where she invested in the energy sector. She started her career in M&A at Barclays, working on telecommunications deals across Europe and the USA. Anna holds two masters degrees in International Business from HEC and the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore. She also has a Bachelor’s degree in Management from HEC.
Program Manager, Mozilla
Diane helps talented tech innovators realize their audacious visions by developing their messages, programs and events and wrangling teams of people to get stuff done. She also loves to public speak (really) and coach entrepreneurs on how to effectively present their pitches.
Diane’s had the privilege to work with amazing people at Mozilla, Charles Schwab, a myriad of Internet startups, a venture capital firm and an executive search firm, and speak at events including TEDx, South by Southwest (SXSW), the HTML5DevConf and the ForwardJS conference.
She went to Stanford University to study history, UC Berkeley’s Haas School to study business, and completed the Coro Community Fellowship to gain a greater understanding of big-picture complexities.
Follow Diane on Twitter: @tbiz
Jen Consalvo is Cofounder and COO of Tech.Co, a news and events organization focused on better connecting and educating entrepreneurs, and amplifying start-up communities everywhere. Started as a grassroots event to connect local communities, Tech.Co now has millions of global readers, works with industry leading brands, and is the go-to place for tech startups and enthusiasts.
Prior to Tech.Co, Consalvo led product development teams in a range of product areas such as digital imaging, community & social platforms and personalization. Much of her career was at AOL, planning and building products used by millions of people globally.
Consalvo is also a startup investor and advisor, and a founding member of NextGen Angels. Jen serves on the digital advisory board for The Nature Conservancy and for the Master of Arts in Media Entrepreneurship at American University.
She was nominated by Nevada’s TBAN for 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year, listed by Business Insider in their 100 Most Influential Tech Women On Twitter, named a 2013and 2011 Tech Titan by Washingtonian Magazine, was has been featured in Forbes, the Washington Post, Huffington Post, DC Modern Luxury Magazine, and others.
Frank Gruber grew up in the Midwest heartland and is an entrepreneur, new media journalist and angel investor. He is the author of Startup Mixology: Tech Cocktail’s Guide To Building, Growing and Celebrating Startup Success published by Wiley. He cofounded Tech.Co (formerly Tech Cocktail) in 2006, which has grown into a hub for the creative class, offering tech startup focused news, events, and resources. Frank has built and launched products for the masses while at AOL, Tribune and Classified Ventures along with startup efforts like Thankfulfor, Splog Reporter and more.
As a journalist his works have been featured in a number of top media publications like Tech.Co, TechCrunch, Fortune, HuffPo, etc. Frank is an advisor to many startups including TurboAppeal, Zuldi, and Umba. Frank was nominated for 2013 Entrepreneur of Year in Nevada, honored as a “Washingtonian Tech Titan” in Washington, DC in 2009, 2011, and 2013, and was named by Forbes as one of the most connected people in tech. His alma maters include Purdue and Northwestern respectively.