Mentors for the Women Startup Challenge 2016

San Francisco 2016 | FinalistsJudges | Mentors

Thank you to the following mentors for the 2016 Women Startup Challenge Pitch Competition, held June 14, 2016 at LinkedIn in San Francisco.

Lara Koole

Principal, Philips Health Technology Ventures

Lara is Head of the European venture capital activities for Philips, includes running the Philips Health Technology Venture Fund focused on investments in early-stage digital health companies to drive strategic value-add relationships with Philips. Looking for driven entrepreneurs that are passionate and capable to address (part of) the quadruple aim in healthcare, improving outcomes and lowering costs while increasing patient and staff satisfaction. Passionate about technology, strategic investing and working together with great teams to scale their companies bringing strategic and industry expertise of Philips to the table.

Sarah Fisher

Senior Director of Global Markets and External Innovation, Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices

Sarah F. Fisher is a Senior Director, Global External Innovation, for Johnson & Johnson. She specializes in shaping the external environment and sourcing collaborative partners for global go-to-market strategy and execution of novel service and technology introductions.

Sarah has a combined 17 years of cross-functional innovation and new venture experience across Medtech, Healthtech, and Lifesciences new ventures in global markets. She was awarded the first-ever Corporate Entrepreneur accolade by Corporate Entrepreneurs, LLC. and is the head of the healthcare arm of the international venture club based in the EU.

She completed her Masters of Business Administration in Entrepreneurship at Babson College in Wellesley, MA and her post -graduate diploma in Global Business at the University of Oxford in Oxford, UK.

Jan Van den Bossche

Partner, Fund+

Jan Van den Bossche holds a Master Degree in Applied Economic Sciences at the KULeuven. He worked for more than 12 years as a biotech analyst at Petercam. He was involved in numerous public and private transactions of Belgian and Dutch Biotech companies, such as ThromboGenics, Tigenix, UCB, AMT (Uniqure), IBA, MDxHealth . Before he joined Fund+, he was for more than 2 years part of the investor relations team at the Dutch life sciences and materials sciences company DSM (Geleen, NL). He serves on the board of Octimet, Aelin Therapeutics and Immunic Inc. 

Veronique Vermeeren

Principal, imec.xpand

Veronique has a history in life sciences and health tech. She has leveraged this background for the last several years in venture capital, and supports start-ups through the early chapters of their success story.

Matthieu Coutet

Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Advent France Biotechnology

Matthieu brings 12 years of experience in venture capital and operations, having spent a decade in tech transfer as Managing Partner at Inserm Transfert Initiative. He handled investments in 14 seed-stage companies. He also served as VP Operations & Business Development at TherAchon and AAVlife, 2 French biotechnology start-ups, and as a board member of 7 others (Axilum Robotics, BioAxial, Aelis Farma, Enyo Pharma, Hemarina, Sensorion and Eyevensys). Matthieu founded Advent France Biotechnology with Alain Huriez in 2016.

Matthieu not only brings an experience of early stage investor managing financial and operational strategies, but also a strong network of researchers, entrepreneurs and technology transfer officers with whom he has forged significant partnerships.

Matthieu holds a Masters in Finance & Management and an MSc from ESIEE (Paris).

Roel Bulthuis

Managing Director and Head of Healthcare Investment, INKEF Capital

Roel Bulthuis is a Managing Director and head of the Healthcare investment team at INKEF Capital. Roel combines close to 20 years of experience across venture capital, pharma business development and M&A and healthcare investment banking. Prior to joining INKEF he served as SVP and Managing Director of M-Ventures which he created and developed into a leading CVC fund. Prior to that, he served in senior positions in global business development and M&A at Merck Serono and in the healthcare investment banking team at Fortis Bank. Roel is a Kauffman Fellow and passionate about continuously challenging the status quo. Roel holds a Msc. in Biopharmaceutical Sciences from Leiden University and an MBA in Finance from the Helsinki School of Economics.

Rianne Ellenbroek

Healthcare Investment Analyst, INKEF Capital

Rianne Ellenbroek is an analyst in the Healthcare investment team at INKEF Capital. She is involved in sourcing and evaluating investment opportunities, and supporting portfolio companies in the healthcare team. Rianne joins INKEF from the academic community where she was a medical biologist in regenerative medicine. She obtained her PhD at Leiden University while performing part of her activities at biotech company Galapagos. Winning a grant facilitated her to take a position as postdoctoral fellow at the Kovler Diabetes Center at the University of Chicago. Next to performing her research, she became a fellow at the university’s Tech Transfer Office which has sparked her interest in the early stages of life sciences ventures.

Denali Tietjen

Early stage VC, General Catalyst + Rough Draft Ventures

Denali (named after the mountain, not the car), is a journalist-turned-venture-capitalist obsessed with the future of online and offline media.

On the investment side, she supports and manages a portfolio of 150+ seed-stage entrepreneurs through Rough Draft Ventures, General Catalyst’s university-focused program backing founders at the student level. Her primary portfolio includes Carbon, a stable coin for disintermediated cross-border payments, MarketSnacks, a new media brand for Wall Street news (acquired by Robinhood), and Nesterly, a platform for intergenerational home-sharing, to name a few.

Recognizing the directional impact investors can have on the industries in which they invest, improving diversity has been a driving principle in her work. Under her leadership, half of Rough Draft Ventures portfolio additions include at least one female founder.
Before working in investing, she was a reporter covering beats ranging from investing to healthcare at Forbes, at The Boston Globe, TechCrunch, The Christian Science Monitor, and WBUR.

She grew up in New Mexico and California and graduated from Tufts with a dual degree in Economics and Film & Media Studies, where her thesis “How Journalism Will Survive In An Era Of 140-Characters Or Less” earned highest honors.

She runs marathons, is addicted to podcasts, has a growing portfolio of rejected New Yorker Caption Contest captions, and thinks mayo is an under-appreciated condiment.

Maria Palma

Principal, RRE Ventures

Maria Palma is a Principal at RRE Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm based in NY. She spends most of her time thinking about the future of the fintech and consumer landscape. Prior to that, she ran platform for RRE, working with RREs active portfolio companies and corporate partners. Prior to RRE, Maria was Chief of Staff and Executive Director of Business Development for a NY-based ad tech company, Eyeview, as they scaled from 23 to over 100+.  Maria began her career at General Electric in Operations Management & Supply Chain. She holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BS in Industrial Engineering from UW-Madison.

Maria is constantly drawn to helping entrepreneurs build their businesses.  Outside of work she is the board chair of a nonprofit in Africa, African Entrepreneur Collective, that works with entrepreneurs in Rwanda and Kenya across urban, refugee and rural environments to drive job growth.  She loves being involved in start-ups and enjoys the challenge of creating real value and changing industries that are broken. She finds it constantly inspiring, humbling and mostly, a ton of fun.

Marcia Mitchell

Chief of Staff, ff Venture Capital

Marcia is Chief of Staff at ff Venture Capital. In this role, she sits on both the operations and investment teams, managing deal flow, completing due diligence on potential investments and supporting portfolio companies. Prior to working in venture capital, Marcia spent several years working across diverse industries including investment banking, fashion, automotive marketing and tech consulting. Marcia holds a B.A. in Economics from Tufts University. While earning an M.Sc. in Technology Commercialization and Entrepreneurship from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, she founded the #WOCWorkshop series to address the needs of tech entrepreneurs; specifically women of color and diverse teams.

Jenny Fielding

Managing Director, Techstars New York and CoFounder, The Fund

Jenny Fielding is the Managing Director of Techstars New York where she leads the program. She is also the founder and General Partner at The Fund, a first check fund investing exclusively in New York based companies. Her portfolio includes more than 100+ tech enabled companies. Previously, 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 tech companies, most notably Switch-Mobile, a mobile VoIP company that was acquired in 2009. Jenny began her career as a lawyer, spent time at JP Morgan and is a graduate of Columbia University where she is an Adjunct Professor.

Claudia Reuter

Managing Director, STANLEY+Techstars Accelerator

Claudia Reuter is the Managing Director for the STANLEY+Techstars Accelerator which focuses on accelerating innovative companies in additive manufacturing and sustainable solutions. Recognized by the Boston Business Journal as a 2016 Women to Watch in Science and Technology, and as a Changemaker by HUBWeek, she is an experienced entrepreneur and executive. Prior to joining Techstars, she served as the SVP of Digital Services & Labs for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and was the co-founder and CEO of SchoolChapters, Inc. She currently serves on the Board of Directors at Lessonly, and as a member of the Advisory Board at Greenfig.  She is also the host and creator of the podcast, The 43 Percent.  You can follow her on twitter at @reuter_claudia

Julie Zhang

Associate, betaworks

Julie works on investments & business operations at betaworks, which includes betaworks studio, the builder behind consumer favourites Giphy, Dots,, Betaworks Ventures, a thesis- driven early-stage venture fund, and Betaworks Camp, the thematic accelerator investing in frontier technology.

Having founded a couple of startups whilst studying at NYU, and working on the strategy teams for Sony Music, Mashable, Julie sought to learn how the big players made it. At Citigroup, she focused on exactly that, helping to productize working capital efficiency solutions for the Fortune 500. With newfound insights from both ends of the spectrum, Julie looks forward to adding value to inventive products and bold ideas.

When not focusing on startups, Julie enjoys attempting fitness obstacle challenges, sharpening technical understanding in design, and searching for the best sushi in town.

Diana Melencio

Investor, WISE Ventures

Diana Melencio is a venture investor for WISE Ventures, a New York based venture fund focused on early and growth stage technology companies across sports, media, entertainment, real estate, and adjacent industries. Prior to that, she co-founded two retail technology companies: securing funding and successfully leading major partnerships; most notably with the Hudson’s Bay Company, Neiman Marcus, MasterCard, and Hearst Media. She has lent her expertise as an advisor to several venture backed consumer brands and early stage start-ups. Prior to starting her companies, Diana spent close to a decade investing and consulting for reputable $12B+ funds in San Francisco and New York. During her time on Wall Street, she was a top ranking analyst in the Specialty Retail sector, as named by the Financial Times.

Diana has appeared on the Today Show, quoted in CNN, US News, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes,, Bustle, MarketWatch, and related to start-ups, fundraising, entrepreneurship and innovation.

Diana is a founding board member of the Ascend Educational Fund, a 501c3 focused on enabling and encouraging higher education and professional achievement for New York’s immigrant community.

Antonella Socci

Startup Adviser & CMO on demand

Antonella is a passionate Marketing, Brand and Communications leader with expertise in innovation, tech start-ups and financial services. She combines a classical marketing approach with the dynamics of digital marketing, effectively spanning both areas and has broad experience in marketing strategy, value proposition development, product market validation, brand management, commercial partnerships and world-class sponsorships.

She spent most of her career with blue chip companies including Visa Inc. where she held senior roles in international B2B and B2C marketing. Antonella has always channelled her energy towards transformational consumer-centric propositions that anticipate markets.

Her journey in start-ups started in 2014 when she launched and grew Visa’s Card-Linked-Offers business in Europe. The enterprise was a partnership with edo Interactive, a US venture-backed start-up at the intersection of data, loyalty and payments. Currently, Antonella is the Founder & CEO of We Marketing, an international hub of senior marketers and she supports Founders as a CMO/VP on demand. Also, she is an Adviser to Skipping Rocks Lab, the 2016’s Wired Retail Award start-up winner on a mission to make plastic packaging disappear and a Mentor at Startupbootcamp, L39 and Accelerator-London.

Victoria Hernandez

Former Alliance’s Director BT Europe, Executive Chairman Orange Spain, and SVP international Proximus

Victoria is entrepreneur, Business Angel and Head of the investment committee of Rising Tide Europe. Jury Expert at the European Commission, in charge of evaluating EU proposals for the Horizon2020 funding applications. Computing Engineer, EMBA at INSEAD and a Master in Digital Marketing at Columbia Business School.  Victoria lives in Paris.

Rising Tide Europe is an investment and educational program, cooperation between EBAN, GO-Beyond Investing and the Next Wave Foundation, part of a global movement to increase women’s participation in angels investing as an asset class.

Diane Tate

Senior Program Manager, Mozilla

Diane works on communications, events and programs for Mozilla’s 1000+ global staff. Previously, she worked in Mozilla’s MDN Web Docs group supporting web developers worldwide. She joined Mozilla to run WebFWD, Mozilla’s accelerator for open source startups. She currently works on internal communications; previously she was Program Manager for Mozilla’s Developer Relations team. Pre-Mozilla she did communications, marketing, product management, and business development at various startups as well as at Charles Schwab. She got her MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and her BA in History from Stanford.

Socheat Chhay

Advisor, Oxford Innovation/TST Partners

Socheat has +17 years of experience from two entrepreneurial ventures and one large corporate company with a deep background in management, finance and operation. Prior to mentoring, advising and investing in European startups, he was the Co-founder of an international Cleantech startup which after 5 years of operation was recently transferred to an investment fund. He also has been an early employee, senior executive and a key element in spearheading from scratch, the growth at a UK Passive Asset Management unicorn which successfully became a US$1.2Bn company and a World’s top 10 within 4 years.

Socheat led corporate and product strategies, business analysis, fund-raising rounds amounting to US$90m. He setup, managed local and international offices, large teams and budget, led intercontinental expansion (Europe, Asia-Pacific, Middle-East). He also dismantled operation and negotiated exits with employees, third party providers and investors.

Socheat has lived most of his life and career overseas, in Europe (London, Geneva), Asia (Singapore, Tokyo) and South America (Buenos Aires and Montevideo). He has traveled to more than 70 countries for work and leisure and now has come back to Paris, his hometown to be closer to family. He graduated from an Executive MBA from Oxford University specialised in Social Innovation and Strategy, a master’s in finance from Paris 2 Assas University and master’s in management from Paris Graduate School of Management.

Socheat has primary interest in startups with a social or environmental mission-driven purpose (agriculture, education, poverty, health, finance inclusivity, minorities, collaborative economy, renewable energy) applying traditional or “tech-for-good” strategies for fast scalability.

Aina Rakotoarisoa

Investor and Advisor

Eight years experience in Private Equity (growth and venture capital), impact investing, entrepreneur mentoring, and strategy consulting, Aina has worked on several transactions from origination, due diligence, closure, and board attendance. Sectors covered : Edtech, Healthtech, Housing, Retail, Energy, etc.

Aina graduated from ESSEC with a specialization in Corporate Finance and Strategy, and is a member of ESSEC Private Equity Chair.

Corinne Saunders

CEO, Emerging & Developing Markets, Wolters Kluwer

Corinne is a global corporate entrepreneur, who has spent more than two decades developing international start-up initiatives within blue-chip environments. She is passionate about powering strategic growth and change agendas, driving business development, organisational transformation, especially in new market segments and across emerging markets. Over the last 20 years, she has driven consistent superior profitable growth leveraging both direct sales and key strategic partners.

A passionate, energetic leader, Corinne has an enviable track record in creating and guiding highly engaged global teams and operating in complex environments, often acting as a facilitator between corporate headquarters, locally-owned operations and entrepreneurs. All this across very different sectors, initially in publishing, financial services and, for the last fifteen years, in information services as well as Health, Tax & Legal software.

Currently, Corinne is Chief Executive Officer for Emerging & Developing Markets at Wolters Kluwer, a global information software and services company, where she has created a new global division, responsible for delivering strategic and operational support in selected high growth markets to accelerate the company’s international expansion and transformation agendas. Prior to joining Wolters Kluwer, Corinne spent eleven years leading global business information provider Dun & Bradstreet’s European business and their global alliance group, the D&B Worldwide Network where she focused on driving top-line growth across Europe, enlarging the international footprint and enhancing customer experience through worldwide franchise partnerships.

Corinne has served on the Board of Directors for the D&B Worldwide Network, D&B Interfax (Russia), D&B Turkey and D&B South Asia & Middle East, as well as the ICAP Group, a leading business services group, operating across South Eastern Europe, where she was also a member of the Supervisory Board of the ICAP Rating Agency. Corinne is an active member of several women’s executive networks across Europe with a keen interest in mentoring the next generation of leaders.

Corinne holds a Master’s Degree in Political Science and Languages from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Grenoble and a Master of Business Administration from the HEC School of Management in Paris. She is a French-born citizen, fluent in English and German, with a good understanding of Spanish, currently living in Brussels.

Joanna Bloor

CEO, The Amplify Lab

Joanna Bloor, CEO of The Amplify Lab, is a people accelerator, scalability junkie and belief agent for brave and curious women.

A veteran in the media space, Joanna has almost 20 years experience in digital media, broadcast television and radio. Working in leadership roles at OpenTable, CBS Interactive and Pandora, Joanna is an established expert in strategy, sales training, team development, and ad operations. Joanna knows how to develop people, grows brands and scale businesses.

Joanna is passionate about helping people identify their personal goals, unique skills and setting a path to attain them. In 2015, Joanna embarked on a new idea that leveraged her business acumen around media, her curiosity about 3D printing and her personal struggles with weight loss. The result? 3D L.I.L.A. was born. L.I.L.A. – Late in Life Athlete – is a weekly podcast that chronicles how Joanna is using 3D printing and a love of a running to win the weight loss battle. Joanna shared her 3D L.I.L.A. story at the TED 2016 Dream Conference.

Joanna is a frequent speaker and panel moderator at various industry events including Watermark, Dreamforce and many others. In addition, she has delivered motivational speeches, created customized sales training, team building and personal career development programs for a host of business and organizations including Microsoft, Ernst & Young, and Dentsu Aegis.

Arvind Rajan

Cofounder and CEO, Cricket Health

Arvind Rajan is the cofounder and CEO of Cricket Health, a health care startup based in San Francisco that is focused on late-stage chronic kidney disease. Prior to starting Cricket Health, he worked in senior leadership roles in a wide range of technology companies.  Most recently, he spent six years on the executive leadership team at LinkedIn, where he led the company’s entry into new markets around the world. Prior to that, he was CEO of Grassroots Enterprise, a company he co-founded in 1999. He’s also worked in startups in a wide range of other industries, including electric cars and wireless telemetry systems, and also spent time as a consultant with the Boston Consulting Group.

Andy Smith

General Partner at Center Electric

Andy is a General Partner at Center Electric, LLC, a Seed Stage venture capital firm focused on the Internet of Things. He brings deep industry experience around consumer electronics, ingredient tech, social media and IoT. With deep roots as a venture/mentor, guest lecturer and experienced operator, Andy provides a perspective on innovation that few can match.

For over 20 years, Andy served as an executive leading teams at Dolby Labs, BIGWORDS, LiquidWit, Intel, Analysis Group, Polaroid, Integral Inc. and PriceWaterhouseCoopers. In 2010, he co-wrote The Dragonfly Effect, an actionable guide to driving impact through customer insight and highly effective, measurable social marketing strategies. While working with companies to create Dragonfly Effects of their own, he advised and supported technical and social ventures with guidance in customer strategy, marketing and technology.

Andy is a Venture Mentor in both Steve Blank’s Lean Launchpad class (Berkeley and Columbia) and at Eric Ries’ Lean Startup Conference. He has lectured at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business on social technology, growth hacking, and brand building, with a focus on applying technology to address real problems. He contributes to Fast Company, First Round Review, GOOD Magazine, and blog at Psychology Today exploring ideas and businesses that embrace and integrate both meaning and innovation. Andy also appears on radio and TV, speaks at events including SXSW, The 140 Characters Conference, Social Media Breakfast, World 50, Marketing Week, TechCoire and Interbrand. He is on boards of Accompani, Ziploop, Publet, 140 Proof, LIF Brands, Avanoo, and One Family One Meal.

Andy earned his MBA at UCLA’s Anderson School and holds an Economics degree from Pomona College.

Lisa Stone

Entrepreneur and Digital Strategist (BlogHer,,

Lisa Stone is an entrepreneur and digital media strategist with 18 years of experience developing scale consumer communities via storytelling, quality conversation and analytics. Most recently, Lisa was CEO and Co-founder of BlogHer Inc., where she grew an idea for a grassroots conference into a leading start-up reaching 100+ million women each month, $30 million in annual revenues and a proprietary technology platform for engaging social influencers. She also executive-produced BlogHer’s conferences, the world’s largest for women in social media (her past interviews include President Barack Obama, Sheryl Sandberg, Soledad O’Brien, and Melinda Gates). In 2014, Lisa led the sale of BlogHer to SheKnows Media, creating the #1 women’s lifestyle digital media company. Previously, Lisa pioneered the first blog publishing network at, and was Vice President, Programming and Editor in Chief at Networks, where she led original programming and partnerships (Bloomberg, Gallup, E! Online, HBO’s Sex and the City), and helped launch 11 Hearst and two Rodale magazine sites.

Although Lisa left CNN for WebTV in 1997, she has continued to write (The New York Times,, LinkedIn, Medium, HuffPost and, of course, Her honors include a Fortune Most Powerful Women Entrepreneur Award, Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business and an Ernst & Young Winning Women award. She was the first Internet journalist awarded a Nieman Fellowship by Harvard University. A Montanan who goes home to ski as often as possible, Lisa lives in Silicon Valley with Christopher Carfi and their children.

Monique Woodard

Venture Partner, 500 Startups

Monique is a Venture Partner at 500 Startups investing in black and Latino entrepreneurs. She is the co-founder of Black Founders — a national community of entrepreneurs whose mission is to increase the number of successful black entrepreneurs in tech. Previously, she was one of the first Innovation Fellows for the City of San Francisco and has helped cities use technology to innovate workforce and other civic services. She has more than 15 years of entrepreneur and operating experience in consumer, e-commerce, and civic tech. She likes art, fashion, and fly things.