Over $1.7 Million of Investment, Cash, and In-Kind Prizes
Founding General Partner Next Coast Ventures Bio Thomas Ball is a founding general partner of Next Coast Ventures (NCV), an early stage venture capital firm headquartered in Austin, TX. Prior to NCV, Tom was at Austin Ventures from 2005-2015 where he served as a general partner. While at Austin Ventures, he was also an investor in RetailMeNot (Nasdaq: SALE), Bazaarvoice (NYSE: BV), Jam City, Donuts, Jigsaw.com (acquired by Salesforce) and Adometry (acquired by Google). Prior to his involvement with Austin Ventures, Tom founded a number of successful companies, including Openfield Technologies, which merged with Razorgator Interactive Group, where Tom was CEO, and eCoupons, where he was also CEO until the sale of the company to Lifeminders (NASDAQ: LFMN). Tom graduated from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University and the University of Florida
Principal Greycroft Bio Based in the Los Angeles office, Brentt focuses on investment opportunities in enterprise software. He has led Greycroft’s investments in Mapped, Agni, Craft, and Smrt. Brentt is a Kauffman Fellow and a member of Class 25. Prior to joining Greycroft, Brentt led business development at Operator Inc., a venture stage company in the conversational commerce space and worked on technology commercialization at Numenta Inc., a machine intelligence research company. Brentt was also an Associate at Detroit Venture Partners. He began his career in investment banking at Credit Suisse in Los Angeles. Brentt graduated from Claremont McKenna College with a BA in Economics and holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Principal Lead Edge Capital Bio Tim Bemer is a Principal at Lead Edge Capital, having joined the firm in 2013. Lead Edge Capital is a global growth equity fund primarily investing in software and internet businesses. Investments include Alibaba, Uber, Asana, Spotify, Toast, Duo Security, TransferWise amongst others. Prior to Lead Edge, Tim worked at Sandler O’Neill + Partners and received a BA in Economics and Political Science from the University of Notre Dame.
Co-Founder & Managing Director CrossCut Ventures Bio Brett Brewer is a Co-Founder and Managing Director at CrossCut Ventures. Prior to co-founding Crosscut Ventures, Brett was a serial entrepreneur who has built, operated, and sold a number of Internet media companies. In 1998, he co-founded Intermix Media, which launched several online businesses including Myspace.com. Brett sold Intermix to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. in 2005 for $680M. After leaving News Corp, Brett became President and Vice Chairman of Adknowledge, and helped grow the business from $40M to $300 M in revenue over the span of seven years. Brett is an active angel investor and a pillar in the So Cal tech community. He has been a featured speaker at numerous industry events including Bear Sterns Internet Roundtable, Goldman Sachs Internet Conference and the Montgomery Technology Conference. Brett received a B.A. in Business and Economics from the University of California Los Angeles.
Managing Director, Mercury Fund Co-Founder, Urban Capital Network Bio Heath Butler is a Managing Director at Mercury Fund, where he focuses on investments in B2B Software, B2B2C Marketplaces and Tech-Enabled Services. He also manages the Mercury Network platform and drives impact-based community engagement efforts. Heath has over 20 years’ experience in the Houston startup ecosystem, having founded, invested in, and advised numerous startups, investment organizations, and funds. Heath co-founded Gestalt Theory Venture Partners, a seed-based venture studio. He was also a corporate development executive and fin-tech Division President at Insperity (NYSE: NSP), the leading human capital management platform for small to mid-sized businesses. In 2019, Heath co-founded the Urban Capital Network , an angel investment platform focused on democratizing capital and wealth generation for underrepresented investors. Heath received an MBA in Marketing from Texas Southern University’s Jesse H. Jones School of Business and a B.S. in Finance from the University of New Orleans. Outside of Mercury, Heath is an active angel investor and leverages his serial-entrepreneur and executive experiences to fulfill his passion to educate, empower and enable entrepreneurs.
President Carnrite Ventures Bio Jeff Carnrite joined Carnrite Ventures in 2020 as President. He is responsible for deal sourcing, transaction due diligence, deal execution and ongoing management of the Carnrite Ventures portfolio.Prior to joining Carnrite Ventures, Jeff was most recently with the energy investment banking division of RBC Capital Markets and worked directly on numerous corporate advisory and capital markets transactions. Preceding RBC Capital Markets, Jeff held a variety of oil and gas marketing, corporate planning, and business development roles with Chesapeake Energy and Trinity River Energy. Jeff holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from Texas A&M University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Texas.
Co-Founder, Managing Director Fitz Gate Ventures Bio Jim is Co-Founder and Managing Director of Fitz Gate Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm with $25 million under management. Jim teaches a seminar series on venture capital at Princeton University's Graduate School and is an Adjunct Professor/Lecturer at Rice University's Jones Graduate School of Business where he teaches a class on venture capital investing to MBAs and undergraduates. Jim also volunteers as a member of Princeton University’s eLab Advisory Committee and as a mentor to the Princeton Entrepreneurship Council. Fitz Gate Ventures invests a majority of its capital in early stage companies from the Princeton ecosystem and reserves a portion of its capital for startups that have no nexus to Princeton. Typical initial check size is a minimum of $500K with additional capital reserved for follow-on rounds. Fitz Gate’s portfolio companies have been profiled in the New York Times, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, Forbes, Bloomberg, Vogue and other media outlets. Fitz Gate invests alongside other world class VC firms but is also willing to lead and/or invest alone. Prior to co-founding Fitz Gate, Jim was the head of M&A for a $1.2 billion NYSE listed company which he helped grow through acquisition until it was sold to the leading public company in its industry. Before that he was a founding member of the General Partner of the private equity fund Main Street Capital (NYSE: MAIN), and before that he was a private equity and mergers and acquisitions lawyer with Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in NYC and London and with Baker Botts in Houston. Jim began his career as a financial analyst with Morgan Stanley & Co. in NYC. Jim graduated with honors from Princeton and received his JD from NYU School of Law.
Co-Founder, President Capital Factory Bio Gordon Daugherty is a best-selling author, seasoned business executive, entrepreneur, startup advisor and investor. He has made more than 250 investments in early-stage companies and has been involved with raising more than $80 million in growth and venture capital. From his 28-year career in high tech, Gordon has both an IPO and a $200-million acquisition exit under his belt. Now, as co-founder and president of Austin’s Capital Factory and as author of the book “Startup Success”, Gordon spends 100 percent of his time educating, advising, and investing in startups.
Partner .406 Ventures Bio Greg Dracon is a Partner at .406 Ventures with 25+ years of combined venture investing and high tech operating and management experience. Greg co-leads .406’s cybersecurity practice and his current cybersecurity investment portfolio includes AuthAir (acquired by LogMeIn), CPX Security, Edgewise (acquired by Zscaler), GreatHorn, Onapsis, Pwnie Express (acquired by Outpost 24), Randori, Sevco, Terbium Labs, ThreatGRID (acquired by Cisco), Threat Stack, Trilio Data and Vaultive (acquired by CyberArk). Greg also serves on Governor Baker’s Cybersecurity Strategy Council for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and is a former board director of the Advanced Cyber Security Center – a non-profit consortium comprised of industry, academic and government leaders establishing New England as a center of excellence for cybersecurity thought leadership. Prior to .406, Greg was a Vice President at the venture capital firm, Core Capital Partners, and, previously, spent a dozen years in a variety of operating and management roles within the high tech industry. Greg received his BS in Electrical Engineering from Penn State University and his MBA from The Wharton School.
Principal Next Coast Ventures Bio Zaz Floreani is a Principal at Next Coast Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm based in Austin, Texas. She has spent her career helping venture-backed startups build growth-generating relationships and strategies. Zaz ran Business Development and Corporate Development at Dropoff, a logistics as a service startup backed by Greycroft. Prior to Dropoff, Zaz spent three years at Spredfast (formerly Mass Relevance, now a Vista Equity portfolio company), building their business development practice and coordinating their M&A efforts. She was previously the Director of Business Development at Austin Ventures, previously Texas’ largest and most active venture fund. Zaz earned her MBA and MA in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas in Austin and her BA from UCLA. She lives in Austin with her husband who is an entrepreneur and their two daughters.
Executive Director Halliburton Labs Bio Scott works tirelessly to help startups navigate the commercial and technical landscape of clean energy. As Executive Director of Halliburton Labs, he is responsible for overseeing all activities and is hyper-focused on participant companies’ success. He is passionate about the Halliburton Labs mission to advance cleaner, affordable energy and firmly believes that cultivating a thriving startup community starts with trust and inclusion. Scott built his commercial and technical acumen through his time with Dow Chemical, later Solvay and now with Halliburton. He started with Halliburton in 2014 and since then has managed multiple strategic efforts to take new technologies from ideation to commercial success at scale. Scott holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Brigham Young University and an MBA from Rice Business School. He also holds business strategy and executive leadership certifications from Caltech and Texas A&M respectively.
Launch Director Greentown Labs Houston Bio Juliana is the Launch Director of Greentown Labs Houston. A Kauffman Fellow and Board Member of the Angel Capital Association, Juliana is a Lead Investor of the Portfolia Rising America Fund, Consumer Fund and Rising Tide Fund. She is the President of the Business Angel Minority Association and an Advisory Board Member of the Cougar Venture Fund and the Houston Diversity Fund. Juliana was the Director of the Texas Medical Center Venture Fund and the Managing Director of the Houston Angel Network. She was the Manager of the Sophia Business Angels network in the French Riviera and of Antipolis Innovation Campus, as well as Project Manager of several International Projects funded by the European Commission. Previously, Juliana worked for 5 years in Singapore: first as an International. Trade Consultant for the Trade Commission of Spain in a broad range of industry sectors and then as a Project Manager for the Asia Technology Office of Citigroup, leading projects at international level. Juliana obtained an MBA at the London Business School, specializing in Entrepreneurship.
Senior Associate Updata Partners Bio Jack Gilmore joined Updata Partners in 2019 and is a Senior Associate. His role with the firm includes sourcing and executing investments and providing operational support to the portfolio, including Liongard, where he is a Board Observer. Prior to joining Updata Partners, Jack worked in the Technology, Media, & Telecommunications (TMT) group at Houlihan Lokey. Based in their San Francisco office, he specialized in the Software-as-a-Service industry, advising sell-side clients on transactions ranging from minority capital raises to strategic sales. Jack graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a B.S. in Business Administration.
Principal Flyover Capital Bio Dan Kerr is a Principal at Flyover Capital working to build a stronger and better-funded middle American tech ecosystem. He focuses on B2B software advancing the region’s incumbent industries. Prior to Flyover he spent more than ten years as an operator at both early-stage technology companies and large financial institutions. Dan graduated from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the University of Kansas.
Vice President Baird Capital Bio Amy Len Kobe joined Baird Capital in 2018 and concentrates on Healthcare investments. Amy is a board observer for Upfront Healthcare, Oncology Analytics, Apervita and AiCure. Prior to joining Baird Capital, Amy was a venture investor with Baxter Healthcare focusing on medical device, monitoring and health IT opportunities; and prior to that was a founding member of Healthbox, a digital health accelerator focusing on seed stage venture investments and innovation consulting for payer and provider systems. She was also previously a management consultant with McKinsey & Company and began her career at Genentech. Amy earned a B.S. and M.S. in chemical engineering from Stanford University, an MBA from Kellogg School of Management with majors in finance and decision sciences and is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago.
Investor Plug and Play Ventures Bio Originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee, Milad attended Stanford University where he earned his degree in Physics and conducted research in experimental particle physics. Afterwards he joined Plug and Play on the Ventures team where he has spent about three years working with startups and major energy enterprises. Today he is a Senior Associate leading the Ventures efforts in the Energy Vertical.
Founder & CEO Business Angel Minority Association Bio Ms. Maso is a business-oriented entrepreneur and investor. She holds an MBA from UOC. Business Angel Minority Association Founder and CEO. Has served as an advisor, mentor, and facilitator for various programs such as Impact Hub or WeWork. As a well-known leader in the Houston startup ecosystem, she has been recognized by Solo Mujeres Magazine (“Mujer Latina 2020: Soporte a la inversion” award), by the Houston Business Journal (“Women who Inspire 2020” award), and by the Houston Exponential Listees (“DEI Houston Champion 2020”). Previously, she worked as an IT International Program manager for several of the Fortune 500 companies, focusing on finance process improvements around the world. As a self-starter, she combines her extensive international career, her personal journey and her passion for innovation to support early-stage startups, investing in diversity and building bridges to create a more inclusive ecosystem.
CoFounder, General Partner The Artemis Fund Bio Diana Murakhovskaya is the co-founder and General Partner of The Artemis Fund. Diana spent a decade in tech investment banking M&A and commodities sales and trading at Lehman Brothers and Macquarie Bank on Wall Street. As a trained engineer and CEO and co-Founder of her own successful company, Diana Murakhovskaya brings unrelenting attention to detail and a passion for digging into the numbers. After building and launching the first women-only iPhone app for new friends and networking she became compelled to solve the difficulties women founders faced in fundraising. She went on to co-found the Monarq Incubator, the first national, funding focused incubator curated for gender diverse founding teams. Monarq started in Manhattan, but went national as it grew to three cohorts and a network of over 400 investors and mentors. Drawing over 1000 applicants, the 32 companies that were selected and graduated from Monarq have raised over $15M. She and her partner sold the Monarq Incubator to the Female Founders Alliance in 2019. Diana is an active angel investor and member of the Houston entrepreneurial community with deep roots in her home town of NYC. She holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.
Director Plug and Play Bio Payal Patel is a Director for Plug and Play and is based in Houston, Texas. She is responsible for generating and managing relationships with corporate partners as well as building operations for one of Plug and Play's newest markets, Houston. Payal began her career as a management consultant for restructuring firm Alvarez & Marsal and previously worked at consumer goods company Unilever and executive search firm Spencer Stuart. Most recently, Payal ran the corporate business development function for Station, a startup incubator in Houston. Payal has degrees in finance and accounting from Texas A&M University and an MBA from London Business School. She is a member of the Junior League of Houston and is President of the London Business School alumni club in Houston. In her spare time, Payal enjoys Crossfit, reading, and traveling.
Allison Piper Kimball
President Blue Catalyst Group Bio Allison Piper Kimball is an entrepreneur and early stage investor through her consulting firm, Blue Catalyst Group. After an early career as an environmental and occupational health consultant, Allison spent almost two decades as an executive in the rapidly evolving retail electricity and natural gas industry. Allison led teams ranging in size from 5 to 200+, serving in a variety of roles including as Chief Operating Officer of Texas electricity retailer StarTex Power before and through its sale and transition to Constellation Energy; and then as Chief Operating Officer at Spark Energy, a retail electricity and natural gas company serving markets across the U.S. which she helped take public in 2014 (NASDAQ: SPKE). Over her 20+ years across industries, Allison worked closely with myriad entrepreneurs at all stages of company growth and development, from building a start up from the ground up, to taking companies in their early years from start up to sale or IPO. In May of 2018 Allison created Blue Catalyst Group to focus on consulting to and investing in startup enterprises. Allison is a board member of the Houston Angel Network and is a strategic advisor and limited partner of The Artemis Fund, which provides venture capital to women-led businesses. Allison served on the board of directors of the Gulf Coast Power Association (GCPA) for many years, holding various positions and was a founding member and former chair of its emPOWERing Women committee which provides scholarship, networking and mentoring services to women in the electricity industry. Allison has been an active alumnus of Tulane University, serving on the Tulane Association of Business Alumni (TABA) board, on the Tulane Energy Institute (TEI) Advisory Board; and on the Tulane Annual Fund Board (TFAB). Allison serves as a judge at business plan and startup competitions, including the Rice University Business Plan Competition and Mass Challenge, and is a volunteer mentor to small business owners through Tulane University’s entrepreneurship program. Allison holds an MBA in Finance and Information Systems from Tulane University, a Master of Science in Public Health from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Bachelor of Science from Clarkson University in New York.
Co-Founder, Managing Director Fitz Gate Ventures Bio Mark is Co-Founder and Managing Director of Fitz Gate Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm with $25 million under management. Additionally, Mark teaches a seminar series on venture capital at Princeton University's Graduate School and is an Adjunct Professor/Lecturer at Rice University's Jones Graduate School of Business where he teaches a class on venture capital investing to MBAs and undergraduates. Mark also volunteers as a member of Princeton University’s eLab Advisory Committee and as a mentor to the Princeton Entrepreneurship Council. Fitz Gate Ventures invests a majority of its capital in early-stage companies from the Princeton ecosystem and reserves a portion of its capital for startups that have no nexus to Princeton. Typical initial check size is a minimum of $500K with additional capital reserved for follow-on rounds. Fitz Gate’s portfolio companies have been profiled in the New York Times, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, Forbes, Bloomberg, Vogue and other media outlets. Fitz Gate invests alongside other world class VC firms but is also willing to lead and/or invest alone. Mark brings to Fitz Gate Ventures 20+ years of experience as a successful entrepreneur and executive with a proven track record of successfully growing companies from the ground up to mature industry leadership. Prior to Fitz Gate Mark was the head of Product, Marketing, Legal and Alliances and Board Secretary at Datacert, Inc., an enterprise software company (sold 2014), and Founder and CEO of Digicontract, Inc., a SaaS company (sold 2001). Mark received an A.B. from Princeton University in 1993 and a JD and MBA with honors from Tulane University in 1997. He is currently President of the Princeton Alumni Association of Houston and previously served as a member of the Executive Committee of the Alumni Council of Princeton University.
Vice President Montrose Lane Bio Joe Rempe serves as Vice President at Melrose Lane (formerly Cottonwood Venture Partners) Vice President at Cottonwood Venture Partners (CVP) · Board Director of HUVR · Former energy investment banking at Tudor, Pickering, Holt, & Co. · BBA Honors, Texas A&M University
Founding Partner Live Oak Venture Partners Bio Venu Shamapant is a co-founder of LiveOak Venture Partners and has been investing in early stage Texas based companies and entrepreneurs since 1999. Prior to founding LiveOak, Venu was a General Partner at Austin Ventures where he invested in companies producing more than $1.5B in enterprise values to date. He was an early investor in and sat on the Board of Directors of LifeSize Communications (acquired by Logitech), Spatial Wireless (acquired by Alcatel-Lucent), Navini Networks (acquired by Cisco Systems), Mavenir Systems (NYSE:MVNR) and Sipera Systems (acquired by Avaya Communications). Prior to joining Austin Ventures, he was with McKinsey & Co. serving clients in the enterprise systems and software markets. He started his professional career as a software developer and engineering lead at Mentor Graphics. Venu received his MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business, MS in Computer Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, and a BS in Electronics and Communications Engineering from Osmania University, India.
Co-Founder LiveOak Venture Partners Bio Krishna Srinivasan is a co-founder of LiveOak Venture Partners and has been investing in early stage Texas based companies and entrepreneurs since 2000. Prior to founding LiveOak, Krishna was a Partner at Austin Ventures. Before 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.
Co-Founder Texas HALO Fund Bio David Steakley has been an active investor in early stage companies since 2007. A co-founder of Texas HALO Fund, David serves on the Board of Directors of a number of his portfolio companies including HeatGen, Nexus AI and myLab Box. He is a past Chairman of the Houston Angel Network, recognized by the Angel Resource Institute as one of the most active angel networks in the nation. Previously, David was a Partner at Accenture, serving clients in the financial services industry, for almost 20 years. David studied Mathematics and American Studies at Williams College.