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Society News Update, 16 Sept. 2016

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Welcome to the KF Society News update.

We are pleased to launch a new Society News service, as a solution to a wonderful problem—there’s just too much news about our community to squeeze into a once-a-month eBulletin. So, we will be sending brief, headline-only Society News update emails weekly (and sending the full eBulletin monthly), with links to the stories published here.

If you prefer only to receive the monthly eBulletin, email news@kfp.org with your request. Unless we hear from you, we’ll be sending the weekly news updates so you can keep up with all of the great things that Fellows and Mentors are up to in the world.


Ramphis Castro (Class 19) Named Startup Ecosystem Champion

Ramphis Castro (Class 19) was recognized by the Founder Institute as a Startup Ecosystem Champion for his work in Puerto Rico: “Ramphis has trained and supported the advancement of entrepreneurs, the creation of angel investor groups, and the globalization of economic development policy,” according to the Founder Institute. “Ramphis started from scratch to help cultivate the startup community in Puerto Rico,” and is the facilitator and organizer of Startup Weekend Puerto Rico. Congratulations, Ramphis!

Akshay Garg’s (Class 17) FinAccel Shaking Up Online Payments in SEA

TechCrunch LogoEasy access to credit cards and high penetration rates have allowed online commerce to take off in the West; on the flip side, a lack of credit cards is holding back the industry in emerging markets. Indonesia, for example, has a credit card penetration rate under 10%. That’s where Akshay Garg’s (Class 17) firm, FinAccel, comes in. Founded last year, FinAccel and its Kredivo product act as a layer in between lenders and the e-consumer, providing a credit line for online purchases. The purchaser then makes repayments to FinAccel directly. Kredivo can make near-real-time credit application decisions—using over 1,800 data points to assess creditworthiness in under 2 minutes. Inputs include the usual information, plus things like social media information, the kind of apps a person has on their phone, call logs, and device history on Android phones. The firm operates in Indonesia now, and is looking to expand to Thailand next year, eventually covering the 6 main countries of the SEA region. Read the full TechCrunch article.

Corey Ford (Class 17) Interviewed in MediaShift Podcast

Corey Ford (Class 17) was interviewed on MediaShift podcast #204 about Matter Ventures  and its accelerator program (Corey starts at 27:35). Listen on the MediaShift website.

Check out the Jobs section below for an NYC-based Associate opening at Matter.

Bedy Yang (Class 17) Profiled in Huffington Post’s “Trailblazing Women” Series

Huffington PostBedy Yang (Class 17) was interviewed by Huffington Post this summer about her path—from Taiwan to Paraguay to Brazil, and to the US. Bedy is currently a Managing Partner at 500 Startups, and earlier founded Brazil Innovators [Portuguese], offering training and networking opportunities for Brazilian entrepreneurs that has become “the epicenter and resource for Brazilian tech founders,” according to HuffPost. Bedy says, “What is important is the capacity to empower a lot of other people and level very different environments….For example, if I’m in the Bay area that is rich in terms of resources and mindset, I think ‘How can I take that and bring it to a lot of other places?'”

Listen to Chrys Chrysanthou (Class 21) in Seedcamp Podcast

Chrys Chrysanthou (Class 21) of Notion Capital was interviewed in a Seedcamp podcast. Born and raised in Cyprus, the podcast begins with his mandatory military service, which had him managing a group of 70 other soldiers in his late teens. That role led him to a job at Cisco, and the interview follows Chrys through his tech career to his transition to VC.

Michael Roberts’ (Class 3) First Nations Releases Additional Report on Native Nonprofit Efforts

First Nations logoMichael Roberts’ (Class 3) organization, First Nations Development Institute, released a report last week documenting the positive social and educational effects of fostering stronger cultural and community connections among Native American boys and young men; the project received funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Michael says, “Native boys and young men are an underserved, neglected demographic—statistically invisible and ignored by society—and the existing data paints a dire picture of them in relation to opportunities in life….This report and the programs supported really highlight the idea that Native boys and young men have better outcomes in life when they retain connection to their Native cultures and traditions, and have positive role models in these areas.”

Job Opportunities

Two job opportunities have been sent in by fellows; see below for details:

  • Matter Ventures recently expanded to NYC and Corey Ford (Class 17) tells us that he is building a new team there. He is hiring a NYC-based Associate who, in collaboration with another NYC Associate and two existing SF Associates, will be responsible for running the NYC accelerator program and NYC investment deal flow. This person needs to be able to lead the NYC office, teach and coach early-stage media entrepreneurs, reinforce Matter’s design thinking-based culture and practices, source and evaluate investments, and help build Matter’s NYC ecosystem. (In the near future, Corey will be hiring two additional NYC Associates and one SF Associate). Contact Corey for more information, and read his blog post for the full job description.
  • Gareth Keane (Class 15) let us know that Deutsche Telecom Capital Partners, Deutsche Telekom’s investment management group, is looking for a VC Associate in its Menlo Park, California (Sand Hill Road) location. Specifically, it is looking for a post-MBA associate to join its new location to support its investment partners. Responsibilities will include market research, due diligence, and analysis and modeling. Applicants should have 1-2 years of investment experience. Read the full job description (PDF); for additional information, contact Gareth.

Fellows on the Move: In Brief

A number of Fellows have launched new ventures or have made the move to a new firm:

  • Mike Diem (Class 12) is now Head of Business and Corporate Development at Medgenics in Philadelphia. The company is focused on rare and orphan diseases, with a partnership with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Applied Genomics. [Press release]
  • Naheed Misfeldt (Class 9) is now at the life sciences investment firm Omega Funds, and is based in San Francisco.
  • Keith Lenden (Class 16) recently founded Golgi Therapeutics, a strategically focused, early-stage biopharmaceutical product funding and development business.
  • Racquel Bracken (Class 13) is now a Vice President at Venrock in their Palo Alto office, focusing on pharmaceutical and biotech investments.
  • Cassandra Espinoza (Class 16) cofounded Homeroom, a marketplace that connects parents directly to early-education teachers that are looking for professional, supplemental income. Homeroom schedules small-group, after-school homework sessions, and takes care of all the administrative work and scheduling, allowing teachers to give their full focus to teaching.

New Portfolio Investments

Congratulations to the following Fellows, who have taken board seats at their new portfolio companies:

  • Steven Weinstein (Class 5) will join the board of medical-device company ROX Medical. Steven is a Managing Partner at Novartis Venture Fund, which participated in the Series E funding round. ROX makes a small stent-like device that is installed in a patient’s upper leg in an outpatient procedure that creates an artery–vein connection, resulting in an immediate and sustained decrease in blood pressure. Steven says, “We are excited to join this innovative and differentiated effort in the hypertension field. Despite best medical therapy, many patients still have uncontrolled hypertension which contributes to significant morbidity and mortality.” [Press release]
  • Florent Gros (Class 12), also of Novartis Venture Fund, will join the board of Inflazome, a life sciences startup developing oral medications targeting the source of many chronic inflammatory diseases. Florent says, “We have searched extensively for inhibitors of the inflammasome. We are very excited by Inflazome’s prospects; the company has outstanding assets, expertise and capabilities.” [Press release]
  • GE Ventures has joined the latest round of funding for Sarcos Robotics, a developer of dextrous industrial robots for use in unstructured environments. Ralph Taylor-Smith (Class 9), who will join the board of directors, says, “The development of dexterous robots for use in unforgiving and unstructured environments is one of the most challenging areas in robotics today. Sarcos is successfully tackling these challenges head on.” Read the full story.
  • On the other side of the funding table, Jennifer Fried (Class 20) and her firm, ExplOrer Surgical, have secured a $1M seed round for their first product, workflow management software for surgical activity. This SaaS tool prevents delays from missing or incorrect instruments, reduces waste from opened-but-unused disposable items, and collects granular data in real-time. Custom workflows are created for each member of the surgical team and can be used on any tablet or web-enabled device. [Press release] Congratulations, Jeninfer!

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