VC Unlocked: SIlicon Valley

Alumni Profiles

We are diligent in our selection process to admit only the most exceptional up-and-coming VCs and angel investors from all around the world. This means that our alumni community is filled with high-caliber investors – get to know some of them here.

Investment Manager, Orange Digital Ventures

Marième Diop

Marieme currently serves as a CVC investor in early stage African start-ups at Orange Digital Ventures Africa – Orange Group’s 50m€ VC fund. Her focus over 7 years has been technology and innovation and she has occupied different roles of responsibility with a team leadership role and an international exposure, solving strategic, operational, and financial issues for a variety of companies.

How did VC Unlocked impact your career?

I already had started my VC career when I was admitted to the VC Unlocked program at Stanford. VC is a solo job, most of the time we learn by ourselves. VC Unlocked provided me with insights about fund structures and management and broadened my perspective through exposure to investors from different backgrounds and experiences.   I’m still in touch with several classmates with whom I share deals, and exchange views on the industry on a regular basis.

What was the most important takeaway from the program?

How (and why) to use (more often) SAFE notes!

What advice do you have for those who are considering the program?

Forget any preconceived ideas about venture capital.  Build relationships with fellow investors. You won’t regret it!

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Investment Manager, Bancolombia Ventures

Carlos Alberto Ochoa Valencia

Carlos Alberto Ochoa Valencia is an Investment Manager at Bancolombia. Carlos is a Colombian, born in Medellín and has been with Bancolombia since 2011. He started with Bancolombia as a Legal Associate in the Corporate and International Division. He then was promoted to Senior Legal Associate in the Investment and Banking M&A team and then he helped créate Bancolombia Ventures as Investment Manager and now he is principal for Bancolombia´s CVC Bancolombia Ventures.

How did VC Unlocked impact your confidence as a VC?

When I arrived at VCU, I had a great challenge within my organization, and it was to consolidate Bancolombia Ventures CVC as a tool that would really positively impact the organization’s strategy and serve as an innovation accelerator.

What was the most important takeaway from the program that you implemented afterwards?

When I arrived in my country to continue with my responsibilities within the company with all the tools and knowledge necessary to structure an investment thesis that could serve my organization, avoiding errors In focus, geography, ticket size, fund size, etc. But at the same time, it could be as simple and clear that the innovation ecosystem could understand my thesis and refer me as an interesting investor that can contribute to the growth of the companies.

What advice do you have for Corporate VCs who are considering the program?

It is the best way to obtain the basic knowledge in Venture Capital from the hand of expert investors with the world-class methodology of Ivy League Universities.

MBA – Berkeley Haas (Formerly at IFC)

Anjani Vedula

Anjani was a member of the IFC’s Venture Capital Group, which invests $100-150M/year in early stage tech-enabled companies and venture capital funds across emerging markets with the mission of promoting economic development. She has worked on transactions in e-commerce, e-logistics, edtech and venture capital funds and conducted global industry mappings on agtech, online furniture retail, property portals, and non-fintech applications of blockchain.

How did VC Unlocked impact your confidence as a VC?

VC Unlocked helped me grow my confidence in evaluating early stage startups because most of my investments at IFC were later stage startups (Series B and beyond). I learned about the importance of investing in teams with relevant “superpowers” and in products with a large addressable market. I also became more confident in my own “superpower” as an investor, and was able to hone my personal Investment thesis.

What was the most important takeaway from the program that you implemented afterwards?

I loved learning about the decision analysis process to investing in early stage startups that Ulu Ventures presented, because it recognized that venture investing decisions often incorporate cognitive biases and attempted to reduce the impact of those biases. I hope to continue to learn about alternative ways to evaluate early stage deals and incorporate these strategies into my own investment process.

What advice do you have for Corporate VCs who are considering the program?

The content of the program is wonderful, but don’t underestimate the quality of the people you will meet. Try to spend as much time as possible mingling with the others in the program, because this will be a wonderful way to grow your network globally.

Senior Associate, General Atlantic

Sofia Garrido Freyria

Sofia Garrido is a Senior Associate at General Atlantic, a leading investment firm with a singular focus on global growth equity, and focuses on the firm’s investments in Latin America. Before joining General Atlantic in 2017, Sofia was a Principal at ALLVP, a Mexican venture capital fund, where she oversaw the healthcare portfolio. From 2011 to 2013, she was CFO at salaUno, a healthcare start-up. She started her career at Credit Suisse in Equity Research where she covered the construction and infrastructure sectors. She is a Kauffman Fellow at the Center for Venture Education in Palo Alto, California. Sofia is based in Mexico City.

How did VC Unlocked impact your confidence as an investor?

The program highly impacted my confidence as the network that I was able to build enabled me to see best-in-class practices from investors from all around the globe and made me realize both the things we were doing correctly and where we could improve in our fund going forward. Accessing a global network allowed me to compare what we were doing to global standards, not just local or regional standards.

What was the most important takeaway from the program that you implemented afterwards?

There is a lot to learn about how to become a better VC. You can learn how to make better investment decisions, improve your investment processes etc, but at the end of the day my most important takeaway is that venture capital it more of an art than a science. There is no booklet or pamphlet you can read on how to be the best VC in the world. There are however certain aspects of how you invest that you can get better at and I think I got those from the program.

Do you have any advice for aspiring early stage investors considering the program?

I highly recommend the program because it gives you the basis of what you need to know and understand to be a good investor. More than anything, it gives you a global perspective which is super valuable in this day and age. You never make an investment decision based on your understanding of just your local ecosystem. You need to understand global trends, both on the consumer side and on the investor side, so I would say the program is a great option for aspiring early stage investors who want to jump start their careers.

Co-founder & Managing Partner at SoGal Ventures

Pocket Sun

Pocket Sun is the co-founder of SoGal, with a mission to cultivate the next generation of diverse entrepreneurs and investors. She is Managing Partner at SoGal Ventures, the world’s first female-led next-generation VC fund, with $15M in AUM and 35 investments to date. She also serves as Co-president at SoGal Foundation, a nonprofit with the largest global community of diverse founders and funders in 50+ cities. She has extensive experience working with startups and corporations across the US, China, and Southeast Asia. Pocket has been on the cover of Forbes Asia magazine as a 30 Under 30 in Venture Capital, selected as LinkedIn Top 10 Voices in VC & Entrepreneurship, and interviewed by BBC, Bloomberg CNBC, Fortune, Inc, Entrepreneur, etc.
How did VC Unlocked help you break into the industry?

The venture capital industry can be intimidating and not transparent from an outside perspective. Fifty percent of the program participants were female and my classmates were from 15 different countries. I actually resonated with other VCs, for the first time. It felt as if we were a think tank creating new ideas with a diverse and global perspective. My now business partner Elizabeth Galbut and I met at the program, and were inspired by the experience to build a venture capital firm that helps diverse millennial entrepreneurs grow billion-dollar global businesses.

What was the most important takeaway from the program that you implemented afterwards?

Some great advice we took from the program includes:

Don’t wait in vain for the VC industry to change for you. If you want to see change happen, lead the change and be a pioneer yourself.

Blog about venture capital! You’ll stand out because so few women are writing about the topic. Instead of putting $50,000 into your first deal, convince 10 founders to let you invest $5,000 each. This is how you get the most experience at the smallest check size.

How did VC Unlocked impact your confidence as an investor?

It validated my previous learnings about venture capital and gave Elizabeth and I the idea to start a fund of our dream from scratch. It’s definitely a much tougher path than working for someone else’s VC firm, but it’s the best thing we’ve ever done.

Managing Director on the Social Enterprise Finance team, DFC

Dia Martin

Dia Martin is the Managing Director of the Social Enterprise Finance team at the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), formerly the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). The DFC is America’s development bank, partnering with the private sector to finance solutions to the most critical challenges facing the developing world today. Dia is based in Washington, D.C.

How did VC Unlocked impact your confidence as an investor?

Three words describe what I gained from my VC Unlocked experience – network, knowledge,  and perspective.

What was the most important takeaway from the program that you implemented afterwards?

The importance of viewing the investment as a partnership and engaging with the founders and management team as partners.

What advice do you have for aspiring early stage investors who are considering the program?  

I would encourage them to take the program.  The information gained and materials shared are phenomenal.  The course provides you with an opportunity to learn directly from experienced investors with real life examples and build a global network with other participants in the course.

Founder and General Partner, MGV Capital Group

Mariano Gonzalez

Mariano has over twenty years of experience leading growth strategy initiatives for Fortune 500 companies and Private Equity/Venture Capital firms. His career includes a decade of strategy and operations consulting with Booz & Company and several years’ industry experience in information technology. As a Founder, he has launched several startups in professional services, retail, technology, and gaming. As an Investor, he focuses on early-stage technology companies.

Mariano holds an MBA with Distinction (Finance, Strategy, Marketing) from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, a Bachelor of Science in Computer Systems Engineering from Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, and Private Equity and Venture Capital Certifications from Stanford University, Harvard Business School and EGADE Business School.

Mariano’s global perspective is based on engagements in the U.S., U.K., Mexico, Germany, Peru, Colombia, and South Korea. He has authored multiple publications on M&A, technology, and gaming and has won the Booz Allen Hamilton Professional Excellence Award, the EKI Leadership Award, and others.

 

How did VC Unlocked impact your confidence as a VC?

Tremendously. All of a sudden I had a peer group of extremely talented emerging fund managers with whom to compare notes, strategize and even go to market, as well as a magnificent set of world-renowned mentors, with the knowledge, experience and desire to help me grow as a VC.

What was the most important takeaway from the program that you implemented afterwards?

The validation and refinement of our core strategy and Investment thesis, and how best to communicate It to Investors. Learning to model and ultimately create a portfolio construction strategy that not only aligns with our skillset, but also maximizes our chances of success, has been Incredibly helpful In our ability to execute.

What advice do you have for Corporate VCs who are considering the program?

First of all, to apply as soon as possible. This is a fantastic program, and as such, it fills up quickly.  Once in the program, It Is very Important to put In the time, so that you can make the most of It.  It Is a demanding program, but extremely rewarding.

Founding Partner, Five35 Ventures and Co-Founder & CEO, WomHub

Hema Vallabh

Hema is an engineer, turned entrepreneur, turned investor. She is the founding GP at Five35 Ventures, a $30m Pan-African female-focused VC fund that will invest in early-stage (Seed & Series A) tech start-ups solving the most meaningful challenges in Africa. She is also the co-founder & CEO of WomHub, a boutique pan-African incubator and the first co-working space for female-founders in STEM in Africa. WomHub is a spin-out of her global, award-winning non-profit WomEng which provides interventions for girls and women at every stage of the engineering skills pipeline.

How did VC Unlocked impact your confidence as a VC?

As a first-time fund-manager, really just getting my feet wet into the world of VC, the programme was an incredible springboard. Everything from the content and learning, the practical application of principles in designing and affirming my fund thesis and structures, exposure to world-class experts and leaders in the industry, and arguably most importantly the network of peer VC’s in the cohort has really set such a strong foundation and grounding for me to build up from here. I felt like the programme significantly catalyzed my “readiness” – confidence and otherwise – to establish myself as a trailblazing VC, in the gender-focused Africa landscape in particular.

What was the most important takeaway from the program that you implemented afterwards?

Other than the excellent core content learnings, the community the programme provided. Subsequent to the program, I have collaborated with a number of cohort members in various ways ranging from sharing and assessing pipeline, to comparing best-practices, to hosting live social media sessions on Instagram and Clubhouse focused on providing advisory, thought-leadership and overall spotlighting gender-lens investing in particular.

What advice do you have for Corporate VCs who are considering the program?

Don’t second guess it – just go for it!! I will always look back to VC Unlocked as one of the key milestones in kick-starting my VC journey. It’s a unique opportunity to be exposed to such incredible experts who are genuinely passionate and committed to developing the next generation of leading VCs. But most importantly, be ready to commit, put in the time and be present for the program. Like anything in life, what you put in is what you get out.

Stanford Aug 2019 Sao Paulo, Brazil

Marcello Gonçalves

How did VC Unlocked help you break into the industry?

By the time I was admitted into the VC Unlocked program I had already built an asset manager and launched our first consumer-focused fund called Domo Ventures and was selected by the National Development Bank to run Brazil’s angel fund, the idea was to launch a new B2B fund (later called Domo Enterprise). But, like many things in venture, I’d never formally learned how to build a fund – I just did it and figured it out along the way. VC Unlocked really helped me deeply develop my knowledge and helped add structure to my ideas. VC Unlocked helped me develop my own personal thesis and helped me paint a clear picture of who I wanted to be as an investor.

What was the most important takeaway from the program that you implemented afterwards?

There were two things that really helped me understand my role as an investor. First was the understanding I gained of the history of the American venture market. It really helped me to see how venture grew into its own asset class, with its own identity and rules, and how venture fits into the overall market. Second was that I walked away with a strong investment thesis that I was confident in. You develop your own personal strategy and thesis and you must be faithful to it. That requires a high level of conviction and confidence – I gained that confidence in VC Unlocked.

How did VC Unlocked impact your confidence as an investor?

VC Unlocked had a big impact on my confidence. I ended the program far stronger than I entered and that had an immediate and lasting impact on my level of confidence. The program was amazing, lasting connections made, lots of learning.

Are there any areas we could provide education on that would help you where you are in your journey today?

Mainly for those outside of the US, we need NETWORKING

I need to know series A & B funds in US that want to invest in LatAm, would love to have access to these LPs who are interested in Brazil. This is something that Kauffman does really well, I can access a Kauffman fellow very easily. Thorough the program incentivised well, be sure you have something to talk about. “I have a company I’d like to show you.”

Networking events outside of Demo Days that would be amazing. What about 500 Vc Unlocked conference wherever in the world? Alumni can help to build the content. The sense of community is not as strong as is should be.

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