Entrepeneurs & VC’s share their insights and thoughts for 2018
6:30 to 7:15 pm – Welcome & Meet/Greet
7:15 to 8:00 pm – Discussion
8:00 to 8:30 pm – Audience Q&A
Join us for an exciting event where well known VC’s and entrepreneurs share their insights and thoughts on investing for 2018. Moderated by BCG Partner Sid Shah and Entrepreneur Alok Chanani.
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Stephen Stokols, Entrepreneur/Angel (Founder/CEO, FreedomPop)
Stephen is an American entrepreneur, technologist, investor and executive located in Los Angeles, California. Stokols currently serves as the CEO of FreedomPop, the company he co-founded in August 2012 with Skype Founder Niklas Zennström.
As CEO of FreedomPop, Stokols has raised over $109 million in venture capital and grown the company to over 100 employees. In 2015, Stokols expanded FreedomPop’s free mobile service internationally. In early 2016, Stokols closed a $50 million Series C financing for FreedomPop and launched a Global Hotspot with free mobile data in over 25 countries. In 2017, Stokols turned down a merger and acquisition offer for FreedomPop, worth as much as $450 million.
Before FreedomPop, Stokols was the CEO of Woo Media, until its sale to Zoosk in November 2011. The idea for Woo Media was spurred by his sister's experience with speed dating. Stokols immediately saw an opportunity for an online speed dating website leveraging new web based video technologies and created WooMe. Over four years, Stokols grew Woo Media into an online media group, incorporating several online communication channels. Under his leadership, Stokols grew Woo Media to over 10 million users until it was sold to Zoosk in 2011.
Stephen is also an active investor in technology companies,including villiger where he teamed up celeb actor Walton Goggins.
LA Times media on Stokols:
Shaun Arora, Managing Partner, Make in LA
Shaun Arora graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with Honors and went to work as a cultural anthropologist for consumer packaged goods companies. In 2005, he joined the family electronics manufacturing business, NEO Tech, and worked to scale the business. As a result of his leadership, the business has grown 40X in that time and has over 3400 employees servicing the aerospace, industrial, and medical device industries.
As NEO Tech moves into a middle market growth phase Shaun allocates a larger portion of his time towards early stage companies. As an investor, board member and mentor, he’s often playing devil’s advocate and challenging executive teams towards brilliant and uncomfortable thinking. He has worked with a number of hardware startups in particular from prototype to crowdfunding, manufacturing, and subsequent stages of financing. In 2015, Shaun spun off Make in LA from the contract manufacturing business to improve learnings and outcomes for hardware startups. He remains an advisor and a board member at NEO Tech.
Upfront Ventures is a Los Angeles-based venture capital firm that is focused on investments in early stage technology companies. The firm has been making investments in tech companies like Maker Studios, TrueCar, Overture, CitySearch, BillMeLater, Envestnet, DealerTrack, CyberSource, Qualys, and HDI since 1996. Current fund size is approximately $300 million.
Chang Xu, Upfront Ventures
Chang joined Upfront in 2016. Most recently, she was the first Product Manager at the Minerva Project, a venture-backed, tech-enabled university for the 21st century — rethinking everything in order to offer a better education at a lower cost. She also co-founded and was the COO of an ed-tech startup in China, which is still going strong in Beijing. Previously, she was a Consultant at The Boston Consulting Group, where she advised clients across technology, retail, and healthcare sectors as well as private equity investors. Chang has also spent time at Microsoft and Jane Street Capital. Chang received her MBA from the Harvard Business School and her AB in Applied Mathematics from Harvard University, with a minor in Computer Science.
We are excited to announce Fika Ventures, a new $40 million seed fund dedicated to serving entrepreneurs who are building enduring solutions to solve deep systemic problems. While seed funds seem to be multiplying like bunnies, we believe our mix of experience coupled with our far-sighted perspective bring unique value and advantages to entrepreneurs.
Matt Hersh, Fika Ventures
An atypical investor, Matt brings seventeen years of hands-on operational experience within early and growth stage companies and has two successful exits under his belt (JetBlue IPO in 2002 and Envestnet | Yodlee IPO/acquisition in 2015). Functionally, Matt brings business development, marketing, sales, pricing and revenue management experience, along with a strong, active network of c-suite relationships across the Fortune 1000. Matt began his career as part of the founding team at JetBlue and after stints at Apple and Redpoint Ventures, Matt joined financial software and data giant Yodlee where he focused on business development and sales across the emerging fintech industry. Most recently Matt was the Head of Business Development at Factual focusing on strategy and partnerships across enterprise software, financial services and retail verticals.
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