Introducing: SVB Trek Class of 2019

By Jake Mendel, Early Stage Practice @ Silicon Valley Bank in NYC

Every January, Silicon Valley Bank invites a select group of university students from around the world to come to Silicon Valley for the SVB Trek. Over four days, the cohort is introduced to the people leading our ecosystem — founders, investors, and industry leaders that we refer to as “guides”— through an immersive learning experience featuring intimate fireside chats, curated dinners, and hands-on workshops. Our goal is to help the students create and maintain relationships with world-class peers and mentors. Our hope is that these relationships will serve as the foundation for their networks as they become founders, investors, and industry leaders themselves.

Here’s a sneak peek at just a few of this year’s guides:

We’re also excited to welcome back alumni from previous Trek cohorts:

We work side-by-side with leading universities from around the world to build a cohort of students with diverse academic, professional, and personal experiences with a unified desire to become the next generation of innovators. While exposure to the guides is an incredible experience, it’s our belief that the peer-to-peer relationships fostered during Trek have the most impact — Trek alum have gone on to become co-founders, clients, and investors in each others companies.

This year’s cohort stats at glance: 26 students, from 21 schools and 6 countries from a broad range of programs (undergrad, MBA, PhD, and M.Sc.) and areas of study (Comp Sci., Mech Eng., Finance, Neurobiology, Data Science, Aerospace Eng., Economics, Applied Mathematics, Political Sci., Sociology, Behavioral Ecology, +more)!

So without further ado — introducing the 2019 SVB Trek Cohort:

Alfredo Costilla-Reyes, Alyssa McGillvery, Andre Bertam, Asha Christian, Youngil (Brian) Cho

Alfredo Costilla-Reyes
* Awarded the Silicon Labs Fellowship, Kirchner Food Fellowship, and Mexico National Youth Award — Developing a wearable technology that creates useable electricity out of kinetic energy + a gamification platform to entice a new generation of agricultural workers
* PhD, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Texas A&M University

Alyssa McGillvery
* Contributor to College Hill Independent and New York Minute Magazine — prev. worked on Twitter’s machine learning team
* Bachelors, Computer Science and Cognitive Science, Brown University

Andre Bertram
* CEO & Founder of HelpWear Inc. — bringing affordable and accessible healthcare to cardiac patients. YCombinator S17
* Bachelors, Systems Engineering, University of Waterloo

Asha Christian
*Cofounder & President of Pinetart — known for developing Five-O, an internationally acclaimed mobile police rating application. Cofounder of K12YouthCode, first national competition for Scratch coding.
* Bachelors, Computer Science, Cornell University

Youngil (Brian) Cho
* CEO & Founder of Resonado — a hardware startup that is redefining the shape of sound by developing a flat core speaker.
* Bachelors, Finance and Applied Mathematics, University of Notre Dame

Camila Sanchez , Christine Hong, Christopher Flowers, Daniel Miyares, Danielle Jeffers

Camila Sanchez
* Incoming consultant at Bain & Co. in Chicago
* Bachelors, Business, Indiana University

Christine Hong
* Developing Apothecary, a data-driven skincare consultation service
* Bachelors, Neurobiology and Computer Science, Harvard College

Christopher Flowers
* Chief Recording Officer of Tech Retain and Unite in Science and Technology. Bison STEM Scholar
* Bachelors, Computer Science, Howard University

Daniel Miyares
* Director Emeritus of Longhorn Entrepreneurship Agency. Venture Parner at Genesis. Incoming Product Manager at Uber.
* Bachelors, Management Information Systems, University of Texas at Austin

Danielle Jeffers
Founder of Dough 4 Degrees, a scholarship coaching company that teaches students how to graduate from college debt-free.
Bachelors, Communication, Virginia Tech

Drake Hougo, Ekaterina Lait, Frederick Daso, Giselle Mendoza, Hailey Scofield

Drake Hougo
Cofounder of Pulse Voter, a platform that allows elected officials to connect with voters in their district.
Bachelors, Political Science and Spanish, Stanford University

Ekaterina (Kate) Lait
President of Trinity Entrepreneurial Society. Recipient of the Women in Technology Scholarship from Intel. Incoming Tech intern at Bank of America. Prev. Technology Leadat Biological Optical Prevention
Bachelors, Computer Science, Trinity College Dublin

Frederick Daso
Recipient of the 2018 National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship. Forbes U30 Contributor. 2016 LinkedIn Top Voice. Completed 5 internships at Boeing across R&D, Commercial Airlines, Defense, Space and Security. Partner at Rough Draft Ventures in Boston.
Masters, Aerospace Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Giselle Mendoza
Founder & CEO of GECO, a startup developing bioplastic that is 100% biodegradeable from orange waste. Global Shaper delegate from the World Economic Forum. Ranked #1 nationally at the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA)
Bachelors, Economics, Tecnológico de Monterrey

Hailey Scofield
Cofounder of Combplex, a company utilizing electrical engineering and animal behavior to detect and eliminate parasites that kill bees, increasing agricultural sustainability.
PhD, Behavioral Ecology, Cornell University

James Thorogood, Andrea Valdettaro Zavala, Nia Laing, Kat Mena, Kavya Kopparapu

James Thorogood
Founder of Boresha, a supply chain tool to improve transparency and reduce costs throughout the milk supply chain in Africa. Awarded the Rhodes Scholarship, Skoll Venture Award, and accepted into Oxford Foundry.
Masters, Social Data Science, University of Oxford

Andrea Valdettaro Zavala
Product Marketing Analyst (Global) at UPS, fmr. Business Operations Management at IBM.
Masters, Entrepreneurship & Innovation, University of Southern California

Nia Laing
Manufacturing Representation for Youth Solutions, a New Orleans-based organization that hires and trains youth while addressing the lack of bus stop shelters in NOLA neighborhoods. Resident entrepreneur at Xncubator. Finalist at TCU’s 2018 Values and Ventures competition.
Bachelors, Sociology, Xavier University of Louisiana

Kat Mena
Investment Analyst at Hyde Park Venture Partners, Portfolio Manager at Redhawk Ventures. Placed #3 in the National Venture Capital Investment Competition at the undergraduate level.
Bachelors, Marketing, Miami University of Ohio

Kavya Kopparapu
Founder & CEO of, a non-profit making computer science accessible to any student, regardless of gender, race, age, or socioeconomic status. 2017 WebMD Health Hero, Thiel Fellow Finalist, 2018 Davidson Fellow Laureate, 2018 Presidential Scholar, Time Most Influential Teen 2018, and recently published a TedX talk on precision medicine.
Bachelors, Neuroscience and Computer Science, Harvard College

Lily Sasoon, Mannie Ajayi, Mikul Patel

Lily Sasoon
Partner at Rough Draft Ventures. Prev. M&A at Time Inc. and Ops at Uber.
Masters, MBA, Harvard Business School

Mannie Ajayi
CEO & Founder of Pnyka, a software platform for hosting virtual town halls. Vice-chair of Youth Art Exchange, a non-profit providing arts programming for underprivileged high school students in San Francisco.
Masters, MBA, Stanford Graduate School of Business

Mikul Patel
Founder of Moodcafe, a mental-health startup that uses a combination of best-in-class practices and artificial intelligence to deliver an empathetic caring approach to mental well-being.
Masters, Management, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad

Omkar Salpekar, Patrick Robinson, Xinran Yang

Omkar Salpekar
Managing Director at Free Ventures. Venture Fellow at Rough Draft Ventures. Prev. interned with Facebook, Tanium, and Texas Instruments
Bachelors, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, UC Berkeley

Patrick Robinson
Founder & CEO of Invicted, a company creating positive criminal justice outcomes for people and communities, using a human-centered design approach. Prev. US Army Attorney.
Masters, MBA, Stanford Graduate School of Business

Xinran Yang
CFO and Teacher at Cai Yun Zhi Nan — an education advocacy organization supporting the remote mountainous regions of China. Prev. at Louis Vuitton and Formula One Grand Prix.
Masters, MBA, Fudan University Shanghai

Follow along with this years cohort on Twitter (@SVB_Financial). To learn more about the Trek, please contact us at and take a look at some of the past Trek experiences here.