Meet the SVB Trek Class of 2018

By Priya Rajan, Director of Early Stage Banking, Leading university engagement strategy for Silicon Valley Bank

2016 SVB Trek

Every January, Silicon Valley Bank invites ambitious, entrepreneurially-minded university students from around the world to come to Silicon Valley for the SVB Trek. During the four-day Trek, we connect the students with creative pioneers, world-class investors and industry leaders through an immersive learning experience, which features salon-style events, interviews with industry luminaries and hands-on workshops. The aim is to provide an opportunity for the students to build a network of peers and advisors, while offering unique insights to help drive the students to the next stage of their career development.

We work side-by-side with leading universities from around the world to find a small group of students each year who reflect diverse backgrounds, academic experiences and career pursuits. The selection process is rigorous, and the student entrepreneurs in the Trek Class of 2018 have already achieved impressive accomplishments. They include: the CEO of a battery company that aims to accelerate the adoption of wind and solar power; the co-founder of an agritech company that converts organic waste byproducts into an insect protein for animal feeds; and the founder and CEO of a platform for workers in developing countries to share reviews of their working conditions.

Our “guides” at The Trek have experienced startup life first-hand. We encourage these technology leaders to openly recount their startup journey, including their failures.

Some of the guides for this year’s Trek include Jeremy Fiance, Managing Partner at The House Fund, Julia Hartz, Co-Founder and CEO of Eventbrite, Justin Kan, CEO of Atrium LTS, Kat Mañalac, Partner at Y Combinator, Kevin Hartz, Partner at Founders Fund, Niko Bonatsos, Managing Director at General Catalyst, Patrick Chung, Founding Partner of Xfund, Peter Boyce, Founder of Rough Draft and VC at General Catalyst, and Ravi Mhatre, Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners.

Here are the 2018 Trek student participants:

Alice Deng, Alston Clark, Anchal Taatya, Anselme Mucunguzi, Anum Hussain

Alice Deng
* President of Blueprint, technology for non-profits created by UC Berkeley students
* BS, Business Administration, University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business

Alston Clark
* Technology Analyst at Howard University Investment Group
* BS, Computer Science, Howard University

Anchal Taatya
* Founder and CEO of Urban Thela, a superfood company in India
* MS, Management and Entrepreneurship/Entrepreneurial Studies, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad

Anselme Mucunguzi
* Co-Founder of Yeyote Music, a mobile app to stream Rwandan music
* MS, Computer Science and Business, University of Notre Dame

Anum Hussain
* Venture Fellow at Rough Draft Ventures, General Catalyst’s student-focused program that backs founders at the university level
* MBA, MIT Sloan School of Management

Bryce Watson, Deanna Deyhim, Emma Kirst, Eoin Gannon, Jack Ackerman

Bryce Watson
* CEO and Founder of Vize, a platform for workers in developing countries to share reviews of their working conditions with other workers in their region 
* MS, International Development and Economics, Texas A&M University — The Bush School of Government and Public Service

Deanna Deyhim
* Founder of Spect, an organization dedicated to helping children in low-income and challenging environments develop emotional awareness and regulation through virtual reality mindfulness practice
* BS, Bioengineering, Cornell University

Emma Kirst
* Venture Partner at Contrary Capital 
* BS, Economics, University of Michigan

Eoin Gannon
* Co-Founder of SpeakUpp, a platform to enable greater engagement and audience interaction at events
* BS, Computer Science and Business, Trinity College Dublin

Jack Ackerman
* Various experience in finance, management and startup consulting
* BS, Venture Finance and Interdisciplinary Studies (Focus on Pharmacogenomics in Central Nervous System and Oncology Treatments), Miami University

Jackson Finio, Jeff Zhao, Jessica Pointing, Jimmy Liu, Kai Kloefer

Jackson Finio
* Founding partner of Fund3, a hedge fund applying machine learning trading algorithms to digital assets like bitcoin, and a Codeacademy advisor
* BS, Computer Science and Business Administration, University of Southern California

Jeff Zhao
* Director at TAMUhack, one of the one of the largest student run software engineer organizations ever created at Texas A&M University and a 501(c)(4) non-profit
* BS, Mechanical Engineering, Texas A&M University

Jessica Pointing
* Founder of Optimize Guide, a blog that provides advice for high school and college students
* BS, Computer Science and Physics, Harvard University

Jimmy Liu
* Co-Founder of Bash, a mobile app that makes it easy to arrange activities with friends
* BS, Computer Science, University of California, Berkeley

Kai Kloefer
* Founder and CEO, Biofire Technologies, smart technology to reduce accidental firearm violence
* BS, Computer Science and Business, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Keshav Rao, Liam Andrus, Manasi Vartak, Maya Faulstich-Hon, Odhran O’Donoghue

Keshav Rao
* Founder and CEO, Goodpoint, an expert feedback tool
* BS, Computer Science, University of California, Berkeley

Liam Andrus
* Graduate research assistant in the Femtosecond Laser-Assisted Biophotonics Laboratory
* PhD, Biomedical Engineering, University of Texas at Austin

Manasi Vartak
* Venture Fellow at Rough Draft Ventures, General Catalyst’s student-focused program that backs founders at the university level
* PhD, Computer Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Maya Faulstich-Hon
* Co-Founder of Kulisha, an agritech company that works with food and beverage producers to convert organic waste byproducts into a sustainable insect protein for use in animal feeds
* BS, Environmental Studies, Brown University

Odhran O’Donoghue
* Participant in the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme
* BA, Medicine, Oxford University

Riley Noland, Ryan Brown, Shalin Shah, Sumit Minocha, Tania Abedian

Riley Noland 
* Vice President of BASES (Business Association of Stanford Entrepreneurial Students)
* BS, Symbolic Systems, Stanford University

Ryan Brown
* CEO of Salient Energy, a company that is commercializing a new battery chemistry
* BS, Nanotechnology Engineering, University of Waterloo

Shalin Shah
* Founder of Lumos, an automated glaucoma screening kit that uses artificial intelligence to analyze the eye’s retina and identify early signs of glaucoma for mass screenings in rural populations
* BS, Electrical Engineering Computer Science, University of California, Berkeley

Sumit Minocha
* Advisor, Analyst and Deal Flow Scout for Xfund, an early-stage venture capital firm
* MS, Computer Science, Stanford University

Tania Abedian
* Part of the 2015–2016 DFJ Entrepreneurial Leaders Fellowship cohort
* MBA, Management Science and Engineering, Stanford University

Vaibhav Suranaa, Vanessa Abundis Correa, Yale Michaels

Vaibhav Suranaa
* Dogra Gold Medal recipient from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi
* MBA, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad

Vanessa Abundis Correa
* Research Scientist at the Water Center for Latin America and the Caribbean (Centro del Agua para America Latina y el Caribe)
* MS, Chemical Engineering, Tecnológico de Monterrey

Yale Michaels
* Former resident of the Harvard Innovation Labs and a top 20 Canadians under 20 in 2011
* PhD, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Oxford University

To learn more about the Trek, please contact us at and take a look at some of the past Trek experiences here.