Welcome RDV Class of 2018 — Announcing NYC Venture Fellows!
For four years now, Rough Draft Ventures has been supporting and connecting the nation’s largest network of university entrepreneurs. We’ve backed more than 250 founders representing over 100 companies with some major success stories along the way: 17 RDV founders have been named Forbes 30 Under 30 honorees, MIT-born Workflow was recently acquired by Apple, and Harvard College-born law enforcement software startup Mark43 now provides emergency response software for the Washington D.C., Camden, NJ, and Los Angeles County police departments.
We grew our roots in Boston, a natural choice given the density of top college students there, but last year expanded our efforts to support student founders at NYU, The University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, Princeton, Yale, Cornell, Cornell Tech, and other New York-area schools.
The timing could not have been more perfect: Uber’s recent acquisition of NYU-incubated Geometric Intelligence, Wharton-born Warby Parker’s proliferation as a household name, and Cornell Tech’s emergence as an engineering powerhouse have catalyzed university entrepreneurship, giving edge to New York’s tech identity.
In our first year in New York, we’ve been lucky enough to support frontier technology startups like Cornell Tech-born Uru, a computer vision startup for post-production advertising, and Penn-born Plasticity, a natural language processing backend that outperforms Watson.
We’re excited to continue growing and supporting our New York community alongside our second class of New York Venture Fellows.
RDV Venture Fellows meet once a week to hear student founder pitches and make recommendations for backing highest potential companies. They are ambassadors for RDV on their own campuses, helping to identify and support student founders, working closely with student groups, and collaborating on events & programs to bolster the student entrepreneur community across New York.
Cami Tellez. A junior at Columbia, Cami Tellez has involved herself in many of New York’s strongest tech communities: Her freshman summer, she worked as a Business Associate at Techstars NYC where she helped strengthen their relationship with universities across New York. After Techstars, she ended up joining Techstars-backed mortgage startup Morty as employee #1. This past summer, she worked as a product manager at The Wirecutter, the New York Times’ site for technology reviews.
Alana Anderson. Alana is a junior studying computer science at Columbia University. From the Bay Area to the Big Apple, Alana has developed a diverse set of relationships in both enterprise and consumer technology. Previously, Alana has spent time on the R&D team at Natera through its IPO, the product team at AppDynamics through its $3.1B acquisition, and most recently launched Blend’s first new loan product while the company raised its $100M Series D. On campus, Alana works with the school’s undergraduate entrepreneurship organization, women’s business society, and helps run Columbia’s startup accelerator.
Victoria Spann-Burton. A junior at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, Victoria is passionate about the role communities play in supporting entrepreneurs, specifically pre-college initiatives that expose high school kids from underrepresented backgrounds to opportunities in the tech industry. On campus, she’s President at Tech@NYU, the largest student tech organization in NYC, and used to lead Freshman Circuit, an application-only program that introduces NYU freshmen to NYC’s tech scene through office visits and internship opportunities. This past summer, she worked as an engineer at JPMorgan and worked as an engineer at Dell before that.
Jack DeFuria. A junior at NYU, Jack is passionate about the intersection of education and technology. Jack’s perspective on technology has been shaped by product and investing experiences at Oscar Health Insurance, Stripes Group, and Simple. Jack spent this past summer working on his own EdTech startup, Bolt, so he can empathize with peers starting companies in school. He’s been championing young entrepreneurs for almost a decade: In high school, having been involved with Teens in Tech, the largest community of teen entrepreneurs, since middle school.
Will Kortum. A junior at Yale, Will is an insanely talented designer whose experience complements the engineering, business, and product experience on our team. He spent this past summer working as a graphic designer at be-poles, a Paris and NYC-based design studio, and the summer before as a design intern at a student-founded startup called FROTH (First Round On The House). On campus, he’s President of Design at Yale. We got to know Will last year when an SNL-style video he produced satirizing the generic descriptions of most Internet of Things startups went viral: These Students Got Their Yale Classmates To Apply For Jobs At Their Hilariously Fake Startup.
Christina Huang. A senior at Princeton University, Christina has developed a keen perspective on the future of technology through engineering internships at Google and JD.com, a summer venture capital internship at Insight Ventures, and a research internship at Microsoft, where she studied asynchronous vs synchronous forms of communication. At Princeton, Christina has helped run TigerLaunch, Princeton’s annual intercollegiate pitch competition, and she currently serves as co-President of Princeton’s Entrepreneurship Club. This year, Christina is conducting her thesis research on fairness in machine learning.
Akshay Goradia. A rising senior at Carnegie Mellon studying Information Systems and Human-Computer Interaction, Akshay was part of our inaugural NYC Venture Fellows class last year and we couldn’t be more excited to have him back! This past summer, he worked as a summer associate on Stripes Group’s growth equity team. On campus, Akshay is a co-founder of Scottie Ventures, an investment group that teaches the principles of venture capital, and is dedicated to helping students navigate Carnegie Mellon’s tech community.
Jake Kupperman. A second year MBA candidate at Columbia Business School, Jake is actively involved in New York’s early stage tech community. He spent this past summer working as a summer associate at Bowery Capital, worked as an investment intern at Grand Central Tech this spring, and is an InSITE Fellow, a fellowship connecting talented graduate students supporting local early stage startups. Before grad school, Jake spent time at Rocket Internet and also helped build out the sales team as an early employee at construction-tech startup zlien. He also spent time launching his own company called Gentology, a celebrity-curated social ecommerce platform.
Adina Davis. A second year MBA candidate at The Wharton School, Adina is passionate about consumer technology and consumer brands. For the past year, Adina’s been working as an MBA Associate at Red Sea Ventures, an early stage venture firm behind awesome brands like Allbirds, Outdoor Voices, and Sweetgreen. Before business school, she spent four years at JP Morgan, most recently in the investment bank, where she focused on tech, media, and telecom.
Dillon Chen. A senior at the University of Pennsylvania, Dillon is obsessed with all things biotech, bitcoin, and artificial intelligence. Dillon is returning to Penn this fall after taking last semester off to work on his own startup, Source, a block-chain powered network for internet access. On campus, Dillon helps Wharton’s Undergraduate Entrepreneurship club and the PennApps Accelerator, Penn’s on-campus accelerator. He spent his sophomore summer working as an investment analyst at Rothenberg Ventures.
Shoshi Israel. A sophomore at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, Shoshi is passionate about the intersection of technology, digital media and politics. She is co-President of Founders Club, an organization that helps connect student and alumni founders to one another at Penn, and serves as team Director of the Innovation and Technology Policy team at the Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative. She is heavily involved in the Philly tech scene, and previously worked at social impact startup ROAR for Good, the Philadelphia Department of Commerce, and Philly Startup Leaders.