Jose Antonio Vargas
Jose Antonio Vargas is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. An undocumented immigrant, Vargas is the founder of Define American, a national media and culture organization that uses the power of stories to transcend politics and shift the conversation on immigration, citizenship, and identity in a changing America.
Ryan Leslie, Cofounder & CEO, Disruptive MultiMedia is a Grammy nominated recording artist, multi-platinum producer, and avid technologist. In addition to logging studio time with Madonna, Jay-Z, Kanye West and Beyonce, he launched the first internet pop star Cassie, who sold over 650K albums fueled by an aggressive pre-Twitter social media campaign on MySpace. Ryan is the architect and ultimate case study for Disruptive Multimedia (DMM)s simple CRM for creators. Bravely opting to remove his latest album from iTunes, he used an inbound SMS campaign powered by DMM to earn over $505K in D2C revenue from just 14K fans, a 4x multiple of royalties received on his major label debut which sold 180K copies. He holds a BA in Government from Harvard.
Melody McCloskey is the co-founder and CEO of StyleSeat, the largest and fastest-growing online and mobile marketplace for beauty and wellness services. McCloskey has been recognized among industry leaders, receiving accolades such as Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business, Inc. Magazine’s Top Women to Watch in Technology, Business Insiders’ Most Stylish People in Silicon Valley and Story Exchange’s Top 10 Young Women to Watch. McCloskey serves as a mentor for the Thiel Fellowship and as an advisor for Stanford Business School’s Silicon Valley Project.
As the Founder of Forerunner Ventures, Kirsten has raised in excess of $120M from leading institutional investors and invested in 30+ early stage companies. She currently serves on Board of Directors of several Forerunner portfolio companies including: Bonobos, BloomThat, Dollar Shave Club, Glossier, Retention Science.
Prior to Forerunner, Kirsten was an equity research analyst and investor at Banc of America Securities, formerly Montgomery Securities, covering publicly traded retail and consumer stocks. Kirsten graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in Business Economics, and holds a CPA license and a CFA certification.
Bill Ready came to PayPal with the acquisition of Braintree in late 2013. As CEO of Braintree, he and his team built one of the most innovative and influential startups in the payments industry. With its emphasis on mobile-first experiences, elegant tools for developers, and incredible customer support, Braintree developed industry-leading payment solutions that power many of the world’s most disruptive new businesses, including Uber, Airbnb, OpenTable, and Rovio/Angry Birds.
Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice
SoulCycle Co-Founders and Co-CEOs Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice are leading a fitness revolution. Their vision of a motivational 45-minute indoor-cycling workout combined with a modern, branded environment, and “above and beyond” customer service came to life in 2006 in the rear lobby of an Upper West Side dance studio that Cutler found on Craigslist.
Determined to find an alternative to the fitness routines that felt like work, the pair designed a workout that combines inspirational coaching with high-energy music and a full body workout. Today, SoulCycle is a cardio party that inspires over 10,000 riders a day across the country.
Cutler and Rice run the day-to-day operations of SoulCycle, which has more than 1,100 employees and 37 studios across the United States
Bryan Goldberg is the founder and CEO of Bustle, a news site made for and by women that delivers everything readers want to know, see, and read — right now. Since launching in 2013, Bustle has seen considerable growth, with over 20 million unique visitors monthly. In 2007 Goldberg Co-founded, and served as VP of Revenue for Bleacher Report, which sold to Time Warner for $200 Million in 2012. Bryans writing has appeared in various media outlets including PandoDaily and Digiday.
Bradford Shellhammer has been named one of the ‘100 Most Creative People in Business’ by Fast Company and coined the ‘King of Quirk’ by Forbes Magazine and the ‘Eames of E-Commerce’ by USA Today.
Bradford created Fab.com which transformed how design is sold and consumed. It was born from his colorful outlook on life, and he was the spirit of the company culture and aesthetic. Before pivoting from curated design, Fab.com generated $120M in sales its first year.
He is an experienced entrepreneur with a unique vision driven by his passion for design and the arts. Most recently, he was Chief Design Officer of Backcountry, helping the iconic 18-year old brand reinvent itself and its merchandise mix. Additionally, Bradford’s been a leader at Blu Dot and Design Within Reach, and sits on the Advisory Board of six companies.
Jason Hirschhorn is CEO of The ReDEF Group, a digital content curation company. Previously, Mr. Hirschhorn served as Co-President of Myspace Inc., an affiliate of News Corp. and as President of Sling Media, Inc. He has also served as Chief Digital Officer of MTV Networks. Mr. Hirschhorn currently is on the board of directors of MGM and CFY. Mr. Hirschhorn holds a B.S. in International Business and Marketing from New York Universitys Stern School of Business.
Stan Chudnovsky is Head of Product for Messaging at Facebook. Prior to Facebook, Stan was VP of Growth and Global Strategy at PayPal after a company he co-founded, IronPearl, was acquired in 2013. Stan also co-founded several other succesful companies including Jiff, NFX, Ooga Labs, and Wonderhill. Before that, Stan was building Tickle Inc., one of the first social media companies, and grew it to become one of the largest websites in the world by 2003. Originally from Moscow, Stan got his engineering degrees back in Russia and has been living in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1994.
Katia Beauchamp is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Birchbox; a leading beauty and grooming ecommerce company for men and women. Through its multi-channel platform, the Birchbox experience features personalized sampling, informative editorial content and a curated online shop.
Ben Lerer is the co-founder & CEO of Thrillist Media Group, the leading mens digital media company (consisting of food, drink and travel property Thrillist; tech-meets-lifestyle site Supercompressor; and style and grooming destination JackThreads). Lerer was among Ernst & Young’s 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year Award Winners, Vanity Fair’s Next Establishments, Crain’s “40 under 40”, Forbes list of “Most Powerful CEOs Under 40”, AdWeek’s “Young Influentials,” Entrepreneur Magazine’s “Top 5 Entrepreneurs of the Year,” and Silicon Alley Insider’s “100 Coolest People in Tech” for six years running.
Ben is also the Managing Director of Lerer Ventures, New York’s most active early-stage technology fund. He chairs the Board of Directors for the East River Development Alliance, a New York non-profit organization and is an Associate Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences (IADAS). Lerer is an active mentor for NYC Venture Fellows, TechStars and E[nstitute].
Bijan Sabet has been a general partner at Spark Capital since the firm was founded. He led the investments in Twitter, Tumblr, Jelly, Stack Exchange, and Alfred. He lives with his wife and three children in Boston, MA and loves taking photos wherever he is.
Mike Maples, Jr
Mike Maples, Jr. is the managing partner of FLOODGATE, and was recently named as one of 8 Rising VC Stars by Fortune Magazine for his investments in business and consumer technology companies. Before becoming a full-time investor, Mike was an entrepreneur and operating executive who worked in a variety of senior management roles in high-growth companies. His background spans a variety of markets including consumer technology, small business, and the enterprise, and he has led various functions in product development, marketing, business development, and corporate strategy.
Joel Spolsky is a globally recognized expert on software development and is known by developers around the world for his website Joel on Software. In 2000, he founded his first company, Fog Creek Software, which creates project management tools for software developers, including Trello, which recently spun out into its own company. Previously, Joel worked at Microsoft, where he designed VBA as a member of the Excel team, and at Juno Online Services, where he developed an Internet client used by millions. He has written three books, including Smart and Gets Things Done: Joel Spolsky’s Concise Guide to Finding the Best Technical Talent (Apress, 2007) and worked as a contributing editor for Inc.magazine. Joel graduated from Yale University with a computer science degree. Before college, he served in the Israeli Defense Forces as a paratrooper and helped found Kibbutz Hanaton.