The VU Team




  • Management Team

    J. Skyler Fernandes

    Co-Founder & General Partner

    • Ranked Top 100 Powerlist VC
    • ~15 years of VC/PE Investing, 150+ Portfolio Companies
    • Select Prior Portfolio Companies: Beyond Meat (IPO'd, $14B), Sensity (Acquired by Verizon, $300M+), ShopKick (Acquired by SK Telecom, $200M), Made In Space (Acquired by AE Industrial Partners,  FabFitFun ($1B+), Spyce (Acquired by sweetgreen), Bear Flags Robotics (Acquired by John Deere, $250M)
    • Former Managing Director of Investments at Cleveland Avenue (VC/PE Fund co-founded by Former CEO & President of McDonalds), focusing on food and beverage brands, food related technologies, and new restaurant concepts
    • Founder, Head, & Former Managing Director of Simon Venture Group (Corporate investment arm of Simon Property Group, S&P 100, largest retail real estate company in the world), grew to top 5 corporate VC focused on commerce alongside Google Ventures, Intel Capital, and Comcast Ventures
    • Adjunct Professor at New York University teaching Venture Capital Intensive
    • Creator of Multiple Top Ranked Entrepreneur Resources: #1 Startup Investor Pitch Deck Template (viewed & downloaded 500,000+ times, used by leading business schools and accelerators)
    • Co-Founder of the #1 Startup Board Game: The Next Big Thing: The Game of Entrepreneurship, backed by over 25+ of the top accelerators and VC investors


    Andrew Zalasin

    General Partner

    • 25+ years of venture capital and private equity investment and operational experience with entrepreneurial growth companies
    • Early investor in Facebook, Uber, Twitter, Venmo, Wisdom Tree, MakerBot, Magnolia Cupcakes, Concur, Massive
    • Former General Partner for 17 years at RRE Ventures, a leading technology venture capital firm with $1.5B across seven funds
    • Involved in nearly 200 investments and has served on more than 30 boards in the US, Europe and Asia, and has been instrumental in generating industry-leading returns and providing experience and resources to help companies build teams, attack new market opportunities, identify and secure strategic initiatives / partnerships and achieve profitable growth in all phases of development


    James Zhang


    • Partner at GRC Fund, a $300M+ technology fund, focused on Energy & Resource Efficiency and Health & Wellness in the US & China
    • Adjunct Professor of Venture Capital & Entrepreneurship at HKUST (Hong Kong University of Science & Technology) Business School
    • Co-Founder & General Partner at Formation 8, a Silicon Valley based venture capital fund with over $1B+ under management and early backer of unicorns like Oculus VR, Wish.com, and Oscar.  Other notable team members of the fund included Joe Lonsdale (Co-Founder of Palantir Technologies) and Gideon Yu (CFO of Facebook and YouTube, Partner at Sequoia and Khosla Ventures)
    • Venture Partner at SoftBank China Venture Capital 
    • Entrepreneur in Residence & Venture Partner at Khosla Ventures, where he took Khosla's portfolio company LanzaTech to China by brokering deals between LanzaTech and Chinese steel-makers
    • As a biotechnologist, Dr. Zhang was a co-founder of BioConsortia and founding member of Mendel Biotechnology. He led Mendel Biotechnology’s business development and its agricultural collaboration with Monsanto and biofuel collaboration with BP. 
    • Dr. Zhang has a Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of California Davis and completed his post-doctoral and business training at Stanford University and the Stanford Graduate School of Business, respectively


    David Lee


    • Manages VU’s Hong Kong office, focuses on deal sourcing within Asia and investor relations
    • Strong network of family offices and institutional investors
    • 7+ years living and working in Asia
    • Senior Director of Corporate Ventures and Strategy at Axcelis, Inc., a semiconductor company
    • Director of International Business Development at Blackboard, Inc., one of the world’s largest education technology companies
    • Manager of Corporate Strategy and M&A at MAXIMUS, Inc., a consulting and operations firm
    • University of Southern California, MPP (International Policy and Economic Development)
    • University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, BA


    Venkat Bussa


    • 20 Years Experience, Engineering, Marketing and Entrepreneurship
    • Worked at Cisco, Lead Technical Marketing and Engineering functions for $1B High-End Routing and Optical Product Lines
    • Market Expertise: Telecommunication, Cloud, Networking, Agriculture, Education, Commercial & Newspaper Print & Packaging Industries
    • BSc. from College of Engineering Osmanabad, Harvard University -  Alternative Investments, Stanford GSB - Mergers & Acquisitions, Berkeley Haas - Venture Capital Executive Program


    Aakash Jain

    Associate Partner

    • VU Cohort 2 Alum
    • Venture FellowJump Capital
    • Co-Founder, Booth Bay Area Angel Network (Booth BAAN)
    • Technology Investment Banking (Growth Equity), Financial Technology Partners
    • Fixed Income Quant Trading, Morgan Stanley
    • University of Chicago Booth School of Business, MBA 
    • Cornell University, MEng (Computer Science)
    • Jacobs University, BA (Electrical Engineering & Computer Science)

    Arpan Ajmera


    • VU Cohort 7 Alum
    • Previously at ZX Ventures (CVC arm of AB InBev)
    • B.S. in Mechanical Engineering From Purdue University


    Faraz Khan

    Principal - Asia Investment Team

    • Angel Investor for 7+ yrs & Serial

    • Entrepreneur, Co-Founder of Freebie, a 'social currency' app

    • Founder of a Managed Services Provider with national clientele

    • Operations and Leadership at University of Chicago, AOL, MusicNow.com

    • Consultant - Accenture, Avanade

    • VU Cohort 8, 9 Alum


    Johan Richards

    Venture Partner, Africa

    • Manages VU Africa - Synergos Venture Partners, a fund focused on investing across the african continent
    • Passionate about the entrepreneurial and economic development of Africa
    • Serial entrepreneur and Angel Investor in many entrepreneurial startups
    • Former Strategic Management Consultant focusing on entrepreneurial development
    • MBA form Wits Graduate School of Business (WBS) in South Africa
    • Served as Chairman of the WBS Alumni Association and member of the WBS Advisory Board
    • Certified Leadership Coach, Mentor, Mediator and part time lecturer at leading South African Business school
    • Consultant on the Stanford University’s Seed Transformation Program for entrepreneurs in developing economies
    • Angel investor & involved with the startup of Africa’s biggest Snow Ski & Adventure Mountain Resort in Lesotho (www.afriski.net)



    Jagruti (Jags) Bhikha​

    Venture Partner, Angel Investor Program

    • Super Angel Investor, 50+ portfolio companies
    • Senior Innovation Consultant, Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)
    • Founding Partner, Wingpact
    • Tech Mentor, Singularity University
    • Global Account Manager, Cisco
    • MS, Project Management, George Washington University
    • NYU - Polytechnic School of Engineering & Computer Science



    Irina Lanin

    Venture Partner, Europe

    • Mentor at German Accelerator
    • Mid-Atlantic Bio Angels
    • Merk, Ass. Director of Strategic Planning
    • Sanofi, Ass. Director Global Market Research & Analytics


    Jenna Fernandes

    Co-Founder, Operating Partner, Head of Admissions & HR

    • Venture Backed Serial Entrepreneur
    • Co-Founder & CEO of The Next Big Thing: The Game of Entrepreneurship, backed by over 25+ of the top accelerators and VC investors
    • Ranked Top 10 Female Tech CEO by Women 2.0 
    • Former CEO of Largest Student Run Business in The Country (Tufts Student Resources)


    Hannah Wang

    Head of Human Resources & Admissions - Asia

    • Consultant, ICF (NASDAQ:ICFI) is a global consulting and technology services provider
    • Pricing Analyst, Wiley Rein LL
    • George Mason University, Masters of Science
    • University of Illinois, Bachelors in Science & Finance



    Jaymie Lo

    Administrative Assistant

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