Alumni Spotlight is pleased to announce The Top 100 Northwestern Alumni in Technology of 2021. Northwestern University has been creating driven leaders who spark new ideas since 1851. For the past 170 years, this innovative, collaborative, and multidimensional community of alumni has been delivering impactful changes across the world in a wide variety of fields. Today we highlight alumni who have the dedication and determination to change the world with technological advancements. Some of this year’s awardees have founded or are involved in dynamic areas like healthcare, transportation technology, advanced food production, venture capital firms, digital marketplaces, supply chain logistics and many more.
It is no surprise that one of the most prestigious institutions in the world is consistently producing alumni like the Founder of QMedic, Sombit Mishra, who has transformed medical care through in-home and on-the-go alert systems, which run off of cellular and GPS networks. Alumni Matt Barnard, Co-Founder of Plenty, is using technological advancements to provide healthy food that enables a 20x reduction in the length of the food system supply chain. Also Riana Lynn, the Founder of Journey Foods, has used her creativity and expertise to create enterprise software to help companies feed 8 billion people better. These alumni and many others embody Northwestern’s mission of disrupting barriers and creating an environment allowing others to thrive. Please join us in celebrating the achievements of the Top 100 Northwestern Alumni in Technology of 2021.
1. Jon Soberg
Jon Soberg is the Managing Partner of MS&AD Ventures. He first joined the company in 2018. MS&AD Ventures is an early-stage venture fund looking broadly at technology companies in fintech, insurtech, AI, IoT, big data, and cybersecurity.
Previously, Soberg was a Co-Founder at FlexCap Partners and before that a venture partner at CerraCap Ventures. He also co-founded Early Impact Ventures. Earlier in his career, he worked with Capital Group as an Analyst and the Vice President of Engineering at Adforce. Soberg earned an MBA in Entrepreneurial Management and Marketing from The Wharton School, an MS in Mechanical Engineering from Northwestern University and an undergraduate degree in Engineering from Harvey Mudd College.
6. Jeffrey Liu
Jeffrey Liu began his professional career 13 years ago. Today, he is the Founder and CEO of Jenfi. Jenfi is an alternative revenue-based financing company for digital-native businesses and startups for Southeast Asia.
Liu first got his start in 2008 as an Investment Associate at Victory Park Capital. From there, he went on to BeachMint, before eventually rising to Founder and CEO at GuavaPass, his most recent position prior to founding Jenfi. Liu graduated from The University of Chicago - Booth School of Business with an MBA and from Northwestern University with an undergraduate degree in Industrial Engineering and Economics.
9. Matt Barnard
Matt Barnard is the Co-founder and Executive Chairperson of Plenty. Plenty works to bring the world memorable, clean, fresh, healthy food everywhere with their modern farm. Their farm is a technological wonder of plant science, software, machine learning, data science, thermal systems, climate systems, robotics, and nutrient delivery that enables a 20x reduction in the length of the food system supply chain. Barnard has 26 years in the food production industry. He began his career in 1995.
Before founding Plenty, Barnard was a VP of Deployment and Delivery at Itron, and before that a Managing Member, Founder, and CEO at Search Fund Capital. Earlier in his career, he worked with Tetra Tech/Whalen as a President and COO. Barnard graduated from Stanford University with an MS in Management and from Northwestern University with an undergraduate degree in Economics and Music Performance.
13. Jay Hoag
Jay Hoag is a Partner at TCV, a leading provider of capital to growth-stage private and public companies in the technology industry. With more than $19 billion of capital raised, TCV has invested over $16 billion in more than 350 technology companies over the last 26 years.
Prior to TCV, Hoag was a Managing Director at Chancellor Capital Management. He is currently on the board of directors of Electronic Arts, Netflix, Peloton, Prodege, TripAdvisor, VICE Media and Zillow. Hoag received a bachelors in Economics and Political Science from Northwestern University and an MBA from the University of Michigan.
18. Eric Acher
Eric Acher is the Managing Partner and Co-Founder of monashees. He first founded the company in 2005. monashees is a Brazilian venture capital firm active globally that invests in entrepreneurs committed to creating innovative technological solutions for a new world.
Previously, Acher was a Director at Monitor Group and before that a Director at Unibanco. Acher earned an MBA in Strategy, Finance, and Marketing from Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management and an undergraduate degree in Advertising from ESPM Escola Superior de Propaganda e Marketing.
26. Saagar Kulkarni
Saagar Kulkarni began his professional career 9 years ago. Today, he is a Partner of Stripes. Stripes is a leading growth equity firm that invests in branded consumer and software companies.
Kulkarni first got his start in 2012 as an Associate at Berkshire Partners LLC, before eventually rising to CEO at Earnest Inc., his most recent position prior to joining Stripes. Kulkarni graduated from Harvard Business School with an MBA and from Northwestern University with an undergraduate degree in Mathematical Methods in Social Sciences and Economics.
28. Promod Haque
Norwest Venture Partners
Promod Haque is the Senior Managing Partner of Norwest Venture Partners, a global venture capital and growth equity investment firm. The firm targets early to late stage venture and growth equity investments across a wide range of sectors including: technology, information services, business services, financial services, consumer products/services and healthcare. Haque has 52 years in the venture capital and private equity industry. He began his career in 1969.
Before joining Norwest Venture Partners, Haque was a CEO at Dimensional Medicine Inc and before that a Vice President at Omnimedical Systems. Earlier in his career, he worked with Siemens India Ltd as a Sales Engineer. Haque graduated from Northwestern University with an MBA in Marketing and Finance, and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering, and from Delhi College of Engineering with an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering.
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30. Sonya Brown
Norwest Venture Partners
Sonya Brown began her professional career 27 years ago. Today, she is the General Partner and Co-Head of Growth Equity of Norwest Venture Partners. Norwest Venture Partners is a global venture capital and growth equity investment firm. The firm targets early to late stage venture and growth equity investments across a wide range of sectors including: technology, information services, business services, financial services, consumer products/services and healthcare.
Brown first got her start in 1994 as an Analyst at Bear Stearns. From there, she went on to Equity Residential, before eventually rising to Principal at Summit Partners, her most recent position prior to joining Norwest Venture Partners. Brown graduated from Harvard Business School with an MBA and from Northwestern University with an undergraduate degree.
40. Vlada Bortnik
Vlada Bortnik is the Co-Founder and CEO of Marco Polo, the popular video communication app that is changing the paradigm for millions of people about how they stay in touch. Marco Polo is designed to help foster closeness between friends and family. She is also the Co-Founder of Joya Communications, the parent company of Marco Polo, combining skills and experience to create a better way to help people stay close, no matter the distance.
Earlier in her career, Bortnik spent 5 years at Microsoft where she helped design and launch the first content publishing platform for Office Online. She also is the Co-Founder of Bortnik Labs, a consulting firm specializing in startup strategy, product management, and design. Bortnik is a graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in Computer Engineering.
44. Gary Beasley
Gary is Co-Founder and CEO of Roofstock, an award-winning technology-enabled marketplace for the $4 trillion Single-Family Rental (SFR) sector. Their marketplace and transaction platform is designed to dramatically improve liquidity and lower transaction costs in the $2 trillion single-family rental sector. The marketplace features leased, cash-flowing investment homes that have been certified and can be purchased on-line, with professional management in place.
Previously, Beasley was Co-CEO of Starwood Waypoint Residential Trust and the CEO of Joie de Vivre Hospitality and a solar technology start-up called Greenvolts. Beasley was also CFO of ZipRealty before eventually rising to President of the company. Beasley also spent six years with KKR-backed KSL Resorts. Earlier in his career, he worked for leading real estate industry firms LaSalle Partners and Security Capital Group. Beasley earned a BA in Economics from Northwestern University and an MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business.
78. Shelly Hod Moyal
Shelly Hod Moyal is the Founding Partner and Co-CEO of iAngels. She first founded the company in 2013. iAngels offers accredited investors worldwide exclusive access to tech startups and scaleup investment opportunities originated in Israel and curated through a streamlined due diligence process.
Previously, Moyal was an Associate at Goldman Sachs Investment Bank, a Financial Advisor at UBS and a Research Analyst at Avenue Capital. She is also currently the General Partner of iNgenuity Fund. Moyal earned an MBA from Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management and an undergraduate degree in Economics from City University of New York-Hunter College.
82. Fiona Darmon
Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP)
Fiona Darmon is the General Partner of Jerusalem Venture Partners. She first joined the Fund in 2009 as Vice President of Investor Relations and Business Development. Jerusalem Venture Partners has raised over $1.5 billion and is ranked by Preqin as one of the top-ten consistently performing venture capital firms worldwide. They currently focus on Israeli technology startups.
Previously, Darmon was a Vice President at CCG and before that a Vice President at Koor Industries Ltd. Earlier in her career she worked with Koor Corporate Venture Capital as a Partner. Darmon earned an MBA from Northwestern University and an undergraduate degree in Finance and IT from The College of Management Academic Studies.
88. Lara Hood Balazs
Lara Hood Balazs is the Executive Vice President, General Manager and Chief Marketing Officer of Intuit. She first joined the company in 2018 as the Chief Marketing Officer. Intuit is a global technology platform that helps customers and communities overcome their most important financial challenges. Serving millions of customers worldwide with TurboTax, QuickBooks, Credit Karma and Mint, they believe that everyone should have the opportunity to prosper, and they work tirelessly to find new, innovative ways to deliver on this belief.
Prior to joining Intuit, Balazs was the Vice President of Worldwide Prime and North American Marketing with Amazon. Before that she was the Senior Vice President and Head of North America Marketing for Visa. Over the years she has spent time at several other well-known companies like Gap, Nike and General Mills. Balazs graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in Pre-Law and from Northwestern University with an MBA.
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89. Genevieve Thiers
Genevieve Thiers is the Founder of Sittercity.com, a Bright Horizons company serving 10 million users. Sittercity is a technology platform working to reimagine the child care industry by finding, hiring and managing high-quality, trustworthy and enriching child care for parents or caregivers.
In addition to founding Sittercity, Thiers is a Co-Founder and CEO of NewFounders HQ and a Co-Producer and Tech Trainer for RUN the Series. She has invested in over 10 women-in-tech companies, including Brideside, Itsbyu, Zipfit, Founding Moms, MoxieJean, BallotReady, Knowledgehound, Pixavo, Openbooks, and The Graide Network, among others. Thiers graduated from Northwestern University with a masters in Music and from Boston College with a bachelor's degree in English and Music.
90. Jacob Babcock
Jacob Babcock is CEO and Founder of NuCurrent, Inc., a venture-backed wireless power company based in Chicago. NuCurrent is the world’s leading wireless power technology company, launching more products into mass production than any other wireless power company across auto, consumer, medical and industrial segments.
Babcock first got his start in 2004 as a high school teacher for Teach for America where he also coached football. He later went on to become a Technology Attorney at Foley & Lardner LLP, a 900-person global law firm, before taking the role as Legal Counsel for cleverbridge, Inc., a leading e-commerce provider for digital distribution. Babcock is a named inventor on over 30 patents. He has a JD from Northwestern University School of Law and a BA from Indiana University.
91. Mark DePristo
Mark DePristo is CEO and Co-Founder of BigHat Biosciences, an early-stage startup reimagining antibody discovery and engineering with synthetic biology and machine learning to create better antibodies faster and undertake novel designs far beyond what's possible today.
DePristo founded and led the Genomics team at Google Brain, was Vice President of Informatics at SynapDx, and co-director of Medical and Population Genetics at the Broad Institute. DePristo has many academic articles that are widely published and have received more than 87,000 citations. He has a BA in Computer Science and Math from Northwestern University, a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Cambridge as a Marshall Scholar, and was a Damon Runyon Fellow at Harvard University in evolutionary biology.
92. Lee Bailey
US Renewables Group
Lee Bailey is the Managing Director of US Renewables Group (USRG), a private equity firm focused exclusively on investing in renewable power, biofuels and clean technology infrastructure. The firm was founded in 2003 and has mobilized over $750 million of capital commitments to invest in renewable energy projects. Bailey first joined the firm in 2005.
In addition to his roles with USRG, Bailey serves as a Member of the Board of Directors for Fulcrum Bioenergy and for Energy Internet Corporation. Bailey received a law degree from Washington University School of Law, an MS from Northwestern University and a BA from St. Lawrence University.
93. Sombit Mishra
Sombit Mishra is Founder and CEO of QMedic, a device-agnostic care management platform to help aging and disabled populations live independently at home. Combining wearable computing, two-way voice and machine learning, QMedic has been recognized as a leader in home health, with nationwide clients including Fortune 500 health partners Anthem, BCBS, Centene, UCare and United Healthcare.
Sombit is also an active angel investor supporting startups across climate tech, health tech and fintech. He graduated from Northwestern University with a BA in Economics, from MIT Sloan School of Management with an MBA and from London School of Economics and Political Science with an MSc.
94. David Scalzo
David Scalzo is the Founder and Managing Partner of Kirenaga Partners. He first founded the company in 2013. Kirenaga Partners is an early-stage venture capital firm focused on building great businesses from cutting edge technologies.
Previously, Scalzo was a COO of Sales and Client Management at Credit Suisse and before that a Head of Investor Relations at Citadel Solutions LLC. Earlier in his career he worked with Precision Plating Company as a Director of Operations. Scalzo earned an MBA from Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management and an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from Northwestern University.
95. Anju Mathew
Anju Mathew is the CEO and Co-Founder of OncoLens. OncoLens designed a platform that connects the care teams of patients with cancer in order to better coordinate on treatment plans. The system uses its proprietary algorithm to connect clinical radiological and pathological data. Mathew has 22 years in the health, wellness and fitness industry. She began her career in 1999.
Before founding OncoLens, Mathew was a Head of Technology and Innovation at McKesson Medical Surgical and before that a Co-Founder of LumaMed LLC. Earlier in her career she worked with IBM Global Service India Pvt Ltd as a software engineer. Mathew graduated from Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management with an MBA and from Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee with an undergraduate degree in Industrial Engineering.
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96. Tyler Felous
Tyler Felous is the Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer of Wisely. He first founded the company in 2012. Wisely is the leading customer intelligence platform for restaurants. They enable restaurants like Chuy’s, First Watch, Global Franchise Group, Lazy Dog, P.F. Chang’s, and thousands of other restaurants to personalize the guest experience to maximize customer lifetime value with their platform. Wisely’s software solutions include the first-ever CDP purpose-built for restaurants, an all-in-one CRM with marketing automation, waitlists, reservations, table and order management and guest sentiment.
Prior to founding Wisely, Felous was a Business Analyst for Strategy Practice for Accenture. He graduated from Northwestern University with a BA in Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences and Economics.
97. Yoav Schreiber
Yoav Schreiber began his professional career 20 years ago. Today, he is the Co-Founder, COO and Head Business Development of Glassbox. Glassbox develops an analytics platform designed to automatically record, index, and analyze digital interactions.
Schreiber first got his start in 2001 as a Software Team Manager at VManage before eventually rising to Senior R&D Manager at Mercury / HP Software, his most recent position prior to founding Glassbox. Schreiber graduated from Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management with an MBA.
98. Priyanka Murthy
Priyanka Murthy is the CEO and Co-Founder of Access79. She first founded the company in 2019. Access79 is a styling service platform that helps women discover and shop unique fine jewelry from the comfort and convenience of their home or office, while supporting independent fine jewelry designers.
Previously, Murthy was a Litigator at Private Legal Practice and before that a Judicial Law Clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Earlier in her career she worked with McMaster-Carr as a Sales Operations Manager. Murthy earned a JD from Northwestern University School of Law and an undergraduate degree from Northwestern University.
99. Paul Brown
Paul Brown is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Inspire Brands. Inspire Brands is a multi-brand restaurant company whose portfolio includes more than 32,000 Arby's, Baskin-Robbins, Buffalo Wild Wings, Dunkin', Jimmy John's, Rusty Taco and SONIC Drive-In restaurants worldwide. Using a wide variety of systems segmented by brand, they use best in class technology to help with productivity, scheduling, time keeping and inventory levels.
Brown first got his start in 1994 as a Manager with Boston Consulting Group before moving on to become a Partner of McKinsey & Company. He was previously the President of Expedia North America and the President of Brands and Commercial Services with Hilton Worldwide. His most recent position prior to joining Inspire Brands was as the Chief Executive Officer of Arby’s. Brown graduated from Georgia Tech with a bachelors in Business Administration and Management and from Northwestern University with an MBA in Marketing and Finance.
100. Richard Preschern
Richard Preschern is the Founder of RoboSig, where they analyze financial market data and strive to advance the AI of quantitative research to the next level. They have built the leading platform for generating exceptional yield on cash. Their algorithmic, automated cash management solution generates consistent returns with low risk, low volatility, and zero correlation to traditional asset classes.
Prior to founding RoboSig, Preschern was an Options Trader with CME Group and was a Co-Founder and Director of CPH Trading, LLC. He spent nearly 10 years with Lerner Trading as an FX Option Trader. Preschern graduated from Northwestern with a bachelor's degree in Economics.
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