TechCrunch is excited to announce the judges of the next round of Startup Battlefield. They pick the finalists and winner of the startup competition held at Disrupt London. The judges are experts in their respective fields and represent a broad swath of the startup ecosystem.
We’ll start each day with panels and one-on-one discussions featuring TechCrunch writers and editors, special guest speakers, leading venture capitalists and entrepreneurs addressing the issues of the day. In the afternoon, we host the Startup Battlefield competition which culminates in five finalists taking the stage at the end of the event for a shot at winning the Disrupt Cup, and taking away a £30,000 check.
Here are our Startup Battlefield Judges:
Nathan Benaich is a Partner at Playfair Capital where he invests in entrepreneurs solving high-value problems using data, artificial intelligence and experiential design. He has invested in companies including Mapillary, Appear Here, Numerai and Ravelin. Nathan also organises the annual Playfair AI Summit and London.AI meetup on research and applied artificial intelligence.
Prior to Playfair, Nathan earned an M.Phil and Ph.D in oncology as a Gates and Dr. Herchel Smith Scholar at the University of Cambridge, and a BA in biology from Williams College. Nathan published research focused on technologies to halt the fatal spread of cancer around the body.
Alice Bentinck is co-founder of Entrepreneur First, the early stage investor that builds deep tech companies from scratch. EF invests in individuals with computer science and engineering backgrounds and has built more than 100 companies. Their portfolio includes exits such as Magic Pony Technology to Twitter for a reported $150M and Represent to Custom Inc for close to $100M. She will serve as a judge in the Startup Battlefield competition.
Nic Brisbourne is Founder and Managing Partner at Forward Partners, the UK’s leading early stage investor in startups. A passionate advocate of talented founders and disruptive ideas, Nic and his team have invested in 34 UK based startups since Forward Partner’s inception in 2013.
Prior to launching his own fund, Nic was Partner at Draper Esprit and led over 40 investments in both London and Silicon Valley during a 15 year long career, which saw him enjoy a number of successful exits.
Nic is author of Europe’s most popular VC blog: The Equity Kicker.
Ophelia Brown is a General Partner at LocalGlobe, a seed-focused venture capital fund that has backed some of the UK’s biggest success stories, like Zoopla, Graze and TransferWise and helped build global leaders like Skype, Just Eat and King. Fascinated by user behaviour and experience, she loves working with design-led teams and founders with strong product DNA. She also has a keen interest in digital health and financial services.
Previously, Brown was with Index Ventures for four years where she led investments in Big Health, Call9, Osper, Typeform and MarvelApp and worked closely with Robinhood and Credit Benchmark.
In 2016, Brown was named by Forbes magazine as one of the 30 Under 30 in Finance.
Eileen Burbidge is a Partner at Passion Capital, the pre-eminent early-stage VC fund based in London. She brings extensive operational experience to her investment activities gleaned from business and product roles at Yahoo!, Skype, Apple and elsewhere.
In addition to Passion Capital, Eileen is also the Chair of TechCity UK, which is the British government-backed organisation supporting digital business across the UK. She is also HM Treasury’s Special Envoy for FinTech appointed by then Chancellor George Osborne; Tech Ambassador for the Mayor of London’s office and served on former Prime Minister David Cameron’s Business Advisory Group.
Eileen was made an MBE for services to Business in June 2015 and holds a BSc Engineering degree in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Amy Chang is founder/CEO of Accompany, an intelligent, adaptive virtual chief of staff product. She sits on the boards of Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) and Splunk (NASDAQ: SPLK), and served on the board of Informatica from 2012-2015, when it was taken private for $5.1B, and on Target’s (NYSE: TGT) Digital Advisory Council from 2013-2016. Prior to Accompany, Amy led Google Analytics for seven years, growing coverage from 1% to over 70% of the web. She will speak at 3:10 on Monday, December 5. She will also be a judge in the Startup Battlefield competition.
Sonali De Rycker joined Accel in 2008 and helps lead the London office. Sonali focuses on consumer, software and financial services businesses. She led Accel’s investments in Avito (Naspers), Lyst, Spotify, Wallapop, KupiVIP, Calastone, Wonga and SilverRail. She is also an independent director of Match Group, Inc (public). Prior to Accel, Sonali was with Atlas Ventures. She grew up in Mumbai and graduated from Bryn Mawr College and Harvard Business School.
Don Dodge is a Developer Advocate at Google and an advisor to Google Ventures. Prior to joining Google Don was a technology evangelist at Microsoft. Don is also a veteran of five startups including Forte Software, AltaVista, Napster, Bowstreet, and Groove Networks. Don is also an active Angel investor in 35 companies. Don sits on the Boards of Aras, StatSocial, Federated Sample, and Iotera. Don is an advisor to several startups including Symphony (Perzo), Nimble, Blockai, and Aisle411.
Tracy Doree is a founding partner at Kindred, a London based seed-stage venture firm that practices equitable venture. Maths grad who previously co-founded content-led ecommerce site Llustre (acquired by Fab.com). She was a VC with MMC Ventures and an IB at NM Rothschild.
Carlos Eduardo Espinal is a Partner at Seedcamp, a first-round fund providing up to €200k and a lifelong platform, with over 230 investments helping pre-seed and seed stage companies reach product-market-fit. Carlos was an Associate at Doughty Hanson Technology Ventures, an early-stage investment firm based in London and an engineer for the Advanced Communications Technologies group of The New York Stock Exchange (SIAC). Carlos was awarded with Wired Europe’s 100 Most Influential in Digital, British Interactive Media Association’s Hot 100 Digital People, and TechCityInsider’s 100 List and published “The Fundraising Fieldguide” book in 2015.
Siraj Khaliq is a Partner on the investment team at Atomico. As a former computer scientist and co-founder/CTO of the successful Atomico investment The Climate Corporation, Siraj now continues his love for entrepreneurship “on the other side of the table” as a venture capitalist. He focuses on companies enabled by machine learning, AI and computer vision, (particularly in intelligent assistants), IoT, Agtech, and works with a number of portfolio companies.
Khaliq founded The Climate Corporation in 2006, a company that pioneered the use of machine learning in helping farmers to optimize crop yield. Climate (acquired by Monsanto in 2013 and now a subsidiary) still sits at the vanguard of precision agriculture, an industry that is expected to play a key role in delivering the yield boosts needed to feed humanity in the decades ahead.
Saul Klein is a Partner at Localglobe, a new seed fund focussed on helping London’s most ambitious founders build game-changing businesses. Previously, Saul was a Partner at Index Ventures from 2007 until May 2015. In 2012, David Cameron appointed Saul to be the UK’s first tech envoy to Israel and a Technology Business Ambassador. He will serve as a judge in the Startup Battlefield competition.
Fergal Mullen is a Partner and co-founder at Highland Europe, Europe’s only VC firm exclusively focused on growth stage software and internet companies. Launched in 2012, Highland Europe’s portfolio includes Matches Fashion, WeTransfer, Nexthink, and Malwarebytes.
Fergal was previously a Partner with Highland Capital Partners, where he led the firm’s successful investments in VistaPrint (NASDAQ: CMPR), PhotoBox (Exponent/ELTA), Privalia (Vente-Privee) and Coremetrics (IBM), and started its European investment initiative. He’s currently a director of MyOptique, Spartoo, Wooga, AMCS Group, GetYourGuide.com, Finanzcheck and Nexthink.
Sean O’Sullivan is managing director of SOSV, the pioneering venture capital firm that is a world leader in running vertical startup accelerator programs. His first company, MapInfo, grew to a $200 million public company with over 1,000 employees, and popularized street mapping on computers. His first internet company, NetCentric, developed many concepts in internet computing, and he is credited as the co-creator of the term “cloud computing.”
Sitar Teli is a founder and managing partner of Connect Ventures, a venture firm she started in 2012 with her two partners, Pietro Bezza and Bill Earner. Since its founding, Connect has invested in 30 companies across Europe, including Citymapper, Typeform, CharlieHR, Boiler Room, Pact Coffee and Marvel Prototyping. Prior to starting Connect Ventures, Sitar was at Doughty Hanson Technology Ventures, where she led that firm’s €2.5m investment in SoundCloud’s Series A.
Chris is a Co-founder and Partner at Isomer Capital. He is also a venture partner at Octopus Ventures and is a NED on 3 of their portfolio technology companies. He was a board director of Magic Pony Technologies, which Twitter recently acquired in July 2016. Chris is a Senior Advisor at Entrepreneur First and has mentored over 15 companies to successful seed funding. Prior to Isomer Capital, Chris was the founding director of the Venture Capital Unit for the UK Government where he promoted the UK VC and direct investment opportunities to investors in the US and Asia and attracted over $1B , he also advises the Singapore Government on European VC’s In 1998 he co-founded CPS, a mobile location tech company, which he successfully sold in 2007 to a major global chip design company.
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