Announcing the Early Stage Pitch-Off judges

TechCrunch Early Stage is coming around the corner fast, April 1 and 2. You still have a chance to pitch your startup on the famous TC stage to an amazing lineup of judges. On April 2, TechCrunch will feature 10 top startups across the globe at the Early Stage Pitch-Off. Companies will garner the attention of press and investors worldwide. Founders — apply here by March 9.

The pitch-off will consist of a five-minute presentation followed by a Q&A with our expert panel of judges. The top three companies will move to a final round, this time with a more in-depth Q&A. The winner will get a feature article on, one-year free subscription to Extra Crunch and a free Founder Pass to TechCrunch Disrupt this fall.

We know you’re excited to know who you’ll be pitching to. So without further ado, here are a few of the judges for the Early Stage Pitch-Off:

Lucy Deland — Inspired Capital

Lucy is a partner at Inspired Capital. Prior to Inspired Capital, Lucy was on the founding team at Paperless Post, where she spent a decade as COO. In her role, Lucy built and led finance, customer insights abd operations, strategic planning and marketing — driving the company’s growth to a network of 100 million hosts and guests. Lucy also led the company to raise $50 million in venture financing and grew a team of 100+ in downtown Manhattan.

Bucky Moore — Kleiner Perkins

Bucky Moore is a partner at Kleiner Perkins focusing on developer-facing software and infrastructure investments. As an early investor, Bucky serves on the boards of some of the most innovative software companies including Netlify, Materialize, CodeSandbox, Opstrace and Stackbit.


Marlon Nichols — MaC Venture Capital

Marlon Nichols is the founding managing partner at MaC Venture Capital (formerly Cross Culture Ventures), which finds entrepreneurs who are building the future for the rest of America. He’s a former Kauffman Fellow and Investment Director at Intel Capital, with an extensive background in technology, private equity, media and entertainment.


Eghosa Omoigui — EchoVC Partners

Eghosa Omoigui is the founder and managing general partner of EchoVC Partners, a seed and early-stage technology venture capital firm serving underrepresented founders and underserved markets. Before this, Eghosa was director, Consumer Internet & Semantic Technologies, with Intel Capital. Representative investments include Lifebank, Migo, Frontier Car Group, SystemOne, Gro Intelligence and KBox.

Neal Sales-Griffin — TechStars

Neal Sáles-Griffin is the managing director of Techstars Chicago and a venture partner for MATH. Neal is an entrepreneur, investor and teacher. In 2011, he co-founded the first beginner-focused, in-person coding bootcamp. He is active in nonprofit and civic engagement across Chicago and in 2018 he ran for mayor.


Sarah Smith — Bain Capital

Sarah Smith is a partner at Bain Capital Ventures where she primarily invests in early- to mid-stage companies across a range of sectors including consumer, SaaS and marketplaces. Sarah has been deeply involved in high-growth startups as an executive, investor and student at institutions including Quora, Facebook, Graph Ventures and Stanford.


Leah Solivan — Fuel Capital
Leah Solivan is general partner at Fuel Capital, where she invests in early-stage companies across consumer technology, hardware, marketplaces and retail. She’s passionate about supporting teams who are taking on world-changing ideas.


Stephanie Zhan — Sequoia Capital

Stephanie Zhan is a partner on the early-stage investing team at Sequoia Capital. She loves partnering with companies across consumer and enterprise, starting at the earliest of stages at the Seed and Series A and helping them scale over time. She is on the board of companies including Rec Room, Linear, Middesk, Sunday, and Brud.


Early Stage Day 1 will be filled with must-see panels from the judges above and more:

  • How to Build Your Early Team for Future Growth (Sarah Smith, Bain Capital Ventures)
  • 10 Things NOT to Do When Starting a Company (Leah Solivan, Fuel Capital)
  • Four Things to Think About Before Raising a Series A (Bucky Moore, Kleiner Perkins)
  • How to Get An Investor’s Attention (Marlon Nichols, MaC Venture Capital)

And that’s not all. If you snag your ticket to TC Early Stage, you get free access to Extra Crunch! An Extra Crunch membership includes:

Update: This post has been updated to reflect the accurate spelling and bio for Stephanie Zhan.