All Things Business & Chief Believer
Samir Sood is the founder of Venture Highway . In addition, Samir has helped grow and
diversify India Forge, a family run auto parts manufacturing business. Prior to this,
Samir was the Head of South Asia, Australia - M&A and Investments for Google Inc., and in that capacity, he has led Google’s investments in several first time seed stage
funds in India: Erasmic Venture Fund (Accel India), SONG (Soros, Omidyar, Google
Fund), Seedfund, and Ventureast TeNet Fund II. Additionally, Samir was part of the
team that coordinated the $750 million acquisition of AdMob. Earlier Samir was part of
the Corporate Business Development team at Cisco Systems, Inc. where he led
wireless acquisitions and investments, which included the $450 million acquisition of
Airspace. Samir executed the first venture investment in India (India Games) for Cisco
Systems, Inc. among many other acquisitions and investments. Samir has a MBA from
the University of Chicago, Graduate School of Business, a Master of Science in
Mechanical Engineering from Tufts University, and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical
Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute
The Valley Guru
Neeraj Arora was previously the Global Business Head at Whatsapp. Before the journey brought him to WhatsApp in 2011, Neeraj served as the Principal, Corporate Development at Google and prior to that he was the Chief Manager at Times Internet Ltd. Neeraj started his career journey at Accellion Inc. as a Program Manager. Neeraj is a Mechanical Engineering graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology (“IIT”), Delhi and has a MBA from the Indian School of Business in Finance and Strategy.
Priya Mohan has been an entrepreneur for the last six years. In 2012, she co-founded Vidyartha, an educational technology platform for students in grades 6-12, which she exited successfully to Byju’s - an Indian edtech unicorn. Prior to her operating role at Vidyartha, Priya spent 9 years working as a sell-side investment banker and equity research analyst, where she helped high-growth companies raise private equity, structure and execute complex transactions. These included private investments, secondary sales, and buyouts. Priya is a Chartered Accountant and has a Masters of Business Administration from the Indian School of Business (ISB). She was also invited as a state guest of the United States for the coveted IVLP program (International Visitors Leadership Program) along with edupreneurs and educators from 18 countries.
Early-stage Enthusiast & Enabler
Aakanksha is an Early-stage Enthusiast & Enabler for Venture Highway. She has ~8 years of professional experience across Venture Capital, Investment Banking and Private Equity. Prior to this, she was a VP at IvyCap Ventures, a VC Fund based in Mumbai. At IvyCap, she led investments in fin-tech & consumer-tech & held board positions in 4 companies. She has worked across investment origination & execution, portfolio monitoring, fundraising and fund structuring. She has spent 2 years in Investment Banking at UBS (Verity), specializing in banking & insurance sectors, and also had a brief stint with Samara Capital in their Private Equity Team. Aakanksha has an MBA from Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow, where she was in top 4% of the batch and was a scholarship holder. She completed her B.Com (H) from SRCC, Delhi University and is also a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).
A Junior VC
Aviral Bhatnagar is A Junior VC at Venture Highway. Prior to this, Aviral's experiences included setting up the India fund for Guild Capital, an early-stage fund headquartered in the US. He led seed investments for the firm in India in categories such as Edtech, d2c, and content. Aviral also runs A Junior VC as a passion project, a highly rated platform that enables deep conversations about the startup and venture ecosystem in India and SEA. Aviral has an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, where he was in the top 3% and on the Director's list, and a Bachelor of Technology in Engineering Physics from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. He was ranked 9th in the admission test for Indian business schools, amongst 200,000+ applicants.
Ankita is the Startups Strategist for Venture Highway. Prior to joining Venture Highway, Ankita spent close to 5 years in the management consulting domain. Her last stint was with Bain & Co where she worked in the technology and real estate domain. Before this, Ankita worked with Booz & Company to help clients in the consumer tech and telecommunications space. She has helped clients across India, SEA and USA to grow their topline and streamline their operations. Pre-MBA, she was a product associate with PwC US Advisory, working on creating big data analytics and simulation model products for healthcare and retail clients in the USA. Ankita has an MBA from Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. She is a Computer Science Graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.
All Things Finance and Operations
Gaurav is All things finance and operations for Venture Highway. Prior to this, he was working as Deputy General Manager, Corporate strategy and finance at Carlsberg India Private Limited.
He has over 12 years of diverse professional experience across corporate finance, strategy and consultancy with companies like Ernst & Young, Mckinsey & Company, Flipkart and Tolexo online private limited. Gaurav has an MBA from Indian School of Business. He is also a Chartered Accountant and a B.Com (H) graduate from SRCC, Delhi University.
Weaver of Words
Akriti comes with a background in branding, strategy and content. Prior to joining VH, she led Communications for The Quorum and worked with DTC brands as a creative consultant, helping them develop their brand identity & narrative. Her stint in fashion as a buyer & stylist at Pernia's Pop-Up Shop and Stage 3 helped cement a refined aesthetic and strong creative vision. She is an English literature student from LSR and a brand new entrant to the world of venture capital.
Nipun has been a 2x entrepreneur and has held senior product roles in tech startups like Paytm, Policybazaar & Nium. He was the founder of RecruiterGrid, a user/candidate profiling platform, which he successfully exited to Paytm in 2018. He also started a marketplace for 1:1 professional advice in 2013, to help first time founders with idea validation, product, GTM, sales & more. He has worked on products in the fintech, edtech & HRtech space. Nipun is a B.Tech from IIT Roorkee.
Namita Gupta is the Founder of Airveda, which has designed an affordable and accurate air
quality monitor for India. Prior to founding Airveda, Namita was the Chief Product Officer at
Zomato in India where she led product development. Before Namita’s return to India, she spent
13 years in the US as Head for Global Games Partner Engineering at Facebook in Silicon
Valley, where she worked on ads, pages, developer tools and the mobile platform. Post
graduating from college, she became a Senior Program Manager at Microsoft where she
worked extensively on developer platforms and web-search.
Namita has a Masters in Technology in Computer Science and Math from the Indian Institute of
Technology, Delhi and has 17 US patents in the fields of social networks, developer platforms &
search, and several publications
Salman Ullah is currently the Managing Director at Merus Capital which he founded in 2007. Merus Capital focuses on early stage software and internet companies. Before Merus, Salman spent three years heading Google's Corporate Development team. Prior to Google, he spent over seven years at Microsoft in several roles including General Manager of Corporate Strategy and Managing Director of Corporate Development.
Before embarking on the corporate development journey, he was an Engagement Manager at McKinsey in Chicago where he spent four years working in the technology and consumer goods sectors. He is also a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in physics at the University of Virginia and the University of Chicago.
He holds an undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Oxford, and a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Stanford University. Salman’s non-work related 10-year goal: Read one book from each of the Nobel laureates in literature (17 down, 92+10 to go).
Global Sales Sultan
Shailesh Rao has two decades of experience in the technology sector, including the launch and early growth of significant consumer technology platforms and as investor and mentor to many technology companies. He previously served as a Partner at TPG and Head of the Growth Fund and Rise Fund for India and Southeast Asia. Prior to TPG, Shailesh served as VP for International Operations at Twitter, where he expanded Twitter's business and presence to over 50 countries and 23 offices around the world. Prior to Twitter, he was a Vice President at Google leading YouTube for Asia Pacific and as a Managing Director of Google India. He was awarded the prestigious Google Founders Award for his leadership and contributions to the launch of Google Maps and Google Earth.
Shailesh has served on the Board of Jones Lang LaSalle (NYSE:JLL), a Fortune 500 global real estate services company, as a Senior Advisor to McKinsey & Company, and as a member of the CEO Council of Lighthouse Funds, a private equity firm.
Shailesh holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management and dual degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School of Business and a B.A. in History with Honors.
Brett Rochkind is the Managing Partner of BRK Capital, a global technology investing platform based in Silicon Valley. Prior to founding BRK, Brett was a Managing Director at General Atlantic (GA), where he led GA’s Silicon Valley office and was the Global Co-Head of the Technology sector. Brett was at GA for 15 years, investing in Software, Services and Internet businesses and helped GA expand its investment operations into Brazil and Latin America. In 2017, he left GA to build a growth fund with Charles River Ventures (CRV), a 50 year old venture firm best known for early investments in Twitter, Zendesk, Yammer, DoorDash, Pillpack and Airtable.
Brett has invested in leading technology companies globally including Alibaba Group (BABA), Altair Engineering (ALTR), AppDynamics (acquired by Cisco), Appirio (acquired by Wipro), Airbnb and many more. He did his MBA from Columbia Business School and his Bachelors (Finance & Accounting) from New York University.
Global Business Guru
Tom is based in the Bay Area and has donned various hats over the years. He led multiple strategic & M&A investments as part of the Corporate Development team at Google & Groupon. He’s also spent 7 years in China as the CTO and Head of Sales of two ventures in consumer internet & advisory space. He is closely associated with multiple ventures as an angel, independent advisor and a Board Member. His educational background is in physics (particularly astrophysics) and he is also an MIT Sloan alumnus.
Monk who Built his Ferrari
Qasar is currently the founder and CEO of a Silicon Valley based tech unicorn - Applied Intuition, which is a simulation software for autonomous vehicles. Prior to founding Applied Intuition, Qasar was a partner and COO at Y-Combinator, where he funded and advised early-stage tech companies. Before Y-Combinator, Qasar was a product manager at Google, responsible for leading business-facing tools. He led a team of 100+ engineers to launch Google Business across 230 regions in 65 languages successfully. Before Google, Qasar founded TalkBin, SMB focused customer interaction tool acquired by Google and integrated into Google Maps. Prior to TalkBin, he worked as an engineer with Robert Bosch and General Motors.
He did his undergrad in Mechanical Engineering from Kettering University (Formerly General Motor Institute of Engineering) and MBA from Harvard Business School.