2020-2021 Innovation Fund Investment Team
The Innovation Fund Investment Team is responsible for reviewing applications and making funding decisions. The Investment Team members are selected for their diverse backgrounds and expertise so that applicants can receive substantive feedback.
Questions? Contact Jill Anick, Senior Associate Director, Venture Lab
Ethan Kellough IPD’21 is a student in the Masters of Integrated Product Design program, jointly offered by Penn Engineering, Wharton, and Penn Design. This makes him an expert in the process of designing products at the intersection of technical feasibility, user desirability, and market viability. He has a deep technical expertise in a number of different fields and has also held roles in business strategy and analysis. He is passionate about the power that design and entrepreneurship have to disrupt the status quo and drive positive cultural and societal change. Ethan received his Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Leadership and Innovation Certificate at the University of Western Ontario where he was awarded the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering Gold Medal. His portfolio is available at ethankellough.com.
Coco Wenfei Wang W’21 was 15 when she became the CEO of her non-profit organization, Target Alpha, which provides complimentary financial literacy education to students in Canada. In her time as CEO, the organization became a federally-recognized organization, reached 6500+ students, and raised $3000+. Her company, Agrigate, was selected from 100,000+ applicants as finalists at HULT Prize Singapore, Hult Prize Paris, and HULT Prize Ivy. Freshman year, she co-founded Candid Beauty, a platform that helps women find the perfect makeup product through a proprietary algorithm. Through Candid beauty, she was interviewed on TV and built partnerships with over 200 beauty brands and influencers. Having worked in the private credit and CLO space focusing on consumer retail and consumer technology, Coco believes that contrary to popular belief, the retail industry is not dying but simply shifting. She is excited to see how the retail industry evolves in the near future.
Elaina Atallah WG’22 is an MBA Candidate at The Wharton School focused on Entrepreneurship. In addition to the Venture Lab Innovation Fund, Elaina works as an MBA Associate at Primary Venture Partners and is an Investment Partner at the MBA Fund. Prior to Wharton, she worked in M&A consulting at EY, followed by a role on Walmart eCommerce’s Strategy and Business Development team working across their Fashion portfolio companies, and most recently at Create, a NYC-based venture studio. Through her experience, she has developed deep knowledge in fashion, beauty, eCommerce and social commerce. Elaina is a graduate of Colgate University where she majored in Economics.
Rachel Cole GEN’22 is a student in the Masters of Integrated Product Design program, jointly offered by Penn Engineering, Wharton, and Penn Design. Prior to beginning her Masters, Rachel worked as a technology consultant specializing in User Experience Design and Product Management for National Security and Civilian clients. She also possesses deep technical experience in Enterprise level digital transformations, including SaaS implementation, technical architecture and re-engineering, and data consolidation and management. Rachel graduated magna cum laude from West Virginia University in 3 years with her BS in Marketing. Her portfolio is available at kitchcole.com.
Chris Ferrer WG’22 is an MBA Candidate, Joseph Wharton Fellow, and Toigo Fellow at The Wharton School, focusing on Entrepreneurship & Innovation and Strategic Management. Prior to Wharton, he spent the last five years as a product manager in the FinTech space in San Francisco. At FutureAdvisor, a robo-investing startup acquired by BlackRock, he led onboarding and monetization. Chris has also been a product manager at Guardian Analytics, an AI/Behavioral Analytics startup, and the Mission Asset Fund, a national FinTech non-profit. Chris double majored in Philosophy and Literature at Claremont McKenna College, where he was a Dunbar Fellow. He also started a dry cell hydrogen generator startup and won second place in the Kravis Concept Plan Competition. Chris grew up in Hawaii, is a huge foodie (makes TikTok recipe videos), and is an audiophile.
Dave Hafford WG’22 is a first year MBA at Wharton. Prior to coming to Wharton, Dave worked at Platform Ventures, a seed / Series A venture capital fund investing in consumer and technology companies. In addition, Dave was the Chief Financial Officer of Shadowbox, a NY-based boutique fitness studio. Prior to that, Dave worked in the investment banking division of Stifel, advising consumer and retail companies on various transactions in the middle market. At Stifel, Dave was a member of the active lifestyle group, focusing on branded consumer products. Prior to working at Stifel, Dave worked in the life sciences investment banking division of Wedbush Securities. Dave holds a Masters of Accounting from the University of Michigan, and a Bachelors of Business Administration from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Ryan Kramer WG’21 is an MBA candidate at The Wharton School focused on Entrepreneurship and Finance. Prior to Wharton, he spent the last five years serving as an Acquisitions Officer in the United States Air Force where he built partnerships and established contracts for advanced military technology development. He has experience in strategy and product management in areas including unmanned aircraft technology and most recently, in the emerging field of space technology and satellite defense. Ryan obtained his BS in Management from the United States Air Force Academy in 2014 where he was a member of both the baseball team and men’s golf team.
Samantha Linn W’22 is a junior at The Wharton School concentrating in Finance and Management/Entrepreneurship. She has been a Fellow in the Penn Wharton Venture Initiation Program and has served as an intern for Clove, a venture backed startup developing shoes designed specifically for nurses. Previously, Samantha was an intern at 7Wire Ventures, an investment firm focused on empowering the informed connected healthcare consumer. Samantha serves as treasurer for Cogwell, a club that promotes and teaches active listening among peers on campus. Samantha is from the suburbs of Chicago, IL and enjoys running, yoga, and playing soccer.
Antonio “Luc” Paladino W’21 is currently a senior pursuing a Finance and Management concentration at the Wharton School. Before attending Wharton, Luc went to Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School, where he played football and lacrosse and grew up in the small town of Lafayette Hill, a suburb of Philadelphia. He has worked in a wide range of industries such as Fintech, Wealth Management, and Venture Capital. His main interests include fostering his startup idea, playing/watching sports, investing in the stock market and spending time with friends and family.
Matias Porras Paniagua GR’23 graduated from MIT with a degree in chemical-biological engineering. Afterward, Matias was an analyst in Genentech’s operations rotational leadership development program (ORDP) where he obtained experience in large scale manufacturing, R&D and forecasting. Throughout his time at Genentech, Matias pursued a master’s degree in Management Science & Engineering at Stanford. Matias is currently a third-year Ph.D. candidate in the department of Bioengineering and is interested in developing novel cellular therapies for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. In addition to his lab endeavors, Matias is also a Pear VC student fellow, the VP of finance at PennHealthX, one of the VPs of education for the Wharton PE/VC club, a team member in Venture Foragers, and a 2019-2020 PWIF Lead Investor.
Rima Reddy WG’21 is an MBA Candidate at The Wharton School focused on Entrepreneurship & Innovation and Marketing. In addition to PWIF, Rima works as a Fellow for Pear VC and as a Venture Consultant for the Snider Center. Prior to Wharton, Rima was the Principal at XRC Labs, an NYC-based consumer/retail accelerator and fund. At XRC, Rima led the startup sourcing and diligence process to select and invest in 20 startups a year from over 1000 reviewed. Rima has also held roles in Strategy and Business Development at Ralph Lauren and in Equity Research at Goldman Sachs. Rima is a graduate of Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University, where she double majored in Economics and Finance, and of Parsons School for Design, where she majored in Fashion Marketing.
Keaston Simmons GRD’22 is a “visionary capitalist” interested in applying futures thinking to venture capital and philanthropy in order to facilitate higher returns for investors and positive impacts on the world through civic and social innovations – particularly in the areas of education, wellness, and finance. He is currently a doctoral (Ed.D.) student in the Penn Chief Learning Officer (PennCLO) program at the Graduate School of Education, as well as a consultant to various U.S. Federal government executive branch agencies. He previously served on active duty as a contingency contracting officer with the United States (U.S.) Air Force. And, during his career he has managed approximately $5.5 billion (USD) in public sector business requirements.
Micherice Tao ENG’23 is a sophomore studying Electrical Engineering. She hails from San Francisco, where she had her first exposure to entrepreneurship when she helped start Noviaris, a nonprofit that bridges the gap between San Francisco institutions and underserved communities by repurposing surplus technology. She has since further explored the startup space by working as a fellow with the Wharton Venture Initiation Program and a summer intern on the growth side of a venture-backed health tech startup. She is interested in all applications of technology, especially in the fintech, future of work, media, and consumer technology spaces. On campus, Micherice is a member of Wharton PEVC, a consultant on the Penn Undergraduate Biotechnology Society, and a board member of Penn Assistive Devices and Prosthetic Technologies club. In her free time, you can find her carefully curating her Spotify playlists, re-creating her favorite Great British Bake Off recipes, or beta testing new products.
Thilan Tudor M’23 is an MD candidate at the Perelman School of Medicine and is passionate about healthcare and biotechnology innovation. Originally born and raised in the Toronto area, Thilan moved to Vermont to attend Middlebury College where he earned his BA in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry and Economics. Prior to medical school, Thilan learned about the intersection of valuation, operations, and strategic growth from his consulting work at Trinity Partners, corporate development experience at Intrexon Corporation, and equity research training at Goldman Sachs.
Saniya Waghray WG’21 is an MBA Candidate at The Wharton School and pursuing a concurrent certificate in Integrated Product Design, completing interdisciplinary coursework across Penn Engineering and Penn Design. She was most recently a product manager at Capital One, working to improve user experience within the flagship mobile app and browser. Prior to Wharton, Saniya led global marketing strategy efforts at The Walt Disney Studios, and interned at SoGal Ventures. In addition to the Venture Lab Innovation Fund, Saniya holds a board position at BalletX, Philadelphia’s premiere contemporary ballet, and consults for Career Contessa, a platform catalyzing career growth for women across industries. She is a Babson College alum, graduating magna cum laude with a focus in business analytics. In her spare time, Saniya enjoys mentoring college students via Mentor Collective and teaching dance classes via her brand BollySoul Dance.
Jonathan Wakim M’23 is an MD candidate at the Perelman School of Medicine. Before attending medical school, he completed an Economics degree at the University of Florida where he worked in several labs spanning from gene therapy to medical mixed reality simulator development. He is immensely fascinated by exponential technologies such as augmented reality and AI and how they will transform the landscape of medicine. Following medical school, he hopes to leverage his clinical background to streamline medical innovations into practice.
Deniz Yilmaz W’21 is a Joseph Wharton Scholar studying Finance, Statistics and Engineering Entrepreneurship. She grew up in Istanbul, Turkey where she started her social business, El Emegi, which provided jobs for 10,000 rural women in the country’s Anatolian region, while still in high school. In past years, she has worked at Muhammad Yunus’s Think Tank in Dhaka, Bangladesh, to help advise and scale local social businesses. In addition, she has interned in various hedge funds, and has been exploring different entrepreneurship avenues. She is the current president of Wharton Retail Club, and she works with startups and does industry research through her involvement in the PEVC Club and Weiss Tech House. She is passionate about the food tech, retail and ecommerce industries. Deniz served in her home country’s national equestrian team, and in her free time, she loves cooking, traveling, skiing and discovering new restaurants.
Justin Zhou ENG’23, W’23 is a sophomore in the Management and Technology Program studying Computer Science and Management. He is a venture partner at Contrary Capital, and current Product Manager at Cloudflare. Prior to college, he was a software engineer at Fundrise, where he built business intelligence tooling and re-architected legacy systems. While in high school, he co-founded Remora Systems, an aerospace startup with the mission of reducing inflight loss of control (LOC) accidents. Remora Systems won a $25,000 grant from Airbus for innovations in flight safety. He has expertise in fintech, aerospace, and cybersecurity.
Stanislav Zolotukhin WG’21 is an MBA Candidate at The Wharton School focused on Entrepreneurship & Innovation and Business Analytics. During his first year at Wharton, Stan was an Associate for Venture Foragers and interned as a Senior Tech Product Manager (machine learning services) at AWS. Prior to Wharton, Stan was an Investment Associate at CIG, an early stage venture capital firm. At CIG, Stan led the startup sourcing and due diligence process, as well as worked at a portfolio company as a business development officer. Stan has also held roles in Strategy and Business Development at a telecom company in Europe and in Corporate Finance at KPMG. Stan is passionate about foodtech and AI/ML technologies, and in his free time, he plays chess.