Defy hires one as partner and promotes two

Defy Partners has hired Kamil Saeid as a partner and creation lead.

Defy Partners has hired Kamil Saeid as a partner and creation lead. Also, the early-stage venture firm has promoted both Madison McIIwain to partner, seed and Purvi Shah to partner, CFO. And, Defy has added Christa Quarles and Bryan Goldberg to its Sage program.


WOODSIDE, Calif., March 8, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Defy Partners, a leading early stage venture capital firm, focused on helping early stage startups mature and scale into category-defining companies, today announced several team additions. Defy has hired Kamil Saeid as Partner and Creation Lead. In his role Kamil will be focused on sourcing, diligence, and investments across sectors. Further, he will continue to build on Defy’s success in hatching and creating business opportunities from scratch and in partnership with entrepreneurs. Defy has brought on two new members to its unique Sage program including Christa Quarles and Bryan Goldberg.

Also announced today, Defy has promoted Madison McIIwain to Partner, Seed where she will focus on Seed stage investments and promoted Purvi Shah to Partner, CFO to expand her current role as CFO. The firm expansion comes at a time of tremendous momentum among portfolio companies with significant portfolio mark-ups and a number of exits.

“We’ve taken a huge step forward into our next phase of growth,” said Neil Sequeira, Co-Founder and Partner. “We are pleased to have Kamil, Christa, and Bryan join the Defy family and continue our strategy of bringing elite investors and operators to Defy to help us invest in world changing early stage entrepreneurs and companies. The promotions of Madison and Purvi to Partner are an indication of their exceptional performance and our commitment to building a multigenerational firm.”

Team Expansion
Defy welcomes Kamil Saeid as Partner, with an added focus on hatches and business creation. Recently named Forbes 30 under 30 for his venture experience, Kamil will lead early stage investments for Defy while also managing Defy’s hatch and creation strategy which the firm has been committed to since its inception. He began his career as a consultant at Bain & Co. and attended Stanford University where he received his BSME in Biomechanical Engineering and his MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Kamil was born in Sudan and immigrated to Philadelphia, PA as a child making him a lifelong Philly sports fan.

“We have admired and been friends with Kamil as he lived down the street from Defy’s office which led us to pull him into a number of projects over the years. He gained deep experience by partnering with many of our close friends in the venture industry and he brings a passion for working with entrepreneurs as they create game changing companies,” said Sequiera.

Defy Sages
The firm also announced two new Sages, Christa Quarles and Bryan Goldberg, both of whom have 20 year friendships with Defy’s founding team. Christa is currently the CEO of Corel and board member at Affirm. As the former CEO of OpenTable, COO of NextDoor and CFO of Playdom (acquired by Disney) Christa’s brings with her a passion for software, local, SMB and growth stage technology business. Bryan is the current Founder and CEO of Bustle Digital Group, the fastest growing publisher in modern media with 84 million readers and includes the brands Bustle, W Magazine, Elite Daily, Romper and Nylon. Bryan began his entrepreneurial journey co-founding and serving as CEO of Bleacher Report, one of the worlds largest sports sites which was successfully acquired by Turner/TimeWarner.

The Defy Sage program is unique in the venture industry as each Sage is a current CEO while actively working with Defy on new investment opportunities, mentoring founders, and sitting on Defy company boards. They provide proprietary access to compelling founders and unique investment opportunities while offering Defy entrepreneurs the best possible partners to help guide them through company building and rapid revenue growth. They serve as partners across Defy funds and are instrumental as the firm continues to scale and grow.

Christa and Bryan join current Defy Sages including: Sujal Patel, Brian Lee, Ben Wolin, and Steve Miller.

Current team members, Purvi Shah and Madison McIlwain, are taking on new leadership roles to support Defy’s recent growth.

Purvi Shah, a founding team member of the firm with 15 years of experience as a controller and CFO in venture capital, has been promoted to Partner alongside her current title of CFO. Purvi has been instrumental in the creation and development of the firm since inception and her elevation to Partner, CFO is a testament to her integral role in every firm investment decision. Before joining Defy, Purvi worked at General Catalyst for 11 years as a Fund Controller. Prior to that, she worked in Mutual Funds at both Investors Bank and Trust and State Street Research and is a graduate of Bentley College.

Madison McIlwain has been a critical member of the Defy team and has been promoted to Partner, Seed. Madison has sourced multiple compelling founders that Defy has backed, and has been actively leading seed investments. As a Partner, Seed she will have responsibility for working with the team to manage the firm’s seed investments and strategy. A Dartmouth

College graduate, Madison was previously the youngest product manager in Gap’s technology group. Prior to Gap, she worked at an AI startup and Rent the Runway. She was recently named a rising star in the Venture Capital Journal.

“With Kamil and Madison joining the team, we’ve added a long-term multigenerational perspective to Defy. Their deep expertise from venture and operations, coupled with their unique perspectives, will bring great value to entrepreneurs and the Defy platform,” said Sequiera.

“This team expansion continues to show the commitment Defy has to the entrepreneurial community. By building a world class team that brings operational backgrounds, venture capital experience, and deep and wide networks we provide the best resources, relationships, and perspectives for our teams and portfolio as they embark on their journey to build enduring companies,” said Sequiera, “combined with the current momentum in our portfolio including the impending SPAC IPO of Nautilus and significant rounds by Airspace, SoundCommerce, Pawlicy and many we can’t mention, our firm is poised to support the next generation of great founders and teams.”

The Defy portfolio has several additional announcements coming over the next month.

Founded in 2016, Defy is a Silicon Valley based early stage venture capital firm. Defy was founded to invest in to help early stage startups mature and scale into category-defining companies. The firm’s team has more than 50 years of venture experience, successful operating backgrounds and actively helps successful entrepreneurs grow companies from inception through exit. Connect with Defy at and @defyvc.