Venture capital’s 2023 Rising Stars (1 of 4)

Ibrahim AlSuwaidi, Rosalind Bazany, Jean-François Cochy and Kareem Dabbagh are among the 40 Rising Stars under the age of 40 in Venture Capital Journal's fourth consecutive list.

The demographics of this year’s Rising Stars list are pretty similar to last year’s, although that wasn’t the result of a deliberate effort on the part of our editors. This year’s list is made up of 22 women and 18 men, compared with 24 women and 16 men on our 2022 version. The average age edged up slightly from closer to 33 last year to closer to 34 this year. The youngest person on the list is 26, two years older than the youngest person on last year’s list.

We did make a conscious decision to make this year’s list more international, although we didn’t work toward a specific ratio. We are pleased to report that a dozen folks outside of the US made the final cut, up from just eight last year. Our international stars hail from Canada, France, Morocco, Singapore, South Africa and the UK.

When considering the US, we attempted to recognize more top performers outside of California, since the innovation economy is rapidly expanding beyond Silicon Valley. A total of 15 people on this year’s list call California home, down from 19 last year. Casting a wider net allowed us to celebrate more talent in non-traditional locales, including Kareem Dabbagh of VoLo Earth Ventures in Colorado, Lauren Usher of Gener8or in Wisconsin and Jonathan Rosenbaum, who works in the Atlanta office of Insight Partners.

In the past four years, our Rising Stars have exemplified many proficiencies besides fundraising and LP relationship management. This year, we included six platform/talent stars, up from just two last year, recognizing the less vaunted work that contributes to VC firms’ success. Becoming familiar with each of our choices – and the skill sets and passions each person brings to the table – provides a sense of where the VC industry is headed.

Some of this year’s stars were singled out for their efforts to help guide portfolio companies to lucrative exits during a year when M&A deals and IPOs were hard to come by. Others were given credit for helping their firms establish markets in new geographies and new verticals, like Aki Jiang at World Innovation Lab.

Some caught our eye for the work they do in supporting portfolio companies’ sustainability efforts, like Antler’s Rosalind Bazany. Others, like Maria Buitron at Piva Capital, got a nod in part for their dedication to mentoring community members from under-represented demographic groups.

As was the case with our first list in 2020, we struggled to choose just 40 professionals out of more than 200 candidates. All are worthy of recognition.

We hope you find inspiration in reading about this year’s Rising Stars and decide to follow up and add some to your networks. They are sure to be making a difference as VC continues to evolve.

Ibrahim AlSuwaidi | 35
DCM Ventures

AlSuwaidi leads DCM’s investments in frontier and emerging tech companies and specializes in Africa and the Middle East. Most recently, he co-led the Menlo Park firm’s first investment in Africa, a $23 million Series A in alternative lending platform Moove Africa. Utilizing his engineering background, AlSuwaidi built DCM’s internal investing software and leads its investments in developer tooling and infrastructure. AlSuwaidi serves as a board observer for all of his portfolio companies, including Figure, Mendel, Skylo, Sound Commerce, Nok Nok Labs, Stream Native and Assured Claims. He also recruits, trains and mentors a number of DCM’s US-based associates.

Harry Apostoleris | 34
Co-founder and managing partner
Umkhathi Wethu Ventures

Apostoleris co-founded UW Ventures of Johannesburg in 2017 as a mid-market private equity firm. Since 2019, he has led development of the firm’s venture division, raising more than $125 million and investing in 12 early-stage technology companies with backing from some of South Africa’s largest financial institutions. Apostoleris works closely with a number of the firm’s portfolio companies, including enterprise data automation platform Synatic, where he serves as a director and has led three funding rounds, and online payment platform Peach Payments, where he serves as an adviser and has led four rounds of financing.

Auriel August | 31
Senior associate
Santé Ventures

August joined Santé in Q4 2021 after completing her surgical residency at Stanford University, and she now leads the firm’s internal thematic research in heart failure interventions, cardiac monitoring and life science tools. The medical doctor also serves as a board observer for five of the Austin, Texas-based firm’s portfolio companies and recently co-led the due diligence and investment recommendation process for a medical device manufacturer the firm has now invested in. Based in San Francisco, August is a regular conference panelist, speaking on topics ranging from health tech economic models to early-stage company formation.

Rosalind Bazany | 39
Head of ESG and impact

Bazany leads the overall strategy design and implementation of Antler’s ESG and impact proposition, including oversight of firm-level practices, founder engagement and investment decision-making processes. As of September, 70 percent of the Singapore-based firm’s portfolio companies aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, according to the firm. Bazany authored Antler’s inaugural ESG and impact report and built the Antler sustainability toolkit for founders, offering practical guidance about ESG guidelines, risks and opportunities. She led the launch of Antler’s internal diversity and inclusion council, and spearheaded multiple climate action initiatives for the firm.

Clayton Bryan | 38
500 Global

Bryan leads 500 Global’s accelerator program, this year launching the dedicated accelerator fund and overseeing pre-seed and seed-stage investments for the firm. Since joining the San Francisco firm in 2016, Bryan has led investments in more than 30 companies, many of which have gone on to raise additional capital, most recently including Butlr, EcoCart, Fintor, Kiira and Pariti. He also helped launch the firm’s diversity and inclusion event series and helped establish a number of resources for diverse founders, including Transparent Collective, a nonprofit organization providing programming for under-represented founders.

Maria Buitron | 32
Piva Capital

Buitron was recently promoted to principal at Piva Capital in San Francisco. She focuses on companies operating in difficult-to-decarbonize industries. Piva credits her with being one of the first investors to recognize the potential of a number of breakthrough companies the firm has backed, including Boston Metals’ $60 million Series B, Joywell’s $25 million Series B, Menlo Microsystems’ $150 million Series C and Velo3D’s $40 million Series D. Buitron joined the Kauffman Fellows Program as a fellow in Class 27, and serves as a mentor with VCFamilia, an organization supporting the Latinx community in the venture ecosystem.

Morgan Cheatham | 27
Bessemer Venture Partners

Cheatham is a vice-president in the New York office of Bessemer while also pursuing his medical degree at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. He has sourced 12 of the healthcare and life sciences companies in the firm’s portfolio and has led the investments in multiple unannounced seed-stage deals, as well as Folx Health’s Series B, where he also served as interim CEO from July 2021 to February 2022. Earlier this year, Cheatham published a comprehensive study on direct-to-clinician strategies in healthcare and hosted a virtual event series for healthcare and life sciences CXOs. He also serves an adviser to nonprofit AcademyHealth and as an associate board director for the Cancer Research Institute.

Jean-François Cochy | 35
Cathay Innovation

Cochy leads Cathay’s future-of-commerce vertical and was promoted to partner at the San Francisco firm this year. Working out of its Paris office, Cochy has helped develop Cathay’s investment practice across France, Spain and Germany, growing its European team from two to 15 people since he joined in 2015. He is credited for his work in guiding strong revenue growth for on-demand delivery application Glovo, which was bought by Delivery Hero for $2.6 billion in July 2022. He has also led a number of Cathay’s notable investments, including Drivy, Owkin Alkemics, Descartes Underwriting, Iziwork and Ledger, which led to the launch of the firm’s joint web3-focused fund.

Matt Cohen | 38
Founder and managing partner
Ripple Ventures

Cohen founded Toronto’s Ripple Ventures in 2017, with the mission of democratizing access to venture capital for under-represented groups. More than 1,000 students from more than 60 universities and 26 countries have participated in at least one of the firm’s RippleX fellowship programs. The program also boasts more than 50 percent gender diversity and more than 90 percent BIPOC participation. In addition, Cohen launched a fellowship fund that provides up to $50,000 to students and first-time founders, and he partnered with the Royal Bank of Canada to launch a joint program that provides education, mentorship and career paths to young entrepreneurs. In the past year, Cohen has conducted research to better understand the opportunities in diversity and inclusion.

Kareem Dabbagh | 38
Co-founder and managing partner
VoLo Earth Ventures

Dabbagh co-founded VoLo in 2020. The Colorado firm recently closed its debut fund on $90 million of committed capital, which will be invested in companies reducing the carbon footprint in the electrical, mobility, construction and embodied carbon industries. Dabbagh has led 15 of the firm’s 28 investments, including in sustainable air-conditioning developer Blue Frontier, sustainable infrastructure financial platform Banyan Infrastructure and climate tech developer BlocPower.