Let’s work together to find a solution
Connect with our team of lending experts in renewable energy, hospitality, modular construction and real estate to learn more.
Our lending experts work hard to effectively help clients preserve wealth and grow their businesses.
Our team works together to solve complex financing challenges with a deep understanding of the industries we serve. With over 150 years of combined industry experience, AVANA Capital’s team is composed of experts in structuring debt, credit analysis, fixed-income investing, and ongoing risk management. We specialize in guiding borrowers through every step of the lending process to ensure a quick, seamless, and cost-effective process.
Chief Executive Officer
Sundip Patel has been in the commercial banking industry for over 14 years. He serves as the CEO of AVANA Capital with offices in Arizona, U.S.A., and Manama, Bahrain. He is involved in all aspects of the business and takes pride in being a trusted advisor to AVANA’s clients. He is also committed to making sure AVANA has the right environment to attract dedicated and talented people, whom he then empowers to provide exemplary service and financing solutions to AVANA Capital’s clients.
Sundip has worked in public and private accounting, gaining experience in mergers and acquisitions, tax planning, leverage buyout financing, and securing U.S. government contracts. Sundip went on to serve as founder and CEO at huddle247.com, which PC Magazine rated among the top virtual workspace solutions in 2000, as well as a technology training startup in Southern California. Sundip believes both startups were training grounds for future success. Armed with vision, tenacity, and passion, he founded AVANA Capital to fill a void in small business government guaranteed real estate lending.
Sundip earned three undergraduate degrees in Accounting, Finance and Economics from California State University at Fullerton. During his career as an accountant, he became a Certified Public Accountant and Certified Management Accountant. Sundip earned his MBA at University of California Irvine. He is proud to be a member of the YPO (Young Presidents Organization) for the Bahrain chapter and a member of NADCO and NAGGL.
Favorite Journey: The one I am on now.
Past Itineraries: Riding elephants in Zimbabwe, fishing on the Zambezi, and lounging on the beach in Cannes, Mauritius, Jamaica, and Mexico.
Next ‘Must Do’ Trip: Maldives, Vietnam, and Vineyards in New Zealand.
Passionate About: Being a good father and husband. The tireless pursuit of happiness and contributing to the betterment of all children through our Foundation.
Guilty Pleasure: A bottle of Duckhorn wine, my family close by, a good book, and no cell phones.
Personal Motto: “Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.” -R.J. Palacio
Favorite Quote: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” -Winston Churchill
Chief Lending Officer
A veteran of the commercial banking industry with over 25 years of experience, Sanat Patel is the Chief Lending Officer of AVANA Companies, as well as a Co-founder of our legacy company, AVANA Capital.
In his position as Chief Lending Officer, Sanat oversees credit and risk administration, as well as the origination and syndication of commercial debt. Sanat excels at navigating the complexities of commercial debt management, as well as creating opportunities for entrepreneurs to realize their dreams and create wealth for their businesses to thrive.
Prior to AVANA, Sanat served in various functions of commercial banking, supporting clients across segments of corporate banking within Wells Fargo Bank, Citibank, and JP Morgan. His competitive drive resulted in him being ranked in the top 10% of bankers nationwide within these institutions.
Sanat earned a Bachelor of Science degree with a dual major in finance and management science, and a minor in economics, from California State University, Fullerton. In 2008, Sanat completed the Banking Degree offered by Pacific Coast Banking School, held at the University of Washington. Currently, Sanat is pursuing an Executive MBA at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.
Sanat was a founding member of the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) Arizona and served as its President from 2014-2016. He also served as a Board Member for Make-A-Wish in Arizona and is the current President of the Phoenix chapter of Pratham USA.
Activities I want to do before my next birthday: Skydive and hot air balloon ride.
Next ‘Must Do’ Trip: Safari trip with my family and friends.
Passionate About: Learning how to continually make a difference for my family; and seeing world from my children’s perspective, as they are our future.
Guilty Pleasure: Single malt scotch.
Personal Motto: By helping others succeed, I will experience success in all aspects of my life.
Favorite Quote: “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. “ -Abraham Lincoln.
Chief Financial Officer & Co-Chief Investment Officer
Mike Sheneman is an experienced finance professional who has more than a decade in the banking industry, involved in finance and credit management at banks across the life cycle, from de novo to turnarounds.
Prior to his banking career, Mike advised consulting clients, both at Big 4 accounting firms and boutique consulting firms, on complex business issues including litigation, fraud, bankruptcy, and large capital projects.
Before joining AVANA Capital, Mike was Chief Financial Officer and Chief Credit Offer at Commerce Bank of Arizona, leading the turnaround and recapitalization of the once-troubled bank.
Mike earned undergraduate degrees in both accounting and finance from Arizona State University and is a Certified Public Accountant.
Next ‘Must Do’ Trip: The Camino de Santiago.
Past Itineraries: 340 miles in a kayak on the Missouri River, surfing in Costa Rica, fly fishing on the Yellowstone River in Montana.
Favorite Books: Atlas Shrugged, Freakonomics, David and Goliath, Where Men Win Glory
Favorite Sports Team: Denver Broncos
Favorite City: Washington, D.C.
Favorite Quote: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” -Winston Churchill
Chief Credit Officer
Matt Hunt is the son of a banker and began his own career as a teller at age 17. He has remained in the industry ever since and now has more than 22 years of experience in commercial banking.
Matt joined AVANA Capital in 2015 as Chief Credit Officer. He advises small business owners on how to grow their businesses through real estate ownership, and he guides them through the process.
Prior to joining AVANA Capital, Matt was Senior Vice President and Director of National Real Estate for Zions Bank. In that role, he oversaw the bank’s nationwide commercial real estate lending platform with a primary focus in SBA 504 lending. During his 16 years at Zions Bank, the National Real Estate Group originated over $10 billion in commercial real estate loans, including nearly $5 billion in SBA 504 1st mortgage loans.
Matt earned an M.B.A. from the University of Utah in 2010. He also graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Finance from University of Utah in 1998. In 2005, he also completed a master’s level extension program at the University of Washington’s Pacific Coast Banking School.
Typical Matt: Matt is an avid runner. He has completed four marathons and multiple 200-mile relay races. He recently caught the triathlon bug and finished his first 70.3 Ironman race in 2014.
Passionate About: Family. The greatest blessings in Matt’s life are his beautiful wife of 20+ years and his of four children (2 boys and 2 girls). He loves spending time in Utah’s mountains with his family; wake boarding in the summers and snowboarding in the winters.
Past Itineraries: Watching five Major League Baseball games at five different stadiums and visiting the Pro Football Hall of Fame in a six-day trip with his sons. Matt is a devoted Red Sox fan and has a goal of visiting all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums.
Interesting Fact: Matt lived in the Netherlands for two years and speaks Dutch fluently.
Personal Motto: I am not a product of my circumstances, I am a product of my choices.
Favorite Quote: “Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games. -Babe Ruth
EVP - Marketing
EVP - Modular Construction & Strategic Markets
Kyung Kim has been working in financial services for fourteen years. Currently, Kyung is the Senior Vice President at AVANA Capital and is responsible for expanding AVANA’s offerings in the various franchise sectors and other strategic initiatives.
Prior to joining AVANA, Kyung worked at GE Capital, developing strategic partnerships with restaurant franchisors as well as leading the company’s M&A and strategic planning efforts.
Kyung holds a Bachelor of Arts and Science in Quantitative Economics and Industrial Engineering from Stanford University. He also holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation.
Typical Kyung: Kyung loves spending time with his wife and 2 boys. From hiking to Xbox to miniature golf, they try to do everything as a family. Typically, the weekend is spent cheering on his kids at flag football games and playing tennis. And during football season, he spends Sundays yelling at the TV and his underperforming fantasy football team.
Past Itineraries: Hiking at the Grand Canyon and Bryce National Park, skiing at Mammoth, then finishing up in Las Vegas.
Next Must Do Trip: Maldives
Passionate About: Family, health & fitness, supporting our military, helping to eradicate cancer, and the intricacies of the West Coast Offense.
Guilty Pleasure: BBQ…from Texas brisket to Korean short ribs, he loves smoked or grilled meat.
Personal Motto: “Character is what happens when life scratches itself onto your soul.”
Favorite Quote: “There are no points for second place.” – Viper in Top Gun (1986)
EVP - Renewable Energy
Walter Cuculic has been working in the renewable energy industry for ten years and the general construction industry for twenty-five years. Currently, Walter is the Senior Vice President for Renewable Energy at AVANA Capital. Prior to joining AVANA Capital, Walter worked in Business Development for both SunPower and SolarCity developing financial products within the new residential construction industry. At SolarCity, Walter grew the new residential construction channel from $5M to $75M in three years. Walter also represented the residential construction industry on the Board of Directors for the US Green Building Council for five years (2009-2013).
Walter co-authored and co-managed a $7M Department of Energy grant focused on reducing peak electricity demand in the southwestern US through solar, energy efficiency, demand response and battery storage. Walter prides himself on being a creative thinker and problem solver. He loves developing long term partnerships and relationships.
Walter has a Master’s in Business Administration from the Anderson School at University of California at Los Angeles and dual Bachelor degrees from Northern Arizona University; a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish.
Typical Walter: Walter love to spend time with his wife and 3 children. He loves to learn new things and take his family on adventures. Typically, weekend is spent at soccer games, bike riding or skiing with this family.
Past Itineraries: Backpacking through the Grand Canyon, Grand Tetons and Glacier National Park, hiking the Inca Trail (twice), snowboarding in Portillo, Chile, and Surfing in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
Next Must Do Trip: Safari in Africa with family
Hobbies: Skiing, hiking, biking, skateboarding, and real estate investing.
Passionate About: Family, business, travel, world politics, culture, outdoors, and learning.
Guilty Pleasure: Ice cream, chocolate and bourbon.
Personal Motto: “This is it! You only live once, make it count.”
Favorite Quote: “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” – Theodore Roosevelt.
VP - Real Estate Debt & Syndications
Shivan joined AVANA Capital as a Business Development Officer in 2016 after obtaining his MBA in Global Management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management at ASU. He specializes in CRE lending, risk management, and marketing to the commercial real estate community. He provides tailored SBA and conventional lending solutions to clients and conducts credit and financial prescreen on CRE ventures.
Shivan has experience in business development consulting in growth strategy for domestic and international SMEs. He leverages management experience from non-profit and financial sectors and has served as a consultant for multiple successful tech start-up companies. Shivan has a passion and expertise in entrepreneurship and commercial real estate.
Previously Shivan attended the University of North Carolina Wilmington and received a B.A in Organizational Psychology and a B.A. in Criminology with a focus in legal studies, and began his financial career in retail banking for Wells Fargo. He has since received extensive training in finance and management throughout his career.
Past Itineraries: Backpacking through Eastern Europe, hiking the famous Sigiriya (Lion’s Rock) in Sri Lanka, working on an emerging market consulting project in Romania, watching the sunrise atop Machu Picchu.
Hobbies: Playing drums, hiking, mountain biking, surfing, and reading.
Passionate About: Business, finance, world politics, culinary arts, culture, travel, and learning.
Guilty Pleasure: Chocolate, things covered in chocolate, things with chocolate in them.
Personal Motto: “Limitations live only in the mind. The key to becoming is believing.
Favorite Quote: “If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat! Just get on.” -Sheryl Sandberg.
SVP - Renewable Energy Credit
Muhammad Fayyaz has more than nine years of diversified experience in accounting management, credit analysis, Islamic finance, tax, consultancy, risk management, ERP implementation, business process improvement, and management information systems. Fayyaz joined AVANA Capital in March 2012 as an Underwriter where he has been responsible for analyzing all credit requests which includes financial data, such as credit history, tax returns, financial statements, and the value of collateral, as well as non-financial data, such as quality of management, location and demand drivers of collateral, and demographic effects. In short, he determines the degree of risk involved in extending credit or lending money through SBA 504 or bridge loan.
During his 5 years at AVANA Capital, Fayyaz has closed more than $120MM in SBA and bridge loans which largely comprise of hospitality sector. He also oversees the credit risks of all existing portfolios and ensures that the appropriate actions are taken in time to mitigate the identified risks.
Fayyaz is a member of ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, U.K.) with a Bachelor’s degree (Honors) from Oxford Brookes University in the United Kingdom. He is also a Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM – US) and holds a real estate broker license in United States.
Typical Mo: Interested in learning new things every day and is curious about everything. Being big-hearted and strong-headed, he can easily adjust to any situation.
Past Itineraries: Jeep riding in the desert of Qatar and hiking in the Grand Canyon.
Passionate About: Cricket, music, and world politics.
Guilty Pleasure: Being health conscious – reading and comparing nutrition of different food items while shopping.
Personal Motto: Think hard, work smart.
Favorite Quote: “If Saturday and Sunday don’t excite you, then change your FRIENDS & If Monday doesn’t motivate you, then change your PROFESSION.” -Unknown
SVP - Real Estate Credit
Payal Bhatia is a finance professional with 5 years of experience in credit analysis, SME lending, internal audit and risk management. As a Relationship Manager with AVANA Capital, the key goal of her position is managing the credit risk associated with commercial real estate lending guiding Client’s throughout the origination, underwriting and closing processes. She has in-depth knowledge of Hotel, Construction and other CRE financing with a focus on SBA lending. Payal has underwritten transactions totaling over $150MM.
She previously worked with Ernst & Young as a Consultant. As part of the Risk Advisory Services team, she worked with real estate and government-sector clients. She undertook various internal audit and risk assessment assignments on projects and schemes implemented and funded by the government as well as by international funding agencies, such as World Bank, UNDP & DFID.
Payal is a Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM). She earned a Master of Finance from the University of Glasgow, U.K. and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Manipal University, India.
Typical Payal: Restless and impatient, but always planning ahead. Payal strives to find balance in all aspects of her life.
Past Itineraries: Cycling through a tiny village in the Netherlands, a hot air balloon ride over the strange landscape of Cappadocia Turkey, hiking to the top of a waterfall in Koh Samui Thailand, and cliff diving in Negril Jamaica.
Passionate About: Traveling to obscure places and Interior Decor.
Guilty Pleasure: Chocolate and her Mother’s cooking.
Personal Motto: Choose to be happy!
Favorite Quote: “I know that I am intelligent because I know that I know nothing.” – Socrates.
VP - Real Estate Credit
Nadeem Ahmed is a finance professional with over seven years experience in accounting, credit and operational risk, and financial analysis. Prior to joining AVANA Capital, Nadeem held roles as a Senior Accountant with a South African based diamond company and as a Cards, Unsecured, and Secured Lending Officer with HSBC Bank in Bahrain.
At AVANA, Nadeem is responsible for analyzing credit risk, underwriting, and managing a portfolio of funded transactions.
Nadeem graduated with Merit from the University of Glasgow with an MBA in Finance. He is currently enrolled in the CFA program and will take the Level II exam in June 2018.
Past Itineraries: Experiencing wet Scotland, the dry desert of Dubai, the bone-chilling cold in Toronto, and taking in the sights in South Africa
Passionate About: Family, friends, food, and tech.
Guilty Pleasure: Cakes and pastries.
Personal Motto: Believe in yourself. The sky is not the limit.
Favorite Quote: “Set your goals high and exceed them” -Unknown.
VP - Portfolio Management
Chrystelle Mae Quioyo has over 6 years of combined experience in financial due diligence reviews, business valuations, financial feasibility studies and audit covering various sectors. Chrystelle’s key function is to analyze credit risk mainly through carrying out due diligence reviews on AVANA Capital’s deals. She is also involved in underwriting, processing and closing of loans.
Prior to joining AVANA Capital, Chrystelle worked with Grant Thornton in Bahrain as a Senior Consultant under the Advisory Department, and Isla Lipana & Co. (a PwC member firm) in Philippines as a Senior Associate under the Deals and Corporate Finance Department.
Chrystelle is a Certified Public Accountant. She graduated Cum Laude from Ateneo de Davao University in Philippines with Bachelor of Science in Accountancy. She also passed the Certified Financial Consultant examination.
Typical Chrystelle: Generally happy with positive outlook in life.
Past itineraries: Toured Dubai and rode the world’s fastest roller coaster in Abu Dhabi, enjoyed theme parks in Singapore and Hong Kong, visited Oman and Malaysia.
Passionate About: Family and loved ones, food, photography, travel, movies and TV series, and vintage video games.
Guilty Pleasure: Binge sleeping during weekends.
Personal Motto: “Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you.”
Favorite Quote: “The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” – Deuteronomy 31:8
VP - Servicing Manager
Lori Bernhardt is a banking professional with over 30 years of experience. As an administrative/closing officer with AVANA Capital, her key functions are to organize information flow from multiple sources, handle closing loan transactions, conduct post follow-ups to ensure compliance and timely reporting of data with various lenders, and assist ongoing service of client loan portfolios when needed.
Lori began building her 30-year career while still in high school. She worked first at Valley National Bank, which became BankOne, and then JP Morgan Chase.
Typical Lori: When not working, you can always find Lori with family, her beloved animals, and her nose in a good book.
Past Itineraries: Lori’s brief world travels include deep sea fishing in Cabo San Lucas, Bi-Centennial in Philadelphia, Worlds Fair in California, and camping just about everywhere in the USA.
Passionate About: FAMILY, reading, being an active advocate for “Bully Breed” dogs, and exploring house hunting and renovations.
Guilty Pleasure: Anything with chocolate.
Personal Motto: Everything has a silver lining, so look on the bright side.
Favorite Quote: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” -Thomas A. Edison
Associate - Closing
As a Portfolio and Closing Assistant, Ailleen handles administrative tasks and serves as office manager for the Bahrain office. She works closely with Mr. Sundip Patel and the AVANA team to service the current portfolio of loans and institutional investors in the MENA region.
Between 2011 and 2016, Ailleen worked with Bahrain Airport Company’s Quality, Health and Safety department, providing assistance to the QHSE Director on compliance with audit procedures and international commercial standardization as well as providing assistance to the CEO executive office on the Airport Modernization Project.
Previously, Ailleen served as executive secretary to the Managing Partner of Grant Thornton Audit Firm and worked as an Office Manager for Symmetry Global’s office in Bahrain.
Ailleen brings to AVANA Capital, seven years of extensive administrative and customer service experience.
Ailleen received her Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communication with a focus on Broadcast Media at the University of the Philippines earning a University Scholar distinction award.
Typical Ailleen: Tactful and level headed. Takes her coffee black.
Past Itineraries: Climbed most mountains in South East Asia above 4,000 feet, explored Scotland’s Glen Nevis National Park; historic tour of the Vikings’ life in York; enjoyed Singapore’s theme parks with her daughter Ghabe..
Passionate About: Her eight year old daughter, Ghabe.
Guilty Pleasure: Anything with dark chocolate in it!
Personal Motto: It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.
Favorite Quote: “Quality is much better than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.” -Steve Jobs
AVANA Capital Advisory Board and Board Members provide advice and support to the company's management and employees. The board advisors and members are all well established in their fields of expertise and their diverse professional backgrounds serve to advance our mission in helping small businesses grow.
Meet our Board and learn how their experiences enable us to provide outstanding service to our clients.
Haven is the Co-founder and Chief Business Officer of Pairwise, a next generation agriculture company focused on using gene editing technologies to address global food challenges. The company has secured $125M in capital over the next five years to accomplish its mission. In his role Haven is responsible for developing the company’s commercial strategy and using CRSPRs to bring new crop varieties to the market that make healthy food more convenient, affordable and sustainable. Prior to Pairwise, Haven was the General Manager and Sr. Vice President of Plant Sciences at the J.R. Simplot Company, one of the largest privately-held food and agribusiness companies in the United States. Haven built the team and strategy for Simplot’s biotechnology potato and strawberry efforts and commercialized the Innate potato, one of the first biotech products to have both consumer and producer benefits. Haven has significant experience at the intersection of technology and business. He served as a senior scientist at the Barnett Institute at Northeastern University and later worked as an investment professional at Peter Thiel’s Clarium Capital before joining Simplot. Baker received a B.S. from Yale University, a PhD in chemistry from Northeastern University, and an MBA with distinction from Harvard Business School. He grew up on a farm in Moses Lake, Washington.
Tony Velleca is a veteran IT specialist and a former aerospace engineer, named by ComputerWorld one of 2010’s Premier 100 IT Leaders for driving positive change and innovation through technology. He is currently the Chief Information Security Officer at UST Global and Chief Executive Officer of CyberProof, a UST Global company. As the visionary leader behind the innovative cyber solutions, Tony is driving the rapid growth of CyberProof and leveraging its capabilities to keep UST Global on the forefront of security. For 10 years prior to his current role, Tony was the Chief Information Officer of UST Global, responsible for information technology, communications and security services for global operations spanning more than 26 countries. Prior to joining UST Global, Tony was a co-founder and the Chief Technology Officer at huddle247.com, which PC Magazine had rated among the top virtual workspace solutions in 2000. Prior to huddle247.com, he worked for Boeing (formerly McDonnell Douglas) and Rolls-Royce, Inc. where he spent most of his career in conceptual design and optimization of propulsion systems for next generation commercial and military aircraft. Tony holds a BS degree in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology and an MBA (Honors) from University of California, Irvine.
Aman has over fifteen years of operating experience in both public and private technology companies including PayPal, eBay, Sonos, Collective, and CAN Capital. Over the years he’s helped raise nearly a billion dollars from top VC and PE firms such as Accel, Greycroft, and KKR, and banks such as Morgan Stanley, SunTrust, Wells Fargo, UBS, JPMorgan and Barclays. Aman was CFO at CAN Capital, an alternative finance platform that has provided billions of dollars in lending for small business. Before that, he was the CFO of Visto, Inc. (formerly Collective, Inc.), an ad tech platform located in New York. While there, he guided them from $100 million in revenue to over $175 million in revenue, with double digit operating profit margins. He also led all of their public company readiness efforts, including an S-1 filing. Aman spent nine years at PayPal and eBay doing financial planning and analysis, customer analytics and strategy, and helped build PayPal into a global leader in payment processing and financial services. Earlier in his career he also held positions at Lehman Brothers and McKinsey. Aman graduated from Stanford with an undergraduate degree in economics, and a JD in law from Harvard University. He is member of the board of advisors for Dalia Empower, chairman of the board for Stanford Review, a governor for Junior Achievement Worldwide, and a member of the board of advisors for crowdsmart.io.
John is a recognized hospitality industry leader with over 25 years of experience. He has a proven track record of success with a diverse background in real estate and hospitality investments, finance, management, development and construction. John’s prior experience includes real estate management of commercial, retail, single-family, multi-family and hospitality projects in the United States and China where he has built a reputation both in the US and internationally through consistently delivering profitable solutions in all areas of the industry. He is an innovative leader with the ability to coordinate multi-national, large scale projects and is also experienced in acquisitions, development, valuation, and management in a variety of settings. John is also best known for maximizing profit potential for hospitality investments through effective operations, asset management and capital structuring and deployment. Since 2004, John has served as both board director and a strategic leader at HFS Concepts4 (HFS C4). HFS C4 is a leading turnkey design build firm in hospitality renovations. HFS C4’s services include interior design, interior architecture, purchasing, sourcing and installation management. HFS C4’s clients include hotel brands such as Marriott, Hilton, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza Hotels. John is currently active in investing in adaptive reuse developments for transitional housing in Los Angeles working with non-profit housing operators who focus on the homeless and the at-risk homeless community. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California with a B.S. in Business Administration with an emphasis in Real Estate Development and Finance. Activities & Affiliations:
Avanthi is a technology and microfinance entrepreneur who has founded and led innovative businesses from Silicon Valley to India. She is currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area as the co-founder and President of NextBrick Solutions Limited, a technology consultancy firm with clients that include NASA, Oracle, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and MetLife. Avanthi is also a Venture Partner at NextGen, a Washington, DC-based venture capital firm and serves on the Board of FINCA International in Washington DC as well. Earlier, Avanthi founded Akshaya Microfinance, a social enterprise based in Rajasthan, India that promotes financial inclusion by offering microcredit services to low-income and rural women. During this time, Avanthi also founded NextGreen Infrastructure, Ltd., an Indian energy company that provides ESC services and investments in renewable energy utilities like solar. In 2008, Avanthi was named a winner of the CRISIL-ICICI-CNBC TV18 Woman Entrepreneur of The Year Award. She is an active member of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) and Women Corporate Directors (WCD) and serves on the Board of Directors for several nonprofit organizations. Avanthi holds a graduate degree from the premier Indian Institute of Management in Lucknow, India and an undergraduate degree from Osmania University, also in India
With over 25 years of experience, Ed is recognized as an accomplished business leader, Member of the Young Presidents’ Organization, a worldwide not for profit association of leaders, corporate executives and entrepreneurs. ED is board director, advisor, technology entrepreneur and experienced Silicon Valley Early Stage & Startup venture capitalist, with a particular focus in machine learning and AI. ED serves as an Independent Board Director at Arowana International, a PE, fund & assets management company (ASX:AWN) and VivoPower (NASDAQ:VVPR). He is also a Board Director and investor at BigML Inc, a ‘Machine Learning as a Service’ platform company, and an advisory board member at Alicorn, a venture fund investing in Series C to E, pre – IPO companies with $1Bn Valuations (Unicorns). Ed founded Naiss.io, a venture capital & advisory boutique in Palo Alto, focusing on technology start-ups and early stage companies. He is also an investor & advisor in several US technology start-ups, e.g. BigML, Optimizing Mind, a Palo Alto start- up working on neuroscience based Deep Learning for xAI (Explainable AI) and MyPark Inc, an IoT smart parking platform. Prior to Naiss.io ED worked as MD and EVP for BlackBerry overseeing South West territories in EMEA and LATAM north markets. Previously, ED spent 9 years at Nokia in different roles and Received Nokia Circle of Excellence award back in 2005. Ed is an electrical & electronics engineer by training and has completed the GSMP (Global Senior Management Programme) post-graduate qualifications at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business & IE Business School (Madrid) as well as the ELPP (Engineering Leadership Professional Programme) from the University of California Berkeley. He is also faculty member at Financial Times Corporate Alliance & IE Business School and a mentor & advisor at Singularity University Ventures and Berkeley’s Center for Technology & Entrepreneurship. Ed is a regular contributor to CNBC and CBinsights and author at publishing house Plataforma Editorial.