TCA Board of GovernorsArash Sani2024-01-14T20:41:05-08:00
TCA Venture Group consists of five networks across the United States- TCA OC, TCA LA, TCA IE, Pasadena Angels, and MEDA Angels-, while leveraging the combined expertise (and capital) of more than 400 accredited investors. Each network (or chapter) has its own leadership and Executive Committee. The Board of Governors (BOG) of TCA Venture Group coordinates strategy, expansion, policies and activities across all networks. Each network has broad latitude to develop programs consistent with the BOG strategy and policies.
The current members of our Board of Governors are:
Digvijay “Sunny” Singh, Chairman
Dave DeCsepel, Vice Chairman
David Friedman, Chairman Emeritus and Immediate Past Chair
Jeff Lapin, Secretary and Boad Member
Pat Hwang, President – TCA Orange County
Parisa Khosropour, President – TCA Los Angeles
Mike Napoli, President – TCA Inland Empire and Chairman Emeritus
Mike Krebs, Chair – Pasadena Angels
Elizabeth Cho-Fertikh, Managing Director – MEDA Angels
Volker Hüther, Treasurer
Dave Berkus, ACE Fund, Chairman Emeritus
Richard Sudek, Syndication Chair, Chairman Emeritus
John Harbison, Marketing/ACA Liaison, Chairman Emeritus
BOG Representatives and Program Chairs (non-voting)
Jay Goth, BOG Representative – TCA Inland Empire
Larry Uhl, BOG Representative – Pasadena Angels
Greg Buchert, BOG Representative – MEDA Angels
Don Kasle, Immediate past Treasurer, Chairman Emeritus
Christopher Yang, Technology Chair
JJ Richa, Investment Relationships co-Chair
Ray Chan, Investment Relationships co-Chair
Laura Beken, Executive Director, Portfolio and Angel Syndication Network
Jay is a seasoned C-level executive with experience in technology, energy, finance, and healthcare. He currently holds the position of CEO of Murrieta Genomics, a genomic sequencing laboratory and business incubator. He is also CEO of Redtail Capital, a strategic management consultancy and investing group working with early-stage companies in the Southern California region. He is a board member at Burble, Inc. Jay is also the executive director of InSoCal CONNECT, a nonprofit organization formed to support entrepreneurship in inland southern California. He is a member of Tech Coast Angels, SoCal Bio and OCTANE. Jay served for seven years as a senior consultant for TriTech SBDC, one of only seven technology SBDCs in the USA, where he was awarded the SBA’s Small Business Champion Award in 2016. He has also served as Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of California Riverside. Jay served on the Governor of California’s Entrepreneurship Task Force for two years. As a founding executive of energy startup Commonwealth Energy in 1997, Jay helped to define the business plan, obtain initial funding, and launch a nationwide expansion that resulted in the company becoming the largest unregulated supplier of natural gas and electricity in the country, with fourth year revenues exceeding $300 million. For the past several years, Jay has worked closely with the City of Murrieta to develop the Murrieta Innovation Center, a life science focused center that offers space and resources to early-stage life science companies. Jay has held securities licenses 79, 6, 63 and 3. He has also held licenses in Real Estate and Life and Health Insurance. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Colorado with a double major in Economics and English Literature.
Pat’s journey in the world of tech startups began during the explosive dot com boom era, where her founding team saw an incredible 2,900-times return on their exit. Over the last two decades, she has managed a family office portfolio of real estate, private equity, private credits, alternative investments and venture funds. Pat has invested in many startup companies; her investment thesis is sector agnostic focusing on companies that are able to innovate to solve the pain points of the world. Pat is also a partner of Heedfirst Ventures, a partnership that invests in early-stage companies. Pat builds from a mechanical engineering background and, in her early career, she managed several space and satellite programs. Joining Tech Coast Angels in 2016, she’s been integral in the startup scene, as a connector, advisor, competition judge, panelist, and executive committee member. She is currently the president of TCA OC. Beyond her professional pursuits, Pat is deeply committed to giving back to her community. She’s involved in multiple charities and serves on the foundation board of two Providence hospitals, channeling her energy into making a positive impact. Pat finds joy in traveling and playing poker, having explored 43 countries and counting. Through her hobbies, she cultivates her relationships with business peers including founders and board members of the various companies she invests in. A long-time southern California resident, Pat earned her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Southern California.
Ray Chan is a prominent investor who has been recognized as one of Orange County Business Journal’s most influential business leaders since 2017. Ray is the co-founder and Chief of Staff of Koa Accel, co-founder and Managing Director of K5 Ventures, and has been leading county-wide efforts to build the tech and startup ecosystem within Orange County throughout the past decade. He is also an active member of Tech Coast Angels, a former member of their Board of Governors and an Investment Partner for their Angel Capital Entrepreneur Fund I, II and III. Ray has a 30+ year track record of successful business execution and of being a startup queen/kingmaker. Ray has made over 200 investments and is well-known for rewarding shareholders with exceptional financial returns. Some of K5 Ventures successful exits include Everyone.net (acquired by Proofpoint), Connectifier (acquired by LinkedIn), SignNow (acquired by Barracuda Networks), Filpagram (acquired by ByteDance, owner of TikTok).
Greg Buchert, MD, MPH is Executive Partner at MEDA Angels and the CEO of GSB Health Management Solutions, a consulting firm focused on innovative solutions to improve the health care delivery system. He has over 25 years of C-Suite experience in health plan leadership roles and leverages that in his roles as advisor to startup companies. He is the former President and CEO of Blue Shield of California’s Promise Health Plan that serves over 500,000 Medicaid, Medicare and Dual Eligible members. He previously served as the Chief Executive Officer that launched Centene’s first Medicaid Managed Care Plan in California and later as Chief Medical Officer of HealthNet after its acquisition by Centene. Greg was a founding executive for CalOptima, a public managed care organization where he served as Chief Operating Officer and Medical Director. He began his professional career as a pioneer in Pediatric Emergency Medicine working in leadership positions at two children’s hospitals.
Parisa is a Senior Life Science Executive with over 25 years of progressive career distinguished by architecting and executing strategies within the HealthCare and Life Sciences industries. She has built a reputation as a senior executive who provides leadership and direction for medical diagnostics/healthcare organizations to drive improvements and overcome obstacles to meet long-term financial and operational goals. Parisa retired in 2019; however she continues to stays connected with the MedTech / Medical device community as a startup advisor, mentor and an investor.
JJ Richa is an accomplished serial entrepreneur, executive and investor. JJ has successfully founded several companies, where he served as President and CEO, including a software company for the hospitality industry, an online eCommerce portal for high-end made-to-order gifts, and a custom software development company concentrating on the financial sector. JJ is a private equity investor, a longtime member of Tech Coast Angels where he served as its vice president and a member of its executive committee. JJ has served on numerous board of directors, started a private equity firm and served in senior executive restructuring and turnaround roles including interim CEO and fractional COO for businesses at various stages. JJ has BS and MS degrees from Cal State Long Beach.
Elizabeth Cho-Fertikh, PhD is a scientist-turned-angel investor who is Cofounder & Managing Director of MEDA Angels, a healthcare-focused angel investor group based in WSH, DC, with a presence in San Francisco, Newport Beach & Honolulu. She has 25+ years of cross-functional experience in drug development, regulatory affairs, clinical trials & medical affairs for biotechs/pharma (Janssen, Macrogenics, RegenXBio, ADCT Therapeutics, Janssen) and at two startups that have advanced to the clinical stage (Enterin, VLP Therapeutics). She actively supports the innovation ecosystem by serving as a scientific/commercialization advisor to the National Cancer Institute’s Technology Transfer Office, as a reviewer of NCI SBIR grants and as an investment committee member for the Virginia Commonwealth Health System & Riverflow Growth Fund. Additionally, she serves on the advisory boards of multiple healthcare startup ventures and mentors startups, including NIH SBIR awardees and those incubating at Harvard Innovation Labs & Nucleate Bio of Baltimore, MD. Elizabeth received her BA from Johns Hopkins, her MS from Georgetown University, her PhD from Thomas Jefferson School of Medicine and completed her postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School & NIH.
Surya has been an active member, investor, and leader within Tech Coast Angels since 2009. Currently leading IT within TCA, he’s previously served as network president, and continues to mentor entrepreneurs as part of the Small Business Development Center, TechStars, and other incubator & accelerator programs. Surya has extensive fundraising and venture startup experiences from his tech ventures. Surya developed and launched one of (if not the) first mobile applications and wireless mobile internet services for smart devices in 1996. He then created educational games for Nintendo starting in 2005. He’s also led strategic business development within Blackberry, Samsung, and DTS (Xperi). Surya is currently CEO of GXB Interactive Corporation (gxbventures.com) where he is especially interested in family-oriented services and promoting online collaboration and real-world life-long learning. He also has extensive experience with international business, primarily within Russia and Argentina. Personally, Surya still enjoys maximizing time with his family while tinkering with Robotics (Arduino, Raspberry Pi), Photography, and creating things in his extensive workshop when not traveling.
Laura is an MBA and business consultant at SBDC @ UCI Beall Applied Innovation and LaunchPad, Octane. She spent her career in technology and healthcare sector, and has degrees in Psychology, in Visual Arts/Media and a Healthcare MBA. Prior to SBDC she was managing Medical Intelligence and Innovation Institute at CHOC Children’s Hospital Orange County. She was also an editor for Physicians News Network, a software engineer in the private sector, had her own startup in online video space and was a figure skating coach.
Richard founded Nadek Computer Systems in 1982, a data networking design & consulting business. In 1999, he sold the company to SAIC before pursuing his academic career. He has been an advisor to several MBA programs, served as a reviewer for the NSF, and has judged business plan competitions in the U.S. and Europe. He has taught entrepreneurship at Chapman University, INSEAD in France, the Rotterdam School of Management in the Netherlands, UC Irvine, and the Peter Drucker & Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management. Richard has been an active angel investor and has screened 1,000 startup companies since 2000. He has served on the Angel Capital Association board, is Chairman Emeritus of Tech Coast Angels (TCA), and currently sits on the TCA Board of Governors. He has been an advisor to venture funds, academic centers, engineering, and high-tech firms. Richard received a B.S. in Information and Computer Sciences from UC Irvine in 1981. He earned a Ph.D. in management, an EMBA, and master’s in organizational behavior at Claremont Graduate University. His research focuses on the angel investment decision process, examining how and why angel investors choose their investments.
Past Chairman of TCA, and Managing Director of the three TCA ACE funds, Dave Berkus has a well-established track record in operations, venture investing and corporate board service, both public and private. As an entrepreneur, he has formed, managed and sold successful businesses in the entertainment and software arenas. Dave created his first company, Custom Fidelity, Inc., at the age of 15. He sold his interest in the Company to found Computerized Lodging Systems, Inc. becoming an early pioneer in the mini-computer industry. He is credited with innovation of numerous technology “firsts” and guided the computer company through a decade of growth, including two consecutive years on the Inc.500 list of America’s fastest growing companies. He was recognized for those pioneering achievements with his induction into the Hospitality (HFTP) “International Hall of Fame”– only one of forty-two people worldwide so honored over the years, Dave is current or recent Board Chairman or board member for numerous public and private technology companies. Active in a total of over forty companies, he was recognized as “Director of the Year” by the Orange County-based Forum for Corporate Directors, and “Technology Leader of the Year” by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
Member Since 1998, TCA-OC Hall of Fame, Chairman Emeritus, Past President TCA-OC
David Friedman is a tech-savvy marketing and operations executive with more than 30 years’ expertise in bringing to market new technology. He plays at the intersection of technology and the customer; his real love is innovation and commercializing technology to meet the needs of customers. A member of the TechCoastAngels of Orange County since 2009, he serves as President, TechCoastAngels, Orange County and is currently Vice-Chairman of the Board of Governors of TCA . He is also a senior consultant with the Small Business Development Lead Center and founder and managing partner of C-Level Partners, a business advisory which focuses on helping companies grow their top line revenue. During his career he has introduced more than $1.5 billion in new products. In his corporate career, he has helped companies build top line revenue growth and EBITDA while mentoring the next generation of business leaders. David has been executive vice president and Chief Marketing Officer for ATX Group (now Sirius Connected Car) which provides telematics and information services to automobile manufacturers. Previously, he was Vice President, Marketing and Direct Sales at Connexion by Boeing, and commercialized the first Wi-Fi services available to passengers onboard commercial airplanes. He also held executive positions with US Cellular, Covia Technologies, Ameritech Services and RCA. Friedman holds an MBA (economics) from George Washington University, a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Columbia University, and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering (summa cum laude) from City College of New York.
John has led 14 TCA deals and invested in over 65 startups. He is also an active investor in public companies, and has realized returns from 100x – 1100x in five companies (Microsoft, Apple, Abbott Labs, Nucor and McGraw-Hill). He currently serves on the Angel Capital Association Board, and has participated on Boards of many early-stage companies — he enjoys mentoring and helping these companies succeed. Previously he co-founded Next Autoworks – a disruptive new American car company backed by investors such as Kleiner Perkins and Google Ventures. Before that he served as CEO of network security software SilentRunner Inc., and as President of Raytheon Commercial Ventures Inc. where he launched four businesses in two years leading to two successful exits and a third company which achieved $700 million in annual revenue within eight years. Earlier in his career, he was a strategy consultant and partner at Booz•Allen Hamilton where he led the firm’s Aerospace/Defense Practice, its Strategic Alliances functional practice, and opened its Los Angeles office. He has an BA cum laude from Harvard College, an MS in accounting from NYU Stern and an MBA from Harvard Business School with first year honors. He is an avid wildlife and landscape photographer, and travels extensively to remote countries around the world.
Don Kasle is both Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Governors of TCA and Treasurer. Previously, he also spent eleven years as Senior Consultant for the SBDC (Small Business Development Center) housed at UCI Irvine Beal Applied Innovation. The SBDC’s mission is to provide free consulting to high growth, scalable, entrepreneurial companies. Don received the SBDC State Star Award for his outstanding work. He is a retired bank CEO, from three different banks. During his career, he served on over 30 Boards of Directors in the public, private and not-for profit sectors, including 7 bank boards. He is a past member of the Board of Trustees at Miami University (Ohio) and the Miami Foundation. Long active in the field of Education, he was the founding Chairman of the Institute of Certified Bankers of American Bankers Association and past Chairman of the ABA’s Stonier Graduate School of Banking. He previously taught at 10 national banking schools including Rutgers, Southern Methodist, Universities of Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and LSU. He has lectured at a number of business schools including Miami University (Ohio), Chapman, UCI, and USC. Mr. Kasle is a graduate of Miami University and the Stonier Graduate School of Banking, Rutgers University. Stonier previously honored him with Distinguished Alumni Award. He is a past President of the National Alumni Association of Miami University.
Over a span of three decades, Bill conceived and developed a lucrative and rewarding company. He started from scratch and learned all about business along the way. With an incredible depth of knowledge based on his own experiences, Bill has applied his strategic planning skills and business instincts to the everyday dilemmas faced by business owners has applied in Southern California. After graduating from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, Bill started Supreme Foodservice Sales, a foodservice sales and marketing company and soon became one of the leaders in the industry. The company handled all of the foodservice sales and marketing activities for some of the largest food manufacturers in the country, representing companies such as Nestle, Sara Lee, Del Monte, HJ Heinz, and The Lipton Tea Company. Throughout his career, Bill has served on several national industry advisory boards. Bill completed the sale of his company and went on to become more involved in his local business community. Since, he has enjoyed teaching and mentoring the founders of young companies how to grow and become successful. In 2006 Bill became an active investor with TCA and serves as the membership co-chairman and board member. He currently serves as a consultant for the SBA (Small Business Administration) and offers his expertise to start-up ventures through the UCI Small Business Development Center in Irvine.
Digvijay “Sunny” is an entrepreneur, investor, academic and technologist with a Ph.D. EE/CS background. He has founded, operated and exited two startups previously. He is also a very active startup and real-estate investor with multiple dozens of investments under his belt including two unicorn exits. Sunny was past president of Tech Coast Angels in Los Angeles and now Chair of their Board of Governors. He is also currently Managing Partner at Alleyway Capital, which acquires smaller software startups. In his (little) free time Sunny likes spending time with his wife and son, practicing mixed martial arts, or trying to be an outdoorsman.
Arash plays an active role within Southern California’s startup ecosystem. He serves as an Executive Director and Portfolio Manager at Tech Coast Angels (TCA), one of the largest and most active angel groups within the United States. Along with his role of evaluating and shepherding hundreds of startup companies through TCA’s investment process, Arash also leads the Angel Syndication Network (ASN) and TCA LA Funds. Beyond his daily activity with both founders and investors, Arash has received numerous accolades and recognition for his community engagement. He has led projects to propel efficiencies within the US venture investment market at both the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) and Angel Capital Association (ACA). He continues to explore efficient innovation and emerging entrepreneurship throughout the world. Arash has an MBA from San Diego State University, MSc in Finance from Lund University Sweden and BSc in Business Management from Babson. He is a fitness and health enthusiast, and travels the globe learning about various cultures and their practices.
Brian is Managing Partner of Ladder Ventures, a seed stage venture fund based in Los Angeles, and currently serves as TCA’s LA chapter president. He is an active advisor in several of his portfolio companies, concentrating on fund raising, finance, strategy and corporate development. In addition to investing on behalf of TCA and his fund, Brian is also an adjunct faculty member at UCLA Anderson, instructing MBA courses in both Business Creation and Strategic Management. Prior to joining TCA, Brian spent 10 years in the investment banking industry in New York, most recently building and running Scotiabank’s electricity trading business. Brian majored in both Economics and Business Management at Bucknell University, and received his MBA from UCLA Anderson.
Mr. Lapin is currently the Chairman of the Board of Governors of TCA. He joined TCA in 2011, and served as the President of the Los Angeles Chapter from 2014 and 2015. Mr. Lapin has invested in over 30 start-up companies, and has been involved in two angel funds. Lapin started his career as an attorney and has served as CEO or President of six companies, including Atari S.A., Razorgator Interactive Group, Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. and Starwood Hotels. He has extensive experience in executive management, organizational structure, finance, corporate growth, public company management, and restructuring, as well as domain experience in a variety of industries. He currently serves as a consultant and/or Board member to several companies, and is a faculty advisor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.
Caitlin is a partner at MooDoos Investments, a private family-owned investment fund that invests in early-stage companies throughout the US and Canada. MooDoos is industry agnostic and invests in several industries including life sciences, manufacturing, and education technology. Caitlin is an experienced angel investor and fund manager that serves as Chairman of the board of portfolio company Contract Pharmaceuticals Limited, and its sister company, Glasshouse Pharmaceuticals as well as serves on the board of Neuralace Medical and Pumpspotting Inc. In addition to her work with MooDoos, she is President of the Tech Coast Angels, San Diego Chapter. Tech Coast Angels is the largest Angel network in the US. She is also a Trustee, finance committee member and Chair of the Governance Committee for the Wege Foundation, an environmentally-focused family foundation based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a board member of The Ecology Center, in Orange County and serves as a mentor and advisory board member for the ZIP Launchpad, the business accelerator at San Diego State University. Caitlin is passionate about fostering entrepreneurial and investor education and learning.
Mike Napoli has been actively mentoring and investing in early-stage companies since the mid 1990’s. In 2000 he joined the Tech Coast Angels, the largest angel investor network in the U.S. He currently is the President of the Tech Coast Angels Inland Empire Network and serves on the Tech Coast Angels Board of Governors. His past work history was focused on advising large institutional investors and money managers on a variety of issues including: Asset allocation, asset class structure, portfolio construction, risk management, hedge funds and other alternative investments. In 2008 Mike founded Performing Arts LIVE, a community service that provides performing arts organizations a platform to promote their activities.