Alicia received her M.S. and Ph.D. in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She previously worked as an economist with the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and the Office of Economic Research in the SBA. She is a prolific author on the topics of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial finance. In addition to numerous journal articles and book chapters, she is the co-author of A Rising Tide: Financing Strategies for Women-Owned Businesses and The Next Wave: Financing and Investing Strategies for Growth-Oriented Women Entrepreneurs published by Stanford University Press, as well as Race and Entrepreneurial Success published by MIT Press. She teaches workshops on angel investing and investor readiness around the globe. She is an active angel investor, a limited partner in three early-stage venture funds, a mentor to various young firms, and a board member for several groups, including the Deming Center Venture Fund, the Kachuwa Impact Fund, Good Food Institute, Luvin Arms Animal Sanctuary, and Vegan Investors.
Alicia was awarded the prestigious Hans Severiens Award in 2020, ACA’s annual award recognizing one individual’s work in advancing the field of angel investing. She splits her time between Glenwood Springs, Colorado and Tucson, Arizona with her husband, Mark, and a menagerie of rescued animals.
Esha Sahai is a venture capitalist, entrepreneur, and educator. She is Founding General Partner at
Flamenco Ventures. As the Founder of Girls Who Venture, she is working towards gender equality in
entrepreneurship and venture capital, particularly in emerging markets. She is an Entrepreneur In
Residence at Xcelerator at UC Berkeley. Esha is also an advisor at Viell and Skydeck Berkeley, and a
mentor at Manush Labs and Alchemist Accelerator. She is the founder of Rio, a startup that develops digital business cards, and was a finalist at Alchemist Accelerator in 2019. Esha was an Entrepreneur In
Residence at the College of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of Massachusetts,
Amherst. As a serial entrepreneur, Esha co-founded and worked at startups funded by a16z, DARPA, and
the Foundry Group.
Previously she was an investor at Varidus, Zane Venture Fund, Alumni Ventures Group, a member of
Microsoft’s Corporate Strategy and Development team for the Cloud & Enterprise and AI divisions, and an investor at M12 (previously Microsoft Ventures). Before joining Microsoft, Esha served as a Legatum Fellow at MIT, where she worked on multiple for-profit and non-profit ventures. Her mobile startup Curious Learning was a semi-finalist in MassChallenge & MIT’s 100K. Past stints include Oracle Corp., edX, LearnLaunch Accelerator, and a Techstars startup. Esha has served on the boards of Tesseract Inc. (acquired by Reliance Industries), Ant Bicycle. Girls Inc., Circle of Women, UMass Amherst’s Maroon Ventures Fund, GetMAGIC Corp, and SOWCoders.
She was a Bay State Fellow at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she received her B.S. and
M.S. degrees in computer science in 2002 and 2004, respectively. Esha has a degree in management and
engineering from MIT’s Sloan School of Management and MIT Engineering.
In a career spent at the intersection of business and philanthropy, John has demonstrated practical ways to leverage capitalism for social change, holding firm to the idea that the private sector can be both “tough-minded and tender-hearted.”
In the 1990s, he co-founded Pura Vida Coffee, a social enterprise and one of the first companies to sell fair-trade coffee nationwide. Under John’s leadership, Pura Vida Coffee achieved dual goals of scaling business while delivering economic benefit for coffee farmers and families around the world. Prior to Pura Vida Coffee, John led strategic initiatives as part of management teams at Microsoft, Starwave (a media company purchased by Disney), and Starbucks, where he drove the development of the Starbucks Foundation’s long-range strategic plan.
John received his MBA from Harvard University after earning a Bachelor of Arts with Honors from Stanford University, where he wrote his thesis on modern strategies for fighting hate groups. He is a former guest lecturer at Harvard Business School and an Ashoka Fellow, an honor that recognizes entrepreneurs using business to transform society.
John and his wife, Shelly, live in Seattle and have three sons: Jackson, Nick, and Matthew.
In 2015, Michele became the youngest judge on CBC’s Dragons’ Den (Canada’s Shark Tank), and has been a ‘Dragon’ for the last six seasons. A prolific investor, Michele was recently named Fortune’s 40 under 40, a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women and Canada’s Angel Investor of the Year.
Michele has created digital solutions for many of the world’s leading brands, including P&G, Netflix, Starbucks, and Cirque du Soleil. In the media, Michele’s work has been profiled in Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune, TechCrunch, and The Globe and Mail.
Michele is a director for Vail Resorts, Freshii, BBTV and League of Innovators. Previously she was a director for Whistler Blackcomb, SHAD International. Michele also co-founded the Canadian Entrepreneurship Initiative non profit with Sir Richard Branson.