The New GenZs in VC: Meet the Inaugural 32 Republic Venture Fellows

From the very beginning of Republic’s history, our fiercest supporters and early adopters were the youngest investors, the Gen Zs. They focused not just on embracing innovative investing, but also voted with their dollars and invested in companies that were molding a better future. They were going to champion us in rooms we’re not in and create meaningful change doing so, and we wanted to make sure the next wave of venture investors have our support.

After 450+ impressive applications, we found 32 of the brightest young minds from 19 schools who were aligned in our mission of democratizing private investing. They participated in a six-week educational program that took a deep dive into the fundamentals of venture capital.

A special thanks goes out to our speakers this quarter who covered sourcing, due diligence, investment thesis creation, and branding: Republic Venture Partners Mac Conwell (Rarebreed) and Kofi Ampadu (SKU’d Ventures), and VC partners Jessica Li (ZAGENO & Elpha) and Meghan Lloyst (Lerer Hippeau).

Republic is proud to bring talented, young, and diverse students interested in VC to the forefront of this industry, supported by our network of Venture Partners and other VCs with education and mentorship.

As the capstone project for this educational program, we had groups form investment theses and provided them with seed funds to directly invest in startups according to their theses. In an industry like VC unfairly about who you know and what you’ve done, our Republic Venture Fellows are now tapped into a deep tech and investment network and are actively deploying dollars into startups they believe in. However they’re also calling out the status quo:

They are the true movers and shakers of the industry. We are so proud to introduce you to the first cohort of Republic Venture Fellows! Get to know them and read their investment theses below the bios.

There is more on the way for 2021 venture programs, which will include more Venture Fellows and inaugural Venture Associates (post-graduate professionals looking to break into VC)! If you’re interested in being a Venture Associate or Fellow, fill out this interest form, subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Twitter to stay up to date on the latest news.

Zehra Naqvi — Venture Fellow Lead

Hong Kong raised, Singapore born, and Pakistani, Zehra Naqvi is a senior at Columbia double majoring in Financial Economics and Art History. An entrepreneur at heart, Zehra is a 2x founder currently building a new platform as part of the Founders Institute Incubator and has worked at 6 startups all at varying levels (pre-seed to Series B). On campus, Zehra is President of Columbia Women’s Business Society, Founder of Columbia Womxn in Venture and Columbia BIWOC in Business. Additionally, Zehra is VP Programming for the Panhellenic Executive Council and is a Lead Editor for the Columbia Undergraduate Journal of Art History. Having previously worked in Investment Management at Deloitte, Private Equity, and a Hedge Fund, Zehra has a wide array of experience in the financial world but is most passionate about her current work in VC. As such, she joined Ground Up Ventures as a Campus Partner, The Wiress as a Venture Scout, and Republic as the Venture Fellow Lead and a Growth & Partnerships Intern. Zehra has a black-belt in Cantonese Kung Fu, can speak Mandarin & Urdu, and loves 19th Century Romantic Opera (she swears it’s amazing if you just give it a chance).

Richmond Addae

Richmond Addae is a sophomore in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University pursuing a quadruple minor in Business, Law and Society, Fashion, and Information Science. Richmond is currently a financial analyst at his university’s BlackGen Capital, while also being a research analyst at the Undergraduate Labor Institute. He is very honored to be chosen for the Venture Fellow Program. Richmond hopes to use this opportunity to further develop his skills sets in finance, analytics, and venture capital.

Jeffrey Bui

Jeffrey is currently a senior at Tufts University from Houston, Texas. He was fortunate enough to create his own major called Neurotechnology due to his fascination with brain interfacing devices and neurohacking. He wants to find ways to help the brain but it is just one of the ways he hopes to achieve his goal of improving the wellbeing and health of others through technology. His other passions include cooking and making his own decaf cold brew. He recently started running but now it is too cold, so he’ll build that habit again sometime next year. Now, he just attempts to eat healthy but far too often indulges in a late night Chicken Nuggets with BBQ Sauce with his friends. Jeffrey is also passionate about UI/UX design so he is always pleased whenever he sees a well-designed interface! He is one of the Co-founders of Cogna Technology. They are developing a device to help people fall asleep. He has been blessed to receive so much support from others as well as to have found an amazing team that he trusts and believes in. They’ll be improving your sleep soon!

Spencer Chemtob

Spencer Chemtob is currently a Sophomore at Stanford University studying Product Design (B.S.) with a minor in Creative Writing. Spencer is passionate about understanding how consumer choice influences design processes and vice versa. Briefly, he is fascinated by how and why consumers choose the products that can positively impact their lives on a daily basis. While Spencer looks forward to working in VC, he is eager to dive into the hands-on, operating experience that comes from being in the midst of a startup environment. Thus, Spencer was drawn to the Republic Venture Fellowship for its birds-eye-view of startup development and funding. At Stanford, Spencer co-leads the BASES $100K startup challenge which attracts over 200 companies per year and awards 5 category prizes. He is also a member of Stanford Concert Network, where he serves as the Philanthropic Events Producer, putting on great shows for a cause. As a proud, native New Yorker, Spencer enjoys learning to merge the intense east coast work ethic with the collaborative environment of the west coast. In his free time, he is an avid kiteboarder, cyclist, and concert-goer. Currently, Spencer is taking classes remotely with friends and spending lots of time with his family and their dog Sunshine.

Charles Chen

Boston College student studying Economics and Finance with a strong interest in entrepreneurship and VC. From the Boston Area, big time supporter of the Brooklyn Nets. Huge fan of all things outdoors, traveling, music, and sports.

Evelyn Chen

Evelyn Chen is a first-year at Harvard College intending to concentrate in Applied Mathematics. At Harvard, she is an analyst for Harvard Undergraduate Capital Partners, where she conducts due diligence for a major venture capital firm, and Harvard Consulting on Business and the Environment, where she provides strategic consulting services for a global NGO. As a 2020 Coca Cola Scholar and woman of color, she is deeply passionate about social justice and its intersections with entrepreneurship and venture capital. She previously cofounded the international nonprofit EduSTEM Initiative and hosts the podcast Asian Women Empower. Originally from Seattle, in her free time, Evelyn is an avid fan of discovering new boba and coffee shops.

Natalia Fares

Natalia is a senior at Brown University double concentrating in Economics and Religious Studies. She is of Lebanese descent but grew up in England. With a passion for impact investing, she spent her last summer working for Plum Alley Investments, where she completed analyses of portfolio companies’ quantifiable impact. At Brown, Natalia is the leader of the departmental undergraduate group (DUG) for Religious Studies as well as being an organising team member of the annual Future of Sustainable Investing Conference (FSIcon). Natalia is also enthusiastic about visual art and was an art scholar at her high school in London.

Jacky Huang

Jacky Huang is a first-year at Harvard studying Economics and Sociology. He’s interned at a few early-stage startups and is passionate about helping fellow first-generation low-income students through his work in education non-profits. He enjoys binging k-dramas, cooking, journaling, and drinking unhealthy amounts of matcha green tea lattes from Dunkin’.

Nafisa Istami

Nafisa (she/her) is a senior at Rice University in Houston, Texas, studying sociology and business. While at Rice, Nafisa runs a student organization called Rice Ventures. Rice Ventures is one of two undergraduate entrepreneurship student orgs on campus, running a 10-week program for first-time student founders to learn more about the ecosystem and build their own ventures. Check out the newsletter that she writes for Rice Ventures, Illuminated, at! On top of building out the entrepreneurship ecosystem at Rice, Nafisa helps out in the Houston scene as a venture associate at the Houston Angel Network, the oldest angel group in Texas and the most active one in the USA. She’s also a venture scout for The Wiress, whose mission is to empower womxn as consumers, designers, funders, and lovers of lifestyles and brands around technology. Committed to social impact and pushing for diversity for underrepresented and underestimated founders, Nafisa is thrilled to be part of the Republic family!

Gauri Jaswal

Gauri is a junior at Yale studying Economics. She was born and raised in India and moved to the States for college. As someone from a tropical country, the harsh winters took a bit for her to get used to! She got interested in entrepreneurship through a club on campus and then became interested in VC. She was able to join a fellowship through a group called TAMID and interned at a VC firm in Jerusalem last summer. She loved learning about the Israeli startup ecosystem and the history behind it and fell in love with the city (especially the falafel, which she can’t find anything like elsewhere). That also sparked her desire to travel and she ended up doing a semester abroad in London last spring. As someone used to psets, spending a semester learning about British theatre, art, and Victorian history was a dream and helped her connect with the liberal arts so much more. After leaving London due to COVID, she ended up in Istanbul and is loving it! Outside of school and work, she loves to cook and find cool places in the city to explore while improving her Turkish!

Armaan Kalsi

Armaan is a sophomore at Yale, where he studies Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, and conducts research for the Gerstein bioinformatics lab. He attended high school in New Delhi, India, and is absolutely in love with the way that capital is invested for social good in the US. In his free time, he advises the Yale Entrepreneurial Society on their fundraising and expansion, and is part of Helix (a Yale Healthcare Incubator), Launch (a student run accelerator), the Yale Debate Association (competitive debate), Effective Altruists, and The Ambassadors for the Student Fund. He is currently working on an EdTech startup that enables anyone to build and bootstrap a live streaming service. His greatest failing is his inability to train his 5 dogs to do anything other than sit and shake hands. Armaan is so excited to be part of Republic.

Stephan Ko

Stephan is super interested in the venture capital and start-up space! At Princeton, he is interested in the interplay between technological innovations and their economic viability to become commercialized products. Recently, he has been fascinated by the growth in hydrogen fuel cells and cannot wait to see its growing influence on the transportation industry over the next couple of decades. He loves to go backpacking and enjoy cooking in his free time. He also loves to read Haruki Murakami novels! When traveling, he’s a huge fan of exploring without too much planning.

Marly Lake

A Washington, D.C native, Marly is a Columbia University senior in a dual program pursuing a BA in Italian and an MA in Chinese Economics and Commerce researching Fashion & Luxury business relations between China and Europe. As a student of foreign language and culture, Marly’s values orient towards creative representation and cross-cultural exchange as the harbingers of progress; she is particularly passionate about amplifying the voices Black womxn and LGBTQ+ people of color in creative tech spaces. Marly currently serves as the Digital Marketing Chair on the executive board of Columbia largest pre-professional society, Columbia Women’s Business Society. In early November 2020, she will enter a fellowship program as incoming founder in an accelerator program at Founder Institute in New York City.

Simon Lam

Simon is an undergraduate at Harvard College majoring in Statistics with a minor in Psychology. Previously, he conducted machine learning research at a multinational technology company and applied math research at the MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab. Simon is passionate about technology and healthcare investing, and he is involved in two student investment groups at Harvard. In his free time, Simon likes to draw.

Hannah Lederman

Hannah Lederman is a sophomore at Columbia University studying sociology and business. She is from San Francisco and has grown up surrounded by the startup world. She studied at the Lycée Français de San Francisco where she was educated in a bilingual environment and specialized in science and technology. In high school, she was involved in startup pitch competitions all over the country for a date rape drug detecting necklace. She also received a scholarship in the Business and Entrepreneurship category from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation and hopes to amplify Latinx and women voices in the startup world. Now in college, Hannah is Director of Communications for Columbia Women’s Business Society where she conducts outreach with both students as well as professionals to come speak at events. She is also an Engagement Analyst with the Columbia Daily Spectator, the largest newspaper on campus, where she manages social media presence, studies data analytics and plans events from ideation to graphic design to copy to outreach. Hannah’s interests lie in the intersection of fashion and technology. For many years she has taken courses in fashion business in Paris and New York. Her main focus is wearable technology and e-commerce where fashion is adapting to technological advances and becoming more sustainable.

Grace Lee

Grace is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania studying Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. She is interested in finding startups focused on health equity and learning more about female-founded companies. After graduation, she will be starting her career as an Investment Banking Analyst at Goldman Sachs. In her free time, she enjoys figure skating, baking, and reading autobiographies.

Samuel Mecha

Sam is senior at Williams College from the Boston area. He is an English major and currently working on a thesis. Outside of the classroom, he is a long jumper on the track and field team. After graduation, Sam will be working in sales and trading in New York City at Nomura, where he interned this past summer. Sam hopes to break into VC in the future and work closely with companies in the fintech, software, and edtech sectors. In his free time, you can find Sam either reading, still watching cartoons, or playing the NYT Crossword app.

Kareem Michel

Kareem Michel is a sophomore economics major, mathematics minor at Morehouse College. He currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia. On campus, Kareem serves as the Faculty Liaison for the Morehouse Business Association E-Board and a Shadow Lead for the Black Venture Capital Consortium. Off campus, Kareem is a Equity Research Analyst at BLK Capital Management and a mentee with the UNC Chapel Hill Accounting Mentorship Program. Kareem interned at JPMorgan Chase & Co. last summer and will be interning with Goldman Sachs in New York City next summer. He hopes to fuse his love of finance and passion for entrepreneurship to formulate organic relationships with brilliant, diverse founders without traditional access to venture funding.

Sophia Naqvi

Sophia is a Sophomore at Columbia University double-majoring in Economics and History. She lives between Hong Kong and New York City, but also calls Singapore and Karachi home. In 2014, Sophia combined her interests in social-entrepreneurship, media, and marketing to co-found GLO, a fashion and media company specializing in representing women from underrepresented backgrounds. At Columbia, Sophia serves on the Executive Board of the Columbia Women’s Business Society, an Associate Editor for the Journal of Politics and Society, and serves on the board of Unpact Capital, LLC, a Columbia-founded Impact Investing fund. Outside of the classroom and office, Sophia enjoys cooking, visiting art museums, learning new languages, and exploring New York’s culinary scene.

Jeremy Navarro

Jeremy Navarro, Middlebury ’21, is a passionate 2x founder who has worked at 14+ startups in roles all across the product lifecycle. He is the current CEO and founder of dormops, an all-in-one marketing education and staffing platform, as well as, a project-based networking platform. Currently, he is also the Head of Growth at Dorm Room Fund, where he’s focusing on bringing capital to underestimated and underrepresented founders. Jeremy is a fierce advocate for students and innovative edtech and loves empowering other students, no matter where they are in their careers or lives!

Vedika Patwari

Vedika Patwari is a senior at Princeton University, studying Computer Science and Public Policy. She is passionate about leveraging financial and digital tools to solve complex problems and has significant experience leading projects at the intersection of tech and social impact, particularly in emerging economies. In the past, she has interned with UNICEF on a project to bridge the global digital divide and she spent her most recent summer deploying COVID-19 tracking tools in collaboration with the Kenyan government. At Princeton, her leadership roles at the Princeton Entrepreneurship Club and the Center for Civic Engagement led her perspective on entrepreneurship to evolve from being individually-focused to being community-based. She views entrepreneurship as a powerful force to support under-resourced communities and to fill large, structural gaps (ask her more over a coffee chat!). She is excited to join the Republic community and further Republic’s mission of democratizing entrepreneurship and improving access to capital.

Avideep Pradhan

Avideep Pradhan is an entrepreneurially driven student with experience working in startups, nonprofits, consulting, and venture capital. He is an Associate in Wharton Impact Venture Associates (WIVA), an early-stage impact investment vehicle run by the Wharton School. As an Associate, Avideep sources and pitches impact-focused for-profit companies, connecting founders that pass WIVA’s impact and investment criteria with capital and additional resources. He also consults for startups and Fortune 500 clients as a Senior Generalist Consultant in MUSE Consulting. In addition to his passion for business and technology, Avideep cares deeply about creating positive environmental and social impact. He has founded eBlackboard, a nonprofit with the mission to provide underprivileged students with a technologically enhanced education. Since 2016, he has established low-cost and power-efficient computer labs in nine schools within Nepal. Avideep is currently pursuing a B.S. in Economics at The Wharton School with concentrations in Finance and Business Analytics and Minors in Computer Science and Engineering Entrepreneurship from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Gwendolyn Chloe Purnama

Chloe is a junior at UC Berkeley majoring in Business and is originally from Jakarta, Indonesia. Her passion for startups and tech stems from her experience building an e-commerce startup at the age of 12. She has continued to pursue those passions by working at Intel doing product marketing for their AI products and at VC firms Riot Ventures and Alpha Edison, where she focused on sourcing femtech, consumer tech, and productivity tech. Outside of school and work, she is a harpist, part-time actress, and huge Marvel (MCU) fan!

Anika Rawat

Anika Rawat is a junior at UC Berkeley double majoring in Data Science and Business Administration. Her professional interests include startup growth, venture capital, and product management in technology. Last summer, she was a Machine Learning intern in Lisbon, Portugal where she developed deep learning models to predict network outages for a large European telecommunications company. A self-starter at heart, Anika accelerated an Internet of Things consumer tech startup with fellow Berkeley peers last year. Her team’s patent-pending product aims to serve the Deaf and hard-of-hearing communities. Anika will be joining Goldman Sachs in 2021 as a Summer Engineering Analyst in the Risk Technology/Engineering division. As an AI4ALL alumna, 2019 Google Grace Hopper Conference scholar, and current Rewriting the Code Fellow, Anika dedicates much of her time to advocating for gender diversity in venture and technology spaces. She enjoys mentoring and teaching students across the world about entrepreneurship as a global Program Lead at Ivy Camps USA and course coordinator at UC Berkeley. For fun, Anika loves engaging in adventure sports, traveling, finding the best brunch spots, and learning new yoga/meditation techniques!

James Rogers

James is a CS & Economics student at Vanderbilt University. James has spent time across Venture Capital and has a background conducting computational research. James is on the Founding Team of Envision, a Venture Partner at Contrary, and has spent time doing projects in growth equity and angel investing. James is incredibly passionate about investing in underestimated diverse founders as he is Peruvian himself. In his free time James loves watching movies, kayaking, and playing basketball.

Diego Ruis-Marin

Diego is currently taking a gap year from Stanford to work on the business development team at Perch, an MIT startup transforming the way movement gets quantified in the gym. He is a senior studying Science, Technology, and Society with a concentration in Innovation & Organization. This year, Diego was recognized by the Stanford Technology Ventures Program as a PEAK Fellow for ethical leadership in technology ventures. He developed his passion for technology by interning across business development, strategy, and operations for the industry leaders in payment processing and internet networking. Previously, Diego supported visionary founders as an intern at StartX, Stanford’s premier startup accelerator with a combined alumni market cap of $25B. One of his favorite summers was spent in India supporting entrepreneurs building social enterprises through Stanford SEED, an initiative led by the Graduate School of Business. Diego is obsessed with all things health and wellness related and enjoys being a fitness junkie in his free time.

Eric Shagrin

Eric is a second year student at UChicago studying Computer Science and Law, Letters and Society. Last summer, he interned for a fintech startup working to digitalize the process of retirement transfer and a non-profit consulting firm. On campus, he’s involved in Eckhart Consulting, Hillel, the office of admissions and the Institute of Politics. In his free time, he likes to spend time with his friends, watch TED-talks, and explore cities (primarily via food)!

Mykyta Solonko

Mykyta is a current sophomore and Questbridge Scholar at Yale studying Computer Science and Economics, and Statistics & Data Science. Originally from Ukraine, he is passionate about improving access to high-quality education and enjoys learning about personal finance. Currently, he serves as a volunteer translator for Khan Academy and is one of the Directors of Yale’s Global Research and Consulting Group. Republic’s mission to democratize investing resonates with him; the company provides valuable financial education to new investors and gives diverse founders a chance to raise funding to continue their business. Mykyta has been an investor on Republic for over a year (with 17 investments!). Coming from a tech background and a recent software internship at Honey (now part of PayPal), he can always count on seeing unique startups to conduct due diligence on and support with a small investment on the Republic platform. Mykyta is excited about the Republic’s constant innovation (like the Note Token) and the community!

Brihu Sundararaman

Brihu Sundararaman is a junior at Yale studying computer science. At Yale, he rows for the lightweight crew team and is the president of the Yale Entrepreneurial Society (YES). He is passionate about driving diversity, equity, and inclusivity in entrepreneurship and connecting founders, especially from under-represented groups, with funding and resources. With his team at YES, Brihu is launching a twin podcast series, hosting guests like Emmett Shear, Sander Daniels, Michael Seibel, and Barry Nalebuff and highlighting the entrepreneurial journey of Yale founders. Together, they also have built a growing internship program, securing internships for 70+ undergrads with 35+ start-ups. Brihu is currently working on his own venture to make high-quality mentorship and prep accessible across the country. He has experience with venture capital and software development, having worked as an associate with Swing Ventures and currently, developing software for Turazo, a virtual recruiting start-up. In his free time, Brihu enjoys spending time with his family, playing with his dog, Hugo, and dining on homemade food.

Anthony Taitano

Born and raised in the scorching temperatures of Phoenix, AZ, Anthony is a rising senior Psychology major at Amherst College who is deferring during the 2020–2021 academic year. On campus, his time is dedicated to the college’s oldest a Capella group, The Zumbyes, where he sings baritone/T2, Dance and Step at Amherst College (DASAC) where he’s a choreographer, and the Office of Residential Life where he’s a Resident Counselor. On a more academic note, he’s a recently pre-medical turned pre-finance student but has taken great strides toward familiarizing himself with the business and finance realm. This includes summer business courses, becoming a Venture Scout back in August, and most recently, heading a Youth Leadership Program for a leadership development consulting network. Transitioning from the pre-medical community at a liberal arts college, which naturally came with a lack of conceptual understanding of the business and finance realm, he found that it was similar to learning a new language. Understanding the differences between various terms was rather difficult for the first few months, but after a year, he feels much more ready to take his experience to the next level.

Akshat Dheeraj Talreja

Akshat Talreja is a sophomore at The Wharton School studying Finance & Business Analytics while pursuing an MSE in Data Science with a focus on AI/ML. At Penn, he serves as the Founder and President of AI@Penn and is also involved on the boards of Wharton Data Analytics and Penn’s collegiate Model United Nations Conference. Presently, he is a fellow at Ripple Ventures and at Unshackled VC. Additionally, he works as a senior analyst with Wharton Analytics Fellows on a data consulting project with a SaaS healthcare technology and analytics startup. Previously, Akshat has worked at venture backed startups in areas ranging from Natural Language Processing to Fraud Detection. Akshat is passionate about AI/ML, Fintech, & EdTech. In his spare time, he loves meeting new people, playing pool, squash, table tennis, and trying new cuisines.

Trustin Yoon

Trustin is currently a senior studying business and analytics at USC. He was originally born in Seoul but immigrated to Irvine, CA when he was 5 years old and grew up there until college. He is very passionate about using entrepreneurship to address social issues, especially increasing equity in education through EdTech. He is also currently a Senior Partner at California Crescent Fund, a student-run VC investing in pre-seed student startups across the Southern California university startup ecosystem. After graduating, Trustin plans to work in VC or at a high-growth startup. In his free time, Trustin loves playing/watching/debating basketball, reading books, writing on Medium, trading stocks, playing/listening to jazz/hip-hop/soul, and looking at shoes on StockX.

Investment Theses:

If you’re interested in being a Venture Associate or Venture Fellow in 2021, please fill out this interest form, subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Twitter to stay up to date on the latest news.

Head of Venture @ Republic, investing in private startups. Learn more at & follow me on twitter @modelvc

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