Fission Ventures Team

Smart, Simple Venture Investing


Meet Your Investment Team

These are your classmates who wake up every day on your behalf to assemble a great venture portfolio

Steve Zausner

Founder & Managing Partner
Columbia SIPA '91 IFB/IF

LinkedIn

Steve has more than 20-years of investment and senior leadership experience. During that time, he helped to build and manage three asset management firms, created and ran four research departments on three different continents, and led the restructuring of the alternatives business of a major bank. As a portfolio manager, he has sourced analyzed, structured and exited more than $10 billion in investments, across all asset classes and many different geographies. In venture capital, Steve was a Venture Fellow/Portfolio Manager for Rose Tech Ventures, where he led early-stage investments in fintech, digital media, healthtech, propertytech and oversaw a portfolio of more than 80 firms. He has also done significant work in international development, helping governments and development finance institutions structure financial facilities, transactions and initiatives promoting entrepreneurship, access to finance and capital market development.

Steve has a Master’s in International Finance and Business from Columbia University, where he was a Dean’s Scholar and International Fellow. He has a BA from NYU, where he graduated with high honors and was a Founder’s Day Award winner. He is an Adjunct Professor, teaching investment, at University of Virginia’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.

Marco Casas

Principal
Columbia MBA '17

LinkedIn

Marco’s background is in emerging markets investment banking and investor sales. He grew up in Venezuela and has also lived in Swaziland and Russia. Marco earned his BA from Middlebury College and his MBA from Columbia University, where he focused on entrepreneurship and early-stage finance. He lives in NYC with his wife Arielle, a documentary film editor.


Investment Committee & Advisors

Classmates and fellow investors who help create your venture portfolio

Marco Massini


LinkedIn

Marco’s career in a snapshot: 20+ years of accelerating value creation through private equity investment and management consulting for small to mid-market companies across sectors (technology, manufacturing, consumer, & luxury goods) with a focus on local players ready to exploit untapped global opportunities. He’s known for helping high-potential local companies navigate internationalization, business optimization, and capital-raising challenges by leveraging a deep PE and management consulting expertise that transforms companies and unlocks value. Marco is an active investor through Mercurio Capital Partners, a firm specializing in PE club deals, which he co-founded in 2006. He also provides strategic management and operations support, including administrative and financial administration, as a Board Member and through MCP Advisors and Gallant Corporate Solutions. Marco has an MBA from Columbia University, where he graduated in 2005. He has a Master in Mechanical Engineering from Univerista’ di Parma, Italy.

Eva Garland, Ph.D.


LinkedIn

Eva is the founder and CEO of Eva Garland Consulting, LLC, which specializes in helping early stage technology companies tap into over $100 billion of federal, state, and private grant funding sources.  Eva is also Director of the LiftOff Program at First Flight Venture Center, which assists North Carolina’s scientific entrepreneurs in obtaining early funding for their companies.  She has published a book on winning grants through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, and serves on several scientific grant review panels.  Eva was Vice President of Research & Development for Agile Sciences, where she oversaw the development of a new class of molecules for treating drug-resistant bacterial infections. Eva holds a BA in Chemistry from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Caltech.  She previously served on the faculty at North Carolina State University.

David Dabscheck


LinkedIn

David Dabscheck is the CEO of GIANT Innovation, which transforms the way organizations and people think and act to become world-class innovators. David has helped a wide variety of Fortune 500 companies, global NGOs, and public sector agencies develop and implement sustainable innovation and creativity programs. He is a board member for several Israeli, Australian and New York technology companies, a mentor for many leading accelerator programs and the founder of the Innovation Leaders Round Table, a New York City based gathering of over 100 executive and senior level innovation practitioners.

David has served as a Visiting Scholar at Columbia Business School in innovation strategy, an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and an adjunct professor for the National Science Foundation’s Innovation-Corps program. He is also a thought-leader on innovation topics and his work has appeared in publications such as Fast Company, the Boston Globe, the Observer, and the Stanford Social Innovation Review. David holds a MBA from Columbia University, a MA from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and undergraduate degrees from the University of Queensland.

Nicholas Kalogeropoulos


LinkedIn

Nicholas Kalogeropoulos has held a Managing Director position at Hussar & Co. since 2012, with responsibility over its corporate finance advisory business in the CIS region and Eastern Europe. He has over 25 years experience in various roles in corporate and asset finance advisory, leveraged finance and private equity in the U.S. and internationally including emerging markets, covering multiple sectors including agriculture, infrastructure, maritime shipping, transportation & logistics, manufacturing, energy, healthcare & medical devices, business-tobusiness services and real estate. Earlier in his career, Mr. Kalogeropoulos initiated and managed corporate private equity and real estate private equity operations in Southeast Europe on behalf of LDK S.A., a global engineering, infrastructure and environmental planning & project management services firm, having investment committee, thirdparty fundraising and execution responsibilities. Mr. Kalogeropoulos has also held merchant banking and capital markets positions at BNP Paribas (and prior to this Paribas Capital Markets) and Dresdner Kleinwort Benson, where he participated in, and in a number of cases led, transactions aggregating several billion USD involving senior and subordinated debt underwriting and syndication, high yield bond underwriting, and private equity co-investments. Mr. Kalogeropoulos holds an MBA from Columbia Business School and a BA from Brown University. In addition to English, he is fluent in Greek and proficient in French.

Michele Wucker


LinkedIn

Michele Wucker is CEO of the strategic advisory firm Gray Rhino & Company (www.thegrayrhino.com). She coined and popularized the term “gray rhino,” designed to focus attention on obvious, highly probable threats that are neglected despite –and often because of- their size. The concept has influenced policy makers and business leaders around the world.

With three decades of experience in media and non-profit management and content, turnarounds, and strategy, Michele has been honored as a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum and a Guggenheim Fellow. Her previous positions include Vice President for Studies at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs; President of the World Policy Institute, which she re-launched in 2007; and Latin America Bureau Chief at International Financing Review.

Her writing has appeared in major publications around the world, and she has been interviewed by many media including National Public Radio, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, and Fox News. Michele holds a B.A. from Rice University, a Master of International Affairs from the Columbia University School for International and Public Affairs, and a Certificate in Global Leadership from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.  She lives in Chicago.

Michael Collins

CEO of Alumni Ventures Group

LinkedIn

Mike has been involved in almost every facet of venturing, from angel investing to venture capital, new business and product launches, and innovation consulting. He is currently Chariman and CEO of Alumni Ventures Group, the managing company for our fund, and launched AVG’s first alumni fund, Green D Ventures, where he oversaw the portfolio as Managing Partner. Mike is a serial entrepreneur who has started multiple companies, including Kid Galaxy, Big Idea Group (partially owned by WPP), and RDM. He began his career at VC firm TA Associates firm. He holds an undergraduate degree in Engineering Science from Dartmouth and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Tom “TK” Kuegler

Chief Investment Officer at AVG

LinkedIn

TK is Chief Investment Officer at Alumni Ventures Group, helping launch new funds, recruit deal teams, and oversee portfolio management. He also serves on the AVG Board of Directors. In addition, TK is the Co-founder and General Partner of Wasabi Ventures, a venture capital incubator and consulting firm that builds and advises early stage tech companies. Wasabi Ventures has launched, financed, and advised more than 200 startups. In his 25 years of startup activity, he has been a part of over 1,500 rounds of financing as an investor, founder, or adviser. He is also the author of Web Advertising and Marketing and dozens of articles about startups and software, as well as a frequent lecturer. TK earned a BS in Economics from Loyola and is a former member of the Board of Sponsors of Sellinger School of Business at Loyola.


Venture Fellows

Select group of young Columbia alums participating in our Venture Fellow Program

Lauren Zanedis

Venture Fellow
Columbia University

LinkedIn

Lauren is currently an MBA Candidate at The Wharton School studying Multinational Management, and is a visiting board member of the Pennsylvania Ballet. She is spending her summer as a Senior Management Associate Intern at Bridgewater Associates, LP. Prior to Wharton, Lauren worked in business development at the international art auction houses Sotheby’s and Phillips. Lauren received her Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Columbia University in 2011.

Casey Klippel

Venture Fellow
Columbia University

LinkedIn

Casey is a Managing Strategy Consultant in IBM’s Chief Analytics Office. At IBM, she combines data, strategy, and cutting-edge machine learning to improve IBM’s top and bottom lines. Casey has prior experience in both financial services and in applied math research. She has an MBA from NYU Stern, an M.S. in Applied Mathematics from Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, and a B.A. in Music from Yale University.

Chirag Sachar

Venture Fellow
Columbia University

LinkedIn

Chirag is currently a PhD student at the department of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University, where his work focuses on engineering the immune system. Beyond research, Chirag has industry experience in the medical technology industry both in the U.S and in Hong Kong, having worked at various stages of product development and assessment. Additionally, Chirag has entrepreneurial experience, currently working on a project recently funded by Columbia’s Translational Therapeutics Resource Accelerator. Chirag received his B.A. in Biological Sciences from the University of Chicago and a M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Columbia University.


Alumni Ventures Group Support Staff

The team behind the Fission Investment team - freeing them to build you a great venture portfolio

Ryan Burleson

Communications Manager

LinkedIn

Ryan is a writer and content strategist with more than a decade of experience in journalism, marketing, and public relations. As a culture journalist, Ryan’s byline has appeared in The Boston GlobeThe Atlantic, Pitchfork, and The New York Times, where he worked in the newsroom. Ryan has also worked at Vogue and Vanderbilt University, and he holds an MA from NYU and a BS from Belmont University.

Josh Levine

VP of Marketing

LinkedIn

Josh has been a Senior Product Marketer at Google and Brand Manager at Procter & Gamble on brands like Gillette, Tide, and Pampers. He has led B2B and B2C marketing teams in tech, CPG, and consumer electronics. Josh previously served six years as an Officer in the US Army, and continues to advise veteran entrepreneurs through Veteran Brands, which he founded. He has a BSE from Princeton and MBA from HBS.

Dom Perri

Director of Marketing Communications

LinkedIn

Previously, Dom was a Media Program Manager at Dell EMC, where he worked in the advertising department implementing campaigns across digital, search, and social. He is the Founder and Director of the Hollihock Writers Conference and was a founding member of BandsinTown. He also held positions at Sony BMG in publicity, promotions, and A&R. Dom has a BS from Northeastern University and an MFA from Goddard College.

Josh Leavitt

VP of Finance

LinkedIn

Previously, Josh was a Senior Financial Analyst at Performance Sports Group and Auditor, Tax Accountant, Business Advisor for Rowley and Associates. Josh has also been an entrepreneur, serving as Co-founder & CFO of Right Office Cleaners and CFO of Granite State Artists. Earlier he was Finance Manager at Direct Capital Corp. and Market Specialist at Franklin Templeton Investments. Josh has a Bachelor’s in Finance-Economics from Bentley University.

Chris Sacharuk

Investor Relations Manager

LinkedIn

Prior to joining AVG, Chris was a Customer Advocate at Graphic Packaging and in Sales & Marketing at Putnam Investments, where he created materials for reps and investors. He’s a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Manning School of Business, where he studied Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurial Studies.

Anne Miller

Investor Relations Manager

LinkedIn

Previously, Anne was an Applied Behavioral Analysis Counselor for Melmark and a medical biller for Physicians Resources. She is also a certified Certifiied Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor, with her own clientele. Anne has a Bachelor’s in Psychology from the University of New Hampshire.

Hilary Ncala

Director of Investor Relations

LinkedIn

Prior to joining AVG, Hilary was a Staffing Executive and Program Manager at Robert Half. Previous positions include Retirement Planning & Guidance Consultant for Fidelity and an Investor Assistant for an independent investor. She has a Bachelor of Science, Business Management & Marketing from Fisher College.

Jamie Eitel

Community Relations Manager

LinkedIn

Jamie was the Clinical Secretary Sr for Pediatric Gastroenterology at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. Earlier, he served as a Claims Processor Associate and then a Senior Associate at Cigna Health. He has also served in multiple church youth ministries for over 15 years throughout Ontario, Canada, in many different cultural contexts. He was part of the adjunct faculty in the youth ministry department at Tyndale University College. He has a BA in Psychology from York University, a Masters of Divinity from Tyndale Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Fuller Theological Seminary.

Wes Moyer

Director of the Venture Fellow Program

LinkedIn

Wes runs the Venture Fellow Program. He has focused his career on launching and scaling companies and products in new markets. Prior to AVG, he took a digital marketing startup, Hooch, from zero to one in the San Francisco Bay Area. Before Hooch, he led the B2B marketing strategy and execution for EDC Consulting, a $50M management consulting firm in DC. Wes graduated Academic All-Ivy with a BS in Psychology from Yale.