Meet The Unshackled Fellows
Welcome Class of 2021/2022!
We have always believed that the epicenter of this country’s greatness can be found in our generation’s Ellis Island — university campuses. As a point of convergence, housing students from all walks of life, our universities carry the knowledge banks of the future. However, never has student resiliency been put to the test quite like it has within the past two years. From on and off virtual learning, closed campuses, and a constantly shifting environment, students have been pushed to adapt. Yet, through the navigation of these hurdles, we are seeing some of the most resilient students shine through.
At Unshackled, not only do we look for that resiliency and adversity muscle inherent within the founders we invest in, we also look for it within those who join our team. Our 2022 fellow class is the embodiment of this greatness — with over nine countries of birth represented, including: Rwanda, Brazil, Philippines, India, USA, UK, China, and Greece.
Please join us in welcoming 19 of the brightest minds, our 2021/2022 University Fellows:
Akshat Dheeraj Talreja
Akshat is a Junior at The Wharton School from India and Singapore. At Penn, he is the Founder and President of AI@Penn and is also involved on the boards of the Wharton Data Analytics Club and Penn’s collegiate Model United Nations Conference. Presently, he is also a Fellow @ Ripple Ventures and is working as a senior analyst with Wharton Analytics Fellows on a data consulting project at a SaaS healthcare technology and analytics startup.
Akshat is very interested in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning and has previously worked at venture-backed startups in areas ranging from Natural Language Processing to Fraud Detection. In his spare time, he loves meeting new people, playing pool, and trying new restaurants.
Alex is a junior at Pomona College exploring cross-functional interests in philosophy, computer science and cognitive science. At the Claremont College Consortium, he founded P-ai — the modern incubator for AI projects and ideas — to build a diverse & accessible community to solve interdisciplinary problems, while supporting student entrepreneurs with technical recruiting and fundraising.
Alex currently works on the ML team at Neurable, a series-A Brain Computer Interface startup in decoding and modelling neural signals. In investing, he served as a Venture Partner for Nodes Advisor and most recently as a scout for Loup Ventures. In his free time, Alex loves to dive into fiction from the New Yorker and occasionally freestyles in a virtual cypher. As a fellow, Alex is excited to leverage the Unshackled network and resources to empower and democratize his college entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Anoushka is an Ingram Scholar at Vanderbilt University studying Economics, Applied Mathematics, and Business. Founding a financial literacy venture sparked in her a passion for leveraging technological solutions to improve global financial mobility and access. She is most excited about the consumer fintech, DeFi, and healthtech sectors.
Her passion for the value-scouting process propels her to practice this subtle art in every arena of investment: from public markets to early-stage ventures. At the Vanderbilt Investment Club, she crafts investment theses, creates financial models, and unlocks technical insights to pitch stocks. At the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, Anoushka worked alongside entrepreneurs at every stage to spearhead ‘Renew Nashville’, a pandemic recovery initiative for start-ups. She created the ‘NashTech Database’, a filterable database of over 300 Nashville-based technology start-ups.
At Unshackled, she hopes to observe and learn the art of potential-identification by working alongside early-stage companies. As an international student, she feels deeply about the immense value and innovation immigrant entrepreneurs bring to the start-up ecosystem of the United States and she is eager to understand the barriers and opportunities that are unique to them.
Ansh is a second-year at Princeton University studying Computer Science and Applied Mathematics.
Arjun Karanam is currently a Junior at Stanford University. He is majoring in Computer Science (on the AI Track), while also pursuing an Honors in Education and a Minor in History.
His main interests revolve around the fusion of Artificial Intelligence and Human-Computer Interaction to build the future of how we interact with the world. Right now, that looks like diving deep into AR/VR technology and BCIs. At school, he’s the Vice President of Education at Stanford XR, where he helped create and teaches official Stanford Courses on Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. He also leads the Universities NASA SUITs team, a team of students working on building an Augmented Reality Interface for spacesuits for NASA’s Artemis Mission, a mission focusing on returning humans to the Moon after over 50 years.
Previously, Arjun has spent a lot of time in Product and Machine Learning roles at everywhere from startups to big companies. He’s spent time using computer vision to build AR experiences at Apple and the New York Times, founded a GovTech startup that went through the H4X accelerator, and served on the Advisory Board for the Congressional App Challenge!
Outside of his technical interests, Arjun enjoys reading History and writing Speculative Fiction, and is a big believer that in order to build the future, you first need to understand the past. He also loves devouring spicy food, playing board games, and lives for those moments of joy he gets when he sees a Samoyed out in the world.
Ashley is a third-year at the University of Chicago studying Economics and Data Science. A former investigative journalist with a zest for predictive analytics, Ashley is ardently passionate about using behavioral economics and data-driven storytelling to accelerate socially impactful technologies. She has previously conducted epidemiological fieldwork in Tibet for Stanford University, researched international trade policies about AI and smart robotics for a think tank, and used data science to drive deal diligence for technology investments at Advent International. When she’s not face-timing with Edward Snowden (this happened only once), she can be found hiking with friends, road-tripping, or playing strategy board games.
As a second-generation immigrant herself, Ashley is excited to elevate, support, and learn from visionary immigrant founders while helping Unshackled lower the structural barriers to accessing early-stage capital.
Asriel is a first-year MBA student at UC Berkeley Haas Business School and a first-year master’s student in liberal arts at Stanford. Prior to enrolling in the two degree programs, he worked as a machine learning engineer for five years for a variety of firms, including Nvidia and Snapchat, and in a variety of industries. His core expertise is in generative AI, a category of AI models used for content creation for text, image, or video materials, and he is passionate about applying it to a variety of sectors, including motion pictures, influencer marketing, digital arts, and NFT minting. As a foreign national, he has encountered many obstacles on his entrepreneurial journey and has benefited tremendously from the help of entrepreneur communities at both institutions. Since then, he’s been looking for opportunities to give back to communities and to assist international entrepreneurs in establishing their careers more effectively and quickly. He firmly believe that Unshackled is the ideal platform for him to accomplish those objectives.
Blaise is a senior at The University of Chicago double-majoring in Computer Science (Machine Learning track) and Computational and Applied Mathematics. At school, he is mostly involved with research in variational inference for time series analysis, and he also serves as co-founder and director of technology for the technology-focused fraternity Kappa Theta Pi, whose core mission is to create a vibrant community of students interested in careers in the tech industry. Outside of school, Blaise is an avid runner and has a broad interest in sports, ranging from soccer to basketball. Furthermore, Blaise is immensely interested in jumpstarting a career in entrepreneurship in the intersection of finance and technology, and his interest in this space is what got him very excited about joining Unshackled Ventures.
Erta is a junior at Harvard College, pursuing a concentration in Economics and a secondary in Philosophy. She is passionate about economic growth and development, finance, and moral and political philosophy. She has conducted research on the role that cryptocurrency could play in alleviating the humanitarian and economic crisis in Venezuela, the economic challenges associated with the transition to a low-carbon economy, the ethical implications of AI and big data and so forth. In her spare time, she enjoys reading existentialist literature, writing, running and spending a little too much time on Twitter.
Unshackled’s mission resonated with Erta, as she is an immigrant herself. Having moved to the U.S. twelve years ago, she is acutely aware of the fact that immigrant founders face a unique set of challenges, in terms of accessing capital, networks, etc. She hopes to assist immigrant founders in overcoming these challenges and enacting positive social change.
Hailing from the north in Montreal, Canada, Gabriela is a first-year Master’s student in Computer Science at McGill University. She currently conducts research in reinforcement learning at Mila, the Quebec AI Institute, and is a research engineer at Valence Discovery, an ML-driven drug-discovery startup. Gabriela is passionate about developing technologies to tackle humanity’s burning questions and biggest problems, while ensuring the safe development of these technologies. She is particularly excited about AI, ML and deep tech more generally, with a particular emphasis on biotechnology/healthtech. She previously interned at Google, and has held research positions in mathematics and natural language processing as an undergraduate. Outside of work, she enjoys nerding out by taking a random walk through new topics, perfecting cooking recipes and meeting new people.
Since talent is uniformly distributed, Gabriela is committed to supporting visionary immigrant-founders to build the future. As part of the Unshackled Fellowship, she hopes to gain the skills to make this a reality.
Gerardo (Gio) Ballesteros
Gio is a junior at the Wharton School studying Finance, Marketing and Operations Management, with a focus on product design. At Penn, he currently leads Venture Lab’s Digital Design Studio, the marketing arm for Penn’s entrepreneurship ecosystem, and serves as Executive Director of Penn Student Design, a student-run graphic and web design agency. Previously, he was the first designer for Lumify (YC S21) and Clarus Art (acquired), and has worked in various design, growth, and venture roles for both early stage startups and VC firms. Born and raised in the Philippines, Gio is passionate about bringing more diverse perspectives to the creative economy and leveraging entrepreneurship as a vehicle for empowering local communities.
Glenn is currently a 1st year MBA student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sloan School of Business. On campus, he serves as a VP of the Entrepreneurship Club as well as the VC club and is a member of the content team for the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. Outside of the classroom, you can find Glenn writing his first book, following Cal Sports, or hiking with friends.
His interests in tech and VC include the Future of Work, EdTech, Web3.0, and Sports Tech. As a fellow at Unshackled Ventures, Glenn hopes to gain the skills and knowledge to support the next generation of transformational immigrant founders. His previous experiences include strategy consulting at Deloitte, product strategy at LinkedIn, and investing at Catchlight Capital Partners.
Grihith Varaday is currently a second-year undergraduate at Washington University in St.Louis studying Neuroscience and South Asian Studies.
On campus, Grihith serves as the Chief Operating Officer of Sling Health, a student-run biotechnology healthcare accelerator, and the President of the Global Surgery Student Alliance. He is also a Co-Chair of Partners in East St. Louis and an Executive Member on the university’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council. In his free time, Grihith is a competitive member of the university’s premier consulting group (Arch Consulting) and Bollywood-fusion dance team (Chaahat).
Grihith is interested in using VC as an intermediary between clinical medicine and health policy to drive healthcare impact. As a first-generation immigrant himself, Grihith is dedicated to supporting driven immigrant founders. His previous experiences include investing at University Impact and the Global Health Impact Fund, and research at University of Cambridge and Washington University School of Medicine.
Guilhermo Pagnano Gonzalez
Guilhermo is a third-year at the University of California Berkeley studying Business Administration, Economics, and Data Science. On campus he serves as Portfolio Manager for one of the campus’ student-led hedge funds as well as the president of the Brazilian Student Association. Outside of the campus environment he is involved with Brazil at Silicon Valley leading and coordinating podcasts with founders and Mechanism for Social Good and Design. Previously, Guilhermo has worked in a variety of startups, at different stages, tackling product, fintech and data science challenges. Guilhermo is foodie and movie enthusiast, often found around a large table with friends and family or binging a TV show.
His interests in tech and VC include supply chain disruption through smart logistics, B2B marketplaces, and Fintech for emerging economies. As a fellow at Unshackled Ventures, Guilhermo hopes to harness necessary skills and knowledge to empower and support Latam founders, disruption and investments.
Jathan Caldwell is a Senior at the Georgia Institute of Technology studying Industrial Engineering and International Business. Of proud Ecuadorian heritage, he is passionate about progress that bridges a community-centered focus with audacious consumer technology & media, and hopes to ultimately accelerate innovation in the startup scene in LATAM.
Having spent his past two summers with McKinsey & Company, Jathan has both led growth strategy towards breakthrough technology with a leading global company and built the firm’s pilot cross-operations playbook. He currently serves as EVP for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and is building a student-run VC that backs underrepresented students at Georgia Tech. In his spare time, he enjoys singing with the band Passion, capturing moments with his film camera, volunteering with a refugee relief organization and making infinite variations of ceviche. He looks forward to working with the Unshackled team in their mission of backing exceptional entrepreneurs shaping the future!
Jessica Rodriguez is a 2nd year MBA student at UCLA Anderson focusing on social impact within the consulting, impact investing, and venture capital spaces. As the daughter of an immigrant, she’s deeply committed to using her career to create positive impact and give back to communities like the one she’s from. Prior to her MBA, she spent five years working at nonprofits, particularly focused on educational equity and college access for underrepresented students. Outside of class, she spends her time supporting underrepresented students who want to get their MBAs and interning with organizations that inspire her, including UCLA’s Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, Slauson & Co, and Unshackled Ventures. With Unshackled Ventures, she’s really excited to jump in and support their mission of accelerating immigrant founders and to learn from the incredible team.
Jessika Agyepong is a senior at Howard University, studying biology with a focus in bioinformatics. On campus, she is the VC team lead at Mecca Capital, the on campus arm of Black Venture Capital Consortium’s HBCU Curriculum. In addition, she performs protein modeling research with the Howard School of Medicine. As an avid trivia buff, she also heads the quiz bowl team.
Jessika is specifically interested in the biotech and cleantech industries, but is open to learning about all aspects of startups and VC. By being a University Fellow, she hopes to gain the skills and knowledge to support underrepresented founders and investors. Her previous experience includes founding a skincare startup, Dermovont, and participating in a fellowship at Ripple Ventures. In her free time, she enjoys teaching herself guitar, skateboarding, and going down Wikipedia rabbit holes.
Maxwell is a senior studying computer science on the pre-health track at the University of Michigan — Ann Arbor. He journeyed into tech to build a cyborg suit for patients with disabilities, but after finding that cyborgs were still decades away, he started his own startup Vitam to help patients with communication disorders reconnect with their loved ones through accessible communication templates, which are used around the world from Ann Arbor to Shanghai.
When he is not chasing his interests in health tech, Maxwell can be found swimming, hiking, or climbing. He is excited and intensely curious about blockchain technology, having interned at an early stage venture fund and a startup putting mortgages on the blockchain over the summer.
Maxwell aspires to be an entrepreneur to fearlessly chase his curiosity and authentic self with self-love, and as a the child of immigrants, he strives to a build a more equitable and just world.
Mitali Vivek Khanzode
Mitali is currently a second-year student pursuing both economics and sociology at Stanford University.
On campus, Mitali is the director of marketing for South Asian Society and co-leads community development for Cardinal Policy Group. When Mitali is not listening to podcasts, learning more about cryptocurrency, or trying to solve crossword puzzles, you can find her swimming in the San Francisco Bay, as she is hoping to complete 100 Alcatraz crossings before graduating.
As the daughter of two immigrants, Mitali is excited to learn more about early-stage investing while helping entrepreneurs in her own community succeed. In addition, she hopes that her time at Unshackled helps her learn more about the real-world application of behavioral finance to venture capital.
Alain Roberto Berwa
Roberto is a senior in Computer Science and Economics at MIT. He is currently a founding engineer at Corsali, a machine learning startup in SF. Previously, he was a founder of an event ticketing company in Rwanda. On campus, He is active in the startup community and the African Students Association.
His interests include web 3.0, cryptocurrency, and logistics tech. Beside this, he likes to write and read historical fiction short stories. Roberto also is an avid fan of UFC and boxing.
As a foreign student from Rwanda, Roberto, a former founder and an aspiring VC, is excited to learn more about investing as he works with the Unshackled team to help immigrant founders.
Sauren is a third-year undergraduate at Duke University, pursuing a major in Computer Science and a minor in Economics. On campus, Sauren has been involved with the Duke Applied Machine Learning Group, Impact Investing Club, Consulting Club, and Student Founders program. When he’s not working on a startup or coding for a project, you can find Sauren writing on his blog, boxing, or playing the cello. Sauren is interested in developing Computer Science Education, Personal Cloud Computing, and Renewable Energy. He is excited to be an Unshackled fellow and hopes to learn about building conviction in early-stage investing. Being a first-generation immigrant himself, Sauren is passionate about helping talented, driven, immigrant founders succeed. Unshackled’s mission of backing immigrant founders early on stood out to Sauren.