Jeff began advising and investing in early stage tech startups more than 20 years ago after first working as a CTO for a fintech startup in France. He founded Uncork Capital in 2004 (then called SoftTech VC) to serve an unmet need of startup founders: active support and capital for companies in their first 18 months of life. Over the years, Jeff brought on partners with diverse backgrounds and networks; together they have invested in 200+ companies.
With equal doses of humor, candor and hustle, Jeff works hard to help guide his companies through the most critical early stages. Jeff is often the first large check, as well as the longest relationship, for the founding team.
Jeff has supported multiple companies that have reached successful outcomes, including Fitbit (NYSE:FIT); Sendgrid (NYSE:SEND, Twilio); Eventbrite (NYSE:EB); Postmates (Uber); Poshmark (NASD:POSH); Mint (Intuit); Brightroll (Yahoo); LiveRamp (Acxiom); Wildfire (Google); Sapho (Citrix) and Vungle (Blackrock). The founders of his most successful companies have a few things in common: a clear vision for their product or industry, an understanding of the dynamics of their market, smarts and determination. It was never easy: each of them almost failed multiple times, but pushed through adversity to make it happen.
His current investments include ClassDojo, Vidyard, Shippo, Front and MakersPlace. He is a board director at Loft Orbital, Arch Systems, Messari, Menten AI, Usergems, and a few still-stealth startups.
Jeff was born, raised and educated in France. He graduated from Université Paris Descartes with an MS in Computer Science and a degree in Distributed Computing. He was an early employee at a fintech startup called Effix, where he started as a developer and became its CTO. Reuters acquired Effix and Jeff moved into product development and leadership roles across the company. In 2000 he immigrated to the U.S. and joined RVC, Reuters’ $450 million corporate venture capital fund, as a general partner in its Silicon Valley office.
Andy advises and invests in seed-stage startups that help every business operate like the best companies in the world. The idea: productize the business software and developer tools that tech-forward behemoths typically build internally for their own use; create lasting value by delivering productivity gains and cost savings across functions ranging from sales & marketing to finance & operations. He loves investing in “unsexy” ideas and stellar teams who perhaps look a little different than the Silicon Valley standard.
A few examples: LaunchDarkly, a developer tool that helps companies control and measure feature releases and product updates; Human Interest, which makes it easy for small and medium businesses to provide their employees with retirement investment plans; and Crossbeam, which is led by a repeat Uncork founder and guides companies to make more data-driven decisions about their commercials partnerships. Andy has also led Uncork’s investments in Coder, Focal Systems, Fountain, Mutiny, Sym, Tailscale and more.
As a former startup entrepreneur, Andy empathizes with the myriad challenges founders face. In 2006 he co-founded Huddle, a London-headquartered enterprise collaboration platform, which became one of Europe’s most awarded and well-known enterprise technology startups, raising more than $80 million in venture funding before its acquisition in 2017. Over the years, Andy led technology, product, marketing, and strategy, and oversaw the company’s US expansion.
Prior to joining Uncork in 2015, Andy was an active angel investor. Among the 40+ startups in which he invested are business software platforms Intercom and Pipedrive (acquired by Vista Equity Partners for $1.5 billion), as well as consumer products such as Calm and Postmates (acquired by Uber for $2.65 billion), where he was one of each company’s very first investors.
Born and raised in the UK, Andy holds a BA with honors in Economics from the University of Sheffield, a global top 100 university nestled in Yorkshire’s stunning Peak District. In 2010, he moved from London to San Francisco, where he has set down roots and is building a family.
Susan invests in software for enterprises, small-to-medium businesses and employees, no matter where they work: at home or in an office. She has spent a decade analyzing SaaS businesses across multiple dimensions and is constantly on the hunt for net-new ideas — products and markets that don’t yet exist, but which solve legitimate, provable problems.
“Start with the pain and work backwards.” In order to understand the pros and cons of different approaches, Susan spends a lot of time interviewing potential buyers of b2b software to learn the nuances of their market and the details of their day-to-day responsibilities and frustrations. On her radar at the moment are platforms that can automate tedious, repetitive, error-prone tasks; help remote teams work together and maintain culture and connection; and make it easier for people who don’t work at a desk to do their jobs every day.
Prior to joining Uncork Capital in 2021, Susan spent nine years as a software investor at Scale Venture Partners, where she studied workplace trends and b2b software. Her experience in working with Series A and Series B companies means she knows what it takes for seed startups to reach the next milestone.
Susan sourced multiple successful cloud companies for Scale. The first company she sourced was WalkMe, which led to a $2.5 billion IPO (Nasdaq: WKME). She met the WalkMe founders at a SaaS conference, where they explained their vision for a product that acted as a layer on top of other applications and would “walk” people through their software programs. SaaS makers love it because it was a quick way to deliver value and ease the onboarding process; customers liked it because they are able to get started faster; Susan saw a novel idea with the potential to create a new category. She also sourced Wrike, an uncommonly capital-efficient startup that makes a project management platform and was acquired by Citrix for $2.25 billion. Finally, she worked closely with Papaya Global, an automated payroll platform that helps businesses manage the complex process around paying employees across multiple, global geographies.
Susan has been honored with a “Rising Star Award” by the NVCA, and named to the Forbes “30 Under 30” list. She graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Economics. Susan is passionate about supporting underrepresented founders and investors and acts as a mentor to young women in the industry.
Tripp has invested in a dozen companies that are now worth more than $1 billion each. The three things Tripp invests in are “team, team and TAM,” especially if the market is overlooked or underdeveloped. He’s also “business model focused,” which means he is equally enthusiastic about investing in B2B or consumer companies, as long as there is some form of network effect or a high likelihood of recurring revenue.
Prior to joining Uncork in the summer of 2021, Tripp was a General Partner at August Capital, where he sourced and invested in dozens of early-stage startups, including BARK (NYSE: BARK), Sendbird, Hipcamp, Yumi, and Wattpad (acquired by Naver).
Like many people, Tripp hates his phone, so he’s trying to invest against it — and into things that make life richer, such as BARK, which had a $1.75 billion IPO in 2021 and creates subscription boxes of goodies for well-loved pet dogs; and Hipcamp, a sort of Airbnb for the outdoors that makes it possible for private landowners to make money from their property without exploiting it, and for urban dwellers to spend more time in nature. Hipcamp’s founder and CEO, Alyssa Ravasio, “has a clear vision of the world she wants to see in 20 years; she’s just working backwards towards it.”
When looking at consumer businesses, Tripp spends a lot of time thinking about the needs of women, who control 83% of the American consumer economy in terms of buying power and influence. More specifically: “She’s not part of the coastal urban elite. She lives in underappreciated cities and towns like Boise or Cincinnati. She prioritizes her baby, family, friends, her dog, and then eventually, herself. She is the American economy.” It’s more than just shopping: it’s rethinking and improving the experiences across all consumer reaching sectors, like banking, healthcare, and insurance.
Tripp has wanted to be a VC since he was eight — which sounds strange, but is one of the quirks of growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area. He earned a BA in Psychology from Princeton University.
Ashley is the operational lynchpin of Uncork Capital. She was the firm’s first employee and helped establish all of its processes and systems. Her contributions and responsibilities touch every aspect of the business. Ashley’s responsibilities include all operational, financial, legal, funding, budgeting, HR, events to ensuring the firm runs at top-notch performance.
Ashley leads the Operations and Platform team at Uncork Capital, which is focused on one thing, adding value. She supports the portfolio companies by providing best practices, strategic partner introductions, cultivating the network, community knowledge sharing, curated high-impact events, recruiting support, and professional development opportunities.
She gets a thrill from discovering the most efficient way to get from A to B, but her most treasured role at Uncork is fostering relationships. Ashley loves bringing people together, as seen by the passion she brings to planning our quarterly cocktail hours, partner-hosted dinners, the annual summer party, and the Uncork Capital Summit — a 2-day event in which founders of Uncork companies come together to exchange ideas and learn from one another.
Prior to joining SoftTech, Ashley spent more than a dozen years in the finance industry. She was a marketing director and registered insurance and securities assistant at Rosenbaum Financial in Portland Oregon. Previously she was a licensed broker at Morgan Stanley, where she managed accounts for two vice presidents and was a client relationship manager. She started her career at Smith Barney, where she conducted due diligence on mutual funds and became a specialist in client relations, running marketing campaigns, and special events for elite clients.
Ashley graduated from the University of Oregon with a BS in business administration/marketing.
Lisa Jo Cohen (aka LJ) is Air Traffic Controller and Calendar Tetris Master for the Partners.
She loves finding ways to iterate on processes in order to find the most efficient pathway or organization. If there is a bug in a system, she will find it, and enjoys the challenge of QA for new tech gadgets and apps. She tries to think 5 steps ahead and be thoughtful about priority and scheduling shifts.
Prior to joining Uncork, LJ was the Executive Personal Assistant to the CEO at Houzz, where she helped grow the company from 750 employees to over 1,800 and expand internationally while also overseeing the Co-Founder’s family estate. At Yahoo she supported the CDO with M&A process development and implementation from initial research of potential acquisitions to compiling deal presentations for quarterly Yahoo BOD and Comp Committee meetings. LJ began her career at a tech incubator supporting the Founder & CEO, where for 9 years she oversaw all logistics of multiple start-ups from initial engineering concept meetings and building core teams to developing the technology, funding and spinning out viable technologies.
LJ graduated Cum Laude from San Jose State University with a BS in Business Administration/Accounting.
Samantha (Sam) is the operational glue and voice of Uncork Capital. She enjoys wearing many hats, steps in whenever somebody needs an extra hand, and ensures nothing falls through the cracks. She really loves deep-diving into Airtable and streamlining workflows with Zapier.
As Operations and Communication Manager, Sam focuses on bragging about Uncork portfolio companies on the Uncork Capital social media pages as much as possible. She gets most excited about connecting with founders and plugging them into the Uncork resources.
Before joining Uncork, Sam was an avid humanitarian and nonprofit advocate. She has worked with Syrian and Iranian refugees in Jordan, the homeless population in Israel, displaced children in Belize, and natural disaster relief throughout the US. She ended her nomadic travels and landed in San Francisco, where she quickly fell in love with the tech ecosystem. She began by working with founders at Alchemist Accelerator (a B2B startup accelerator) and has taken her “founder-first” mindset to the venture capital world.
Sam holds a BA in International Relations from Oral Roberts University.