Sarah Du is Uncork Capital’s first associate. She invests in seed stage businesses across enterprise software & infrastructure, consumer services and marketplaces; research and crafts investment theses; sources promising new investments; and partners with the investing team on due diligence and portfolio support. She is most excited about businesses that offer 10x-better customer experiences, as well as products that benefit from organic distribution. Sarah looks at potential opportunities through a lens informed by cognitive psychology and sociology and considers how a company’s products and experiences connect to the ways people want to feel in their personal and professional lives.
Previously, Sarah spent two years at Bessemer Venture Partners. While there, she sourced and supported companies in the seed, Series A and Series B stages, including peer-to-peer home-swapping marketplace Kindred, medical recall software Notisphere, and risk management platform Chaos Labs. Earlier, Sarah was a venture fellow at Pear VC and worked at Sierra Ventures and Drop, a fintech startup.
Sarah graduated with honors from Princeton University, where she studied Political Science and Computer Science and co-founded Prospect Student Ventures, Princeton’s first and only student-led VC organization. PSV aims to bolster the university’s student entrepreneurship ecosystem and provides $1k-10k grants, as well as resources and connections, to aspiring founders.
“At the seed stage, there are more questions than answers. As a company’s first institutional investor, I like that beyond cash, you can contribute knowledge, connections, and emotional support and forge genuine relationships.”
– Bi-lingual lifelong learner is addicted to Duolingo’s gamified language lessons (boss level: Chinese and English; still working on it: Spanish, French and Korean)
– Born in Oregon, raised in Beijing and Massachusetts; recently moved from NYC to the Bay Area, plans on becoming an avid hiker and surfer
– Hip-hop dancer with the occasional dip into contemporary, Chinese traditional, classical Indian and swing
– Podcast addict, currently listening to “No Stupid Questions,” “The Best One Yet,” and “On Being”
– Grew tired of being the only girl out of 100+ kids playing hoops at camp in Beijing, so she recruited girls from neighboring schools and launched her own all-girl basketball camps
Amy invests in and supports seed-stage startups, primarily in B2B software and fintech.
She has felt the heart-pumping sense of urgency that comes with the amplified risks and possibilities of building early-stage, hyper-growth startups. As a former product marketer and product manager at companies that have fundamentally changed the way the world communicates (Twitter), travels (Uber), and conducts commerce online (Stripe), she has seen customers discover the transformative power of technology as it comes alive in their hands. And as an investor and board member, she has fielded countless late-night phone calls with founders unsure of what path to take next.
Amy gravitates toward technical founders who question the limitations of the status quo and design from first principles in pursuit of building delightful experiences that will open up new worlds of possibilities for their users. She gets a thrill from working with technologies and teams that break open artificial constraints, such as solving problems within design limitations; improving communication across departmental barriers; and challenging preconceptions about the roles of people and technology in the workplace.
Amy deeply understands what it takes to bring new ideas to the world. She joined pre-revenue Twitter in 2010 and worked with then-CEO Dick Costolo through Twitter’s IPO in 2014, helping scale the company from 200 to 4000 employees, and $20M – $1.5B in revenue. While there, she built products for advertisers and developers and helped the company expand overseas, relocating to Singapore to open Twitter’s APAC HQ and launch the business in 14 new markets. At Uber, Amy worked in product management on Uber for Business. She met Stripe founders John and Patrick Collison when Stripe had a few hundred employees and worked on their team for three years in a cross-functional role blending product management and marketing for Stripe’s Connect, Billing, and Atlas products. She left to become an early stage Partner at Accel, where she led the firm’s investments in Beam, Complete, Gamma, LogicLoop, Sprinter Health, WellTheory, and others.
Amy earned an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business and a BS in Science, Technology and Society at Stanford University, where she was a Mayfield Fellow and President of Stanford Women in Business. Recently, she spent three years lecturing about entrepreneurship in Stanford’s Management Science and Engineering department.
– Classically-trained singer competed across California, sang backup in a Michael Jackson music video, and opened a cappella for Ben Folds and Sara Bareilles at LA’s Hollywood Palladium
– Avid traveler visited 50 countries before she turned 30 (most recently: Mozambique, Switzerland and Austria)
– Lives in San Francisco with her husband and two rambunctious kids
– Third-generation woman in STEM: mom is a physician and grandmother was a nuclear engineer
– Aims to break 10,000 steps every day: loves a walking meeting. Ask about her favorite routes in SF
– Created and fosters a burgeoning community for women in product and engineering
Jess sees herself as a net that prevents and catches problems that crop up throughout the day: a missed flight; a lost communication; a rushed meeting; a frozen screen in the middle of a high-stakes presentation. She is motivated by knowing that the people around her feel supported and valued. Her skillset, which includes flexibility, empathy, and thinking fast on her feet, helps her deliver on that promise.
In her primary role as Executive Assistant, she works most closely with Amy Saper and Tripp Jones to help them accomplish more in less time. As an office manager, Jess makes sure the logistics of the office flow as smoothly as possible. She also cares about and for Uncork guests, making an effort to understand their unique needs and providing each of them an experience that enables them to feel comfortable and at ease throughout their visit.
Prior to joining Uncork, Jess was Recruiting Coordinator in candidate care and recruiting at Meta, most recently for executive office hires. Earlier in her career, Jess was an inventory manager for a cosmetics retailer, where she perfected the art of customer service through ruthless prioritization: “If you can survive the holiday season in retail, you can handle anything.”
Jess is a curious person who loves technology and is evidence that you don’t need to be in a technical role to meaningfully contribute to fast-growing companies. She is enthusiastic to be working with a team of people who see companies not only for what they are, but also what they can become.
Tilly is an Uncork Capital Operations and Platform team member who supports the network founders, executives, and partners. As Community Manager, Tilly’s focus is adding value for founders and their executive leaders by understanding their needs and cultivating resources that drive professional development. Tilly’s career spans 15 years of community management at investment firms and startups. She’s been a database guru, social marketer extraordinaire, and workflow & process development expert. You name it!
Tilly has discovered a lot working alongside investors and entrepreneurs. She learned that it’s tough to grow your company alone and that you need people willing to help you along the way. She’s found that staying connected with other founders and giving back to the community is the best way to ensure that happens. That’s why she’s super committed to helping entrepreneurs grow their companies so they can get more done faster, which means she spends her time coming up with new ways to help you get the most out of the resources Uncork Capital has to offer.
Regardless of your growth stage, you’ll find Tilly enthusiastic about supporting your goals. She loves working with founders, executives, and entrepreneurs because their passion is contagious. Tilly is the kind of person who will make you feel like anything is possible.
Tilly grew up in Portland, Oregon, but has called San Francisco her home for 15 years. You can find her out and about walking her corgi around the city or online @misstillytilly on all socials.
– Low-Code automation wizard
– Logged over 1,500 hours on Animal Crossing during the pandemic
– Impeccable taste in pop music
– Owns over 120 pairs of sunglasses
– Sagittarius Sun, Scorpio Moon & Scorpio Rising
Adriana is a trusted confidante, experienced thought partner and strategic advisor to Uncork portfolio company founders and leaders on a range of “people”-related issues, including recruiting, people operations and systems, and employer branding.
As workplace dynamics become more complicated and startup leaders struggle to determine the right work-from-home balance, whether and how to get involved in political and societal discourse, how to attract, engage and incentivize top talent, how to continually drive innovation, and what kind of company culture to cultivate, the role of people officer is becoming more critical than ever before.
Throughout her career, Adriana has helped multiple hyper-growth tech companies thoughtfully scale their teams in ways that map to their strategic objectives, while working closely with leadership to help them understand the psychology and anthropology of human interactions in the context of their business and industry. As Adriana’s career evolved, she has found that the “playbooks” of the past have proven to be obsolete; in their place, she has helped develop new ways to safely experiment and pivot when necessary to unite disparate teams behind shared beliefs and help them accomplish challenging feats.
Adriana has seen firsthand many of the team-related issues startups face. She joined Uncork from Mural, a maker of visual team collaboration software, where she was Chief People Officer as the company grew from 150 employees to 900 in just two years. Prior to that, Adriana was VP, People and Places at Segment, a customer data company that grew from 50 people to 650 in four years and was acquired by Twilio in 2020. Earlier, Adriana led employer branding and managed a large recruiting team at Dropbox. She was also a recruiting manager at Salesforce and a recruiter at Google.
Born and raised in Venezuela, Adriana immigrated to the U.S. when she was seventeen. She earned a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology at New York University and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at College of the Holy Cross.
Joyce leads finance for all of Uncork Capital’s fund operations, including valuations, portfolio reviews, limited partner reporting, firm-wide budgets, strategic financial planning, and fund formation. Her professional rigor and efficiency, along with her positive energy and gregarious personality make quick work of improving the firm’s financial systems as it grows, and make it possible for the investment team to spend more time with their companies.
Specifically, Joyce runs the firm’s quarterly and annual valuation processes, including coordinating with the investment team and external fund administrator to evaluate Uncork’s portfolio of more than 130 actively-held companies. Additionally, she manages the financial side of Uncork’s limited partner relationships, including preparing all reports and presentations, as well as planning and reviewing all capital calls, distributions and allocations. Joyce also plans and tracks the firm’s budgets, spending, modeling, and financial planning across all of its nine active funds and makes sure new investments close quickly so our founders can get their checks soon after signing.
Prior to joining Uncork, Joyce was VP Finance at Sierra Ventures, an early-stage venture firm in Silicon Valley, where she worked for fourteen years. In that role she built the firm’s financial processes and was responsible for the financial reporting of all of Sierra’s investment funds, as well as firm-wide accounting, limited partner reports, and regulatory compliance.
Earlier in her career Joyce worked as a Senior Associate at Ernst & Young in its San Jose office, where she advised clients in the technology and biotech industries. Joyce earned a Master’s Degree in Accounting from University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Economics from University of California, Los Angeles.
Joyce grew up in Silicon Valley and has been surrounded by optimistic, hard-working technologists her whole life. Much like many of Uncork’s founders, her father immigrated to the United States to help build a small technology company and to create more opportunities for his young family. While Joyce didn’t directly follow in her father’s footsteps, she is proud to support entrepreneurs as they bring their dreams to life.
Obsessed with word games, including Wordle and Quordle; aims to complete The New York Times crossword puzzle every day
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 250+ 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); Vungle (Blackrock); Docsend (Dropbox) and Poka (IFS). 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 Memfault. He is a board director at Loft Orbital, Inscribe, Arch Systems, Messari, 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.