Ajay invests in early-stage software with a focus on front-office SaaS, AI/ML infrastructure, and supply chain technology. Prior to Bain Capital Ventures, Ajay led product and sales as an early employee at Trilogy, an enterprise software pioneer, growing annual revenues to $300 million.
Ajay’s primary investment themes include AI-enabled applications (Clari, Gainsight), the future of work (Homebase), bottom-up and developer led software (Sendgrid), supply chain and manufacturing transformation (FourKites, ShipBob, Vention), and automation (Ike). Ajay served as board director of several exited companies with combined outcomes of nearly $5 Billion, including SendGrid (acq. by Twilio), TellApart (acq. by Twitter), Kiva Systems (acq. by Amazon), and InfoScout (acq. by Vista Equity), and has been named multiple times to the Forbes Midas List Top 100 Venture Capitalists.
As employee #18 and SVP Product, Sales & Marketing at Trilogy Software, Ajay built a legendary recruiting program, signed multi-million-dollar contracts with Fortune 500 customers, and delivered breakthrough enterprise products, including market leading config-price-quote (CPQ) software. Ajay holds a patent for the “Method and Apparatus of Configuration Solutions”.
Combining his track record at Trilogy with 17 years of investment experience at Bain Capital Ventures, Ajay’s passion is working with early stage founders on team-building, culture, iterating on product-market fit, and scaling go-to-market operations.
Ayele Shakur brings almost three decades of experience as an innovator in urban education. Prior to coming to BUILD, she served as the President and CEO of the Boston Learning Center for 15 years. Under her leadership, the Center expanded from serving 100 students annually in Boston to 700 students across the state. Ayele joined BUILD in 2011 as Boston’s Founding Regional Executive Director.
A veteran classroom teacher, Ayele taught for eleven years in the Los Angeles area and in the Boston Public Schools, and co-authored the book Boost School Performance – A Parent’s Guide to Better Grades Fast. Ayele is the recipient of the 2012 Boston Celtics Heroes Among Us Award, and the 2007 Nan Bennett Kay Great Friend to Kids Award presented by the Boston Children’s Museum. In 2014, she was appointed as Chair of the Education Committee for the Boston NAACP, and held this post for three years. In 2015, she was appointed by the Boston School Committee to co-chair the Opportunity and Achievement Gaps Task Force for the Boston Public Schools. She was honored with the 2017 Barr Fellowship, which recognizes outstanding nonprofit leaders in Boston, and in 2018 became part of the GK100 Most Influential Black Bostonians. She is a motivational speaker and a blogger for the Huffington Post.
A native of Boston, she holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Boston University and a Master’s degree from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.
Baratunde Thurston holds space for hard and complex conversations with his blend of humor, wisdom, and compassion. Baratunde is an Emmy-nominated host who has worked for The Onion, produced for The Daily Show, advised the Obama White House, and wrote the New York Times bestseller How To Be Black. He’s the executive producer and host of How To Citizen with Baratunde which Apple named one of its favorite podcasts of 2020. Baratunde also received the Social Impact Award at the 2021 iHeartRadio Podcast Awards on behalf of How to Citizen with Baratunde. In 2019, he delivered what MSNBC’s Brian Williams called “one of the greatest TED talks of all time.” Baratunde is unique in his ability to integrate and synthesize themes of race, culture, politics, and technology to explain where our nation is and where we can take it.
After 25 years toiling in and out of the technology industry as an expert in communications strategy, I am now embarking on a new pathway as a Fellow of the Distinguished Careers Institute at Stanford University. In building some of the biggest global business brands, I have grown to specialize in creating narratives and campaigns that shift perception, fuel growth, incite action and have lasting impact. I now hope to apply my personal passions, professional skills and Stanford learnings to impact social change here in the U.S. and the developing world. Previously, I was a Founding Partner of The Pramana Collective, a consulting firm I helped start and continue to advise. I thrive when “rolling up my sleeves” to strategize with leaders at the most crucial stages and have channeled that to branding projects for some of the most promising tech startups of this decade, including AirBnB, Dropbox, Groupon, RelateIQ, Spotify, Square, Uber, Quip and Quora.
I was behind the launch of two bestselling, award-winning books: Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In,” which ignited a critical conversation on gender equality in business, and Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen’s “Giving 2.0,” which guides people of all backgrounds and ages to make their philanthropic giving matter more. At Facebook, I was the first Head of Global Communications and Public Policy and led a small, high-performing team to help build the brand from college dorm project to global phenomenon, seeing user growth skyrocket from 5 million to 500 million. I am most fulfilled when advocating for local and global human rights and serve on the Silicon Valley Executive Committee of Humans Rights Watch. As a board member of Build.org and the Tony Hawk Foundation, I strive to empower youth in underserved communities. I’ve appeared on the Today Show, GMA, CNN, co-hosted the web stream of the 2010 Golden Globes, and was a featured speaker at DLD, Fortune’s Most Powerful Women: Next Gen, KQED and SXSW.
Michael has over 15 years of experience building, running and scaling technology companies and organizations across a wide range of industries. Leading the organization of Neon One brings together Michael’s skills and experience in growing entrepreneurial technology companies with his passion of supporting non-profit organizations to increase their impact in the world. In addition to Neon, Michael serves as Board Chair for Build.org, a national education-based nonprofit that leverage entrepreneurship to empower students in underserved communities.
Michael has a Computer Science Degree from UPenn, and an MBA from the University of Chicago. After starting a career at Accenture where he built global technology systems in New York, London, Singapore, & Seoul, he co-founded CaptainU. Acting as President, he and his team scaled this sports technology platform to millions of customers and organizations. After CaptainU was acquired by Blue Star Sports, Michael joined the Blue Star team as Chief Revenue Office and GM of the Enterprise Software and Payments group, helping scale the organization and combining products to build a product suite for organizations to excel and flourish. Michael is now proud to leverage his background to help nonprofits and other mission-driven organizations drive impact and help them reach their goals more quickly.
Mike Portegello is an Assurance Partner at Ernst & Young LLP, where he brings more than 30 years of international and domestic experience in public accounting serving publicly traded companies with operations in both the US and abroad. Currently, he serves as the Northeast Region Strategic Growth Markets (SGM) Leader to provide services that help companies navigate the various aspects of a growth-oriented enterprise. SGM is a global network of EY professionals advising the full spectrum of dynamic, fast-moving and groundbreaking companies around the world, including VC-backed/private equity companies and their investors, large private and family enterprises, IPO-bound companies, and public companies in the Russell 3000 and 2000 indexes.
Throughout his career, Mike has worked with clients in New York and California, as well as internationally. He has served US registrants and foreign private issuers on SEC matters including initial public offerings (IPOs), public and private debt offerings, quarterly and annual filings, acquisitions, divestitures, and stock registrations.
Previously, he provided overall management and led high performing teams to deliver audit services to New York State and Connecticut area clients. He continues to work closely with multinational organizations as well as high growth phase companies in the software/technology, media and entertainment, and leasing industries.
Prior to this role, Mike served as Strategic Growth Markets Leader for New York, leading a multidisciplinary team of dedicated professionals in providing perspective to and advising our emerging, IPO-bound, entrepreneurial clients on accelerating their growth. In addition, he has served as a Co-Director of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year New York program.
Mike graduated Suma Cum Laude from St. John’s University and received his MBA from the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at NYU.
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