William Lohse is an industry pioneer, having begun his career in the days of pre-Apple hobbyist computers. After founding and selling TimeLine software company to Symantec, he became the turn-around publisher of PC Magazine and president of Ziff Davis Publishing. Lohse founded Ziff/SOFTBANK Forums. In 1990, he began Software Venture Partners, an angel fund which, among other unicorns, invested in the first round of Pinterest. Bill started venture investing in 2010, which led to the founding of the Social Starts fund in 2012.
Mike Edelhart is a pioneering media and startup executive. Mike was the original Executive Editor of PC Magazine and founding editor of other Ziff-Davis computer magazines, as well as the ZD Labs, and later was Executive Vice President at Ziff. Mike was CEO at many startups, including Olive Software, Inman News and Zinio. Mike was a partner at Redleaf, a VC fund. At SoftBank, Mike directed content for the Seybold, Interop and Comdex conferences and launched new businesses. Mike consulted to Bloomberg, Reuters and AARP and has authored more than 20 books.
Chief Operating Officer
Kevin Dasch has 20 years of experience in tech companies in software, social media and gaming. With his leadership, both Mass Relevance (before merging with Spredfast) and IMVU grew to over 100 employees and tens of millions in revenue. Prior to moving into the startup world, Kevin ran the corporate strategy group at Dell Inc. Kevin holds a BA in History from Princeton University and an MBA in Finance and Accounting from The McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin. Kevin is an avid reader of American history, a fan of the Texas Longhorns, and a very amateur golfer.
Andrew Nealon has been managing technology development in New York City for over a decade. Before Social Starts, he was the principal of operations for the New York development firm Insert Culture, which he founded to serve band’s growing API and data development needs. With Social Starts, he oversees special projects, data analysis, and portfolio companies' technical needs. He and his wife split time between Brooklyn and a 120-year-old farm in the Hudson Valley. He holds an MS in Media Management and Theory from the New School, and a BA in Speech and Rhetoric from Oregon State University.
Charles C. Smith
Charles Smith has been an active NY angel investor since the mid-2000s who has invested in more than a dozen companies, and has worked for and sat on the boards of ten more. He founded Extension Entertainment, a social music discovery platform. He is the owner of The Ineo Group LLC. Charles spent three years as the Vice President of Etsy Inc., was Vice President of Sales at Tacoda and Executive Vice President of Corporate Development and Planning at RealMedia.
Before joining Social Starts, Mayra Ceja launched Princeton University’s first seed fund, The Alumni Entrepreneurs Fund, which she took from zero to 21 investments in 18 months. Investments include a broad range of industries, from AI-Enterprise like LiftIgniter to consumer tech companies like Piper. These portfolio companies raised a combined $30M from top investors such as Khosla, Initialized, and SV Angels. Prior, she managed LP relations and special projects for Guggenheim Partners’ hedge fund. Mayra holds an AB from Princeton University and an MBA from The Wharton School.
Brett G. Durrett has over 25 years of executive experience in Consumer Products, Online Social, Communication Platforms, Expressive Communication, Avatars, 3D, Virtual Worlds, and Games. He served as CEO at the IMVU, where he was previously Senior Vice President of Engineering and Operations. A startup entrepreneur that knows how to scale a company, Brett leads companies from the “six people in a garage” stage, growing them to to 150+ employee businesses. Brett was also founder and CEO of the game developer Asylum Entertainment. He and his family split their time between San Francisco and New Orleans, two-thirds of Tennessee Williams’ favorite American cities.
Before joining Social Starts, Kevin was Product Lead at PeerIQ, seeing the company through two rounds of financing totaling 15M. Kevin began his career at PwC as a Strategy Consultant, specializing in strategic initiatives and risk analysis for alternative asset managers. As part of PwC’s strategic partnership efforts, he was also involved in diligencing emerging blockchain companies. Kevin graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where he earned high honors in the International Business Diplomacy program. Kevin enjoys foreign film, New York's emerging music and arts scene, and soccer, having played internationally at the youth Olympic level.
Bob is currently the CEO and cofounder of Teleport, one of the first companies built on Uber’s API. Bob was previously at Ziff Brothers Investments for seven years investing in multiple asset classes and managing a $1B+ portfolio. He has held nonprofit board positions with Amigos de las Americas – NY Chapter as well as Council of Urban Professionals. In his free time, he teaches financial literacy to high school students through Junior Achievement. He holds a BA in International Relations (Global Business) from the University of Southern California and is a second degree black belt in kendo.
Jim Louderback advises startups and larger organizations on media and technology strategies and curates the Industry track of Vidcon. In 2007, Jim became CEO of Revision3, and led the startup to a 20x viewer increase, a 12x revenue increase, and nine prestigious awards. In 2012, he sold Revision3 to Discovery, led the integration, launched and acquired six new networks, and built Discovery Digital Networks. Prior to that, Jim spent 16 years in increasingly senior media and technology management roles at TechTV, PC Magazine and PC Week.
Maria Zhang is the VP of Engineering at Tinder. Prior to this, she was a VP of Engineering at Yahoo!, where she led the Personalization, Mobile and Content teams for the Publisher Platform organization. Maria founded Alike, a mobile local recommendation app which was acquired by Yahoo in February 2013. Before starting Alike, Maria was a Principal Software Development Manager at Microsoft, a Product Team Lead at Zillow.com, and a Senior Software Engineer at NetIQ Corp.
After graduating from the University of Virginia, Tony began his career as a financial analyst for the University of Virginia Investment Management Company. In 2013, Tony moved to New York City to focus on building Pyne, a platform for individuals to ask questions, sparking unforeseen connections and conversations. Tony brings the balanced perspective of both an entrepreneur and an investor to his role at Social Starts.
Nicole Staudinger has more than seven years of experience helping companies refine, streamline, and optimize their communications systems. Most recently, she consulted with the Journalism Accelerator, where she pioneered the organization’s social media program and facilitated community networking to encourage sustainability practices for journalists. Nicole implements change through innovative media strategy by contributing her time and expertise to a variety of nonprofits.