Meet the Rock Venture Partners 2019-20

Sarena Ahmad is a second year at HBS. Prior to business school, she worked on venture investing and M&A deals at Cisco Investments. She was previously at an electric vehicle startup after a two-year stint in investment banking. Sarena is interested in consumer-facing technologies and is most excited about innovations in voice, codeless development, and the baby boomer market.

Emily Bennett is a second year at HBS. Prior to Harvard, she worked in product roles for companies at the intersection of technology and media. She spent over 3 years at Facebook, most recently working as a Product Marketing Manager for news credibility and misinformation following the 2016 election. Previously, she worked on products for artists and labels at Spotify, and as Product Manager of Video at the New York Times. Emily spent her HBS summer at Owl Ventures, a leader in education technology investing. She is especially excited about expanded applications of EdTech.

Kristen Clifford is a second-year at HBS. Prior to Harvard, she spent 4 years on the Corporate Development team at Facebook in the Bay Area and 2 years in investment banking in New York prior to that. In her role at Facebook, she acquired startups across a variety of spaces, including AI, mixed reality, gaming and social media. In her first-year at HBS, she scouted startups for Pillar VC. She spent her most recent summer at Lux Capital, focused on emerging tech investing.

Sam Eisler is a second-year at HBS. Prior to Harvard, she spent 5 years at Google in the Bay Area. In her most recent role, she led the product migration to Google’s first automated advertising solution and was responsible for educating businesses globally about Machine Learning. She also helped build Google’s accelerator program for emerging market startups, called Launchpad Accelerator. In her first year at HBS she worked as a Campus Investment Partner for the MBA Fund. She spent her HBS summer interning at 25Madison and Inspired Capital. Sam is especially excited about fintech and frontier technologies.

Daniel Graifman is a second-year student at Harvard Business School and former graduate of Stanford where he was a Mayfield Fellow. His interest areas include frontier technology, healthcare, and enterprise software. Daniel most recently held an operating role in a deep tech autonomous vehicle startup and previously launched markets for DoorDash. He currently consults for a variety of companies out of the Harvard Life Lab.

Brett Haness is a second year at HBS interested in early stage investing in consumer, healthcare, technology, and B2B marketplaces. Prior to business school, he spent almost six years in a global principal investing business at Goldman Sachs, where he completed investments across the capital structure in a variety of industries, including TMT, consumer, healthcare, and manufacturing. During the 1st semester at HBS, Brett participated in the InSITE Fellowship program and volunteered for a Boston ed-tech startup that concurrently raised a $3.5mm seed round. Brett spent his HBS summer working on an entrepreneurial venture.

Cagla Kaymaz is a second year at HBS interested in early stage investing across technology and digital health. She is passionate about design thinking led innovation and user-friendly consumer products. Prior to HBS, she was a product manager at Microsoft in San Francisco and interned as a PM at, a healthcare AI startup based in Menlo Park, CA. Cagla spent her HBS summer working on the investment team at Maverick Ventures, an early stage healthcare and tech VC firm based in SF.

Shreyas Nair is especially excited about consumer brands, marketplaces and software businesses. Prior to HBS, he was a part of the investment team at Sequoia Capital and focused on startups in India. He was also a consultant at McKinsey and Company where he primarily focused on projects in consumer and industrial goods. Shreyas is spending his HBS summer working at Warburg Pincus focused on growth stage investments in India.

Ava Nasrollahzadeh is a second year at HBS, interested in innovations across healthcare, consumer tech, and mobility. Across these verticals, she is passionate about startups that use design and technology to build and strengthen communities. Prior to HBS, she was at BCG, where she focused on supporting consumer health and CPG clients, and at DotLab, a women's health startup, as Chief of Staff to the CEO. Ava spent her summer at BMW i Ventures looking at the future of mobility and working on a project in the age tech space.

David Odell is a second-year at HBS and particularly interested in early-stage investments across B2B enterprise SaaS, FinTech, and AI/ML. Prior to HBS, David spent 5+ years commercializing B2B SaaS platforms for early-stage startups, both on the strategic partnership and product development side. He was also a consultant at PwC focused on pricing, profitability and go-to-market strategy. In his first year at HBS, David was an Academic Core Venture Partner for Underscore VC. David spent his summer at Ascend, a data engineering startup backed by Sequoia Capital, Accel and Lightspeed, helping to scale sales and marketing.

Kim Patel worked in media for brands such as: VICE, Huffington Post, NBC News, Yahoo!, CNBC, MSNBC. She has served as a Venture Fellow for AlleyCorp and Harlem Capital. At AlleyCorp she focused on the enterprise space (benefits / HR, retraining, continuing education) and social platforms / community focused tech. She spent her summer at Lerer Hippeau, an early-stage venture capital firm based in New York. She spends time working with nonprofits such as Built By Girls (increasing young women in STEM), and Brave House (safe community for young immigrant women). She is an avid runner, amateur cook and photographer.

Amy Varney is particularly interested in early-stage health tech and climate tech. Prior to HBS, Amy completed a PhD in Chemistry with a drug discovery focus. She then became the first employee of biotechnology start-up OxStem and was instrumental in establishing the company and closing a ~£17M Seed round. In her first year at HBS, Amy was a Student Sustainability Associate, which exposed her to a number of exciting climate tech start-ups. Amy will be spending her HBS summer at Atomico, a European technology VC in London.

Zeynep Yavuz is a second-year at HBS. Prior to business school, she worked in technology investment banking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch and growth equity at TA Associates investing in software companies in Europe. She is most excited about innovation in healthcare, enterprise software and FinTech spaces.


Are you an RC pursuing a career in VC? The Rock Venture Partners program enables a small group of HBS students to learn more about investing in startups by supporting Rock Accelerator teams as they go through the process of pitching and starting a venture. The program is run by Jeff Bussgang HBS Senior Lecturer and Flybridge General Partner.

As part of the program, students will:

  • Evaluate and Invest: Evaluate and Invest: As part of the investment committee for the Rock Accelerator program, Rock Venture Partners will learn to evaluate teams and allocate a limited set of funds across a myriad of business proposals.
  • Advise: By sitting on the boards of Rock Accelerator companies, Rock Venture Partners will begin to understand the complexities of building a business and how a VC's role can help a company succeed.
  • Get Access: As members of the Rock Accelerator investment committee and via a widely circulated resume book, students will gain unprecedented access to managing partners at some of the top firms in the U.S. and gain insight into their thinking, philosophy, and upcoming needs.
  • Network: Attend meet and greets with prominent VCs around the U.S. through dinners, coffees, or Skype sessions to gain further perspective on being a VC as well as build your VC network connections. Students meet together regularly to discuss their VC projects, the latest industry trends, and VC news.
  • Shadow a VC Firm: Get matched with a VC firm based on your interests. Complete a project or deep dive on a sector of interest for the firm and potentially sit in on company pitches and partner meetings.


To be eligible for the RVP program students must be rising ECs with an interest in supporting the Rock Accelerator teams and be pursuing a career in VC . We also look for candidates who have experience in startups, venture investing, or product management; the desire to learn from experienced investors; and the ability to commit to key dates, deliverables, and role requirements for the academic year.

Accepted students can also decide to apply for IP credit with Professor Bussgang.

How to Apply

Applicants for 2020-2021 school year:

  1. Attend the Information Session on Thursday, March 5, 2020. We will also start accepting the applications for the pogram from this date. View information session presentation here.
  2. Download and complete this RVP APPLICATION
  3. Submit your application before the Application Deadline: Thursday, March 12, 2020, at 12 noon by emailing it to w/ the subject line: RVP Application 2020-21: (Your Name). Be sure to include your resume and put your first and last name along with your email in the header of each page.
  4. Save the Date: April 23, 2020 5:30-8pm to attend Rock Investor Day, if selected.