Ecosystem Ventures is a team of driven professionals committed to providing the best possible service to entrepreneurs. Having been entrepreneurs ourselves, we understand the pressures, necessities, limitations, and challenges associated with growing a company from the ground up. That is why we “roll up our sleeves” and work closely in the day-to-day operations of our portfolio companies.
We believe that strong relationships build strong companies. The relationships we build with entrepreneurs are unique and lasting. As active team members in each portfolio company, we thrive on and contribute to the enthusiasm, creativity, drive, and focus of the team as a whole. Our substantial backgrounds in engineering, marketing, finance, international sales, law, and executive management enable us to provide our companies with extensive support in any area where help may be needed or desired.
In the past we have taken the lead in business strategy, marketing and sales, financials, patents and legal matters, and operations. We also open up our ecosystem of venture capital and private equity investors to portfolio companies seeking post-seed funding, and work closely with entrepreneurs in drafting successful business plans and investor presentations.
Alexander Fries: Founder & General Partner
Mr. Fries founded Ecosystem Ventures in January of 2006 to address the pending need for investment and support in European technologies and pre-seed-stage companies. Mr. Fries began his career as a telecommunications analyst for Credit Suisse, and went on to build and prepare MCI WorldCom in Switzerland for the European telecommunications liberalization.
Mr. Fries then moved on to work as Executive Vice President of sales and marketing for Advance Visual Communications, a Boston-based venture-backed content company sold to USWeb, and as a senior market manager for Europe and Latin America at the Lucent Technologies Wireless Broadband Division.
Mr. Fries brings over 20 years of progressive experience in founding, funding, and managing global businesses that provide technology, products, and services to telecommunication operators, enterprises, and consumers. His most recent entrepreneurial experiences include the co-founding of Playspan Inc (e-commerce & mirco-payment platform for online gaming) and sold to VISA International in 2011 , SDK Biotechnologies Inc. (Diagnostics) and PURE SWISS AG (Beverage brand). In 2001 Mr. Fries also co-founded the ETH spin-off SVOX AG, a venture-backed company in Switzerland, where he led the marketing, business development, and strategic partnerships teams and sold to Nuance Communications Inc in 2011.
Mr. Fries is founder of the European-American Angels Club, a Silicon Valley-based organization that actively invests in European Start-ups. He also heads the Club Entrepreneur, a sub-chapter of the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce in Northern California, where he is also a member of the Board of Directors. In 2010, Mr. Fries was also appointed to the Board of the Social Entrepreneurship Initiative, the first of its kind in Switzerland.
Mr. Fries received a BA in finance and an M.B.A. in telecommunications and international marketing from the University of San Francisco. Prior to moving to the United States, Mr. Fries accomplished a Swiss Banking Diploma at UBS. He has lived in Hong-Kong, Switzerland, Chile, and the USA, and speaks fluent German, Spanish, French, and English. This background allows Mr. Fries to interact professionally in a multilingual, multicultural business environment.
Ernesto Paiz: Partner (USA)
Mr.. Paiz has extensive experience in Crowdfunding and early stage investing. Ernesto received an MBA from Santa Clara University with an emphasis on management and marketing. Ernesto has worked with various start-ups in Silicon Valley and was also VP of an independent music label. Ernesto manages our Appsstore Inc, GRIN.com and NoiseToys investments, among others. Additionally, Ernesto manages the social online media for PURE SWISS mineral water.
Moritz Baggenstos: Investment Analyst (Switzerland)
Moritz brings a wealth of millennial entrepreneurial experience. Within Ecosystem Ventures, he is responsible for analyzing, supporting and promoting our portfolio companies. He is involved from lead generation to post investment support. Moritz's technical background in combination with his business degree makes him a very valuable team member. Moritz specializes in e-commerce, internet technologies and IT start ups. Moritz was the co-founder of a Swiss student recruiting start up and has a degree from the University of Zurich.
Cyril Vančura: Investment Advisor (Switzerland/Europe)
Cyril Vančura has more than seven years of corporate Venture Capital investing experience in Silicon Valley and Europe combined with deep technical expertise. As part of Bosch's Venture Capital team he has experience in all stages of the Venture Capital cycle from deal sourcing to exit. Other experience include MEMS, sensors, autonomous systems, Internet of Things, and Human-Machine Interaction technologies.
Mr. Fries and Mr. Vančura both know each other since many years and have a vast network in Silicon Valley, Europe, and parts of Asia. Mr. Vancura holds a diploma and PhD of the ETH Zurich in Physics and is a Kauffman Fellow
Nik Ajagu: Investment Advisor (Advertisement, Digital Media)
Mr. Ajagu is currently Head of Advertising Operations at Facebook Inc. During his time at Ecosystem Ventures,
Mr. Ajagu sourced and evaluated potential investments and supported Ecosystem Ventures’ portfolio companies post-investment. He has led marketing and business development efforts for multiple start-up companies. In particular, he has developed and executed successful go-to-market strategies for portfolio companies including Autonet Mobile and Zikon Inc. He has also served as a strategic advisor to PlaySpan and Mobile Mantra Inc. Mr. Ajagu specializes in Digital Media and Mobile technology. He is currently the head of operations at Facebook.
Mr. Ajagu holds a B.A. Degree in Social Anthropology from Princeton University, where his senior thesis focused on the cultural impact and economic growth of interactive media. While at Princeton Mr. Ajagu served as President of the Ivy Club, co-founded the West Coast Students Association, participated in the university’s football and basketball programs, and was a Rockefeller College Fellow.
Anders Christjansen: Investment Advisor (Digital Media, Mobile, SaaS)
Mr. Christjansen is an accomplished executive and serial entrepreneur with a broad and unique combination of experiences building companies, brands, products, markets and revenues globally. Hi experience includes heading up start-ups, advising board positions, and leading business development and corporate transformation for companies and customers such as Netflix, Microsoft, British Telecom, Waoo!, and TDC. Following his MBA from INSEAD in France, he has held various international executive positions, including CEO Migway, Deputy CEO TDC Mobile, VP Wholesale Sunrise, and as such, his experience spans from founding and leading start-ups to transformation in large corporations in several countries. Most recently, Mr. Christjansen lead Waoo! from a start-up in 2010 to a successful business, focused on internet TV, with revenues of more than USD84M in 2013. He has served as President of the European Tech Tour and is a Founding Advisor & Mentor of Start-up Boot Camp. In 2014, Mr. Christjansen returned to the US with his family after the award of a Green Card, granted on Extraordinary Abilities, and is currently serving as an advisor to start-ups in the US and Europe.
Stefan Rust: Investment Advisor (Asia)
Mr. Rust is founder and CEO of Exicon Global, out of Hong-Kong. He is well regarded in the worldwide wireless and media content industries, where he interacts with the investment, technology, entertainment, and mobile/wireless telecommunication communities. Prior to joining Sun Microsystems, Mr. Rust founded XinDe Telecom Ltd, a telecom finance leasing boutique that he sold to China Unicom.
Prior to pursuing entrepreneurship, Mr. Rust gained extensive experience developing new business opportunities for Lucent Technologies and Siemens throughout the Asia Pacific region. Prior to that, he was responsible for all production and post-production facilities for Limelight Studios, a Pan-European Satellite Broadcaster based inZurich, Switzerland. Mr. Rust is board member and chairmen of the Asia Pacific Chapter of the Mobile Entertainment Forum, and also represents Sun Microsystems in the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia.
Mr. Rust is based inHong Kong and frequently travels around the world to assess new technologies and investment opportunities. He holds a postgraduate degree in Econometrics from theUniversity ofZurich and speaks fluent Mandarin, German, and French.
Veronica Besmer: Advisor (Legal) - Besmer Law LLP
Veronica Besmer advises clients on Internet law, privacy, intellectual property and general business matters. Her legal services include contract drafting and negotiation, company formations with all foundational documents, HR support, and setting up simple yet effective corporate governance and compliance programs. Before opening her own practice, she worked as an in-house counsel at an online marketing start-up and began her career in litigation at a renowned IP law firm. She has been appointed to the California State Bar’s Cyberspace Law Committee and is a Certified International Privacy Professional. Ms. Besmer received her law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and graduated from the University of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, summa cum laude. She is originally from Switzerland and fluently speaks German and Czech.
Dirk Michels: Advisor (Legal) - Ballard Spahr LLP
Dirk Michels is a partner with the international law firm Ballard Spahr LLP. Formerly he was a Partner at K&L Gates and was the co-founder of K&LNG’s KL TEC practice group, and co-chair of the firm’s Life Science Group. As a resident in the Palo Alto and San Francisco offices, he advises U.S. and international technology start-ups in legal, business strategy, and financing matters.
In his more than 12 years of practice in Germany and California, Mr. Michels has advised his clients in venture funding, private equity, and M&A transactions with a total value exceeding 1 Billion Dollars. Mr. Michels holds a B.S. in Business Management from University of Hamburg, School of Economics, a J.D. from University of Hamburg, School of Lawand an LL.M. from University of San Diego, School of Law. He is listed in Marquis’ Who is Who in American Law, Millennium Edition 2000-2001.
Sheena Iype: Investment Advisor (India)
Ms. Iype specializes in setting up new foreign ventures in India. With a background in Sales and Marketing and a vast network of business partners, Ms. Iype is a valuable asset to Ecosystem Ventures and anyone who would like to do business in India. Ms. Iype has been a successful executive at various Software companies, including Freedom Scientific Inc., FCS Software Solutions, India, andSpectranet, India. Furthermore, she was a senior manager at GE Capital, where she won multiple performance awards. Ms. Iype holds a B.A degree in English as well as a Law Degree fromDelhiUniversity, India. In addition, Ms. Iype holds a Diploma in International Business from AIIMA, and a Diploma in Human Rights from the Indian Law Institute.
Shikrant N. Pathak: Investment Advisor (Operations Support, India)
Shrikant N Pathak is Principal Consultant at Tata Consultancy Services [TCS]. Shrikant coordinates the activities of TCS subsidiary Exegenix.Canada Inc [ECI]. He has worked as Vice President of Industry and Technology Practice (ITP) for worldwide operations of Tata Infotech, a group company where Mr. Pathak has worked for about 27 years and which has recently merged into TCS. The ITP group provided pre sales technical support to all customers and prospects of Tata Infotech. Mr. Pathak has previously worked as regional director of sales for Americas for Tata Infotech. During his leadership sales in the region doubled over a three year period.
Mr. Pathak’s earlier experience includes building and implementing ERP systems, promoting and developing CAD/CAM business and managing the industrial and commercial lines of business for software services for Tata Infotech. Mr. Pathak also managed the third party product distribution business for Tata Infotech which promoted and sold software products from vendor partners including Microsoft, SCO, Business Objects, MapInfo, BEA, IONA and Autodesk, and Tata Infotech’s own product solutions such as Fortiora and Tax Mantra™. Mr. Pathak holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from BITS Pilani and an MS in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from ITT Mumbai.
Karl Mehta, Investment Advisor (Gaming, Online payment solutions)
Karl Mehta brings over 16 years of experience to PlaySpan in founding and building high-tech businesses in the US and international markets. Prior to co-founding PlaySpan Inc., Karl was part of the founding team at MobileAria Inc. (acquired by Wireless Matrix) and co-founder/ CEO of OmniLabs Inc.. Prior to that, he held executive positions at Hughes leading new business and technology development. Karl is Charter member of TiE-Silicon Valley and board member of Ecosystem Ventures. (www.playspan.com )
Jim Kaubisch, PhD: Advisor (Technical Expertise)
Dr. Kaubisch has held positions at Sun Microsystems as group CTO for Enterprise Software Lifecycle Management, group CTO of the Wireless Business Unit as well as Senior Technologist for Telecommunications Sales Development. His work at Sun gained him the Chairman's Award for Innovation. He has also held advisory positions for a number of startups. Prior to joining Sun Microsystems, Dr. Kaubisch was Principle R&D consultant for Bull HN, Australia. He has over 10 years of experience in the worldwide telecommunications and broadband media industries, encompassing investment, business strategies and technology..
Dr. Kaubisch is currently based in Silicon Valley, having previously lived and worked in many parts of Europe as well as Australia in areas ranging from Embedded Systems to Enterprise Systems. He holds an undergraduate degree in Computer Science from the University of California and a postgraduate degree in Computer Science from the Queen's University of Belfast.
Fabio Rupp, PhD: Advisor (Biotech, Healthcare)
Dr. Rupp was formerly Director of North America for Prionics, AG, a diagnostic company based in Switzerland that went from start-up to the 2nd largest animal diagnostic company in the world in 10 years. Has extensive experience in functional genomics. Served as Director of Functional Genomics of Hyseq Inc. and Nuvelo Inc.
David Hug: Advisor - Managing Partner at Ringier Digital Ventures (Switzerland)
David Hug is currently an Investment Partner at the Zurcher Kantonalbank venture group. Before returning to Switzerland, David worked for Ecosystem Ventures in California. Prior to Ecosystem Ventures, Mr. Hug worked as a consultant for corporate clients at a large Swiss bank. He holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration with a major in Entrepreneurship and Sports Management from the University of Chur. Mr. Hug's interests and strengths are related to financing of innovative ideas, internationalization and growth of start-ups. Mr. Hug speaks fluent German, English and French.
Ivo Ronner: Investment Manager - Project Leader at SIX Group (Switzerland)
Mr. Ronner combines technical skills with business knowledge. As Media Engineer FH with a Major in Integrated Corporate Communication, he has a broad knowledge in the area of multimedia communication and marketing. He’s strengths include the conception, visualization and production of digital communication. Prior to Ecosystem Ventures, Mr. Ronner worked as a data scientist for Netbreeze, a social media big data start up acquired by Microsoft in 2013. At Ecosystem Ventures, Mr. Ronner is focusing on investments in Big Data, Social Media, Mobile and Internet Technology companies. Mr. Ronner has a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Applied Sciences Chur (Switzerland). His majored in Innovation Marketing, Innovation Management as well as New Business Developments.