Team

Managing Partners


Tom “TK” KueglerCo-founder and general partner of Wasabi Ventures

Tom “TK” Kuegler

Tom “TK” Kuegler is the co-founder and general partner of Wasabi Ventures.  Wasabi Ventures is an venture capital, incubator, and consulting firm that specializes in building and advising early stage technology companies.  In the last 10 years, Wasabi Ventures has built, financed, and advised over 200 start-ups including some wildly successful ventures like Right Now Technologies, PBworks, Ustream, and Etherpad.

In the 1990s, TK was the co-founder of two successful Internet startups, SNT and SpinBox.

TK is the author of all three editions of the highly acclaimed book Web Advertising and Marketing.  He has authored dozens of articles about the Internet and been published in leading publications like inc.com and ClickZ.  TK spends a great deal of time lecturing at colleges, seminars, companies, and conferences about the corporate benefits of utilizing interactive technologies.  He currently sits on the Board of Sponsors of Sellinger School of Business at Loyola University Maryland.  He has presented at hundreds of events on a wide array of topics about economics, entrepreneurism, technology, and management.

You can reach TK by e-mail at tk@wasabiventures.com and follow him on Twitter or AngelList.


Chris YehCo-founder and general partner of Wasabi Ventures

Chris Yeh

Chris Yeh is the co-founder and General Partner of Wasabi Ventures, and has been working with high-tech startups since 1995.

He is the co-author, along with Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha, of the New York Times bestseller, "The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age".

As described in The Start-up of You, Chris' mission statement is "To help interesting people do interesting things." He has been blogging since 2001, both on his personal blogs and as a guest author in outlets like TechCrunch, Mashable, and VentureBeat, and has written over 2,000 posts on topics ranging from the psychology of entrepreneurship to achieving happiness in Silicon Valley.

Chris earned two Bachelor's degrees with distinction from Stanford University (Product Design Engineering and Creative Writing) and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he was named a Baker Scholar.

Chris is an active angel investor and advisor to a wide array of startups ranging from network equipment makers to vertical search engines. He is also the founder and Chairman of the Harvard Business School Technology Alumni Association (HBS Tech: http://www.hbstech.org) and the author of the popular blogs, Adventures in Capitalism (http://chrisyeh.blogspot.com), and Ask The Harvard MBA (http://www.asktheharvardmba.com).

You can reach Chris by e-mail at chris@wasabiventures.com and follow him on Twitter or AngelList.

Entrepreneurs in Residence (EiR)


Joel RobinsonEntrepreneur in Residence

Joel Robinson

Originally joining Wasabi Ventures as a junior analyst in 2012, Joel is now an Entrepreneur-in-Residence. Joel has been involved with a number of small startups and is currently exploring the group-buying space. Joel’s interests include eco-friendly architecture, hip-hop music, and statistics. A member of Lehigh University’s class of 2014, Joel has a concentration in analytical finance.

You can reach Joel by e-mail at joel@wasabiventures.com


Drew WagnerEntrepreneur in Residence

Drew Wagner

Originally joining Wasabi Ventures during his senior year of high school as part of experiential learning program in Baltimore County, Drew is now an Entrepreneur-in-Residence. Drew is an active member of the ed-tech space in his local community. His startup, SwitchNote, will help students collaborate outside of the classroom. Drew is an undergraduate at Loyola University Maryland majoring in finance.

You can reach Drew at drew@switchnote.com


Chris DownsEntrepreneur in Residence

Chris Downs

Chris is a Saint Anselm College class of 2013 graduate where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics. He has spent time both working for startups and political candidates. From digital marketing for congressional campaigns to business development for local startups his background has led him into his current venture with WV. As an EiR, Chris is exploring issue based fundraising and candidate search tools and hopes to offer a new platform to support state and local candidates. Outside of work Chris is an avid golfer and outdoors-man.

You can reach Chris on Twitter and at chris@issuenation.com


Meka Este-McDonaldEntrepreneur in Residence

Meka Este-McDonald

Meka is a current Entrepreneur-in-Residence with Wasabi Ventures. Following a unique path to the world of entrepreneurship, Meka graduated from Stanford University in 2012 with a degree in political science and a leaning towards academia. Yet the fateful decision to take a break between undergrad and grad school found him working at a tech company in the Bay Area. While he didn't remain in the position long, it taught him the business of information. His undergraduate focus had already taught him the power of data and how to search out gaps in the literature of information. Together, these lenses birthed his own idea, JoKno, which aims to solve an information problem that is debilitating the system around the transition from college to the job market.

You can reach Meka by email at meka@jokno.com or on Twitter at: @MekaWorldPeace


Ray ThekEntrepreneur in Residence

Ray Thek

Ray Thek began his start-up career as an analyst for Wasabi Ventures, LLC, where he discovered a passion for the Venture Capital industry, and eventually came to work as a Venture Partner in the Baltimore/DC area. After that he held several positions at both early stage and late stage start-ups, before becoming an EiR with WasabiVentures LLC.

He is now working on as a co-founder of SwitchNote, which seeks to disrupt the educational note taking space.

He enjoys hockey, travel, and socializing. He has an eye for innovation, and an admiration for entrepreneurship.

You can reach Ray by Email at ray@switchnote.com


Sami AmadEntrepreneur in Residence

Sami Amad

Sami Amad is Founder and CEO at droppd, a promotional-music distribution platform focused on improving the experience for artists, blogs, and fans in the market.

He joined Wasabi Ventures as a Portfolio Analyst in 2011, upon graduating from the University of Toronto, where he specialized Finance and Economics. He currently serves as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at WV.

Sami is a huge fan of all things music and in his spare time enjoys attending concerts, brewing beer, running, and diving.

Get in-touch with Sami at sami.amad@droppd.co


Steve MessaEntrepreneur in Residence

Steve Messa

Steve joined Wasabi Ventures as a Portfolio Marketing Coordinator in 2013, and soon became Director of Sales & Marketing at NH startup Mosaic. Following this venture, Steve became an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Wasabi Ventures and a Co-Founder of VidFall.com. At VidFall, Steve works alongside Founder and CEO Joel Robinson to expand the company’s audience and increase sales and revenue. Steve is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire, and in his free time, he enjoys playing the drums and kayaking in NH’s lakes and rivers.

Steve can be reached at steve@vidfall.com and on Twitter at @stevemessa

Entrepreneurs in Residence (EiR) Emeritus


Branko CernyEntrepreneur in Residence

Branko Cerny

Branko is the founder and CEO of SquareOne Mail, a San Francisco-based startup working to help busy people be less distracted by the daily onslaught of information, and spend more time on the things they love. Originally from Prague, Branko studied psychology at Dartmouth and worked in Google's B2B marketing department prior to founding SquareOne. He loves helping himself and others get the most out of every day, drinking good wine, surfing in the sun, and never settling.

You can reach Branko by email at branko@squareonemail.com or on Twitter at: @BrankoCerny


Bobby TouranEntrepreneur in Residence

Bobby Touran

Bobby is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence. Previously, he was a Venture Partner with Wasabi Ventures – specializing in consumer internet startups. Bobby graduated from McGill University in 2008, where he studied Economics and Management. In his spare time, he enjoys tennis and skiing. His startup, ApplyKit, intends to disrupt the college readiness market. Reach out to Bobby: bobby@applykit.com


Alex HollisEntrepreneur in Residence

Alex Hollis

As a Teach For America alum with experience at a successful, Boston-based e-commerce company, Alex has a strong passion for education reform coupled with a background in business management. Alex started his Wasabi Ventures career as the EduTech Venture Partner where he performed outreach, in the EduTech start-up communities on a global basis to bring prospective edutech portfolio companies into the WV process.

Alex has since become the CEO of Wasabi portfolio company, TestSoup, which builds mobile and online test prep for niche exams and certifications.

Alex is a Massachusetts native and graduated Loyola University Maryland with a concentration in Finance.

You can reach Alex by e-mail at alex@testsoup.com


Michele Pesula KueglerEntrepreneur in Residence

Michele Pesula Kuegler

Michele Pesula Kuegler is the CEO/Editor-in-Chief of PeKu Publications. Prior to this, Michele was the editor of Tasty Thoughts, an independent food and restaurant website that she started in 2007.

Ms. Pesula Kuegler entered the world of publishing with a unique background and fresh perspective. Having built a small audience in her initial niche property, Tasty Thoughts, she combined her management and editing skills from her teaching career with her newly developed publishing skills by expanding from one property to a network of publications. Since the launch of PeKu Publications, she has overseen the continued growth of content and readers.

Michele holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education. She volunteers for several non-profit groups, which are focused on literacy and education.

You can reach Michele by email at michele@pekupublications.com

Engineering Management


Jeka KiselyovDirector of Engineering

Jeka Kiselyov

Evgeniy "Jeka" Kiselyov studied at the Intelligent System Software Department at Donetsk State Institute of Artificial Intelligence. As the Director of Engineering, Jeka oversees all engineering efforts for portfolio companies at Wasabi Ventures.

You can reach Jeka by email at: jeka@wasabiventures.com


Evgeniy CherkasovDirector of Design/UI

Evgeniy Cherkasov

Evgeniy "Che" Cherkasov graduated from Donetsk State Institute of Artificial Intelligence for specialty "Intelligent System Software". He also studied web design at the Donetsk Computer Academy.

In his spare time, Che is an avid football fan, both playing and watching.

You can reach Che by email at: che@wasabiventures.com

The Team

In addition to the management team and our extensive list of advising partners, Wasabi Ventures has assembled a complete team that can be dedicated to any startup’s operations consisting of 40+ professionals.  Our capabilities include:

  • Financial Analysts and Researchers
  • Project and Product Management
  • Multiple Teams of Engineers
  • UI and Design Experts
  • Sales Management
  • Marketing and PR Specialists

Advisors & Friends

Ben Casnocha, Author and Entrepreneur

Ben Casnocha is an award-winning entrepreneur and author from Silicon Valley. He is coauthor with Linkedin founder/chairman Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh of the New York Times bestseller The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age, which describes a new framework for managing today’s employees. He is also co-author with Reid of the #1 New York Times bestselling book The Start-Up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career. Ben has separately written for Newsweek, Harvard Business Review, NPR’s “Marketplace” and the U.S. State Department.

In addition to his writing, Ben is a technology entrepreneur. He founded Comcate, Inc., a leading e-government software company, at age 14. He wrote a book about his experience titled My Start-Up Life. PoliticsOnline named him one of the “25 most influential people in the world of internet and politics.” BusinessWeek named Ben “one of America’s top young entrepreneurs.” And dozens of outlets have covered his work including CNN, Charlie Rose, and The Economist.

Chris Wu, Vice President of Mobile Products, Snapfish

Chris runs all wireless products and solutions at Snapfish, a leading digital photography company.  Prior to joining Snapfish, he was the Director of Yahoo! Mobile and built Yahoo!’s wireless business from the ground up.  He is a well-known expert and speaker in the wireless space.  Chris is also a former management consultant from AT Kearney and Mercer Management Consulting.  He has helped companies such as Handspring, Earthlink, and Tellme to plan their wireless strategies.  Chris has a BA from Harvard University where he graduated magna cum laude and an MBA from Harvard Business School where he graduated with High Distinction as a Baker Scholar.

Frans Johansson, Author, Speaker, and Consultant

Frans’ latest book, The Medici Effect, has been hailed by innovation-guru Clay Christensen as, “one of the most insightful books about managing innovation I have ever read.”  He is a founder and former CEO of Inka.net, a Boston-based enterprise software company and a founder and VP of Business Development for Dola Health Systems, a health-care company in Baltimore and Sweden.  He earned a BS from Brown University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Dr. Francis Chen, Entrepreneur

Francis has been a private investor, co-founder and/or Board member of a number of high-tech companies, such as Supertek (acquired by Cray Research), EcoSystems (acquired by Compuware), Keystone Laboratories (acquired by BioScience International), Navius (acquired by Endosonics), Digital Market (acquired by Agile Software), and E-Color (acquired by Lightsurf).  He was co-founder and Chairman of EastNet — an ISP in Beijing.  He has more than twenty years of senior management experience in the healthcare industry (Becton-Dickingson, Baxter Healthcare, Hygeia Sciences/Tambrands).  Francis graduated from Tufts University and received a doctoral degree from Harvard University.

Don Yates, Organizational Expert

Don envisions an optimal organization that is characterized by freedom, equality, community, and individual fulfillment and also delivers unparalleled customer service and exceptional results.  However, we can build such an extraordinary organization only if we start with a set of beliefs that are radically different from those underlying the current hierarchical “command and control” model used in virtually all organizations today.  His ideas are not just idealistic fantasy but come from ten years in the engineering/construction business and over twenty-five years of organizational consulting with startups to Fortune 100 companies.  That work is itself built on an educational foundation including a Stanford BSCE, a Harvard Business School MBA, and a UCLA Graduate School of Management Ph.D. in Behavioral Science.



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