The Fundraising Landscape for Startups: Advice from Top Investors


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Matt Cheney, SAIS '97
CleanPath Ventures LLC

Matt Cheney is the CEO of CleanPath Ventures LLC, a next generation effort that manages capital-intensive late-stage renewable energy project development and financing. In addition, CleanPath works to integrate emerging clean energy technologies into fields of proven technologies, serving to "commercialize" those new technologies in the process.

Prior to CleanPath, Matt was the CEO of Fotowatio Renewable Ventures, a largest-scale IPP. Prior to Fotowatio, Mr. Cheney was the CEO/founder of MMA Renewable Ventures LLC, the latter of which pioneered the PPA for solar power, and developed, financed, owned/operated dozens of commercial scale PV projects while developing over 1.6 GW of utility scale solar plants. MMA Renewable Ventures closed 5 large tax equity/debt funds to finance its portfolio in solar, along with wind and biomass power plants.

Matt has invested in and directed a number of new clean tech companies, including Black Rock Solar (rural electrification using PV), PV Evolution Labs (PV lab/field testing), Vizn (storage), GeoStellar (geo-mapping), etc. He is skilled at helping new companies stabilize and grow, including raising capital. He is also expert in international development, working for 6 years in Central/South America for the U.S. Agency for International Development, CARE and Save the Children. Matt has also worked for Nuon nv (the Dutch multi-utility), the USDOE and NRECA. Mr. Cheney holds a B.S. Degree from The American University and a Masters from Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies.

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Catherine Chiu, Engr '78
Founding Partner
Opero Partners

Catherine Chiu is the founding partner of Opero Partners. Opero Partners provides consulting services to CEOs, investors and board members of technology-driven businesses to improve growth and profitability.

Cathy is the finance specialist at Opero. She has worked in investment banking, venture capital, and served as a member of senior management team of public and private companies. She has consummated financing and M&A transactions ranging from $½ million to $2 billion during her career.

Cathy is also an active angel investor, and serves as Co-President and Chair of the Selection Committee at Berkeley Angel Network. She has led or participated in deep due diligence of over 70 companies over the past five years, and has led investor academies to educate her fellow angels about terms sheets, valuation, and the art and science of due diligence. On behalf of the Berkeley Angel Network, Cathy is a frequent speaker on panels at accelerators and entrepreneurship organizations, and has actively built contacts with all the Bay Area angel organizations.

Cathy obtained her BS in Electrical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University and her MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.

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LouAnn Conner, Bus '08
SagaciousThink, LLC

LouAnn Conner founded SagaciousThink, LLC to assist companies understand their operational needs to achieve sustainable success as they scale across town or around the globe. She has been the COO of an Ed tech startup raising funds and has done her share of pitching to VCs and Angels. She also teaches MBA classes at Golden Gate University in Contextual Environment of Business and International Strategy and entrepreneurship classes at UC Berkeley Extension. She has a BS in Civil Engineering from Iowa State University and an MBA from the Carey School of Business at Johns Hopkins University. She is active in DAAB and the Alumni Association of Johns Hopkins, and passionate about building a thriving Hopkins community in the Bay Area.

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Paul Matteucci, SAIS '80
Operating Partner

"The great thing about being an entrepreneur or a venture capitalist is that one gets to view many of the biggest problems the world is facing as opportunities for creativity and solutions," says Paul Matteucci.

With a passion for creating jobs and mentoring startup teams, Paul has helped a generation of entrepreneurs learn object lessons in how to execute during difficult times. In fact, he notes, the best of them learn to use hard times as a source for innovation, and as impetus for creating cultures that are accountable, cash-efficient and focused. "When someone from this generation loses a job, you are almost as likely to find them waiting in the lobbies of venture capital firms with a business plan as in the unemployment line with a resume. The people we meet have a sense that they can take charge of their own destiny, rather than become a victim of their circumstance."

At USVP, Paul has led or co-led investments in 3Ware (sold to AMCC), Total Beauty, Trovix (sold to Monster), PlaceIQ, Swoop, and others. He has also served on the board of Homestead (sold to Intuit) and was an Angel Investor in Fra' Mani, a sustainable food producer. During his early tenure at USVP, Paul served as interim CEO of several of the firm's portfolio companies. "We saved some and we lost some but, as a firm, we always remain willing to do the heavy lifting to make our companies successful."

Prior to USVP, Paul was CEO of HearMe, taking that company public in 1998. His two decades of operating experience include eight years with Adaptec, where he was Vice President and General Manager of the SCSI storage and connectivity division leading the business to over a quarter billion in revenues, before turning it over to a team he hired and mentored. Upon leaving Adaptec, Paul served as a Resident Entrepreneur for Institutional Venture Partners in 1995 and was an advisor to Accel Partners, Redpoint Ventures and Sutter Hill Ventures in the 1990s. Paul earned an M.B.A. from Stanford University, an M.A. in International Studies from Johns Hopkins and a B.A. from the University of the Pacific. He serves as a trustee of the World Affairs Council and is a board member of the University of the Pacific's School of International Studies and of the Business School at Montana State University in Bozeman. He is a frequent lecturer at business schools, including Notre Dame, University of Minnesota, Montana State and U.C. Davis.

Paul's current interests on the technology landscape include: Internet-based services, data analytics, mobile computing, audience measurement and aggregation, data storage and rethinking the industrial food system. "The demographic models point to a peaking of the world's population below ten billion by 2050. Getting from here to there without massive starvation and environmental damage is a major challenge for governments and businesses. But it is also an enormous opportunity for entrepreneurs, with creative ideas, to build valuable companies that address this issue." He and his family have founded "Feeding 10 Billion", a non-profit resource center for food system entrepreneurs.

On the natural landscape: "Building an American Serengeti"-- an ambitious undertaking Paul is pursuing with the American Prairie Foundation (APF), to recreate and preserve three million acres of the nation's prairie lands.

A grandson of Italian immigrants, Paul followed his heritage from San Francisco to Florence, Italy, where he attended cooking school. He blended his passions for cooking and the environment into a series of fundraising dinners for APF--"Lewis and Clark: Cooking of the Jeffersonian Era." Checkout his website and blog at

Favorite Books: A River Runs Through It by Norman MacLean, because "it reminded me of growing up with my father and brother," and The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, which describes how industrial food is destroying our health and our planet.

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Dr. Robert Mittendorff
Vice President

Robert brings to NVP more than a decade of operational and medical experience. Based in NVP’s Palo Alto office, Robert focuses on investing capital in venture and growth opportunities in the healthcare sector, including digital health and healthcare IT, technology enabled healthcare services, medical devices, diagnostics, and specialty pharma. He currently serves on the board of iCardiac, is a board observer at IntersectENT and iRhythm, and was involved with the initial investments in Misfit Wearables and Health Catalyst. He has also been involved in follow-on investments in Simpirica Spine and BASIS.

Prior to NVP, Robert was the Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at Hansen Medical Inc. (Nasdaq: HNSN). During his tenure, he launched multiple products, including the Magellan and Sensei X robotic systems, and was involved in leading products from concept to first commercial shipment. As a corporate officer, Robert also led the Company’s partnerships with GE, Siemens, Philips and St. Jude Medical and executed transactions totaling over $100M. He created the Scientific Advisory Board and participated in two public financings.

Prior to Hansen Medical, Robert worked in the device, pharmaceutical and biotech industries with experience at a number of companies, working in strategic, business development and marketing capacities.

Robert is also a board certified emergency physician who completed his residency training at Stanford. Robert received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. He received his B.S. in biomedical engineering from Johns Hopkins University where he played on the soccer team. He has completed fellowships under the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (neuroscience), MIT Sloan School of Management, and Harvard Business School.

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Peter Bennett, A&S '89
Owner and Managing Director
Greenhill Global, LLC & Applied Income Sciences, LLC

Today Peter lives in San Francisco; however, he is a dual citizen of the UK and US and is often in London.

The first half of his career was spent focused on quoted or "listed" companies.  From 1989 he worked for Morgan Stanley Asset Management in London and developed multiple international investment products for US pension fund clients.  This enabled him to work closely with development institutions such as the World Bank's International Finance Corp to launch the Turkish Investment Fund on the NYSE.

His entrepreneurial ambitions led him to establish the BCM Emerging Market Funds in 1995.  He won many Micropal and Lipper Analytical performance awards despite the challenging investment environment for emerging markets during the late 1990s.  During this time he worked with the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development to bring private capital to the emerging markets of Estonia and the Czech Republic.
The second half of his career was spent in California focusing on valuing esoteric portfolios of distressed debt and building processes and procedures around these investments to build returns for our investors.  The company experienced rapid growth and grew to having over 100 counter parties.   Most of this business was sold in mid-2012 to the largest debt buyer in Australia, the remainder in April, 2014.

Currently he operates as Managing Director of Greenhill Global where he has been involved with many projects.  For instance, in January 2014, he orchestrated a 25% capital increase at London Stock Exchange listed Vitesse Media, PLC (VIS.L) in January 2014 in order to launch their crowd-funding platform by late Summer 2014.  Share price up over 100% since capital increase and company remains the only listed crowd-funding company.

Introduced the Flipps APP ( to many Bay Area investors.  Flipps now has over 8 million downloads and senior staff now work out of Tim Draper’s incubator.

Having orchestrated capital raise for the Raffles Hotel in Seychelles ( he's now working on raising capital for hotel project in Great Britain, the building inspired Lewis Carroll’s Alice and Wonderland.