Championing Diversity and Hiring the Next Generation of Venture Capitalists

Neethi Nayak, Venture Manager at TechNexus and Chicago:Blend’s Chicago Venture Fellow Program alum
Devin Brown, Venture Associate at TechNexus and Chicago:Blend’s Chicago Venture Fellow Program alum

A first-of-its-kind Venture Collaborative, TechNexus operates unconventionaly. We work with corporations to build early-stage venture portfolios that are both strategic and financially attractive. For more than a decade, our approach has been distinct, and in tandem, we’ve always valued diversity of thought and background within our team.

When Chicago:Blend entered the Chicago tech scene, TechNexus was quick to sign up as a VC Champion. The Chicago:Blend Venture Fellowship is a four-month cohort program for underrepresented, aspiring VCs to gain valuable experience sourcing and evaluating deal flow while expanding their networks and their knowledge of VC. Since the launch of the program, our team members have been participating on the advisory board, serving as interviewees and mentors to the Fellows, and providing coworking space for the CVF cohorts at TeamWorking by TechNexus

Our team has grown over the years, and we are thrilled to introduce two of our newest hires – both of whom are alums of Chicago:Blend’s Chicago Venture Fellow Program – Neethi Nayak and Devin Brown.

Neethi joins us from the University of Chicago, where she recently graduated with a dual degree (MBA / MPP). Neethi brings experience in sustainability, ESG, and energy, among other interests. Neethi has been working with us part-time since last fall, and we’re thrilled to have her on board full-time now!

Devin comes to TechNexus from West Monroe Partners, where he worked on the M&A team executing due diligence for private equity firms. His path to VC included several fellowships; at Chicago:Blend, Serac Ventures, and Swanlaab USA Ventures. 

Diversity in the venture capital industry has been a rallying call for years. At TechNexus, recognizing the importance of a diverse team goes beyond a mere belief; it is a fundamental principle that enhances our capabilities as investors. Neethi and Devin are perfect examples of this. They bring a diversity of thought and experience to our team. Neethi has a unique policy education and passion, which has already proven valuable to our corporate partners and portfolio companies. Devin’s M&A experience will be hugely influential to our team as we think about exit strategies and how to position our portfolio companies well for acquisition. 

The diversity of networks is also a massive strength for two core aspects of venture capital operations: sourcing investment opportunities and post-investment support. If VCs hire from their close networks, the likelihood of unique deal flow is limited. Similarly, the value that team members can add to a portfolio company is likely unique if their backgrounds and experiences are different from their colleagues.

At TechNexus, our approach is rooted in the idea that the fundamentals of venture capital are teachable, so we hire for diversity of background, thought, and experience. The wonderful thing about Chicago Venture Fellows is that they bring diversity with a basic foundation of VC knowledge thanks to VC University and the Chicago:Blend programming. The Chicago Venture Fellows program is meant to not only help fellows land a job in venture capital but also to be successful in that role once they begin; listen to Neethi and Devin talk more about the benefits the program provided them!

Interested in learning more? Check out Chicago:Blend and apply for the Fall 2023 Chicago Venture Fellows Program

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