As a group, the partners have extensive executive and investment experience with start-up technology companies, and all of them have managed successful incubation projects, have real early stage startup experience and are active in building entrepreneurial ecosystems.
Mbwana has worked in a variety of roles in Silicon Valley, UK and Africa from startups to corporations. Most recently as a Entrepreneur in Residence EIR at i/o ventures where he founded Savannah Fund. Mbwana has worked as an aerospace systems engineer & software developer at QinetiQ (formerly the UK’s Defense Evaluation Research Agency) in flight testing with clients such as Airbus. He has also served a Product Manager in the Microsoft Office and Business Intelligence Group responsible for Excel and Access product line. He has since worked and advised at 2 US startups in social networking & gaming (AppPrizes and PixPulse) and worked as a founder of the first East Africa online travel portal, Yellowmasai.
In Africa, he is an advisor and blogger/author at Afrinnovator.com, a technology innovations media company focusing on Africa and was an advisor of the Dar es Salaam Teknohama Business Incubator via the President’s Office. He was accepted to the Kauffman Foundation Global Partners program in 2012.
Raised in Kenya and Sudan, Erik Hersman is a technologist and blogger who lives in Nairobi. He is a co-founder of Ushahidi, a free and open source platform for crowdsourcing information and visualizing data. He is also the founder of AfriGadget, a multi-author site that showcases stories of African inventions and ingenuity, and an African technology blogger at WhiteAfrican.com. In 2010, he founded the AfriLabs network and iHub, Nairobi’s innovation hub for the technology community, bringing together over 9,000 entrepreneurs, hackers, designers and the investment community. Erik is a TED Senior Fellow, a PopTech Fellow, and speaker and an organizer for Maker Faire Africa.
Paul Bragiel- Partner
Paul is the managing partner and a co-founder of i/o ventures, an early stage startup accelerator and fund in San Francisco. Previously, Paul founded and served as the CEO of three companies including: Lefora, online forum community platform (sold 2010), Meetro, the first location based social network, and Paragon Five, a game development studio. He’s also actively involved as an investor or advisor in 30+ companies. In addition to his work at i/o, he often advises governments – including Brazil, Malaysia, Poland and Tanzania – on entrepreneurship and policy that encourages startup ecosystems.
Companies Paul has been involved include:
- US: doubledutch, crowdgather, graph science, Uber, Aksel, flingo, Yourmech, Openocean, Life360, Kapture, Scripted, skout, cc:betty
- International: playfire, microtask, transfluent, 2mundos, segurar, applifier, intelliwise, vivid games, taringa
These companies have collectively raised over $75 million in financing.