Meet the EVC Cochairs

2022-2023 EVC COchair bios

Lance Hackney

Program Manager

Background: I was born and raised in Northern California and I went to UC Davis for my undergraduate degree. I bounced around large and mid-sized tech companies in the Bay Area like Lyft, Calm, Scoop, and a few smaller startups. I launched and sold an ecommerce company before coming to Booth, and came to B-school to sharpen my financial skills, and to meet brilliant peers to work and build with.

Ask Me About: Tech, Startups / entrepreneurship, logistics & transportation, VC internships, writing, moving from CA to Chicago, long-distance relationships in B-school.

Summer 2022 Plans: Interning at Mercury and working on a logistics startup.

How I'm involved in EVC: I'm a big believer in the Booth startup / VC ecosystem. I've been very involved with EVC, interned at a VC firm, and stayed close to Booth's startup community.

Fun Fact: I once got stuck on a bridge between Bolivia and Argentina and couldn't enter either country for half a day due to a border mixup.

Most Embarrassing Song in my Playlist: Enya's whole discography

Connect with me: Email | LinkedIn

Grace Li

VC Chair

Background: I'm originally from Boston -- spent my early childhood in Fenway right next to the baseball stadium -- and have lived in Chicago now for almost six years. I went to Wellesley College and prior to Booth was on the platform side of a PE fund called Vista Equity Partners. I've also had experience doing strategy work at a clean beauty startup called Daybird and working at an early-stage VC fund focused on consumer and SaaS businesses.

Ask Me About: Restaurants and bars in Chicago, workout classes, in-year internships, e-commerce and consumer tech, startups in the beauty and wellness space, health and wellness.

Summer 2022 Plans: I'll be doing growth equity and venture debt investing at LAGO Innovation Fund.

How I'm Involved in EVC: I'm one of the VC co-chairs. I'm super passionate about building the entrepreneurial and venture capital community at Booth as well as being a resource for anyone interested in pursuing this career path!

Fun Fact: I used to work part-time at a pilates studio!

Most Embarrassing Song in my Playlist: Start of Something New from High School Musical

Connect with me: EmailLinkedIn

Rajiv Bhagat

VC Chair

Background: I am originally from New York (born in Queens, grew up on Long Island, and spent the past decade living in Manhattan). I attended NYU Stern for undergrad where I studied finance and economics. After college, I spent five years in consulting at EY-Parthenon. I specialized in M&A strategy consulting for F500 and private equity companies in life sciences and technology.

Ask Me About: CB Capital, PE/VC Lab, transitioning from consulting to vc, moving from NYC to Chicago, having a partner at another MBA program.

Summer 2022 Plans: VC Intern in NYC

How I'm Involved in EVC: I was one of the leads for the New York VC Trek and have been actively involved in Booth's VC community. I am also an investment fellow at Chicago Booth Capital (CB Capital), which invests in Booth-founded startups.

Fun Fact: After college, I backpacked across southeast Asia and spent one month as a monk in a monastery at the top of a mountain in the Himalayas.

Most Embarrassing Song in my Playlist: Upside Down by Jack Johnson

Connect with me: Email | LinkedIn

Mittul Patel

Founder Chair

Background: I was born in India but grew up in many places around the US, including Michigan, Mississippi, Kentucky, Philadelphia and most recently Los Angeles. I went to the University of Kentucky to study Biology and Philosophy before getting my master's in medical sciences at Drexel University. After graduation, I decided to explore some non-stem careers and immediately fell in love with entrepreneurship. I started a media agency in Philadelphia that I operated for three years before moving to a healthcare marketing agency where I created ad campaigns for pharmaceutical companies. I came to Booth to build an entrepreneurial toolkit and to shift my focus back to entrepreneurship by launching a startup while in school. I'm excited about participating in the New Venture Competition and building a network of like-minded entrepreneurs!

Ask Me About: Startups, entrepreneurship, design, product, hiring, fundraising, travel, dogs, having a partner at Booth.

Summer 2022 Plans: I'll be working on my South Asian fashion startup Zaars

How I'm Involved in EVC: Helping plan founder focused programming and education that helps current students successfully leverage Booth resources to launch their venture.

Fun Fact: I've lived in 5 cities in the past 5 years and was once a globally top ranked player in the Xbox game Forza Motorsports 6

Most Embarrassing Song in my Playlist: good 4 u – Olivia Rodrigo

Connect with me: Email | LinkedIn

Juan Pablo (JP) Villafuerte Soraiz

Startup Chair

Background: Founder of a Co-living startup / Venture Capitalist in Latam.

Ask Me About: Startups, Plants, Architecture, Outdoors, Entrepreneurial Finance and Growth Marketing.

Summer 2022 Plans: Polsky Summer.

How I'm Involved in EVC: Startup/Entrepreneurship co-chair.

Fun Fact: An absolute architecture and construction nerd.

Most Embarrassing Song in my Playlist: For the longest time I thought "chicken livers" were "chicken tenders", I immediately stopped liking them when I discovered what they were.

Connect with me: Email | LinkedIn

Athena Saldanha

SeedCon Chair

Background: I grew up in Schaumburg, IL, but left in 2012 to go to University of California, Berkeley where I studied Business Administration and developed my interest in strategy, tech and product management. Following Berkeley, I worked as a Management Consultant for seven years, most recently at Oliver Wyman. I'm currently working to build an EdTech company that develops assessment productivity tools for K-12 teachers.

Ask Me About: Surviving MidWest winters, Consulting, EdTech, entrepreneurship, Chicago restaurants, or reality TV (specifically Bravo!)

Summer 2022 Plans: I'll be working on building out an MVP/business model to validate an idea I'm working on.

How I'm Involved in EVC: Chairing SeedCon 2023.

Fun Fact: I came 20 feet from being struck by lightning on a fishing boat in Lake Michigan

Most Embarrassing Song in my Playlist: Vamos a la Playa

Connect with me: Email | LinkedIn

Namrata Vakkalagadda

SeedCon Chair

Background: Prior to Booth, I spent 4 years working in management and technology consulting, working primarily in the healthcare industry working on large-scale technology transformations for regional and national healthcare payers and providers. During my time at Booth, I double-downed on her healthcare background and started specializing in women's health, gaining experience on both the venture capital and start-up sides. I was a fellow at Samata Capital, an emerging markets fund where she built out a thesis in women's health in winter quarter, is currently a fellow at Coyote Ventures, a women's health firm, and is COO of ALEYE, a women's health company focused in the PCOS space (currently competing in Booth's Social New Venture Challenge 2023).

Ask Me About: Women's Health, exploring both the VC and start-up pathways while at Booth, pivoting from consulting.

Summer 2022 Plans: Technology Strategy at Humana

How I'm Involved in EVC: I'm a Seedcon co-chair, so my focus is primarily on planning EVC's annual conference in the winter.

Fun Fact: I'm in a semi-professional a cappella group in the city called InVox! I also am the lead singer of the Booth band Murders & Acquisitions (we won our Booth Battle of the Bands and will be competing against Kellogg in April!)

Most Embarrassing Song in my Playlist: I'm not embarrassed by it but I'm a big country fan!

Connect with me: Email | LinkedIn