Board of Directors
Founder & Chief Executive OfficerMatt Lauzon
While still an undergrad at Babson College, Matt Lauzon and a fellow classmate co-founded Paragon Lake, a web-based B2B platform developed to streamline the manufacturing process for independent retail jewelry stores across the country. Paragon Lake launched in 2006; the company installed computer kiosks inside retail stores so customers could virtually create tailored pieces otherwise not kept in stock by the retailer. Paragon Lake then hand-crafted each design, purchasing locally-sourced material on a need-only basis, and shipped the finished product to the jeweler.
Realizing a niche in the jewelry industry at the intersection of eCommerce and mass customization, Matt transformed Paragon Lake into what Gemvara is today; a direct-to-consumer, online retailer of customizable fine jewelry. His "meCommerce" vision provides everyone with a seamless online shopping experience to discover the perfect piece of jewelry. Taking notes from how Dell transformed PC customization, Zappos revolutionized online customer service and Netflix simplified movie rentals, Matt is changing the way jewelry is bought and sold, leading Gemvara to becoming the world's fastest growing online jeweler. Gemvara was officially launched in March 2010 and already, Matt has secured three rounds of funding totaling over $25M in financing from Highland Capital Partners, Canaan Partners and Balderton Capital. He is one of the only company founders in the New England area, under age 30, to obtain VC funding in the past five years.
Matt earned a B.S. in Business Management from Babson College where he was an Arthur M. Blank Scholar. At Babson, he was named one of America's "Top Entrepreneurs Under the Age of 25" for his work on Paragon Lake by BusinessWeek, won the John H. Muller Jr. Business Plan Competition and was awarded the Shelby Cullom Davis prize for social entrepreneurship. Most recently, Babson College awarded Matt with its Distinguished Alumni Award.
Matt served on the 2010 Future Leaders Group for the Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange and the Advisory Board for the annual Nantucket Conference, which brings together entrepreneurs and innovators, and was also an honoree on Inc. Magazine's 2011 "30 Under 30" list.
Chief Financial OfficerMatt Nichols
Matt Nichols joined Gemvara in February 2011 as Chief Financial Officer and Board Member. Matt was previously a Principal at Highland Capital Partners where he invested in Gemvara and has served as an advisor since 2007.
Prior to Gemvara, Matt was a Principal at Highland focused on consumer Internet investments. Matt has an expertise in ecommerce through his investments in Gemvara and The OpenSky Project and his focus on mass-customization. Matt was also active in Highland's investments as a board member or board observer at Pixable, U.S. Search (acquired by Intellius), Bullhorn, Quigo (acquired by AOL), Going.com (acquired by AOL) and Turbine (acquired by Warner Brothers).
Prior to joining Highland, Matt was a member of Google's corporate development team. Matt also worked at Morgan Stanley Venture Partners, where he invested in Avamar (acquired by EMC for $165MM), Tarari (acquired by LSI for $85MM) and Perceptive Software (acquired by Lexmark for $280MM). Matt was a member of Morgan Stanley's Technology Corporate Finance group, where he was part of the Google IPO team.
Matt received a BA in Mathematical Economics from Pomona College and an MBA with High Distinction from The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.
Deborah Besemer was most recently the CEO of Gemvara from May 2009 through Feb 2010. Previously she was the President and CEO of BrassRing, a leading provider of talent management solutions. Under her leadership, revenues grew consistently, from $1 million in revenue to $40 million until she oversaw the sale of the company to Kenexa Corp. for $115 million. Prior to joining BrassRing, Deborah was president of Systemsoft Corporation and spent more than a decade at Lotus Development, where she managed worldwide field operations with revenues in excess of $1.3 billion and more than 4,000 employees in 46 countries.
Deborah is a former Chairperson of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council (formerly Mass Software Council) and served on the Board of Trustees for 9 years. She served on the University of Massachusetts High Tech Executive Council, and The New England Small Business Advisory Council for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. She is also currently serving on the board of directors at Brightcove and Double-Take Software. Formerly, she served as board director at Bullhorn, My Perfect Gig, Kubisoft, Inc. and Eprise Corporation
General Partner - Highland CapitalBob Davis
Bob Davis is a General Partner at Highland focusing primarily on digital media and the internet since 2001. He currently represents Highland on the boards of Bullhorn, Going, Hangout Industries, NameMedia, Gemvara, Quattro Wireless and Turbine and previously served on the board of Fastclick (Nasdaq: FSTC) until its successful merger with ValueClick (Nasdaq: VCLK) and Quigo (acquired by AOL).
Bob is the best-selling author of "Speed is Life: Street Smart Lessons from the Front Lines of Business."
Prior to joining Highland, Bob served as the Chief Executive Officer of Terra Lycos (TRLY) and was responsible for all aspects of the company's business. Before the October 2000 combination of Terra and Lycos, Bob was the Founder of Lycos, Inc (LCOS) and served as its President and Chief Executive Officer since its inception in 1995. In just five years, Bob led Lycos from a start-up with $2 million in venture capital funding to a multi-billion dollar profitable business. Under his leadership, Lycos jumped from the fastest IPO in Nasdaq history, a mere nine months from inception to offering, to an esteemed member of the Nasdaq 100.
Bob has served on the boards of several public and private sector companies including John Hancock (JHFS), Ticketmaster (TCMS), Terra Lycos (TRLY), Lycos (LCOS) and Lycos Europe (LCY). He also serves as a Trustee for Children's Hospital Trust Board, The Rivers School and also serves on the Board of Advisors for the Boston College Carroll School of Management and the Northeastern University School of Technological Entrepreneurship.
Bob has advised former President Clinton on matters relating to internet commerce and regulation and has addressed Congress, The United Nations, The National Press Corps and the U.S. Council of Foreign Relations on similar matters. Bob has been inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs and received the Massachusetts Interactive Media Council's Lifetime Achievement Award.
General Partner - Canaan PartnersDaniel Ciporin
Dan Ciporin is committed to building innovative businesses that make the Internet a more engaging place for consumers. Dan joined Canaan's Connecticut office in 2007 to invest in emerging leaders in online advertising and digital media in the New York corridor, as well as in communications infrastructure companies that deliver interactive content to connected consumers.
Dan brings two decades of executive-level operational experience to Canaan. He was the former Chairman and CEO of Shopping.com, the pioneer in online comparison shopping, where he oversaw growth from zero to over $100 million in revenues in just five years, culminating in the company's IPO in October 2004 and later acquisition by eBay in 2005. Previously, Dan served as chairman of the Internet Lab, a US-Israeli incubator for early-stage consumer Internet startups, as Senior VP of MasterCard International, where he was responsible for the marketing and product management of all online global debit products, and as a strategy consultant for both Mars and Co. and Corporate Value Associates.
At Canaan, Dan sits on the board of Lending Club, an innovative online lending community where people borrow and lend money, bypass the banks, and get better rates; and Peer39, the global leader in semantic advertising solutions. In addition to his work with Canaan, Dan is on the boards of three public companies: Primedia (PRM), one of the world's leading targeted media companies; VistaPrint (VRPT), which supplies more than 10 million global customers with customized printed products online; and leading graphics software company Corel (CREL).
Dan earned an AB from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and an MBA from Yale University. Dan is committed to improving the lives of people living in poverty in Southeast Asia. After serving in 1980 as Director of Educational Programs for the UN-funded Sakaeo Refugee Camp in Thailand - where he lived in a teak stilt house in the middle of a remote rice paddy - Dan has continued to support volunteer organizations in that part of the world.
Partner - Balderton CapitalMark Evans
Mark Evans is a partner of Balderton Capital in London. He serves on the board of a number of Balderton portfolio companies including : Azuro, Big Fish Games, Icera, Memrise, Natural Motion, The Hut Group, Worldstores, Yoox.
Partner - Norwest Venture PartnersSergio Monsalve
Sergio is a Partner at Norwest Venture Partners and brings extensive operational and venture capital experience from a wide range of business and consumer technology companies. Sergio is focused on early and growth investments in the digital media, mobile, and social areas. His current investments and board seats include Adaptive Planning, Bionic Panda Games, Branchout, Gemvara, Motif Investing, Rafter, and a couple of stealth projects. Sergio was previously on the board of The DealMap (acquired by Google), myYearbook (acquired by Quepasa), and StarCite (acquired by The Active Network). He is a board participant and is involved with Lending Club.
Sergio started his career at Morgan Stanley, where he advised several companies on mergers and acquisitions. Sergio was also a marketing and business development manager at Portal Software (now part of Oracle) which had a successful Initial Public Offering in 1999. Sergio was also the co-founder and first business development executive at Cymerc, which was a hosted SaaS solution for small and medium-sized businesses. Sergio successfully raised two rounds of venture financing and grew Cymerc from inception to more than $15 million in sales.
From 2001 to 2005, Sergio was Director of Marketing & Business Development at eBay, which he grew from $150 million to more than $500 in gross merchandise sales. Most recently, Sergio was Vice President of Marketing at Photobucket, which was successfully sold to News Corp. for $300 million in 2007.
Sergio was born and raised in Latin America and has worked in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. Sergio holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a bachelor of science degree in management sciences and engineering (industrial engineering) from Stanford University.