Board of Directors
Founder & Chief Executive OfficerMatt Lauzon
Gemvara Founder and Chairman of the Board Matt Lauzon, and currently an EIR at Matrix Partners, started Gemvara as an undergraduate at Babson College and officially launched the company in 2010.
While earning his B.S. in Business Management at Babson College, Matt and a fellow classmate co-founded Paragon Lake in 2006, a platform developed to streamline the manufacturing process for independent retail jewelry stores across the country. The company installed computer kiosks inside jewelry retailers so customers could virtually create tailored pieces otherwise not kept in stock by the retailer. The idea won him $500,000 in seed capital from Highland Capital Partners.
After discovering that customers were much more excited about the experience of customizing from home, Matt reworked his business plan to focus exclusively on online customization, a direct-to-consumer model. Then in 2010, Matt transformed Paragon Lake into what Gemvara is today, a direct-to-consumer, online retailer of customizable fine jewelry. With a vision that entails combining the rational aspects of a purchase with the emotional, Matt’s unique “meCommerce” approach is providing jewelry lovers a seamless online shopping experience that encapsulates a physical product that is uniquely you.
As the founder of the brand, Matt has secured four rounds of funding totaling over $51M in financing from Highland Capital Partners, Canaan Partners, Balderton Capital and Norwest Venture Partners. 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 has also been named to Inc. Magazine's 2011 "30 under 30" list, BusinessWeek's "Top Entrepreneurs Under the Age of 25", and the honor of being named an Entrepreneur in Residence at MIT.
Today, Gemvara is the revolutionary leader of fine jewelry shopping online. Jewelry lovers and gift givers now have access to 29 different gemstones, 9 precious metals, and thousands of styles to create a one-of-a-kind piece that captures their personal story or unique inspiration. Every piece of heirloom-quality jewelry is skillfully handcrafted to order in the USA. Headquartered in Boston’s financial district with additional offices in New York City, the company provides customer care, a 101-day return policy, free shipping, free engraving, and free ring sizing. Gemvara combines the values of traditional jewelry creation with modern technology to truly provide shoppers with fine jewelry exactly the way they want it, always.
When Matt’s not focusing on business, he enjoys spending time fishing in his home state of Maine, giving back to the tech community, and drinking coffee milk, while watching Gemvara's online customer chats as if it's a spectator sport. His favorite gemstone is green tourmaline.
General Partner - Highland CapitalBob Davis
As a member of Highland Capital Partners since 2001, Bob focuses primarily on digital media and the internet. He is presently on the boards of Dailybreak, Gemvara, NameMedia, OpenSky, Handybook and SessionM. Bob previously served on the board of Bullhorn (acquired by Vista Equity Partners), Fastclick (Nasdaq: FSTC acquired by VCLK), Going (acquired by AOL), Navic (acquired by MSFT), Pixable (acquired by SingTel), Quattro (acquired by Apple), Quigo (acquired by AOL) and Turbine (acquired by Warner Bros.)
Prior to joining Highland, Bob served as the CEO of Terra Lycos formed in October 2000 with the $5.5 billion acquisition of Lycos by Terra Networks. Previously, Bob was the Founder of Lycos and served as its President and CEO since its inception in 1995 where he led Lycos from a start-up with $2 million in venture capital funding to become the most visited online destination in the world. Under his leadership, Lycos jumped from the fastest IPO in Nasdaq history to a global media entity and an esteemed member of the Nasdaq 100.
The best-selling author of Speed Is Life and a former advisor to President Clinton, Bob is sought out by companies and Congress alike for his digital media expertise. He has served on the boards of both public and private sector companies, including John Hancock, Ticketmaster and Terra Lycos. He also currently serves as a Trustee for Children’s Hospital Trust Board, The Rivers School and on the Board of Advisors for the Boston College Carroll School of Management.
Bob holds an M.B.A. from Babson College, a B.S.B.A, from Northeastern University (summa cum laude), an Honorary Doctorate of Commercial Sciences from Bentley College, and an Honorary Doctorate from Northeastern University.
General Partner - Canaan PartnersDaniel Ciporin
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; OpenSky, a social shopping platform that helps consumers discover and buy great products that fulfill their interests in Food, Style & Beauty, Healthy Living and Home & Design; Borro, a personal asset lender providing short-term loans against fine art, jewelry, luxury watches, prestige cars, fine wine and more; and ShopKeep POS, an iPad point of sale system in the cloud, helping retailers make smarter business decisions. He also sits on the board of FiftyOne, the global ecommerce enabler that lets US retailers sell outside the US as though it were the 'fifty-first' state.
Dan earned an AB from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and an MBA from Yale University. 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 : Memrise, Natural Motion, The Hut Group, Worldstores, Yoox.
Partner – Norwest Venture PartnersSergio Monsalve
Sergio brings to NVP 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 ecommerce, consumerized SaaS, consumer finance, and educational technologies. His current investments and board seats include Adaptive Planning, Bionic Panda Games, Branchout, Gemvara, Motif Investing, and Rafter. 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 observer at InsightsOne and 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, during his tenure. Sergio was also the co-founder and first business development executive at Cymerc, which was a hosted SaaS solution for consumers and small-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 the Mobile Electronics Categories at eBay, which he grew from $150 million to more than $500 in gross merchandise sales. Prior to NVP, 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.
Co-owner and Designer - bella tuJeanne Daniel
With more than 30 years in the luxury retail and fashion design industries, Jeanne has worked with numerous leading brands including Tiffany & Co., Vera Wang, Giorgio Armani, Fossil and Carelle, helping them to develop branding strategies, merchandising, and new product design. Jeanne spent 12 of those years at Tiffany & Co. where she was Executive Vice President of Merchandising and Marketing.
At Tiffany Jeanne was responsible for the company’s worldwide merchandising, marketing, public relations, direct mail, manufacturing, quality assurance, product development, visual merchandising and design. She also developed and launched key collections for the company, which were recognized globally including the Signature Series, Atlas, and Tiffany Nature collections.
In 2009, Jeanne launched her own company, bella tu, where she is the co-owner and designer. The company sells a line of exclusive women’s specialty tops, tunics and dresses inspired by Jeanne’s travels to India and her love of gemstones.
Board MemberDeborah Besemer
Deborah Besemer has been involved with Gemvara since early 2009; first as CEO, then chairperson, and now a director. Her interest in the company stems from the intersection of two passions: jewelry that means something special to the wearer and software that makes life simpler. She has spent her entire career in software trying to make a difference for people in simplifying their lives (but that was with spreadsheets, communication software, job boards, recruitment systems and nothing quite as wonderful as finding the perfect piece of jewelry for the occasion). Previously she was the President and CEO of BrassRing, an ASP provider of talent management software solutions. Under her leadership, revenues grew from start-up to $40 million as the world’s largest organizations used BrassRing to hire and retain the very best people. She oversaw the sale of the company to Kenexa Corp. (now part of IBM) for $115 million. Prior to joining BrassRing, Deborah spent more than a decade at Lotus Development (now part of IBM), where she was EVP of 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 currently serving on the board of directors at Brightcove, the board of directors of The Commonwealth Institute, and the Advisory Committee of the Johns Hopkins Center for Refugee and Disaster Response. She is also a trained, certified member of the Disaster Action Team for the Red Cross and hopes to make a difference for those who have suffered from disasters both as an individual worker and through the important work of Johns Hopkins. Formerly, she served as board director at Bullhorn, Double-Take Software, My Perfect Gig, Kubisoft, Inc, and Eprise Corporation.
Chief Financial Officer – GemvaraMatt 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.