Meet The Team

Providing Venture Capital and Mentorship to Build Great Companies

We are a team of investors who help underserved entrepreneurs reach their highest potential. Our team is exceptionally positioned to execute on Elevate Capital’s investment strategy.

At Elevate Capital, we provide the venture capital and mentorship needed to build a successful company. Because we believe in the great possibilities of the next entrepreneur.

Credibility

Strong credibility and deep trust within underserved communities

Network

A robust network in region’s business and underserved communities

Experience

Deep experience in early stage investing in technology and access to capital

Results

An outstanding track record as entrepreneurs, fund managers, and executives

Investment Team

Nitin Rai

Founder & Managing Director

Nitin is the Founder and Managing Director of Elevate Capital, a venture Capital Fund that includes the Elevate Inclusive Fund, a seed-stage fund that invests in diverse and underserved entrepreneurs in the Pacific Northwest. Nearly 60% of Elevate investments are in women-led companies and 40% in African American and LatinX founder/CEO-led startups.

Since 2016, Elevate Capital has invested more than $8.4 million in 38 startups. These companies have raised follow-on funding of more than $80 million, with a market cap of $213.3 million and created 363 plus jobs. These companies also report 50% of their employees as diverse. Elevate Capital has already had two strong exits, with two of its portfolio companies: Portland-based RFPIO and Garden Bar by Evergreens.

Nitin also serves as the Chairman of the TiE Global of Board Trustees. In this role, Nitin leads the Board of Trustees’ mission to help its 60 plus global chapters ensure entrepreneurs become successful through global programs and initiatives. Nitin also serves as Chair of TiE Global Angels to help entrepreneurs across the globe get funding from TiE Charter Members.

Since 2007, Nitin has been an active angel investor, mentor and is a founding charter member and President of the Board of TiE Oregon. In this role, TiE Oregon has grown to a full-fledged angel investment group with a successful mentoring program. It has launched several education and accelerator programs including TYE and TIE XL. TiE Oregon Angels has invested more than $12 million in 52 startups with six exits that returned over 3X in cash to the angels. TiE Oregon ranks in the top five chapters globally and routinely receives recognition for its angel investment, women, and youth programs. Nitin has invested in more than 50 startups, both personally and through his fund, since 2011.

Nitin is also a successful entrepreneur. He started his career in Silicon Valley as an engineer at two startups. In 1994, he founded First Insight Corporation, a highly successful optometry and ophthalmology electronic health records and practice management software, and revenue cycle management company based in Hillsboro, Oregon, and Pune, India. First Insight is a leader in the eye care industry with its flagship product MaximEyes.

Robin Jones

Venture Partner

Robin is a high-tech and software leader who served as the Chief Operating Officer at Public Market (Portland, OR). Prior to this role, Robin served as the Vice President for Strategic Growth at Socrata (Seattle, WA), a cloud-based data-as-a-service platform for government domains. Robin has also built and led the technology and development sector at Esri (Redlands, CA), the world leader in analytical mapping technology. At Esri, Robin grew a product line from $0 to $2.9m in revenue in less than three years. Robin also served as COO at Geoloqi (Portland, OR) prior to being acquired by Esri.

Robin has extensive experience in telecom, mobile, and wireless semiconductor industries. Robin served as RM of Avnera’s (Beaverton, OR) audio segment, an $8M business unit at Avnera. Prior to this role, Robin headed west-coast venture investments for Motorola Ventures with early to mid-stage equity investments in the $1M-5M range.

Robin holds an M.B.A. from the Haas School of Business (UC Berkeley) and a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from Stanford University. She also serves on the board of directors for TiE Oregon.

Michael Choi

Executive Partner

Mike guides the overall direction for Axiom EPM, including company strategy, business development and international expansion efforts. With over 20 years of experience in the enterprise performance management software industry, he has been instrumental to the company’s rapid growth. He was President & CEO at CPM Systems, Inc before joining Axiom.

  • 2x bootstrapped acquisitions
  • CEO and Co-founder of both startups
  • Deal sourcing and portfolio value-add
  • TiE Oregon Board Member

Raghu Raghavan

Executive Partner

Founder of Act-On Software and CEO from 2008 to 2015. Scaled the company up from the proverbial garage to one of the fastest growing private companies in America (Forbes List in 2013, Inc 500 List in 2013, 2014 & 2015, Deloitte Fast500 in 2013, 2014 & 2015).

Previously, co-founder and CTO of Responsys, one of the most successful cloud-based marketing technology companies of the past decade. IPO in 2011 (NASDAQ: MKTG). Acquired by Oracle in 2013 for $1.5B.

  • Serial Entrepreneur (Act-On Responsys)
  • Successful Exits (Responsys IPO)
  • Deal Sourcing and portfolio value-add
  • Board Positions/ProxyTiE
  • Oregon Board Member

Ben Nahir

Senior Associate

Ben is passionate about finding new technologies and helping startups succeed. As a former scientist, Ben brings a critical, data-driven approach to investment decision-making. As a Senior Associate at Elevate, Ben actively participates deal flow, diligence, investment negotiations, portfolio management, and fundraising.

Although primarily interested in biotech and life sciences (particularly medical devices), Ben assists startups from myriad industries, including tech, software, food and beverage, and consumer products, helping refine their business strategies and position themselves for successful angel and venture investment.

In addition to Elevate Capital, Ben serves as Program Manager for both TiE Oregon Angels and TiE Global Angels. Prior to joining these organizations, Ben received his MBA in finance from Portland State University, Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Florida, and a BS in mathematical biology from Harvey Mudd College.

Brandon Ross

Senior Associate and Analyst

Brandon joined the Elevate Capital investment team in October 2019. Prior to Elevate Capital, Brandon worked as a Senior Associate with the Meketa Investment Group in 2019 as part of the merger with Pension Consulting Alliance (PCA).

At Elevate Capital, Brandon will be responsible for portfolio and investment level performance measurement and analytics, investment manager due diligence, working with clients to establish their investment beliefs and investment policies, and assisting with various client and internal projects.

Brandon received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with a focus on Race and Politics from Reed College.

Support Team

Donna Lehmann, Director of Marketing

Donna’s passion is to inspire and motivate entrepreneurs to succeed, grow, and always improve. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Communications from Marylhurst University and an Associate of Arts in Business from Cosumnes River College.

Donna is Senior Director of Marketing and Communications for First Insight Corporation and has worked for the company since 2002. First Insight helps optometry and ophthalmology professionals run a successful business with EHR software, image management, practice management solutions, and end-to-end revenue cycle management services.

Prior to Elevate Capital and First Insight, Donna worked for American Medical Response, Banfield Pet Hospital (a private pet insurance start-up), Health Net, and the American Cancer Society.

Pam Gates, Controller

Pam earned her Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration Accounting and Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration Finance Law from Portland State University. She has worked with a wide variety of privately held businesses and has helped them navigate through the complexities of accounting systems, procedures, and compliance.

Pam is a past treasurer of TiE Oregon and has been the controller at First Insight Corporation since 2002. Pam has been the treasurer for various philanthropic organizations in her community and enjoys the challenges of the various accounting systems used by and issues faced by different organizations.

Bobbie Stewart, Community Liaison

Bobbie Stewart is a serial entrepreneur whose passion is engaging with and building start-ups. As a former business advisor with the SBDC and TIE XL Bootcamp instructor her equanimity has helped guide entrepreneurs through their most difficult start-up moments. Bobbie believes that entrepreneurs possess strength and tenacity that are the building blocks of leaders.

Bobbie graduated Concordia University with a Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.) and minors in Entrepreneurial and Small Business Operations, Finance.

Barbara Johnson, Executive Assistant

Barbara is the glue that holds everyone together. She is often recognized as the “sunshine queen, best mom ever, and all things events.” As Executive Assistant for Elevate Capital since 2016, she keeps our team on track and puts her heart and soul into every project she undertakes.

Since 1997, Barbara has held many roles at First Insight Corporation and is known as the “Jane of all Trades.” Barbara is a talented and seasoned exhibits and events coordinator for optometry and ophthalmology industry trade shows. She also manages First Insight’s human resources and plans employee events, and she has a unique ability to create a positive and fun work environment.

Advisors & Mentors

Nitin Rai, Founder & Managing Director, Elevate Capital

Nitin is the Founder and Managing Director of Elevate Capital, a venture Capital Fund that includes the Elevate Inclusive Fund, a seed-stage fund that invests in diverse and underserved entrepreneurs in the Pacific Northwest.

Nitin also serves as the Chairman of the TiE Global of Board Trustees. Since 2007, Nitin has been an active angel investor, mentor and is a founding charter member and President of the Board of TiE Oregon.

Nitin is also a successful entrepreneur. He started his career in Silicon Valley as an engineer at two startups. In 1994, he founded First Insight Corporation, a highly successful optometry and ophthalmology electronic health records and practice management software, and revenue cycle management company based in Hillsboro, Oregon, and Pune, India. First Insight is a leader in the eye care industry with its flagship product MaximEyes.

Nat Parker, Entrepreneur-in-Residence

Nat serves as the Entrepreneur-in-Residence for Elevate Capital, mentoring portfolio CEOs while working to incubate his next startup. He is a nationally recognized leader in technology transformation for transportation and smart cities.

Prior to joining Elevate Capital, Nat was the CEO of moovel North America, the leading provider of mobility solutions to public transit agencies. He grew the business from startup (GlobeSherpa) to a US market leader in the mobile payment space within three years, resulting in the acquisition by Daimler AG.

Nat has extensive experience in product development, fundraising, sales to government agencies and municipalities and contract negotiation. He is passionate about mobility, renewable energy, sustainability, international development, and startups. Nat and his wife and daughter live in Berlin, Germany.

Paula Hayes, CEO & Founder of Hue Noir

Hue Noir was created by Paula Hayes, an entrepreneurial cosmetics chemist with a degree in biology, an MBA and a life-long love of makeup, sparked by trying her Mom’s red lipstick at age 14. Hue Noir brings to life Paula’s dream of empowering women to look and feel their very best.

She began her career in R&D, specializing in product development for prominent clients in the food, beverage, and cosmetics industries, and went on to work in senior management at large corporations, before moving on to use what she’d learned to help build start-up enterprises.

Raghu Raghavan, Founder & Board Member at Act-On Software, Inc

Founder of Act-On Software, one of the fastest growing private companies in America (Forbes List 2013, Inc 500 List in 2013, 2014 & 2015, Deloitte Fast500 list in 2013, 2014 and 2015).

Previously, co-founder of one of the most successful cloud-based marketing technology companies of the past decade: Responsys (NASDAQ: MKTG), eventually acquired by Oracle. As one of two founders, conceived, architected and built pioneering online marketing application service on a multi-tenanted SaaS platform.

Michael Choi, Chairman, Board of Directors at Axiom EPM

Mike guides the overall direction for Axiom EPM, including company strategy, business development and international expansion efforts. With over 20 years of experience in the enterprise performance management software industry, he has been instrumental to the company’s rapid growth. He was President & CEO at CPM Systems, Inc before joining Axiom.

Randy Lund, KPMG US, and Board Member at Columbia Bank

Randy is a retired audit partner with experience in auditing, accounting and financial advisory for public and private companies in many industries including manufacturing, transportation, semiconductor, auto dealers and consumer markets. Randy assisted a number of clients in their initial public offering, secondary offerings, and debt offerings as well as accounting for mergers and acquisitions.

Randy also spent two years in KPMG’s Department of Professional Practice (DPP) in New York researching and consulting on technical issues related to accounting and SEC matters.

Stephen Marsh, Founder, Chairman, & CEO of Smarsh

Stephen Marsh founded the hosted email archiving and compliance provider Smarsh, Inc. in 2001, and now oversees a global operation with more than 20,000 clients worldwide and 225 employees. Under Marsh’s leadership, Smarsh has grown to become the financial services industry’s premier electronic communications archiving provider, helping enterprises around the world meet their recordkeeping, supervision and e-discovery obligations.

Marsh was named the 2014 FTF News Fintech Person of the Year, and also serves as a member of the board of directors for the National Association of Independent Brokers/Dealers (NAIBD).

Kanth Gopalpur, Chair at Business Oregon Commission

Kanth Gopalpur, is a Portland-based entrepreneur and angel investor. He is a Board Member at James Beard Public Market, Poached Jobs, and TIE Oregon. Kanth co-founded Monsoon Commerce, Inc. in 2002 and served as its President and CEO.

He also founded and led the online operations of Powells.com from 1994 to 2000. He holds a Master’s Degree in Government and International Studies from the University of South Carolina. He has a patent in an online marketplace management system with an automated pricing tool.

Chris Bright, VP of Marketing at Zapproved

Chris has dedicated his career to working with emerging growth companies and high-tech startups for more than 20 years. Prior to helping start Zapproved, he managed worldwide corporate communications for Pixelworks, a publicly-traded semiconductor company. He was part of Pixelworks’ IPO team in 2000.

Chris previously worked at two high-tech public relations firms, one of which he founded grew from six to 26 employees in the first year. He has additional experience working for a major law firm and with the World Bank. In the mid-90s, he helped found the Oregon Venture Investment Conference, the first to connect the Silicon Valley VC community with the state’s entrepreneurs.

Stacy Friedman, President at Olympian Gaming

Stacy is a seasoned casino game designer, innovator and strategist. He is experienced in creating novel gaming technologies and have developed an IP portfolio of over three dozen gaming patents. As President of Olympian Gaming, he designed and analyzed over a hundred casino games and negotiated several royalty-bearing game content and IP licenses.

Specialties: Casino consulting, casino game design, mathematical analysis, gaming patent development, patent infringement analysis, expert witness testimony.

Rohit Vidwans, Vice President Platform Engineering Group (Emeritus)

Engineering executive with a career that spans 20+ years and accomplishments in the design and delivery of multiple generations of Intel’s multibillion-dollar portfolio of industry-leading platforms.

Broad-based experience in the development of scalable global engineering organizations, managing multimillion-dollar budgets and building global, cross-functional organizations that thrive as highly-qualified and productive engineering teams. Holds 11 patents in computer architecture and design.

Partners

TiE Oregon

Founded in 1992, TiE’s mission is to foster entrepreneurship globally through mentoring, networking, and education. Dedicated to the virtuous cycle of wealth creation and giving back to the community, TiE’s focus is on generating and nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs. Today TiE Global has 11,000 members, including over 2,500 charter members in 60 chapters across 17 countries.

The TiE Oregon chapter launched in 2007 to further the success of innovation-driven enterprise in Oregon. TiE Oregon brings the benefits of its national and international connections to local entrepreneurs by inviting distinguished speakers, hosting delegations, and connecting members to other chapters in the TiE network.

TiE Oregon offers a range of programs. Formed by Charter Members of TiE Oregon, TiE Angels is an angel investment group which helps top-tier emerging companies with early-stage investment, mentorship, and support. The TiE XL Entrepreneur Bootcamp covers key-aspects of what an entrepreneur needs to know to be successful and provides opportunities for participants to connect with key influencers in the startup community.

Tonkon Torp LLP

Tonkon Torp is dedicated to thinking like a business, so you don’t have to think like a lawyer. No matter the size or complexity of your business, they will bring the right people, the right questions and the right counsel to every client relationship. Tonkon Torp supports clients with uncommonly responsive service, pragmatic thinking, straight talk, humor, and expert support — and has since 1974.

JLL

JLL creates rewarding opportunities and amazing spaces around the globe where people can achieve their ambitions. They are building a better tomorrow for clients, people and communities.

As a world leader in real estate services, JLL buys, builds, occupies and invests in a variety of assets including industrial, commercial, retail, residential, and hotel real estate. From tech startups to global firms, their clients span industries including banking, energy, healthcare, law, life sciences, manufacturing, and technology.

Superneat Marketing

Elevate Capital content is proudly sponsored by our marketing partner and local Portland consultancy, Superneat Marketing.

Superneat builds websites, video content, blogs, and marketing campaigns for B2B service providers and SaaS companies. Through inspiring and educational experiences, they increase brand awareness, qualified leads, and client loyalty.