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Chintaka Ranatunga
Founding Partner

Chintaka Ranatunga

Founding Partner
Investments


Chintaka has decades of strategic business experience gained in executive leadership roles including Chief Operating Officer, Founder and Board member. He is passionate about advising New Zealand’s sharpest founders on how to achieve global growth.


His deep expertise in corporate development led to him becoming a respected authority on investing in and acquiring companies. Having invested in over 60 startups as an angel investor, Chintaka is an expert on setting businesses up for success at the outset.


Chintaka plays an invaluable role in mentoring GD1’s founders and portfolio companies to believe bigger; and to operationalise excellence. 


“Whatever good thing we build; ends up building us. As a startup founder myself, I love working with founders and teams to build and grow their business from the ground up; from nothing. Venture capital is how we help New Zealanders grow their dreams from scratch to emerge as global leaders...there’s nothing better.”


John Kells
Co-Managing Partner

John Kells

Co-Managing Partner
Investments


John is an experienced investment manager, founder and angel investor with a deep-seated passion for multi-faceted teams. He’s passionate about empowering companies to ‘create the future’. 


At Tesco Pension Investment, he helped invest NZD3 billion in a large number of the best VC firms in the world, some of whom went on to invest in the world’s most well-known success stories, including Docusign and Fitbit (with Scale Venture Partners); HubSpot (with Scale); Pipedrive (with Atomico); and others. As an active angel investor, he went on to found his own investment company before a transition into VC five years ago. 


“The true value of each of the companies we invest in lies in their teams who must face constant challenges, self-doubt, and relentless pace head on...but it’s incredible to be a part of the journey and witness their real-time value creation across product, team and the forging of a team culture.”


Vignesh Kumar
Co-Managing Partner

Vignesh Kumar

Co-Managing Partner
Investments


Vignesh has Silicon Valley experience, deep insight into designing and launching world-class technology and an incredible drive to see Kiwi founders succeed on the global stage.


As a biomedical engineer, his career journey saw him master the ‘magic’ behind product design, including technology ideation, design transfer and working cross-functionally to bring gold standard products to market. Following an MBA at Wharton which launched his leadership journey, his time at Apple afforded him invaluable understanding of what successful, fast-moving consumer tech looks and feels like. 


At GD1, he’s an expert at weighing up nascent and emerging companies using traditional and non-traditional metrics and plays an invaluable role in ensuring we’re doing all we can to make outsize success possible. 


“Every interaction we have with a founder/portfolio company is weighed against the value it adds to the founder/company. We don’t just look for investments; we encourage those same investments to scale in global markets with deep expertise and support.”



Heather Gadonniex
CMO and Operating Partner

Heather Gadonniex

CMO and Operating Partner
Investments


As CMO and Operating Partner at GD1, Heather is working with GD1 portfolio companies to supercharge growth, and is leading both marketing and ESG initiatives. She is a growth-oriented leader passionate about world-changing technologies and scaling impact. Heather has worked for nearly two decades in corporate communications, product marketing, sales, demand generation, sustainability/ESG, and executive GTM leadership roles in Silicon Valley start-ups and multinational companies.

 

Heather's been a founder and knows what it's like to take an idea to scale. In addition to tech, she’s most passionate about mindful leadership, scuba diving, wine and cheese, and her Whānau.

At GD1, Heather lives out her love for invigorating and inspiring founders and teams, guiding them around growth and impact and building purpose-driven brands.


“What really lights me up is catalysing the fire within others - companies, organisations and people - in order to fuel conscious growth and impact. I have deep empathy for those building companies and products." 


Nawaz Ahmed
General Partner - Web3 Fund

Nawaz Ahmed

General Partner - Web3 Fund
Investments

With the ability to ‘hunt down’ the genius in others and a passion for journeying with early stage founders, Nawaz is a respected authority in the crypto/web3 space.

Since 2019,  he’s been an avid angel investor - investing in over 15 early stage crypto companies, including US-based. As an entrepreneur, he’s been through all of the phases of successfully starting a company - ideating, coming up with a product proposition, executing on that vision, and selling. Through this came hard-won lessons about the critical role VC plays in the journey entrepreneurs take.

His current focus at GD1 is on raising and investing for the Web3 Fund. He spends his time meeting founders who are leveraging crypto/web3 tech to build new and exciting businesses.

“VC is an amazing way to talk to interesting people doing interesting things which is what I’m passionate about. I love discovering the genius in others. It’s there,  if we look for it.”

TLDR:
Respected authority in the crypto/web3 space.
Avid angel investor in over 15 early stage crypto companies, including US-based
Successful entrepreneur

Catherine Young
Operations Manager

Catherine Young

Operations Manager
Investments

Catherine has a passion for building systems; a talent for juggling multiple responsibilities and thrives on the challenge of solving difficult problems by imagining what they might look like fixed.


As an owner/operator for 20 years, her business management experience was gained at the coal face where she did ‘whatever it took’ to ensure the success of the company, including liaising with clients in over 60 different countries; project management on high budget productions; negotiating international sponsorships, dealing with a variety of stakeholders and at all times handling the “day to day” of running a business. This was a great finishing school for ‘learning it all’. 


Catherine’s ‘specialist generalist’ background is an invaluable asset to GD1 where she applies what she knows about systems, processes, policies and procedures to set the company and its portfolio companies up for success. 


“Operations management aims at understanding the bigger picture so that you can review, decipher and problem-solve around each roadblock with an eye on how everything you do fits into and will help achieve the company’s overarching objectives while remaining compliant and on track.”



Gary Wong
CFO and Operating Partner

Gary Wong

CFO and Operating Partner
Investments


Gary has a deep love for the power of diverse thinking, a knack for simplifying complex finance and governance requirements and years of experience in mentoring countless disruptive tech companies globally. 


He’s spent the past 12 years deeply involved in the strategic growth journey of countless tech companies - right from ‘local SME’ to ‘globally-minded’ entity - including helping startups expand into US, European and Australian markets. That experience has instilled in him an appreciation for different cultural approaches and lenses to problem solving and has helped shape and sharpen his expertise. 


At GD1, Gary is deeply involved in financial and corporate governance, including process improvement, standing up policies and procedures and right-sizing these same policies and procedures to be flexible enough and fit-for-purpose for startups. 

For our portfolio companies, he brings a strategic lens on growth, including building out complex financial models that scale with international growth. 


“Venture capital is about encouraging teams of great people to believe that they have everything they need to build something bigger than themselves. GD1’s team will always challenge founders to be  ‘growth-minded’ in their thinking.”


Zoe Chen
Investment Analyst

Zoe Chen

Investment Analyst
Investments

With relentlessly curious and a passion for seeing New Zealand tech shape our global future, Zoe has deep experience interrogating the potential of emerging businesses from unconventional angles.

Her role at GD1 makes great use of her previous experience as a consultant across early stage tech; and in the equity crowdfunding space - both of which taught her that it’s a combination of practical and financial support that helps startups make a meaningful difference.

At GD1, she gets to ask the question: ‘Do we want to invest?’ - combining deep financial analysis with an ability to truly ‘hear’ where founders are at as they talk about what they are passionate about.

“This ‘nitty gritty’ isn’t always obvious and requires interrogating what you know, hear and understand from many different angles. I once heard someone say that ‘curiosity is the engine of achievement’. I would alter that quote to read ‘curiosity is the engine that powers great analysis’.”

TLDR:
Supporting early stage tech companies to thrive
Analysis - the anatomy of successful startups

Conal Parker
Investment Analyst

Conal Parker

Investment Analyst
Investments


Conal has a passion for seeing New Zealand tech shape our economy, a talent for dealing with high levels of ambiguity and deep experience interrogating complex financial data. 


Having previously worked in corporate finance at KPMG, Conal is well-versed in company valuation and financial modelling.


At GD1, Conal’s role involves analysing potential portfolio company data with the goal of finding companies that match our investment mandate. That includes their product, go-to-market strategy, expansion plans, competitive landscape, product and pricing strategy and most importantly - why they believe their tech will change the future! 


“As a country, we’ve relied on a few key primary industries for too long. It’s time to shift New Zealand’s economy to one of innovation. Venture capital is how we do that!”



Sinead Burns
Operations Coordinator

Sinead Burns

Operations Coordinator
Investments


Sinead is passionate about seeing ambitious founders succeed. She is adept at learning, mastering and teaching others to make use of organisational tech; and is everyone’s ‘go to’ when it comes to logistics. 


Sinead comes from an account management environment which makes her an expert at   anticipating the type of support stakeholders might need (logistical, financial and tech-related). 


At GD1, she works closely with our Operations Manager to support everything (and anything) related to keeping GD1 running as smoothly as possible. 


 “I believe success has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself; but rather what you do for others. Everyone who works for GD1 forms an integral part of a founder’s ‘support team’ and as part of that journey, we’re lucky enough to share in their highs and lows. It’s an incredible privilege to be trusted to help bring their vision to life.”  


Alchae Cansana
Investment Analyst

Alchae Cansana

Investment Analyst
Investments

Alchae is known for her ability to leverage relentless curiosity as a tool for unlocking truth. She has a talent for identifying promising early stage teams and a passion for seeing founders succeed.

Having completed a Medical Sciences undergraduate and Bioscience enterprise postgraduate at the University of Auckland, Alchae understands how important it is to provide support, funding and expertise to bring innovative ideas to life. Her previous role in a commercialisation office has given her insight on how to create impact from ideas and research.

At GD1, she conducts due diligence by talking to founders and their teams about the intricacies of their business, including their product, go-to-market strategy, expansion plans, competitive landscape and product and pricing strategy. She’s also focused on learning more about the founders and teams behind a company; including what drives and motivates them and their strengths and weaknesses.

“It’s startups who will challenge the status quo; and through backing them, VC is one way we make the world a better place.”

TLDR:
Healthtech & Medtech background
Using curiosity to understand and unlock innovation
The alchemy behind team success
Portfolio company due diligence for GD1

Erin Anderson Scott
Community Manager

Erin Anderson Scott

Community Manager
Investments


Erin has a passion for purpose-driven organisations, sustainability, diversity and inclusion and empowering others. Referred to by friends as a global citizen, she has experience within roles across a broad range of industries and countries.


Having worked in stakeholder engagement, operations and digital marketing roles within Saas, startup and social enterprise businesses, she has a strong understanding of the transformative power of technology and how it can be utilised to fuel positive change. 


At GD1, Erin’s role is all about building authentic relationships and helping the NZ tech ecosystem to understand who GD1 are as a team, our portfolio companies, and where and how we invest. She is looking to help promote collaboration over competition in order to see our kiwi founders, teams, and tech ecosystem thrive, not only here in New Zealand but on the global stage.


“Without a doubt - an ability to listen first and then facilitate; to engage before you decide. I am proud to be a part of a team that truly listens, and goes above and beyond the cheque to ensure our portfolio companies and tech ecosystem continue to grow.”


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