First Star partners with entrepreneurs solving real-world problems using data and machine learning, focusing on applications of frontier technologies such as AI, computational biotech, connected sensors, AR/VR, and blockchain. We believe in investing with conviction in visionary, technical founders inventing the future. Drawing on our experience and network of strategic partners across industries and regions, we help startups think big and grow fast.
Drew Volpe is an accomplished investor, entrepreneur, and technologist with a deep experience in search, machine learning, sensors, mobile, computational bio, and blockchain technologies.
He was the founding VP of Product Development for conversational AI startup Semantic Machines. He was previously co-founder/CTO of Locately where he led development of Locately's location-based market research platform from inception through the company’s successful acquisition by SMG. Prior to Locately, Drew was Director of Product Development at Endeca Technologies, a pioneer in search and unstructured database systems, acquired by Oracle for $1.1 billion. Drew holds an AB in Computer Science from Harvard University.
Millie Liu has focused her career on helping entrepreneurs with deep technology turn their ideas into great businesses with global reach.
She was previously at APT, an enterprise data analytics startup acquired by Mastercard for $600m where she helped Fortune 50 clients such as Walmart and P&G make better strategic decisions leveraging data. She was also the co-founder of an MIT startup working on unsupervised event detection, which later pivoted and became Infervision, an AI precision healthcare platform backed by Sequoia China. Millie is on the advisory board of MIT CSAIL (Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab). She holds a Master of Finance degree from MIT and B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Toronto.@MITMillieLiuhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/millieliu1/
Teddy Blank has spent his career working to grow companies from their earliest days and answering the question of, "how do we get our first ten customers?".
He was previously co-founder of Tempo, a secure, differential privacy-enabled marketplace for biometric data from top athletes.
Prior to starting Tempo, Teddy led Sales and BD for Symphony Commerce, an ecommerce service as a platform startup backed by $52m from CRV, Bain, and FirstMark which grew revenues to $10M+ ARR in less than three years.Teddy began his career as an analyst at Accenture, working across industries from telecom to banking to public transit. He is an advisor to early-stage deep tech startups and loves the challenge of taking a business from zero to the moon. Teddy holds an MBA from Harvard University and a BA from Amherst College.
“First Star are high-conviction investors that bring a deep understanding of building innovative companies. Millie's been a fantastic partner to work with. Her practical help with customer and partner connections as well as her strategic advice have been invaluable. Millie embodies what founders look for in a venture investor.”
Bindiya Vakil, CEOResilinc
“Drew understood our vision right off the bat and was the perfect partner. He always manages to find the right balance of patience and urgency, action and vision, encouragement, and straight-talk. We've been incredibly lucky to be backed by First Star. I can't imagine a better partner for early-stage companies with deep technology.”
Doug Selinger, CEO
“First Star was one of the first investors I approached after founding a new company. Where other investors might seek to follow, First Star is willing to take a long term view on technology and lead with conviction. As an investor with technical, founding, and operating experience, Drew offers valuable advice, empathy, and understanding, all of which are critical for early stage tech startups.”
Andrew Rollins, Founder
"Millie and Drew speak the language we speak and provided practical advice to guide us through toughest bottlenecks."
Sang Wen, CEO
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