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Miller Prize Judges

Meet the expert practitioners and innovators who will serve as the Miller prize judges for Startup Yale's 2022 pitch competitions.

The Miller Prize awards a $25,000 cash prize to a promising student-led venture working on innovative tech or tech-enabled solutions. In addition to the potential prize money, the competition provides opportunities for mentorship, feedback, and networking.

Miller Prize Judges

Simran Dua
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Self described as customer obsessed and a trained public speaking coach, Simran Dua is CEO of My Subscription Addiction (MSA), the largest global review site for subscriptions featuring brands like DailyHarvest, StitchFix, BarkBox, Ipsy and more. Prior to joining MSA, she spent six years at Amazon, launching Kindle sharing, a new way to share and connect over books, and built Amazon IRL, an omnichannel retail program for direct to consumer brands like NoBull, Ridge Wallet and Hope & Henry. Prior to joining Amazon, Simran started her career in investment banking at JPMorgan Chase and later moved into consumer insights and brand marketing at Unilever, where she worked on personal care, including the Dove for Men launch and a global handwashing campaign for Lifebuoy soap in partnership with the Ghanaian government. Simran holds a BS from New York University and MBA from Yale University and is a guest lecturer at her alma maters on product management and entrepreneurship. She coaches and mentors startup founders on stage presence and investor pitches.

Jenny Fielding
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Jenny Fielding spent the last 7.5 years as the Managing Director at Techstars NYC where she sourced, coached and invested in hundreds of early stage startups including a few that have achieved unicorn status. In 2018 she founded The Fund, a unique community of founders and operators who support the next generations of local entrepreneurs. The Fund is now one of the most active pre-seed investors with $20M AUM across 180 investments. Previously, Jenny headed up Corporate Venture and Innovation at BBC Worldwide where she made strategic investments and led internal incubation projects. Jenny was an early founder in the mobile space where she built apps in VoIP and mobile marketing. She began her career as a lawyer, spent time in banking at JP Morgan and is a graduate of Columbia University and the Kauffman Fellowship.

Erika Hairston
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Erika Hairston is the co-founder and CEO of Edlyft, an edtech startup on a mission to help create the next million CS grads. With Edlyft, students get the support they need to stay in Computer Science. Erika has been featured on Forbes 30 Under 30 and InStyle’s Badass 50 Women after graduating from Yale with a B.S. in CS and African American studies. Prior to Edlyft, Erika interned as a Software Engineer at Facebook and then led the Social Learning team as a Product Manager for LinkedIn Learning.

Brendan McGuire
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Brendan McGuire is a Portfolio Manager and the Director of Research at North Sound Management. At North Sound, Brendan leads the analytical team both overseeing research as well as strategic planning. Brendan is a Chartered Financial Analyst and received his C.F.A. designation in 2017. Prior to joining North Sound in 2014, Brendan was an Associate at Commonfund Capital, where he invested in venture capital and private equity backed companies and funds. Prior to Commonfund, Brendan was an Analyst at Deutsche Bank in their investment banking division. Brendan graduated from Princeton University (magna cum laude) with an AB in Politics and a Certificate in Political Economy in 2010. Brendan serves on the Alumni Board of Rye Country Day School.

Martin Wainstein
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Martin Wainstein leads the research efforts behind the Yale Open Innovation Lab. Martin held appointments at the Yale Department of Electrical Engineering, the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale, The Yale Cenrer for Business and the Environment and is a research affiliate at the Digital Currency Initiative of the MIT Media Lab. He is the founder of the Open Earth Foundation, a research and deployment non-profit focusing on digital innovations and open collaborations around planetary-scale projects such as Open Climate. He is the chair of the Hyperledger Climate Action and Accounting SIG at the Linux Foundation, and actively advises deep tech startups such as the Spatial Web, Verses, and Raise Green. 

Martin did his Ph.D. on systems thinking at the Australian-German Climate & Energy College in the University of Melbourne, where he focused on the global transformation of the 'Energy Business System,’ tackling both a corporate legal analysis of carbon majors as well as the design of disruptive business models for smart grids. He holds an undergraduate degree from The University of Southern California where he focused on Geo and Astrobiology. Thinking holistically about big-picture planetary sustainability and translating this into innovative entrepreneurial action is a defining feature of his work.

Sophia Zhao
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Sophia Zhao is Principal at Alumni Ventures Blockchain Fund.  Sophia dove into the exciting world of Crypto in 2017 when she joined Galaxy Digital’s advisory team, supporting a portfolio of blockchain startup clients with fund-raising, investor relations, and ICO preparation. She continued building her crypto deal flow and book of investor contacts during her tenure at Huobi US and Crypto.com’s exchange, working with institutional clients such as crypto hedge funds, high frequency traders on market-making, and volume trading initiatives. Sophia comes from a background of business development and corporate development, having worked with CXOs and Entrepreneurs on their financing and business strategies. She’s a mentor with Yale’s Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking, as well as an active participant in startup communities such as Techstars, 500 Startups, and Plug and Play. She holds a BBA from Simon Fraser University, an MBA from University of British Columbia, and an MAM from Yale School of Management.