Blair Garrou has significant experience in operating, investing in and advising startup companies, particularly in the software industry. Prior to co-founding Mercury Fund, Blair was the CEO of Intermat, a leader in product information management software (acq. by IHS). Prior to Intermat, Blair was a Principal of Genesis Park, a Houston-based venture capital and private equity firm, where he focused on the firm’s software investments, including Intermat, FuelQuest (acq. by Saracen Energy), and SAT Corporation (acq. by Invensys). Prior to Genesis Park, Blair helped launch and was the Director of Operations for the Houston Technology Center (HTC), the largest technology incubator in the state of Texas, and he led the formation of the Houston Angel Network, one of the largest and most active angel investment organizations in the U.S. Previously, Blair was an investment banker with BMO Nesbitt Burns, and an auditor with Deloitte & Touche. He received a B.S. in Management with special attainments in Commerce from Washington & Lee University.
Blair is also a co-founder of Station Houston, a coworking accelerator, and SURGE Accelerator, a mentor-driven seed accelerator focused on entrepreneurs seeking to solve the world’s energy problems using software. Blair is a mentor with seed accelerators The Brandery (Cincinnati, OH) and TechStars (Austin, Chicago). Outside of Mercury, Blair serves in board and/or advisory roles for UTHealth, the Post Oak School, the Rice Alliance for Technology & Entrepreneurship, Texas Venture Capital Association, and YPO – Gulf States Chapter. Blair is an Adjunct Professor at the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University where he teaches a course on venture capital. Blair also was named to the Houston Business Journal’s inaugural “40 under 40,” a recognition of outstanding business and community leaders under the age of 40.
Dan Janiak joined Mercury in 2011 and focuses on new company creation and early-stage investments in biopharmaceuticals. He is actively involved in Mercury’s investments in BlackThorn Therapeutics, Confluence Life Sciences, DNAtrix, Prolacta, and Sinopsys Surgical. Dan led the formation of Mercury Fund portfolio companies Apsara Therapeutics and Pelagos Pharmaceuticals and he maintains responsibility for strategy and corporate development activities within both companies.
Prior to joining Mercury, Dan worked in the Physical and Biological Technologies practice at In-Q-Tel, the strategic venture investment arm of the U.S. Intelligence Community. Dan received his B.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Maryland where he was a Future Faculty Fellow and held the Robert E. Fischell Fellowship in Biomedical Engineering. He is a member of Class 17 of the Society of Kauffman Fellows.
Tolonye Williams has over 15 years of executive assistant and administrative experience. At Mercury, her duties include managing the Firm’s deal flow pipeline and database; performing venture, company, and market-related research; and general office administration. Previously, Tolonye has held administrative positions supporting executive staff members in various fields including commercial real estate, marketing, and non-profits.
A native Houstonian, Tolonye attended both Houston Community College and the University of Houston.
Winston Gilpin is the CFO of Mercury Fund. Winston has over 25 years experience in finance and accounting, serving in a number of executive management and advisory positions for publicly traded and privately owned companies. As the founder and president of Gilpin Consulting, LLC., Winston provides CFO services to many of Mercury Fund’s incubated startup companies. Prior to Mercury, Winston served as the CFO of Internet REIT, a leader in direct web navigation. Formerly, Winston was a director and the CFO of Intermat, Inc. (NYSE: IHS). During his fifteen-year tenure at Intermat, Winston’s responsibilities included managing all of the financial aspects of the company, strategic planning, contractual and legal matters, sales, marketing, operations and executive management. Prior to joining Intermat, Winston held Controller and/or Chief Financial Officer positions at Partner’s Construction (a subsidiary of Century Development Corporation), a multi-state construction company; Fogle Equipment Company, a construction equipment dealer; and Van Leeuwen Pipe and Tube, a wholesale pipe distributor. Winston also held the position of Chief Accountant with the Municipal Credit Union of New York City.
Winston attended St. John’s University and is currently a CPA in the State of Texas.
Andreas Galliker is the Director of Finance at Mercury, where he supports the CFO and the investment team with financial reporting, due diligence and financial modeling. Prior to joining Mercury, Andreas worked with Cintrifuse, a CIncinnati-based venture capital fund-of-funds, and for Northcreek, a mid-market mezzanine fund. Prior to that, Andreas was a Mandate Manager for an Audit, Tax, and Financial Advisory Firm, where he was responsible for annual reporting, audit mandates, and investment accounts. Andreas received his BBA in Finance, and his M.S. in Finance, where he was a UGS Scholar, from the University of Cincinnati. Andreas also received a Swiss certified specialist in accounting and finance degree (CPA equivalent) from the Institute of Higher Business Education in Lucerne, Switzerland.
Lauren-Kristine Pryzant is a Senior Analyst at Mercury Fund. She works with the investment team on deal sourcing, investment diligence, and the support of portfolio companies. Lauren-Kristine is an active part of the startup ecosystem in Houston and the middle of the U.S., serving as a mentor at Techstars, TMCx, and the OwlSpark/RED Labs accelerators. She also is a frequent lecturer at the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University and the University of Houston Bauer College of Business. In addition, Lauren-Kristine is on the Springboard Tech Council, the University of Houston Cougar Ventures Advisory Board, and serves philanthropically on the Prison Entrepreneurship Program Advisory Board. She graduated with highest honors in finance from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC Chapel Hill, where she was a Morehead-Cain Scholar.
Jackie Pfister is the Marketing Coordinator at Mercury Fund where she supports the investment team in their marketing and branding efforts in order to promote thought leadership and relevant industry-related content. She also works directly with many of Mercury’s portfolio companies to assist them in their marketing goals. Prior to Mercury, Jackie worked as a Business Analyst at Trenegy, a Houston-based management consulting firm. While at Trenegy, Jackie focused on project management, change management, and organizational design related to new enterprise software implementations. Jackie received her BA in Communication with a minor in Business Administration at Texas A&M University in College Station.
Dan Watkins focuses on startups utilizing software, cloud computing and/or machine learning to drive the next wave of scientific innovation in healthcare, agriculture and other industrial markets. Prior to co-founding Mercury, Dan served in a number of operational roles including initial CEO of DNAtrix and Nanospectra Biosciences, both startup oncology companies. Previously, Dan held the roles of Vice President at a boutique investment banking firm and Worldwide Manager of Operations and Control Systems for Scientific Software-Intercomp. Dan currently serves on the board of directors of the following Mercury portfolio companies: Benson Hill Biosciences, Clean Chemistry, Deep Imaging Technologies, DNAtrix, Resonant Therapeutics, Sinopsys Surgical and Swift Biosciences. Dan received a B.S. from Rice University and an M.S. and Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University, all in Materials Science.
Outside of Mercury, Dan serves on the advisory boards of Northwestern University’s Innovation and New Ventures Office (INVO), the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, the University of Michigan’s Venture Center Council, and the University of Illinois Proof of Concept Fund Committee. Dan is also a co-founder of the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship at Rice University.
Aziz Gilani has spent the past 15 years focused on software and the internet. Prior to joining Mercury Fund, Aziz was a Senior Engagement Leader with Infosys Consulting, an early executive at ABB Performance Services, a Senior Consultant at Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, and an Analyst at Lotus Development Corp. Aziz received his BBA from the University of Texas where he was a TILF Scholar, and his MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management where he was an FC Austin Scholar, Kellogg Board Fellow, and Chairman of the Kellogg Private Equity and Venture Capital Conference. In addition, Aziz is a graduate of the Kauffman Fellows Program through the Center for Venture Education, where he completed industry-defining field work in Seed Accelerators. Aziz is a recognized expert in Seed Accelerators, and has been quoted in several national publications including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, ReadWriteWeb, TechCocktail, and The Business Journals.
Outside of Mercury, Aziz serves in advisory roles for TechStars, the Kellogg School of Management’s Seed Accelerator Rankings, the Knight Foundation, and TIE Houston. He is also an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business where he teaches a course on venture capital.
Adrian Fortino leads Mercury’s Midwest office in Ann Arbor, MI. Adrian focuses on developing and originating software and science-based investment themes and startup opportunities. Prior to joining Mercury, Adrian was the Managing Director of Detroit Innovate, a seed stage investment fund targeting seed investments in enabling technologies in healthcare, transportation and industrial applications. During this time, Adrian was also the Managing Director of the First Step Fund, a micro-investment, industry agnostic fund focused on seed-stage companies in Southeast Michigan. Prior to Detroit Innovate and the First Step Fund, Adrian co-founded three software companies: ShepherdIS, Sidecar and FlockTAG. ShepherdIS is a fleet management software platform for the livery industry. Sidecar is an instant rideshare marketplace connecting drivers and riders in metropolitan areas. FlockTAG provides consumer behavior prediction tools to independent small businesses through a novel analytics platform. Prior to founding startup companies, Adrian was the Manager of Powertrain Development with Ricardo, a global engineering consultancy focusing on the automotive, cleantech, military and industrial sectors.
Adrian received his BSE in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan and an MBA with High Distinction from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. Outside of Mercury, Adrian serves on the advisory boards of Detroit Innovate and the First Step Fund, is the industry lead for the University of Michigan Law School Venture Capital Fellows Program, and leads the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan-sponsored Entrepreneur Gives program, which influences high potential entrepreneurs across the region to give grants to unique socially minded projects.