Adrian Fortino is a Managing Director at Mercury, where he leads Mercury's Midwest office in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and focuses on investments in enterprise SaaS, industrial IoT and tech-enabled service companies. 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: Sidecar (acq. by GM), ShepherdIS, and FlockTAG. 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 teaches venture capital classes at the University of Michigan College of Engineering. He also serves on the board of Michigan Venture Capital Association and the advisory boards of First Capital Fund and the Ann Arbor Entrepreneurs Fund.
Blair Garrou has spent the majority of his professional career advising, operating, and investing in software companies, with a focus on enabling technologies for retailers and brands. He is co-founder and Managing Director of Mercury Fund, one of the largest early-stage venture capital firms headquartered in Texas. Blair is also an Adjunct Professor at the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University where he teaches a course on venture capital. Prior to co-founding Mercury, Blair was CEO of Intermat, a leader in product information management software (acquired by IHS). During this time, he was also named to the Houston Business Journal’s inaugural “40 under 40.” Prior to Intermat, Blair was a Principal of Genesis Park, a Houston-based venture capital and private equity firm, where he focused on software investments. 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 led the formation of the Houston Angel Network (HAN), one of the largest and most active angel investment organizations in the U.S. Previously, Blair was an investment banker with Nesbitt Burns (BMO Capital Markets), a credit analyst with Compass Bank (BBVA Compass), and an auditor with Deloitte & Touche (Deloitte). He received a B.S. in Management with special attainments in Commerce from Washington & Lee University. Through his work in the Houston entrepreneurial community, Blair is also a co-founder of the coworking accelerator Station Houston (now a part of the Ion and Capital Factory), and SURGE Accelerator, a mentor-driven seed accelerator focused on entrepreneurs seeking to solve the world’s energy problems using software. Outside of Mercury, Blair serves in board and/or advisory roles for The Artemis Fund, DivInc, Houston Exponential, HTX Impact Fund, UTHealth, and Washington & Lee’s Connolly Center for Entrepreneurship.
Aziz Gilani is a Managing Director at Mercury, where he focuses on investments in enterprise SaaS, Cloud and data science startups. Prior to joining Mercury, 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.In addition, Aziz is a graduate of the Kauffman Fellows Program through the Center for Venture Education, where he completed industry-defining field work on 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 the Mayor of Houston’s Tech and Innovation Council, Seed Accelerator Rankings, and SXSW Interactive. He is also an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at Rice's Jones Graduate School of Business where he teaches a course on venture capital.
MBA from Rice University
Samantha Lewis is a Partner at Mercury. Her specific focus is on Mercury’s Power theme, where she seeks to fund startups utilizing web3, data platforms and fintech to rethink the way people access capital and opportunity, build wealth, spend money and organize as communities. Samantha currently serves on the boards of Mercury portfolio companies Topl, a Web3 stealth infrastructure platform, Civitech and Cooklist.
In 2022 Samantha became a Kauffman Fellow, joining the world’s premier venture capital fellowship. She currently serves as the elected Startup Committee Chair for the VC3 DAO, a native web3 investment DAO made up of a vetted network for professional venture capital professionals.
Prior to joining Mercury, Samantha was the Investment Director at Goose Capital, a Houston-based investment group of serial entrepreneurs and F500 CEOs, where she led deal sourcing, structuring and portfolio management. During her time at Goose, she led investments in Syzygy Plasmonics, Rufus Labs, and Emerge. Samantha is a repeat entrepreneur with a background spanning agribusiness, logistics and supply chain, beauty, and deep tech.
Samantha received her MBA from Rice University and a B.A. in Political Science from Texas A&M University. Samantha remains deeply committed and involved in the efforts to build diverse, robust innovation ecosystems. Outside of Mercury, Samantha actively mentors founders and serves on the Advisory Council for Diversity VC Standard and the Investment Committee for DivInc.
Nafisa Istami is a Senior Analyst at Mercury, where she focuses on investment diligence and financial reporting. Prior to joining Mercury, Nafisa worked at the Houston Angel Network as an associate. At HAN, she supported the Managing Director in sourcing, screening, and conducting diligence on startups for angel investment consideration. Nafisa received her B.A. in Sociology and Business from Rice University.
Heath Butler is a Venture Partner at Mercury Fund, where he focuses on investments in B2B Software, B2B2C Marketplaces and Tech-Enabled Services. He also manages the Mercury Network platform and drives impact-based community engagement efforts. Heath has over 20 years’ experience in the Houston startup ecosystem, having founded, invested in, and advised numerous startups, investment organizations, and funds. Heath co-founded Gestalt Theory Venture Partners, a seed-based venture studio. He was also a corporate development executive and fin-tech Div. President at Insperity (NYSE: NSP), the leading human capital management platform for small to mid-sized businesses. In 2019, Heath co-founded the Urban Capital Network , an angel investment platform focused on democratizing capital and wealth generation for underrepresented investors. Heath received an MBA in Marketing from Texas Southern University’s Jesse H. Jones School of Business and a B.S. in Finance from the University of New Orleans. Outside of Mercury, Heath is an active angel investor and leverages his serial-entrepreneur and executive experiences to fulfill his passion to educate, empower and enable entrepreneurs.
Eddie Lou is an active angel investor in over 60 early-stage tech companies and acts as a mentor, coach, advisor, or board director to many of them. Lou is a board director at The Mom Project, Albert.io, LemonLight, Human Predictions, HiLink, Infi, and Chowbus.
Lou is a co-founder of stealth pet startup. Previously, he was a co-founder of Shiftgig, the mobile app that connects hourly labor with business shifts. Lou grew the company from idea to 200 full-time employees across 13 cities serving 2,000 business clients and 30,000 hourly workers; he raised over $50M of institutional capital during a rapid growth period. Lou is also co-founder and board director of One Goal, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit that improves college acceptance and persistence by empowering urban high school students through a teacher-led 3-year fellowship. In the past few years, One Goal has grown to over 220 staff members and a $30 million annual budget in large part due to the program’s success – 98% of program fellows get accepted to college and 78% are persisting. Since inception, the program has grown from seven students in one school to 20,000 students in 600 schools across 6 cities.
Lou was previously a general partner with OCA Ventures, in Fund I and Fund II, Lou invested in ten portfolio companies in software, consumer internet, and business services. As a board director or observer, Lou worked closely with management teams to scale their business, raise capital, and attract talent.
Lou received his M.B.A. in Finance and his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Washington University in Saint Louis. He was recognized in 2010 as one of Crain’s Chicago Business’ 40 Under 40, in 2011 as Chicago United’s Business Leader of Color, and in 2012 as a Forbes Up and Comer, in 2015 as Techweek100, in 2016 as Crain’s Chicago Business’ Tech 50, and in 2016 as E&Y’s Entrepreneur of the Year Midwest finalist.
Dan Watkins, PhD
Dan Watkins is a co-founder and Venture Partner at Mercury, where he focuses on investing in startups that utilize AI and machine learning to drive the next wave of scientific innovation in healthcare, life sciences and industrial markets. Additionally, Dan co-founded Mercury Data Science, an AI/ML strategy and product development studio that provides contract services to fast growing companies. As founder and initial CEO of Courier Therapeutics, Dan helped establish and grow the company resulting in a $500M exit. He is also a co-founder of the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship at Rice University, with the mission to support the creation and success of startups and the commercialization of new technologies in the Houston community and beyond. Dan received his B.S. from Rice University and his 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, and the University of Illinois Proof of Concept Fund Committee.
Andrew White is a multi-exit entrepreneur with cross-functional experience in technology-enabled businesses. He is currently a Venture Partner at Mercury, where he focuses on startups in variety of software markets, including RetailTech, PropTech, ClimateTech, and GovTech. He is also the CEO of Mercury Ecommerce Acquisition Corp, a $175M blank check company focused on making one or multiple acquisitions in the ecommerce software and services industry. Andrew is also the founder of Sweat Equity Partners (SEP) which serves as his primary investment vehicle. SEP currently owns companies in the ClimateTech, PropTech and SaaS segments. Andrew led SEP’s creation of Path Environmental Technology in 2014, a leading ClimateTech provider of tank cleaning technology that significantly reduces air emissions, waste disposal and manhours. In 2020, Ara Partners purchased a controlling interest in Path in a successful recapitalization transaction. In 2005, Andrew led SEP’s development of Allied Warranty and, subsequently, Lone Star Repair, which together grew to over 200,000 customers and were sold to NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG) in 2012. In addition, Andrew owns Geovox Security, a technology business that provides hard tech security platforms for military, penal and high secure facility customers around the world. Prior to SEP and his entrepreneurial experience, Andrew was the CFO, and then CEO, of Home Solutions of America, a publicly traded roll-up of fire/water restoration companies. During his tenure, he led the listing of Home Solutions on the American Stock Exchange. Andrew began his career at CS First Boston (now Credit Suisse) in the Leveraged Finance Group working on the coverage team for KKR.
In 2018, Andrew ran for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Texas, winning a position in the May 2018 run-off election. Andrew received his BA from the University of Virginia and his MBA from the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas. He currently serves on the UTHealth Development Board and the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs Development Board.
Andreas Galliker, CFA
CFA® Charterholder, CFA Institute
Andreas Galliker is Chief Financial Officer at Mercury. 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. He received a Swiss certified specialist in accounting and finance degree (CPA equivalent) from the Institute of Higher Business Education in Lucerne, Switzerland and is a CFA charterholder and a member of the CFA Society Houston.
Winston Gilpin, CPA
Winston Gilpin is the COO 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.
Jackie Pfister is the Chief of Staff at Mercury, managing all venture operations for the partnership. Jackie collaborates with the entire investment team to ensure all aspects of the Mercury platform achieve maximum productivity and impact. Jackie also coordinates community and ecosystem engagement for the firm, including the planning and execution of the annual CXO Summit in Austin. 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 from Texas A&M in College Station.
Melissa Turowsky is Chief Marketing Officer at Mercury and also works with portfolio companies to refine their marketing strategies. Prior to joining Mercury, Melissa was a strategic marketing consultant working with VC and PE backed companies, helping them meet their business goals. She was founder of MamaViews.com, a place where expecting and new parents could research and find service providers, and served as Director of Marketing at Epiq Systems (NASDAQ: EPIQ), a legal tech company where she oversaw the brand integration of newly acquired businesses and developed localized branding for Hong Kong and European markets. At Macys (NYSE: M), after the parent company decided to roll various regional stores into the Macy’s brand, Melissa worked as an Art Director, serving on a small team testing the rebrand in a few key markets. She began her career at an Interpublic Group ad agency in New York. She has a BA from Cornell University and a certificate in graphic design from Parsons School of Design.
Tolonye Williams is the Mercury Fund Operations Manager where she supports the investment team through deal flow pipeline and database management; performing venture, company, and market-related research. She also works directly with the Mercury Fund Limited Partners. Prior to Mercury, Tolonye supported executive staff members in various fields including commercial real estate, marketing, and non-profit. A native Houstonian Tolonye attended Houston Community College and The University of Houston.
Rachel Craft is the Office Assistant at Mercury, where she helps the team with administrative tasks and daily operational needs. Prior to Mercury, Rachel worked as a Sales Support Specialist at Experian Consumer Services on the Data Breach Response Team. Rachel received her B.A. in History from Baylor University.