Welcoming Arpan Shah back to Pear as our newest Visiting Partner

We’re excited to announce that Arpan Shah has joined Pear as a FinTech Visiting Partner! He’s working with Pear companies to share his learnings earned through founding and selling his financial APIs company to Plaid, as well as leading engineering at Robinhood for over 5 years. We’re incredibly glad to be working with him again many years after he graduated from our first Pear Stanford Garage cohort in 2014.

When we started Pear Stanford Garage in 2014, Arpan Shah was among the first 12 members in our inaugural cohort. “There were a few things that I found really fun and exciting in particular: getting a chance to meet with a lot of founders, figuring out approaches to early product, iterating on products, fundraising, timing, team building— the elements which go into starting an early early company. I learned a lot of that through the conversations, talks, and sessions that we had at Garage.” We’re so excited to partner with Arpan as a Visiting Partner and have his support for our Winter Accelerator!

After earning a Masters in Computer Science at Stanford, Arpan joined Robinhood as an early engineer in the founding team. “Pear played a role in that; I really felt like a lot of value could be created by being part of something super early. I ended up joining Robinhood at the time because I felt like finance was a big part of all of our lives,” Arpan says. “I was particularly excited because I’d always found investing to be hard in the US.” 

Arpan eventually became the Head of Data Platform and Data Products at Robinhood, leading a team of 40+ engineers and engineering managers. “I helped start the data team there, and I grew that into areas like risk and fraud, growth and marketing, data products like search, newsfeed, various aspects of the crypto product, data infrastructure, experimentation, and data platforms.”

“In October 2020, I started Flannel. I had seen a lot of the challenges of money moving in the US being super slow,” Arpan says. “My co-founder and I really felt like we could make that a lot better by leveraging some of the more modern payment methods that were starting to emerge.” Flannel raised a $6.3m seed from Accel and Index, launched an early product, and last March, Arpan sold the company to Plaid

Throughout the years, Arpan has been angel investing across companies in investing, insurance tech, lending, financial access. “The thing that I’m hoping to bring as a Visiting Partner to Pear is a lot of my FinTech experience— the network I have amongst FinTech practitioners and entrepreneurs as well as helping inform appropriate methods to grow businesses and partner with companies.”

Arpan’s tips for early-stage founders

Hire for relevant experience in the here and now of what you’re working on. 

  • In early startups, one of the really important things is to hire for the very near term— trying to solve the problems of the here and now. Early founders often think about bringing in someone who has a ton of experience at really large organizations. Oftentimes, those lessons aren’t super applicable or don’t translate well compared to someone who’s been through this early stage phase of development.
  • Engineering leadership is critical to hiring early on. Focus on hiring folks who are high growth; experience is not as important, it’s much more important that they can really, really execute at this stage of the company. If you’re looking for experience, I think the experience that makes a lot of sense is people who have worked through the stage of the company you’re in. 

Understand the regulatory landscape of the space you’re operating in.

  • If you’re in insurance tech, understanding how insurance regulation works is super important. If you’re in the brokerage or investing space, understanding how FINRA and SEC largely regulate those industries is really important. If you’re in the payment space, understand how the money transmitter licenses or money services business regulations work really well.
  • The biggest challenge fintech companies often face, which we did as well, is figuring out how to navigate regulation effectively. A key hire that people often don’t think about is bringing in someone with a background to ensure that their product from the very early stages is compliant. Oftentimes, FinTech founders get tripped up because they think they can move as quickly as a lot of their peers. The “move fast break things” model that people often think they can do in other industries doesn’t quite work as cleanly for FinTech. FinTech founders may need a little bit more patience and understanding that a big part of the landscape is not just the product and how you succeed in getting customers, but also how you succeed in navigating the regulatory landscape.

Find the right partners for the journey.

  • People think really carefully about founding teams, but I think it’s also really important to partner with investors who really understand early stage company building. And not every investor does. One of the big aspects about successful alignment between investor and founder is investors who can understand that the early part of the company building process is messy, and so they’re willing to get into that mess with you to help solve those problems with you. 

“I’m really, really looking forward to working with founders who are building really innovative products that help expand what is possible here in the US when it comes to financial access or financial products,” says Arpan. “When you look at a lot of the other parts of the world, it’s remarkable how much innovation has happened in the financial landscape over the last decade. I think a lot of people think that we’re in the last legs of it, but honestly, I think we’re just getting started. I’m really excited to see all the exciting innovative stuff people can come up with, especially as newer ecosystems like crypto get unlocked and better infrastructure comes online.”

Connect with Arpan at arpan@pear.vc and on Twitter @arpanshah29!

Pear Fellows 2022 Cohort

Alumni of the Pear Fellows program are shaping the venture capital and tech industries, including 37 VCs, 22 startup founders, and 18 product managers. Read on to meet the next generation of Fellows!

This year, 14 new Fellows were selected from hundreds of student applications. We select our team of Fellows optimizing for diversity of thought and a shared passion for supporting early-stage founders. Fellows work directly with our investment team to discover founders, make investment decisions, and support startups.

If you’re a student working on a startup, we encourage you to reach out to a Fellow and/or explore the following Pear opportunities:

  • Pear Competition: $100K uncapped, for exceptional people determined to solve big problems.
  • Pear Accelerator: $500-750K @ $10M, when you have clarity on a big vision and the right team to go after it.
  • Pear Seed: up to $3M, when you have a compelling evidence of customer love.

37 Fellows alumni are now VCs, including Nicole Quinn (GP Lightspeed) and many more at top funds including a16z, General Catalysts, Pear, Khosla, General Atlantic, DFJ Growth, DST Global, DCM, Industry, and Bessemer. We recognize our role in training the next generations of diverse VCs and startup founders, with 51% of our Fellows alumni female-identifying.

If your university does not have a Fellow, or if you are no longer a student, we still encourage you to engage with Pear! The Fellows cohort is small to ensure that each Fellow receives focused attention from the Pear partners, however, we also seek to partner with founders from all backgrounds.

2022 Fellows



Greg Barrow is a MBA candidate at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He began his career in the Air Force, graduating first in his class of over 200 cadets. As an acquisitions officer, Greg procured communications equipment and software licenses at an enterprise-level, awarded non-dilutive funding to startups via the SBIR and STTR programs, and served as a Defense Ventures Fellow. He later spent time at The Engine and Five Four Ventures. Prior to enrolling at Stanford, Greg received his BA in Economics from DePauw University, and his MA in Public Management from Johns Hopkins University.


Shaneez Mohinani was an Executive Director at Goldman Sachs, raising capital from and providing investment advice to governments, central banks and endowments across Southeast Asia. Prior to that, while in undergrad, she had run a seed funding program for underserved entrepreneurs across emerging Asia. Shaneez is currently a MBA student at Stanford, where she is also a Food and Ag-Tech investor at the GSB Impact Fund. Shaneez enjoys traveling and taking on extreme spice challenges.


Linda Tong is a sophomore at Stanford studying computer science. Previously, Linda was a member of #builtbygirls, a fellow at EVCA, and an intern at Foothill Ventures. Linda enjoys reading, sharing book recommendations with friends, learning new languages (coding, living, or dead), and playing golf.


Alexandra Jenkins is a Stanford MBA candidate who invested in healthcare, edtech, and HR in Latin America at ALLVP, a Mexican VC. Prior to that, she worked at McKinsey for 3 years in various LatAm countries and Spain. She’s interested in healthcare and mental health, especially in the LatAm region.



Daniela Velez is studying computer science at MIT. She has worked on edtech and consumer tech projects and has worked in software engineering at Facebook, Microsoft, and Figma. On campus, she leads the undergraduate entrepreneurship club, StartLabs, and she is passionate about social impact and urban planning. She also loves playing piano, reading, traveling, and living in hacker houses.

UC Berkeley


Alex Rohrbach is an MBA student at University of California, Berkeley Haas. He previously led marketplace operations at Wonolo, an on-demand staffing platform, and worked as an engagement manager at McKinsey. Alex is passionate about the future of work, marketplaces, e-commerce, and finance, and will often share gummies from Pink Panda, his side-hustle, better-for-you candy company. Alex enjoys watching French movies and cycling.



Joy Chen is a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania studying business analytics in the Wharton School. Originally from the suburbs of Los Angeles, Joy has previously worked in a coffee shop and Greek restaurant where she became interested in food and restaurant technology. This past summer, she worked for Yum China and now writes about kitchen robotics for the Spoon. At Penn, she is part of the Innovation Fund Investment Team as well as Sigma Eta Pi, Penn’s entrepreneurship fraternity. Joy enjoys film photography, distance running, and cooking for her friends.


Naomi Chetrit Band is a MBA student at Wharton. Prior to Wharton, she lived in Israel working closely with startups, entrepreneurs, and investing firms at EY-Parthenon. Naomi completed a dual degree in Law (LL.B.) and Accounting (B.A.) at the Reichman University (IDC Herzliya). Before joining EY-Parthenon, she practiced law and then accounting, following which she became a Certified Lawyer and Certified Public Accountant. At Wharton, Naomi is a VP of Venture Capital Career Development, a Partner in Wharton Venture Partners, and co-President of the Israel Club. In her free time, she enjoys cooking and baking her grandmothers’ Moroccan specialties, traveling and exploring new places and cultures.


Robert Templeton is a MBA at Wharton. Prior to school he worked at Premji Invest, a growth equity and public equities focused fund investing across Tech, Consumer, and Healthcare. At Wharton, Robert is the VP of Events for the Cybersecurity Club and is working on a sector thesis as a member of Wharton Venture Partners. In his free time he enjoys playing in the Wharton Hockey League and spending time with his dog Boogie.

Adam Lawal is a first year MBA student at Wharton double majoring in Finance and Entrepreneurship/Innovation. Prior to business school, he worked in M&A advisory and Private Credit Investing. At Wharton, Adam is an active member of the PEVC club, Entrepreneurship Club, and Founders Club. In his free time, he enjoys playing ice hockey, photography, and trying out new restaurants in Philly.


Joanna Shan is a second-year at the University of Pennsylvania studying Urban Studies and Statistics. She just returned from a gap year spent building Monet, the dating and friendmaking app where you send a drawing to start the conversation, and teaching high school students design, all while living in Portland, SF, NYC, and Oahu. She’s passionate about education, storytelling, and technology for good.



Noah Zweben is an HBS MBA student and software engineer interested in tackling problems that help preserve our planet and do good for the world. He has experience in climate and civic tech at companies like Votem and Bowery Farming. In his free time, Noah is passionate about exploring the great outdoors and painting.


Toby Emanuel was previously a surgical resident at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Toby completed his undergrad at Washington University in St. Louis, earned his MD at Brown University, and is now an MBA student at HBS. He is interested in digital health, and is particularly passionate about improving the value of our healthcare system.


Margaret Shen is a first-year student at HBS. Previously, she was a product manager at Dropbox launching new B2B products and integrations. She was also a PM at OakNorth, a fintech startup based in London, where she led the ML and data ingestion teams. Margaret graduated from Stanford with degrees in Computer Science and English. She is originally from the Bay Area and loves to bike and hang out with cats in her spare time.