Announcing Pear’s newest Partners

We’re proud to announce our newest partners: Keith Bender, Vivien Ho, and Addison Leong!

Keith started at Pear almost three years ago and has already made a considerable impact in his time as a Principal. He focuses on vertical software, marketplace, and platform businesses, as well as leading all of our LatAm investments and our data-based sourcing team. Keith’s investments include Sudozi, Chainpass, Miter, Menta, and more. A Harvard Business School and Harvard College grad, Keith launched our Harvard Garage engineering fellowship and developed an HBS case study on Pear that is taught in the popular VC/PE course. He was named this year to Silicon Valley Bank and Terra Nova’s EVC List of 50 emerging investors charting the industry’s future. His people-focused, data-driven approach to investing is unparalleled, and we couldn’t be more grateful to have him on our side as a Partner.

Vivien embodies all that we are at Pear: not just investors, but operators. She invests in health — human health, planet health, and financial health including partnering closely with Budgie Health, Osmind, Valar Labs, Fairstreet, Stellation Care, Supercharge Finance, Syro and more. She helps founders hire key clinical and engineering leaders, introduces them to their first customers and surrounds founders with Pear’s braintrust of knowledge. Further, she spearheaded Pear’s Healthcare Playbook Podcast, interviewing leading healthcare founders, leaders and operators on building digital health businesses from 0 to 1. In her first year, Vivien started Pear VC’s Female Founders Circle, a biannual 3 month program with 3 cohorts and 105+ female technical founders in the community. We’re so grateful for Vivien’s leadership and her superpower in bringing communities together at Pear, and we’re very excited for her much deserved promotion to Partner. 

Addison has been a long-standing member of the Pear team: first as a Pear Garage member during his time at Stanford, then as a Pear Fellow, then an Engineer in Residence, Director of Engineering, and now Engineering Partner. In true Pear spirit, he wears many hats, from  spearheading our next-generation intelligent software and data layer that enables Pear to find and pick the best founders, to conducting technical interviews for our portfolio companies, to vetting highly technical investments. Addison draws on his experience as a software engineer, product manager, and designer to be our tech force multiplier, enabling us to hit well above our weight class: he has been instrumental in getting many initial engineering teams off the ground, single-handedly built the Demo Day software that has driven more than $60M in seed investments for our companies, and performed data analyses that inform our overall investing strategy.

Congrats Keith, Vivien, and Addison! We’re excited for the road ahead. 

Welcoming Aparna Sinha to Pear as our newest Visiting Partner

We’re excited to announce that Aparna Sinha has joined Pear as a Visiting Partner! With a career spanning Google, Stanford, McKinsey, NetApp, and Open Source contributions, Aparna brings a wealth of insight in enterprise, developer and AI/ML to Pear companies. 

Since Pear began, we’ve always been proud to not just be investors, but experienced operators. Our team’s most recent addition is no different— Aparna joins us after almost 10 years at Google, most recently as a senior executive leading Kubernetes and Developer Product groups. 

Aparna first got hooked on entrepreneurship while pursuing her PhD in Electrical Engineering working on high speed data communication as an Intel graduate fellow at Stanford. She took a class with Mar Hershenson and followed Mar’s startup, writing a case study on it. Aparna also helped expand the undergraduate business plan competition at Stanford to engineering PhD students and post-docs.

Aparna’s list of accomplishments over the last 10 years at Google can go on and on. She launched an ML-enhanced CRM system for Google’s consumer products, and earned a patent on Android IoT device schema generation. She was part of the early team that created Kubernetes, and scaled the business to a top revenue generating service. Aparna and her team won two ‘Feats of Engineering’ awards at Google for innovations in Kubernetes. Aparna’s product portfolio grew to include Serverless computing as well as Developer Experience tooling for Google Cloud. 

Her work has been covered by press including TechCrunch, Forbes and SiliconAngle. She was highlighted in 2018 as a Power Woman in Cloud. She reconnected with us after leaving Google, and we’re thrilled to have her on board. 

“I believe that enterprise software is being disrupted by cloud and machine learning, creating an opportunity for massive value generation by startups. Best of all, this opportunity favors experienced founders who move fast and rethink the systems that run our world. 

I enjoy working with 10X thinkers, open source maintainers and deep technical founders. I’m good at helping convert technical innovation to customer value generating business.”

Aparna wants to help founders with identifying new market opportunities, productizing technical innovation, building the MVP, scaling revenue, utilizing cloud, and more. “At Pear, I see a unique opportunity for me to help founders with my knowledge, experience and network, successfully bringing innovations to market.”

Interested in connecting with Aparna? Reach out at or on Twitter @apbhatnagar

Welcoming Katie Li to Pear as our Data Analyst

We’re excited to announce that Katie Li joined our team a few months ago as a Data Analyst! She brings a data-driven approach to sourcing investments and tracking talent at Pear.

Katie first learned about Pear in high school, back when it was still Pejman Mar Ventures. Years later, she would hit it off with Arash and Keith at a venture event, and we couldn’t be more grateful to have Katie officially onboard as our newest Data Analyst.  

Katie graduated from Cornell, where she studied Operations Research & Information Engineering and Computer Science. During college, Katie heard about Pear again through hackathons, pitch competitions, and entrepreneurship groups. She spent time as an autopilot engineer working on autonomous search & rescue drones, a hackathon organizer, and a campus scout for Sequoia Capital. Katie was an investor at Zetta Venture Partners in New York, where she focused on early-stage investments in enterprise AI companies and led data-driven sourcing for the firm.

Katie bonded with Arash and Keith over new developments in AI/ML and data-driven sourcing. She was drawn to Pear’s hands-on approach to early-stage investing, whether it was partnering with young founders or creating high-touch cohorts with PearX. “I was impressed by the amount of hands-on support the team gives to early-stage companies, and love that the team has pursued a diverse set of interests through starting communities, programs, speaker series, podcasts, and more. Everyone I’ve met at Pear is also hardworking, not afraid to take initiative, and truly cares about the firm’s mission and our portfolio companies – this all makes it incredibly exciting to be at Pear.”

Katie is spearheading data projects to source investments as well as support Pear’s investment team, platform team, and portfolio companies. She’s passionate about increasing accessibility to venture capital and diversity in investments, and is a big advocate of incorporating data-driven strategies to help accomplish that.

“I’m excited about working with a team that provides early-stage companies with a nurturing environment and gives its all in championing the next generation of category-defining companies, and Pear is that team.”

Interested in connecting with Katie? Reach out at

Introducing PearX: a new era of the Pear Accelerator

At Pear, we have been leading pre-seed rounds in very early stage companies for the last 9 years. These pre-seed companies have typically participated in our Accelerator program, which was developed as a bootcamp for ambitious founders with high potential ideas. Through this program, we help founders pick the best idea, build the highest potential product, find the right market, and lay the foundations for a venture backable company.

Pear Accelerator has been the birthplace of category-defining companies like Affinity, Xilis, Capella Space, Nova Credit, Cardless,, and more. To date, we’ve invested in 120 companies at the pre-seed stage including Branch and Aurora Solar. In total, our pre-seed investments are now valued at nearly $10B. 

Today, we’re excited to announce that Pear Accelerator will now be known as PearX, an early-stage bootcamp. In addition to the name change, we’re expanding our pre-seed offering by investing up to $2M in companies that apply to the program. 

By expanding check sizes up to $2M, we’re now able to accept a wider range of founders into PearX. Some founders come to us while they’re still ideating on a company concept, yet others have products live and have demonstrated early traction, but still need help with critical company-building steps like recruiting or go-to-market. A larger initial check will enable to us to include a wider range of companies into PearX.

PearX had humble beginnings. 8 years ago, a few students in Pear Garage wanted to keep working on their projects through the summer. We wrote them a $25k uncapped note, and by the next year, we had an Accelerator program with a Demo Day that made headlines. Today, PearX is a core part of what defines Pear. 

Affinity Co-founders Ray Zhou and Shubham Goel started the company through Pear Garage and Pear Accelerator.

We invest in people, and the name “Accelerator” didn’t quite capture our high-touch, hands-on approach to what that means. As a team almost entirely composed of founders across a variety of sectors, we’ve been in your shoes before. You’ll meet with the team several times a week and have two partners dedicated to you. We’re in the trenches right next to you, helping you find your co-founder, hone in on product-market fit, craft the right pitch— whatever variable makes the biggest impact to your company.

Today’s markets are shifting faster than ever before, and Pear is dedicated to evolving alongside them. We invest across the board from AI/ML to consumer to healthcare and more, and we accept teams in various stages of progress. Our program employs an all-star cast of mentors and culminates in a Demo Day to thousands of investors where 85% of our companies end up raising from tier 1 institutional investors. 

PearX founders receive hands on support from the entire Pear team.

Eight years ago, we couldn’t have imagined what PearX would become, but no program exists that has a higher conversion rate from pre-seed to seed. We’ve developed an intimate, high-touch bootcamp to help the most ambitious founders build the next generation of groundbreaking companies – and the best is yet to come. 

Out of 120 companies that we have pre-seeded, 15 are worth $100m, and 3 are worth over $1b. You could be next— apply to be a part of the next PearX cohort here

Interested in learning more? Read more about PearX on our website and check out case studies from PearX companies Xilis, Bonfire, and Gathermade.

Welcoming Ilian Georgiev to Pear as our newest Visiting Partner

We’re excited to announce that Ilian Georgiev has joined Pear as a Visiting Partner! An experienced operator who recently sold his company Charlie to Chime, Ilian will be working with Pear companies to share his insights in fintech, consumer, and beyond.

Like everyone at Pear, Ilian is a builder first, investor second. 

After getting his MBA at Stanford, he spent several years in the gaming industry as a Product Manager at Pocket Gems, launching games like Paradise Cove and Episode to 100m+ users, and Head of Product at Chobolabs, focusing on mobile e-sport games.

Taking what he learned in gaming, Ilian spent the next 5 years building Charlie, an AI personal finance service. The goal was to “help ordinary Americans worry less about money and get out of debt faster, where the word ordinary Americans is actually key,” shares Ilian. Last fall, Charlie joined Chime

Come January, Ilian was ready for his next step. He was prepared to dive back into building a company when a friend gave an unexpectedly impactful recommendation: spend 2 weeks without a plan and see what happens.

 “At the end of those 2 weeks, I looked back and somehow I had talked to 20 different founders, helping them figure out how to find product market fit or how to fundraise or how to recruit… I wasn’t focused on going into venture, but I was focused on helping out founders.”

For the last 20 years, Ilian’s guiding questions have been: 

  1. How to Develop New Products: What frameworks, priorities, and leadership maximize your odds of building something new that people will love?
  2. How to Build Culture: How do you create an environment where good people belong and do their best work?

Moving from operating to investing is Ilian’s transition to exploring these questions with breadth rather than depth. He specifically wanted to join Pear for three reasons: 1) Pear is good people and that attracts good people, 2) Pear is collaborative, and 3) Pear is exclusively early-stage. Just like it takes a team to build a great company, it also takes a team effort to find and support early-stage founders.

Ilian’s advice for early-stage founders: 

“The most important thing, especially for people who have had a long history of success who then decide to become founders, is to recognize that strengths are infinitely more important than weaknesses.” 

Ilian shares that it’s important for founders to break the mindset that they need to first focus on what’s broken— even if you manage to fix everything that isn’t working, all you’ll get is perfect mediocrity. A great product does not do everything; it does one thing exceptionally. Focus on what’s working and double down on it. 

Ilian is working with our Accelerator, consumer, and fintech companies. Connect with him at

That’s a wrap: 2022 LA Tech Week

Last month, we were thrilled to be in Los Angeles for the inaugural LA Tech Week. There were over 15,000 people who joined events across LA throughout the week, and it was truly invigorating to meet so many LA-based founders.

We attended several events and hosted two events of our own:

Female Founders Brunch with Mar 

2022 LA Tech Week
Female Founders with Mar

At Pear, supporting and promoting diversity within the tech world is near and dear to our hearts. Our Founding Managing Partner Mar is a 3x founder herself, our Principal Vivien runs a Female Founders Circle program, and our entire firm is dedicated to building community, creating connections, sparking inspiration, and paving the way for the next generation of female founders. 

During LA Tech Week, we gathered a stellar group of 35 LA-based female founders at The Santa Monica Proper for an Ask Me Anything-style brunch. The event was anchored by a discussion from Mar, who shared her perspective and lessons learned on company building. We then opened the floor for questions and had a candid conversation about the ins and outs of building a startup from the ground up.

DoorDash founding story with Stanley Tang

Pejman Nozad (Pear) and Stanley Tang (DoorDash)

We specialize in backing early stage companies, because we love to work with outstanding people and help them realize their full potential. We met the DoorDash team when they were still students at Stanford, wrote the first check into their company, which was initially called, and we supported them every step of the way to their IPO in 2020. 

We hosted a brunch for 175 people at The Shangri-La Hotel for a lively discussion between Pear’s Founding Managing Partner, Pejman Nozad, and Co-Founder and CPO of DoorDash, Stanley Tang. They discussed DoorDash’s founding story, the trials and tribulations the founders faced to get the company off the ground, the DoorDash philosophy on team growth and management, and Stan’s lessons learned along the way.

We absolutely loved being on the ground in LA and can’t wait to come back!

Welcoming Nate Hirsch to the talent team

We’re excited to introduce the newest addition to the Pear Family— Nate Hirsch. 

At Pear, we know that providing founders hands-on, top-tier support requires more than just capital. To take a company from zero to one, the first few hires are critical. A few months ago, we brought on our Talent Partner Matt Birnbaum to help our early-stage portfolio companies, and we’re excited for Nate to join the ranks. 

Nate has been in tech recruiting since his first steps in Silicon Valley over 10 years ago, starting at a boutique agency specializing in engineering recruiting for early stage startups. He joined Uber in 2015 as one the first members of the technical recruiting team. Nate made hundreds of technical hires in engineering, TPM, product and data science across all levels from university to leadership, and by the time he left, Uber had scaled to over 30,000 employees. He departed Uber In 2018 to join Facebook (now Meta) to further explore technical recruiting at scale. During his tenure at Facebook, he built processes and best practices for a recruiting function that hired over a thousand engineering leaders. 

We believe that recruiting is the backbone of success for any company, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have Nate and his extensive experience on board. Pear is committed to supporting our founders every step of the way, including hiring, and our recruiting team is only just getting started. 

Learn more about Nate’s background on our website. You can find him on LinkedIn. If you’re interested in connecting with Nate, shoot him an email at

Welcoming Jill Puente as our Marketing Partner

Jill Puente

We’re excited to share that Jill Puente recently joined the Pear ranks as our Marketing Partner. She’ll play an integral role at Pear, helping lead all of our marketing programs, communications, and content. Jill has an extensive background, with experience across all facets of marketing, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have her on board. 

As Pear continues to grow, marketing has become a critical function to increase the profile of the firm, as well as supporting our founders to help them grow their own marketing efforts. In her short time with us, Jill has been diving into Pear’s content strategy, messaging and positioning, media and PR, and critical marketing events and programs. We’re excited for Jill to work closely with the entire Pear team to enhance the visibility of the amazing work happening in our firm and to add an essential perspective to our portfolio companies.

Jill has worked across all areas of marketing: brand marketing, product marketing, growth marketing, and communications. Most recently, Jill spent 10 years at Google, where she led marketing efforts for teams like Sustainability, Google Fiber, and Google One. Prior to that, she was an early employee at Wildfire Interactive, a social media startup acquired by Google in 2012. Learn more about Jill’s full bio on our website.  

Jill lives in San Francisco with her husband Lucas, sons Nico (4.5) and Felix (1.5), and dog Scout. You can find her on Twitter (@jillianpuente) and on LinkedIn. If you’re interested in connecting with Jill, please email her at

Welcoming Eddie Eltoukhy as our Biotech Partner

We are extremely excited to announce Eddie Eltoukhy as our latest Partner, heading up our investments across Biotech and life sciences.

As a firm, Pear has already made some big investments in Biotech, including Guardant Health (NASDAQ: GH), Senti Bio (Series B, led by Bayer LEAPS, and going public soon), BioAge (Series C, led by A16z), Xillis (Series A, led by GV, Mubadala), and many more.

By bringing Eddie onboard as a Partner, we’re doubling down on Pear’s effort to back the next generation of innovative life science companies. Why? Because it’s estimated that the Biotech industry will be worth $2.4T by 2028, growing on the macro tailwinds of an expanding healthcare sector, favorable government and regulatory initiatives, and rising R&D investment by public and private agencies. This potential is boosted by technology trends such as plummeting DNA synthesis and sequencing costs, the advancement of AI / ML, and the increasing adoption of synthetic biology at scale.

We believe that no firm has yet to build the ideal pre-seed and seed stage investment partnership for Biotech founders, and with Eddie at the helm, we are determined to be that firm. We’ve known Eddie since he joined our portfolio company, Senti Bio, as its first business hire. Eddie oversaw Senti Bio’s growth, from seed stage to public financing, and he helped drive the execution of major biopharma partnerships with Spark Therapeutics (Roche) and BlueRock Therapeutics (Bayer). He brings both business acumen and scientific depth, with a PhD in Biological Engineering from MIT under the guidance of Professors Robert Langer and Daniel Anderson and an MBA from Stanford. Eddie also has experience at Roche / Genentech and Kala Pharmaceuticals. Learn more about Eddie’s full bio on our website.

Eddie is passionate about cutting-edge life sciences technologies, and he loves working to support visionary founders on their missions to transform human health. We’ve seen first hand what Eddie can do through our work together, and we’re confident his experience will be incredibly beneficial to both the Pear team and our founders. If you’re working on a new project in the Biotech space, please reach out to Eddie to chat more!

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 and on Twitter @arpanshah29!