TEAM

Chintaka Ranatunga

Early in his career, Chintaka co-founded a mobile video advertising start-up that delivered ad-sponsored video to consumers on carrier decks. His role was VP Strategy and Business Development with a focus on leading agencies form New Zealand, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Since then, he has worked as a strategy consultant for various companies and invested in 50+ early-stage start-ups throughout New Zealand, Asia, and Silicon Valley before becoming the Managing Partner of GD1 in 2012.

Chintaka is now deeply engaged within the New Zealand venture ecosystem, being a member of various industry leadership groups:

• Auckland UniServices (independent member on the Return On Science Digital Technologies Investment Committee since 2012 to today);

• AANZ’s Angel Flight Leadership group (2018 – today);

• MBIE’s New Zealand Start-up Leadership group (2017 – today);

• NZ Private Capital Association Venture Advisory group (2019 – today);

• Oceania Silk Road Network (OSRN) NZ/China expert committee member (2018 – today).

Chintaka’s leadership within the New Zealand tech ecosystem as well as in managing and building GD1 has been recognized by gaining a finalist position in the 2020 INFINZ Emerging Leaders Award (winner announced in October 2020).

Chintaka holds a MCom (1st Hons) and a BA/BCom from the University of Auckland.

Managing Partner[email protected]

John Kells

John has a diverse professional background with 20+ years across international investment and local operating experience, which has culminated in a passion for venture capital and growing early stage companies.

John previously spent 14 years in the UK, predominantly working as:

• Three years front office equity analyst for London based hedge fund GLG Partners (previously one of the largest hedge funds in the world before being acquired by Man Group);

• Angel investor and capital raiser – two ESG related investments made;

• Eight years as an Alternatives Investment Manager for £14B Tesco Pension Investment (major UK pension scheme) – managing £1.3B of investments in global hedge funds, venture capital and private equity allocations and co-investments. John had a particular focus and passion with venture capital and developed strong relationships with a number managers across the Europe, US, Israel and China.

John was selected in the Financial News Top 40 Under 40 (year olds) Rising Stars of Hedge Funds list in 2012.

Upon returning to New Zealand in 2015, John co-founded a start-up, designing, manufacturing, branding, marketing and distributing children’s pharmacy retail products (sold to 350 stores within New Zealand and the Cook Islands). John then joined GD1 and is the Senior Investment Manager. John is a board observer with two Fund II companies (Modlar and Vesper Marine) and chairman of Fund II company, StretchSense.

John holds a BSc (Mathematics), 3x Diplomas in Finance, Financial Planning and Statistics from the Massey University, and is a CFA Charterholder.

Investment Manager[email protected]

Vignesh Kumar

Vignesh is an accomplished technology and engineering professional with 13+ years’ experience in global technology design, manufacturing, and operations strategy across Silicon Valley, East Asia, and Asia Pacific.

Before returning to New Zealand mid 2018, Vignesh worked for Apple Inc., and was one of Apple’s Lead Hardware Engineering Program Manager & Global Supply Managers. Vignesh is currently a board director and observer with several of his and GD1’s portfolio companies, including Wing Acoustics, Formus Labs, and StretchSense, among others.

In addition to being an active investor, Vignesh has also firmly established himself as an emerging venture ecosystem leader and is a member of various industry leadership groups and committees within New Zealand that have been instrumental in positively steering the future of technology ventures within our borders. Some of his core involvements have included:

• Callaghan Innovation 2020 Tech Incubator Selection Committee;
• MBIE COVID-19 Innovation Acceleration Fund Investment Committee:
• Auckland UniServices Inventor’s Fund Investment Committee, Digital Technologies.

Prior to joining Apple, Vignesh was Business Development Manager for the BHL Group, a family run enterprise in Papua New Guinea, where he worked with mining, oil, and liquefied natural gas clients such as Exxon Mobil. Previous to his work at BHL Group, Vignesh was a Product Design Engineer at Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, in the Neonatal Group.

Vignesh holds an MBA from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, where he was both a Joseph Wharton and Kaiser Fellowship recipient, as well as a Fulbright Science and Innovation Scholar, jointly awarded by the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE) and the Fulbright Commission (U.S. Department of State). Vignesh also holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) degree in Biomedical Engineering and a Master of Engineering Studies (First Class) in Medical Device Design and Technologies from The University of Auckland.

Venture Partner[email protected]

Giulia Dressler

Giulia moved to New Zealand from Brazil to pursue a degree in finance after initially studying computer engineering at the University of British Columbia in Canada. Both qualifications are complimentary to her passion for innovation, technology and finance combined (or more aptly venture capital).

Through her experiences of living in New Zealand and early career, Giulia has developed a true appreciation for the huge opportunity presented by the local tech ecosystem and is highly motivated to help develop the next generation of globally disruptive technologies. Giulia is also a proud investor in StretchSense.

Giulia worked across M&A, equity and debt capital markets as an Investment Banking Analyst at Deutsche Craigs prior to joining the GD1 team as an Investment Analyst. Her early exposure to the venture capital industry was as an intern at a boutique angel investment firm, VMG Ventures. Giulia understand how important it is for start-ups to have support, having also worked for a technology company focusing on data and cloud storage as a Business Development intern.

Giulia holds a BCom (1st Hons) from the University of Auckland.

Investment Analyst[email protected]

Catherine Young

Catherine is in charge of the Fund’s administration, operations, reporting and compliance.

A natural problem solver and enthusiastic member of the team, Catherine has broad professional experience which lends to an extensive range of business skills. Prior to joining the GD1 team she spent 20+ years as a business owner/operator, developing essential skills around operations, marketing, strategy, sponsorship, finance, customer satisfaction and more, building successful relationships with top brand clients in over 50 countries worldwide. Her strength is in setting up systems and procedures, adding value by developing the business and providing support to the investment team.

She has also worked at High Performance Sport NZ and Air New Zealand, adding to the GD1 team’s diverse background and expertise.

Operations[email protected]

Andrew Duff

Andrew is a chartered accountant and solicitor with over 20 years of blue-chip international investment banking experience with Credit Suisse in London and Switzerland. Andrew is cofounder and Chair of Sparkbox Ventures (SBX), a leading private early stage venture capital firm. In addition to its investments in Funds in New Zealand and Asia Pacific, SBX on average maintains a portfolio of approximately 40 direct investments in New Zealand early stage and growth companies. SBX also owns and is the cornerstone investor in the Global from Day One series of venture capital funds, where he chairs the GD1 Investment Committee.

Andrew has significant experience in investment origination, transaction structuring, legal and financial analysis, capital, innovation, organisational planning and corporate governance for entrepreneurial enterprises.

Professional Memberships:
CAANZ (Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand)
CMInstD (Chartered Member Institute of Directors New Zealand)
FIoD (Fellow of the Institute of Directors United Kingdom)
MCISI (Member Chartered Institute of Securities & Investment)
INFINZ (Member Institute of Finance Professionals New Zealand)

Notable SBX investments include:

• Aroa Biosurgury Limited (Aroa), Xero, Greenbutton, Kami (subsequently invested in by Sam Altman from YCombinator), Hydroxsys, Lanaco, APIMatic and BioLumic.

SBX is also an LP of high profile South East Asian venture capital firms’ Golden Gate Ventures and Jungle Ventures.

Chairman