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On July 24, Voyager HQ is hosting its first ever Tourism Pitch Night, highlighting innovative startups that are leading the industry forward with new technologies for the tours, activities and experiences space.
Five innovative startups will have the opportunity to pitch to a panel of industry leaders and investors, as well as an audience of travel startups, corporate partners and technologists. Audience and panelists will vote for the winner according to a business model, presentation, product-market fit, fundability, and sustainability.
After the announcement of the winner, join us for a networking happy hour to continue the conversations started onstage!
Eric Shepard currently serves as the Vice President of Lonely Planet Ventures, the world’s leading travel media company. In 2017, he co-founded TRILL Travel, an artificial intelligence-driven travel marketplace that turns Instagram posts into bookable experiences. TRILL was acquired by Lonely Planet in 2019.
He also has experience as the Director of Business Development for SEVENROOMS, a CRM for the hospitality industry, and Director of Operations for El Media Group.
Eric was selected as one of Phocuswright’s 35 Under 35 in the Phocuswright Young Leaders Summit, which recognizes rising stars in the travel industry.
Greg Takehara is the CEO of Tourism Cares, a social impact non-profit that works to mobilize leading travel associations and companies to use business as a force for good by convening, educating, and motivating all sectors to make a positive impact through travel.
He has nearly thirty years of experience in the travel industry, previously serving as Senior Vice President at Aon Affinity and President of Trip Mate inc.
Greg also held a position on the board of the IGLTA Foundation, which works to enrich and expand LGBT Tourism globally by supporting educational and community projects, tourism scholarships, research, and assistance for emerging LGBT destinations.
David is a serial entrepreneur, co-founded 3 startups, and built 6 marketplaces (3 of which exited). He has almost 20 years of engineering and startup experience.
Due to David's technology and product expertise, he's been fortunate to invest in, advise, and mentor many startups in a variety of industries with multiple business models that make a significant impact on today's internet.
Today, David is CTO at Stride Travel, the #1 US marketplace for multi-day tours and adventure travel packages and winner of the Phocuswright Innovation Battleground and named a top 6 travel app by the LA Times. He leads the technology team, creating the future hub of experiential world travel.
Nisha Desai is CEO and Managing Partner of Andav Capital LLC, an investment firm
providing strategic capital, flexible structuring, and dedicated advisory to female-founded
companies in the technology, consumer, and services sectors. Prior to her
role leading Andav Capital, Ms. Desai was a Director at Deutsche Bank, where
she managed a firm-wide restructuring program pursuant to a $19.7M Consent
Order, advised senior management and Board members, and represented the firm in
industry and regulatory discussions.
Prior to Deutsche Bank, Ms. Desai served as a Vice President
in J.P. Morgan’s Investment Bank, where she led a
global remediation program pursuant to $225M Consent Orders,
was seconded to the CIO-losses “London Whale” Crisis Management Taskforce,
and advised on restructuring the investment bank under Dodd-Frank. Earlier in her career,
she worked on financial litigation and white-collar criminal actions at the law
firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz; in consultative sales and business
development at Google Inc.; and as a Founding Team Member (“Employee #4”) at a
highly successful start-up, Sweetgreen.
Previously, Ms. Desai served as U.S. Congressional staff for civil rights leader Congressman
John Lewis and judicial staff for a Public Defender’s Office and Superior Court in Georgia.
Ms. Desai holds an M.B.A. with Distinction in Finance, Operations, and
Entrepreneurship from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and
a B.S. with Honors in International Politics: International Law, Organizations,
& Ethics from the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown
She has served on the Boards of two nonprofits focused on
economic empowerment in developing countries and currently serves as a
Millennium Fellow with the Atlantic Council, a global think tank where she
focuses on ESG as a mispriced source of investment alpha. She is an active member of the CFA Society of New York.