Seraph Research Foundation has assembled experienced investors who have invested in more than 20+ companies each to share real-life examples of successes, failures, and lessons learned. Our instructors have invested in early-stage technology companies in aerospace, data analytics, fintech, transportation, digital media, cloud software, medical devices, communications, biotech, and health IT sectors.
Our instructors illustrate the pluses and minuses of investing directly on your own, joining an angel group, or becoming an investor in an angel fund. We invite you to witness how professional investors screen opportunities, conduct due diligence and render their decisions. The courses will show you how the math works and why venture capital investing, if done right, should be in every qualified investor’s portfolio.
Tuff Yen is the founder Seraph Research Foundation and invested over 130 companies throughout his career. Prior to that, Mr. Yen founded Seraph Group, an investment firm that brings together successful individuals to create wealth through ownership of private enterprises. Mr. Yen started his career in the biotechnology industry with a degree in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of California Berkeley. He worked at Genentech and Amgen, two leading biotechnology companies in northern and southern California. After graduating from the Yale School of Management in New Haven Connecticut, Mr. Yen began his venture capital career at Chemical Venture Partner, the private equity and venture capital arm of Chemical Bank, then managing $8 Billion in New York City. Chemical Bank later merged with Chase Manhattan Bank and then JPMorgan Bank, and the group became JPMorgan Partners which then managed close to $20 Billion. Mr. Yen subsequently joined a Hambrecht & Quist’s affiliated $1.6billion fund in San Francisco.
With an extensive venture capital background on both coasts, Mr. Yen saw an opportunity to deliver a new investment platform for accredited investors and launched Seraph Group in 2004. He introduced Structured Angel Fund™, a venture capital fund designed specifically for angel investors and family offices to gain access to a diversified portfolio of seed stage startups and with the right to co-invest on a deal-by-deal basis. This GP-managed and LP-curated fund attracted close to 400 investors from 120+ cities in north America, Europe and Asia, many of them Fortune 500 C-level executives, entrepreneurs, technologists, innovators, investment and operating professionals. Mr. Yen led Seraph Group and invested north of $120 million into 130+ companies. He reviewed between 300 and 400 investment proposals each year and was responsible for all aspects of an investment, from sourcing, investigating, conducting due diligence, and structuring. Mr. Yen has gained experience in investing in a wide variety of industries, including manufacturing, distribution, entertainment, publishing, information technology, Internet, enterprise software, cybersecurity, aerospace, medical and life sciences.
Fran has had four parallel business careers: The first as a senior executive and head of technology at 5 Fortune 500 companies and as a CEO and COO of two midsize companies. The second as a board member of eight midsize and emerging market companies, and the third as an author, mentor, and speaker. In the fourth career Fran has been a cofounder of a successful business and an angel investor in over 30 companies. Fran serves as an advisor of two venture groups and is a limited partner in the Seraph Super Angel group. Fran has been active in giving presentations on investment to high-net-worth individuals and to Executive MBA programs. He is active in investing in startup and emerging businesses.
Fran spent much of his early career with AT&T, including projects with Bell Laboratories, the telecommunication company’s research, and development wing. He also served as Managing Director and CIO of Salomon Brothers, president and CEO of Network Management Inc., and president and COO of Telic Corporation. Dramis joined BellSouth in December 1998 as executive VP and CIO where over a 9-year period his organization was heralded as one of the nation’s top technology groups. Prior to BellSouth he worked at CIO Strategy, Inc., a Virginia-based information technology-consulting firm he founded. While at CIO Strategy he served as transitional CIO at Coopers & Lybrand, Citibank, NASD, and Bankers Trust. Utilizing a proprietary methodology, he developed he led major technology transformation efforts at each of the firms.
Mr. Dramis has been recognized as one of the nation’s top executives for his leadership and innovativeness in technology. Over the course of his career, he has received, many leadership awards, including:
CIO Magazine’s CIO 100 Award
CIO Magazine’s Top 100 Leaders for the Next Millennium
Computerworld’s Premier 100 IT Leaders
2016 CIO Lifetime Achievement Award
In his career as a board member he has served on the public boards of Netezza, Advocent, Ditech Networks and the private boards of UsOncology, RealOps, Catavolt, Nanolumens and Damballa; serving as chairman of the latter three.
Fran has authored three books: The CIO Handbook that details his unique methodology for aligning technology with the strategic direction of the organization; Creating an Intentional Business Life, that outlines his mentoring process in helping individuals chart a career path to a fulfilling business and personal life; and The Four Secrets of Retention, that shares the techniques to retain people in today’s competitive marketplace.
Fran received a Master of Science degree in Advanced Management from Pace University in New York City and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers University.
An Atlanta native and fifth-generation Georgian, Mr. Fleming began his career at AT&T Bell Laboratories in 1979 while still a student at the Georgia Institute of Technology. While at Bell Labs, he published some of the first experimental data regarding single-mode optical fiber splicing. After graduating from Georgia Tech in 1983 with a 4.0 average in theoretical physics (valedictorian, summa cum laude), Stephen joined Northern Telecom, which was then one of the leading optical fiber manufacturers in the world. In 1994, Mr. Fleming joined Alliance Technology Ventures, a venture capital firm headquartered in Atlanta and made 18 investments, of which four led to successful IPOs while six more were acquired, including the sale of SecureWorks to Dell Computer for $650 million. He then held 14 board seats at companies building wireless equipment, telecommunications systems, semiconductors, enterprise software, and Internet services. Mr. Fleming was very active in the Atlanta technology community, where he launched and hosted a startup showcase series for angel and VC investors, and he served on the board of the Georgia Center for Advanced Telecommunications Technology. Stephen endowed two professorships and serving on advisory boards for the College of Computing and the College of Management at Georgia Tech.
After ATV, Stephen focused on consulting work and making angel investments in space related startups. He accepted a position as an advisor to the Advanced Technology Development Center at Georgia Tech and taught New Venture Creation in Georgia Tech’s MBA program. In mid-2003, Stephen joined Seraph Group as an investor and served as a member of the investment committee. In May 2005, Stephen returned to Georgia Tech as Chief Commercialization Officer. His appointment led a successful reorganization designed to streamline the handling of intellectual property, accelerate the licensing of technology, and make the Institute’s resources more readily accessible to business and industry. In mid-2009, Mr. Fleming was promoted to Vice President, Economic Development and Technology Ventures, and Executive Director of the Enterprise Innovation Institute at Georgia Tech. In this role, he managed a staff of over 200 Georgia Tech employees located throughout the state of Georgia. EI2 assists Georgia enterprises improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. It includes signature programs such as the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), VentureLab — a groundbreaking commercialization program — and the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). In this role, Stephen assisted the National Science Foundation in the design and launch of the I-Corps program in which Georgia Tech became a leading node and national role model. In mid-2014, Stephen donned a “second hat” as Director and General Manager of ATDC, where he directly coached multiple entrepreneurs in establishing successful startup companies. At the time, ATDC was the oldest and largest university startup incubator in the country, with one of the highest success rates among its graduates in the world.
Stephen moved to Tucson in 2017 to create a new position as Vice President, Strategic Business Initiatives, at the University of Arizona, where he focused on connecting the university’s intellectual resources to the global business community. Since 2020, he has maintained that focus as Director, Strategic Partnership and Innovation, for the NSF-funded Center for Quantum Networks, headquartered at University of Arizona. Stephen also joined Arizona FORGE as its first Executive-in-Residence in July 2020, where he applies nearly forty years of experience to help students, community entrepreneurs, and corporate members of FORGE.
He remains an active angel investor, affiliated with the Desert Angels in Tucson, and is a founding member of the Space Angels Network. He has invested in over a dozen aerospace startups. He is the founder and chair of the Arizona Space Business Roundtable. Mr. Fleming is a member of the IEEE, the American Physical Society, the Optical Society of America, several regional technology organizations, and the Leadership Atlanta Class of 2014. He served on the Boards of Directors for the Arizona Technology Council, the Technology Association of Georgia, and for Culture Connect, a not-for-profit fostering cultural fluency between immigrants and the community at large. He is a former board member of the Spiritual Living Center of Atlanta and of Tech High School, a charter high school that emphasized science, math, and technology in urban Atlanta.
Stephen is a frequent public speaker, and has been invited to discuss entrepreneurship, venture capital, and angel investing by organizations in China, Brazil, Italy, Israel, South Africa, the Philippines, and throughout the United States.
Renée is a business leader, board advisor and private equity investor with over 30 years of executive leadership experience across a broad cross-section of companies, primarily middle market and early stage.
Renée has diverse global experience in the CFO and COO roles with technology-focused, product-driven organizations in areas such as SaaS, Data Analytics, Services & Technology, Media/Publishing, Insurance, Consulting/Professional Services and Retail. Her experience includes numerous transformations and multiple successful exits. She is valued as a trusted advisor on strategic, operational and financial issues and has worked with Boards on crisis management including shareholder actions, security breaches, macroeconomic events and complex merger strategies.
She currently serves as the CFO of five early-stage companies and serves on several non-profit boards in the Bay Area. Renée is licensed as a CPA and earned her undergraduate degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Paul has enjoyed a fifty-year career in information technology, financial services, board of director roles, senior management, corporate turnaround and restructuring and merger and acquisition activities. Early in his career, he wrote custom code for mainframes at SMU for the college administrative management and operations, as well as for Chilton Credit Bureau Services on the maintenance and protection of domestic secure credit files, the entire corporate business operation and oversight of the financial reporting systems of the company. Paul then moved into financial service industry and joined Bache Halsey Stuart Shields, Inc., now Prudential Securities, and managed individual, government, and corporate funds for a few years before joining Bear, Stearns & Co. In 1997, Paul joined First Southwest Company, now Hilltop Securities, an investment banking firm that specializes primarily in Municipal Debt Underwriting, Municipal Financial Advisory Services and Municipal Financial Governance. He became the President and Chief Operating Officer of First Southwest Company and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of First Southwest Asset Management, Inc. Paul co-authored the creation of TexStar (“Texas Short Term Asset Reserve Program”) for management Texas Municipalities liquid funds.
In late 1998, Paul joined The NASDAQ Stock Market Listing Qualifications Committee in Washington, D.C. to participate as a select member of the panels and Chairman of those panels for which he served on to determine the on-going listing eligibility of publicly traded companies and delist those that did not meet minimum standards appearing in those hearings. His term on the panel encompassed a total of 11 ½ years.
Since 2005, Paul has been active in angel investing both domestically and internationally. He participated in conferences in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou (Guangdong Province) China and taught venture capital and private equity courses to select invited members business leaders from China. He also served on nine Board of Director positions and two (2) Strategic Advisor Roles to various corporate, municipal, and charitable entities.
A native of Dallas Texas, Paul graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with dual majors in General Business and Finance, and then earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Southern Methodist University (SMU). He attended the first of four annual certified programs at Harvard Graduate Business School related to and focused on Advanced Corporate Governance and Board of Director Education components – primarily centered on Audit, Compensation and Corporate Governance elements. In recent periods, Paul has added accreditation certification for The State of Texas Public Information Act, Open Meetings Act and Cyber Security Training.
Brian is a private equity investor, business advisor and entrepreneur with 30 years of investment banking, management consulting, operational/financial management, and executive leadership experience with early-stage and middle market companies. Currently, he manages a private equity fund of funds, serves on corporate and nonprofit boards, and is an Instructor at the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia. Previously, Brian was Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Chamberlin Edmonds, now part of Change Healthcare. While there, he was recognized as “CFO of the Year” by the Atlanta Business Chronicle and Association for Corporate Growth for his role in the LBO/MBO recapitalization of the Company. He is also a former Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Legacy Investment Group. Early career roles included Citibank and Price Waterhouse. Brian received an MBA from Cornell University and a BS in Commerce, with Distinction, from the University of Virginia. He is also a graduate of Citicorp’s Global Finance Institute.
Katy Sharp began working in Georgia politics in 2011 for Gov. Nathan Deal. During her tenure in the Deal administration, she has served in a variety of capacities and as a key staffer on both the campaign and official side of state governance. This includes overseeing appointments to more than 250 executive agencies’ councils, committees, and commissions, along with advising Gov. Deal on thousands of appointees to these state boards.
Sharp also worked as the Deputy Chief Operating Officer of the State of Georgia and as Director of Agency Affairs, managing 70 department heads across all spectrums of state government. In these roles, she has spearheaded critical agency legislation covering policy areas including economic development, natural resources, healthcare and public safety. This has given Sharp extensive knowledge of state code, constituent needs and regulatory affairs. She has developed strong relationships with both local and state elected officials, agency heads and other critical stakeholders during her time in the governor’s office.
She was a key member of Deal’s 2014 reelection campaign and has been involved in other political campaigns and initiatives over the better part of a decade. Sharp previously served as Executive Director of the Georgia Natural Resources Foundation and as Director of Government Affairs for ConnectSouth Public Affairs. She majored in Political Science with a minor in International Affairs at James Madison University. She is active in her local metro Atlanta community and currently serves on the Habersham Estates Board of Directors and Fulton County Chairman Robb Pitts Elections Reform Task Force.