Dr. Vicki Rabenou
Founder, CEO and President
Inspired by her first-hand experience taking Israeli startups to the U.S. market, Dr. Rabenou created StartUp Nation Ventures with a goal to facilitate and fast-track the entire process of propelling entrepreneurial dreams into revenue-generating realities. Under Dr. Rabenou’s leadership, SUNV secured top-tier financial, academia, and corporate partnerships and created an infrastructure able to accommodate individual companies’ needs with financial, operational, and social support.
With more than 20 years experience in the Israeli high-tech and health-tech industries, Dr. Rabenou also has a passion for furthering Florida’s role as a gateway to the U.S. startup market. She has a proven record of identifying and developing opportunities for growth and expansion, taking companies through the entire life cycle, from inception to sustainability, profitability, and ultimately, an IPO.
Propelled by her success founding Rad Biosciences and winning the prestigious Israeli government tender to establish and run the biomed incubator, Dr. Rabenou was selected to serve as a director on Israel’s bio-tech and high-tech Incubators Investment Committees. In this role, Dr. Rabenou vetted hundreds of startups seeking government funding and identified a variety of successful companies in their early stages.
Dr. Rabenou was born and raised in Jerusalem, where she also received her MD degree from the Hebrew University and later served as a practicing OB/GYN at Hadassah Medical Center. An avid horseback rider with a passionate for all animals, Dr. Rabenou’s philanthropic efforts benefit several animal shelters and organizations. She has three children and currently resides in the Tampa Bay area with her husband, four dogs, and three horses.
Founder, Chief Operating Officer
A.J. Ripin brings to SUNV his vast experience in entrepreneurship and business development, marketing, product management, emerging technologies, instructional design, and mobile learning. He is a future thinker who is so deeply entrenched in Florida’s startup landscape that he is well-recognized in the area as a leader, known for founding organizations and communities centered on promoting and advocating for innovation entrepreneurs.
As a co-founder of SUNV, A.J. delivers key partnerships integral to funding and facilitating the goals of our entrepreneurs and their startups. He is also involved in the planning and execution of individual High-Touch Capital™ programs to accommodate the unique needs and onboarding of our portfolio companies. A.J. serves on several boards of directors in ongoing efforts to further the innovation industry in Florida and the U.S.
A committed husband and father to two daughters, A.J. regularly commutes between Florida coasts, almost always making it home for story time.
Matthew specializes in delivering technology solutions with an intense focus on bottom-line results. Over the past 15 years he successfully led the design, develop, and implementation of technology products in academic institutions and corporate enterprises. Matthew has extensive experience in managing enterprise deployments of HR technology platforms and solutions. Matthew holds a B.S. in Computer Science from North Carolina State University.
Vanessa Zabala focuses on building the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Florida through strategic alliances with national and international actors. Vanessa has worked with business and microfinancing in Ghana, economic development in Chile, and private equity investment in D.C., among other projects. Vanessa obtained a Master of Science in International Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is trilingual, speaking Spanish, English, and conversational French.
Analyst, Israel Office
Sean Gura leads the StartUp Nation Ventures Israel office where he conducts due diligence on early stage startups – combining his interest in finance and entrepreneurship. Sean has experience in private equity, financial advising, and entrepreneurship with an extensive background in both Israel and the United States. He studied at the University of Pennsylvania and University of Florida, obtaining a Master of Science in Finance. Sean is fluent in English and Hebrew.