03. The Team
A. About Us
Nelson has been with Blokable from the beginning - as an advisor since the company’s founding and as co-CEO in 2017. Nelson graduated from Harvard Law School in 1987 and has been an active and continuous member of the California State Bar since 1987. Nelson began his career as a Merger and Acquisition Attorney at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom then went on to become an active impact investor, developer, and philanthropist. In additional to his retail, land and other type of real estate acquisitions and development, Nelson is best known for his efforts in early single asset securitization, as well as the creation of the public-private partnership, design-build paradigm in use today in connection with government and other facilities. More specifically, Nelson designed the structure and drafted all related documents in connection with the creation of credit tenant lease bonds for a public-private waste transfer facility and a private company’s headquarters and manufacturing facility. In each case, Nelson acted as a principal in bond creation and then resold the bonds to institutional investors. Each of the transactions was among the earliest commercial real estate single asset securitizations.
Nelson then went on to create his development-as-a-service model in commercial real estate where he structured the first rated, insured and publicly traded off-balance sheet financings of public-private-civil society partnerships (P3s) developing public facilities. Nelson structured, designed, financed and developed three welfare office projects at a cost of approximately $145 million and gave away the residual value of the projects to impacted communities through not-for-profits he administers to this day. These early P3 efforts became the prototype for an industry of design-build-finance- operate-manage projects around the world in the years following. Nelson personally designed, developed and currently oversees the above referenced projects to effectively privatize risks and socialize profits — later P3 efforts did the inverse. The projects were the first application of Nelson’s prosperity-centric model and required long periods of negotiation and education of rating agencies, bond insurers and underwriters. Nelson is bringing this same structure, process, and creativity to the creation of Blokable’s Housing Development-as-a-Service model.
Aaron’s background is building businesses that transform industries and in 2016, he launched Blokable. Aaron has founded and led businesses and product teams, notably spearheading Amazon’s first two physical retail businesses, Amazon Go and Amazon Books. At Amazon, Aaron saw first-hand the opportunity to apply advanced technology, supply chain and logistics to enable innovative and integrated business models in the built environment. Prior to his time at Amazon, Aaron, among other projects, co-founded Mylio, a software startup that protected and organized large libraries of personal photographs and memories. Mylio has raised over $55M from technology industry leaders including Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Marc Benioff and others. He also co-founded Industrial Color, a global leader in digital media Software as a Service, where he built a world-class team and digital media infrastructure that serviced customers like NBC, Warner Bros, Victoria’s Secret, Sony Pictures, Gap/Old Navy, CBS and Publicis. Aaron was CTO and head of the software business.
Industrial Color sold in successive private equity transactions for over $100M. Aaron has put his deep experience applying advanced technology to transform traditional industries to work at Blokable. He understands the complications inherent to the development of physical space and the opportunity to create the technology and logistics platform necessary to enable Blokable’s Housing Development-as-a-Service model.
Timothy connects the dots between user experience, technology, and business. Through the lens of architect, human-centric industrial designer, and business strategist, he has successfully created and expanded on customer experience for industry leaders including Boeing, Best Buy, Amazon, and LATAM Airlines. Tim’s professional experience merging physical environments and digital technology into holistic customer experiences has made him a sought-after conference speaker and graduate lecturer. He has worked as a design leader within both agency and corporate environments, most notably with AmazonGo, TEAGUE, and HOK Architects. At Blokable, Tim’s career has come full circle, bringing his unique experience to the challenge of creating a new category of housing.
Steph comes to Blokable with over 25 years of manufacturing finance and accounting leadership experience. At TriQuint Semiconductor, a supplier for the smart phone industry, she saw first-hand how economies of scale can bring extraordinary value to consumers. She managed rapid growth, organic and acquired, as the smart phone industry moved from invention to maturity and developed as a global integrated supply chain. Steph led her organization from a small, single site domestic operation to multi-plant international operations funded with equity, convertible debt and commercial debt. As the CFO of a not-for-profit social enterprise Steph saw first-hand that traditional “affordable” housing is subsidized, not affordable. However, the subsidies are insufficient and unsustainable and cannot truly solve the housing crisis. Steph joined Blokable to apply her manufacturing and housing experience to a radical new process for developing and building housing at a scale that will change housing market economics to deliver affordability and prosperity.
Jason Calacanis is a technology entrepreneur, angel investor, and the host of the popular podcasts This Week in Startups and Angel. As a “scout” for top Silicon Valley venture capital firm Sequoia Capital and later as an angel investor, Jason has invested in 150+ early-stage startups including 6 “unicorns” (billion-dollar valuations). His book “Angel: How to Invest in Technology Startups: Timeless Advice from an Angel Investor Who Turned $100,000 into $100,000,000” was published by HarperCollins in July 2017. He lives in San Francisco, California.
YB Choi has been a part of the Venture Capital team at Vulcan Capital since 2008 focusing on early-stage investments driving core technology innovation broadly across many sectors. Prior to joining Vulcan, YB was a manager in the IP Acquisitions and Investments group at Microsoft Corporation. Before joining Microsoft, he was a member of the mergers and acquisitions group at Oppenheimer & Co. (formerly CIBC World Markets) and, earlier, worked in the health care investment banking group at Cowen & Co. YB received his BS in Engineering Management Systems from Columbia University. He advises Venture Investing students at the University of Washington as a W Fund Fellow and is a frequent participant as a judge or panelist at events and conferences focused on early-stage technology investment.
Mitch is a pioneer of the personal computing industry and long-time startup investor. He founded Lotus Development Corporation and designed Lotus 1-2-3, the “killer application” which made the personal computer ubiquitous in the business world in the 1980s. He is the co-founder of The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which protects freedom and privacy on the Internet and served as the founding Chair of Mozilla, creator of the Firefox web browser.
Along with his wife Freada Kapor Klein, for the past decade at Kapor Capital Mitch has developed a vision and practice of investing in tech startups which close gaps of access, opportunity or outcome for low-income communities and communities of color and on founders from underrepresented groups. Through the work of the Kapor Center, Mitch and Freada take a comprehensive approach to removing barriers in education and the workplace for all and fixing the leaks at every stage of the tech pipeline. Mitch serves on the board of SMASH, a non-profit founded by Freada to help underrepresented scholars hone their STEM knowledge while building the networks and skills for careers in tech and the sciences.
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