Meet the people behind Skoden Ventures!
We are based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but our team spans across the globe.
Kelly Holmes founded her first company, Native Max Magazine, at age 20. Growing up on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota, Kelly noticed a lack of Native people in fashion and media and resolved to create her own magazine. Native Max Magazine is the first fashion magazine of it’s kind – focused entirely on Native fashion and promoting self-esteem, self-respect, and pride in Native communities. Kelly is also the founder of Native Fashion in the City, a global network and platform committed to strengthening the impact and influence of Indigenous Fashion around the world by supporting the next generation of Indigenous fashion talents.
Sharing her wealth of knowledge and entrepreneurialism, Kelly is the Lead Faculty of Creatives Indigenous, an entrepreneur program that takes Indigenous creative entrepreneurs from the starting line to start-up status and beyond through an array of programs, education, resources and more.
Kelly is currently a Founding Partner with Skoden Ventures, the first Native female-founded venture fund that focuses on supporting very early stage start-up ventures with Indigenous, Black, Brown and women founders. Kelly utilizes her significant personal experience and long expertise in start-ups to help disrupt the traditional VC model, helping make capital accessible to historically-excluded communities. She is also a Founding Board Member of the Native American Venture Capital Association.
An accomplished angel investor and accelerator founder, Alice Loy is widely recognized as a driving force behind the global creative entrepreneurship movement. She is particularly interested in investing in and growing companies led by women and underestimated entrepreneurs. Alice is working alongside Kelly to build the nation’s first venture capital firm led by Indigenous, Black, Brown, and female entrepreneurs focused on creative sectors.
As a founder with deep operational expertise and a talent for building effective teams, Alice built from scratch what is now the world’s leading entrepreneurship accelerator for creative entrepreneurs. Under Alice’s leadership, Creative Startups has grown to serve over 120 creative companies annually in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and across the USA. Alice has helped over Creative Startups accelerator alumni companies raise more than $300 million in venture financing and has been the first investor in companies including Meow Wolf, Embodied Labs, and Native Realities. Alice holds an MBA (2002) and a PhD (2012) and speaks Spanish fluently.
Dean Newton is an Investment Manager, and Chief Legal Officer/Secretary and GP of Relevance Ventures, based in Nashville, Tennessee. Relevance is currently managing their fourth fund, focusing investments primarily in wellness companies. Prior to joining Relevance Ventures, Dean served as AGC for Blackboard Inc., with responsibility for its Blackboard Campus Enablement (formerly Transact) Fintech and security business units as well as its Community Engagement SaaS platforms. Previously, Dean was Chief Operating Officer of Emotive Communications, a company he co-founded in 2006 to enable the peer-to-peer distribution of media through mobile devices.
Dean also served as General Counsel at Moviso, the first and largest ringtone company in North America, where he authored the first licensing structures that brought music to mobile phones, and lead the company through its acquisition by InfoSpace Inc. He is a music and technology attorney by training, having worked at Gang, Tyre, Ramer & Brown in Beverly Hills, California, where his practice included representing recording artists and media companies in entertainment-related transactions. He began his career in corporate practice with Los Angeles-based firm Gibson, Dunn, & Crutcher LLP. Dean is a graduate of Harvard University, where he received both B.A. and J.D. degrees. Dean is a member of the Patawomeck Indian Tribe, and serves on the Boards of a number of companies and organizations.
Dr. Chris Brooks is a co-founder and managing partner of Brown Venture Group, where he is actively involved in deploying their $50M inaugural fund. He is also co-owner and founding partner of Firehouse Commons, an emerging business incubator in South Minneapolis.
Dr. Brooks has developed a strong reputation as a trusted, results-oriented leader. He is an investor, executive, educator, and advisor with more than 25 years of demonstrated success across multiple sectors and industries. His chief passion is the intersection of race, faith, and economics, and he has focused his research and work on architecting and leading solutions for individuals, families, and communities caught in the vicious cycle of generational poverty.
A serial tech entrepreneur, Trevor sold BigTeam to Mailchimp in 2020 and now leads Mailchimp’s product development team. BigTeam was an award-winning feedback platform that made it silly simple to engage customers, users, and fans through feedback. Trevor has invested as an angel in over a dozen tech companies and is active in the Atlanta startup community.
Trevor “accidentally” started Zero Proof in 2021; the company is now the nation’s largest distributor of alcoholic-free adult beverages. Trevor is an active angel investor in New Mexico, making 10 investments in the past decade.
Dr. Lee Francis 4 (Laguna Pueblo) is the Executive Director of Native Realities, dedicated to unleashing the Indigenous imagination through popular culture, including comic books, graphic novels, games, toys, and collectibles. Established in 2015, the company has published the largest assortment of Indigenous-centric comic books in the world.
Lee received his Ph.D. in Education from Texas State University with a focus on Indigenous education systems and Indigenous leadership. As an evaluator, Dr. Francis specializes in Indigenous evaluation methods, advising national Native/Indigenous organizations to conduct system and program evaluations.
Anthony was an early employee of Praetorian, worked for several years with Electronic Arts (EA) and now leads a cybersecurity engineering team with AirBnB. He holds both a Bachelor’s and Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. Anthony and his wife live near his ancestral homelands on the Navajo Nation.
As a professional touring artist, Raashan has built his brand and career through partnerships and a deep understanding of the business of his craft. As an entrepreneur, Raashan has leveraged his expertise to support startups across a range of industries. He is a skilled dealmaker and has an extensive network of contacts that he draws upon to source and evaluate investment opportunities. Raashan is also adept at guiding startups through the various stages of growth, from company formation to strategic alliances.
Raashan Ahmad is a seasoned entrepreneur with a wealth of experience in company formation and growth, and strategic alliances. He is also a multi-talented and visionary artist who seamlessly blends his passion for music, poetry, community work, and activism.
Ray Leach is the founding CEO of JumpStart Inc. This Cleveland, Ohio-based non-profit venture development organization has gained a national best-in-class reputation for its innovative economic development models and its ability to leverage its experience and expertise across the U.S.
Ray is considered a national thought and practice leader at the intersection of public, private, and philanthropic partnerships accelerating private-sector investment capital, job creation, and increasing inclusive economic outcomes in neighborhoods, cities, states, and regions.
Ray was a Sloan Fellow and a graduate of the MIT Sloan School of Management and the University of Akron. He began his career at IBM and went on to co-found four startups. Ray was a founding member of the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE) and currently serves on the for-profit boards of Axuall, Smithers, and Signet LLC.
Ray served a Director with the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) and received the NVCA American Spirit Award in 2017 in recognition of his leadership. During his tenure at NVCA, Ray served as Chair of the NVCA Alumni Council and as a founding member of the NVCA Diversity Task Force.
Vatsal has mentored dozens of startups and is proficient in guiding founders as they develop management dashboards, establish internal controls, and scale up financial and accounting systems. Vatsal Shah has worked with Creative Startups since 2017, building the infrastructure of the organization’s accounting and financial systems. He has provided leadership in monitoring all facets of budgeting, forecasting, financial analysis including management of federal grants.
Vatsal is a Chartered Accountant and holds an MBA in Finance from the University of New Mexico. He is skilled in all areas of accounting and financial analysis and management. Over the past 15 years Vatsal as worked as an internal auditor for a large university, as CFO for a startup that raised $4 million in financing, and as an analyst and due diligence officer for an inventory-based lending firm with offices in New York and Delhi.
A front end web developer with a range of skills in data management and the integration of operational and office systems, Purva supports back office operations. Purva holds a Masters Degree in Business from the S. R. Luthra Institute of Management.
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