“You have to have a dream for a dream to come true.”
At the age of 14, Bonny Simi set dream goals to be a pilot, Olympian and TV commentator, and they all came true! Bonny is the founding force of JetBlue Technology Ventures (JTV), and enjoys helping entrepreneurs achieve their dreams. She brings more than 25 years of experience in human resources, customer service, industrial engineering, operations and design thinking experience to her role. She joined JetBlue in 2003, and she served in operational and strategic roles across the airline, including most recently as the VP of Talent. Bonny is also an active JetBlue captain and three-time Olympian in the sport of luge. She was also a news reporter in San Francisco, and an Olympic TV commentator. She graduated from Stanford University with three degrees, including MS Management, MS Engineering and a BA in Communications.
Favorite travel memory: “I spent many years traveling around Europe as an athlete in the sport of luge. My favorite memory is walking through the Christmas market (Christkindlmarkt) in old town Innsbruck, with snow gently falling and the scent of roasted chestnuts in the air.”
JetBlue destination I’d like to visit next: Lima, Peru. “I definitely want to hike to Machu Picchu.”
“I often say that if I were king for a day, I’d make everybody travel because I believe that if you went and saw how other people lived, it’d be very hard for you to be biased or prejudiced against them.”
With over 25 years of experience in the innovation and information technology sectors, Raj has worked as a strategist, leader, VC and advisor. Prior to joining JetBlue Technology Ventures, Raj was a mentor at Founder Institute in Palo Alto. Raj was CEO of several companies, including London-based Sooqini, an on-demand task delegator for small businesses; the UK Sharing Coalition, an on-demand economy trade association; and D&L Partners SA, where he set up and ran a consulting firm working with European and Middle East governments to foster increased entrepreneurship. As General Partner and co-founder of Pervasive Technology Ventures and a Principal for the New York-based VC arm of Investcorp, Raj sourced, negotiated and closed new investments in technology-led startups. Raj holds an MBA from INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France, and a B.Sc. (Honors) in Computing Science from Imperial College London.
Favorite travel memory: “I did the Inca trail from Cuzco to Machu Picchu, where essentially you walk up and down in the mountains at altitude and you get to see these very fit 70-year-olds running past you as you suffer from altitude sickness. Breaking through the clouds, arriving at Machu Picchu at 5 a.m. with the sun rising was the most magical, incredible experience.”
Random fact: “I took my first airplane ride when I was six weeks old. We flew from London, where I lived, to Dehli, where my grandparents lived.”
JetBlue destination I’d like to visit next: Bozeman, Montana.
Managing Director, Strategic Partnerships
“Travel is such big part of today’s world, yet most people hate the process of actually getting from A to B. My desire is to remove pain points and improve the process through innovation so the travel experience isn’t just the destination but includes the full journey. The opportunity to improve the quality of people’s lives is enormous.”
Amy’s role is to build an ecosystem of partners and deployment opportunities for the many technologies of JTV’s portfolio companies. She has been a leader in creating, sourcing and implementing innovative technology, products and programs in the travel space for the last 18 years. Amy caught the startup bug from joining Virgin America almost 14 years ago as one of the original founders of the company. She worked in various roles over her tenure at VX in areas of strategy, corporate program leadership, commercial and revenue development, and technology areas including eCommerce, reservations systems and guest products. She ended her time with the company as the Virgin America leader of the integration of the merger with Alaska Airlines. Amy came to Virgin America after working at Continental Airlines in revenue management and corporate development. Amy earned her MBA from Moore School of Business at University of South Carolina and a BS in Applied Health Sciences from American University in Washington DC.
Favorite travel memory: “My husband and I visit St. Thomas often. On one of our first trips we took a ferry to St. John and hiked from the docks up into the hills, ending at an amazingly beautiful beach. The hike took us through some ruins, and to the top of the island with spectacular views. Arriving down at the beach and spending the afternoon relaxing in the gorgeous water after the tough hike just capped off one of my favorite days.”
Random fact: “I lived in Germany for three years. I enjoyed the area and traveled extensively in Europe. Living abroad really taught me to embrace the differences and similarities in the many cultures of the world.”
JetBlue destination I’d like to visit next: Anchorage, Alaska
“What excites me is the idea of leveraging big data and AI in more unique ways for travel. Aircraft components are now equipped with thousands of sensors so you now know more about your fleet of aircraft than ever before and can predict maintenance issues, aircraft downtime, and delays. You also know more about your customers and you can deliver experiences that are meaningful to them.”
Ajay Sharma is an Investor with JetBlue Technology Ventures, where he focuses on early stage consumer and enterprise technologies. His primary investment themes include the use of big data and machine learning to transform consumer and enterprise business applications, the revolution of aircraft maintenance and operations and the evolving regional transportation ecosystem. Prior to joining JetBlue Technology Ventures, Ajay managed early and growth stage investments at Compound Ventures, Bregal Sagemount and Lightview Capital. Before beginning his career in venture capital, Ajay worked at BlackRock in risk management and leveraged finance. Ajay received his MBA from NYU Stern School of Business.
Favorite travel memory: “In business school, I got a chance to go to Tokyo with a hundred of my classmates for ten days. We visited three cities: Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka. It was a great way to get to know my classmates. Tokyo is now one of my favorite cities in the world. It has everything that I love: awesome restaurants, a great night life and great fashion.”
Random fact: “I once went bungee jumping — that might surprise people, because I’m not really a thrill seeker.”
JetBlue destination I’d like to visit next: Cuba
“I’m excited about innovation that fixes the pain points discouraging consumers from traveling, that turns the travel experience from a burden to a delight. These innovations could focus on developing a personalized, seamless customer journey from planning a trip to the journey itself, in which each travel provider knows the customer and reacts dynamically to itinerary changes, customer preferences, and unique needs. It could also be solutions that play a role in developing the airport of the future, turning airports into a destination. I believe the world would be much more empathetic place if we all traveled more and learned to see the world from a different perspective; I’ve spent and will continue to spend my career helping make that easier to do. ”
Christina Heggie is an experienced travel industry professional with deep operational expertise within the hospitality industry and across company business models. Prior to JetBlue Ventures, she launched and ran the marketing for a hospitality technology startup in the Bay Area. Christina’s experience across multiple hotel companies, travel technology startups, and management consulting — including work with Airbnb, Starwood, and Moevenpick — focus her understanding of innovation opportunities within the traditional hospitality industry. Christina graduated from the Stanford Graduate School of Business with her MBA and from the Cornell Hotel School as a Merrill Presidential Scholar, summa cum laude and salutatorian.
Favorite travel memory: “I spent a summer in college working with a nonprofit in Ghana that focused on economic empowerment for local women. My role there involved partnering with the women to build their business plans and train them on basic word processing and financial records. I was so inspired by the drive and ambition these women brought to their work, and their passion to get ahead in life. The warmth I felt from these women was heartwarming, and we spent plenty of sessions laughing and learning more about each other’s lives. From the experience, I took away an understanding of the impact economic empowerment can be in communities and the importance of supporting the local economy in any destination you visit.”
JetBlue destination I’d like to visit next: Aruba. “The island is beautiful, and the location has great scuba diving.”
“My excitement about travel is twofold: First, the fact that the industry is so ripe for disruption. It’s going to develop and it’s going to do so rapidly, whether that’s through flying cars, autonomous vehicles or something else entirely. Second, with innovation comes the ability to provide travel options to folks who wouldn’t have had those opportunities previously. They’ll be able to travel and have new experiences like never before.”
Alex Kaufman is an Investor with JetBlue Technology Ventures, where he focuses on early stage software and finance technologies. He has a particularly strong interest in innovative solutions enabling the next generation of revenue, distribution, and sales applications, including the use of the blockchain. Prior to joining JetBlue Technology Ventures, Alex gained deep operation expertise working for two startups in the Bay Area, most recently as the Manager of Strategy & Finance at One Medical Group. Before beginning his career in the venture and startup-world, Alex worked at Bank of America Merrill Lynch as a technology investment banker.
Favorite travel memory: “Hiking in Rwanda to track mountain gorillas on my honeymoon. It was an incredible experience in the Volcanoes National Park in the Rwandan mountains. We were able to hike and track families of gorillas and just observe in such close proximity to these amazing animals. My wife was actually playfully bumped by one of the baby gorillas. Truly something I’ll never forget.”
Random fact: “While I majored in English at Amherst College, I minored in Film Theory & Studies, and wrote my thesis on Alfred Hitchcock’s work.”
JetBlue destination I’d like to visit next: Turks and Caicos
“I’m excited about the opportunity to find previously untapped opportunities to innovate within the entire travel ribbon, particularly within the group travel and loyalty spaces. JetBlue Airways has such a strong history of innovation, so it’s really exciting to see how receptive they’ve been to JTV and enthusiastic to collaborate.”
Elizabeth “Bess” Chapman works with portfolio companies to create compelling value propositions for JetBlue, source new technology and identify emerging trends. Prior to joining JTV, Bess worked in Product Development at JetBlue Airways, where she led the content, partnerships and entertainment technology team. In this role she drove the product and monetization strategy for JetBlue’s high-speed Wi-Fi and seatback technologies onboard. Before joining JetBlue, Bess worked at several media organizations, for IBM’s business analytics consulting division and for a boutique media and entertainment consulting firm. Bess received her B.A. from Georgetown University.
Favorite travel memory: “I traveled alone through Jordan and it was an incredible experience to be immersed in a culture so different from ours. The people were incredibly friendly and welcoming and it was amazing to see how their rich history affected modern day life.”
JetBlue destination I’d like to visit next: Quito, Ecuador
“I’m an efficiency person. I’m excited by anything that makes travel more efficient and less painful along the way. I’m an engineer by training, I can’t help it.”
Dana has a drive, insatiable curiosity, and attention to detail that shapes the way she navigates complex projects. As the Operations Manager of JetBlue Technology Ventures, she uses her experience and management skills to help run the business. During her career, she has managed multi-million dollar projects and teams in areas as diverse as Engineering, Operations, Marketing, Strategic Planning and Customer Service. A Mechanical Engineer with an MBA, she has a unique perspective that allows her to successfully work with both the technical and strategic sides of business.
Favorite travel memory: “My dad had to undergo a medical procedure in Minnesota. He wouldn’t admit he was nervous, but I knew he would feel better if I were there. I flew in and surprised him. It was priceless to see his expression when he saw me standing outside his door. We had a wonderful couple of days and the procedure went well. I’ve had fun traveling far and wide, but nothing compares to being there for someone you love.”
JetBlue destination I’d like to visit next: Boston
“As travelers are given more opportunities to explore places previously inaccessible, the travel industry is making a noticeable impact on countries around the world. Striking a balance between economic development, sustainable practices, and cultural preservation is a really interesting problem to me. I am excited about travel innovation that is able to make a positive impact while maintaining a frictionless travel experience.”
Elodie is an Investment Analyst at JetBlue Technology Ventures, where she conducts initial screenings of potential investment opportunities, supports in due diligence processes, prepares industry research, and develops investment recommendation reports. Prior to joining JTV, Elodie worked at a social enterprise startup in Kenya, a financial consulting firm in Spain, and an investment banking firm in Boston. During her time at university, she was active in the Boston startup ecosystem, serving as the Operations Lead at IDEA: Northeastern University’s Venture Accelerator. Elodie received her B.S. in International Business from Northeastern University.
Favorite travel memory: “Once a year my sister and I go on a backpacking trip. In 2015, we did South America. In 2016, we did Eastern Europe. And in 2017, we did East & Southern Africa. One night while we were in Estonia, someone in the hostel told us about an overnight boat that takes you from Tallinn, Estonia to St. Petersburg, Russia. Within the hour, we had sorted out a boat, reshuffled our itinerary, and had begun packing to leave for Russia. The next 72 hours in St. Petersburg were incredible, not just because of the culture, food, and sights, but because it was a decision that embodied everything we loved about backpacking: spontaneity.”
JetBlue destination I’d like to visit next: Medellin, Colombia
“I’m extremely passionate about leveraging new and innovative technologies like blockchain, machine learning, and smart contracts to fundamentally alter the entire travel experience and automate many business processes. Technology is at the heart of travel innovation, from ride-sharing and electric scooter companies changing our daily commutes to innovative flying-taxi and electric regional aircraft companies setting the stage for the next generation of air travel. I’m excited to look for the next set of game changers who will make us rethink travel experiences, the sharing economy, and travel related infrastructure.”
Matt Miller is an Investment Analyst at JetBlue Technology Ventures, where he conducts initial screenings of potential investment opportunities, supports due diligence processes, and prepares industry research. Prior to joining JTV, Matt worked in finance and strategy at Oracle, technology investment banking, and business development for Crunchyroll. He also interned at Stanford Medical School, where he was a semifinalist in NPR’s Nationwide Competition “Your Idea to Change the World,” for his haptic and virtual reality research. He received his B.S. in Finance from Santa Clara University, where he was the local blockchain expert.
Favorite travel memory: “I spent a semester abroad in college in Barcelona and flew there from SFO through Charlotte. The flight to Charlotte was significantly delayed and the airline moved another family taking the same flight to Barcelona and I to the front row because we’d have to run to make the connection. They didn’t speak much English, so I started talking to them through my broken Spanish, and we bonded while sprinting to our connecting flight in Charlotte, with their youngest screaming “Corre, corre” as we tried to keep up with him. Three weeks later, I’m having dinner at their house in a small town outside of Barcelona, which was an experience I cherish and think about to this day.”
JetBlue destination I’d like to visit next: Barbados