“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.”
“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
“I’m excited to see how the trip-planning phase of travel will continue to evolve with new technologies. I love seeing innovative solutions that eliminate major pain points, such as booking flights and developing or managing itineraries – basically anything that helps to make the process hassle-free.”
Jennifer is the Communications Manager for JetBlue Technology Ventures. In this role, she drives all external and internal communications efforts including public relations, brand development and content strategy. Jennifer has over a decade of experience in communications and marketing, working with global companies and startups in the hospitality and travel industries. Prior to joining JTV, she worked for a PR agency specializing in crisis communications.
Favorite travel memory: “I visited Sapa, a small mountainous town in northwest Vietnam along the China border. It’s not easy to get to and after a 16-hour flight to Hanoi and overnight train ride from there, I woke to find myself surrounded by picturesque mountains and rice paddy fields. I did a homestay and the host family was incredible. One reason that I travel is to get a feel for other cultures and make connections. For me, being able to sit down at their dinner table was such a special experience.”
JetBlue destination I’d like to visit next: Cartagena, Columbia.
“I’m excited about new transportation ecosystems that will allow highly efficient point-to-point travel. Cost-effective direct flights between small and mid-sized cities will unlock an array of new destinations and connect people in a way we haven’t seen before.”
Lucas is an Investment Analyst at JetBlue Technology Ventures, where he is responsible for the initial screening of investment opportunities, supporting with due diligence and research as well as developing investment recommendations and industry reports. Lucas started his career with internships at Boeing, Strive Insight, an UK-based marketing research company, and Underscore.vc, an early stage venture fund. In school, he was an active member of the Boston startup community via Dorm Room Fund and IDEA: Northeastern’s Venture Accelerator.
Favorite travel memory: “I’m Brazilian and my first trip abroad was to Estoril, Portugal — this beautiful place just south of Lisbon. Brazil and Portugal share a lot of common history, so it all felt very familiar, although alien at the same time. I got to understand my own culture much better. It was fascinating.”
JetBlue destination I’d like to visit next: Lima, Peru