“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
“Technology is helping us speed towards the future, but managing a booking or maneuvering an airport can feel like the past. That’s why it’s incredibly exciting to be a part of a team and company focusing on the role and impact that innovation has within travel. We want to improve travel experiences and efficiencies for customers and crewmembers – and ensure the sustainability of our planet while doing so.”
As our communications and marketing manager, Ashley helps to increase awareness and exposure of the ideas and people defining the future of travel. She handles the internal and external communications and storytelling for JetBlue Technology Ventures – including media relations, brand partnerships, and event engagement – and advises our portfolio companies on these efforts during key milestones. Prior to joining JTV, Ashley spent over six years with the leading global communications marketing firm Edelman where she provided communications and crisis counsel to some of the world’s biggest brands including Salesforce, Starbucks, PayPal, and Gap Inc. Ashley graduated from the George Washington University with a B.A. in International Business.
Favorite travel memory: In early 2017, my dad and I went on a 10-day trip together through Patagonia in South America. The time we spent just the two of us hiking and talking about everything under the sun are memories I will cherish forever. I learned so much more about him and his life, pushed myself to a new level of physical feat, and was humbled by one of the most beautiful places on earth.
JetBlue destination I’d like to visit next: Mexico City
Program Manager, Innovation
“Every facet of our day-to-day lives has been disrupted and improved with technology, and yet the travel experience remains largely the same. The startup world has woken up to this opportunity and the travel tech space has grown exponentially in the past couple of years. I’m very excited to be a part of this ecosystem with JetBlue Technology Ventures and look forward to enhancing the travel experience with innovative technologies and fresh ideas.”
As program manager, Gidi Fisher partners with our portfolio companies to integrate, implement and test these new technologies at JetBlue. He also works closely with our international partners to share best practices, collaborate on new initiatives and connect them to startups looking to expand their reach and deploy in new markets. Prior to joining JTV, Gidi led the Innovation Program at JetBlue Airways, oversaw the North American region for a smart transportation startup and founded a B2C eCommerce startup. Gidi received his B.A. from Tufts University.
Favorite travel memory: World Cup 2018, without a doubt. The energy, the people and the games made Moscow an unforgettable experience for my family and I. We weren’t sure what to expect coming in and were blown away by how welcoming the locals and the entire city were to outsiders. The atmosphere was exhilarating with so many different nationalities coming together to celebrate the world’s game.
Travel destination: Mexico City
“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
“Travel, in some capacity or another, touches nearly every person. Whether you are driving an hour away for a weekend getaway or flying clear across the world for a business meeting, everyone “travels” and it is those stories of travel woes that unite us all! I am thrilled to be a member of the JetBlue Technology Ventures team working tirelessly to change the narrative from travel disasters to travel triumphs. The experience of traveling will undoubtedly morph as times change and people change, but as leaders driving innovation in the travel industry, it’s our mission that people’s travel triumphs far outweigh their travel disasters.”
As our office manager, Erica keeps us all humming smoothly. She handles the day-to-day operational needs of the office, and also assists with budgeting and human resources. Prior to joining JTV, Erica spent 15+ years in marketing and market research in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry where she honed her project management, client service and organizational skills. After taking some time off to raise her family, she made the leap to a completely different industry and has now joined JTV where she is engaged in travel and innovation. Erica received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Biology, and a Masters in Pharmaceutical and Experimental Therapeutics from the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
Favorite travel memory: When I was 13, I spent two weeks in Italy with my grandmother, a great aunt, and another aunt and uncle. Having been raised in a small town in Pennsylvania, this was my first time leaving the country. Everything we experienced from the rental car (a tiny Fiat!) to the hotels to the restaurants to haggling with the street vendors was so eye opening! I still think about that trip often as my daughter is now the same age I was when I went to Italy. It was such a special trip with some of my favorite people and a memory I will cherish forever.
JetBlue destination I’d like to visit next: Grand Cayman Islands