Announcing Pillar VC’s New Partners

Venture Capital is a people business. Choosing an investor is a big decision for a founder – we often collaborate with each other for over a decade. Since launching 8 years ago, we’ve been intentional about building a trusted team of investors. We are all former founders, engineers and scientists, who speak the same language as the founders we back.

Today, we’re happy to share that Parker McKee, Tony Kulesa and Thomas de Vlaam have all been promoted to Partner. This update reflects a role they have already been playing at our firm – exploring ideas at the frontier of technology, leading investments and supporting founders building next-generation pillar companies.

Parker McKee was the first person to ever draw a paycheck at our firm, spending two summers with us before joining our team full-time in 2018. He is a born investor; his insatiable curiosity pulls him deep into new topics of exploration, from data infrastructure and construction tech to robotics and crypto. Parker co-founded our Co-Founder Matching program, bringing technical and business leaders together to start new ventures. During his six years at our firm, Parker has been a frequent presence in the halls of MIT and Harvard, spending time in labs meeting with scientists who are pursuing commercial applications for their work. Earlier this year, he casually mentioned to us that he would be running his first marathon (just a few weeks later); he brings his whole self to every new challenge he takes on. Parker is involved with Pillar VC companies including Reclaim, Adaptilens, Acelab, Verve, SphereX, and Topologic.

Tony Kulesa received his PhD at MIT; he was working at the Broad Institute and was running the MIT BioMakerspace and several entrepreneurial programs on campus when we met in 2019. We had mentioned to Pillar VC portfolio founder, Alec Niesen (CEO, Asimov), that we were interested in delving deeper into the intersection of tech and bio, and he singled out Tony as someone we had to meet. Together, we co-founded Petri, an accelerator for early-stage bio companies. We were so energized by working with Tony that he joined our team full-time in Fund III to build our bio practice. Tony’s life’s mission is to help more scientists become founders, and in 2021, he wrote a passionate essay, The Future of Biotech is Founder-Led. Scientists embraced the call to action, and Tony has since led the charge in developing the Founder-Led Biotech Summit, which has attracted close to 4,500 scientists and founders around the globe. As a father of two young children, we’re not sure where Tony finds the energy to send us Slack messages at 2 am letting us know about the latest AI tool he built – but we’re grateful for his energy!

Thomas de Vlaam joined us two years ago from Flagship Pioneering, where he was working on new company creation. Prior to Flagship, Thomas was Co-Founder and CEO at Amylon Therapeutics, a spinout of ProQR focused on RNA therapeutics to treat rare neurodegenerative disease. Thomas has walked in the shoes of a Founder, and brings a deep sense of empathy and experience developing new companies to our team, paired with a founder’s optimism around what can go right. Thomas hails from the Netherlands, and has a sharp sense of humor, magnetic energy and a compassionate disposition that builds trust and loyalty with everyone he meets. Within weeks of joining our team, he was flooded with outreach from good friends and colleagues who have since become Pillar portfolio founders.

We’re very happy to recognize the impact Parker, Tony and Thomas have made on our firm and our community, and we hope you’ll reach out to say hello if you’re working on something new.

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