Meet the Team

Steve Brotman

Steve Brotman, an entrepreneur, investor, and fund manager, is the founder and Managing Partner at Alpha Venture Partners. Steve also serves as a Strategic Advisor to the Pritzker Group‘s venture arm, Pritzker Group Venture Capital.

Prior to Alpha Venture Partners, Steve was the co-founder and Managing Director of Greenhill SAVP, Greenhill & Co’s venture capital unit (which was spun out as Tribeca Venture Partners), a technology- and business information services-focused venture capital fund with $100 Million under management. Prior to GSAVP, Steve founded Silicon Alley Venture Partners with $15 million assets under management.  At his prior funds, Steve invested in 30 portfolio companies and was among the first institutional investors in LivePerson (Nasdaq: LPSN) and Medidata Solutions (Nasdaq: MDSO).

Steve was also the co-founder of a venture-backed company, AdOne, the pioneer online classified advertising platform.  AdOne was Steve’s first entrepreneurial effort, which started life as an assignment in an Entrepreneurship class at Columbia Business School. AdOne signed over one third of the newspaper industry, 500 newspapers, and was acquired by a newspaper consortium led by Hearst.  During his entrepreneurial and VC firm career, Steve has been recognized a few times: as a finalist for the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award as well as being named in Crain’s Tech 100, Top 25 Players Shaping Silicon Alley and Top 40 under 40 among New York business leaders.

Steve has previously served on the boards of the MIT Enterprise ForumCritical Mention, DataSynapse (Observer), Medidata (Observer) and Truveris, among others. Steve has been a mentor with the Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator, Blueprint Health, Startup Health, Columbia Business School Lang and Greenhouse Funds. Steve received a joint M.B.A. / J.D from Washington University / Columbia and a B.A. in economics from Duke University.

Brian Smiga

As Operating Partner, Brian builds and works with Alpha’s early stage venture network to source and evaluate investment opportunities and strategy. Brian also advises Pritzker Group Venture Capital on deal origination and relationships.

Prior to Alpha Venture Partners, Brian was the founder and CEO of Preclick, (sold to Smilebox), where he developed photo software licensed worldwide by HP, 3M, Sandisk, Walmart, Costco, CVS, and Walgreens. Prior to Preclick, Mr. Smiga was CEO at 3Path, an Intel and Goldman-Sachs backed startup, and the SVP of Marketing at 1ClickCharge, where his product launch resulted in a sale of the company to CMGi.

Since first working with Mr. Brotman at 1ClickCharge, Mr. Smiga advised Brotman-backed portfolio companies: Altruik, Headliner, Knovel, and Mobile Commons. In the 1990s, Mr. Smiga began his career as a developer at Booz & Co, and in Silicon Valley was cofounder and President of Portfolio Software and Actioneer, where he co-authored six collaboration software patents and licensed top-rated software to Apple, IBM, Lotus, Microsoft, AOL, 3Com, Acco, and others. Brian received a BA in Liberal Arts from Swarthmore College, and a Masters of Philosophy in Literature from Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland. Brian is the founder of TEDxNavesink, a top-ranked TEDx conference, hosted at Asbury Park Boardwalk.

Ben Freeberg

As an analyst at Alpha Venture Partners, Ben diligences investment opportunities, manages AVP’s venture network and provides support for AVP’s portfolio companies. Ben also sources Seed through Series B deals, and curates events in NYC, for the venture capital arm of the Pritzker Group, whom AVP advises.

Prior to joining Alpha Venture Partners, Ben was an investment banking analyst at Peter J. Solomon Company.  He worked closely with the Technology and Media M&A group and Restructuring division, and co-authored two articles published in trade journals.  Ben was an intern at Susquehanna Growth Equity, where he assisted in the closure of SGE’s investment in B-Stock Solutions.  Ben also worked with entrepreneurs while interning with the Council for Entrepreneurial Development in Durham, North Carolina and has presented two of his business ideas at start-up pitch competitions in both Ireland and the annual Duke Start-Up Challenge.

Since 2009, Ben has worked closely with the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Organization, helping to organize annual conferences for this program that is dedicated to leadership, service and innovation.

Ben graduated from Duke University with his B.A. in Economics, a concentration in Finance and a Markets and Management certificate.

Venture Advisors

Daniel DeWolf

As an Advisor and limited partner to Alpha Venture Partners, Daniel provides legal, corporate structure, governance, and venture best practices advice.  Daniel was an formerly a Managing Director at SoundView Technology Group (NASDAQ:SNDV), which sold to Charles Schwab; Head of Venture Capital Funds at SoundView and Wit Capital; and a co-founder of Dawntreader Ventures. Currently, Daniel is the Co-Chair of the Venture Capital and Emerging Practice group at the law firm of Mintz Levin, a law Professor at NYU Law School, and an Advisor and Board member of a number of leading private technology companies.

Charlie Federman

Charlie is a partner with SilverTech Ventures, the technology investment arm of Silverstein Properties. Charlie previously served as a partner in BRM Capital, and led its US activities. Before joining BRM, Charlie spent fifteen years (culminating as Chairman) with the M&A boutique, Broadview, where he advised on more than 100 acquisitions of software/Internet companies.

Erik Jansen

As an Advisor and limited partner to Alpha Venture Partners, Erik brings more than twenty years of technology venture capital investment success and operational experience both in the US and abroad. Erik served as the co-founder and General Partner of Pequot Ventures, the direct venture investment arm of Pequot Capital Management, with close to $2.0 billion under management across five technology PE/VC funds, and one early stage healthcare fund.  Erik serves on the Eli Whitney Investment Advisory Committee of Connecticut Innovations, the State of Connecticut venture fund and resides in Greenwich, Connecticut.

David S. Bennahum

David S. Bennahum is a serial technology entrepreneur, angel investor, and pioneering member of the New York technology community, starting in 1994, when David left his position at McKinsey & Co as an analyst, to  joined the founding team at Wired magazine, as their first reporter in New York, where he helped build the defining magazine of the 1990s.

In 1999, David joined Ammirati Puris Lintas as Executive Vice President, then one of the largest ad agencies in the United States, to lead digital strategy across all divisions.  Clients included Dell, Unilever, Lego, UPS, and Microsoft.  David developed many of the first integrated print / web / television campaigns at scale, including the groundbreaking “Dell 4 Me” campaign in 1999.  David left the agency with its founder, Martin Puris, to form New Things Ventures LLC, an early-stage angel investing fund.  In this era of “Silicon Alley,” during the first phase of Internet growth, David worked to build path-breaking technology enterprises, as an advisor to AdOne, led by Steve Brotman (acquired by Hearst), director of DailyCandy, founded by Dany Levy (acquired by Comcast), and advised MediaBistro (acquired by Jupiter Media).

During the next phase of Internet growth, powered by mobile devices and social media, David co-founded and led Punch, which provided publishing tools for iPad to People Magazine, Time. Inc., JCPenney, Hunter Douglas, and other enterprises.  Punch’s intellectual property was acquired by Kandu.  Co-founded with Geraldine Laybourne (Nickelodeon, Oxygen), Kandu  provides kids with the tools to express their own creativity through apps and games, without knowing how to code.

David has BA from Harvard University, magna cum laude.  He’s the author of Extra Life: Coming of Age in Cyberspace (Basic Books / HarperCollins, 1998).  His first computer was an Atari 800.  First programming language: BASIC.