Marco Veremis

Upstream Co-founder and

Executive Chairman of the Board

Marco is Upstream’s Co-founder and Executive Chairman of the Board, driving the corporate development agenda of the company.
Prior to founding Upstream, Marco was a marketing strategist at leading advertising agencies Grey Advertising, McCann-Ericsson and DDB, in London. Marco developed global communications strategies for brands such as Nestlé, Coca-Cola, Sony and SmithKline Beecham.
Marco is an active angel investor in technology companies and board director at Persado, a leading cognitive content platform with Bain Capital Ventures as the lead investor, and Workable, a breakthrough recruitment software company with Greylock Partners as co-investor. Marco is also a lead investor and sits on the board of Intellibox, a leading handset recycling technology company.
In parallel, he is a mentor at Endeavor and Openfund, and contributes to the board of the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE), as well as to the overseeing council of the diaNEOsis think tank. He has served as Vice-Chairman of the Hellenic Association of Mobile Application Companies (HAMAC) and has received the EY Greek “Entrepreneur of the Year” 2013 award.
Marco holds a BA in Politics and International Studies from Warwick University and an MPhil in European Studies from Oxford University.

Alex Vratskides

Co-founder & Board Member

In his role as Board Director, Alex assists the management team with Upstream’s corporate development. His current operational role is CEO of Persado, a leading cognitive content platform, which he founded. He co-founded Upstream in 2001 and served as the company’s CEO from 2004 to 2012. Prior to Upstream, Alex worked as a management consultant at OC&C/McKenna Group, based out of Boston. He is the first angel investor for Lulu, where he is also a board member, and he serves on the board of advisors of Seyyer and Workable HR. Alex holds a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics from Columbia University, and a Master’s in Operations Research from Cornell University.

Guy Krief

Chief Executive Officer

Guy is Upstream’s Chief Executive Officer. He drives Upstream’s strategic vision and growth into new geographies and products. Guy joined Upstream in 2004 and since then has served in multiple Product and Innovation roles. Prior to becoming CEO, Guy held the position of Upstream’s Chief Innovation Officer.
Guy has also co-founded Persado, a Bain Capital Ventures backed company, where he has served as the company’s SVP of Product & Innovation, in charge of product management, algorithmic research, and software development.
Guy has followed a diverse career path, which has seen him own a French pastry shop, found a messaging start-up, write and star in his own TV comedy series and host his own radio show. He was also previously a marketing manager for Wanadoo, France Telecom, in Paris, which became Orange. Guy holds a Master’s degree in Social Psychology from the Sorbonne in Paris.

Ali Mazanderani

Board Member

Ali is a Director at Actis, having joined in 2010. He is the sector lead for financial services transactions in Africa and has been instrumental in several transactions including the investments in EMPH, PayCorp, CSH and Upstream. Current board directorships include Upstream, CSH and PayCorp. Before Actis, Ali was Lead Strategy Consultant for First National Bank in Johannesburg. Prior to that, he advised private equity and corporate clients for OC&C Strategy Consultants in London. Ali has an undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of Pretoria, a Masters in Economics from Oxford University, a Masters in Economic History from the London School of Economics, and an MBA from INSEAD.

Fash Sawyerr

Board Member

Fash joined Actis in 2010 after 10 years at Bain and Company. Fash works closely with Actis’s portfolio companies to add value to the investments through strategic and operational improvements. His primary focus is Africa. Fash sits on the boards of Vlisco Group and Anthelio Healthcare. In his time at Bain, Fash worked in the Johannesburg, Tokyo and London offices focusing on growth strategy and profit optimisation for clients in the industrials, telecoms and resources sectors. Many of his clients were private equity owned companies. Prior to Bain, Fash spent three years as a process engineer and plant supervisor for Ashanti Goldfields in Ghana. Fash holds a Bachelor’s degree with honours from Princeton University.

Richard Wilson

Board Member

Richard is an investor in and Non-Executive Director of Upstream. Previously he was a private equity and venture capital professional for 17 years at Apax Partners, ultimately heading the Tech & Telecom Practice worldwide and serving on Apax’s Investment, Portfolio and Exit Committees. During this period, he was a board member of buy-outs such as Inmarsat (satellite operator), TDC (Danish telecoms provider) and NXP Semiconductors, as well as a number of small high-growth companies such as Autonomy (enterprise software). Recently he has been a board member of PA Consulting Group and was Chairman of its Compensation and Succession Committee. In 2009-10 he was Chairman of EVCA, the European Private Equity and Venture Capital Association, and Chairman of the Public Affairs Executive. Richard holds a MA in Engineering from the University of Cambridge and a MBA from INSEAD.

Paul Donovan

Board Member

Paul is currently Chief Executive Officer of ODEON and UCI Cinemas, the leading European cinema operator. He is a Non Executive Director of Millicom Cellular International, an international telecoms business, and Upstream SA, a privately held emerging markets m-commerce player. His earlier career was spent in the fast moving consumer goods industry with Mars and Coca-Cola before moving to the tech sector where he worked for Apple Computers, BT and Cable & Wireless. Paul joined Vodafone in 1999, and from 2004 was a member of Vodafone’s Group Executive Committee with responsibility for the Group’s operations in emerging markets. He served from 2009-12 as Chief Executive Officer of Eircom, Ireland’s leading telecommunications company. Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts in Scandinavian Studies from University College London and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Bradford.


Other Board Members: Fabian Sires, Ingrid Moinet, Geneviève Koschnicke