Aquaculture For Good

A fish farming boom has taken place across the globe, and it's only just begun…

Our people

Mike Velings

Founder, Managing Partner

A lifelong entrepreneur, Mike has spent decades jumpstarting a range of successful businesses. Among other ventures, he co-founded Connexie, which has helped catalyze a professional employment industry across the Netherlands.

Mike naturally combines his business background with environmental and social engagement. He’s concerned for the planet and its inhabitants, and understands the potential for business to create durable solutions to complex world problems. With this in mind, Mike founded A-Spark Good Ventures: an investment company that assists entrepreneurs across the globe in realizing their visions of a start-up with a world-changing element. A-Spark invests in a broad range of ventures – from US-based software companies to international organic food manufacturers to India-based transportation systems. Each of A-Spark’s investments are both commercially successful and good for the planet, the population, and future generations. Not unlike A-Spark itself, each has a spirited, passionate, and innovative entrepreneur at its helm.

mike (at)


Amy Novogratz

Managing Partner

Amy served as director of the TED Conference’s annual TED Prize for almost a decade, leading more than twenty global collaborations across a broad spectrum of sectors, including healthcare, education, science, technology, conservation, art, and activism.

Her list of notable projects include: Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue, Jamie Oliver’s Food revolution, JR’s Inside Out Project, and Bono’s among others. Prior to TED, Amy spent the early part of her career in Washington, DC, where she helped start the Social Policy Action Network. She also helped develop and produce a global media project. Having played a key role in dozens of global start-ups, Amy is adept at judging and executing on great ideas.

amy (at)


Stephanie Rakels

Development & Investor Relations Director

Stephanie has been with A-Spark since its inception, working with a small team at its launch in 2011. Since then, Stephanie has been one of the lead investment managers, overseeing a broad range of investments, from SMV Wheels to Think Beyond Plastic. She developed and manages the Aqua-Spark expert team. Prior to A-Spark, she worked with several healthcare projects, focusing on nutrition as well as rehabilitation services in businesses and local communities. Stephanie spent 2 years setting up a local, sustainable, and community-run healthcare center in East Africa. Stephanie worked on the ground in Tanzania, hiring and leading a local team and creating community partnerships to assess need and build successful, community-owned healthcare systems. Between 2000 and 2006, Stephanie started and ran a nutrition and healthcare business. Her experience working with local communities to develop and create solutions focused on possibilities instead of problems is what ignited her passion for helping SMEs launch and grow.

stephanie (at)


Frank van Roest

Investment Manager

Prior to Aqua-Spark, Frank was an associate at Stichting de Verre Bergen, a Rotterdam based Venture Philanthropy Fund. He played a lead role in the due diligence process and managed several grantees, varying from a sports participation program for over a thousand kids to a new innovative museum. Frank received a Master in Business Administration and a Master inInternational Economics & Business, both at the University of Groningen. He spent half a year in Brussels researching commercial spin-offs from universities. Frank has a passion for travel. He believes that business solutions play a key role in solving complex social, environmental and economic world problems.

frank (at)

Tom Prins

Dealflow Manager

In 2015 Tom received his master in Business Geography at the Utrecht University. During the program he worked in the Gulf region with the Netherlands Agricultural Attaché for GCC countries and the Netherlands Embassy in the Sultanate of Oman. Whilst in Oman he got to conduct his master research on the development of a local aquaculture industry within an oil dominated economy. Additionally he organised several matchmaking events to bring both public, private and knowledge sector from Oman and the Netherlands to the table to discuss the business opportunities on hand and efforts needed to grow the industry. Tom has a great passion for the ocean and is a fervent surfer.

tom (at)

Rachel Mehlsak

Legal and Fund Administration Director

Rachel received her law degree (J.D.) from Harvard Law School. Prior to joining Aqua-Spark, she worked as a staff attorney for a legal aid agency in Los Angeles, California, where she represented low-income clients in a variety of home equity and consumer rights matters related to mortgage foreclosure prevention, title fraud, and consumer debt, including through litigating in court, negotiating agreements between parties, and communicating with government regulatory agencies. In that role, she also coordinated the efforts of a coalition of five legal services agencies, including organizing a statewide housing policy conference. She has previously served as a law clerk to two U.S. judges at the state supreme court and federal district court levels, and worked as a program coordinator for a philanthropic foundation whose grantees seek to achieve change through economic and social empowerment for women and girls. Rachel manages, among other items, all contractual, legal and compliance related matters at Aqua-Spark.

rachel (at)

Frank van der Gelt

Investment Manager

Frank works with Aqua-Spark’s portfolio companies on helping them to develop sustainably. He is motivated by the belief that profit and social purpose go hand in hand and that we are able to make the world look differently at aquaculture.

Originally, Frank studied Constitutional and Human Law. Although this had a big influence on his thinking about social inclusion and sustainability, his career went on a different path. In 6 years at Rabobank, Frank worked in different roles from trainee to business partner and learned how to use finance as a means to an end goal. He is also currently completing his MBA at RSM in Rotterdam and writing his thesis on impact measurement.

Frank is a content-driven professional with an eye for the process and the long term strategy, and he brings to Aqua-Spark fresh ideas on how to manage business challenges. He enjoys making these processes a real team effort, and creating together with the entrepreneurs in the Aqua-Spark portfolio a profitable and positive impact on the global community.

frankvandergelt (at)

Isaac Fraynd

Dealflow Manager

Prior to Aqua-Spark, Isaac worked as an Investment Banking Analyst at Deutsche Bank’s New York office. Isaac worked within the Latin America Group, across sectors, primarily focusing on Mergers & Acquisitions. He worked on three successful transactions and various pitches in which he played a crucial role in market analysis, financial modelling, valuation scenarios, and deal execution.  Isaac is a firm believer in impact investing’s role in a better future while complementing financial returns. Isaac is from Panama City, Panama and received a Bachelors of Science in Economics as well as a certificate in Energy and the Environment from Duke University. He is very passionate about travel and is quite the food fanatic.


isaac (at)

Marjolein Jetten

HR Director

Marjolein is driven by her passion for working with people, and she has a strong ability to make connections between people and organizations. She has previously worked in the area of human resources (HR) management for international companies such as Reed Elsevier, the VNU media group and Randstad, as well as SMEs and non-profit organizations. After a number of years of living in the U.S., she returned to the Netherlands and continued her career in HR consultancy at a psychological consulting firm. In 2014, Marjolein started her own HR consulting firm. She is also a member of a supervisory board in education with an HR portfolio. Marjolein is responsible for all HR-related issues at Aqua-Spark.

marjolein (at)

Elizabeth Pederson

General Counsel

Elizabeth heads the Legal, Finance, and Compliance team at Aqua-Spark. She has more than ten years of legal advice and litigation experience in a variety of national and international jurisdictions. Past roles include policy and trial work at the International Criminal Court and civil representation of the City and County of San Francisco. A lifelong social change advocate and former Peace Corps volunteer, Elizabeth has spearheaded numerous charity initiatives. She founded the nonprofit Ms. JD and served as the President of the Board of Directors for six years, creating programs such as the Global Education Fund, which enabled women in Uganda to receive legal educations. Elizabeth graduated Order of the Coif with Pro Bono Distinction from Stanford Law School and also earned a M.P.A. from the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan as a Frey Foundation Fellow and a B.A. summa cum laude with highest honors from Brandeis University. In her spare time, she enjoys travel, the outdoors, and running.

elizabeth (at)

Anna Haskin

Executive Assistant

Anna has a strong aptitude for project management, executive support and organization, as well as a passion for hard work and connecting community. She has over 7 years of experience as an Executive Assistant working in the US mortgage industry for companies that emphasized and practiced responsible lending. Anna received a Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences with a focus in Economics, Political Science and Business Administration from Washington State University. In 2016 she left the mortgage industry and started a consulting business to focus on supporting and collaborating with non-profit organizations. With the recent completion of a Micro Masters in Project Management from RITx, Anna is excited to put her skills and education to good use at Aqua-Spark.

anna (at)

Nelly van Heijst

Financial Manager

After obtaining a degree in Business Administration, Nelly worked for more than 9 years at a renowned multinational where she contributed to the success of various investment funds and increased their overall ROI. In her field she worked on all financial aspects of her clients’ portfolio which ranged from hedge funds to mutual funds, private equity, trading funds and the like. Coming from a diverse background and having studied in multiple countries, Nelly masters multiple languages and adapts to different cultures easily. Having a strong belief that the world should be preserved and wanting to contribute, she chose to use her skills for a company that aligns with these principles. She is very happy to make a social and environmental impact by managing Aqua-Spark finances.

nelly (at)

Robert Blom

Investment Manager

Robert received a Masters in Development Economics and he spent his career in impact investing and emerging markets. Prior to joining Aqua Spark, he worked for 6 years at FMO, the Dutch Development Bank, where he focused mainly on financing Food & Agribusiness companies in Africa and Latin America. After FMO, Robert worked in the Republic of Congo and Kenya. At Aqua Spark, Robert’s passions for sustainability, emerging markets development, travel, nature and the oceans have all come together. He spends as much of his free time as possible outdoors, where you can frequently spot him on the water kitesurfing.

robert (at)