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) aqua-spark.nl

 

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 One.org 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) aqua-spark.nl

 

Stephanie Rakels

Investment Manager

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) aqua-spark.nl

 

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) aqua-spark.nl

Tom Prins

Dealflow Analyst

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) aqua-spark.nl

Rachel Mehlsak

Legal and Process Manager

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) aqua-spark.nl

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) aqua-spark.nl