Applied Real Intelligence (“A.R.I.”) Announces New Appointments to Groundbreaking Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Investment Council

Initiative Continues the Venture Debt Investment Firm’s Mission to Support Startups Led by Diverse Founders

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#ARIApplied Real Intelligence (“A.R.I.”), a venture debt investment firm that provides financing to the most successful technology-enabled startups, announced today four new members to its Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Investment Council (“DEI Investment Council”), a first-of-its-kind initiative that marks a key milestone in reducing the funding gap for startups led by underrepresented founders, including women and minorities.

A.R.I.’s DEI Investment Council additions include Adrian Mendoza, Bridget Kilroy, Nilza Serrano, and Sherman Williams. All are founders who collectively bring decades of leadership experience in business management, technology, entrepreneurship, and DEI strategy to unite in A.R.I.’s mission to democratize access to capital for startup founders. They join the current members of A.R.I.’s DEI Investment Council that includes Michael Akinyele, Joy Chen, Gina Sanchez, and Sunny Singh.

Zack Ellison, A.R.I.’s Founder and Managing General Partner, is thrilled with the additions to the council, which will work hard to champion diversity where it has previously not existed.

“A.R.I.’s DEI Investment Council now includes eight founders who are passionate about supporting diversity through education, connectivity, and the commitment of capital.

Diversity of thought drives creativity, innovation, and value. At A.R.I., our focus is to invest in the world we want to live in – a world that embraces diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives because we know this leads to better social and economic outcomes,” said Mr. Ellison.

Adrian Mendoza is a Founder and General Partner of Mendoza Ventures, which invests primarily in early-stage and growth-stage FinTech, AI, and cybersecurity companies. Based in Boston, Mendoza Ventures is women-owned and the first LatinX venture fund on the East Coast. Diversity plays a key role in the firm’s investment decisions, with roughly 75% of its investment portfolio consisting of startups led by immigrants, people of color, and women.

“I am excited that A.R.I. is the first venture debt fund to prioritize diversity and inclusion. Zack and I both believe that, when done right, venture capital and venture debt help diverse founders retain more ownership of their companies and achieve greater long term success,” said Mr. Mendoza.

Bridget Kilroy is the Founder and CEO of The Global 51, an international community dedicated to guiding families and their executives successfully from one generation to the next. Through curated events and bespoke experiences, Ms. Kilroy has developed a broad network of the world’s most distinguished, engaged, and philanthropic families who share a passion for investing in making the world a better place.

“Partnering with A.R.I. to connect family offices – along with their networks and capital – to the most talented women and underrepresented entrepreneurs will unlock immense value that is currently untapped in the early-stage investment ecosystem,” said Ms. Kilroy.

Nilza Serrano is the Founder and CEO of Serrano & Associates, a consulting firm dedicated to helping organizations adapt to the rapidly changing dynamics of the modern marketplace. Ms. Serrano’s passion centers around helping businesses improve their profitability, sustainability, and market share by embracing DEI as a key element of their business strategies.

Ms. Serrano is a recognized leader with extensive experience as a Trustee and Board member for some of the most prominent organizations in Los Angeles. She is a fierce advocate for women, LatinX, and minority populations, and draws from her personal experience as a Guatemalan immigrant who understands first-hand the unique challenges and obstacles faced by immigrants.

Previously, Ms. Serrano spent 20 years as the Founder, CEO, and Executive Producer of a breakthrough media production company, The Media Shop, which served a top-tier list of corporate clients such as General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Mobile Oil Company, Tenet Healthcare Corporation, Paramount Studios, The Walt Disney Company, Warner Brothers, Universal Pictures, and DreamWorks Pictures.

“A.R.I.’s DEI Investment Council is a long-needed catalyst that will lead the way in creating greater opportunities for underrepresented startup founders. Investing in diversity leads to more jobs, increased profitability, and higher salaries – all of which significantly benefit Los Angeles and other diverse business hubs,” said Ms. Serrano.

Sherman Williams is a Co-Founder and Managing Partner of AIN Ventures, a seed-stage venture fund that invests at the intersection of deep technology and dual-use technology as well as U.S. Military Veteran-led startups. Mr. Williams and AIN’s Co-Founder Emily McMahan, are both U.S. Veterans who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, respectively.

AIN is investing in companies that make the U.S. and its allies safer while also demonstrating a strong commercial use case. These dual-use technology sectors include space, civic, healthcare, sustainability, disaster recovery, and defense technology. Prior to becoming an early-stage venture investor, Mr. Williams served as a Naval Officer, earned an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and worked as an investment banker in Healthcare Technology M&A.

“Startups benefit from having multiple funding options. A.R.I.’s DEI Investment Council will help educate diverse founders on how to raise capital at each stage of development while connecting them with resources to facilitate growth. I am excited to work with Zack and A.R.I. to empower Veterans and minorities through a deeper understanding of capital raising and the financing tools available to them,” says Mr. Williams.

About Applied Real Intelligence LLC (“A.R.I.”)

A.R.I. is a Los Angeles-based venture debt investment manager focused on providing financing solutions to innovative, high-growth, VC-backed companies in recession-resistant sectors and underserved regions in North America. A.R.I. has dual missions of: (1) democratizing access to capital for all founders; (2) providing A.R.I.’s investors with access to “innovation” as an asset class, superior risk-adjusted returns, security of capital, and strong portfolio diversification benefits. To learn more, please visit


Investor Contact: Zack Ellison, Applied Real Intelligence (A.R.I.),

Media Contact: Lindsay Plotkin, Pink Shark PR,

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