Dafina Toncheva

Partner


      

"Entrepreneurs are constantly beating the odds, with a relentless conviction in their ideas and abilities."

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About

Dafina confesses some envy towards entrepreneurs, “because they are brave, constantly attempting to beat the odds with a relentless conviction in their ideas and abilities”. To bravery and perseverance, she adds that creativity, incurable optimism, a willingness not to fit in and the desire to leave a mark define the successful entrepreneurs Dafina has encountered. Her colleagues in turn describe her as empathetic and intuitive with a tendency towards impatience, when results are not realized.

Ironically, “beating the odds” and incurable optimism describe, to a large extent, Dafina’s life experience. A teenage emigrant from Bulgaria in 1998 she arrived alone in the U.S. without guarantees, but with a relentless conviction to succeed. Leaving her homeland was “much more difficult than I expected because, like most of the entrepreneurs I meet, I was focused on the upside possibilities and was not prepared for the difficulties I would inevitably encounter in a new place”. Yet, she parlayed her determination and talents into degrees at Harvard and Stanford, positions with leading corporations and a successful career in technology investing.

Dafina invests in emerging technologies in the enterprise space with a focus on Enterprise SaaS applications and security. Dafina joined USVP in 2012 and has since led investments in and joined the board of several early stage software companies. She is currently on the board of InsideSales.com – the leading sales acceleration platform, Prevoty – leader in application security, Apptimize – provider of one of the fastest growing mobile monetization and engagement platforms, and Luma Health – a powerful doctor patient communications platform.

Dafina joined USVP from Tugboat Ventures, where she was a principal investor since 2010. Prior to Tugboat, she spent two years at Venrock, where she helped expand the firm’s investments in the areas of SaaS, virtualization, security, infrastructure and enterprise applications. While at Venrock, Dafina led the first institutional investment round in Cloudflare. Some of her other investments from that time include Aria Systems, Matrixx Software, and Kenna Security.

Before becoming a venture capitalist, Dafina held positions in development and product management at Microsoft, where she focused on authentication systems, digital signatures and business workflow. She worked on MSN Live ID and MS Office, and co-authored several key patents. She earned a M.B.A. from Stanford Graduate School of Business and a B.S. in Computer Science, magna cum laude, with special focus on cryptography, efficient algorithms and database systems from Harvard University.

An avid reader, Dafina singled out Paulo Coehlo’s classic, The Alchemist as transformational because it reinforced her faith in optimism. “The book leads you to the conclusion that if you want something bad enough, the world will conspire to help you achieve it.” This is a notion she shares with most of the entrepreneurs she encounters.

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