Iynna Halilou

Ex-UN turned tech founder, operator, turned VC

New York, NY, USA


enterprise saas

applying to Business School

starting a company

working with VCs

getting a job in VC

Expert Bio

Hello! I am an investor at Defiance Capital, a seed venture capital fund backing defiant founders in the US and the EU and a Partner at the MBA Fund, a pre-seed fund investing in companies founded by alumni of UPenn, Harvard, and Stanford. Prior, I was at Moxxie Ventures where I joined as the first hire. I invest primarily in early-stage deals at the intersection of AI and Enterprise SaaS across large underserved industries including healthcare, climate, fintech, logistics, future of work. Before, I served as the Global Programs Manager at Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator (ERA) — New York’s first and largest early-stage VC fund and tech startup accelerator. I joined as ERA Global employee #1 to build the division focused on accelerating the US entry of international startups. In my role, I've worked with 500+ companies, signed partnerships with 50+ governments, and led 16 acceleration programs. Prior to ERA, I managed Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus’ digital global accelerator to support the growth of social impact ventures across the world. I acquired my operational skills during my time as the COO of Enza Academy — an award-winning early-stage edtech startup providing STEM and entrepreneurship training to underrepresented low-income youth in the New York tri-state area. I started my career at the United Nations, working for the Communications, Public Information, and Media team. I am a proud global citizen being from Cameroon and Madagascar, having lived in France, the UK, Russia, Senegal, and the US, I am passionate about bridging the socioeconomic gap in Africa through early-stage technology investing. I am a native French and English speaker as well as fluent in Spanish. I hold an MBA from the Wharton School, a Master's in International Affairs, specialising in International Development from NYU, and a Bachelor's in International Relations and Spanish from Durham University, in England. During my spare time, I love running (my current goal is to run a marathon on every continent), cooking, and listening to podcasts. Book a time with if you want to discuss: - Framing your story to appeal: This is a skill that needs to be continuously refined because it is transferrable across functions ie. to employers if you are looking for a new role, to investors if you are looking to raise money, to customers if you are looking to sell a product/service; - Career switching: I did it a few times as you can see; - Working in venture capital: From getting a job to being successful on the job ie. how to stand out and rising through the ranks which is what I did; - Applying and getting into business school: I applied to 5 schools and interviewed at all (HBS, GSB, Wharton, CBS, and MIT Sloan), I participated in fellowships (AdmitMe, Toigo), I received funding; - Being an international student while adjusting to the cultural differences: Navigating visas, trying to find ways to do meaningful work in the first year when CPT is not available yet, listening to classes in English as a non-native English speaker, getting a job in the US.





The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania


Aug 2021 - May 2023

Master's Degree

New York University

International Development

Aug 2013 - May 2015

Bachelor's Degree

Durham University

International Affairs

Sep 2010 - Jun 2013

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