Partners, Counsel & Advisors

Brian Phillips, Managing Partner

Brian has a unique background ideally suited to lead the Pearl Fund. He has a rare blend of being an early-stage entrepreneur, a global expert on economic development through entrepreneurship, an advisor to Ivy League faculty on how to convert their inventions into viable businesses, and an intrapreneur in several global organizations. 

Brian has been a part of the founding team of a number of fast growing startups. Two went public, two were acquired and one was sold via an MBO. As a founding CEO he has raised over $33M in venture capital. However, not all his startups were successes.  Part of being successful in the field of entrepreneurship is learning from your failures and knowing how to fail quickly.

Studies have shown that the best way to improve an emerging economy is through entrepreneurship.  So Brian also spent a decade giving back by helping SME entrepreneurs in emerging countries.  He was a consultant  for Endeavor Global, became the Global Head of Entrepreneurship at Technoserve and then worked for Goldman Sachs' 10,000 women initiative helping fast growing women entrepreneurs in Africa, India, China and Latin America.

He is an active member of the Academic Venture Exchange, which is a collaboration between the technology transfer offices at Ivy League universities and experienced entrepreneurs. Through this mechanism Brian has worked with faculty inventors and entrepreneurs from Columbia, Cornell, and Princeton Universities.  

Brian currently has residences in New York City as well as in Wayne County, Pennsylvania. There are many federally designated Opportunity Zones located nearby these two residences.  He is a U.S citizen, with a Bachelors of Science degree (B.S.) in Computer Science as well as a Masters in Divinity (M.Div), and an extensive career in entrepreneurship, development and investment spanning over 30 years.  More detail as well and references can be found at:


Eve Tetzlaff, Venture Partner

Eve  brings 26 years of experience at McKinsey & Company, Investment Banking and Venture Capital, and roles in strategy, marketing, business development, product development, and retail innovation, for companies from startups to multibillion dollar corporations.  She has worked in industries including dot com / high tech, healthcare / life sciences, and consumer products and services, both in the United States and abroad.  Her breadth of experience across industries and functions makes her a uniquely capable and well-rounded resource for the Pearl Fund's portfolio of investment companies.   

Eve began her career at McKinsey & Company in New York, serving clients in media, financial services, and food and beverages.  She transferred to Russia at the height of the country's transition to a private economy, where she honed a skill and the taste for working smartly and flexibly in rapidly changing, uncertain environments.  She left McKinsey to join Russia's largest Russian-owned investment bank (United Financial Group, later acquired by Deutsche Bank) and was on the founding team of one of Russia's earliest venture capital funds, identifying opportunities and investing into Russia's emerging consumer sector, and serving as a hands-on management team member of investment targets.  

Eve has spent over a decade of her career in startup companies.  During the dotcom boom of the mid to late 90s, Ms. Tetzlaff moved to Silicon Valley, where she was on the leadership team of two startup companies, responsible for Marketing, Business Development, and Product Development.    

She is a U.S. citizen, has a B.A. cum laude in Political Science from Yale University and speaks fluent Russian. More detail and references can be found at:


Counsel and Advisors

Counsel, Legal


Shareholder, Polsinelli PC

Debbie Klis has a broad financial practice focused on securities and private fund formation including opportunity zone funds and syndications, venture capital funds, hedge funds, private equity funds, real estate funds and syndications, EB-5 funds, and international master-feeder funds. Debbie is a frequent speaker and author regarding private equity, fund formation, crowdfunding and related securities matters. 

Debbie’s experience includes structuring successful debt and equity investments coupling multiple sources of investing including private equity, EB-5 financing, public financing, HUD mortgage loans, Low Income Housing Tax Credits, federal/state historic tax credits, New Market Tax Credits, revenue bonds, tax-exempt bonds, energy tax credits and crowdfunding. Debbie is part of Polsinelli’s multidisciplinary team of fund, real estate, tax and securities attorneys representing developers, fund sponsors and businesses and investors regarding opportunity zone funds. 

Debbie is a member of the American Bar Association’s Broker-Dealer Subcommittee and Investment Adviser Subcommittee and utilizes her LL.M. in tax on structuring matters.

Counsel, Tax


Michael Kressig, Partner  Novogradac & Company LLP

Michael specializes in the opportunity zone incentive, the historic rehabilitation tax credit (HTC), the new markets tax credit (NMTC) and the low-income housing credit (LIHTC). He has more than 25 years of public accounting and business advisory experience. 

Michael is currently assisting qualified opportunity fund sponsors in the newly emerging area of opportunity zone investing. His opportunity zone expertise includes fund structuring, financial modeling and projections, developing compliance due diligence and asset management policies and procedures, and evaluating and structuring real estate and operating business portfolio investments with consideration toward OZ requirements. 

Prior to joining Novogradac & Company LLP in 2012, Michael directed the assurance services and real estate services practice groups at Sabino & Company and served as a senior manager with Deloitte LLP, where he specialized in the financial services industry as well as merger and acquisition consulting and due diligence.

Advisor, Strategy


G. Robert (Bob) James, Founder and Chairman of The Solomon Group

With over three decades of experience driving business transformation, Bob specializes in turnaround management and global business strategy for a range of companies across the public and private sectors. His clients include CEOs of major organizations and foreign heads of state. He has also consulted with department heads in the Obama, Bush and Clinton administrations on global economic and international affairs.

Previously, Bob held executive-level roles for public companies including The Estee Lauder Companies and The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (A&P), in strategic marketing, global insights, international business development, and ecommerce.  He has served on the boards of organizations including Achieve, Inc., The Food Bank of New York, and Morgan Pierce International, and is actively involved with numerous U.S. and international organizations that protect and enrich the lives of children.

A native of Germany and fluent in three languages, Bob moved to the US at the age of 15. He holds an MBA from Columbus State University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Georgia.

Advisor, Marketing

Jinal Shah  Principal  Shah Menon & Coin

Jinal Shah  Principal  Shah Menon & Coin

Jinal Shah has built a niche connecting brand and e-commerce to drive cultural and commercial impact for some of the world’s most recognizable brands. As principal at New York-based brand and commerce design consultancy, Shah Menon & Co, she specializes in helping small to mid-sized ($50M - $500M) companies build their marketing and e-commerce capability. 

Jinal was previously VP of e-commerce marketing at Newell Brands (NASDAQ: NWL), a leading global consumer goods company. Prior to that, she spent nine years on the agency side at J. Walter Thompson, where she developed an expertise in retail and beauty—working with brands such as Estee Lauder, Revlon, Avon, Nestle, Unilever, and Macy's.

Named one of ‘Ten Digital Strategists to Watch’ by The Guardian and iMedia’s ‘Top 25 Internet Innovators,’ Jinal graduated with honors from Temple University, earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

Advisor, Public Relations

Alysha Light, founder, FLIGHT PR.

Alysha Light Founder FLIGHT PR. 

In 2013, Alysha Light launched FLIGHT PR, an award-winning boutique PR firm, to represent visionary leaders and game-changing companies across tech, marketing, design, and entertainment. 

In addition to her work with startups (three of which have exited over the past three years), she has driven communications strategy for world-class brands including Speedo USA, Taco Bell, Match Group, and Google.  

Previously, Alysha led corporate communications for Starcom MediaVest Group, a global agency network within Publicis Groupe. She has also served as an adjunct professor and guest lecturer on PR topics at Pepperdine University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Fordham University. 

A Chicago native, Alysha earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology, with a minor in journalism, from Loyola University Chicago 

More Advisors (coming Soon)


We are fortunate to have a large  network from which we can draw expertise and resources at the appropriate time. 

Using advisors with extensive, deep expertise in their fields on an on-call basis will maximize the impact for the fund and minimize costs, enabling more capital to go where it is needed most which in turn will maximize investor's returns