Applied Real Intelligence (“A.R.I.”) Announces New Additions to Industry-Leading Advisory Board

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Applied Real Intelligence (“A.R.I.”), a venture debt investment firm that provides innovative financing solutions to successful VC-backed companies, announced the additions of Matt Schwartz of DLA Piper and Elizabeth Ward of the Dragonfly to A.R.I.’s industry-leading Advisory Board.

“Matt and Liz will be instrumental in helping A.R.I. achieve our mission of democratizing access to capital for all founders, particularly women and other underrepresented groups,” said Zack Ellison, A.R.I.’s Founder and Managing General Partner.

“Company founders are not served efficiently or equitably by the existing venture capital ecosystem, with less than 5% of venture capital funding going to women and people of color, despite making up approximately 70% of the U.S. population. We believe that by better serving these groups as well as those in regions and sectors that receive less attention, we can produce outsized returns relative to other investment managers. Given that non-bank venture lenders have historically produced more than 20% annualized return with loss rates of less than 0.5%, there is a massive opportunity to do well economically by advancing social good,” continued Mr. Ellison.

Matt Schwartz is a Partner at DLA Piper, the third largest law firm globally. Matt is an internationally recognized expert in venture debt who has spent the last two decades representing banks, private credit funds, companies, and investors in structuring and negotiating a wide range of debt and equity investments.

At DLA Piper, Matt leads the Venture and Growth Lending group that specializes in debt and hybrid debt and equity facilities for companies backed by venture capital and private equity firms, as well as publicly traded companies. He has significant experience in high-growth technology sectors such as enterprise software, financial technology, consumer, hardware, biotech, and healthcare.

Matt also has extensive experience counseling clients on private and public equity raises, intercreditor issues, mergers and acquisitions, SPACs, licenses, and other commercial contracts while leveraging experts from DLA Piper's global team of specialists across geographies and practices including tax, intellectual property, litigation, regulatory, and restructuring.

Matt is a founding board member of the Randy Jones Foundation which provides athletic scholarships to military scholar athletes who otherwise could not afford dues and equipment. Along with former Major League Baseball Cy Young award winner Randy Jones, the foundation has hosted scholarship recipients and their families at San Diego Padres games and other events and has made a huge difference in the lives of many local military families. Matt and DLA Piper are also avid supporters of Best Buddies, a charity focused on helping kids and adults with intellectual disabilities.

Matt earned his JD from Harvard Law School after graduating from George Washington University with majors in Political Science and Business Administration.

"Over the past 20 years, the DLA Piper Venture and Growth Lending Group has done more than 7,500 venture deals and has had a front row seat to the incredible benefits that debt provides to founders as a complement to equity financing by accelerating growth, extending runway and minimizing ownership dilution. I look forward to helping A.R.I. solve a critical pain point in the market by more quickly and efficiently deploying venture debt to founders, regions, and sectors that have been underserved in the past,” said Mr. Schwartz.

Liz Ward is Founder and CEO of the Dragonfly, a strategic advisory firm specializing in Seed and Series A technology enabled companies in supply chain and logistics. Previously, Liz was Head of Mid-Market & Small Business at Transfix, a New York-based digital freight brokerage valued at $800 million. Her proudest accomplishment was launching two software-as-a-service (“SaaS”) products and a free self-serve platform for shippers and trucking companies.

Prior to Transfix, Liz worked at Convoy, a Seattle-based startup known as the "Uber for Trucking." At Convoy, she managed the company’s first multi-year partnership with Unilever. In the first year she grew revenues from $400,000 to $20 million and received Unilever’s prestigious ‘Partner to Win Visionary Award,’ a distinction given to only one supplier every four years. During Liz’s tenure, Convoy’s valuation grew from $59 million to over $1 billion. The company was most recently valued at $2.75 billion.

Earlier in her career, Liz was an executive and minority owner at Ward Transport & Logistics, a Top 25 LTL carrier in the U.S., and was a founding member of Price-Tran LLC, an asset-based trucking company revolutionizing the way freight is priced. Liz launched her career at Booz Allen where she consulted with the DEA, Department of Defense, domestic and foreign intelligence agencies, and law enforcement to disrupt and dismantle illicit supply chains, most notably the global heroin trade. Her team’s work was referenced in President Obama’s 2011 Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime.

Liz graduated with honors from Lehigh University with a B.S. in Supply Chain Management and is an APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP).

"The fact that women-led startups received just 2.3% of VC funding last year highlights the massive gap in the market that A.R.I. will be instrumental in filling. It is not only noble of A.R.I. to put diversity, equity, and inclusion at the forefront of the company’s mission, it’s also a very wise business decision. I am constantly advising female founders who are building breakthrough companies and looking for partners to provide them with growth capital. Many of these women are being overlooked and I will now actively refer them to A.R.I. and help turn their visions into reality."

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

Source: Applied Real Intelligence LLC

News, commentary and research reports are from third-party sources unaffiliated with Fidelity. Fidelity does not endorse or adopt their content. Fidelity makes no guarantees that information supplied is accurate, complete, or timely, and does not provide any warranties regarding results obtained from their use.