Work-Bench Promotions: Kelley Mak, Priyanka Somrah & Daniel Chesley

Jan 10, 2024
Work-Bench Promotions: Kelley Mak, Priyanka Somrah & Daniel Chesley
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We are thrilled to kick off the new year with exciting news! Work-Bench is proud to announce the promotion of Kelley Mak to General Partner, along with Priyanka Somrah and Daniel Chesley to Principal. 

This trio is emblematic of Work-Bench - deeply curious about researching the most challenging enterprise pain points, passionate for finding and building relationships with the best startups solving for them, and distinctly human in their approach to supporting the next generation of enterprise founders.

We’re proud to call Kelley, Priyanka and Danny our teammates, and are excited to see their leadership and impact reach new bounds in 2024 and beyond.

Promoting Kelley Mak to General Partner

Kelley joined Work-Bench in 2016 as an Associate from Forrester Research, where he was already holding court with juggernaut CISOs and startup founders. Over the past seven years, he’s really grown with the firm and has made his impact felt in many ways:

He expanded his technical expertise beyond cybersecurity and into new areas, including developer tools; he’s taken on a larger, internal leadership role, closely mentoring Priyanka and Danny; and he’s gone above and beyond to source and support portfolio companies including Algorithmia (exited), Tilt (exited), Uplevel (exited), Scytale (exited), VISO Trust, AppMap, SeeMetrics, CloudQuery, Common Fate, Streamdal, and other stealth investments to be announced.

Paul Valente, Co-Founder & CEO of VISO Trust, says it best: "Kelley knows what it takes to get to the next level of growth and has been an invaluable partner in helping us get there every step of the way. From putting together curated dinners with prospective customers from his network to helping us source and close strategic, senior hires, he's been an important part of our team."

Fraser Ricupero, Co-Founder of Common Fate added, “Kelley has been a great partner in helping us build Common Fate. He's been very understanding through the ups and downs, leveraged his deep network for customer discovery and given us confidence around our product direction and growth plans. As we continue to scale, I know I can count on him to be in our corner (and cheering us on!) through it all.”

In addition to his investments to date, today’s promotion to General Partner is the culmination of all his contributions and success leading our customer engagement initiatives, which is a key flywheel for our Work-Bench model. It takes a certain kind of person to manage this role well – Kelley has demonstrated a superpower to grok extremely technical concepts in conversations with startup founders, and then switch gears to properly contextualize these trends with Fortune 500 executives with decades more experience than him.

Beyond his day-to-day office responsibilities, Kelley embodies everything about Work-Bench’s quirky spirit - he’s our resident Karaoke machine, exotic food taste tester (IYKYK), and comes up with the best (…and weirdest) event ice breakers (if you haven’t partaken, join one of our events to find out!).

Promoting Priyanka Somrah to Principal  

As a first in Work-Bench history, we hired Priyanka right out of college. After sending us a cold email about how much she loved enterprise software, she hit the ground running as an Intern writing our Enterprise Weekly Newsletter and then began writing research pieces on the world of data infrastructure. Her caliber of work quickly blew past our expectations, so in 2019 when she was graduating, it was a no-brainer to bring her on as a full-time team member.  

Fast forward four and a half years and Priyanka is now one of the most well-regarded investors in the data engineering and developer tool space thanks to her growing Data Source Newsletter. We love seeing the responses flood in each time she publishes her latest research, ranging from, “Today’s post was spot on. I’m working on a side project in this space and will be in touch to share more” to “I’ve never seen someone articulate so clearly what the thing is that we’re seeing, and why we have the traction that we do.”

One stealth founder Priyanka works closely with remarked on how her technical chops and thoughtfulness in approaching new theses shines: “Having an investor who understands structuring go-to-market and the technical aspects of the ML infrastructure market we’re building in has been monumental to our growth. From my first meeting with Priyanka, it was clear she understood what about our product was sellable, the biggest gaps to scalability, what budgets to target, who to have conversations with, etc. Her clear imagination and guidance to the path to success was unmatched to many other VCs we talked to."

Not to mention, Priyanka is our go-to bank of knowledge for the latest NYC restaurant openings and her favorite TV genre - Korean dramas.

Promoting Daniel Chesley to Principal

Danny joined Work-Bench from the throes of operator life at NYC-based scaleup Hyperscience. There, he worked as a Go-To-Market Strategy Lead and then a Product Manager on the Machine Learning team, and was responsible for their pre-trained machine learning models, synthetic data generation, and use case expansion.

What really caught our eye was his hustle in starting his own tech newsletter outside of work, which has now morphed into the More Intelligent Newsletter, a chronicle of the thematic research and technology trends he’s digging into in the ML/AI, developer tools, and enterprise application spaces.

Danny’s firsthand product knowledge is unmatched and as Akash Khanolkar, CEO and Founder of Octane puts it, “Danny’s been a great sounding board across both product and go-to-market. His technical understanding of consumption-based pricing initiatives and experience navigating the internal onboarding process for new pricing models has been a game changer for us. We’re lucky to have him in the trenches with us.”

Danny’s versatility shines through in his ability to knit together a network of top-notch and diverse enterprise software folks in NYC. One day he’s hosting a Taco Tuesday night for future founders, another he’s in the weeds helping a portfolio founder iterate on finding product-market fit, and another he’s moderating a GenAI panel with founders from MosaicML and Arthur along with executives from Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase.

He’s already got some stealth deals under his belt which we’re excited to share more about soon, and can’t wait for the new investments he’ll make in the new year as well.

‍‍If you’re an early-stage enterprise founder or operator, looking to connect with any of the three above, reach out to us directly to chat about anything GTM or check out our events page to stay in the loop on all things happening in the Work-Bench community. ‍

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