Alumni Spotlight: Sam Garcia and Dennis Thankachan

Sam Garcia and Dennis Thankachan Hero Image

Canfield BHP Alums Sam Garcia and Dennis Thankachan


Time and again, we hear from our students and alumni that one of the biggest reasons they decided to be part of our program is the community. That much is true not just while our students are in school but long past graduation too. We have amazing alumni that are always giving back to our community, changing the world for the better, and making impactful contributions to society. Our community makes the difference, just ask two of our alums who successfully closed a landmark deal recently.

Canfield BHP alums Sam Garcia and Dennis Thankachan teach us that the power of community is immense, keeping us involved in each other’s lives in more ways than one. Sam and Dennis recently came together and successfully closed what would be a landmark deal between their respective companies. Sam is a Senior Associate at a venture fund called Amplo, which is leading a $3M Seed investment into Lightyear, a company founded by fellow alum Dennis Thankachan. We caught up with them recently to get an update on their progress.

Sam describes his work with Dennis and tells us more about himself: 

“I am a Canfield BHP alum that graduated in 2016 and a current Senior Associate at a Venture fund called Amplo. After graduating from Canfield BHP, I went to Harvard Law School and then briefly worked at a law firm called Debevoise & Plimpton before coming to work at Amplo. Amplo is led by founder and CEO, Sheel Tyle, and includes the former Prime Minister of Australia, the National Security Advisor under Obama, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, an NYT bestselling author, and the heads of various successful startups (like Robinhood, Bumble, and Andela). ” 

Dennis, a former Rising Star Award/George Mitchell Award winner, graduated with a degree in Canfield BHP/Finance and Computer Science. He then went on to work at Goldman Sachs and then later at a Hedge Fund. Sam explains how he discovered the opportunity to work with Dennis and gives us more information about Lightyear, a company currently doing incredible work in the IT space by building software to help enterprise IT teams operate more efficiently: 

“I came upon this deal as I was scrolling through Linkedin and saw that he was at a startup. Knowing that he was an all-star at McCombs, I figured that if he left a hedge fund, it was probably for something really big so I reached out to him. Once I spoke to him, I confirmed that he was working on something really special. Lightyear is largely in stealth mode right now, but I can reveal that they work in the IT space. Lightyear raised over $3M for this Seed round that Amplo will be leading. The Seed round was not only filled but massively oversubscribed (more commitments to the round than there was room for) with top venture funds from across the country. ” 

Dennis and Sam acknowledge their success is attributed to the skills and knowledge they gained during their time at Canfield BHP. Sam tells us which two classes helped him form the creative thinking necessary to succeed in the VC (Venture Capitalist) space: 

“Firstly, Managerial Accounting Honors with Brian Lendecky: His class taught me that numbers on a balance sheet or a P&L statement tell a story about the company. Carrying this over to VC, I look for stories that are told from the numbers reported by companies. Secondly, Corporate Social Responsibility with Brian Richter: This was my favorite class at UT for two reasons: 1. Brian Richter takes his time to be involved with every student and became a crucial part of my admission to Harvard Law School by being able to write a recommendation based on personal knowledge of me; 2. This class showed me that there are stories outside of the numbers that matter a whole lot for companies. A company’s relationship with multiple levels of government and their relationship to significant stakeholders really matters.” 

Dennis recalls Dr. Konana, who made an impact on him as a student, and fellow Canfield BHP alums who helped along the way: 

“Dr. Konana (MIS301H teacher) was a great influence and has stayed in touch over the years (wrote my recommendation letter for Stanford GSB, made customer intros for Lightyear). One of my first investors in my pre-seed round was Adam Blum, noted Canfield BHP alum, and several of my investors were introduced to me by Zuhair Khan, another Canfield BHP alum.” 

The Canfield BHP community is a vast network of amazing people that make impactful contributions around the world every day. Big things can happen when our community comes together as Sam and Dennis have demonstrated in their work. 

Visit Amplo to learn more about Sam’s work as a Senior Associate or read this WSJ article featuring Amplo and see who’s who on their Board. Interested in the IT space? Visit Lightyear to learn more about Dennis’ work. 

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