Startup Vinli Snags Leader from Dallas Venture Partners

The company's newest member will become chief operating officer next week.

Matt Himelfarb
Matt Himelfarb

Dallas startup Vinli is adding a new member to its leadership team as the company continues its rapid expansion.

The startup, which developed a connected car device and platform, has named Matt Himelfarb as its new chief operating officer. He replaces Derek Chapin, who joined the team in April of last year. Chapin will aid in the transition and plans to continue to serve as an advisor for the company. Himelfarb’s first day is Monday. He will report to CEO Mark Haidar.

“The idea is to take what’s been built already and lay a solid infrastructure for the future so we can scale rapidly,” Himelfarb said. “There’s a lot of things coming down the pike.”

Vinli has been growing its team since it raised its $6.5 million Series A round last year from investors including Samsung Venture Investment Corp., Cox Automotive, The Westly Group, and Continental. The company went from eight employees to more than 40 in nine months. Himelfarb aims to help continue that growth leveraging his investment background, law degree, and his first hand-experience helping startups with operations.

During his eight years at Trailblazer Capital and Dallas Venture Partners, he took an active role in the investment firms’ portfolio companies. He served as general counsel for Trailblazer and a portfolio company, and then later served as chief financial officer and general counsel for Yvolver, which was backed by Dallas Venture Partners.

But Himelfarb also knows what it’s like to be an entrepreneur. While he was in graduate school, he founded his own company, Mshares, Inc. He ran the company for about four years before being lured into the investment community.

Vinli provided Himelfarb the opportunity to marry all of his experience and interests into one position, he said. Plus, he has known several members of the team, including Chapin, for years.

“I saw Vinli when it was an idea on a cocktail napkin,” he said about the startup, which launched in 2014 at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco. “I didn’t get the chance to invest, but I was very excited about the opportunities ahead of them.”

Himelfarb will continue to serve as an advisor to Dallas Venture Partners.

Chapin said the timing is right for the transition. The former CFO of Woot said he joined Vinli with the caveat that he would assume the role for one year and then reassess. He plans to take some time off before entering into his next venture.

“We’ve had a really successful first year, and I feel very comfortable about what we’ve accomplished,” Chapin said. “With summer approaching, I thought it would be a really good time to take a step back and try to strike a balance with my family.”

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