Meet the Team


Ed Prado

Founding Partner

Founding Partner Fintech Innovation & Capital Strategy

Gunther Sonnenfeld

Founding Partner

Integrated Tech &

Ecosystem Architecture


Martin Casado

Founding Partner

Business Systems Design

Phillip Jun

Founding Partner

Business development
portfolio relations

Garret Minks

Founding Partner

distributed ledgers
integrated systems

tech analysis

Sami Van Ness 

Founding Partner

Large scale digital campaigns & tech development relations

Gunther Sonnenfeld is a seasoned technologist, global strategist and respected cryptoeconomist. Gunther has participated in groundbreaking ventures within the social impact and ecology spaces that have raised several hundred million in seed capital & garnered over $2.5 billion in transactions.

  • Co-developer of the world’s first Bitcoin POS platform, Coin of Sale.

  • Co-developer of INSURGE, an independent journalism platform which addresses
    socioeconomic & ecological issues (food, energy, politics, money, climate change, health,
    etc.), and was part of the recentPresscoin ICO which raised $25 million.

  • Co-developed the world’s first clean hydrocarbon incubator for Imaginea Energy Corp.

  • Former Partner at K5 Ventures (35+ ventures incubated across several industries).

  • Former CIO & board member of Faveeo (Swiss tech platform; customers: UN, P&G,      
    International Red Cross, Orange).

  • Co-Founder & CSO of Heardable (sold to Singapore’s largest incubator).

  • Former global SVP, Omnicom Group/RAPP (clients: Toyota, Skype, Apple, Unilever, 
    Bank of America, Adobe).

  • Special projects work with Google, Amazon & Facebook.

  • Recipient of a Forrester Groundswell Award for social analytics work with Adobe Systems.

  • Advisor: Verizon (emerging media group), U.S. & Australian governments (tech innovations), 
    Holonomics Education.

  • Visiting adjunct: University of Southern California (innovation); Claremont McKenna (entrepreneurship).



Founding Partner, Next Block Group 

Integrated Tech & Ecosystem Architecture - Cryptoeconomics

Gunther Sonnenfeld

27 years of institutional finance experience. Founded 2 investment banks and first-ever online bond trading platform. Extensive regulatory knowledge and innovator in the fintech space.


  • Acquired investment bank broker/dealer in Puerto Rico operated such as majority owner.

  • Worked directly with the government while advising over 50 hedge funds as to the political, legal, cultural, and structural realities within Puerto Rico.

  • Engaged in over $2 billion of capital market activity related to government and private
    entities in Puerto Rico.

  • Built the first online bond trading platform for the middle markets -

  • At age 24, became the youngest member/owner broker-dealer to be granted licensing from FINRA District 2.

  • Positioned company to benefit from unique marketing niche; Minority-Owned Business 
    (MBE/DBE) that allowed 
    the company to pursue some of the largest state funds, public pension funds, municipalities, and their money managers.

  • Direct underwriter for US government agencies including FHLMC, FHLB & Farmer Mac successfully underwriting over $5 billion in bonds.  

  • Achieved peak annual trading volumes of $22 billion in fixed income and $68 million in equity shares traded.

  • Insights have been quoted in Barron’s, Business Week, Bloomberg and the Financial Times.

  • Extensive compliance background, including deep relationships with regulatory bodies such as FINRA and the SEC. Carries securities licenses series 7, 24, 28, 63, 79. 

  • Maintains deep relationships with the state of California, awarded co-manager role in $2 billion CA DWR bond issue, transacted extensively with CALPRS, CALSTRS along with cities, counties and municipalities in the state.



Founding Partner, Next Block Group 

Founding Partner Fintech Innovation & Capital Strategy - Financial policy

Ed Prado

As a former VP of an international logistics company, Transway Airfreight, Martin brings over 15 years of operational and corporate development experience to Novena’s team. Martin has also built technology systems to optimize operational efficiencies in the logistics realm, understanding full well the impact of blockchain and DLT (distributed ledger technology) integrations.


  • A former vice president at Transway Airfreight - international freight forwarder in Miami, Florida.

  • Co-developed an app to enhance the process to optimize operational efficiencies in the warehouse and communication with customers simultaneously.

  • Granted industry award for developing image archive related to logistics.

  • Expertise with warehousing and inventory logistics.

  • Extensive travel in South America coordinating with vendors and customers.

  • Possess key contacts within travel logistics including airline, trucking and ocean freight.

  • Transactional oversight of consolidation practices.

Founding Partner, Next Block Group 

Business Systems Design - Logistics

Martin Casado

Garrett is an analyst and integrated economic systems thinker focused on the distributed ledger space. He has been active in the technology following the development of distributed databases, starting with the Bitcoin blockchain, through the pioneering work of projects like NXT, to the first general purpose virtual state machines. Garrett works through the most pressing issues facing distributed ledger development including the intersection of open source and intellectual property, and how permissioned ledgers will interact with permissionless ledgers to solve both data privacy and data immutability use cases. Garrett received his undergraduate from the University of Texas and MBA from the University of Houston. With ten years of software architecture and business development experience, he is deeply skilled in addressing wider economic implications of the DLT space, and has worked on over fifteen prominent DLT projects since 2011. 



Chief Technology Analyst, Next Block Group 

Distributed ledgers, Integrated systems - Tech Analysis

Garret Minks

Phillip has 15 years of mixed experience across multiple industries from physical to digital, manufacturing to crypto-fintech. He was one of the original pioneers of small format sublimation printing, and most recently helped bring one of the world's first institutional crypto fintech analysis softwares to market, orchestrating strategic partnerships around the globe. He brings more than a decade of zeal for distributed hash tables, ledgers, gamification, and consensus mechanisms to the enterprise world.


  • Worked with over 50 crypto hedge funds and software partners, providing strategic technology, legal, and cultural advisory.

  • Multiple startup founder in manufacturing (Clearlens), advertising (Pacspin),  telecommunications (SUP Wireless), streaming video (

  • (Co)Developed multiple apps for Verizon Wireless, Clearlens, PERI, and more, delivering measurable efficiency through digital transformation.

  • Orchestrated over 50 million dollars in private deals across Asia and North America.

  • Leading copy, brand, creative, and pitch content contributor for almost every project he's worked on.

  • Delivered multiple advertising and promotions campaigns for Nintendo, Verizon Wireless, The Anaheim Angels and Ducks, and more.

  • Makes a killer vegan fettuccini alfredo and is full of surprises.



Revenue Operations, Next Block Group 

Business Engineer, Improvements, Special Engagements - Crypto and Digital Transformation

Phillip Jun

She has worked with organizations such as Smuckers, Jif, Folgers, Sony, Best Buy, Porsche, Starbucks, and others to deliver award-winning digital content and advertising campaigns.


  • Managed business services accounts and product delivery for over 3000 higher education institutions under DMGT. 

  • Created a custom Ad delivery platform to negate iPhone flash support issues for DMGT, delivering hundreds of millions of views daily. 

  • Lead design review and relaunch of the adaptive B2B microsite suite for 5/3rd Bank used by thousands of businesses in the United States. 

  • Managed Olympic sponsorship campaigns and customer engagement for Smuckers, and BMW.

  • Developed convolution and adaptive-recursive neural-network solutions for large data set sentiment analysis for Fortune500 and 100 companies.

  • Lead the marketing efforts and delivery of Holo’s successful $20m+ ICO this spring.

  • Lead initial brand identity prototyping, web asset management, white paper creation, and logo design for Promether an adaptive network security platform.

  • Marketing Advisor for several cryptocurrency projects including Promether, Holo, and JustOne Organics where she consults on fundraising, currency design, tech analysis, take to market strategies, and physical prototyping.

  • Created an adaptive-recursive neural network for in-field nutrient deficiency detection in crop foliage.

  • Principle Lab technician at two tissue culture and in-vitro horticulture/floriculture research laboratories working with OSU and ASU.



Founding Partner, Next Block Group 

Large scale digital campaigns & tech development relations - Digital optimization

Sami Van Ness