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Mod IV 2016

Lunch with an Entrepreneur, Mod IV, 2016


Tuesday, March 15, 2016, 1:00 to 2:00, Dean’s Conference Room

Ilya Tokhner (Owen 2012)  Ilya tells his story so well, I am giving you what he sent to me.

"I was born in the Soviet Union and moved here in '91 when I was five as a political refugee. We grew up on welfare while my dad went back to school for an MD (he was an anesthesiologist in the USSR) and my mom stayed home to take care of us (she was a pediatrician in the USSR). Fast forward to today, my mom runs her own successful business and my dad helps run the residencStokely program for anesthesia at Harbor UCLA Medical Center. He also does private practice and is an Associate Professor at UCLA. Watching my parents rebuild their lives and careers in a new world instilled quite a bit of ambition within me.

 I graduated in the top 1% of my undergrad class out of 35K students for undergrad, and had my MBA from Vanderbilt in hand before the age of 26. I quickly learned that corporate life wasn't for me and went the startup route. I was there on the ground floor (1st employee and Head of Business Development) for a biotech company which sold for north of $100M recently. After a short stint I helped start an HR tech company in SF. We took it from three people, no product, no revenue, no partnerships, to 50+ employees, several million annual recurring revenue growing 10 - 20% month-over-month, and $13.5M raised from VCs, all in under three years. I felt it was my time to be at the help of the ship and decided to start my current company - Alpha Investing."

 We're building a platform based private capital network to connect accredited and professional investors.  We've been operating in stealth for about a year and have participated in north of 150M worth of deal flow. We're generating revenue and have raised a seed round (we're not disclosing the amount yet). We'll be going live with our platform mid-March. 60% of the folks involved in this venture are Vandy affiliated."

Tuesday, March 22, 2016, 1:00 to 2:00, Room 218

Vic Gatto (Owen 2008)

Vic came to Owen with a burning desire to work in Venture Capital.  He had worked in a startup straight out of college and decided that being an investor looked much more exciting than working in a startup.  He did some Independent Study projects with a local VC firm and worked there for a summer.  He could find no firm in Nashville that would give a fresh MBA a job in private investing, so he worked for free for Massey Burch, a prominent firm, for about six months.  Finally, they decided his work was very good and offered him a job.  He worked there for several years until the firm wound down.


He then moved to Solidus, another local firm founded by a former member of Massey Burch, Townes Duncan, where he worked for many years.  About five years ago he started Jumpstart Foundry, an accelerator for startup companies.  He grew this into an organization that was attracting entrepreneurs from all over the US.  Initially, it was a casual, fluid organization that Vic was constantly tinkering with to make it fit the changing startup world.  In the beginning Jumpstart would put $15,000 into each company admitted to the program; later he raised that to $100,000 for 7% of the company.  And in his latest iteration he focused the group on healthcare companies only. 


Now he is changing again, so I invited him to do a lunch so I could find out just what he is doing now.



Wednesday, March 30, 2016, 1:00 to 2:00, Dean’s Conference Room


David Kloeppel (Owen 1991)   


David has had a very successful career in the corporate world starting with Deutsche Bank Global Mergers and Acquisitions and Corporate Advisory Group and ending up as EVP and Chief Financial Officer of Gaylord entertainment in Nashville.  He joined the company in 2001 and immediately began a program of selling off business lines that did not support the focus of the company.  He negotiated many debt financings and public equity raises, and he oversaw $2 billion of ground-up hotel development.


In 2009 he moved up to President and COO of Gaylord.  Here are some things he did while in this position:

 Hotels generated record profit margins and record guest satisfaction each year during his tenure.
- Lead the Company through the recovery and reopening after the 2010 floods in Nashville. 
- Negotiated and executed sales of management company to Marriott International and subsequent transformation of Gaylord into a Real Estate Investment Trust


And now he is an entrepreneur who has founded Groups 360, a company focused on eliminating the inefficiency in the way groups transact business with hotels. Using GroupSync, the Company's destination search engine powered by STR data and a proprietary algorithm, the Groups360's Meeting Planner Advisors assist meeting planners in qualifying destinations and hotels against meeting-planner-defined preferences. To assist hotels, the Company offers GroupOnomics a suite of services powered by the largest database of group transactions in the industry.


Last September the company raised $5 million from the Nashville Capital Network and local investors.  In addition to running Groups 360, David has invested in a Brazilian company that provides online booking services to hotels in that country.


Come hear David talk about his journey from Owen through the corporate world and now into the startup world where he is both an entrepreneur and an investor.



Wednesday, April 6, 2016, 1:00 to 2:00, Dean’s Conference Room


Channing Moreland and Makenzie Stokel 

These two ladies are both Seniors at Belmont College where they are studying the business of music.  They have created a company that is already generating revenue; EVAmore automates the process of booking live entertainment.  The company helps organizations (or individuals) who want entertainment for a party to find talent that will provide music and vocals for the event.  They vet the performers to make sure they show up on time and that their performance meets their standards.

They came to Nashville, TN, to study the Music Business, Songwriting, and Entrepreneurship, and they will receive their degrees in May of 2016.  They were awarded Young Entrepreneur of the Year at the NEXT awards in 2015 and Startup of the year at the VCIC competition held at Owen in early 2016. Channing and Makenzie will go fulltime with EVAmore after graduation.

Why you should come to this lunch:  You will be competing with people like this, so here is a chance to see how they think and operate.  These two ladies have the maturity, poise, and drive you usually see in people ten years older than them.  Their group of acvisors includes some of the best mentors in Nashville.  People like Shawn Glinter, local entrepreneur, Damian Manning of DEV from New York, BMI Artist Relations VP, and Sparknet Communicatins founder Gary Well is helping with advice on strategy.


Thursday, April 14, 2016, 1:00 to 2:00, Dean’s Conference Room


Clint Smith 


Clint is the founder and CEO of Emma, an online marketing firm.  The company provides easy to use tools to help companies craft marketing programs that resonate with customers.  Companies can use Emma tools to customize messages to customers that address unique attributes of each customer, so every customer gets a customized message.  No mass mailings unless the client wants to send a mass message.


Clint is a very creative individual.  For example, he has a conference room that is built in the form of a circle.; all the walls are whiteboards, and all the seats face the walls instead of the people in the room.  His company does innovative things to help the community:  they contribute $5 for each new customer to to provide supplies and equipment to local schools; each year the company gives free Emma service to 25 not for profit enterprises for life; and they plant trees, 53,000 since the program was started to be exact.  They have other programs too, but this gives you a flavor for one aspect of the company.


If you want to have some fun, go to this web page and play around for a little while to see some of their creativity at work.