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Charlotte Angel Connection Episode 090: David Stunja, COO of

Today, we have David Stunja joining us on the podcast. David is the COO of which recently completed a Seed Round led by Grotech Ventures. Many of you know David, but for those that don’t he took the corporate America route before he joined David spent most of his career in Washington, DC before relocating to Charlotte and was a VP of Corporate Strategy for Bank of America. All along, he knew he wanted to work with a fast-growing startup company. He just had...


Charlotte Angel Connection Episode 089: Continuing to Build the Charlotte Startup Ecosystem with Evan Rozantes and Chris Heivly

Today our guests are Evan Rozantes and Chris Heivly. By the end of the podcast, you will clearly understand their passion and the importance of building a strong innovation ecosystem in the Charlotte and Raleigh areas. Chris Heivly began his career in DC, then Lancaster, PA then Chicago and moved to the Raleigh/Durham area in 2005. Chris is an entrepreneur (MapQuest Co-Founder), early-stage investor and now serial startup community builder. He’s spent time building up the ecosystem in...


Charlotte Angel Connection Episode 088: A Conversation about Investment Crowdfunding with Will McGuire and Mark Easley of

Today we welcome Will McGuire and Mark Easley to the Podcast. Will and Mark are building CrowdfundNC – an investment crowdfunding ecosystem in North Carolina. North Carolina is one of 38 states who have enacted legislation allowing for anyone to become an angel investor. Will McGuire has been an investment crowdfunding investor and advisor since 2016. Mark Easley has been an active advocate, advisor, and investor in the investment crowdfunding space since 2012. Mark was the leader of the NC...


Charlotte Angel Connection Episode 087: Tyson Baber, Partner at Georgian Partners

Tyson Baber went to college at the University of North Carolina. Early in his career he worked for IBM as an M&A Business Development Executive. In 2014, he relocated to Toronto and became a Partner at Georgian Partners. Georgian Partners is a growth-stage fund focused on companies who provide unique business value through machine learning and artificial intelligence applied to unique data. Tyson loves helping companies navigate through the growth stage and making them more valuable. In...


Charlotte Angel Connection Episode 086: Mark McDowell, Investor and Entrepreneur and Greg Brown, Administrator of the Charlotte Angel Fund

Greg Brown is the President of Cardinal Finance, LLC, and Administrator at Charlotte Angel Fund. Mark McDowell is a Partner at RealVentures, Co-Founder at Acta Wireless Capital and Chairman at LaunchLKN. LaunchLKN is a collaborative community of entrepreneurs, mentors, and community leaders dedicated to sharing knowledge and motivating growth in the Lake Norman/Davidson area startup community. Earlier this year, Greg Brown made the decision to host a second monthly meeting of Charlotte Angel...


Charlotte Angel Connection Episode 085: AJ Ratani, Entrepreneur, World Traveler, Former President and CTO at Red Ventures

AJ Ratani grew up in Dubai and came to America to attend college in Arkansas. His first experience in the US was flying in a propeller plane and seeing a lot of green as he landed in Arkansas – something new to someone living in a desert. After his college years in Arkansas and Florida, he began his career with a company in Virginia, but he was not satisfied. He wanted a position that would offer him opportunity and growth. In 2005, pursuing a lead, he was “lucky” and was offered...


Charlotte Angel Connection Episode 084: Keith Luedeman, Founder of, Investor, and Executive Director of Innovate Charlotte

Keith Luedeman is the Executive Director for Innovate Charlotte and a name you’ve heard a lot of over the last 12 months (if not before as he also was the founder of When Keith and I sat down to this interview I told him I had a very simple concept for it. In our interview last spring, he indicated he wanted to take a year to get his feet wet before he committed to making investments or being overly active. I wanted to cover what the past year has been like now that he has...


Charlotte Angel Connection Episode 083: Brian Pope, Managing Director of Alternative Investments at Barings

Brian Pope is a Managing Direct for Barings Alternative Investments. Barings is a name you have heard more from over the last couple of years here in Charlotte. They have hosted the 1st and 2nd Southeast Fintech Venture Conference on the 26th Floor of the Barings building in downtown Charlotte. They have also been active in the community from a community service perspective. We are also seeing Barings more frequently in the business press as their employees are great resources for the local...


Charlotte Angel Connection Episode 082: Emir Dukic and James Strong, Co-Founders of Rabbu

Emir Dukic purchased a home with a detached garage. He wanted a man cave but his wife thought differently. Naturally, the man cave lost and as a result the seed for Rabbu was born. The alternative was to rent it out through Airbnb and it didn't take long for them to realize the power of Airbnb and passive income. The room above their garage was essentially paying their mortgage. Rather than purchasing new properties, they negotiated with existing property owners to rent their property and...


Charlotte Angel Connection Episode 081: Sam Smith, Founder of Vishion and Collective Hustle

Today we share Sam Smith’s story. Sam came to our first Charlotte Angel Connection event last February (where we first met) and has been back to each one since. She has a thirst to be part of and leading the Charlotte entrepreneurial scene. It’s led her to start Vishion, Collective Hustle and put on the 1st Seed the South event in January 2019. All three are great getting great traction and we're excited to see them grow and the impact they will have on Charlotte! Vishion is her startup....


Charlotte Angel Connection Episode 080: Pete Philo, Founder of Sports Tank Innovation Studio and TPG Sports Group

Today we share Pete Philo’s story with our listeners. Pete was recently introduced to me by Dan Roselli as he thought Pete’s story should be more locally known. After spending more than an hour with Pete, I couldn’t agree more and I’m excited to share with you our podcast interview. Pete is the Founder of TPG Sports Group. It’s a company he started after being a scout for the Dallas Mavericks, Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Indiana Pacers. He also played basketball over in Europe, helped...


Charlotte Angel Connection Episode 079: Bill D'Alessandro Founder and CEO of Element Brands

Today on the Charlotte Angel Connection, we are fortunate to have Bill D'Alessandro join us. Bill is the founder and CEO of Elements Brands which is a consumer products company he started while he was in Colorado and brought back to Charlotte to grow and evolve. Bill wants to make Elements Brands the home for consumer products companies. By 2025, Elements Brands wants to be in a place where they are doing 12 acquisitions per year. By 2050, they want to be the Proctor and Gamble of consumer...


Charlotte Angel Connection Episode 078: Ben Harrison and Rob Cummings, Co-Founders of DealCloud

While working together at Falfurrias Capital, Rob Cummings and Ben Harrison experienced a need for vertically-focused software for the deal making industry. What ensued was an 8-year growth story that achieved a significant milestone when DealCloud was sold to Intapp, Inc. in August 2018. Make no mistake, DealCloud is still growing at a rapid pace and is a critical component to the Intapp growth story. But for Rob and Ben, getting to an exit event capped an incredible run together from when...


Charlotte Angel Connection Episode 077: Meggie Williams, Founder and CEO of Skipper

Ride the Scooter in the Rain - it's a a core value of Skipper. It also serves to remind CEO/Founder Meggie Williams of where the business started. Early on in the business she took a scooter to walk the dogs. Inevitably some days it rained. It's a way for her to remember who she and who the company is. Skipper is after the trust of the Trust of the clients. It's something you won't question or doubt after listening to Meggie's interview today. Sebastian Williams - or as she refers to her...


Charlotte Angel Connection Episode 076: Mac Lackey, VentureSouth Partner, Serial Entrepreneur and Investor

Mac Lackey is a Charlotte kid. He grew up here, returned after playing soccer in college and professionally to start his career. He started his first businesses and began raising his family here. Ultimately, he decided to return here after spending several years overseas. He’s returned to a startup ecosystem vastly different than the one he left. And he is in the middle of it through his work mentoring companies, leading the VentureSouth efforts here in Charlotte and being an active speaker...


Charlotte Angel Connection Episode 075: QC Fintech Class Members iTrust, Mimble, and AMUS

QC Fintech Class 9 is getting ready for its demo day which coincides with the Southeast Fintech Venture Conference on November 14. In preparation, we had the opportunity to talk with three different founders companies who are part of Class 9: iTrust – ( - Trevor Horwitz Mimble ( – Chad Huber AMUS ( – Busayo Ogunsanya After getting to know each of the companies and their founders on the podcast, we dive into the topic of what allows them...


Charlotte Angel Connection Episode 075: Angel Rutledge, SignUp Genius

SignUp Genius was born out of the frustrations of a couple, Dan and Angel Rutledge, who were struggling with the same tasks we labor through every week as parents and volunteers – coordinating who does what and when. It was born in 2008 – the worst economic period we’ve had in at least 30 years – in a growing southern city not known for its entrepreneurial grit, Charlotte. Dan had been recruited to Charlotte to work with an entrepreneur (Michael Vadini) to build an entertainment company and...


Charlotte Angel Connection Episode 073: Part II with Michelle Buelow, Founder and CEO of Bella Tunno

"Start with Why". Something Michelle Buelow clearly had done helped propel Bella Tunno to the next stage several years ago. But reading the book and using it to define the following year of the business (she chooses a book every year to help frame the next 12 months) was just another step in Michelle's evolution from passion, to entrepreneur, to CEO. Michelle has a clear vision of who she is and what Bella Tunno has become and is still becoming. She's learned to manage and measure the...


Charlotte Angel Connection Episode 072: Michelle Buelow, Founder and CEO of Bella Tunno

Today we welcome Michelle Buelow, Founder and CEO of Bella Tunno. Over the last decade, Michelle's success and the success of Bella Tunno has helped deliver nearly 1.6 million meals to the hungry as part of their buy one product, give one meal program. She's also raked in numerous personal accolades including EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women in 2009. The path she carved wasn't one she chose yet she's embraced it and created a legacy in the process. Today, we learn Michelle: Moved to...