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NEXT Venture Pitch Announces Multiple Entrepreneurship Panels

NEXT Venture Pitch 2020 will feature three panels that focus on educating entrepreneurs — they include a Founder’s Panel to “Grow Your Startup”, a “Building World-Class Products“ Panel, and a “Building Winning Teams” Panel.

Founders Panel — “Grow Your Startup”

The Founders Panel will provide insights on entrepreneurship, leadership, and innovation, and will feature Bob Youakim, Jon-Michael Carter, Sue Marks, and Marty Osborn, and will be facilitated by Dru Armstrong.

Bob Youakim, founder and CEO of Passport, knows exactly what it takes to start a business, grow it sustainably, and secure funding at each stage. Passport is a FinTech startup that is revolutionizing the way cities manage transit operations, both in the public and private sector, and recently secured a $65 million Series D to create an open mobility ecosystem that seamlessly integrates vehicles, navigation, and parking apps.

Jon-Michael Carter, founder and CEO of ChartSpan, has helped put Greenville, SC on the map as the new “Silicon Valley of the South.” His healthcare startup ChartSpan raised more than $25 million in VC and in just 5 years became the largest managed provider of patient care coordination services in the U.S.

Sue Marks, founder and CEO of Cielo, is credited for being one of the founders and pioneers of the Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) industry by taking the approach that she “could do it better.” Learn from her as she shares her experience of starting and steering the world’s leading RPO provider.

Marty Osborn, founder and President of Advoco, has over 30 years of experience in software and technical project management and possesses a deep understanding of actionable customer solutions. Since 2002, Advoco has been advising small and large businesses on how to optimize their performance.

Lastly, the Founders Panel will be facilitated by Dru Armstrong, CEO of Grace Hill and co-founder and former CEO of Lily Pod. Dru has an impressive history of growing companies and putting ideas into action. Her experience is matched by her impressive education as she holds a B.A. from Columbia University and a J.D./M.B.A. from The University of Chicago.

“Building World-Class Products” Panel

The “Building World-Class Products” Panel is an executive track panel that will target CEOs and founders. This deep dive will feature Butler Raines, Mark Essex, Michael Morrissey, Javier Buzzalino, and will be facilitated by Marty Osborn.

Butler Raines, VP of Product at SalesLoft, is a master of building world-class products. Starting with web applications for chemistry students, Butler would go on to start The Bitter Southerner, a digital publication that articulates the stories of southern “complexities and advancements.” Today, Butler oversees product strategy at SalesLoft by covering product management, product design, user experience, and product operations.

For nearly 20 years, Mark Essex has guided the success of Netalytics as President and CEO. Netalytics builds software solutions for the behavioral health care industry and was founded on the commitment to “producing innovative and intuitive software.”

Michael Morrissey, CTO of FullStory, describes himself as “lucky” to be a part of the engineering team that builds and develops products under his direction. FullStory leverages digital intelligence to help companies with their UX to increase revenue and improve retention.

Javier Buzzalino, SVP of R&D at Infor, oversees 9 product families including Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Enterprise Asset Management (EAM), and everything in between. For nearly 15 years, Javier has driven product development at Infor, a software company focused on business applications, by identifying customer needs and adjusting to the ever-changing digital landscape.

The Building World-Class Products will be facilitated by Marty Osborn, Founder & President of Advoco.

“Building Winning Teams” Panel

The “Building Winning Teams” Panel will feature Jessica McDonald, Tajh Boyd, and Bobby Cremins, and will be moderated by Joe Schmidt IV.

Jessica McDonald, US Women's Soccer World Cup Champion, characterizes the spirit of grit and determination better than anyone. Her career in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) has led the North Carolina Courage to 3 consecutive Shields (an annual award for the team with the best regular-season record), 2 consecutive league Championships, and Jessica was the first NWSL player to score 33 goals in a season.

Tajh Boyd, All-American Quarterback from Clemson University, was the 6th round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft and signed by the New York Jets. His football career featured him setting school records at Clemson for total passing yards, 11,904, and passing touchdowns, 107. He is no stranger to adversity and intimately familiar with building a successful team.

Bobby Cremins, former Head Basketball Coach of Georgia Tech and 3 time ACC “Coach of the Year”, knows more than anyone how to take existing talent and transform it into a competitive and winning team. He revolutionized Tech’s basketball program and was an assistant coach in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta for the second “Dream Team” that won a gold medal.

Finally, Joe Schmidt IV, former Notre Dame linebacker, knows the uphill road it takes to achieve your dreams and pull a team together. Initially a walk-on in college, Joe would eventually become captain and MVP under head coach Brian Kelly. Today, Joe is an investor and has a keen eye for strategy and partnerships. He will be moderating this year’s panel “Building Winning Teams” panel.

NEXT Venture Pitch 2020 will be packed with talent, valuable information, and networking opportunities that you’ll want to be a part of!

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NEXT VENTURE PITCH is a conference hosted by NEXT, an economic development and entrepreneurial support organization located in Greenville, SC. To learn more, visit

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Greenville, SC 29601

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