Come together to hear from industry experts and keynote speakers.

The 1st Annual VEC

  • WHO: Everyone is welcome. The entrepreneurial community is growing and Vanderbilt intends to help foster that development. Investors, students, professionals (alumni or otherwise) are all invited.
  • WHAT: Learn from expert panelists (scroll down for the list of speakers). Join the conversation. Network with industry leaders. With a catered breakfast, lunch and happy hour.
  • WHEN: November 9, 2018. 8:00AM – 4:00PM CST.
  • WHERE: Vanderbilt University’s Student Life Center: 310 25th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37240
  • COST: $100; Free to Vanderbilt Students & Faculty



The first annual Vanderbilt Entrepreneurship Conference will be held at Vanderbilt’s Student Life Center on 25th Avenue S.



John Ingram

John Ingram is a successful businessman and philanthropist. He serves as the chairman of the Ingram Content Group, Lightning Source and Digital Ingram, and Ingram Industries. He is also the owner of the planned Nashville MLS team.

Mr. Ingram joined Ingram Industries Inc. in 1986, serving as the Assistant Treasurer and also as President of Tennessee Book Company (now a subsidiary of Ingram Content Group) early in his career. He later served as President of Ingram Book Company, Vice President of Purchasing for Ingram Micro Europe, and Director of Purchasing for Ingram Micro Inc.. He has been a member of the Ingram Micro Inc. Board of Directors since 1996.

Mr. Ingram is active as a volunteer in a number of educational and charitable organizations. He is a member of the Board of Trust of Vanderbilt University and the boards of Montgomery Bell Academy and The Harpeth Hall School in Nashville. In addition, Mr. Ingram is Chairman of the capital campaigns for Vanderbilt Athletics and Currey Ingram Academy.

John is a graduate of Princeton University, where he received his BA degree in English in 1984. In 1986, he received his MBA from the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University.

Ryan McGrath

President of Asset Plus Companies, Ryan is responsible for the executive oversight of all divisions of Asset Plus Companies (Asset Plus and Asset Campus Housing) – focusing on strategic direction, operations, business growth and team development.

He currently holds his CCIM designation, CPM designation, Real Estate Salesperson License, Real Estate Broker’s License, General Lines Insurance License and is the company designated representative for the AMO accreditation.

Prior to his work at Asset Plus Companies, Ryan worked in the investment banking division of Goldman Sachs responsible for the execution of M&A and financing transactions in the industrial, energy, utilities and chemical industries.

Ryan is a 2006 honors graduate of Vanderbilt University where he received his B.A. in Economics while competing on the varsity soccer team.

DJ Wootson

Growing up in a crime-ridden part of his native Wilmington, Del., in the late ’80s and early ’90s, D.J. Wootson found refuge from life on the streets in playing basketball at the Jackson Street Boys Club.

Excelling at that sport earned him a ticket out of West Center City and played Division 1 basketball at Georgia State on a full scholarship. He eventually landed in Nashville to attend Vanderbilt Divinity School. Now as CEO of a fledgling real estate firm whose Titus Young moniker combines the first name of his son and last name of his late drug-addict father, Wootson has emerged as a key figure in efforts to revitalize a historic part of inner-city Nashville.

Betsy McHugh

Vanderbilt University graduate, Betsy McHugh, is a 17 year executive in the entertainment business, managing artists and marketing tours for Keith Urban, Hunter Hayes, Radiohead, Beastie Boys, Foo Fighters, John Mayer, Bon Jovi and many more.

With multiple album credits to her name, her clients sold out 7 headline arena tours and sold more than 15 million records during her time as their manager, while also garnering a dozen #1 singles and countless Grammy, Billboard, Teen Choice, CMA, and ACM nominations, wins, and performances.

Now the founder of Hurdl, Betsy is merging on and off-line marketing with a new, interactive event experience that de-anonymizes event guests to create a more complete fan picture.

Michael Berolzheimer

For Michael Berolzheimer, entrepreneurship has been a lifelong passion. Founder and managing partner of Bee Partners, Michael launched his first business at 11 and interned at an early social network startup at 13.

This passion focused his education. He graduated from Vanderbilt University with dual degrees in economics and computer science and earned an MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

Michael then began his career in finance, first in investment banking and next in private equity. It was after he completed his first angel investment with Vanderbilt alumni-founded Bear Naked Granola that his career took a different course, and he never looked back. He’s since invested in over 50 companies and celebrated one IPO.

Michael is known for his empathy for and understanding of entrepreneurs, having met and overcome many of their same challenges in his own startups. He possesses an uncanny ability to network and bring together the right players for each project Bee Partners engages with. Perhaps most importantly, he grasps the big picture quickly, he identifies and sizes up opportunity, and sees the clearest path to success. Michael resides in the East Bay with his wife and young family, and enjoys spending time in the mountains.

Brian Kasser

Brian Kasser is the Partner focused on executive-level talent for Lightspeed Venture Partners and their companies that understands that the companies in the portfolio are only as strong as the women and men who lead them. He comes to Lightspeed with more than a decade of executive search experience placing hundreds of leaders in many of the technology industry’s top organizations, both in the Silicon Valley and worldwide.

Previously he spent 13 years with Russell Reynolds Associates, where he led the firm’s global Software Practice for executive search. In his role, he conducted senior executive and board assignments for a range of clients, including CEO searches for Symantec, Unisys, Palo Alto Networks, Invoca, SafeNet, PTC (President), Lookout, AVI Networks, Kenandy, ClearSlide (COO), TriZetto, Peoplefluent, Vendavo, Gainspeed, Sumo Logic, Regenersis Software, CipherCloud (COO), Involver, Avago, Borland, Extreme Networks, WatchGuard, among others.

Earlier he was a senior professional in the Investment Banking industry at Salomon Brothers, Lehman Brothers, and Thomas Weisel Partners. He received his undergraduate BA degree in economics from Vanderbilt University where he played Varsity Football for the Commodores. He received his MBA in finance from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

Sherry Deutschmann

Sherry is the founder and CEO of Sunset Ventures. Sunset Ventures is a private equity firm targeting investment towards women-owned businesses.

Sherry Deutschmann is also the former founder and CEO of LetterLogic, Inc. a $40M Nashville-based company that has been praised nationally for placing the needs of the employees before those of the customers and shareholders.

Sherry is a member of the National Women’s Business Council, a small group of women who advise the President, Congress, and the Small Business Administration of issues related to access to capital, markets, and networks for women entrepreneurs.

David Owens

Dave Owens, Professor for the Practice of Management and Innovation and Faculty Director, VU Accelerator-Summer Business Institute, is a well-established authority on innovation and new product development who has lent his expertise to Fortune 500 companies and students alike.

Professor Owens has consulted for NASA, The Smithsonian, Nissan LEAF, Gibson Music, American Conservatory Theater, Alcatel, Tetra Pak, Tennessee Valley Authority, Cisco, LEGO, The Henry Ford Museum and many other organizations. He has done product design work for well-known firms, including Daimler Benz, Apple Computer, Dell Computer, Coleman Camping, Corning World Kitchen, Steelcase and IDEO Product Development. Professor Owens’ work has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, London Guardian and San Jose Mercury News, as well as on NPR’s Marketplace.

Justin Ishbia

Justin is a founding partner of Shore Capital, a healthcare private equity firm focused on partnering with companies that have between $1-10 million of EBITDA.

Justin is responsible for investment sourcing and valuation, transaction structuring, the securing of acquisition financing, fundraising and all administrative activities. Justin is the Chairman of Chicagoland Smile Group and EyeSouth Partners; past Chairman of Sirona Infusion, Michigan Rehabilitation Specialists/Excel Rehab, and ClearPath Diagnostics. Justin also sits on the board of Southern Veterinary Partners, Innovia Medical, Florida Autism Center, SpecialDocs, Argentum Medical, EyeSouth Partners, Hulin Health, and Navia Benefit Solutions.

Justin earned a Certificate of Law and Business from the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management and a B.A. in Accounting from Michigan State University. Justin is a member of the State Bar of Illinois and a Certified Public Accountant.

Aaron Dorn

Aaron Dorn is the Chairman, President, and CEO of Studio Bank. Aaron previously co-founded Avenue Bank which grew to be publicly traded with over $1 billion in assets and later sold to Pinnacle Financial Partners.

An industry visionary with over a decade of experience in banking, strategy, and marketing, Aaron has managed, evaluated, recruited, analyzed, and developed talent, business plans, and executive-level strategy. He also took a four-year break from banking and led the administration and training of five platoons totaling 144 personnel as an Intelligence Officer for the Marines. His rapid promotion and dedication earned him the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and a promotion to Captain.

Aaron Dorn earned his BS in Finance and Multinational Business Operation from Florida State University and later, his MBA from Vanderbilt University.

Ian McCollum

U.S. Army veteran and founder of Huma Energy Gel and OrderOwl, Ian McCollum is an entrepreneur to the heart.

During his two years serving in the Army and being promoted to Captain, he developed range upgrades and advancements for the largest US Army training facility in Europe. He was also selected from a pool of 18 officers to fill one of two prestigious Brigade Reconnaissance Troop Platoon Leader positions due to superior performance as a Platoon Leader deployed to Iraq.

Now he focuses on growing his networked B2B ordering solution, OrderOwl, and Huma Gel, a company dedicated to providing endurance athletes with an all-natural, great-tasting gel. Since it’s inception in 2012, Huma Gel is now distributed across 45 states and a dozen countries.

Ian McCollum earned his BA from Pepperdine University and later his MBA from Vanderbilt University.

Robert Grajewski

Robert Grajewski is a serial entrepreneur and investor who is best known for his expertise in building businesses and leading high-performing teams to achieve outstanding results.

As the Evans Family Executive Director of the Wond’ry, Vanderbilt’s Innovation Center, Robert’s main purpose is to foster a culture of exploration, innovation and “making.” His efforts include offering students a rich intellectual community and immersive experiences; investing in multi- and interdisciplinary programs; building programs that offer innovative, effective solutions to pressing societal problems; and transforming education models through technology and research.

Prior to joining Vanderbilt, Robert served as President of Edison Nation Medical, a healthcare innovation marketplace and incubator dedicated to bringing innovative healthcare inventions and startups to life. Robert has also cofounded two successful startups, Heritage Handcrafted, a specialty furniture and gift manufacturer, and PRO-Techs, an antimicrobial supplier, which continue in operations today. Robert also spent 8+ years as a growth equity and venture capital investor across a variety of sectors – including early stage technology, healthcare, retail, business services, and specialty manufacturing – for leading firms including J.H. Whitney Capital Partners, Westwind Investors, and Kamylon Capital.

Robert received an MBA from The Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania), an MPA from Harvard Kennedy School, and an AB degree from Harvard University.

Jim Ward

Jim has over fifteen years of experience as a financial manager, investment banker, and adviser to middle-market companies throughout the Southeast.

Jim recently co-founded Southeast Acquisition Capital, which partners with operators and investors to provide capital and succession for businesses seeking an owner exit. Jim is also a member of 2nd Generation Capital, where he has spent much of his time advising small enterprises on financial strategy, helping clients raise debt or equity capital, and developing relationships with private equity, mezzanine, and debt capital providers throughout the country. Jim is the incoming President of the Nashville Chapter of the Exit Planning Institute, an organization designed to provide business owners with resources and education around their business transition.

Jim graduated cum laude from Princeton University and received his MBA from the Owen Graduate School of Management, where he was Beta Gamma Sigma and with concentrations in Finance, Accounting and Strategy.

Jay Davis

Jay Davis is a co-founder of The Nashton Company, a holding company investing in recurring revenue services businesses. Nashton builds leading companies in niche markets over a very long period of time.

Prior to co-founding the firm, Jay served as the CEO of Vector Disease Acquisition (VDA), a holding company that provides vector-borne disease prevention programs and lake management services. He and his partner acquired VDA through the search fund model. Under Jay’s leadership, the company made 14 acquisitions. Vector Disease Acquisition was acquired by Rentokil Initial (FTSE: RTO) in November of 2017. Jay is an active investor in the lower middle market and is currently an Entrepreneur in Residence at The Harvard Business School.

Jay obtained a Master in Business Administration from Harvard Business School and graduated from Vanderbilt University with a degree in Economics. Jay and his wife Susan have three boys and live in Nashville, TN.

James Murray

James Murray is an Enterprise Business Development professional at InVision and co-founder and CEO of NewsCart.

James launched NewsCart with the goal of helping businesses discover and stay up to date with news and current events that affect them the most. NewsCart previously won 1st place at the PitchTX MBA Pitch Competition at SXSW 2017.

Prior to NewsCart and InVision, James spent time in Global Wealth Management and Capital Markets at Morgan Stanley, Growth Strategy at PubMatic, and Strategy and Business Development at Time Inc.

James earned his BA from Howard University and his MBA from Vanderbilt University.

Joe Maxwell

Joe Maxwell is the Managing Partner at FINTOP Capital. Joe was most recently the EVP and MD of IPreo Inc.

At IPreo, he led the Private Capital Markets, acquiring Clear Momentum Inc. in December 2015 and ILevel Inc. in August 2015. Prior to its 2014 acquisition by Ipreo, Joe was Chairman and CEO of Shareholder InSite. He was also the founder and CEO of CapControls, Inc., and founder, CEO and Chairman of Investment Scorecard, Inc. Investment Scorecard sold to Informa PLC in April 2007. Joe is also an active FinTech Board Member: Wealth Access (’13-Present), GuardVest (’15 – Present), Kindful (’16 – Present), DealCloud (’16 – Present), Core – 10 (’16 – Present), Numerated (’17 – Present).

Joe holds a BA from Denison University and an MBA from Vanderbilt University.

Jiten Dajee

A Lead Technologist at Deloitte Digital, Jiten Dajee is a subject matter expert on digital reality technology spanning the entire value chain of augmented, mixed, and virtual reality.

Jiten has been involved with digital reality since his first joint-venture in healthcare wearables in 2011. He was the first and only person to be hired directly from undergraduate university into Deloitte Consulting Innovation to address the rapid commercialization of digital reality across industrial and commercial sectors. Jiten has been pioneering digital reality as a new business sector for Deloitte Digital and guides client strategy for how telecommunication networks, content creators, optic research, semiconductors manufacturers, software platforms, products, and consumers will interact in the next-gen computing medium.

Jiten earned his BA in Business Strategy from Vanderbilt University.

Monique Villa

Monique Villa is the Founder and Managing Director of ModernCapital, a new collective of creative thinkers shaping the modern economy.

Together with a first cohort of Venture Fellows, advisors, and a partnership with Launch Tennessee, ModernCapital is dedicated to making venture capital more accessible to founders across the Southeastern United States. They believe the Southeast is a region to watch for startup activity as venture capital becomes increasingly geographically distributed, hyper-personalized, and driven by tech.

Previously, Monique worked with Core Innovation Capital, the Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship, Velos Partners, and began her career in startups as an intern with TOMS (fka TOMS Shoes).

Stefan Banks

Stefan is a Managing Director at Wavecrest Securities. Over the course of his career as an executive and senior level operator, Stefan has managed re-organizations, turnarounds, and successfully guided organizations through distressed and rapidly evolving situations.

He has specialized focus in retail, beverage alcohol distribution, beverage alcohol manufacturing, and military/defense industries. Prior to joining Wavecrest, he was a Managing Partner of Hexagon Advisors and held multiple executive level positions, to include CEO and President, within multiple organizations. Prior to joining the civilian sector, Stefan was a successful Special Forces Medical Sergeant assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne). His unit led multiple combat missions with an exceptional mission success rate.

Stefan earned a BS in Agricultural Economics from Texas A&M University and an MBA from Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management.