• Elizabeth Edwards Elizabeth Edwards

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    Bio: Elizabeth Edwards is the founder of Metro Innovation and author of the award winning book, Startup: The Complete Handbook for Launching a Company for Less. Edwards launched Metro Innovation, a catalyst for innovation and entrepreneurship, in 2009 after seven years in venture capital, private equity, and strategy and innovation consulting.

    As a venture capital investor at Neyer Holdings, Edwards built winning strategies for start-up and growth companies in a variety of sectors, including clean tech, life sciences, consumer products, and technology. She has evaluated hundreds of business plans, and actively participated in the funding, launch, and management of five early stage portfolio companies. Edwards started her career at Deloitte Consulting, where she was a strategy consultant to Fortune 500 companies, deployed over a broad range of industries. At Deloitte, Edwards' work focused on strategic marketing, disruptive innovation, and growth strategies. Edwards holds a B.S. in Economics and Cognitive Psychology from the University of Michigan, where she graduated with honors and distinction, and a MBA from the University of Cincinnati. She is a resident of Cincinnati, Ohio, where she serves on the board of the Greater Cincinnati Venture Association and teaches entrepreneurial finance at Xavier University. She has been featured in more than 50 local and national media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal and BoingBoing, and has been a popular guest lecturer at universities and conferences since 2007, where she presents entrepreneurship as an imperative for economic stability.

  • Candace Klein Candace Klein

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    Bio: My mom had me when she was 17, and we lived on welfare, in a trailer park, for the first five years of my life. I like to tell this part of my story because my mom is now an executive at P&G, managing multi-brand marketing, without a college education (she worked her way up through customer service).

    She is an amazing woman, and my role model. I am one of five children, and my mom is one of eight, so we have a very large family. I was the first to go to college in my family, and received four bachelor degrees from Northern Kentucky University (Marketing, Management, Communication, Political Science), in four years, with a 4.0 GPA. I planned to go to law school after graduation, and was accepted to Boston University and the University of San Diego. I chose San Diego for the weather (and joint JD/IMBA program), and packed up my Geo Metro to drive across the country, but was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in April, 2003. I had to stay home to go through surgery and treatment, and had to move back in with my parents (major blow to the college grad ego). All of my money went toward medical bills, so I could no longer afford to go to law school. I began working as a lobbyist for the Northern Kentucky Chamber, and went to my boss to ask for help with law school. When he told me that he wouldn't offer tuition reimbursement, I said, "You don't have to pay, I just have to go for free. Let's figure something out." He then set up a meeting with the President of my undergrad university, Jim Votruba, who introduced me to a woman on their Board of Regents, Alice Sparks. Alice is good friends with the Clintons and Obamas, and is committed to promoting women. We met for lunch, and I told her my life story. She asked what I planned to do with my life, and I told her I intended to change the world. When she asked how I planned to do this, I told her that I would 1) learn the law; 2) run a successful business; and 3) run for Governor of Ohio in 2027. She agreed to pay $40,000 for my law school education that day. When I asked Alice how I could ever repay her for such an amazing gift, she told me to "find a way to invest in women." I went to law school at night, and worked first as a lobbyist (for the Chamber and then for United Way) during the day, but then a volunteer of mine, Tom Neyer (a venture capitalist), offered me a job. I went to work for him, leading the Communities Practice for one of his startup companies, Property Advisors, with the title of "Maven" and the job description, "run and think." While working for Tom, I read an article about a non-profit in Washington D.C., Social Compact, that had developed an alternative to the census for understanding population and buying power in the urban core. I called them and told them how important it was for them to do this study in Cincinnati, but was told that they were not interested in our market. I simply responded that no was not an answer, and asked them what their criteria was, and if I could come to them to make a pitch for my city. John Talmage, the CEO (friends with Ben Bernanke and the CEOs of every US national bank), changed his mind upon my presentation, and hired me to help him lead the study in Cincinnati in 2007, which eventually led to the first successful census challenge for the city in 2008. This study also led me to create the "Communities" practice at my company, where Mayor Mallory and several other mayors became clients of mine. I helped them to use this new data to attract retailers, and helped them to pitch Nordstrom, Target, Costco and other major retailers. This consulting work then led me to begin doing work for Target, helping them to pitch to planning commissions and elected officials when attempting to move into a new community. I graduated in 2008, and began practicing corporate law for Greenebaum Doll & McDonald, with a focus on real estate and government affairs. All of my clients (at the time) were woman-owned businesses. I was laid off in June, 2009, set up my own law practice, and all (13) of my clients came with me. Because they saw me struggling financially, they became more open about their own financial situations. They told me that they had maxed out their personal credit cards and taken home equity lines of credit out on their homes, but that the banks wouldn't lend to their businesses. They were faced with closing their doors. That year, I became obsessed with alternative forms of lending, trying to find a way to get money into the hands of my legal clients. I researched Grameen Bank and Dr. Yunus, Opportunity Fund, ACCION USA, Kiva.org, Prosper.com, LendingClub.com. I simply wanted to find the right resource for my clients. I quickly realized, however, that none of them were quite enough. My clients needed more than money. They didn't understand debt, and needed education first. So, I launched Bad Girl Ventures in March, 2010. BGV is a highly localized micro-finance organization (501c3) focused on educating and financing woman-owned startup companies in a local geographic region. We provide $25,000 low interest loans (0-6%), but in order to be eligible for our financing, the women must first complete and 8-week long curriculum. We teach them 1) how to understand their personal credit score; 2) the components of the business plan; 3) legal structuring (and provide limited free legal services); 4) marketing; 5) social media; 6) pricing; 7) accounting from startup to cash flow; and 8) financing options. They have to complete homework each week, and by the time they graduate, they will have completed 1) a business plan; 2) a marketing plan; 3) an operating budget; and 4) an SBA loan application. To date, in Cincinnati we have received 300 applicants for our program, we have now educated nearly 250, and we have financed 24 with $650,000. We expanded to Cleveland in Fall 2011, and plan to expand to Columbus in January 2012. I then launched SoMoLend this March because I was unable to find financing for the remaining 276 companies who applied for BGV, and wanted to find a way to help them as well. SML is a highly localized web and mobile-based peer-to-peer lending technology, allowing individuals to borrow from, and lend to, other individuals, and in doing so, seek a small return. This technology will allow a business borrower to raise friends and family capital through an easy to use website, and allows those friends and family members to secure a dependable payment method and interest rate for their investment.

  • Tarek Kamil Tarek Kamil

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    Bio: Tarek Kamil is currently the Executive Director of Online Strategy for startup InfoMotion Sports Technology (IST) and provides analytics consulting for professional and collegiate sports teams.

    IST uses embeddedsensor technology to quantify sports skills and leverages that data as a cornerstone for online sports communities. Prior to IST, he served as a VP of Interactive Games for Los Angeles-based FOX Sports. He oversaw all facets of the online gaming operations for the FoxSports.com Interactive Unit, including WhatIfSports.com based in Cincinnati. WhatIfSports.com was founded by Mr. Kamil in February, 2000 and sold to FOX Interactive Media in September, 2005. Prior to leading the Interactive Games unit for FOX Sports, Mr. Kamil served as President/Founder of WhatIfSports.com, the Internet’s leader in sports simulation technology, games and content. In just 5 short years, Mr. Kamil grew WhatIfSports from an idea to over 500,000 members and orchestrated partnerships with some of the largest names in sports, including ESPN, Fox Sports, MLB, NBA and the NHL. In February of 2005, WhatIfSports was named Sports Site of the Year by the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences, beating out both ESPN.com and BBCSports.com. Prior to launching WhatIfSports.com, in 1997 Mr. Kamil founded, and served as President of, Incigna Technology Solutions – a provider of custom developed software and Internet solutions. Incigna worked with numerous Fortune 500 companies including General Electric, Anthem Insurance, Omnicare and Western Southern Financial. Mr. Kamil is a graduate of both the University of Dayton (1990) and the Xavier School of Business (1997) and was named as a finalist for the 2005 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

  • Keith Johnson Keith Johnson

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    Bio: Keith Johnson is currently the Marketing and Business Team Leader for North America Procter & Gamble Professional. P&G Professional exists to help businesses thrive with a purpose of touching and improving the lives of more professionals and away-from-home consumers. P&G Professional is one of the fastest growing divisions of P&G. Keith joined the Procter & Gamble Company in 1994 and has worked on consumer brands, such as Always®, Tampax®, and Iams®, before joining the P&G Professional division in 2010. Keith graduated from Purdue University in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. Before coming to P&G, he worked in the chemical industry for DuPont. He has had various functional roles while with P&G, including engineering, program management, initiative success, and brand management. He has had assignments around the world, including Italy and Japan. Most recently in 2011, he received an MBA with Honors from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.