President & CEO
Smart Business Network
Fred co-founded Smart Business Network in 1989 with a single publication in Cleveland, Ohio. In the years since, he has built the company into a leading multimedia and content marketing business providing print and digital marketing services to a national client base.
Womble Bond Dickinson
Scott is a business-focused attorney who delivers practical solutions for his clients. Scott listens to his clients’ goals and starts with those in mind. A strategic thinker, he regularly works with private equity principals, business owners and management teams to help them chart efficient paths through transactions, commercial negotiations and board-level decisions. Scott leads executives and deal teams on major transactions and advises businesses as general outside counsel on a daily basis. He has particular depth in technology-enabled business services, education, financial technology, engineering and other professional services. As a former management consultant in the payment systems industry, Scott also regularly works with Queen City FinTech and the Charlotte FinTech Hub.
Senior Wealth Strategist, Private Business Strategist, and Senior Vice President
PNC Wealth Management
Jim in in his 30th year working in wealth planning, corporate strategy, and taxation. He provides advice on a wide range of matters related to high-net-worth families, closely held businesses and complex estates. Jim is focused on estate planning, charitable strategies, taxation, equity compensation, retirement planning, and wealth transfer issues. He also works with business owners to integrate exit strategy into the owner’s business, personal and financial goals. Jim is particularly interested in helping families manage the non-financial dynamics associated with wealth. Jim holds an active license in North Carolina as a Certified Public Accountant, and he is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional. He also holds the Certified Exit Planning Advisor designation. Jim earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with concentrations in Accounting and Managerial Law from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
President & CEO
Kaulig Companies Limited
Tim is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Kaulig Companies Limited, the Single Member Family Office for Matt Kaulig and his direct family. For more than 20 years, Tim has excelled in the financial management business and holds all of his professional asset management licenses including the Series 65. Throughout his career, Tim has been responsible for the management of significant financial assets for both high net worth individuals and businesses.
Executive Vice President, Head of Mid Atlantic Corporate Banking
Woodforest National Bank
Julie is a corporate banking and leveraged finance banking executive with a diverse background in syndicated facilities, private equity/sponsored transactions, capital markets strategies, and direct credits to middle market companies. Julie has been in finance for over 20 years, including 15 years serving the Mid Atlantic Region.
Julie is responsible for leading the Bank’s growth initiative in the Corporate Banking space, namely serving the Mid Atlantic region. She earned her B.A. in Marketing Communications from the University of Houston and her International Business Law degree from King’s College in London, England.
Julie is committed to the local community and has served on several non-profit boards and committees including Girls Scouts Hornets’ Nest Council’s Advancement Committee, Young Athletes Special Olympics of North Carolina, LIFESPAN, and the British American Business Council. She is also an active member of the Association of Corporate Growth –Charlotte Chapter and the Charlotte Economics Club. In 2018, Julie was awarded Philanthropist of the Year by LIFESPAN, an organization focused on the special needs community. In 2020, Julie was named one of Charlotte’s 50 Most Influential Women by the Mecklenburg Times publication and was awarded the top honor.
Carolinas Growth Leader
Greg is responsible for growth across the Carolinas for Aon, which includes helping companies make better decisions across Risk, Health and Wealth. Greg has a diverse leadership background in the insurance industry having led teams on both the brokerage and underwriting sides of the industry.
Culp Elliott & Carpenter, PLLC
Curtis Elliott is a tax and corporate partner with Culp Elliott & Carpenter, PLLC in Charlotte. He handles a wide variety of tax and business matters for clients, including company M&A, tax advisory, corporate governance and family succession and corporate strategy. His industry expertise includes SAAS, construction, real estate and healthcare M&A.
Adam leads Carousel Capital’s investment origination efforts. In this role, he is responsible for originating, assessing, and developing investment leads and relationships with companies. He also develops and maintains relationships with entrepreneurs, investment bankers, attorneys, accountants, financing providers, and other sources of opportunities.
Mr. Elmore received a Bachelor of Arts in History from Davidson College and a Master of Business Administration from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.
Louis Foreman is founder and Chief Executive of Enventys Partners, an integrated product design and engineering firm. Over the past 20 years Louis has created 9 successful start-ups and has been directly responsible for the creation of over 20 others. He is the inventor of 10 registered US Patents, and his firm is responsible for the development and filing of well over 600 more. Louis is an adjunct professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, at Queens University and an adjunct professor and the Entrepreneur in Residence at The McColl School of Business. Louis serves on the Board of Directors of the James Dyson Foundation, the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO), New Dominion Bank, the Intellectual Property Owners Educational Foundation (IPOEF) and is Chairman of the National SBDC Advisory Board.Louis served for 7 years on the Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC) of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, including the last two years as Chairman.
Raymond C. Groth
Axum Capital Partners
Ray is a partner at Axum Capital Partners, a private equity group based in Charlotte. Previously, he served as a professor at Duke's Fuqua School of Business, the head of the merger and acquisition group of First Union Securities (now Wells Fargo & Co.), a managing director of the M&A Group of The First Boston Corp. (now Credit Suisse Group) in New York, N.Y. and practiced law with Cravath, Swaine & Moore in New York, N.Y., where he worked on the IPO of Intel Corp., represented Chemical Bank (now JPMorganChase) and was involved in multidistrict litigation on behalf of IBM.
Director, Private Equity Services
Emily serves as Business Development Director for BDO’s National Private Equity Services Group. She is responsible for bringing the breadth and depth of firm resources and expertise to serve the needs of the private equity and venture funds, SBICS, and Business Development Companies(BDCS) at the fund and portfolio company level. Leveraging more than 20 years of relationships, Emily brings additional sources of proprietary deal flow, access to executive level talent, an institutional investor and family offices network base, and industry knowledge.
Prior to joining BDO, Emily was the founder of VUE Partners, a capital advisory firm working with founder and family-owned businesses and investment funds in formation. Previously, she led Originations for the Southeast region at Brightwood Capital Advisors providing debt and equity solutions through their direct lending fund and two SBICs.
Her previous experience includes RSM Private Equity Services in Northeast and Southeast regions and 10 years in Institutional Sales with JPMorgan Asset Management in New York and First Union Capital Management Group in Charlotte.
EVP & Charlotte Regional President
Brad Jones is the EVP and Charlotte Regional President for FNB Corp. He is responsible for overseeing the development of new business opportunities, organizing and providing leadership to FNB's regional management team in the Charlotte region. He has over 30 years of financial experience in leadership roles at large financial institutions and is very involved in the Charlotte community.
The Zabel Companies, LLC
Rich has been investing in and partnering with lower middle market companies for the last sixteen years. His prior experience includes advisory work with both a middle market investment bank and a global corporate finance and brand valuation consulting firm. Rich graduated from the University of Virginia with a Bachelor of Science in Commerce with concentrations in Finance and Management. As a result of growing up in five different states, Rich has an unfortunate accent and cheers for far too many sports teams. He gladly calls Charlotte his home with his wife, four kids, and a growing number of pets.
Managing Director, Business Development
At Gridiron Capital, Sean focuses on developing new business partnerships, marketing, communicating with business owners, and managing investment sourcing and exit planning. Prior to joining Gridiron Capital, Sean served as vice president at BB&T Capital Markets in Richmond, Virginia. His responsibilities at BB&T included executing mergers and acquisitions advisory for middle-market businesses, as well as establishing and strengthening business development relationships with middle-market investors. Earlier in his career, Sean worked at Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank.
B&S Site Development, LLC
Chris Kete started his professional career as a submarine warfare officer with the U.S. Navy. Upon completion of his military service, Chris held a series of progressively more responsible roles with Fortune 500 constituents such as Cummins Inc. and Meritor Inc. (formerly ArvinMeritor). In 2010, Chris transitioned to the middle market business community where he has held CEO, President, and/or board member roles with several manufacturing and service firms: The Horsburgh & Scott Company, Wastequip, US GreenFiber, NASCENT Technology, B&S Site Development, and Griffin Gear. Chris holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
Lee M. Koury
Smart Business Network Inc.
Lee is managing partner of Smart Business Network Inc., a national events, media and marketing company founded in 1989, primarily responsible for expanding the company’s Aspire deal-making conference throughout the U.S. He plays a key role in establishing corporate policies and developing long-term strategy and growth plans. Previously, he founded and chaired the Growth Group at national law firm Arter & Hadden LLP (now Tucker, Ellis & West), which focused on working with middle-market and high-growth technology companies.
Managing Partner - Charlotte
RSM US LLP
With over 30 years of experience serving clients, Mark helps his clients achieve significant tax savings in both the inbound and outbound international tax area. Mark is the transfer pricing lead specialist responsible for helping to establish worldwide transfer pricing procedures through RSM International.
Director of Business Development
Five Points Capital
Brent has served as the Director of Business Development for Five Points Capital since 2005. Previously, Brent was the Fund Executive of Charlotte Angel Partners, an angel venture capital fund located in Charlotte, North Carolina. Earlier experiences include investment banking positions with Raymond James and Wachovia Securities, where he specialized in raising capital and mergers and acquisitions for healthcare and financial services companies. He began his career with Bank of Boston where he specialized in senior debt and mezzanine financings for Cable TV and publishing companies. He is on the ACG Global Board of Directors as the Director at Large for Charlotte, NC and serves as a Board Member and the Treasurer for the Greensboro Farmers Market.
Plumb Line Capital
Matt founded Plumb Line Capital Partners, LLC (PLCP) and serves as Managing Partner. PLCP works with a number of long term focused investors / family offices investing, advising, operating, and helping to grow family / founder / entrepreneur owned companies. PLCP structures these deals as "direct deals" in order to bring in the most strategic investors, board members, industry experts, etc. to accelerate the growth / scale the operations of the company. PLCP works in board member / strategic / operational partnership roles to these operating companies.
Additionally, Matt is Managing Partner of Abatemaster, a leader in environmental services including asbestos surveys, inspections, & abatement, lead based paint removal, mold remediation, soda blasting, and demolition services in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia for 25 years.
He has previous experience working as a private equity investor at investment firms that focused on investments in family, founder, entrepreneur, and management team owned companies where he was actively engaged as a board member in the strategy and operations of portfolio companies. Previously, he worked as an investment banker where he provided public and private companies with mergers and acquisitions and debt and equity capital raising advice.
Keith Luedeman is founder and former CEO of goodmortgage.com, an award winning internet mortgage lender. Keith led goodmortgage.com to be recognized for many successes including Best Place to Work for Mid-Size Companies and Online Lender of the Year by the Mortgage Bankers Association. Under Keith's guidance, goodmortgage.com was named to the Inc. 5000 five times, earning it a place on the Inc. 5000 Honor Roll.
Earning individual awards along the way, such as NCTA Tech Exec of the Year, Keith developed a reputation as a passionate entrepreneur who shares his business wisdom as Board Chair of Innovate Charlotte, Board Chair of the Queens University Entrepreneurial Leadership Circle Advisory Board, an active investor in the Charlotte Region and a mentor to startups.
Flywheel Coworking LCC
Peter is a founding partner of Flywheel which designs and operates coworking innovation space in partnership with premier educational institutions and local community partners. We operate locations in Winston-Salem at 500 W. 5th St., and at the Cabarrus Center for Innovation in Concord, NC. We also designed and operated the coworking facility at the Hurt Hub @ Davidson before transferring operations to Davidson College.
Co-founder & Partner
Kevin co-founded Kian and is responsible, along with Rick, for all Kian activities including originating and evaluating investment opportunities, structuring and negotiating transactions, managing portfolio investments, and investor relations.
Kevin has spent over 25 years working with lower middle-market companies. Prior to founding Kian, Kevin was the head of Wachovia Securities’ (now Wells Fargo Securities) Middle Market Capital Group, which provided debt capital to lower middle-market companies. He was the head of the investment committee and had oversight for a $1.0+ billion portfolio. Prior to Wachovia’s Middle Market Capital Group, Kevin was a Partner with CGW Southeast Partners, an Atlanta based lower middle-market private equity firm with over $750 million of capital under management. Prior to CGW, Kevin was a founding member of Wachovia Securities’ Leveraged Capital Group which provided subordinated debt and equity capital to middle-market companies. During his career, Kevin has been an active Board member at over 12 lower middle-market companies.
Kevin earned a B.S. in Commerce from the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia and an M.B.A. from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.
Mr. McCraw joined WJ Partners, LLC in 2014 and is responsible for deal sourcing, executing investments, and portfolio support.
Prior to joining WJ Partners, Mr. McCraw worked at Exxon Mobil Corporation in Fairfax, VA. He worked in various corporate finance and M&A roles for the company’s global refining, midstream and marketing businesses. Mr. McCraw started his career as an engineer at Clark Construction Group in Bethesda, MD working in operations.
Moore & Van Allen PLLC
Carolyn has nearly 20 years of experience as corporate transactional counsel, helping partners negotiate the terms of their ventures; shepherding investments for sponsors, high net worth individuals and private equity; and advising founders from the day-to-day through an exit. Her practice focus on M&A; the formation, structuring and governance of privately held business entities; drafting and negotiating commercial contracts; and advising with respect to operational conflicts.
Greenwich Capital Group
Matt is a Managing Director at Greenwich Capital Group, a national investment banking firm with several regional office locations. He is responsible for developing and leading the execution of M&A and financing transactions, with a primary focus on the Business Services and Industrials sectors. Across the firm, Greenwich Capital Group is focused on advising business owners through their transactional needs, with managing directors that specialize in various industries including, Food & Beverage, Aerospace & Defense, Automotive, Industrials, Chemicals, Health Care, Technology, Consumer Products and Business Services.
Partner, Charlotte & NC Growth Leader
RSM US LLP
Steve has more than 30 years of experience in public accounting and joined RSM US LLP in November 2006. He currently serves as the firm’s industrial products leader. In this role, Steve coordinates and supports the firm’s commitment to these industries and RSM’s go-to-market approach. He focuses on the manufacturing sector while overseeing the various sector teams under the C&IP umbrella.
Steve serves as audit partner on numerous engagements for privately held and PEG owned companies, with a focus on manufacturers. He has performed numerous buy-side due diligence projects for private equity groups and strategic buyers and served as past president of the Charlotte, NC Chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth. He also worked on a 20-month restatement project for a multi-billion dollar company with extensive fraud and accounting irregularities.
Partner, Transaction Advisory Services
BDO USA, LLP
Chad leads BDO Charlotte's Transaction Advisory Services team and is part of BDO’s Mid-Atlantic Transaction Advisory Services group. With over 19 years of experience, Chad oversees transaction service offerings throughout the transaction lifecycle including target/buyer identification, transaction readiness, diligence and execution, as well as post-transaction implementation.
President & CEO
Thom Ruhe is President and CEO of NC IDEA, a private foundation committed to helping North Carolinians realize their full entrepreneurial potential. He is an entrepreneur, investor, mentor, philanthropist, and works with entrepreneurs, governments, universities, and NGOs around the world to embrace the entrepreneurial mindset needed to grow equitable vibrant economies.
Dan is a co-founder of Charlotte's entrepreneurship center called Packard Place which was ranked as one of the 5 largest tech and innovation centers in the country and its community and alumni have raised over 2 Billion dollars in capital and created over 2,500 jobs in the Charlotte Region. Dan also co-founded the QueenCity Fintech program which is one of the top Fintech Accelerators in the World and has over 70 alumni companies with over $35M in raised capital.
Senior Vice President
First National Bank