Here is what happened at this year’s summit. Three stages with nonstop content that appealed to all attendee types. We had time for open networking and private spaces available all day to make 1:1 connections with other attendees.
Our mobile app gave you access to an attendee directory, detailed agenda with speakers, meeting requests, bookable meeting space, and more.
These founders and their investment partners came together to share their growth stories. To read each speaker’s bio, simply click on their photo.
President & CEO, Vestron
With more than 15 years of experience across multiple venture-backed ag-tech companies, Anna joined Vestaron as President & CEO in April 2018 to help lead the transformation of Vestaron from the R&D phase of its development through its commercial phase. Before Vestaron, Anna was founder and CEO of NexSteppe, a company focused on the development and commercialization of optimized crops for the biobased economy. Prior to this, Anna led commercial and business development at Ceres, an agricultural biotechnology company. Anna started her professional career at McKinsey & Co, focused on corporate strategy, assessment of new business initiatives, and business building in various technology sectors. Anna holds a JD from Yale Law School and a Master’s Degree in Genetics from the University of Michigan. In 2016, she was awarded BIO’s Rosalind Franklin award for female leadership in industrial biotechnology.
Speaking with Chris Abbott, Conti Ventures
Billy Marshall is the CEO at ServiceTrade and author of two books: The Digital Wrap and Money for Nothing. He is a sought-after speaker on topics relating to innovation, technology, digital marketing, and sales methodology for commercial service contractors.
Billy’s professional experiences include leadership roles in product, sales, and business development at a range of companies, including Fortune 100 companies, family-owned contracting businesses, and startup ventures. His experience offers a broad perspective from which he coaches commercial service contractors on best practices to thrive in increasingly competitive markets.
Billy has presented at national and regional conferences for associations including the American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA), the Automatic Fire Alarm Association (AFAA), National Association of Fire Equipment Distributors (NAFED), and the Mechanical Contractors’ Association of America (MCAA).
Billy graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in aerospace engineering, and he also holds two graduate degrees in engineering and management from MIT.
Outside of ServiceTrade, Billy is always busy, whether that’s as pitmaster at the smoker, as captain on his fishing boat, and as dad, enjoying outdoor activities with his three beautiful daughters.
Speaking with Jason Caplain, Bull City Venture Partners
Chris is Co-Head of Conti Ventures and joined Conti in 2018. Previously, Chris led Craig-Hallum Capital Group’s investment banking group efforts focused on sustainability, agriculture and agtech. Prior to Craig-Hallum, Chris worked at Piper Jaffray & Co. and AWJ Capital Partners, focused broadly on technology, sustainability, healthcare and consumer companies. He currently serves on the boards of several Conti companies. Chris loves to compete in triathlons, basketball and tennis. He is an avid supporter of charity: water and serves on the board of InnerCity Tennis.
Speaking with Anna Rath, Vestron
Dan Tomso is a long-time member of the North Carolina biotechnology community. He has held leadership roles at Athenix Corporation, Bayer Cropscience, and AgBiome. His roles at AgBiome included seven years as Chief Science Officer and three years as the Head of Business Development. He continues to work with AgBiome in an advisory capacity, and also maintains advisory board seats and a private consulting practice in agriculture.
Co-Founder & General Partner
Jason is a General Partner and Co-Founder of Bull City Venture Partners. Prior to co-founding BCVP, Jason co-founded Southern Capitol Ventures. Previously, he was at Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) in their finance group through the successful IPO in 1999. Before joining Red Hat, Jason was at Harrison Hurley and Company, an investment banking and business-consulting firm headquartered in Providence, RI.
Jason currently serves on the board at Spiffy and is a board observer at Circonus, Levitate, and Tiny Earth Toys. Past Board or Observer seats include ChannelAdvisor (NYSE:IPO), Contactually (acquired by Compass), DoublePositive (acquired by OSG), Etix (management-led buyout), Medfusion (acquired by NextGen Healthcare), ServiceTrade, Synthematix (acquired by Symmx Technologies) and WeddingWire (acquired by Permira).
He is also on the board of Venture Atlanta and on the Investment Advisory Board for the Virginia Venture Partners, consistently the most active seed investor in Virginia.
Jason received his BS in Finance from Bentley College. He lives in Raleigh, NC with his wife, son and two daughters.
Speaking with Billy Marshall, ServiceTrade
Venture Partner, Pappas Capital
Karen LeVert is a Venture Partner with Pappas Capital and is leading the expansion of the firm’s Specialized Fund Management business with a focus on identifying attractive agricultural technology investment opportunities. She has a proven track record of progressing early-stage technologies from university research labs to commercialization as co-founder and CEO of two innovation labs, Southeast TechInventures, Inc. (STI) and Ag TechInventures, LLC (AgTI). Karen’s business experience encompasses both corporate and entrepreneurial worlds with over twenty-five years of successful leadership experience in executive management, start-ups, and technology commercialization. Karen started her career at a Fortune-500 insurance company holding positions of increasing responsibility from programmer to controller, to general manager of a 500-person Property & Casualty service center. Before founding the innovation labs, her first entrepreneurial venture was launching a franchise bioremediation company that she later sold. Her next entrepreneurial venture was co-founding a Silicon Valley based software company. Along with her professional duties Karen serves as a board member for the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, the North Carolina Arboretum, AgLaunch, North Carolina State Agriculture and Life Science Foundation, and LCBA Life Insurance Company. She has an MBA from the University of Dayton and a BBA in Information Technology from Eastern Michigan University.
Head, Marketing and Communications, Pairwise
Megan Thomas heads up Marketing and Communications for RTP food+tech start-up Pairwise, where she oversees both the Pairwise parent brand and the new Conscious Foods produce brand. She has worked in brand leadership roles for companies such as Smithfield Foods and Fleet Labs, launching 28 products in her brand marketing career. She also served as Group Vice President at shopper marketing firm The MARS Agency, developing marketing programs for consumer healthcare clients GlaxoSmithKline and Abbott Nutrition. She holds an MBA from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and a BA from Northwestern University.
Co-founder and CEO, BIOMILQ
As a passionate food scientist, Michelle looks to combat global food security and malnutrition in everything she does. In 2020, Michelle co-founded BIOMILQ and has since worked full-throttle to improve infant nutrition, fight for maternal health, and expand knowledge on lactation science. Michelle is captivated by the goal of advancing human nutrition and believes that in order to make the world a healthier, better place, the solution must begin with better infant feeding options. Michelle has been recognized for her entrepreneurial expertise in social impact and sustainable business models on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list in the social impact category. Michelle’s commitment to seeking mission-aligned partners guides her every move.
Partner, KdT Ventures
Phil Grayeski is a Partner at KdT Ventures, where he partners with purposeful, kind entrepreneurs daring to innovate at intersections of biology, chemistry, and computation. Outside of being an investor, Phil is a Co-Founder of Torque Bio and was an early company operator of StrideBio and Ribometrix, launching these entities from the Research Triangle ecosystem. Phil is also a scientist by training, completing his PhD at UNC-Chapel Hill, where he focused on therapeutic strategies to target RNA structure in alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency.
Speaking with Xiling Shen, Xilis, Inc.
CEO & Co-Founder, Xilis, Inc
Dr. Xiling Shen is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Xilis, Inc. He is also the Chief Scientific Officer and Professor of the Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation. He was formally the Hawkins Family Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the director of the Woo Center for Big Data and Precision Health at Duke University. He received his BS, MS, and PhD degrees from Stanford University and the NSF career award at Cornell University. He was the steering committee chair of the NCI Patient-Derived Model of Cancer Consortium, chair of the NCI Tissue Engineering Consortium 2021 conference, and cancer track chair of BMES 2019.
Speaking with Phil Grayeski, KdT Ventures