Investor-Ready Entrepreneur | Speakers



    Robert Preville
    Founder & CEO at KWIPPED, Inc.

    Robert is a serial entrepreneur and investor, having founded and led several high growth companies in the B2B arena. Prior to KWIPPED, Robert founded and sold, a world-class provider of test and measurement equipment that ranked #800 on the INC 5000 fastest growing companies list. Prior to that, he was the founding employee and Vice President of Sales for, the leading online manufacturing marketplace and a portfolio company of Jeff Bezos’s Bezos Expeditions. Robert started his career at EDS (now Siemens), is co-owner of the Greater Wilmington Business Journal, is an active angel investor via IMAF Cape Fear in Wilmington, NC and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park.


These experienced investors and entrepreneurs will lead this Becoming an Investor-Ready Entrepreneur program:

Robbie Hardy’s business experiences range from corporate strategies for Fortune 500 companies to founding, building, running and successfully exiting various technology businesses, as well as raising & managing an angel fund.

She’s passionate about empowering women in their careers. In her book, “Upsetting the Table,” Robbie aims to help connect women with a strong role model to help them succeed, especially as they launch their career.

Women who have overcome obstacles such as sexism, workplace politics, and self-doubt can and should play a role in helping other women succeed, Robbie says in her new book.

Robbie now spends her time providing guidance to all women who want to invest in themselves as well as entrepreneurs looking to grow successful businesses.

Now she wants to help you reach your goals / turn your dreams into reality/help you navigate the process.

Eva Doss is the President and CEO of The Launch Place, the lead entrepreneurial development organization offering business consulting, training, office space and subsidies, and seed investments through its two equity funds to entrepreneurs in Danville, Virginia and in the Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. Eva has twenty years of experience in business consulting, strategic planning, business development and equity fund establishment and management in the United States and Europe. During her career Eva established new business ventures and seed investment opportunities, and developed strategic business partnerships for companies internationally. Eva has also worked with Booz Allen, RTI International, and the USAID in Washington, D.C. Eva holds a post-graduate Executive Certificate in Management and Leadership from MIT Sloan School of Management, has a MBA and BS in business administration and speaks several languages.

Jeff Kaplan is the Director of Venture Asheville, an organization which serves as a catalyst for high-growth startups by building entrepreneurs and getting companies funded. Prior to joining Venture Asheville, Jeffrey instructed in Entrepreneurship at the University of Florida, is a published author in Entrepreneurship Pedagogy, launched and sold pet-tech startup Dogphrendly as an alumnus of the Groundwork Labs accelerator in Durham, and was Product Owner and Consultant in digital product development at Anthroware. There’s over 10 more years of experience ranging from being the Director of Partner Relations at Charlotte Ed-tech startup Proctorfree, being sales manager in a Tampa Bay call center, dropping out of a PhD at Indiana University, being a Middle School teacher, and a hosting a weekly Trivia Night at a bar called “Beer Pit” – but you’ll have to get Jeffrey out on a kayak or grab a drink to hear those stories.

Lou Anne Flanders-Stec is EVP of Entrepreneurship – Launch Greensboro, Greensboro Area Chamber of Commerce. In the last 18 years, Lou Anne has worked with and for entrepreneurs in private business and academia – either as a consultant to or employee for, developing programming and services for, or providing access to funding for early stage companies. Some of her positions have included first fund executive for the Piedmont Angel Network, first director for entrepreneurship programs at High Point University and The City University of New York.

Prior to academia, she worked over 15 years in the financial management arena, many of them working in finance and treasury roles for manufacturing companies.

She holds an MBA in Finance from the University of North Texas and undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Ouachita Baptist University. She was involved on the Board of Advisors for the Angel Capital Association, and many other service organizations, and is honored to be one of the Triad’s Top Women in Business, Triad’s Power Players and Piedmont Triad’s 50 Most Influential People for two years.

Kip Johnson is an experienced securities and technology attorney. Since 2005, Kip has helped clients raise more than $500 million of venture capital, private equity and angel investments to grow their businesses. Kip also assists clients on strategic alliances, technology transfer and licensing arrangements, mergers and acquisitions, employee recruitment and retention issues and commercialization strategies for new technologies.

Kip has also assisted clients in tax credit syndications (federal and state historic, new markets and solar) and other alternative financing transactions. Kip works with clients from seed-stage start-ups to mature operating companies. His practice primarily focuses on representing information technology, software-as-a-service, apps, gaming, telecommunications, e-commerce, social media, life science, green development and socially responsible companies. Kip also represents a number of investment funds in fund formation, syndication and portfolio company investments.

Tom Droege Tom Droege is the co-founder of Resilient Ventures, a $10 million committed capital Investment fund. Our vision is to disrupt the disparities in access and opportunity for African-American entrepreneurs by investing in their businesses. By bringing access to capital, networks, and expertise to companies that are ready, resilient, and experienced, our aim is to close the wealth gap and accelerate black owned and founded businesses. We will foster economic business growth by entering the entrepreneurial ecosystem in resilient pursuit of integrated relationships and beloved community.

Tom Droege is president of Droege Computing Services, Inc. a software development and IT services firm founded in 1985. He holds a BS in Engineering Physics, University of Illinois. Highlights of his enterprise and marketplace systems include Auction Management, Inventory and Purchasing Systems, Patient Care Systems, and Toxicology. He has written for PC Magazine, Popular Computing, Data Based Advisor and Midnight Engineering. He created the 1991-1997 Developers Competition, the largest software competition worldwide. He was a founding board member of NC Tech. He is the creator of, the top stamp auction site in the world. He is an auction systems expert in the wine and stamp field.ormation, syndication and portfolio company investments.

His racial equity understandings began in the 90’s and currently leads groups working to understand racial equity concepts. He and Keith Daniel founded Resilient Ventures to support African-American high growth entrepreneurship.


    Mike Carnes
    SBTDC, Equity Funding Specialist

    is a Technology Commercialization Counselor at the North Carolina SBTDC, a business development service of The University of North Carolina. Mike supports the SBTDC’s technology development and commercialization initiatives by providing business counseling, training, grant and equity capital formation support to NC entrepreneurs and small businesses.

    Mike is the SBTDC’s Equity Funding Specialist leading training and client engagement related to equity funding support. He also supports several university Technology Transfer offices where he participates in their intellectual property management strategy as well as assisting with new university based startup companies.

    Mike earned a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology in 2006, a Professional Science Master’s in Microbial Biotechnology in 2012, and a Master’s in Business Administration with an emphasis in technology commercialization and entrepreneurship in 2013 from North Carolina State University. Before that time, Mike used his scientific and analytic skills as a bench researcher at a large agricultural biotechnology firm and NCSU’s Department of Plant Pathology.