Jim Hart, Executive Director – Jim Hart is the Executive Director for the AIA. He is passionate about building great companies. As the Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of World Marketing Company, he developed a startup company into a best in class partner to Fortune 500 consumer food product manufacturers. As an shareholder, officer and member of the Board of Directors the company grew to over $250 million in sales under management. His experience creating sales strategies, supply chain solutions, data management systems and financial modeling in a high growth environment are leveraged in his management consulting business. Whether serving as the Vice President of Operations for a venture investment company or project manager performing supply chain optimization for a distribution company in Western Europe, his goal is to always develop creative, cost efficient systems and processes designed to deliver outcomes that exceed customer expectations. Jim holds a BS in Logistics & Transportation and Master of Business Administration from University of Tennessee. He has traveled and done business in over 25 countries. He is an early stage investor and mentor to startup companies and believes entrepreneurship drives the economic diversity that creates sustainable communities.
Eric Dobson, Chief Business Development Officer – Dr. Dobson has spent the last 25 years working in a variety of venues from government to private sector, the last 17 on start-up technology ventures. He plays a critical role in developing and implementing the deal sourcing, screening, and due diligence processes that ensure our members are considering only high quality deals. He has expertise in entrepreneurship, startup technology venture investing, business planning and development, intellectual property, sales, and marketing. He was the founder of several companies, has served on numerous boards both for and not-for profit, and has received several awards for entrepreneurship and innovation. In his career as an entrepreneur, he raised over $12M from investors from leading angel and venture capital groups. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Tennessee along with both Masters and Doctoral degrees from the University of South Carolina. He remains a Lecturer at the University of Tennessee in the Department of Management in the School of Business.
Steve Mercil, CFDO – Steve is the Chief Fund Development Officer and is in charge of creating new chapter/funds for the network. Steve is the most prolific angel group founder in the nation. Steve was most recently the founder and CEO of RAIN Source Capital RSC. ACG and RSC merged in 2014 to create a new model of angel network. RSC created 25 angel capital funds, from $1M – $3M in size, across 8 states with 450 members over the last 10 years. These RAIN Funds and their members have invested over $40M in 106 companies and have an additional $5M in committed capital for future investment. RSC’s portfolio has created over 4500 jobs and $750M in follow-on investment by other funds. Also, RSC is a principal of the InvestAmerica NW, LLC, and the General Partner of Invest Northwest, LP, which is a venture capital fund focused on middle market and later-stage companies. InvestAmerica has invested $15M in 20 companies. RSC empowers angel investors using a proprietary process to create, capitalize, and ignite angel member managed funds. Steve is a former Board member of the Angel Capital Association, has extensive experience in angel and venture capital as well as other areas of private equity.
Board of Directors
Jim Hart serves as a Board of Directors member as the Executive Director.
Donald J. Perry currently serves as Sr. Vice President and Investments Manager for Kentucky Farmers Bank. Perry is responsible for investing the Bank’s assets, Pension Plan and Wealth Management Assets. He is also part of KFB’s Executive Management team which sets the Bank’s strategic direction and addresses high level issues. Born and raised in Florence, KY., Perry graduated from Eastern Kentucky University in 1986 with a B.S degree in Industrial Technology and immediately went to work for Ashland Petroleum as a Computer Analyst. While working as Project Manager in the Information Technology Dept., Perry earned a Masters in Business Administration from EKU in 1995 and began working in a financial capacity as a Sr. Financial Analyst. The last three years of his 17 year career with Ashland was spent in an entrepreneurial capacity developing new business opportunities for Valvoline. In 2004, Perry left Ashland Inc. and began working for Kentucky Farmers Bank. This new role required the Perry family to move from Lexington to Ashland, KY in 2007. Since the move, Perry has become very involved with various community activities and was instrumental in the startup of the BankOn program in NE KY. Perry currently serves as the Chairman for the Tri-State Angels Investment Group (TSAIG) and just began serving on the board of the Appalachian Angel Investor Alliance (AAIA). Perry is still involved with his alma mater as he currently serves on EKU’s Business Advisory Council.
Phil Ostwalt is an experienced senior business advisor and investor in both real estate and early stage, private equity businesses. he retired from KPMG with US and Global Practice responsibilities. His specializations include forensic accounting, corporate internal investigations, disputes, ethics, and compliance. He worked with law firms and multinational corporate compliance and finance executives, as well as general counsels. Phil has extensive work on complex financial and regulatory investigations, liaising with audit committees, attorneys, and auditors to address allegations of fraud, executive misconduct, and regulatory compliance issues. He served as Expert Witness and Arbiter in commercial disputes. He holds a Bachelor of Science from Appalachian State University as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Georgetown University.
Investing in the Heartland
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The Appalachian Angel Investor Alliance brings together individual and institutional accredited investors that are committed to helping new and small businesses succeed. If your net worth exceeds $1,000,000; if your single or joint annual incomes exceeds $200,000 or $300,000 (respectively); or if you are an entity defined under US law as being an “accredited investor,” we invite you to download our free angel investing e-book by clicking on the “JOIN US” button below.