Lara O’Connor Hodgson/NOWaccount
Lara co-founded Nourish Inc, shortly after becoming a mom. Nourish is a brand dedicated to bringing nutrition, safety and convenience to young children and their families. Nourish introduced its first patented products, Nourish Baby â€“ a formula-ready bottled water for babies (just add formula, shake, serve and recycle) and Nourish Toddler – a spill-proof bottled water for toddlers, in airports, hotels, entertainment venues and retail outlets across the US. While growing Nourish, Lara experienced the challenge of managing cash flow in a growing business and having to fund the trade credit required to support the growth. Not finding a solution that worked, she partnered with John Hayes and launched NOWaccount Network Corporation, the first merchant service that works for B2B and enables small companies to get paid NOW while their business customers still enjoy trade credit that allows them to pay later. NOWaccount is poised to change the way small businesses manage cash flow and to turn a portion of the $1.2T of trade credit that small businesses hold into cash. NOWaccount is currently the subject of a Harvard Business School case study.
Lara is an internationally recognized speaker & facilitator, leading seminars on creativity, diversity & innovation.Â Internationally, Lara has worked in Koriyama, Japan with the U.S. Defense Departmentâ€™s EAGLE Japan Program and served as the Ambassador to Lebanon for the 1996 Olympic Games.
Lara received an MBA from Harvard Business School, and a BS in Aerospace Engineering with highest honors from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She was featured in USA Today as one of the top 20 students in the US and was the ODK National Leader of the Year. Lara was a scholarship member of the varsity Track & Field team at Georgia Tech.
Lara has served on many public and private Boards including: ACE Loans, Atlanta Heights Charter School, Flag Bank, Georgia Techâ€™s Alexander Tharpe Fund, Society of International Business Fellows and HERO for Children. Lara is a member of the Leadership Georgia Class of 2005 and the Leadership Atlanta Class of 2004. Lara teaches Real Estate Finance as an adjunct professor in Georgia Techâ€™s MBA Program. Lara was appointed by the Governor of Georgia to serve on the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA) Board and the Transit Planning Board, and she was recently honored by the Georgia Tech Athletic Association with the Total Person Alumnus Award and by the Â Georgia Tech Women in Engineering as the Alumnus of the Year. She is a member of the Georgia Tech Young Alumni Hall of Fame. Lara is a recipient of a Womenetics 2013 POW! Award honoring Purposeful Women.
Tom Mahaffey/Sandy Springs Chamber
Tom Mahaffey is President of theÂ Sandy Springs Chamber of Commerce.
Andrea Settles/Weinberg and Associates
Andrea Settles is with Weinberg and Associates, Â a commercial real estate and small business financing firm specializing in financing for NNN credit tenants, retail, hospitality, SBA for owner occupied properties, multifamily and industrial. They originate commercial real estate and small business loans and handle all property types – investment and owner occupied. Their business is connecting clients with the best suitable money sources for their particular needs.