The Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC) yesterday announced the appointment of the first two Executives-in-Residence (EIR) in a new initiative launching in 2019 to add more expertise to “Team KEC.” The first individuals to hold the designation are Eleni Stratigeas and Richard Dapaah.
“As our 2019 Executives-in-Residence, Eleni and Richard bring a wealth of experience in media, technology, access to capital and overall strategic development to the table,” KEC Executive Director Jim Biggs said in making the announcement. “We couldn’t be more excited to have them join the team, as we continue to work to make Knoxville as start-up friendly as possible in all stages of the continuum.”
Stratigeas was Senior Vice President, Legal Affairs and Corporate Secretary of Scripps Networks Interactive, Inc. (SNI). In that role, she was the in-house lead mergers and acquisitions lawyer in the $14.6 billion acquisition of SNI by Discovery, Inc. Stratigeas was legal lead for SNI’s strategic investments including Refinery29, Food 52, Tastemade, Philo, Fubo and PlutoTV, among others. She also oversaw the formation of HGTV Magazine with Hearst and joint ventures with DirecTV Latin America and Shaw Canada.
Dapaah is new to Knoxville, but has quickly become involved in the Knoxville entrepreneur community. He is a Venture Partner with FundRx, a New York-based venture capital firm that funds high impact healthcare and life sciences start-ups pursuing novel research and new models of care. In that role, he evaluates early stage companies for funding as an extension of the firm’s investment committee.
Prior to working at FundRx, Dapaah was the first analyst at Shire Capital Management and led late stage investments as part of a team working with high-growth companies like Alibaba, Uber, Snapchat, and Lyft. He also worked as a Research Associate on the Internet & Consumer Software equity research team at Morgan Stanley and previously served as an Associate in the Industrials Group within the Investment Banking Division at Goldman, Sachs & Co.
As part of yesterday’s announcement, Biggs said the new EIR program will annually engage two individuals with the existing KEC team to focus on mentorship and strategic priorities for entrepreneurs. Each EIR will have a specific focus area in which they will create programming and provide business advisory services throughout the year term.
In that regard, Stratigeas will be leveraging her robust media and technology experience to support early-to-growth stage companies with strategic direction and overcoming barriers to growth. Dapaah will be working to improve access to capital for companies at every stage of their lifecycle, drawing on his vast experience with capital management.
Both new EIRs praised their appointments and the opportunities.
“(I’m) thrilled to have the opportunity to work with and support KEC and entrepreneurs in the Knoxville area,” Stratigeas said. “KEC has been such a benefit to Knoxville and the business community here, and I am happy to be a part of their efforts in supporting the launch and growth of new businesses through the EIR program.”
In Dapaah’s case, the new role aligns well with his desires to serve his new hometown. “The EIR role formalizes the opportunity for me to add my experience and skills to a team that is already strong,” he said. “I am motivated to work with all the stakeholders in the Knoxville start-up ecosystem to increase market access for both early stage and growth stage start-ups. I am also looking forward to working with entrepreneurs to broaden their access to capital and to accelerate the growth of their business.”