Sean Branagan is a serial entrepreneur, interactive marketer, educator and evangelist for innovation and startups. As chairman of Scrappy Capital, he recognizes and believes in the high value and opportunity of seed investing in startups in rising tech cities.
A leading voice on media and marketing innovation, Sean has worked in telecom, internet/cloud services, marketing/media, industrial distribution and information technology. He has worked closely with hundreds of startups and loves the startup culture, great founders, and moving fast. He has been a founder and president of a tech marketing company, a partner in a boutique investment banking firm, co-founder of a search and social media marketing agency, and senior director of marketing for a $125 million internet services company.
Today, Sean is the inaugural director of the Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Syracuse University's prestigious S.I Newhouse School of Public Communications. He is also Chief Instigator of Media-Nxt.org, Creator & Commissioner of Student Startup Madness, a national collegiate startup tournament that culminates at SXSW, and teaches and advises transitioning military personnel interested in starting businesses, through a program sponsored by the US Small Business Administration. He holds board and advisory board positions with several early-stage tech companies and serves on a number of charitable boards.
Mike Smith is a career entrepreneur with a passion for innovation. He has worked with a diverse set of entrepreneurs and investors including Forbes 30<30 led companies, Inc. 5000 firms, Fortune 500 firms, and more.
He has a unique perspective on the future of work and enterprise innovation as well as what it takes to build a successful startup from seed to scale. Mike has a passion for helping entrepreneurs build the operating system surrounding their businesses.
In addition to his role at Scrappy Capital, he is a management consultant working with large enterprises on digital transformation with a specific focus on platform or marketplace business models.
He holds an MS in Entrepreneurship from the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University which he earned as a Kauffman Foundation Fellow and is based in the Great New York City area.
Ayla Kress is a creative business strategist who works with emerging artists and disruptive startups. As a founder, Kress believes you must go beyond the traditional in all that you do - and encourages her clients to do the same. She has worked with dozens of artists from little bands to legends providing VIP experiences, growth strategies, content creation and more. In addition, she has assisted dozens of startups as an advisor, operator and investor, spanning several industries from packaging to music technology.
In 2016, Kress founded Brain Candy Management with the goal to ignite innovation in the music industry through providing non-traditional creative development services to startups and up-in-coming artists in Nashville, TN. The following year, she joined the Scrappy Capital team as General Partner to develop a disruptive approach to VC Firms where she focuses on securing funding for music and entertainment based startups in emerging tech hubs such as Nashville.
Kress holds a B.A. in Film and Entrepreneurship from the University of Wisconsin - Madison in addition to an M.A. in Music Business and Audio Arts from Syracuse University. Kress believes in always paying it forward and does so through serving as Assistant Vice Chair of Communications for Women In Music - Nashville, volunteering for Junior Achievement, advising for Student Startup Madness and more.