top of page
Our Alliances
Sherry Coutu CBE 


Sherry Coutu is a former CEO and angel investor who serves on the boards of companies, charities and universities. She chairs Founders4Schools and is a non-executive member of Cambridge University (Finance Board), Cambridge Assessment, Cambridge University Press and a NED of Zoopla and the London Stock Exchange Group. She also serves on the Advisory Board of


As an angel investor, she has invested in more than 50 companies and holds investments in 4 venture capital firms. She was voted by TechCrunch as the best CEO mentor / advisor in Europe in Nov 2010. In May 2011, she was voted by Wired magazine as one the top 25 ‘most influential people in the wired world’, and one of the top ten most influential investors and women.


Philanthropically, she supports the Prince’s Trust, the Crick Institute and serves on the Harvard Business School European Advisory Council. Sherry has an MBA from Harvard, an MSc (with distinction) from the London School of Economics, and a BA (Hons with distinction) from the University of British Columbia, Canada. 


She is the author of the groundbreaking ScaleUp Report which is guiding policy in the UK and around the globe.

Verne Harnish is founder of the world-renowned Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), with over 11,000 members worldwide, and chaired for fifteen years EO’s premiere CEO program, the “Birthing of Giants” held at MIT, a program in which he still teaches today.  Founder and CEO of Gazelles, a global executive education and coaching company with over 180 partners on six continents, Verne has spent the past three decades helping companies grow.  Today, over 40,000 organizations, for-profit and non-profit, use his firm’s tools and techniques to scale.


The “Growth Guy” syndicated columnist, he’s also the Venture columnist for Fortune magazine. Verne is the author of Mastering the Rockefeller Habits; and along with the editors of Fortune, authored The Greatest Business Decisions of All Times," for which Jim Collins wrote the foreword. His latest book Scaling Up (Rockefeller Habits 2.0) has won seven major international book awards including the prestigious 2015 International Book Award for Best General Business book. 


Verne also chairs, in partnership with Fortune, annual ScaleUp and Growth Summits and is an investor in over a dozen scaleups around the globe. He has his MBA and BS Mechanical Engineering degrees from Wichita State University. 


Thomas A. Stewart is the Executive Director of the National Center for the Middle Market, the leading source for knowledge, leadership and research on midsized companies, based at the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University.


Before joining the National Center for the Middle Market, Stewart served as Chief Marketing and Knowledge Officer for international consulting firm Booz & Company (now called Strategy&). Prior to that, he was for six years the Editor and Managing Director of Harvard Business Review, leading it to multiple finalist nominations for a National Magazine Award. He earlier served as the editorial director of Business 2.0 magazine and on the Board of Editors of Fortune magazine.


A twelve-time participant in the World Economic Forum, he is the author of two books, Intellectual Capital: The New Wealth of Organizations and The Wealth of Knowledge: Intellectual Capital and the Twenty-first Century Organization, published by Doubleday Currency in 1998 and 2003, respectively. His new book, Woo, Wow, and Win: Service Design, Strategy, and the Art of Customer Delight (co-authored with Patricia O’Connell), will be published by Harper Business in November 2016.


Stewart is a summa cum laude graduate of Harvard College and holds an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Cass Business School, City University London.

Brad has been an early stage investor and entrepreneur since 1987. Prior to co-founding Foundry Group, he co-founded Mobius Venture Capital and, prior to that, founded Intensity Ventures. Brad is also a co-founder of Techstars.


In addition to his investing efforts, Brad has been active with several non-profit organizations and currently is chair of the National Center for Women & Information Technology, co-chair of Startup Colorado, and on the board of Path Forward. Brad is a nationally recognized speaker on the topics of venture capital investing and entrepreneurship and writes the widely read blogs Feld Thoughts, Startup Revolution, and Ask the VC.


Author of over a half-dozen books, his bestsellers include Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist, Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City, Startup Boards: Getting the Most Out of Your Board of Directors


Brad holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Management Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Brad is also an avid art collector and long-distance runner. He has completed 23 marathons as part of his mission to finish a marathon in each of the 50 states. 

Verne Harnish


Brad Feld


Thomas Stewart
Contact us

If you're a scaleup in need of support; a local leader wanting to improve the local economy; or have something to contribute to both -- please reach out to us.

John Ratliff founded Appletree Answers in 1995 in his two-bedroom apartment in Wilmington, Del., as a traditional telephone answering service. He grew the company through a series of acquisitions to 24 US- based locations and 650 employees when it was sold to a strategic buyer in June, 2012.


Passionate about strategy, Ratliff used the methodologies of the Rockefeller Habits to reduce turnover at the company from the industry average of 110% to around 18% in the four years between 2008 and 2012. One key initiative was the company’s DreamOn initiative, a “Make-A-Wish-Foundation” style program for employees in need.


Appletree’s high retention rate allowed the company to manage its exponential growth while driving tremendous EBITDA and revenue gains. In one sign of its employees’ enthusiasm, the company won the We ♥ Our Workplace Video Contest, run by the prestigious Great Place to Work Institute. Ultimately it was Appletree’s focus on employee engagement that drove its valuation on exit.


Ratliff is a Managing Director of STS Capital Partners, an international mergers and acquisitions firm and a Partner and CoFounder of align5 a business consultancy that focuses on strategic coaching and execution planning for growth entrepreneurs. He is also active in Virgin Unite, Sir Richard Branson’s charitable foundation focused on improving the employee experience. In that capacity, he is involved with their initiative on people and innovation. He is also Director of GazellesPro, the inner circle of Gazelles companies.


Ratliff now speaks frequently with companies of all sizes to diagnose problems in their employee retention and morale and to drive improvements. He also brings expertise in using a business’s operating system to leverage the effectiveness of the management team.


Ratliff has a BSBA in Marketing and Finance from the University of Delaware. He lives in Wilmington, Delaware with his wife Lynne and their three young children. In his free time, he flies his TBM 850 single-engine turbo prop plane.

Daniel Marcos

Mexico City

Daniel is the co-founder and President of the Gazelles Growth Institute, the leading online executive education company for C level executives at fast growing firms. He also co-founded Inflection (Gazelles Mexico), a management coaching company that helps managers and entrepreneurs grow their companies faster and with less “drama”. 


He co-founded Creditos123, LLC, an online lending exchange that serves the Hispanic community in the USA. In 1999, he created the first financial website focused on the Mexican financial markets, Finanzas Web, which he later sold to; he subsequently assumed the position of CEO of Patagon Mexico. Additionally, created, an Angel Fund specializing in Internet-related Businesses.


Earlier in his career, Daniel was a broker at Lloyd’s of London and later served as Financial Attaché to the Consulate General of Mexico in Hong Kong.


Daniel is a blogger on dedicated to helping Entrepreneurs grow their business; he was selected a “Top 30 in their 30’s” by Expansion Magazine (when he was just 29!) and is a graduate EO’s premiere CEO program, the “Birthing of Giants” and its continuation “Gathering of the Titans”. He Co-authored the book “De StartUp a ScaleUp” #1 best selling book in Amazon Spanish worldwide. Daniel holds a B.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from I.T.E.S.M (Monterrey Tech) and M.B.A (cum laude) from Babson College at Wellesley, MA. He lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and 2 kids.

Randy Nelson

North Carolina

Randy H. Nelson is a lifelong leader, successful serial entrepreneur and former Navy Nuclear Submarine Officer. He co-founded, built and later sold two market-leading, multi-million dollar companies—Orion International and NSTAR Global Services. In the past 25 years, Orion has placed over 36,000 exiting military personnel into industry and has grown to become the largest military recruiting company in the US. NSTAR was selected for the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing privately held companies in the US in 2007 (#163 on the list).


He currently is the CEO of Gold Dolphins LLC, a leading executive coaching, public speaking and consulting firm serving Entrepreneurs and Leaders.


Randy was a founding member of EO (Entrepreneur Organization) Raleigh in 1998. He has been a member of Vistage since 2004 and a Gazelles client for 15+ years, successfully implementing the Rockefeller Habits in both Orion and NSTAR.


Randy has served for 15 years on the Shelton Leadership Center Advisory Board at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC, chairing the board in 2014-2015. General Shelton was the nation’s 14th Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1997-2001.


He is the author of the # 1 best-selling book, The Second Decision, The Qualified Entrepreneur, the first book in his Decision Series for Entrepreneurs®.


He was awarded the Admiral Sydney W. Souers Distinguished Alumni Award at his alma mater, Miami University in 2011. 


Randy and his wife, Kristi, reside in North Carolina and are the proud parents of six children and five grandchildren.

Nikolai Ladanyi is passionate about developing companies and joined Gazelles in 2011 after having met Verne at an EO Event. He became the first German speaking Gazelles Coach servicing Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France and translated both of Vernes Bestsellers “Rockefeller Habits” and “Scaling Up” into German. Since 2016 Nikolai’s Firm also runs the Berlin ScaleUp Summit in cooperation with Deutsche Bank.


Nikolai is very experienced transferring US based Best Practices to non US Cultures. Nikolai does this with a sound understanding of both: entrepreneurship as he himself is an active entrepreneur and angel investor in several ventures and a sound psychological education. This dual perspective helps to unleash and transfer the power of the e.g. Rockefeller Habits and Scaling Up Methodology into various countries. 


Nikolai holds a degree in economics from the University of Fribourg in Switzerland and started his career in 1998 at Barings Private Equity Partners in Frankfurt and London. Before that he acted as an active seed investor in two ventures in Argentina: Farmacity and eki-discount, that were both successfully sold.  He also co-founded and run a consultancy firm in 2004 focussing on distressed companies and turnaround management that he sold successfully in and an IT company in the mobile space in 2012. He’s been an EO Member since 2007.


Nikolai Ladanyi


Alexey Goryachev

Aspiring entrepreneur, C-level manager, investment banker and investor with more than 25 years of experience. YPO (Young Presidents Organization) Moscow Chapter Chair 2017-2018. Master of business, EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2015. Skolkovo Startup Academy faculty. Visionary creator, inspirational speaker and mentor. 


Senior partner RB Partners. Co-founder, President, Chairman of a private investment bank RMG (1994), capital markets, asset management, M&A, PE, VC. Build from a scratch, scaled and sold in 2014. N1 in Forbes Russia ranking by quality of research in 2015 for 3 years.  


He began his career in 1989 in the State Statistical Committee of the Russian Federation, analytical work with large arrays of statistical data.

1990-1991 - As a leading expert of the first Russian stock exchange, actively participated in the creation of Russian financial market. Lecturer on market economy, author of publications.

1991-1994 - Co-founder and CEO of «Shares of Russia», participated in the preparation of number legislative initiatives on market economy.

1992-1994 - CEO of National Investment Fund, 60k shareholders. 


A participant in numerous boards in different industries. Having successfully invested in a number of breakthrough technology companies, in sectors: fin tech, AR, IoT, medicine, IT, new materials and tourism. A consultant for investment funds, a member of investment committees. Serial entrepreneur, created and participated in the creation of many companies. Author of articles and publications. 


Supporting innovation in key areas, he strives to be a catalyst for positive change in the country and in the world.


Education: Financial Academy under the Russian Government, MBA KWU, EMBA Skolkovo, Berkeley Haas, Harvard.

A proven entrepreneur and successful business owner, Robert’s achievements are numerous as evidenced by his many successes and accolades. Robert currently specializes in helping businesses with their go to market/ growth strategies and effective ways to maximize shareholder value. He has significant experience with Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) and capital raising, and has been involved in dozens of transactions.


Robert founded and was President and CEO of Computerized Facility Integration, LLC (CFI)—a leading facilities management consulting and technology services provider to Fortune 500 companies across the world. Under Robert’s leadership, CFI was a fast growth success story, achieving a 24 percent 10-year average growth, and winning Inc. Magazine’s “Fastest Growing Private Companies” award for five consecutive years through 2015. While CFI’s President, Robert established partnerships with some of the leading companies in its industry, and became IBM’s largest global partner for multiple product lines. CFI prided itself on its win-win-win approach for clients, employees, and vendors—routinely winning awards as an Employer of Choice, Companies to Watch, Best and Brightest, Great Place to Work, and more.


Robert has also been very active with the American Diabetes Association for many years, holding several national board positions. Robert led a task force for the ADA to restructure operations and streamline the organization, resulting in dramatic savings for the $250M non-profit organization.


Upon the sale of CFI in 2015 to a public company, Robert continued on as President of the division that purchased his company (Newmark Global Corporate Services) through 2016. More recently Robert has led and been involved with several M&A transactions, advising company owners on capital strategies for acquisitions, mergers and capital raises. Bob is a lifetime learner and has participated in numerous educational programs including Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), Gazelles, Strategic Coach, High Stakes Negotiating, and many others.


Robert Verdun

Mike is co-founder and CEO of, where european scaleup teams meet the best international peers, corporates and investors.

Mike got a quick beginning in the ups and downs of business after going through a bankruptcy in a family company. He then climbed the corporate ladder in a branding agency, starting out by organizing documents on part time basis to becoming their CEO three years later at the age of 24.

Mike was 26 years old when he founded CEO WORLD, which has members in all continents. Mike has been invited to share his short and intense life story with multicultural audiences around the globe, and is regular contributor in international publications. He is also author of the videobook “Fire. Become the CEO of your life”.

Mike met the woman of his life, Rosário, when he was 28 years old and remains very committed to his life priorities of family, fun and serving others. You can often find him jogging along the seashore in his home city of Porto in Portugal, or wherever he travels.

He is motivated to become a better person every single day of his life. He believes in “unity in diversity”, bridging the gap between cultures at CEO World while supporting his members to grow healthier.


Mike Dias

Kees de Jong (1968) is an entrepreneur, speaker, investor, mentor and columnist.  He is co-founder of Nlgroeit (NLGrowth), a national initiative to help entrepreneurs accelerate their growth.  The target group are entrepreneurs with a minimum revenue of €1 million and connects entrepreneurs to the right (growth) program, education, or growth mentor. 


It is an initiative which links with the current growth eco-system in the Netherlands and has CEO’s of some of the largest companies in the Netherlands are donating their time to help these scale-ups. The program was launched on January 13th by the Dutch Prime Minister and Her Majesty Queen Maxima of the Netherlands.


Kees has (co)founded or led several fast growing international companies, including Blauw Research, GDCC, Yournews, Bloomerce amongst others. Recently (2009-2012) he was the CEO of SSI, a global company in 24 countries and with 2,500 employees.  In 2010 he published Het Groeiboekjeand in 2014 GroterGroeien.  Kees is a frequent speaker on entrepreneurship and growth and plays drums in the band The President.

Kees de Jong

Neale Lewis is a business growth expert with an powerful track record of delivering, through coaching and training, substantial business growth and performance improvements significantly ahead of competitors.


Working closely with the CEO and senior team of mid market organisations to drive their Scale-up ambitions and to build long term sustainable value. 


His best results are with companies that see the importance of creating a robust organisational structure, developing their leadership and management team, and are committed to shifting from a tactical reactive way of working to incorporate strategic thinking and planning into the organisation. 


Neale has been a Gazelles Certified coach and has successfully delivered Scaling up programmes in London, the Middle East and across the rest of the world.

Neale Lewis




As CEO of Polaris Companies/Track Consulting, Mary Leonida manages closely-held corporations with direct ownership in a regional management consulting firm, commercial real estate and start-up ventures.  She previously owned and operated national franchise restaurants, earning awards for leadership and operations.  For over 22 years, Mary has generated business plans, evaluated asset allocation and developed marketing and expansion strategies for core businesses.  Her consulting work specializes in strategic planning, entrepreneurial management & leadership development.  Mary also serves in leadership positions for many non-profit organizations and as a director on various corporate boards.


Mary has served two terms as President of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Kansas City chapter and has been a board member for 12 years.  She currently serves as the Chairman of the US National Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) and is incoming President of the G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance (YEA).


Mary is a graduate of the Wharton School – University of Pennsylvania, earning an MBA in Entrepreneurial Management and Marketing.

Kansas City

Mary Leonida
John Ratliff



Local ScaleUp Champions
bottom of page