Foreshadowing GRIT
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By now, most people have seen this video of Michael Phelps produced by Under Armour.  If you have not watched it, you should.  This ad may be identified as an important moment in the understanding of GRIT, but years down the line.  For now, we are used to seeing interviews with olympic individual athletes, and seeing their glorious moments, and showing some of the backstory.  What this video captures, however is something deeper and visceral about the daily anguish, the acceptance of barely inches of progress daily, indeed the mundanity that is never popularized by the media when depicting success.   Congratulations to UA and Michael.

So, if this is so well captured, why might it take years to be seen as important.  It is because GRIT will, over time (in a gritty way), become understood in its proper place, above talent, and above knowledge.  The understanding of the power of GRIT will be similar to technical innovation that seems far-fetched, and only years later can it be seen with hindsight for its insightfulness.  Watch the AT&T “You Will” campaign from the early 1990’s, and you will see what I mean.  Link here – Enjoy.

 

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Topher Brewer

Partner & COO

Topher Brewer is a Partner at Grit Capital Partners. He leads capital formation and firm operations. Before embarking on the journey with Grit Capital Partners, Topher was the Chief Marketing Officer at ABR Capital Partners where he focused on capital formation, strategic marketing, and corporate development.

Topher’s professional journey is backed with invaluable experiences from notable entities, including Sands Capital Management, Facet, Brown Advisory, and Legg Mason. With a career spanning over two decades, he has been a stalwart collaborator for emerging investment sponsors, orchestrating strategies that propel exponential growth. Topher received his BA from Washington College. He lives in Baltimore, MD alongside his wife and two children.

Matthew Bellows

General Partner

Matthew is a General Partner at Grit Capital, investing in early stage companies across fintech, media and entertainment. Previously, he founded, led and sold three companies: a digital financial planning company called BodesWell (acquired by American Express in 2022), a pioneering sales enablement company called Yesware (Vendasta, 2022) and an early bet on the disruptive power of mobile games called WGR Media (CNET Networks, 2004). In addition, Matthew has served in executive roles at Floodgate Entertainment, CNET, Vivox, and American Express. Matthew earned his B.A from Naropa University and his M.B.A. magna cum laude from The Olin School for Business at Babson College. He is a long time practitioner and teacher of meditation, translating the power of mindfulness into modern daily life. He writes about startups, meditation, financial planning and cooking at bellowsand.co

Jennifer Byrne

General Partner

Jennifer Byrne is a General Partner at Grit Capital investing in companies in fintech, insurtech, and digital media. Jennifer has been an executive, venture investor, board advisor, and ecosystem builder in the media, telecom and financial services sectors for the past 20 years.

Jennifer co-founded Quesnay, a strategy and innovation advisory firm that delivered custom global startup accelerators with Fortune 50 companies in Financial Services, Technology and Media. Jennifer also launched the world’s first accelerator to source and support women-led fintech companies while facilitating mutually beneficial startup-corporate-investor relationships. Over 500 women-led startups have applied and been evaluated by 500+ industry leaders & investors, raising over $1.8B.

Before founding Quesnay, Jennifer served as VP, Business Development at American Express launching a digital payment service with global partners. At Verizon, Jennifer was Executive Director, Business Development & Partnerships where she was responsible for a $1Bn+ mobile applications & services P&L. She spearheaded Verizon’s innovation division, led 4G services launch, identified investment opportunities, and established industry-first mobile partnerships with Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Jennifer is a thought leader in fintech, and was named to the “Innovate Finance Powerlist” in 2020, 2019, & 2018 (+”Standout 35″), 2020 “NYC Inspiring FinTech Females”, 2021 “Female Founders Alliance Champions” & has been featured on the cover of AM Best and in American Banker, Nasdaq Tradetalks, FNO Insurtech podcast, Insurtech Connect, among others.

Jennifer is based in Santa Monica and New York, and is the co-cofounder of The Female Funders’ Club, the Duke University SoCal Career Chairwoman, and a mentor at TechStars. Jennifer is a graduate of Duke University and speaks Spanish, Italian, and French.

Kelly DeFelice

CFO

Kelly is a driven finance operator with over 15 years of experience working to build processes for companies from startup to IPO. Most recently she was running Sales Finance at Tastemade. Prior to that she spent seven years at Millennial Media working in various finance, chief of staff and sales operations roles, ultimately transitioning to Aol through acquisition. At Millennial she was heavily involved in IPO preparation and various M&A deals. Her areas of expertise include forecast and budget management, strategic sales planning, sales tool development, sales compensation and process development and improvement. She loves a good excel spreadsheet!

Jesse Leikin

Entrepreneur in Residence
Jesse is an entrepreneur and product leader with focused technical experience in ecommerce, analytics, and advertising technology. He has spent more than 15 years enabling digital business. He serves as Entrepreneur in Residence at Grit Capital Partners and leads the product team at Tradeswell. Having led development of SDKs and APIs for Millennial Media, AOL, Flurry and Verizon, tens of thousands of developers and platforms have used his products to manage their advertising and analytics solutions.

Mike Flannery

General Partner

Michael Flannery serves as both a General Partner at Grit Capital Partners, and is the Founder and Managing Partner of Redwood Partners and Redwood Technology Ventures. He focuses on technology investments in marketing technology, Fintech, and e-commerce. Some of his current investments include iFundWomen, Dubset, Alef, Measurence, and Jackpocket.

For over 20 years, Michael has advised global entrepreneurs, corporate executives and venture capitalists on strategic growth, talent strategy and executive search. Redwood Partners uses rich data and look alike success modeling to target and select talent for boards and executive operating roles. Since 2000, Redwood has operated an accelerator and has been successful making direct investments in seed-stage companies to compliment its deep experience in talent and venture development.

Michael is dedicated to the growth and acceleration of women entrepreneurs, and currently serves on the board of iFundWomen and the Female Entrepreneurs Fund. Michael is an alumnus and past Trustee of Cazenovia College. He splits time between New York City and Saratoga, NY where he resides with his wife and two children.

Paul Palmieri

Managing Partner

Paul Palmieri is the Managing Partner of Grit Capital Partners.  He focuses on data and AI based businesses in the areas of consumer software, marketing technology, media, and commerce. He currently serves on the boards of Niche and Incremental.

Mr. Palmieri is a successful entrepreneur in the internet space – most notably in the digital media ecosystem. He is the founder and Chairman of Incremental, who has pioneered neutral measurement for the fast-growing retail media space.  He was the co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Millennial Media (NYSE:MM) from 2006 to 2014, the market leader in mobile adtech. He led the company from being the early revenue engine for the app economy to catapulting into the programmatic media space.  In just 8 years, the company grew to 300M in annual revenue, operations on three continents, a successful IPO, and operation and growth as a public company (NYSE:MM). 

Earlier, he held management positions at Verizon (NYSE: VZ), Advertising.com (AOL), and Tessco Technologies (NASDAQ: TESS). He has been a frequent guest on CNBC, Fox Business, and Bloomberg Television, as an expert in user data, and the secular trend of mobile computing.

Palmieri is the former Global Chairman of the Mobile Marketing Association, and served on the board of the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau). He has served as a national judge for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year program, was a winner of the award in the technology category in 2011, and was named Executive of the Year in 2011 by the American Business Awards. Mr. Palmieri is a graduate of Mount St. Mary’s University. He is based in NY and Maryland.