Next Coast Ventures, an Austin, Texas-based venture capital firm investing in entrepreneurs on the ‘Next Coast’ of innovation, is adding Brian Sharples, Cotter Cunningham and Julian Castelli to its Entrepreneurs Council.
NCV’s Entrepreneurs Council is made up of chosen experts, with a wide array of entrepreneurial backgrounds and industry verticals, who are all thought leaders and pillars of their entrepreneurial community.
Sharples previously co-founded and served as chairman and chief executive officer of HomeAway, Inc., a global online marketplace for the vacation rental industry, where he led the company’s successful public offering in 2011 and its $3.9 billion acquisition by Expedia in 2015. Prior to HomeAway, Sharples was president and chief executive officer of IntelliQuest Information Group, Inc., a supplier of marketing data and research to technology companies that went public in 1996 and was sold to WPP Group in 2000. In addition to his operational leadership, Sharples has served on the boards KAYAK and RetailMeNot, Inc., which was founded by Cunningham, and helped oversee their successful acquisitions by Priceline and Harland Clarke Holdings, respectively. Sharples currently serves on the boards of Yelp, GoDaddy, RVShare and Ally Financial Group. He also serves as chairman of Twyla, Inc., a company he co-founded in 2015 that offers a software platform to license and sell limited edition artwork, as well as chairman of private-equity backed Fexy Media. Early in his career, Sharples founded I Motors, an event-based marketplace for used cars, and served as a consultant at Bain & Co. He holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Cunningham founded and served as CEO of RetailMeNot, Inc., a leading consumer savings destination that enables brands to engage active shoppers and saves millions of consumers billions of dollars in the process. As CEO, he guided RetailMeNot through more than 15 acquisitions while raising more than $300M in venture capital, and ultimately took the company public in 2013. In 2017, the company was acquired by Harland Clarke Holdings. Cunningham was also an entrepreneur-in-residence at Austin Ventures, where he worked closely with NCV co-founder and managing director Thomas Ball. Prior to founding RetailMeNot, Cunningham served as COO of Bankrate, Inc., taking it public in 1999, and has extensive operational experience from his work as general manager at VML and assistant vice president at H&R Block. He now serves as chairman of RetailMeNot as well as a managing partner at M&F Ventures. Cunningham is based in Austin and has continued to be personally invested in NCV’s mission, investing alongside the firm in numerous portfolio companies including Phlur and 101 Commerce. He holds an MBA from Vanderbilt University.
Castelli is chief financial officer of Utah-based Voxpopme and chairman of Utah-based NCV portfolio company Chargeback. He was previously executive-in-residence at Bessemer Venture Partners, where he focused on B2B SaaS and technology companies in Utah – a core Next Coast market. Prior to Bessemer, Castelli was the chief executive officer of VacationRoost and LeisureLink, companies that led the charge for integrating ecommerce into the vacation rental industry. Previously, Castelli was the chief financial officer and chief growth officer of Primedia, a $300M media company, and PageNet, a $1B public telecom company. Castelli holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and resides in Park City, Utah.
These additions aim to further the fund’s developing advisory network, which it plans to continue to grow over the next year as part of their pledge to company building.
Led by Michael Smerklo, co-founder and managing director, and Thomas Ball, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Next Coast Ventures is a venture capital firm that partners with bold entrepreneurs building innovative companies in big markets. It provides early-stage capital to high-growth startups in ‘Next Coast’ markets, using macro trends and themes to guide their investment strategy.
NCV provides hands-on company building resources to its portfolio through its industry network, Entrepreneurs Council program and the founders’ own experiences as entrepreneurs.