Jan Davis is a retired CEO and former Shuford Program Entrepreneur-in-Residence at UNC-Chapel Hill. She is an active board member of companies in software, analytics, marketing, tech-enabled services, including the boards of Epifany, Megalytics, SEAL Innovation, and ShowingTime.com, as well as the advisory boards of companies like Cultivate.social and Market Vue Partners. She is an investor in Triangle Angel Partners, chair of the Investment Committee of The Launch Place Seed Fund (Danville, Va.), serves on the Screening Committee for the Carolina Angel Network and is a Blackstone Entrepreneur-in-Residence.
Jan graduated with Bachelor of Arts in English and an MBA from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC-Chapel Hill.
1. What is in your pockets?
I’m connected to my phone and I always have it with me. I usually try to wear something that has pockets, but a lot of women clothes don’t, so if not it’s in a purse or some kind of bag. Also, usually have ChapStick and hand lotion, especially in the winter.
2. What exciting thing has happened recently for you or your organization?
I am currently on the board of two local companies. The first is SEAL SwimSafe. The company’s mission is to end childhood drowning. I was astounded to learn that drowning is the leading cause of death for children under the age of 5. Dr. Graham Snyder, the CEO and an emergency room physician, got tired of telling parents their children were dead. He embarked on this mission to develop a water-safety neck-band device for kids learning to swim.
It’s been a haul developing a device as complicated as an iPhone that functions in the water. We launched version one last summer, which works as far as alarming adults if kids were doing anything dangerous, but it had issues with charging and some other user interface issues. So we spent the last basically 10 months redesigning and we are really excited to launch version two. There is tons of inbound demand from YMCAs and community pools and from consumers.
The second company is Stealz. The exciting news for Stealz is that they have rebranded as Epifany and just announced on Feb. 27 a partnership with the Carolina Hurricanes to allow fans to leave post-game feedback through the NHL mobile app using the Epifany fan intelligence platform. They have landed other exciting corporate customers in the fitness and other spaces and are growing.
3. What is your favorite coffee spot?
Well, I spend a lot of time at the Café Carolina at Harrison and Weston in Cary. It’s not the best coffee in the Triangle although they have improved it in the last year or two. But the people there are so friendly and helpful and there’s nearly always a place to sit and have a meeting and pretty much everybody knows where it is. So it’s a good easy-to-access place.
If I’m meeting with somebody who is in downtown Durham, I’ll meet at Bean Traders. It’s funky and interesting and has really good coffee and great pie.
4. What keeps you up at night?
Concern about my companies, both Epifany and SEAL SwimSafe here locally and then I’m on a couple of boards in Chicago. Somebody always has a fundraising challenge or a new market-access challenge. So sometimes those will keep me awake. I’m also teaching entrepreneurship part time over at UNC and I coach a lot of students. I worry about them. So all of those things.
My schedule is really busy. I’m also on the screening committee for the Carolina Angel Network and I chair the investment committee for the Launch Place Seed Fund in Danville, Va. I have a lot of meetings with entrepreneurs who are looking for advice about fundraising and just general business-model questions. I have so much going on it can keep me awake.
5. What is your favorite restaurant or happy hour?
One of the places we go to most frequently is The Oak in Raleigh. They have wonderful small plates, great sliders, great sautéed brussel sprouts and they do flights of bourbon. If you like bourbon it’s a nice way to taste a number of different ones.
6. What is next for you or your organization?
I’m excited about the growing portfolio at Carolina Angel Network and growth in that network. We’re over 180 members. The majority are in the Triangle but they are literally all over the world. So that’s exciting. I’m excited about the growth in the Triangle and new opportunity for people at all levels; executive, director level, manager level and entry level and intern. I’m also excited that our students coming out of entrepreneurship program at UNC are finding great internships and appreciating the vibrant and diverse nature of the entrepreneurial community in the Triangle.