News & Podcast

Stay up to date on the latest news from Defiance, including announcements, acquisitions, and podcast episodes.

Recent Updates

#49 – Emir Dukic, Rabbu

September 13, 2020

Emir Dukic owns Rabbu, a short term rental commercial real estate startup in Charlotte.  In this episode John and Emir discuss going out on his own, the short term rental market, being flexible in the COVID-19 era, and working with AirBNB.  


Defiance Ventures Announces Investment in Rent Ready

September 8, 2020

Defiance Ventures, the Charlotte-based venture builder, today announced its investment in Rent Ready. Rent Ready is a B2B managed services platform that delivers an end-to-end make-ready service for apartment communities. Headquartered in Charlotte, NC, Rent Ready has expanded into over 20 markets across the country since its launch.  “The leadership team at Rent Ready has […]

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#48 – Ramy Serageldin, HoneyFi

September 6, 2020

HoneyFi is a couple’s financial planning platform.  In this episode John interviews its CEO and founder, Ramy Serageldin.  Ramy talks about starting a company after learning from a high flying fintech success story from very early on.  He shares insights into the payments industry and gives indispensable guidance to any would be startup founder.   […]


#47-Jack Ossa, Power of Design Podcast and Ossa Studio

September 4, 2020

Jack Ossa owns Ossa Studio which designs commercial real estate projects and has branched into marketing services and even software development.  He also hosts the Power of Design Podcast.  In this episode John and Jack dig into his business, how he got started, and where he wants to take it.    


#46 – Mike Privette Interviews John

August 26, 2020

Mike is a technologist who has been working at big banks and recently started his own consultancy where he advises startups on partnering with banks and on cyber security.  In this episode he interviews John about his history and what he’s doing with Defiance.  They discuss what makes products successful and what things entrepreneurs need […]


Defiance Ventures Announces Investment in Swyft, Inc.

Defiance Ventures, the Charlotte-based venture builder, today announced it led an investment round in Swyft, Inc., the leader in unattended retail and retail automation. Tareq Amin, Co-Founder of Defiance, will also be serving on the board of Swyft and plans to advise on expanding the Swyft platform through AI and machine learning capabilities.  “We’re excited […]

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#45 – Ivan Barajas Vargas, MuukTest

August 20, 2020

Ivan Barajas Vargas is the founder of MuukTest, a TechStars 2020 company that provides a comprehensive automated software testing solution.  In this episode John and Ivan talk about lessons learned working for one of the biggest enterprise software companies in the world and building a product and company to solve problems encountered along the way.


Defiance Ventures Announces Chief Financial Officer

August 17, 2020

Defiance Ventures today announced Ashley Love has joined as its Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Ashley brings accounting, finance, and M&A experience from both private and public companies in a variety of industries, including tech.   “I have watched Ashley grow her career over the past few years and have always been impressed with her intelligence, decision […]

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Defiance Ventures Announces That Technology Industry Veteran Joins Leadership Team as Chief Operating Officer

August 13, 2020

Defiance Ventures today announced that technology and banking industry veteran Micah Minarik has joined the company as COO.  After a successful career in investment banking and capital markets Minarik started Kingsmen Software, an industry leader in application development and delivery.  “I watched what Micah did at Kingsmen, building an elite team of software developers through […]

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#44 – JP Conklin, Pensford and LoanBoss

August 4, 2020

In this episode John interviews JP Conklin, founder of Pensford and LoanBoss. Pensford was his first company and it is a financial services company providing derivatives for commercial real estate owners.  From what he learned in building and scaling Pensford JP identified a set of software tools that were not supported well by existing PropTech […]


#43 – David Wells, New Years Revolutionary Podcast

In this episode John is interviewed by David Wells, founder of the New Years Revolutionary Podcast.  The sound volume level is a little low as this was the first episode recorded in the Defiance Ventures studio since COVID, but David asks John about his history and philosophy on building scalable businesses. 


Defiance Ventures Names John Espey CEO

July 29, 2020

Defiance Ventures today announced that it has appointed its co-founder John Espey CEO of the company.  John will assume responsibility for executing on the venture builder’s strategy as it continues to grow its portfolio and operating companies.   Espey has been involved in various capacities with many technology companies, most recently serving as CEO of […]

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Defiance Ventures Acquires SaaS Product: The Q

July 20, 2020

Defiance Ventures today announced that it has acquired The Q, an innovative SaaS offering that simplifies the origination of syndicated bond deals from pitch to market, from Kingsmen Software.  Defiance plans to re-brand The Q and to invest in product development and marketing to drive deeper adoption within capital markets.   “We are building a […]

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#42 – Jamie Brown and Jeff Tonidandel – Haberdish, Crepe Cellar, et al

July 13, 2020

In this episode John interviews the couple behind popular NoDa restaurants Haberdish, Crepe Cellar, Growlers, and Reigning Donuts.  In this episode Jeff and Jamie discuss starting a restaurant during a recession and financial crisis, growing into multiple restaurants, driving innovation on both the culinary and mixology in one of Charlotte’s top neighborhoods, and then opening […]


#41 – Derek Holt, K4Connect

July 3, 2020

In this episode John interviews Derek Holt, president of K4Connect, a tech company that is transforming the way nursing homes and assisted living communities serve their customers.  Derek covers a lot of ground ranging from transitioning from IBM to a startup community to actual startups.  He also talks about scaling a business during the COVID […]


The AWS ECR and the Tavve Dev Container

June 9, 2020

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” — Lao Tzu A leading provider of secure network optimization software and appliances, Tavve has been helping customers manage their on-premise networks for years. Their Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) has been battle hardened and mirrored their customer’s on-premise network change management process. As […]

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#40 – Nina Barnett, Grooop

June 6, 2020

Nina is an impressive young entrepreneur who created a safety app while in under grad to address a problem that she and her friends could not find a good solution for.  She talks about building an app without a technical background through a partnership and what she had to do to figure out how to […]


Defiance Ventures Announces Defiance Digital

May 28, 2020

Defiance Ventures today announced that it has launched Defiance Digital, a full service digital transformation consultancy.  Defiance Digital will serve Defiance Ventures portfolio companies as well as third party customers looking to build digital products.  The consultancy will focus in particular on practical applications of machine learning and artificial intelligence.   “We see a need […]

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Defiance Ventures today announced a revamped website and branding for its portfolio company, Tavve. 

May 26, 2020

Defiance Ventures today announced a revamped website and branding for its portfolio company, Tavve.  The new website went live two weeks ago and feedback from customers and visitors has been excellent.     “We immediately saw the value of Tavve’s products Zone Ranger and Packet Ranger when we decided to acquire the company, unfortunately the brand […]

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#39 – Neeta Kirpalani, Consultant, Healthtech Women

John interviews Neeta Kirpalani.  Neeta left a successful career in healthcare to become an independent consultant and her practice has thrived.  She also invests her time in Healthtech Women and Springboard Enterprise‘s Women’s Health Tech Hub.  Neeta talks about building a branding strategy, building a team to support her efforts and scale, and moving from […]


#38, Chris Elmore, Avidxchange

May 23, 2020

Avidxchange is one of the most well known startups in Charlotte.  It has been recognized for many awards and has raised over $1 billion of capital.  In this episode John interviews Chris Elmore, one of Avid’s first employees.  Chris talks about the early days at Avid, scaling it, raising multiple rounds of capital from big […]


#37, Lauren McAbee, Chakti Yoga, Essential Thrive

In this episode John interviews Lauren McAbee, founder of Essential Thrive, a holistic health company focusing on essential oils and Chakti Yoga, a yoga form she created that combines dancing moves with Yoga.  Lauren talks about the health benefits of Yoga, why she created her own form, and also about going virtual and actually increasing […]


#36-Jordan Schindler, nufabrx

May 1, 2020

Jordan started and runs a company that infuses vitamins and other transdermal products into fabrics.  His business recently was featured on Fox News resulting in a massive increase in sales of anti-microbial copper infused surgical masks.  In this episode he talks about starting the business while at the University of Washington, moving the business to […]


#35, Linda Nash, WellcomeMD

April 17, 2020

In this episode John interviews Linda Nash, a serial entrepreneur from Richmond, VA.  Linda discusses starting and exiting three businesses prior to starting WellcomeMD, she explains proactive vs reactive medicine, she talks about concierge and executive medicine, and she goes into how the medical industry has changed through the past two decades.   John and Linda […]


#34, Dino H Carter, D Branding

April 8, 2020

Dino Carter, a brand and marketing consultant, interviews John in this episode for a video series he hosts.  They talk a lot about running a business and raising money during a pandemic and also cover technological and business changes that may come out of the current COVID crisis.  They also talk about the startup scene […]


#33 – Dain Dulaney, Bishop Dulaney, Joyner

April 4, 2020

In this episode John interviews Dain Dulaney, partner at Bishop Dulaney Joyner.  Dain is an attorney focusing on startups in Charlotte.  In this episode he discusses legal mistakes founders make, investing in companies, raising capital, selling companies, legal entity selection, the key to writing a good Operating Agreement, and many other interesting topics related to […]


Defiance Ventures Acquires Tavve, a cybersecurity and network management company

March 31, 2020

Defiance Ventures announced today that it has acquired Tavve, a cybersecurity and ITOA company based in Raleigh, North Carolina. Tavve offers two highly innovative products for large institutions, especially those in Financial Services, to use in a variety of ways to secure and enhance their network infrastructure. Defiance will relocate the company to its headquarters […]

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A Founder’s Reading List for Uncertain Times

March 23, 2020

I originally intended this to be a simple reading list to share with others that I’ve found useful during uncertain times or even more broadly useful whenever myself or others have some spare time to read.  I promise to get to this list, but I quickly realized that to set up the list properly I […]

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Defiance Ventures Acquires The Refinery Haus

March 19, 2020

Defiance Ventures today announced that it has acquired The Refinery Haus, a leading full-service digital agency specializing in customer acquisition and experience. The Refinery Haus will continue to operate as a wholly owned subsidiary and portfolio company for Defiance. It will continue to service third party customers and also will support Defiance’s growing portfolio of […]

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#32, Jason Tuttle, Nova Capital

March 12, 2020

In this episode, Jason Tuttle of Nova Capital Partners, a commercial real estate investor shares with John how he started and runs his business.  He explains various strategies for creating value for investors.  He also talks about re-development opportunities and the local markets in Charlotte, Jacksonville, and elsewhere. 


Kevin O’Dell Joins Defiance Ventures as Chief Technology Officer

Defiance Ventures announced today that it has hired Kevin O’Dell as its CTO. Kevin will be responsible for developing Defiance’s technical vision and execution. He will oversee all investments and company acquisitions from the technical perspective. O’Dell has extensive experience throughout his career in enterprise technology. His experience includes time at EMC, Cloudera, Rocana, and […]

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Defiance Ventures is Formed & Launched

March 10, 2020

John Espey and Tareq Amin announced today the formation of a new Venture Builder firm called Defiance Ventures. The company will launch and acquire B2B enterprise technology companies and joint ventures. Defiance will provide capital, early stage investing, advisory services, and other shared services. These services will include application development, cloud architecture, digital marketing and […]

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#31, Dave Dalton, GMI

February 13, 2020

Dave Dalton is a long time Charlotte business person. He is the CEO of General Microcircuits Incorporated (GMI) which he sold it to East West Manufacturing. GMI is an EMS (electronics manufacturing services) company that builds electronic boards for manufacturers. In this episode Dave discusses the business, how he got involved in it, how his […]


#30, Dualboot Partners

Dualboot Partners is a software development shop in Charlotte with an offshore delivery model. In this episode John interviews the three founders, Daniel, Ben, and Todd. They go through the history of Dual Boot and talk about growth strategies and giving back to the community. They also talk about what makes a tech startup more […]


#29, Wil Brawley, Schedulefly

January 16, 2020

Schedulefly is a technology that restaurants use for employee scheduling. In this wide-ranging interview John sits down with founder Wil Brawley. They talk startup philosophy, starting a company with friends, and building a growing AND sustainable business.


#28, Lenny Pham, Citrrus/Yext

December 14, 2019

In this episode John interviews Lenny Pham, a former co-worker and founder of Citrrus, a firm he and his friend Jason sold to Yext, a tech unicorn. They cover moving from app dev to design and mobile. They also discuss selling to a much bigger and faster growing firm, embracing mobile, and learning how to […]


#27, Samantha Smith, Vishion

November 23, 2019

In this episode, John interviews Sam Smith, founder of Vishion, a color search engine for interior designers.  In this episode John and Sam discuss starting a company based on a personal frustration, growing the business, partnering with other companies, building an entrepreneurial eco-system in a second tier city (Charlotte), and joining a tech accelerator. […]


#26, Micah Minarik, Kingsmen Software

November 9, 2019

Kingsmen Software is a fast growth software development shop in Charlotte.  In this episode, founder Micah Minarik and John discuss starting a software company after a successful career in banking.  They discuss building products vs services, scaling a services business, and leveraging a career in finance to start a company.  


#25, Philip Wegner, SecurEdge Networks

November 7, 2019

SecurEdge is WiFi service provider that Philip Wegner started 13 years ago.  In this excellent episode, Philip talks about going out on his own, building software without a background in application development, and creating a much more compelling product by combining hardware with services, software, and financing.  


#24, Zoe Shook, Tribe Salon

October 21, 2019

Zoe Shook is the owner of Tribe Salon Studio.  In this episode she talks about taking over a failing business and turning it around and then realizing that she needed to start a new company with a blank slate to truly create the company she wanted to work for.  She talks about investing in commercial […]


#23, Alex Smereczniak, 2ULaundry

October 2, 2019

Alex is one of the founders of 2ULaundry, one of the hottest startups in Charlotte that just raised a large round of funding successfully.  In this episode John and Alex discuss leaving a successful consulting job to start a company based on an experience in under grad.  Alex tells the story of starting a company […]


#22, Gretchen Kittleberger, International Functional Fitness Federation (IF3)

September 24, 2019

Gretchen is the founder of IF3, the International Functional Fitness Federation.  IF3 aims to get functional fitness (CrossFit being the most well known functional fitness brand) into the Olympics.  Gretchen was an elite D1 gymnast at the University of Maryland and also stood on the podium in one CrossFit games and competed in four of […]


#21, Jeff LaTulippe, DIRT Eat Clean

September 12, 2019

DIRT recently opened its fourth location, and it’s one of the hottest new eateries in the DC area.  In this episode Jeff LaTulippe, co-founder, talks about leaving a career in finance to pursue his passion for healthy eating.  He details the challenges in scaling to multiple locations, selecting a new city, perfecting operations while also […]


#20, Juan Garzón, Start Charlotte and Pitch Breakfast

September 2, 2019

Juan Garzon runs Pitch Breakfast, one of the most popular startup events in Charlotte.  He is the founder of Start Charlotte, which he recently sold to American Inno.  In this episode Juan and John talk about the history of Start Charlotte and Pitch Breakfast.  They also talk about branding through story telling, startup eco systems […]


#19, Dan Roselli – Packard Place and QC Fintech

August 21, 2019

Dan is the founder of Packard Place and Queen City Fintech.  These two activities put him squarely in the middle of Charlotte and even the Southeast’s entrepreneurial eco-system.  He and John cover a lot of ground quickly in this podcast: Time: 1:50-4:39 -Dan’s background and references of his Linkedin profile opening sentence: “I know more […]


#18, Igor Jablokov, Yap (Alexa) and Pryon

August 16, 2019

Igor Jablokov is the founder of Pryon, Inc, an enterprise AI company that recently completed a $20 million round of funding.  Igor previously founded Yap, which he sold to Amazon and it became the foundation of Alexa.  He also worked on the Watson team at IBM.  In this episode John and Igor talk about Artificial […]


#17, Britton McCorkle, Bottle Cap Group

August 6, 2019

Bottle Cap Group operates 15 highly popular restaurant/bar concepts in the southeast.  Britton is their high energy and highly connected founder.  In this episode he shares his history, talks about what makes a great brand, and gives overall great advice on managing a growing restaurant empire. Time: 3:05-8:19 -Britton’s background and his grandfather’s restaurant-‘Dowd Road […]


#16, Taylor Hayden, Blackstone Shooting Sports

July 26, 2019

Taylor Hayden started and runs Blackstone Shooting Sports, a shooting range and firearms retailer in Charlotte.  In this interview he talks about leaving a great corporate job to go out on his own.  He learned a lot through bumps and bruises along the way and shares a lot of wisdom gained along the way. Taylor […]


#15, Garth Moulton, Jigsaw

July 17, 2019

Garth Moulton is one of the founders of Jigsaw, a contact data provider acquired by Salesforce in 2010.  In this episode John and Garth discuss the Jigsaw journey, starting a business in Charlotte vs starting one in San Francisco, advising early stage companies, mistakes founders make, shutting down a startup, and many other aspects of […]


#14, Andy Johnston, 7 Mile Advisors

July 2, 2019

Andy is one of the founders of 7 Mile Advisors, an investment bank headquartered in Charlotte, NC.  John and Andy discuss the business of investment banking, selling a company, starting a bank during an economic downturn, and raising capital.  7 Mile has helped entrepreneurs sell over 100 companies.