Lara O’Connor Hodgson serves as President & CEO of NOW Corp, a company she co-founded to free small businesses from the burden of being a free bank to their customers. Lara co-founded Nourish Inc, and introduced its first patented products for children, in airports, hotels, entertainment venues and retail outlets across the US. Lara experienced the challenge of having to fund the trade credit required to support growth.
Not finding a solution that worked, she launched NOW Corp and created NOWaccount, the first merchant service payment system for B2B that enables businesses to get paid immediately in a way that feels like taking a credit card for payment (not a loan or factoring) even when terms are offered. NOW Corp is the subject of a Harvard Business School case study and Lara serves as an Entrepreneur in Residence at the Harvard Business School.
Lara spent 5 years with Dewberry Capital Corporation, an Atlanta-based commercial real estate development and investment firm, where she served as the company’s Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Operating Officer, overseeing development, sales & leasing, property management and marketing.
Lara was the Executive Vice President of Dunk, a performance footwear and apparel manufacturing/retail company built on the concept of mass customization and founded with Shaquille O’Neal & Mike Piazza.
Lara was the Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Retail and Consumer Products Division of iXL (now Scient), an Internet strategy and consulting firm. She founded the division in 1999 and built it into one of the top performing groups within iXL. The group operated across 26 offices worldwide with clients such as The Home Depot, Coca-Cola, and Nike.
Lara is an internationally recognized speaker on creativity, innovation and access to capital. Internationally, Lara has worked in Koriyama, Japan with the U.S. Defense Department’s EAGLE Japan Program and served as the Ambassador to Lebanon for the 1996 Olympic Games.
Lara received an MBA from the Harvard Business School, and a BS in Aerospace Engineering with highest honors from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She was featured in USA Today as one of the top 20 students in the US, was the ODK National Leader of the Year and was a scholarship member of Georgia Tech’s Track & Field team.
Lara currently serves as a Trustee of the Georgia Tech Foundation and as President of the Board of Atlanta Heights Charter School. She also serves on the board of CTE (formerly known as Carolina Tractor & Equipment Company), Patterson Real Estate Group, Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business Advisory Board, the Georgia Tech College of Engineering Advisory Board and Georgia Tech’s Alexander Tharpe Fund board. Lara formerly served on the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA) Board (appointed by the Governor) and the Georgia Tech Alumni Association Board.
Lara is a member of the Leadership Georgia Class of 2005 and the Leadership Atlanta Class of 2004. Lara taught finance as an adjunct instructor in Georgia Tech’s MBA Program for 10 years. Lara was honored by the Georgia Tech Athletic Association with the Total Person Alumnus Award and by the Georgia Tech Women in Engineering as the Alumnus of the Year.
What You’ll Learn in This Episode
- Small business access to capital
- Cash flow management
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