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. She is a member of the Georgia Tech Young Alumni Hall of Fame, was a recipient of a Womenetics 2013 POW! Award honoring Purposeful Women and was named to the 2016 Enterprising Women of the Year. Lara was a 2018 Southeast US Finalist for E&Y’s Entrepreneur of the Year.
Questions and Topics in this Interview
- EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women™ North America Class of 2019
- Lara’s work in Koriyama, Japan with the U.S. Defense Department’s EAGLE Japan Program and serving as the Ambassador to Lebanon for the 1996 Olympic Games.
- Lara’s membership in the Georgia Tech Young Alumni Hall of Fame, was a recipient of a Womenetics 2013 POW! Award honoring Purposeful Women and was named to the 2016 Enterprising Women of the Year.
- NOW Corps employees
About Your Hosts
Telisha Farrow Jackson brings her engaging personality, as well as, over 15 years of experience in managing all levels of large scale projects to the SBDC. She has an extensive and varied career in multiple industries, including lending and underwriting; business development; project management; compliance and controls.
She has initiated negotiations, partnership initiatives and cost analysis for businesses majority of her career. Her expertise lies in analyzing and evaluating the effectiveness of program operations to ensure that strategies can be effectively and efficiently executed.
One of her most rewarding professional experiences was developing young minds as an elementary school teacher. In addition to her classroom responsibilities, she developed curriculum and led multiple school-wide process improvement and best practice initiatives.
Telisha has used her people skills to build community involvement and awareness by participating in various community outreach events and professionally moderating conferences. She is an inspiring talent and we look forward to the innovative outlook she’s going to add to the UGA SBDC at Georgia State University team.
Paul Wilson, Area Director with SBDC, has extensive industry experience that spans leadership roles in supply chain management, procurement, marketing, supplier diversity, and small business development. His expertise includes strategic analysis, operational planning, leadership development, contract writing, video marketing, video production, training and curriculum development.
Having worked with Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, and educational institutions, Paul brings a diverse wealth of knowledge, perspective, and skills to the small business community.
Connect with Paul on LinkedIn.