Seed Fund Advisory Board

Seed Fund Advisory Board of Directors

The Seed Fund Investment Committee evaluates potential investment deals. They meet approximately 10 times a year to evaluate multiple prospective entrepreneurs at a time.

Two critical factors for the success of the Seed Fund are (1) a thorough pre-screening process and (2) fund credibility. Our Investment Committee members are an integral part of the fund’s credibility as they have established strategic partnerships and relationships with already existing and respected angel funds, experienced law firms and other business-related entities. This credibility further attracts new investors to fund our selected entrepreneurs’ initiatives.


Mark Granville

Mark Granville

Screening Chair, RTP Capital; Board Vice-Chair, The Launch Place Seed Fund

Mark Granville is a former senior executive, general manager, and early-stage investor with extensive software industry experience in both large multi-national organizations and early, technology-driven start-ups. Mark has spent 40+ years leading key aspects of a technology company, including development, service delivery and support operations, and client acquisition. He was previously Senior Vice President, Analytic Services for a large healthcare analytics company, and COO of a high growth software company with payer marketplace offerings, and as part of the executive team took the company public and then to an acquisition. . Having been directly involved with five growth company exits, he is also an active early stage investor and LP in several venture funds. Mark earned an MBA from the University of Wyoming and an BS in Finance and Information Systems from Bowling Green State University.


Robbie Hardy

Robbie Hardy

Founder and Chair of xElle VenturesBoard Member, The Launch Place Seed Fund

Robbie Hardy, founder and Chair of xElle Ventures, has worn many different hats during a career that has stretched from the vineyards of Napa Valley to the boardrooms of Fortune 500 companies. She’s driven a school bus, worked in both the public and non-profit sectors, served as CEO of several IT companies and founded angel funds.

For more than a decade Robbie has focused on aiding entrepreneurs, especially women trying to get a company started. Her experience founding, growing, guiding and exiting successful startups herself makes her an “entrepreneurologist” by trade, a term she coined to describe both her experience and her passion.
Today, Hardy is most passionate about empowering women in their careers, helping them overcome obstacles they face such as sexism, workplace politics, and self-doubt, and connecting them with strong women role models to help them succeed. In 2016, she published a book, “Upsetting the Table: Women Mentoring Women,” aimed at establishing a “girl’s club” to off-set the “boy’s club” that has for so long dominated company executive offices.

In 2019, Hardy founded xElle Ventures, an angel fund network dedicated to investing in the ideas, products and services of women. The 15 women founders hope to change the fact that, although women comprise half of the workforce and own millions of businesses, companies founded by women receive only 2.3 % of venture financing.

Also in 2019, Hardy initiated Empowering Women Together, a series of panel discussions designed, she says, “for ambitious women who want to invest in themselves and others.” The once a month meetings, held in Durham’s First Flight Venture Center, feature panels composed of strong, successful, confident women including scientists, lawyers, technologists, corporate execs, and business leaders, paying it forward by sharing the secrets of their success and the lessons they learned along the way.


Paul Nolde

Paul Nolde

Managing Director, Lighthouse Labs RVA; Board Member, The Launch Place Seed Fund

Paul Nolde has over two decades of experience in the banking, finance, and venture capital sectors, serving in multiple business development and management roles. As the new Managing Director of Lighthouse Labs, Paul sets the strategic vision for the organization and oversees day-to-day operations in accelerating venture-appropriate startups at the seed stage. Prior to this he served as the Fund Manager and Managing Director of Riverflow Growth Fund, a seed stage, healthcare-focused venture capital firm based in Richmond, VA. In this role he was responsible for all aspects of fund management and investment-related functions. Prior to this he served as a director at NRV, an early-stage venture capital firm also based in Richmond, VA, preceded by sales and strategy positions at multiple national and community banks, as well as managing the angel investment portfolio of a family office in Richmond, VA.

He is an active participant in, and advocate for, Virginia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, serving on the boards of several local and regional organizations, including the Activation Council, CAV Angels (president of the network), The Launch Place Seed Fund (chair of the board), the Virginia Impact Investing Forum (chair of the board), and SCORE. Additionally, Paul sits on various boards at Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Virginia, where he also serves as an adjunct professor of impact investing in its Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.

He graduated from UVA in 2001 with a B.A. in Foreign Affairs, complimented by post-grad business studies through the McIntire School of Commerce Business Institute. 


Ed Pettiss

Ed Pettiss

Director, Vice President and Treasurer, RTP CapitalBoard Chair, The Launch Place Seed Fund

Ed Pettiss is a former senior executive, general manager, and board director with extensive global experience with both large multi-national organizations and high-growth, technology-driven start-ups. He is currently Vice-President, Treasurer, and Board Director for RTP Capital Associates, Executive-in-Residence with the NC State Technology and Entrepreneurship Collaborative program, and active with the Council for Entrepreneurial Development and NC IDEA grant programs. He was previously Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications for a large environmental services company. With a major chemical & machinery company, he served as President of a start-up technology-based joint venture and General Manager for a high-growth worldwide biotech chemical business. Ed earned an MBA from the University of Virginia Darden School and an AB in Economics from Duke University.