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Phil Shmerling

CEO of InCrowd Capital, LLCJ


Phil Shmerling is the CEO of InCrowd Capital, a Nashville-based angel investment group and early-stage venture capital fund he founded in August of 2012.   Phil began his career in 2005 working in investment banking as an analyst with Morgan Keegan in the merger and acquisition advisory division, where he remained through the end of 2007. At Morgan Keegan, Phil advised companies in sell-side and buy-side transactions in a broad range of industries including real estate, hospitality, restaurants, media, logistics, aerospace & defense and consumer products.After three years in investment banking, Phil worked for Choice Food Group as its Director of Retail from 2008 through 2012. In this position, Phil was responsible for all aspects of the retail division, including accounting, financial analysis, marketing, management, operations and purchasing, as well as vendor and customer relations. In addition, he was responsible for identifying and executing projects for the retail division, as well as for Choice Food Group’s distribution and manufacturing divisions.Phil graduated from Indiana University in 2004, earning a Bachelor of Science in both accounting and finance from the Kelley School of Business and an honors degree from the Honors College.

Q. What excites you most about the Wond’ry?

A. It is exciting to see a resource at such a strong university that will bring the entire ecosystem together to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors.  I am most excited about having the chance to work with so many bright people to help them achieve their goals as entrepreneurs.

Q. What do you feel are the most important skills you have to offer in your role as a mentor?

A. Having started my own company and having gone through the fundraising process, I learned valuable lessons on how to get a company funded in its early days.  As an investor now, I also look forward to helping entrepreneurs understand all of the resources they have available to them as they try to find capital for their businesses.  I am available to any entrepreneur wanting to discuss business models, capital raising and any other issues they might be facing as they get their concepts launched.

Q. What has been your proudest moment in your career?

A. Starting your own business is a very daunting process, and I am proud to say that I was able to take the leap to start InCrowd.  However, my proudest moments come with each investment we make and in watching the entrepreneurs we serve launch and grow their businesses.  In November of 2016, InCrowd was awarded the Nashville NEXT Award as Funder of the Year, which was a very proud moment for me as we were recognized for our impact on the entrepreneurial community.

Q. What has surprised you most about your job?

A. People say that starting a company is difficult, but you never really know what that means until you get out and try it for yourself.  In our journey as entrepreneurs, we must be open to reaching out to mentors and advisors who can help us along the way.  The most surprising thing for me, however, was that I thought that some people would give me good advice and some would give me bad advice, and I thought my job was to distinguish between the two and decide on a direction for my company.  However, the reality was that 99% of the time you are given great advice, but the advice from different people might take your business in different directions.  The reality was that almost all of the advice was good, and choosing which pieces of advice to take and which to ignore proved much more difficult than I was expecting.

Q. If you could do everything over again, would you make the same career choices?

A. I knew from a very young age what I wanted to do with my career.  The university I attended, what I studied, my first job, my second job and starting InCrowd were all planned far in advance.  Those career choices were made ahead of time, and having played this path out so far, I would not change a thing!

I would urge anyone out there who does not yet know what direction they want to take with their lives to think about what end they seek, and then focus on taking on roles that will lead them towards that end goal.

Q. In your opinion, what is the most important quality for success?

A. In addition to the above statement about finding your direction as early as possible, I think you must realize that your education does not end with your time in school.  If you are not constantly seeking to further your education, you will fall behind your competitors very quickly.

Q. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A. A pilot, astronaut or race car driver.  I still would love to be any of those three!


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