John Burns is President of Breakaway Ventures a brand focused growth equity investment firm.
His business interests span the consumer sector but focus primarily on health, wellness, sports & fitness. John has a deep appreciation for entrepreneurs and a passion for building businesses. He has been featured in numerous publications including The Boston Globe, Inc. Magazine, and the WashingtonPost.com and is currently involved with the boards of Oath Pizza, EveryBodyFights, Spartan Race, Unreal Brands, Yasso and Nic + Zoe.
Previously, John served as CoFounder and Managing Director of Raptor Consumer Partners, a growth stage venture capital firm. Raptor’s investments include Spartan Race, Unreal Brands, Nic + Zoe, and Yasso. John joined Raptor from Highland Capital Partner’s affiliate Highland Consumer Fund, where he was a Founding Partner. Highland’s investments include such notable brands as CitySports, Pinkberry, lululemon athletica, mix1 Beverages and Guitar Center.
Prior to the Highland Consumer Fund, Mr. Burns worked at Summit Partners, a private equity and venture capital firm investing in growth stage companies.
Mr. Burns received his undergraduate degree from Boston College and his M.B.A. from Babson.
Rob is a co-founder and Partner at NextView Ventures. He tries to spend as much time as possible working with entrepreneurs to develop products that solve important problems for everyday people.
Prior to founding NextView, Rob was at Spark Capital and focused on early stage investments in consumer web and mobile. Before joining Spark Capital, Rob worked at Ebay as the Business Product Lead for “Finding”. In this role, he oversaw the launch of major products that enhanced the search, browse, and product discovery experience for tens of millions of users.
Previously, Rob was a consultant at The Parthenon Group and also held product management roles at Fidelity Investments and BzzAgent (acquired by Dunnhumby).
Rob attended Duke University and holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School. He is also a founding board member of Highrock Church in Brookline, MA. He lives in Lexington, MA with his wife and 2 daughters.
Smaiyra Million is a passionate leader and value creator with a three decade record of driving sales, growing profitability and building world-class teams. Smaiyra joins Highland Consumer Fund with extensive experience in the luxury hospitality market with an emphasis on the Health & Fitness, Spa and Hotel sectors. Most recently, she was the CEO of Millennium Partners Sports Club Management, where she spearheaded the creation of this operating company that managed 7 health clubs underthe Sports Club/LA and Reebok Sports Club brands, with revenue in excess of $100million, across 5 states. She was originally recruited to The Sports Club/LA in 1998 to become one of the company’s General Managers and was promoted to COO in2006. Smaiyra was elevated to the CEO position in 2011.
Jody Rose is the Executive Director of the New England Venture Capital Association where she works in partnership with the venture and entrepreneurial communities on initiatives focused on positioning Massachusetts as the best place in the world for entrepreneurs. Born in the Borough of Brooklyn, NYC, Jody has held executive-level roles with both enterprise corporations and lean startups, focusing primarily on corporate development in mobile, eCommerce and digital media. Most recently, Jody served as the SVP of Corporate Development and Digital Strategy at NYC event production agency Blueprint. Prior, Jody led National Mobile and Brand Partnerships for micro-location mobile marketing platform, Swirl Networks. She began her career in cable and telecommunications, where she held multiple sales and marketing positions, and quickly rose through the ranks at powerhouses such as MTV Networks, The Food Network, and HGTV. Before joining Swirl, Jody served as Director of National Brand Partnerships at Rue La La where she was responsible for leading brand relationships with a focus on driving new customer acquisition for national partners. She was one of four employees selected to launch a new division of Rue La La (Rue Local) and was responsible for leading the launch of their first local market. Jody’s experience includes numerous board positions within the telecommunications and media industries. She currently serves on the board of directors for My Sister’s Keeper, a humanitarian organization focused on educating and financially empowering women in South Sudan. During her spare time Jody enjoys volunteering, snowboarding, traveling, cooking and – most importantly – spending time with family.
As a proven community builder and marketer, C.A. comes from her previous post as Executive Director of the New England Venture Capital Association, where she reinvented and reinvigorated the 40-year old association. Recently, C.A. was recognized as an Innovation All Star by Boston Business Journal and is passionate about creating powerful communities that can have a meaningful and lasting impact on business. She’s also helped build ground-up products, programs and brands such as Fast Company, Whole Foods and Preserve.