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Curated Collection Of The Best Interviews From Our Midtown Studio

Pitch The Crowd

Pitch The Crowd

Pitch The Crowd

I met JR McNair a few months ago when I was just getting started here with the Midtown studio.  He is an Atlanta native and hometown sports star that now resides in South Fulton County.

While in College J.R. started a business development company that since its inception has helped over 3,000 small business owners. J.R. is an avid learner and prides himself on mastering a new business skill every 12 months. J.R. has helped incorporate almost 1,000 entities and as such is an expert in the field of corporate formations. J.R. McNair started his first business at the age of 10 years old and has  personally started, branded, invested or sold over 30 businesses since that time.

He came by to talk about his newest effort—Pitch The Crowd, a show he recently launched on cable TV here in Atlanta.  The show, which currently will air a new episode quarterly, is similar to the popular Shark Tank.  With Pitch The Crowd, the goal is to pitch your business or not-for-profit to the crowd funding space.

He brought along several guests who had appeared on the show’s first episode.  Emmenette Mason oversees a non-profit organization focused on giving Atlanta young people and adults education on entrepreneurship through a series of weekly workshops in the summer in addition to other educational offerings.  IXOYE Global Entrepreneurship Network, or IXGEN for short, has already seen success, with numerous young people who have gone through the program coming back to talk about how they have successfully launched their own small businesses based on what they learned from IXGEN.

IXOYE Global Entrepreneurship Network (IXGEN), is a Georgia nonprofit organization created to provide business support services to assist in creating, strengthening and expanding grassroots micro and small enterprises, and guiding them toward national and international levels of entrepreneurship.  IXGEN’s mission is to facilitate access to resources, provide information, technical assistance, training, counseling and other support services, to micro and small entrepreneurs to enable them to promote, strengthen and grow their businesses. IXGEN is committed to ‘promoting a global perspective for micro entrepreneurs in the USA and in Africa.

IXGEN passionately advocates (non-politically), the need for entrepreneurial education as an integral part of the middle and high school curricula throughout the USA and Africa. In this regard, IXGEN has initiated a youth empowerment program (iYEP), for youth in middle and high schools, as well as for young adults.  The Youth Empowerment Program (iYEP), is an annual Entrepreneurship, Leadership, & Life Skills Training that provides opportunities for the young people to develop the competencies they need to become successful individuals, and potential business owners.

IXGEN has developed strategic collaborations/partnerships with individual entrepreneurs, philanthropists, development practitioners, governmental and non-governmental agencies, and faith-based organizations that are engaged in economic and community development.

Deontae Trundle came by to talk about Indie Film Loop.  The Indie Film Loop is a three-day Film Conference and Creative Showcase that starts on Friday, August 7th, 2015 and ends on Sunday, August 9th. It is projected to be the Southeast regionʼs premiere marketplace for Independent talents within the film & media industries. Attendees will have the opportunity to discover new creative talents within the industry by seeing the showcased participants engaged in intense film related competitions and more. Participants will also be able to gain valuable knowledge from industry leading professionals through thought provoking panel discussions and keynotes, interactive workshops and collaborative opportunities making The Indie Film Loop a vibrant avenue for career development. Emerging professionals of today will be able to earn the right to become the industry elites of tomorrow!

Mark Cano was a Pitch The Crowd participant who is looking for crowd funding to support his efforts to launch a state-of-the-art cosmetology school in the Atlanta area.  Having been exposed to the industry of cosmetology education with his wife while living in Florida.  Mark’s wife, who has many years of experience in cosmetology was invited to help build a new school in their community and they became intrigued by the possibilities.

Mark has leveraged his background in investment banking, his wife’s experience, and their work as owners of the MedSpa in Johns Creek to develop a passion to build a cosmetology school the he hopes will be the go-to option for the region.

Special Guests:

JR McNair, Business Service Pros, Pitch The Crowd  facebook_logo_small3  twitter_logo_small  google-plus-logo-red-265px

Pitch The Crowd


  • Founder, Business Service Pros
  • Launched his first business, age 10


Emmenette Mason, IXOYE Global Entrepreneurship Network  facebook_logo_small3


  • MBA, Entrepreneurship Development, University of Akron
  • Founder, Youth Empowerment Program
  • Member, National Association of Professional Women
  • Counselor, SCORE (Business counseling of SBA, Georgia Chapter)

Deontae Trundle, Managing Partner, Indie Film Loop  facebook_logo_small3  twitter_logo_small  linkedin_small1



  • AA, Applied Business with focus in Graphic Design, Coyehoga Community College
  • Produced “Mr. Amazing”, 2009 Atlanta Film project Competition in Atlanta, Winning 5 “Best Of” Awards
  • Previous Creative Director, Upris Corp
  • Creative Director/Founder, Creative Synergy Design, LLC


Talking IT Strategy with Atlanta’s CIO Samir Saini


IT Strategy in Atlanta

This week I had the special treat of sitting down with a long-time acquaintance of mine, Samir Saini, Atlanta’s recently-appointed CIO (2014).  He shared the story of his professional journey, beginning as an IT program manager with General Electric and his experience of successful completion of their 2 yr leadership training program.
He spent 10 years with this well-respected organization before accepting the opportunity to step into the role of VP, Corporate Strategy in IT for the MGM International Resorts in Las Vegas.  They were in the middle of tackling the IT challenges that come with acquiring several established companies into an existing enterprise, in this case, several well-known hotels.

He was able to successfully lead them through the process of moving the hotels onto a common platform, allowing the company to begin to leverage their company’s size through its expanded buying power and maximize efficiencies in numerous other areas.

Samir returned to Atlanta several years ago, this time bringing his leadership and IT expertise to bear in the public sector, taking a role with Atlanta’s Housing Authority.  Four years later he was appointed to be the new CIO for the City of Atlanta by Mayor Kasim Reed.

We talked about the challenges a municipality the size of Atlanta faces, balancing budgetary constraints against a myriad of government agencies, the world’s busiest airport, large population and infrastructure necessary to support them, along with a fast-growing business sector.

Samir discussed several of the tech solutions he and his team are working on and several that are already implemented to the benefit of Atlanta residents.  Until we spoke I wasn’t aware that the city provides free Wi-Fi access in Piedmont Park, Grant Park, and numerous other hotspots (with more coming).

He shared the city’s plans to update the fiber optic network to allow for numerous tech upgrades such as synchronized traffic lights to alleviate gridlock, applications that allow drivers to easily locate available parking, and more.  I also had the chance to ask him about the priorities he has laid out for the city going forward to address the enormous tech needs of our city to prepare us for the years to come that will make the city a better place to live as a resident and a solid choice for businesses looking for a place to plant their flag.

Special Guest:

Samir Saini, CIO, Commissioner, City of Atlanta  facebook_logo_small3  linkedin_small1  twitter_logo_small  feed logo  youtube logo


  • BS, Civil Engineering, New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • Previous Director, ERP, General Electric Energy Services
  • Former VP, Corporate Services, MGM International Resorts
  • Past SVP/CIO, Atlanta Housing Authority

Humor Wins

Humor Wins

Humor Wins

This week I sat down with Marshall Chiles, Founder and Dudeman of Humor Wins, a business that helps companies looking to improve team dynamics among their staff.  As the owner of one of the first comedy clubs in Atlanta, Laughing Skull Lounge, he has been in the humor business for years.  He decided to take his knowledge of comedy to help business people learn to add an element of humor to their client interactions and sales presentations.  Humor Wins’ team also provides corporate roast services, adding a memorable, interesting element to company events.

Marshall talked about how they take their clients through the process of learning how to develop some humorous comments or jokes that help disarm prospective customers, facilitating relationship building that can lead to a sale.  His team also facilitates team building by teaching self-deprecating humor that can foster better communication and reduce tension among the business’s staff.

He brought along Jeremy Wing, Co-CEO of Payscape Advisors, a merchant services and financial technology company.  Payscape Advisors provides an array of services and technologies for companies ranging from online invoicing, an online registration platform for schools and camps, access to AR capital, payment processing, and more.  Jeremy shared how he came to know Marshall through providing their payment processing services, ultimately becoming a client of Humor Wins.

I met Kimyung Kim, a comedian and word smith who uses improvisational free-style rapping to provide entertainment services for corporate events.  We got a demonstration of his skill with him rapping while we gave him random words he integrated into his lyrics.

If your company is looking to attract young, motivated millennials, reduce turnover, and help build closer relationships among your sales force, executives, and administrative staff, you need to get to know these innovative experts.

Special Guests:

Marshall Chiles, Founder/Dudeman Laughing Skull Lounge and Humor Wins  facebook_logo_small3  twitter_logo_small  linkedin_small1

Humor Wins

  • Bachelor of Business Administration, Management Information Services, University of Georgia
  • Founder of Southern Fried Supernova
  • Founder of the the world’s smallest comedy club (Laughing Skull Lounge)

Jeremy Wing, Co-CEO of Payscape Advisors  facebook_logo_small3  google-plus-logo-red-265px  twitter_logo_small  linkedin_small1

Payscape Advisors

  • Previous Director, MTV
  • Director, RegPoint Solutions
  • Investor in numerous businesses such as FINSYNC, KidsLink Inc., Bayan Investment Group
  • Recipient of numerous business awards including Top 40 Innovative Company, Atlanta, Top Workplace, AJC, Inc 500/5000 Fastest Growing Companies, and others

Kimyung Kim, Speaker/Rapper Kimyung Kim Speaks  facebook_logo_small3  twitter_logo_small  linkedin_small1


  • Former teacher, Social Studies, Magnolia Science Academy
  • BA, History, Georgia State University
  • National Speakers Association volunteer
  • Active comedian




Georgia Department of Economic Development


This week I sat down with Jannine Miller, Director, Center of Innovation for Logistics at the Georgia Department of Economic Development.  We talked about how the state of Georgia places a great deal of priority on maintaining and expanding our transportation infrastructure.  Jannine shared how effective logistics management can foster significant economic development.

She also discussed how the entities that comprise our logistics capabilities across the various modes gives rise to growth opportunities for small businesses around the area.  This comes from the need for “last mile” carriers who can move the freight to its final destination from larger distribution centers, as well as countless other ways to provide vendor/supplier services to larger companies that need to extend their capacity.

We also were pleased to have VP of Business Development for NOWaccount, Kim Humphreys on the show.  We talked about how their merchant services solution provides B2B companies experiencing some delayed payment of invoices access to aging AR funds in 3-5 days for only a 2.5% fee.

With this already-earned capital can fund new growth and/or allow a company to be able to afford to take on larger orders that could otherwise not be possible.

Special Guests:

Jannine Miller, Director, Center of Innovation for Logistics, Georgia Department of Economic Development

Georgia Department of Economic Development

  • Former Transportation Policy Advisor the the Georgia Governor’s Office
  • Previous Executive Director of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority
  • Former Supply Chain Finance Senior Manager, The Home Depot
  • MBA, Georgia Technical Institute

Kim Humphreys, VP, Business Development/Co-founder, NOWaccount


  • Published author
  • Founding member, TAG FinTech
  • Previous Chief of Staff, Harbor Payments
  • Over 20 years professional/leadership experience in marketing/leadership roles