Our Team

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The Power of NEXT VENTŪRES

NEXT VENTŪRES is founded by Lance Armstrong and Mel Strong, who bring together a powerful combination of elite sports, incredible reach and seasoned builders of brands, marketing and smart investments.

NEXT VENTŪRES’ competitive advantage is its ability to leverage the expertise of NEXT VENTŪRES’ Managing Partners and its Advisory Board to effectively identify and assess potential investments, and meaningfully contribute to the product development and brand marketing of its portfolio companies—helping these companies achieve mindshare and market share sooner.

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Lance Armstrong

  • MANAGING PARTNER
  • A globally known cyclist and endurance athlete, Lance remains passionate about the benefits of an active lifestyle. Through his decades of competitive racing, Lance has developed extensive worldwide contacts in the sports, fitness and health markets, regularly being invited to review early stage companies.

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Mel Strong Managing Partner Next Ventures

Melanie Strong

  • MANAGING PARTNER
  • Mel has spent most of her life in the sports marketing industry, including more than 17 years working at Nike as a leader in global brand marketing, where she has driven an agenda focused on innovation, inclusivity, sustainability and access to sports.

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Julian Eison

Julian Eison

  • MANAGING PARTNER
  • Julian is an entrepreneur and investor with over a decade of experience, which includes being an operator, and working his way through Private Equity. He has a deep interest in technology and brings a holistic investment style to achieve equitable outcomes. Julian is based out of San Francisco where he worked at Golden Gate Capital, as well as founded Eison Triple Thread, a premium consumer brand that introduced the world to FITS, a recommendation technology that leveraged user musical preferences for personalization. Julian earned his Bachelor of Science in Sociology from University of California Irvine. He is also a member of the Black Venture Institute’s inaugural class.

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Lionel Conacher

Managing Partner

Lionel is a life-long multi-sport athlete and outdoorsman and proud member of Canada’s first family of sport. His financial experience spans senior positions in public companies in both Canada and the US, investment banking, and most recently private equity. He understands what it takes to create a highly successful start-up having co-founded Westwind Partners Inc., a specialized Canadian institutional investment bank. As Chief Executive Officer, Lionel grew Westwind to $100 million in revenues over 5 years after which it was sold to Thomas Weisel Partners (TWP) for $145 million. Post-sale Lionel served as President of TWP until the sale of TWP to Stifel Financial in 2010. For 7 years prior to co-founding NEXT VENTŪRES, Lionel was a Senior Advisor and Operating Partner at Palo Alto based private equity firm, Altamont Capital Partners, LLC. He currently sits on the boards AMP Human Inc., Kinetyx™ and DXL Group (NASDAQ: DXLG). Lionel is also actively involved in various non-profits including serving as a Trustee of SFMOMA, Council for Canadian American Relations and Surf Canada.

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Lance Armstrong

Managing Partner

A globally known cyclist and endurance athlete, Lance remains passionate about the benefits of an active lifestyle. Through his decades of competitive racing, Lance has developed extensive worldwide contacts in the sports, fitness and health markets, regularly being invited to review early stage companies. His extensive connections have resulted in highly successful early investments in Docusign and Uber that reflect his strong investment insights. In this digital age Lance understands the importance of digital brand building and the power of influencers. He currently hosts THEMOVE, a podcast that provides analysis of stages of the Tour de France and other cycling and endurance races; this podcast has had millions of downloads and has been ranked in the top 10 in the sports and recreation category on Apple's iTunes. He also hosts a podcast called THE FORWARD where Armstrong interviews authors, musicians, athletes, politicians and influencers from all walks of life. These form the cornerstones of WEDŪ MEDIA, part of his WEDŪ brand, a budding community of endurance athletes who go Forward, Never Straight.

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Mel Strong Managing Partner Next Ventures

Melanie Strong

Managing Partner

  • Mel spent over 17 years at Nike, leading international marketing teams across running, women’s, soccer/football and training. She worked on all of Nike’s digital sports and tracking products, advised their new business incubator Valiant Labs, and was most recently vice president and general manager for their skateboarding business. Today Mel is managing partner at Next Ventures, a VC fund investing in innovative health, sports and wellness companies. She sits on the board of performance brand PowerDot and sports media group Pocket Outdoor Media, and is an advisor for photography app VSCO. She is also an advisory board member for Women in Sports Tech and Outdoor Afro.

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Julian Eison

Julian Eison

INVESTOR

  • Julian is an entrepreneur and investor with over a decade of experience, which includes being an operator, and working his way through Private Equity. He has a deep interest in technology and brings a holistic investment style to achieve equitable outcomes. Julian is based out of San Francisco where he worked at Golden Gate Capital, as well as founded Eison Triple Thread, a premium consumer brand that introduced the world to FITS, a recommendation technology that leveraged user musical preferences for personalization. Julian earned his Bachelor of Science in Sociology from University of California Irvine. He is also a member of the Black Venture Institute’s inaugural class.
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Advisory Board

NEXT VENTŪRES’ Advisory Board Members have been selected for their domain expertise in the sports, fitness, wellness and nutrition markets, their proven business acumen, and for their industry connections. They ensure that NEXT VENTŪRES and our portfolio companies have access to resources that will help us succeed in today’s competitive environment.

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Pam Alexander founded Alexander Communications, a technology-focused public relations firm that launched tech disruptors such as WebMD and Mindspring/Earthlink, and represented market leaders such as News Corp, Hewlett Packard and TED. After building her firm into one of the largest independent...

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Billy is one of the founding family members of the Blue Buffalo Company, makers of the BLUE line of natural foods and treats for dogs and cats. While at Blue Buffalo, Billy served as CEO, President, and Chief Operating Officer, and helped build BLUE into the country’s largest natural pet food...

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Charles is Chairman of Teneo Sports. Prior to joining forces with the Teneo team, Charles spent 34 years with Nike Inc., retiring in January 2014 after serving as President of the Nike Brand for 13 years. At Nike Charles developed a deep expertise of the athletic consumer products industry, and...

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Stacey is a senior finance professional with a career spanning two decades. Stacey worked in investment banking and research at Citigroup, RBS and Goldman Sachs. Moving onto senior executive in-house positions, Stacey developed the Investor Relations function for three high-growth technology...

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Mitchell is a retired US Navy SEAL and he currently consults and produces for various companies in the entertainment, athletic/outdoor, and defense industries. Over the span of 21 years, Mitchell’s career included nine deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia and numerous other locations....

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Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of The Obstacle Is the Way; Ego Is the Enemy; The Daily Stoic and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the New York Times to Fast Company. His...

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Mark is considered one of the greatest players in the history of the National Hockey League. In an NHL career that spanned a quarter of a century with the Edmonton Oilers,...

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Darren Phelan, MD is board certified Emergency physician, health tech investor, consultant, and lifelong athlete.

He developed and ran a medical practice in the heart of Silicon Valley with greater than 10 billion dollars in assets under management; where devices, technology, and patients...

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Michael had a very successful athletic career representing Canada internationally in the sport of decathlon, where he was a three-time Olympian as well as a World Championships and Commonwealth Games medalist. Over the span of his 13-year track and field career Michael had the opportunity to...

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Robin Thurston is the CEO of Outside Integrated Media (previously Pocket Outdoor Media), a company building the world’s content and events home for runners, triathletes, and cyclists. Under his leadership, Outside is reinventing how athletes consume content, participate and engage,...

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Elizabeth Weil is a technology investor, operating executive, startup advisor, and entrepreneur. Previously, she was a Managing Director at 137 Ventures and prior to that, a Partner at Andreessen Horowitz. Elizabeth was an early employee and executive at Twitter during the time it scaled from 50...

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Alexa is a successful high-tech executive having founded HireTECH, a recruiting and consulting company focused on high-tech start-ups as well as Recruiting Labs, a web-based recruiting venture. Following her successful entrepreneurial career, Alexa shifted her focus to politics and founded Be...

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