Sharples, Cunningham and Castelli join Next Coast Ventures’ Entrepreneurs Council

Next Coast Ventures said Aug. 27 that Brian Sharples, Cotter Cunningham and Julian Castelli are joining its Entrepreneurs Council. Sharples previously co-founded and served as chairman and CEO of HomeAway Inc. Cunningham founded and served as CEO of RetailMeNot Inc, while Castelli is chief financial officer of Voxpopme.


AUSTIN, Texas–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Next Coast Ventures, an Austin-based venture capital firm investing in entrepreneurs on the ‘Next Coast’ of innovation, today announced that the firm is adding Brian Sharples, Cotter Cunningham and Julian Castelli to its Entrepreneurs Council. NCV’s addition of these iconic entrepreneurs underscore their mission to assemble a dynamic team of the highest-performing industry experts to source and support the best entrepreneurs outside the coasts.
Since day one, NCV has been ‘built by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs’ and the Entrepreneurs Council is a direct result of that mission. NCV’s Entrepreneurs Council is made up of carefully chosen experts, with a wide array of entrepreneurial backgrounds and industry verticals, all sharing one thing in common: they are all thought leaders and pillars of their entrepreneurial community.
Sharples previously co-founded and served as chairman and chief executive officer of HomeAway, Inc., a global online marketplace for the vacation rental industry, where he led the company’s successful public offering in 2011 and its $3.9 billion acquisition by Expedia in 2015. Prior to HomeAway, Sharples was president and chief executive officer of IntelliQuest Information Group, Inc., a supplier of marketing data and research to technology companies that went public in 1996 and was sold to WPP Group in 2000. In addition to his operational leadership, Sharples has served on the boards KAYAK and RetailMeNot, Inc., which was founded by Cunningham, and helped oversee their successful acquisitions by Priceline and Harland Clarke Holdings, respectively. Sharples currently serves on the boards of Yelp, GoDaddy, RVShare and Ally Financial Group. He also serves as chairman of Twyla, Inc., a company he co-founded in 2015 that offers a software platform to license and sell limited edition artwork, as well as chairman of private-equity backed Fexy Media. Early in his career, Sharples founded I Motors, an event-based marketplace for used cars, and served as a consultant at Bain & Co. He holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Cunningham founded and served as CEO of RetailMeNot, Inc., a leading consumer savings destination that enables brands to engage active shoppers and saves millions of consumers billions of dollars in the process. As CEO, he guided RetailMeNot through more than 15 acquisitions while raising more than $300M in venture capital, and ultimately took the company public in 2013. In 2017, the company was acquired by Harland Clarke Holdings. Cunningham was also an entrepreneur-in-residence at Austin Ventures, where he worked closely with NCV co-founder and managing director Thomas Ball. Prior to founding RetailMeNot, Cunningham served as COO of Bankrate, Inc., taking it public in 1999, and has extensive operational experience from his work as general manager at VML and assistant vice president at H&R Block. He now serves as chairman of RetailMeNot as well as a managing partner at M&F Ventures. Cunningham is based in Austin and has continued to be personally invested in NCV’s mission, investing alongside the firm in numerous portfolio companies including Phlur and 101 Commerce. He holds an MBA from Vanderbilt University.
“I was the first investor in RetailMeNot and had a front row seat watching Brian grow HomeAway when Austin Ventures was the first investor, so I’ve seen firsthand Cotter and Brian’s innovativeness, relentless focus and give-back attitudes propel them to truly iconic status in the Texas entrepreneurial community and beyond,” said Ball. “As entrepreneurs ourselves, we have carefully selected every member of this Entrepreneurs Council to bring the best and the brightest in the country to mentor our founders, and Cotter and Brian are perfect examples of the incredible caliber of resources we have to offer our portfolio leadership. They have been invested in NCV’s mission and its entrepreneurs since day one, and they have an acute understanding of founders’ potential to successfully scale a business in these markets outside the coasts.”
Castelli is chief financial officer of Utah-based Voxpopme and chairman of Utah-based NCV portfolio company Chargeback. He was previously executive-in-residence at Bessemer Venture Partners, where he focused on B2B SaaS and technology companies in Utah – a core Next Coast market. Prior to Bessemer, Castelli was the chief executive officer of VacationRoost and LeisureLink, companies that led the charge for integrating ecommerce into the vacation rental industry. Previously, Castelli was the chief financial officer and chief growth officer of Primedia, a $300M media company, and PageNet, a $1B public telecom company. Castelli holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and resides in Park City, Utah.
“Julian is the definition of a glass-eating, butt-kicking entrepreneur who shares our vision for what is possible outside the coasts,” said Michael Smerklo, co-founder and managing director of Next Coast Ventures. “Julian is intimately familiar with the ups and downs of the entrepreneurial journey and has successfully scaled numerous technology companies in rising innovation hubs like Salt Lake City and Atlanta. At NCV, we are steadfast in our commitment to sourcing and supporting the best entrepreneurs in these rising markets, and the addition of Julian to our Entrepreneurs Council is at the core of that mission, as well as our commitment to expanding our footprint on the ground in these markets.”
Sharples, Cunningham and Castelli’s track records and reputations as incredible mentors to entrepreneurial ecosystems on the ‘Next Coast’ make them perfect additions to NCV’s Entrepreneurs Council. This growing team represents the best entrepreneurs in their field and will continue to be critical to NCV’s ability to provide the most comprehensive and cutting-edge resources on all parts of the entrepreneurial journey from fundraising to product-market fit to leadership development. This Council also serves as a hands-on extension of NCV’s Entrepreneurs Fund, which consists of 100 respected entrepreneurs building companies in Next Coast markets. These additions to the team will further the fund’s developing advisory network, which it plans to continue to grow vigorously and thoughtfully over the next year as part of their pledge to company building.
To learn more about NCV’s Entrepreneurs Council click here or visit
About Next Coast Ventures
Next Coast Ventures is an Austin-based venture capital firm that partners with bold entrepreneurs building innovative companies in big markets. It provides early-stage capital to high-growth startups in ‘Next Coast’ markets, using macro trends and themes to guide their investment strategy. NCV provides hands-on company building resources to its growing portfolio through its strong industry network, Entrepreneurs Council program and the founders’ own experiences as entrepreneurs. Learn more at