Ellen SoftnessPart-time Instructor Entrepreneurship & Innovation
· MBA in Finance, Columbia University, New York, NY
· BA in Economics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
· Team Building
· Business Operations
A serial entrepreneur who readily embraces change, Ellen Softness has owned and operated both service & product businesses, bricks & mortar and E-Commerce. Ellen began her career in the corporate world on Wall Street, working first on a government bond trading desk doing institutional sales and trading for Bear Stearns. She then transitioned into the corporate finance world with First Boston and then Chase Manhattan Investment Bank, where she was a Vice President structuring and syndicating leveraged buyouts. She also designed training program for incoming MBA’s, a skill that would come in handy later.
After moving to Atlanta, she owned and operated Gymboree Play & Music franchises with her husband Danny Softness for 28 years, and they became one of the most profitable franchisees in the country by innovating pricing, membership and marketing to take advantage of emerging changes in consumer behavior. She designed training program that emphasized performance, reliability and customer service that enabled the business to grow city-wide. They then began developing commercial shopping centers to strengthen and increase the financial benefit of the Gymboree business.
Her latest venture is Vilaga Brands, an E-Commerce business operating under the brand name “Strippaggio” selling premium olive oils, vinegars and other gourmet foods to more than 45 states.