Next Ventures, the venture fund co-founded by Lance Armstrong focused on growth opportunities in the sports, fitness, nutrition, and wellness markets, announced the addition of Melanie (Mel) Strong as a managing partner. Strong led several businesses for Nike.
Strong brings 17 years of sports marketing experience from Nike, the world’s number one sports brand, where she led international teams for multibillion-dollar businesses. Previously a member of the firm’s Advisory Board, Ms. Strong joins Next Ventures’ founders, Lance Armstrong and Lionel Conacher.
“Lance and I always knew that we wanted to add someone with proven sports marketing experience to the partnership, and we felt very strongly that the firm would benefit from a woman’s point of view as half of the ultimate target market for many of the companies that we will be investing in are women,” said Lionel Conacher, general partner at Next Ventures. “We also wanted someone who believes in what we stand for and lives the life we lead from a fitness and wellness perspective. Our experience with her as an Advisor provided us with a clear view of the outstanding talent and team attitude she would bring to the partnership and our portfolio, and we are very grateful that she has accepted our offer to join our firm in a partner role.”
Strong has a proven track record in driving world-class marketing, and she has been responsible for leading successful global product launches. Digital marketing has been a core component of Strong’s expertise, having worked on every digital product Nike has created.
Her past roles at Nike include Advisor, Nike Valiant Labs, Nike’s Incubator; VP/GM, Global Nike SB/Skateboarding; VP Global Brand Marketing, NikeWomen and Women’s Training; Global Nike SB Senior Brand Director; Global Brand Integration Director, Women’s Training; Emerging Markets Marketing Manager, and
US Brand Manager, Nike Running.
“I am very proud of the fact that I have a strong reputation not only in sports marketing, but also as a mentor and culture builder. I am confident that these traits and my decades of experience in building iconic sports brands will help contribute to Next Ventures’ and our portfolio companies’ success,” said Mel Strong. “I’ve already met with the founders of the companies we have invested in, and I am impressed by their talent, passion, and business rigor, and I look forward to quickly discovering new opportunities as we build our portfolio.”
“Next Ventures uses a three-step process to assess potential investments. The first step is strenuously assessing the product, the second is really getting to know the team and what drives them, and the last step is analyzing their story and their branding potential,” added Lance Armstrong, general partner at Next Ventures. “There is no doubt that with Mel on our team, our ability to not only assess but meaningfully contribute to a company’s product and branding capabilities will be unmatched in the industry.”
Next Ventures invests in late seed, Series A and B stage startups that have a revenue-producing product or service that can optimize human performance from the elite athlete to the weekend warrior and also has the potential to translate to the general population. Its advisory board provides a deep-bench of sports and marketing contacts and knowledge based on past executive positions with leading sports brands, as well as personal athletic accomplishments, including a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, a three-time Olympian and World Championships medalist, and a retired U.S. Navy Seal.