The VVC Team

Trusted Leadership, Proven Expertise


Derren Burrell

is the Founder & President of VVC, and also serves as Managing Partner.  Before this role he served as the Chief Operating Officer for TAG Resources, LLC, a fiduciary outsourcing company with over $1 billion in assets under management. He is an Accredited Investment Fiduciary, Certified Defense Financial Manager, and Level 3 Certified in the Secretary of Defense Financial Management Program.

Prior to his retirement from the Air Force, Derren was the Resource Director of the White House Communication Agency. He worked directly with senior White House staff, Congressional, comptroller, United States Secret Service, Department of State, and Defense Information Systems Agency staff in all aspects of financial and contract management in support of the President, managing nearly $350 million.  While in this position he was selected for the rank of Colonel but decided to retire and move to Knoxville and into the private sector.

Highlights of his 21-year military career include being deployed to Iraq as the Deputy Comptroller, United States Forces and in Afghanistan as the Resource Director, NATO Air Training Command. In this joint capacity he  managed over $20 billion in U.S. appropriated funding in support of U.S. operations within the Iraq and Afghanistan Joint Operations Areas. He also served at the Pentagon as the flying operations analyst for the Air Force, where he was responsible for the largest Operations & Maintenance budget account in the Air Force, over $15 billion. He has been a squadron commander for both finance and wing staff agencies, and was a deployed Comptroller on the front line in Operations SEA SIGNAL, SOUTHERN WATCH, ALLIED FORCE, NEW DAWN, and ENDURING FREEDOM.

Derren graduated from The Citadel with a BS in Business Administration, holds a MS in Cost Analysis from the Air Force Institute of Technology, and a 2nd MS in Human Resources from Central Michigan University.


Mason Rice

is the Managing Director of VVC. Mason served in a wide variety of assignments during his 22 years of active duty military service. He started his career as a Platoon Leader in the U.S. Army’s first Theater High Altitude Area Defense Battalion. In 2000, he was selected as the Commander of the 94th Signal Company, 56th Signal Battalion, Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico. Following his tenure in command, he was assigned as the Operations Officer for a joint-service, battalion-sized tactical satellite communications provider within the National Security Agency (NSA). He also served as a Senior Engineer for the NSA, providing information assurance solutions to critical Department of Defense. He was selected for assignment with the White House Communications Agency where he served alongside Derren as the Agency’s Chief Engineer and as the Commander of the Washington Area Communications Command.  His final Army assignment was with the Air Force Institute of Technology as a Professor in the Department of the Electrical and Computer Engineering.  He retired from the Army in 2017. Following retirement, he accepted a position with Oak Ridge National Laboratory as the Cyber-Physical R&D Manager.
Mason is a graduate of the U.S. Army Signal Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, Combined  Arms and Staff Services School, Telecom Systems Engineering Course, Command and General Staff College and the Advanced Management Program at the National Defense University.  He holds a patent and has published over 30 scientific papers in professional journals and books. Mason is honored to be included in the U.S. Army ROTC Hall of Fame.

He earned a BS in Electrical Engineering with Honors from the Florida Institute of Technology and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army through ROTC in July 1995. He earned an MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Florida, PhD in Computer Science from the University of Tulsa, and is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional.


VVC Strategic Advisory Board


Eric Dobson

is the Chief Executive Officer of the Angel Capital Group, a national syndicate of angel groups and funds.  He spent the last 27 years working in government and the private sector, the last 16 in start-up technology ventures. He was the founder of four companies, helped found six, and led investments in 25 more. 


Eric has served as the CEO of several companies and has expertise in strategic planning, business development, technology licensing, R&D, commercialization, intellectual property development, corporate leadership, and early stage private equity investing.  He has developed numerous products and services including wireless technology with Oak Ridge National Laboratory supported through grant programs from the Department of Homeland Security’s Advanced Research Projects Agency.  That project was awarded the National Laboratory Consortium Technology of the Year for 2004. 


Dr. Dobson was named the Navigator Entrepreneur of the Year Award by the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce in 2010 and the Pinnacle Innovator of the Year for 2011 by the Innovation Valley Technology Council.  Eric served on a number of not-for-profit and for-profit Boards, Membership Committee of the Angel Capital Association, Board of Governors for Care24-7, and Board of Directors for General Graphene.  He holds a BA from the University of Tennessee in 1991 where he was also a Lecturer on Entrepreneurship in the Department of Management in the Haslam College of Business from 2013 to 2017.  He received a Masters of Science and Doctorate of Philosophy from the University of South Carolina in 1993 and 1998 respectively.  He now applies all the hard-earned knowledge and experience from these ventures and exploits to venture-style investing.


Grady Vanderhoofven

has 25 years of experience in company creation and financing. He has co-founded and invested multiple private investment funds, including Meritus Ventures, the first Rural Business Investment Company (RBIC) in the United States, and Southern Appalachian Fund (SAF), a New Markets Venture Capital Company (NMVCC). Together, these funds have approximately $53 million under management and have invested equity and debt in 16 companies, which have attracted almost $300 million of investment. The companies are located in rural and/or low-income areas throughout central and southern Appalachia and have created more than 400 jobs to date. In addition to the capital directly invested by Meritus and SAF, the funds have provided more than $4 million of technical and operational assistance to portfolio companies.

Since 2015, Mr. Vanderhoofven has led an effort to create the TennesSeed Fund as an evergreen, seed-stage, investment fund focused on proof of concept investments in Tennessee-based companies.  In 2016, he founded Three Roots Capital, which is a 501(c)(3), certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) established to make debt and equity investments in companies in predominantly low-income areas of East Tennessee and the broader Appalachian region.  Three Roots Capital has raised almost $50 million to date and has deployed and committed more than $12 million to companies in Tennessee and Kentucky.

Prior to becoming an investor, Grady participated in the creation of 12 start-up companies based on technology developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He previously served on the Advisory Council of the Yale University School of Engineering and Applied Science. He received a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Yale University and has completed an Executive Education Program in private equity and corporate governance at Harvard Business School.


Scott Ewing

is the Chief Operating Executive and Business Intelligence Manager for Angel Capital Group.  In this capacity he is responsible for quality deal sourcing; objective evaluation of investment opportunities; pricing and structuring deals; and investment support to 47 portfolio companies representing $7.8 million in committed capital. Directly responsible for all marketing collateral and sales literature, including white papers, PowerPoint presentations, case studies, website content, and reference lists.


Scott brings 12 years’ financial industry sales and research experience, both as a FINRA-licensed Registered Representative and an angel/venture capital investment executive with portfolio companies in healthcare, information technology, advanced materials, advanced manufacturing, robotics, and consumer products.  Educated in Computer Networking, Data Science, Naval Engineering and Maintenance Management.  Proven salesperson, instructor/trainer, on-air radio personality, writer, and public speaker.