Co-Founding Directors

Entrepreneurship often starts with a spark, but the opportunity to learn from the experiences of others is key to reaching the finish line.

William S. Spears, Founder and CEO of Cenergistic

Global media and internet pioneers Megha Tolia and Nirav Tolia have been named co-founding directors of the William Spears Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership in SMU’s Cox School of Business.

Megha ToliaMegha Tolia

Megha Tolia is president and COO of Shondaland, the television production company founded by renowned Hollywood storyteller and writer Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Bridgerton and Inventing Anna. Megha began her career as a brand manager for Neutrogena, spending the last twenty years building and operating mission-driven, consumer-centric, innovative brands. Prior to Shondaland, Megha spent eight years managing several businesses for SC Johnson, including Method, Ecover, Mrs. Meyers, and Babyganics.

Megha holds a BA from UC Berkeley and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Nirav ToliaNirav Tolia

Nirav Tolia is the co-founder and former CEO of Nextdoor – the hyperlocal social networking site for neighborhoods. Currently he is executive chairman of Hedosophia, a leading technology investment firm. He spent the last 24 years creating and leading early-stage, pioneering consumer Internet companies. After beginning his career as employee #84 at Yahoo!, he founded and served as CEO for three successive companies: Epinions, Fanbase, and Nextdoor. Under Nirav’s leadership, Nextdoor grew into the world's largest local social network and was adopted by over 220,000 neighborhoods in 11 countries worldwide, including 90% of American neighborhoods.

Nirav holds a BA from Stanford University and returned to his alma mater in 2019 as a visiting instructor for the Stanford in Florence program.

Photo of mustangs on Binkley at Airline

"I cannot imagine two better people than Megha and Nirav Tolia to inspire excitement among our students, focus their talents, and demonstrate what it takes to succeed."

William S. Spears, Founder and CEO of Cenergistic