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Max Knapp grew up in Jackson County, West Virginia, where he graduated from Ravenswood High School. Upon graduation, he attended West Virginia Wesleyan College on a golf scholarship and obtained his bachelor’s degree in accounting. After finishing at Wesleyan, Max decided to further his education by attending Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management, where he received a master’s degree in finance. Vanderbilt opened Max’s eyes to a wide array of career opportunities, but he ultimately chose to follow many of his classmates to Wall Street.

Max began his career at Deutsche Bank Securities in New York City as an Investment Banking Analyst, focusing on Mergers & Acquisitions. After a couple of years in New York, he transitioned to a Private Equity / Venture Capital role with a firm located in West Palm Beach, Florida, Comvest Partners. His time at Comvest fostered his passion for early-stage ventures and entrepreneurship. In late 2016, Max decided to move back to Charleston, West Virginia, to help advance its effort to diversify its economy. Max accepted a role as a Portfolio Manager in United Bank’s Wealth Management Group, where he analyzed and recommended a wide range of investment opportunities for High Net Worth and Institutional clients.

Since moving back, Max has founded several small businesses in West Virginia and understands the complexities and importance of making commerce work in rural America. He now focuses most of his time on two entrepreneurial ventures: Blackbear Capital (a Wealth Management firm) and Intellispect (a FinTech SaaS company).


  • 4:00 Max, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that brief intro and give us a little behind the curtain look into your business.
  • 5:53 What is your 30 sec. pitch for both of your companies?
  • 7:56 What are you most excited about right now?
  • 9:15 What brought you back to WV?
  • 14:34 What is the geographic market that you serve  ?
  • 15:38 How many employees do you have?
  • 15:49 How long have you been on your entrepreneurial journey?
  • 16:13 What has been your best business moment so far?
  • 19:12 What has been your worst business moment so far?
  • 20:10 PWV Commercial Break
  • 20:48 What is the long term vision you have for Black Bear Capital and Intellispect?
  • 22:16 How important is it to build a company with an exit strategy?
  • 24:25 How do you attract new customers?
  • 25:42 What is one of the biggest challenges you’re facing right now?
  • 27:12 What is one piece of advice that you’d give to young people who are thinking about starting their own business?
  • 31:43 What is one thing that you do every day that you think contributes to your success?
  • 33:06 What is one book or podcast that you’d recommend for aspiring entrepreneurs?
  • 35:00 Is there anything else you’d like our listeners to know about your company or your story?
  • 35:49 How can our listeners learn more about your company and perhaps even get in contact with you?
  • 36:55 Outro

Black Bear Capital Website

Intellispect Website

Book Recommendation:

The 10% Entrepreneur: Live Your Startup Dream Without Quitting Your Day Job by Patrick James McGinnis