President & CEO
Smart Business Network
Fred co-founded Smart Business Network in 1989 with a single publication in Cleveland, Ohio. In the years since, he has built the company into a leading multimedia and content marketing business providing print and digital marketing services to a national client base.
Nick Akers has held multiple C-level roles, beginning as the founding CEO of a venture capital funded company to commercialize technology he invented in graduate school. Most recently he served as Managing Director of Jost Chemical in St. Louis, leading major growth initiatives, including the greenfield investment of a new chemical factory in Poland. In late 2021, Mr. Akers launched a search fund in partnership with Novastone Capital to acquire and operate a business in the B2B manufacturing sector.
Entrepreneur, Author, Investor, Creator, Dad. Keith Alper Chairman/CEO, NITROUS Effect, an Agency Collective. NE encompasses eight marketing, digital, event and branding related agencies. Set up by world class talent and partners. We are the anti holding company model, to best serve our clients with great work and killer results.
Alper started CPG when he was 18, while working part time in the entertainment department at Six Flags producing shows and national concerts. He rose to become one of the youngest executives at Six Flags at 21.
CPG: Engagement agency specializing in Events/Meetings; Culture/Engagement ; Innovation/Entrepreneurship. Clients include worldwide Fortune 500s including Southwest Airlines, Yum Brands, Carnival Cruise ,Panera, Amazon, BMW, YPO & MLB, TEDx, NFL Players. CPG has won hundreds of industry & creative awards including the Emmy,New York Festivals, Telly Award, Addy.
In 2016 Alper Launched his newest venture, Geniecast.com. The world's first and largest LIVE content marketplace and interactive programming. (www.Geniecast.com)
Randall Barker is the CEO and founder of IN10T Inc. A digital agriculture company focused on data science, analytics and the transformation of agriculture through technology, sustainability and farmer lead initiatives. Previously he created and led multiple global brands with Monsanto through innovation and partnerships, as well oversaw a three hundred million dollar retail input business in Canada for a publicly traded company.
Team Lead - Corporate Banking
David leads PNC Bank's Corporate Banking Team covering Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, and Nebraska. PNC's Corporate Banking Group provides ideas and solutions for companies with revenue in excess of $50 million. The group provides a broad set of corporate finance, cash management, investment advisory, and merger and acquisition solutions. In addition to traditional corporate banking, his background includes leveraged and asset-based lending.
Capital For Business, Inc. and Commerce Bancshares, Inc.
Tim is one of six partners responsible for sourcing, analyzing, selecting, structuring, and managing various platform and add-on acquisitions. Prior to joining CFB, Tim spent more than 20 years in various roles across a wide range of companies and functions, including investment banking, marketing and innovation, corporate strategy and M&A, leveraged lending, management consulting, sales and commercial banking.
Bo is a Principal at CliftonLarsonAllen LLP with 26 years experience assisting private and public businesses with accounting, tax and consulting issues. He is one of the St. Louis regional leaders for transaction services provided to private equity firms and privately-held companies. Bo has extensive experience serving as the lead partner on due diligence and audit engagements in conjunction with business acquisitions and dispositions.
Drew is managing director of WILsquare Capital. He has spent his career investing in and operating businesses in the lower-middle market. His background includes the leadership of buyout transactions, service on portfolio company boards and various operating assignments.
Previously, he was a partner at Louis York Capital, a multifamily office making direct investments in industrial manufacturing and distribution businesses. There, he focused on deal execution and served as director of a manufacturing platform company.
Build-A-Bear Workshop | Clark-Fox Family Foundation
Maxine is the Founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop®, a teddy-bear themed retail-entertainment experience. Founded in 1997, today there are over 400 Build-A-Bear Workshop stores worldwide and nearly 200 million stuffed animals have been sold. Her latest venture is the Delmar DivINe™—the transformation of a neighborhood eyesore, the historic St. Luke’s Hospital, into a multi-use real estate development to open in 2021.
President & CEO
PFI Holding Co. LLC
John is the President & CEO of PFI Holdings, which owns and operates four manufacturing companies that produce in-store displays and fixtures for major retailers and brands. A CFB portfolio company with over 300 employees in 7 different manufacturing facilities, PFI closed on their most recent acquisition in December 2020. John has built a reputation in turning around PE held companies in distress with sales focused leadership and rapid managerial development.
Meg currently serves as Market President for CIBC in St. Louis. In her role, Meg leads the Commercial Banking Team and oversees the coordinated delivery of commercial banking, commercial real estate, private wealth, and community banking services in the market. She has over 20 years of professional commercial banking experience, primarily spent in the St. Louis region.
Tim, Managing Director of Midwest Commercial Banking, with responsibilities for First Bank teams in Middle Market Commercial and Industrial, Commercial Real Estate, and Public Funds. Prior to joining First Bank, Tim was EVP and Chief Lending Officer for another financial institution with over 36 years of commercial banking experience with a focus on working with family and privately owned businesses.
Senior Wealth Advisor
Hightower Wealth Advisors
Neal brings 25+ years of comprehensive planning experience in his role as Senior Wealth Advisor at HighTower, a respected St. Louis-based Wealth Management practice. Neal believes in the importance of fundamentals and discipline (stemming from his college football days); it is the approach he takes to creating financial plans. Focused on business owners, Neal’s experience runs from executive/owner benefits through advanced succession planning and holds his Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA®) credentials.
Managing Director & Chief Legal Officer
As Chief Legal Officer and Managing Director for Permanent Equity, Taylor leads all transactions for the firm, from the initial stages to diligence, negotiation, documentation and closing. In addition, Taylor manages all fund formation matters, as well as the legal needs for all portfolio companies. Taylor also provides support to the business development and finance teams with respect to deal generation, structure and valuation matters. Prior to his time with Permanent Equity, Taylor was in private practice for 12 years as an associate and partner, representing both public and private companies, as well as private equity, with a focus on mergers and acquisitions, finance, securities and general corporate counseling. Most recently, Taylor was a partner with Greensfelder, Hemker and Gale, where he also served as the practice group leader for the firm's business services practice.
Keith was founder, chairman and president of Pretium Packaging, growing it into one of the largest plastic bottle manufacturers in North America. After selling it, he founded Alitus Partners, which provides small business owners with the capital and operating expertise to enhance growth and support infrastructure development. Alitus has a long-term strategy and invests in control positions in lower middle-market businesses involved in manufacturing, processing, industrial services and business services.
President - St. Louis
Tom, CFA, is President of Commerce Bank, St. Louis and leads the Bank's commercial banking activities in the St. Louis Region. Tom has 25 years of commercial banking experience including leveraged and syndicated deal experience with privately held, public and private equity owned companies. He also spent over three years as President of Legacy Pharmaceutical Packaging in St. Louis where he led efforts to raise bank debt, subordinated debt and equity while tripling revenues.
COO & CFO
Kevin is Chief Operating and Financial Officer of KnowledgeLake Software, a private-equity backed SaaS company delivering intelligent document automation across multiple industries . Before joining KnowledgeLake, Kevin was Chief Financial Officer of Omnigo Software. Earlier in his career, Kevin owned and operated a digital media company. After a successful exit, and earning an MBA from the University of Notre Dame and an MIM from Washington University, he worked at Anheuser-Busch InBev, Procter & Gamble and Macy’s in various financial roles. He has been directly involved in transacting over 15 acquisitions and divestitures in his career.
Co-founder & Managing Director
Cliff is co-founder, managing director and general partner at Cultivation Capital. The firm was named the most active venture capital firm in the Midwest by Pitchbook, and a top 10 leading firm by Crunchbase. Previously, he was founder and president of Foot Healers and the Professor of Practice and Academic Director for Entrepreneurship at the Olin Business School at Washington University, where he was named one of the Top 100 Entrepreneurship Professors in the World.
Rick is a founding Partner at FINTOP Capital and COO of Hermann Companies. Rick serves on the boards of Arch Design, BridgeFT, CoverCress, Denim Social, EmpowerMe Rehab, KnowInk, Transactly, SMArtX, and YPO St. Louis.
Vice President - Corporate Development
Dot Family Holdings
Heath serves as vice president of Corporate Development for Dot Family Holdings. He began his career as a management consultant with PwC. Prior to DFH, he was a vice president with the private equity firm Prospect Partners in Chicago.
Tax Managing Director
BDO USA LLP
Meg Kellogg is a Tax Managing Director at BDO. She has 28 years of tax experience, including 25 years in public accounting. Meg’s extensive experience includes serving privately held flow-through entities with tax planning and compliance, in addition to her experience with consolidated entities and income tax accounting. Meg has served clients in a variety of industries including construction, telecommunications, retail and manufacturing.
Paul’s practice focuses on corporate law, mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance, securities and private equity, with experience in tax, franchise law and real estate for clients in various industries. Paul counsels companies from startups to emerging and growing businesses, to companies that are downsizing or preparing to sell or whose owners are preparing for an exit, including transactions involving privately held and public companies and private equity.
Lee M. Koury
Smart Business Network Inc.
Lee is managing partner of Smart Business Network Inc., a national events, media and marketing company founded in 1989, primarily responsible for expanding the company’s Aspire deal-making conference throughout the U.S. He plays a key role in establishing corporate policies and developing long-term strategy and growth plans. Previously, he founded and chaired the Growth Group at national law firm Arter & Hadden LLP (now Tucker, Ellis & West), which focused on working with middle-market and high-growth technology companies.
BMO Harris Bank
Dan has served as managing director and commercial banking market executive for BMO Harris Bank’s Commercial Banking Division since 2015. As an executive leader, he is responsible for the oversight and management of all aspects of the bank’s Commercial Banking operations in eastern Missouri and the Greater St. Louis area. He also serves on a leadership team that creates and implements strategic initiatives and mentors sales leaders across BMO’s expansion markets.
ButcherJoseph & Co.
David Lake is a Director with ButcherJoseph & Co.’s investment banking team. During his tenure, David has advised a diverse group of middle market companies on mergers and acquisitions, capital raising, and strategic advisory assignments. He has completed engagements in a variety of industries including healthcare, business services, manufacturing, real estate, and consumer products.
David’s previous investment banking experience includes deal work in leveraged finance as well as sell-side and buy-side M&A advisory. He has advised both publicly listed and privately held companies, including cross-border engagements. David began his investment banking career at Citigroup in its Leveraged Finance Group, focused primarily in the consumer, healthcare, and industrials sectors.
David earned a Master of Business Administration in finance from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and a Bachelor of Science with honors and Phi Beta Kappa from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. He is a CFA Charterholder.
Founding Executive Director
Dan is a highly experienced and accomplished entrepreneur who can give students advise on how to develop their innovative ideas into a product or business. As a St. Louis native, he is the CEO and Founder of Lauer Toys and the creator of the baby doll Waterbabies. His product has achieved great success by being the second best selling baby doll, with over 24 million units sold.
Dr. David Lenihan
President & CEO
Dr. Lenihan is the CEO of Tiber Health, an experienced educator, innovator, and medical practitioner. He is passionate about improving access to medical education for students of all backgrounds and income levels. Tiber Health was born out of that passion and it remains the core of everything we do.
The Tiber model is inspired by students at Ponce Health Sciences University in Puerto Rico, where Dr. Lenihan serves as President, and the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York, where he served as Dean. Dr. Lenihan has fundamentally changed the way medical education is taught. By creating a dynamic model, personalizing curriculum and assessing students and faculty in real-time, he has created a model that reduces costs while improving quality, graduate rates, and U.S. Board scores.
Managing Director, Aon Missouri Leader
Chip Lerwick is the Aon Missouri Leader with offices in St. Louis and Kansas City with responsibility for managing Missouri colleagues across Risk, Retirement and Health solutions to deliver the full range of Aon’s capabilities. Chip has over 25 years of experience in business development, sales management and general management working with middle market to Fortune 25 companies with a proven track record delivering results through the alignment of key resources and capabilities to meet business objectives.
Director - Private Markets
Jason is the Director of Private Markets with Hermann Companies, where he focuses on performing due diligence on potential investment opportunities and monitoring the performance of current partnerships. He is a Charted Financial Analyst (CFA) charter holder. Before joining Hermann Companies, Jason spent 15 years at RubinBrown LLP, holding the positions of Analyst, Manager, and then Partner. During this time, Jason developed expertise in corporate finance, business valuation, economic analysis, business development, and strategic planning – skills which he brings to our organization and are valued by our investment partners.
Founder & CEO
Mark served as Chairman, President and CEO of Ansira from 2000 to 2017 where he led the business from a 50 person, $5.5M revenue stream to one of the three largest independently owned digital marketing businesses in America with more than 800 employees and approximately $130M in revenue. During that period, he led the Company’s transition through multiple recapitalizations, private equity partnerships and acquisitions. Prior to assuming control of Ansira, he was co-founder and principal in the St. Louis law firm of Behr, Mantovani, McCarter and Potter, P.C., where he advised clients on general corporate law, mergers and acquisitions and related matters. Most recently, he was a Senior Fellow in the Harvard University Advanced Leadership Initiative.
John is the managing partner of BKD’s St. Louis and Decatur offices. He oversees the administration, planning, and operations for approximately 150 personnel serving more than 4,500 business and individual clients. Prior to becoming the St. Louis and Decatur practice unit managing partner, John was the national industry partner for BKD National Commercial Services Group and was responsible for overseeing a team of approximately 500 advisors who serve more than 4,600 commercial entities.
He serves clients in a variety of subindustries, including food and beverage manufacturing, consumer product manufacturing and distribution, professional services, industrial goods distribution, transportation, and oil and gas. He provides a range of accounting, audit, tax, and consulting services. His experience includes due diligence, mergers and acquisitions, feasibility studies, employee stock ownership plan implementation, debt financing, and cost accounting system development. His knowledge of mergers, acquisitions, and transaction services involving private equity and venture capital firms has allowed him to work closely with BKD’s Transaction Services division.
Anders CPAs + Advisors
As managing partner, Robert oversees and is responsible for the vision and growth of the firm. His logical, technology-driven approach to leading prepares the firm for new opportunities and challenges, while still prioritizing a commitment to focused client service. Always looking for ways to ensure the future success of the firm, Robert is involved at all levels. He is committed to hiring, retaining, and developing employees by providing opportunities for growth; is passionate about the latest advances in technology and believes in the power of marketing and digital media for growth. He not only leads the firm but also works directly with clients to deliver creative tax, business, and advisory solutions. With deep-seated firm values built on generosity, Robert values the responsibility and reputation of Anders being a true community partner and encourages giving back both individually and collectively to support our region.
Managing Member & Owner
Process Control Solutions, LLC
Bill currently owns and operates a turn-key provider of systems integration services and distributor of process equipment in the Midwest. Prior to PCS, he purchased the assets of a distressed St. Louis based manufacturing company which he later sold after a complete turn-around. Additionally, Bill was a senior executive for a diversified, privately held middle market manufacturing company having key roles in Corporate Operations and serving on the Executive Staff of various business units within the portfolio. He has an MBA from the University of California and has been a board member for multiple businesses.
President & CEO
Charles is a hands-on acquisition entrepreneur and current President & CEO at Ethos Preparedness. Ethos Preparedness was founded through Charles’ entrepreneurial pursuit to acquire a small business to operate. With experience in management consulting, private equity investing, and military leadership, he launched an initiative to create value in a space where he could provide visionary direction.
Charles is a former Captain in the U.S. Army, West Point graduate, and Chicago Booth MBA.
Manager, Corporate Development
Brad Naert is a Manager within HBM Holdings' Corporate Development Team. He is responsible for sourcing, evaluating, and executing acquisitions that fit with the firm's overall strategic vision and long term buy-and-build approach. Previously, he served as an officer in the US Marine Corps.
Director of Business Development
Compass Group Equity Partners
Stuart is a Director at Compass Group, responsible for business development activities, including direct sourcing and intermediary coverage.
Prior to joining Compass Group, Stuart served as a Senior Vice President at Advantage Capital where he led efforts to lend senior and subordinated debt and equity into businesses in communities often overlooked by traditional capital sources. During his tenure at Advantage Capital, he provided over $300 million in growth capital to 40+ companies. Prior to joining Advantage Capital, Stuart worked as a banking officer at U.S. Bank in the Leveraged Finance Group and at Southwest and M&I Bank providing senior debt for mergers and acquisitions.
Stuart received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Washington and Lee University. In recognition of his professional achievements and community involvement, he was named to the St. Louis Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 list in 2016.
Mike Pizzella, Jr.
Vice President & Former CEO, StayLock Storage
Mike co-leads Cequel III’s family office direct investment platform, which seeks to invest private capital in lower middle market businesses. From 2016-2021, Mike served as CEO of StayLock Storage, where his team built a portfolio of 78 self storage properties, which was sold 2021. Mike has also supported corporate development efforts at TierPoint and Suddenlink during his tenure at Cequel III.
Paula and Rodger Riney Foundation
Bobby W. Sandage, Jr., Ph.D. has over 35 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry in drug development and senior management and almost 10 years in venture capital. He currently holds three positions in the St. Louis area: (a) Managing Director of the Paula and Rodger Riney Foundation, (b) General Partner in Cultivation Capital Life Sciences Fund II, a St. Louis venture fund; and (c) President and CEO of Euclises Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a private oncology company.
Previously he was President and Chief Executive Officer of Coronado BioSciences, Inc. (NASD: CNDO), an immunotherapy company where he took the company public in 2011. Prior to that, he was Vice President of Covidien (Mallinckrodt) Pharmaceuticals’ oncology research and development program. For 19 years, Dr. Sandage was the Chief Scientific Officer and Executive Vice President of Research and Development, Quality and Manufacturing at Indevus Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASD: IDEV) (successor to Interneuron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.), which was acquired by Endo Pharmaceuticals in 2009. Dr. Sandage serves and has served on several board of directors both private and public.
Eloise Schmitz is the CEO and Co-Founder of LoanNEX, an innovative pricing and eligibility engine. LoanNEX was officially launched in 2016 with a focus in serving the specialized needs of the non-agency mortgage market. Prior to starting LoanNEX, Schmitz spent 12 years with Charter Communications, where she served as SVP of Finance and Strategy and CFO.
Thompson Street Capital Partners
Jack serves as a Managing Director at Thompson Street Capital Partners, a St. Louis-based private equity firm focused on investing in founder-led middle market businesses in the Healthcare & Life Science Services, Software & Technology Services and Business Services & Engineered Products sectors. He leads the firm’s Deal Origination and Portfolio Support teams. Prior to joining Thompson Street, Jack served in the United States Army as an Infantry officer in Ranger, Airborne, and Mechanized units. He also subsequently managed a regional service sales force with Cintas Corporation, a national facilities service provider. Jack is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and earned his MBA from the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis.
Managing Director & CEO
Clayton Capital Partners
Kevin is managing director and CEO of Clayton Capital Partners, a St. Louis-based investment banking firm specializing in merger and acquisition advisement. He is author of "Sell Your Business For An Outrageous Price," which synthesizes his experiences selling mid-sized companies for twice the industry average EBITDA multiple. He has also orchestrated more than 150 purchase/sale transactions with an aggregate value of more than $1 billion. Years of experience enable him to aggressively pursue his clients’ objectives during the turbulence that characterizes every transaction.
CEO & Managing Partner
Judy is a visionary leader with a proven track record of starting companies and making them profitable, delivering the highest possible return on investment. She has an exemplary ability to identify and profit from niche markets. Judy is well-organized and efficient, with major strengths in business development, profit and loss responsibility, budgeting, business turnarounds, and the development of solutions for any organizational challenge. She is the founder and CEO of Bride and Groom Magazine and brideandgroom.com; founder and former CEO of Oversees Colorworks and Printing, an international marketing and print brokerage management company; and founder and former CEO of Redesign, a real-estate development company.
Utilizing her strengths in new market and niche market identification, as well as early-stage company leadership, Judy has shifted her expertise to Information Technology identification and investment. Her primary interest is in utilizing her extensive background with business and strategic development to select early-stage companies that possess the highest probability of success, and provide these companies with a mentorship program that will accelerate their profitability and growth for the purpose of wealth-building and long-term sustainability.
In 1983, three University of Kansas design school graduates – Steve Smith, David Ohlemeyer and Paul Doerner – started Lawrence Group with the vision of becoming a design and construction “super firm.”
They named the firm Lawrence Group after Lawrence, Kansas, the home of their alma mater. They envisioned the firm becoming generational in its pursuit of realizing our client’s dreams. Today, the core principle of realizing dreams is a cornerstone of the firm and an inspiration for succeeding generations of the firm.
Founder & CEO
I founded Impossible Sensing to create new technologies to explore space and reverse climate change. Our innovations in optics and deep analytics are used, among others, to search for life on other planets and resources on the Moon, survey clean-tech minerals and biodiversity in the seafloor, measure and eliminate greenhouse gas emissions in the energy sector, and monitor indicators of climate change at global scale.
Chief Financial Officer
Pluton Biosciences, Inc.
Charlie Walch is a lifelong entrepreneur, with over 30 years of experience starting, scaling, buying, and selling businesses. Pluton Biosciences is the fourth business Charlie has started. Pluton invents eco-friendly products drive from microbes (think bacteria, fungi) to drive sustainability initiatives in agriculture. Current products in R&D will replace synthetic pesticides and mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon and nitrogen from the air back into the soil. Charlie currently serves as Pluton's CFO.
Doug the CEO of Denim Social, a social media management software company that provides tools to empower marketers in regulated industries to manage organic social media content and paid social media advertising on one platform.
Member & Head of Global Services
Moore & Van Allen
Mike is the co-head of Moore & Van Allen's Global Services Group. In that role, he provides his corporate transactional clients the accessibility, responsiveness, knowledge and understanding of in-house counsel, coupled with the deep, full-spectrum Moore & Van Allen legal resources and cost-efficiencies.