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Dana Wright

Episode #12 – Dana Wright (Managing Partner, MATH Ventures)

Dana Wright is Managing Director of MATH Venture Partners. She is a leading voice on fundraising strategy, leadership during extreme growth, managing board dynamics, and optimizing for an exit. She believes in the Midwest as a hub for entrepreneurial activity and investment. Dana joined MATH in April 2015 and has more than 20 years of investing and operating experience.

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Michael Norton Houlihan Capital Headshot

Episode #11 – Michael Norton (Houlihan Capital)

Michael Norton is Houlihan Capital‘s Director of Business Development responsible for building and maintaining the Firm’s relationships throughout the Country. Among his many duties in that role, Mr. Norton covers Houlihan Capital’s accounting, financial sponsor and cannabis communities. His strong leadership experience allows him to quickly understand a client’s situation and provide recommendations to achieve their strategic goals.

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Lisa Magill

Episode #10 – Lisa Magill (Co-Founder & COO, Aleria)

Lisa Magill is the Co-Founder & COO of Aleria. Lisa passionately tackles real-world problems with innovative and impactful solutions. After several years in the financial services industry, Lisa gained extensive entrepreneurial experience holding key positions on the founding teams of funded and acquired technology startups.

Over the years she has been recognized for her commitment to community and the impact of her efforts focused on mentorship, education and creating opportunities for women. Currently, she leverages her passions and expertise to help take the guesswork out of diversity & inclusion as Co-Founder and COO of Aleria.

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Episode #9 – Mandy Tahvonen (Managing Director, Relish Works)

Mandy Tahvonen is the Managing Director of Relish Works, the innovation hub of Gordon Food Service’s (GFS), based in Chicago, IL.

In her current role as Managing Director, she oversees the company’s innovation portfolio – determining the focus, approach and type of projects Relish pursues – and building a team of innovators to help bring new products, services or tools to life to benefit GFS and the communities they serve.

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Episode #8 – Todd Connor (CEO, Bunker Labs)

Todd Connor is the CEO and Founder of Bunker Labs, a national entrepreneurship organization dedicated to helping military veterans and their spouses start and grow businesses. Founded in 2014 at the innovation hub “1871” in Chicago, Bunker Labs has grown to locations across the U.S. through a chapter affiliate model, with further expansion plans underway with a goal to have a presence in all 50 states.

Bunker Labs works to support military veterans by creating locally thriving networks, robust educational programs, and platforms for military veteran entrepreneurs to connect with the people, resources, and opportunities they need to be successful with early-stage ventures.

Todd Connor is a former management consultant, U.S. Navy veteran, and has held many leadership roles in the public and private sector. He is a two-time entrepreneur and the founder of The Collective Academy. Todd holds a BA from Northwestern University, an MBA from the University of Chicago, and is the author of two books on leadership and personal strategy. His next book, 3rd Shift Entrepreneur, will be published in the fall of 2019. He is a Commissioner of the Cook County Commission on Human Rights, was honored as a 2015 Crain Chicago Business 40 Under 40, winner of the Chicago Inno 50 on Fire award, and is a 2016 Presidential Leadership Scholar. Todd also serves as the lead facilitator for the George W. Bush Institute Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program.

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Episode #7 – Mark Vargas (The Importance of a Network)

Mark Vargas is a trusted adviser and close confidante to some of the most high profile political and business leaders in America. His work as a tech
entrepreneur in health care and political opinion writer and advisor have been
featured in the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald, Huffington Post, CNN, CBS, ABC , CNBC, and Fox News Channel.

In March 2019, Judson University’s World Leaders Forum announced “Conversations with Mark Vargas,” a new and exciting speakers series where Mr. Vargas invites some of the most
recognizable names in business and politics to join him for an informal, one-on-one conversation covering a wide range of topics. His inaugural guest to launch his new speaker series was
billionaire entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban.

A dedicated writer, Mr. Vargas is also contributor for the Washington Examiner.

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JD Weinstein

Episode #6 – JD Weinstein (Oracle for Startups North America)

JD Weinstein heads up Oracle for Startups North America. He helps startups scale through Oracle’s rich enterprise ecosystem, cloud solutions, & global customer network.

He previously served as Principal of WPP Ventures, the world’s largest marketing communications company. He focused on venture investments in tech-enabled companies in MarTech, big data & market intelligence, RetailTech, AdTech, and content.

Prior to WPP, JD worked with Capital Factory as a Venture Associate, where he was responsible for deal sourcing & due diligence for the Capital Factory Accelerator & venture fund. He also worked with the UT Horizon Fund, the strategic market-driven venture fund for the University of Texas System.

JD’s vast experience in entrepreneurship and investing gives him keen insight as to help early-stage companies grow with Oracle’s ecosystem backing.

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Episode #5 – Dujon Smith (Accenture Ventures)

Dujon is the Midwest Lead for Accenture Ventures, forming bridges between Global companies and the startup ecosystem.

He has worked within Accenture’s Innovation Architecture for the past few years. Previously, he was with the Operations Studio where he focused as a growth catalyst for Operations clientele, the $6 billion business unit that provides business process services across more than 40 industries.

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Vic Pascucci Lightbank Chicago VC

Episode #4 – Vic Pascucci (Lightbank)

Vic Pascucci is a former trial lawyer who found entrepreneurship & the VC landscape fascinating and after helping countless entrepreneurs, decided to become a professional fund manager & investor.

After advising, coaching and investing in thousands of companies, Vic talks about his experience in what he looks for in companies, how to properly build your board, geographical investing and what it takes to continue to build the best company.

We also explore “Investing in the Midwest” and Vic’s thoughts on his experience as a coastal to midwest VC.

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Cayse Llorens Brockhurst Capital Partners Search Fund

#3 – Cayse Llorens, Brockhurst Capital Partners (Search Funds)

Cayse Llorens is Managing Partner at Brockhurst Capital Partners, a lower middle-market focused private equity fund.

Prior to founding Brockhurst, Cayse was a venture capital investor at Invest Detroit Ventures, OCA Ventures, and Hyde Park Venture Partners.

Before he began investing in great entrepreneurs and companies, he participated in 3 investor-backed exits, serving as a software engineer and team lead: the $240 Million IPO of R1 RCM, the $1.8 Billion acquisition of Coyote Logistics by UPS, and the $400 Million acquisition of BSwift by Aetna.

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