Stewart Dixon is Founder and Managing Partner of VentureDNA. An accomplished executive leader with a record of successes, Stewart manages the firm’s engagement portfolio as well as the day-to-day operations of the business. Prior to forming VentureDNA, Dixon drove sales in the media and technology industries for well-established brands including ABC News, The Chicago Tribune and Motorola. His proven ability to secure new business and penetrate domestic and foreign markets by identifying prospects and creating strong partnerships allowed these businesses to realize immediate growth and success.
Stewart’s hands on experience managing growth companies: recruiting top management talent; defining and executing strategy and new business models; creating world class financial and operational infrastructure from the ground up; while leading and developing people, fuels his passion everyday.
Dixon is skilled in directing cross-functional teams while providing quality services to clients in time-sensitive environments. Dixon also spent 10 years in Los Angeles developing new technology methodologies for the entertainment industry with Capitol Records and Apple Computer, today Apple, Inc. This experience allowed him to serve on the technology leadership boards at the American Film Institute and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Stewart is a graduate of Ithaca College with a Bachelor of Science degree from the Roy H. Park School of Communications.
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Craig R. McWilliams, recently joined VentureDNA as Managing Director. Craig has 30 years of business experience spanning different roles that include technical, business development, human resources, and management.
Craig has extensive entrepreneurial experience in science, technology, logistics, and finance. Versatile, highly effective, and cross-functional, Craig has worked in a Global 500 logistics corporation, a US National Laboratory and owned or participated in several successful startups achieving multi-million dollar revenues and valuations.
Craig’s understanding of the appropriate intersection between personal relationships, investment philosophies and corporate interests is invaluable. His extensive experience and contacts, combined with those of VentureDNA, create a solid platform to position young companies throughout the Midwest and West Coast for growth and success.
Craig has a B. A. from Northwestern University in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and a PhD. (abd) from Loyola University in Pharmacology. He holds Life and Health insurance licenses as well as Series 63, 65, and 7 licenses and is a fiduciary.
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Bill White currently serves as CFO & COO of Aspire Brands, a VentureDNA portfolio company. A trusted financial advisor and portfolio management tactician, Bill has a demonstrated record of delivering accretive earnings, ROI and value in complex business, transactional and investment deals in early stage, growth and restructuring environments. As former Executive VP / Chief Investment Officer of Lurie Investments and as former Managing Director for Sam Zell’s Equity Group Investments, Bill has advised family offices, boards of directors, c-suite executives and PE/VC partners engaged in deal development, turnarounds, and growth and exit strategies across the consumer products, healthcare, technology, telecom, business services and manufacturing industries.
Over the course of his tenures at Lurie and Equity Group, Bill managed more than 30 portfolio companies raising venture funding and growth capital of up to $2B and completing IPOs and M&A exits.Bill earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Dartmouth College before launching his career at Manufacturers Hanover Trust, where he advised Fortune 500 companies Altria, Beam, and Diageo. Bill also began his life-long business relationships with Sam Zell and Bob Lurie while at MHT, executing global private investment transactions for high-tech and other corporations valued at up to $6B. Bill earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Dartmouth College before launching his career at Manufacturers Hanover Trust, where he advised Fortune 500 companies Altria, Beam, and Diageo.
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Mark Hahs is co-Founder and Managing Partner of VentureDNA. He leads our team of Los Angeles based professionals who provide facets of outsourced marketing, technology and business development related services, including research, analysis, planning, web development, web design, branding, marketing collateral development, event management, systems integration and business consulting solutions for business-to-business, business-to-consumer and business-to-enterprise applications. Millions of users, viewers, and attendees from around the globe have responded to and been touched by marketing programs and business systems deployed for his clients. A big believer in maintaining an “entrepreneurial approach” to every engagement, Mark supports the methodology of implementing integrated business and marketing solutions that use a simple set of consistently executed strategies, programs, technology and media to get results. Mark has worked with a diverse range of organizations, including small business start-ups, large corporations, private sector, non-profits, government agencies and advertising agencies where he was responsible for business development, client management and finance.
Clients have included NFL, NBC 2004 Olympics, Motorola, Agilent Technologies, S.C.O.R.E., Microsoft, Chicago Tribune, Warner Brothers, Coca-Cola, Billabong, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, United States Mint, Sony Columbia-Tristar, Interscope Records, MCA, Sungard Treasury Systems, AAA, Oral-B and Grey Advertising. Mark played baseball at Biola University garnering freshman of the year honors as a pitcher while studying for a degree in Mathematics with a minor in Business. He enjoys long runs, road biking and ocean swimming – better known as triathlon training – and occasionally skateboarding with his four children in sunny Southern California.
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Stuart Volkow is a multi-faceted media consultant who has been working in feature films, television and social media technology for over 11 years. He serves as VP of Development at The Institute, an award-winning broadcast and feature film production company (www.theinstitute.tv). And Strategist for Venture DNA. Prior to these engagements, he was a consultant to EMI Music Publishing, and President of One Llama Media Inc. (www.onellama.com)
A software technology developer at the University of Illinois, specializing in machine learning, semantic analysis, and collaborative filtering. Mr. Volkow has worked for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and is currently a consultant to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), and a two time Participant in its Summer Hard Problem program.
In 1999 Stuart became an Executive Producer and VP of Internet Operations for the 5th Avenue Channel out of Miami, FL. The NASDAQ Company broadcast lifestyle programming and personal financial news on Comcast and the Dish Network to 14 million homes. He Produced STOCK TALK CENTRAL, BUSINESS TODAY and INSIDE HEALTH. While at 5AC he launched and managed one of the first television operations to simulcast live over the Internet and offer searchable, on-demand video archives. 5AC’s personal financial news, became one of the first broadband channels on MSN.
Since 1993 Mr. Volkow has been teaching in the University of California system at the Anderson Graduate School of Management through UCLA Extension’s Department of Film and TV. He has taught over 30 courses on digital media and production and delivered hundreds of lectures. He has been a contributing Editor for Videography Magazine, and CMS Newsline, covering technology trends. He has?taught courses on media strategy in South Korea for the Ministry of Digital Information Promotion and to groups of Korean and Chinese business executives at UCLA.
Mr. Volkow has a degree in Physiology from Southern Illinois University. He was a graduate assistant in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Akron in Ohio and a Clinical Research Associate focusing on acute and chronic pain and stress disease. He is a graduate of the American Film Institute’s Center for Advanced Film and Television Studies Producing Program. He studies Yoga and Martial Arts, and is a communications specialist for CA-9 Disaster Medical Assistance Team. His amateur radio call sign is KG6YYJ.
We welcome Nick Srivastava to VentureDNA as the 2018 Summer Associate. A 2016 graduate from University College London with Class Honors, Nick’s work spans different roles that include technical and business development experience, as well as solid business research and analysis skills.
In today’s complex business environment, an organization’s adaptability, agility, and ability to manage constant change through innovation can be keys to success. Nick’s experience as a young business technician is a tremendous benefit on any project, especially in today’s ever changing business world.
Nick’s understanding of the intersection between personal relationships, business philosophies and corporate interests is extremely valuable. His prior corporate work, medical research and business contacts, combined with those of VentureDNA, creates tremendous opportunity to help position young companies throughout the Midwest and West Coast.
His passion for Polo, earned him the spot on the 6 player team selected to compete in the international tournament at the Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club. Nick also participated in local outreach and education to foster a new generation of Chinese polo players and equestrians throughout the upper Midwest. Nick also is a long distant cyclist and avid fly fisherman.
Nick attended Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA) and then received a B. A. from University College in London in History. Since 1836, UCL is one of the two founding colleges of the University of London, and is the third oldest in London.
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Ahmed Fazil, is a lead Strategic Partner with VentureDNA. In Addition to his role at VentureDNA, Ahmed serves as President & COO of EMPDCC, a data center operator, asset management and managed infrastructure services provider based in the Chicagoland area. Prior to both roles, Ahmed was Chief Executive Officer of EIM Financial Management where he was recognized for showing dedication, leadership and excellence in finance.
Ahmed began his career as a business and programmer analyst with Interactive Business Systems, Incorporated. Several years later, he joined ABN AMRO as its Senior Vice President in charge of online mortgage lending (abnamromortgage.com) where he grew the business to $7.5 Billon in originations. He then transitioned to a role as partner with a private equity group composed of Bain Capital, TPG and Kleiner Perkins called Evolution Global Partners. He has also held such prestigious positions as global Chief Information Officer for Thomson Financial, Managing Director of Parks Consulting, Chief Operating Officer of Kestrel Technologies, Chief Information Officer and Chief Operating Officer of Arab National Bank in Saudi Arabia. He was also a partner with CTO Group, and CEO of CUMU Mortgage Bank. While serving in the executive leadership positions, Ahmed aided each company in increasing profits, enhancing efficiency, and implementing change management.
Ahmed also spent time as the North American director of mortgage and capital markets practice. Working in the financial services division, he oversees all aspects of mortgage and capital markets on a national scale. Drawing on his decades of experience, he worked collaboratively with other financial institutions to optimize strategic plans, create efficient processes, and implement technological advancements to aid in their capital and mortgage markets. Ahmed has also been responsible for overseeing resident and commercial lending, as well as all aspects of business operations in those spaces. Proficient in technology and risk management, he works to provide opportunities to give funding to both established and start-up businesses. In the coming years, Ahmed plans to aid each company in its mission for expansion by networking and consulting worldwide.
Throughout his multi-decadal career, Ahmed has established himself as a leader in the finance industry. Fluent in five languages, he is an excellent communicator and a natural problem solver. He is a determined and focused business professional who has honed a skill set for business and IT development, personnel management, and budget administration. Ahmed excels in tactical planning, expense control, operations management, and client relations. His most impressive professional accomplishments to date include business turnaround for struggling operations and streamlining processes to increase profits.
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David Heidt is VentureDNA’s Business Management Consultant. David also serves as President of the IIBA’s Chicagoland Chapter and faculty at DePaul University. His twenty eight year career spanning multiple roles that include business architect, business analyst, program/project manager, software developer, mentor and trainer. Over the last ten years, David’s focus has been helping organizations deliver project initiatives while partnering to increase their capabilities in the areas of BPM, business analysis and solution design. David has led numerous process transformations, software development initiatives, assessments and roadmap implementations. Recent client engagements have included the tailoring of hands-on mentoring and training in the areas of business analysis, solution design, frameworks and reference models.
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Steve Klinenberg is Senior Consultant and an experienced mobile development veteran with over 20 years of web and mobile services experience. Prior to joining VentureDNA, Klinenberg spent the last 12 years as Senior VP, Technology & Operations for Digital Agency 1K Studios in Burbank, CA. While at 1K, Klinenberg launched of 1K’s Web & Mobile division, which developed innovative mobile and web applications for clients including Warner Bros., Fox, Mad Magazine and Disney Imagineering.
Prior to joining 1K, Klinenberg headed the development of the new data mining SaaS provider at Internet incubator eCompanies. There he led the engineering effort to develop a cloud based analytic tool. Klinenberg also served as Vice President, Operations, and General Manager for publicly traded Internet services company, Rare Medium Inc. Before joining Rare Medium, Klinenberg served as Vice President and General Manager for DigitalFacades, a regional web services firm that merged with Rare Medium in 1998.
Klinenberg started his career on the interactive task force at TBWA Chiat/Day in Venice, Calif. There, he developed interactive media strategies for clients including Nissan, Home Savings of America and Energizer. Klinenberg earned his MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Business and his BA in Political Science from Brown University.
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Karen Schmid steers the creation and execution of VentureDNA’s customer acquisition strategies and manages our new major accounts as Vice President of Global Operations. With a multidimensional, 24-year career track that spans marketing, sales, investing, customer service, and operations, Karen brings a customer-centric approach, an innate market sense, and unparalleled technical aptitude to VentureDNA.
Karen studied Business Management at Palm Beach State College before beginning her career with Sam’s Club as Director of Telemarketing. However, she could not deny her sales calling and, as a third-generation realtor, has garnered countless honors such as Vice President’s Club and Outstanding Agent Awards. Her dedication to providing the highest level of customer service and meeting specific client needs has merited her a highly successful career in even the toughest markets and economies. Her real estate projects and activities the last three years has focused primarily in the Chicago and Miami markets.
Karen uniquely combines her proven sales capabilities with a fervor for technology, as seen in her licensure as an IFR-rated private pilot. In the last several years, she has seen the rapid innovation of digital mapping technology for in-flight navigational reference as well as for aerial mapping in her real estate work; Karen’s experience with this latest technology is a perfect balance for the VentureDNA sales process.
When not in the air, Karen enjoys spending time with her three sons, traveling, and demonstrating her competitive spirit on the tennis court. She is also passionate about contributing her talents to many community organizations.
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