Chairman of the Chicago Cubs
Tom Ricketts is the Chairman of the Chicago Cubs and longtime fan of the team. In 2009, he led his family’s acquisition of the team from the Tribune Company. When Tom and his family were introduced as the new owners of the Chicago Cubs, he outlined three goals for the organization: win the World Series; preserve and improve Wrigley Field for future generations; and to be good neighbors, giving back to the city and the team’s North Side neighborhood.
Tom and his brother Pete once lived across the street from Wrigley Field and Tom met his wife in the bleachers. Tom, Pete, their sister Laura and brother Todd serve as the board of directors for the Cubs.
Tom is also the Chairman of Chicago-based Incapital LLC, which he founded in 2000. Incapital is an investment bank that underwrites and distributes fixed income securities issued by major corporations, banks and federal agencies. Incapital is also a leading underwriter, distributor and liquidity provider in the agency, certificates of deposit, trust preferred, structured product, unit investment trusts, annuities, mortgage and municipal bond markets.
In 2010, Tom was named Ernst & Young’s Midwest Finance Entrepreneur of the Year for his work with Incapital LLC and was on several occasions named by Institutional Investor Magazine as one the 40 most influential leaders in electronic finance. In 2010 Cardinal Francis George presented Tom the Rerum Novarum Award. This award honors men and women in labor, business and government who have proven outstanding in their support of the ideals of respect for the dignity of the human being and human labor, the right to organize and the right to a living wage.
Tom is the Vice Chairman of Choose Chicago, the city’s convention and tourism bureau. He is on the Board of the Field Museum, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, the Executive Club of Chicago and the Wood Family Foundation. Tom is also a member of the Young President’s Organization, the Economic Club of Chicago and the Commercial Club of Chicago.
Prior to Incapital, Tom worked at ABN AMRO, The Chicago Corporation and Mesirow Financial. He was a market maker on the Chicago Board Options Exchange from 1988 through 1994.
Tom has a bachelor’s degree in economics and an MBA in finance from the University of Chicago. Along with his brother Pete and a friend, Tom endowed the New Year Scholarship Fund for U of C students. He was named the Business School’s Young Alumnus of the Year in 2005.
Tom and his wife, Cecelia, live in the Chicago area with their five children. His father, Joe, founded TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation.
Pardon the Interruption, Co-Host; NBA Studio Analyst; Columnist, ESPN.com and ESPNChicago.com
Michael Wilbon is one of the nation’s most respected sports journalists and an industry pioneer as one of the first sportswriters to broaden his career beyond newspapers to include television, radio and new media. A co-host of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption and a NBA studio analyst for ABC and ESPN, Wilbon left The Washington Post in December 2010 after 31 years to assume an expanded role as a columnist for ESPN.com and ESPNChicago.com. Wilbon and his former Washington Post colleague Tony Kornheiser have co-hosted PTI since the show’s debut in September of 2001. Highlighted by the type of discussion and verbal sparring the two engaged in for years at The Post, the popular weekday sports news and commentary show features wide-ranging discussion of the day’s news and events. PTI earned the 2009 Sports Emmy Award in the “Daily Studio” category and the show continues to increase its ratings and viewership each year. .
Wilbon was named an NBA studio analyst for ABC in 2006, and he contributes to both the NBA Sunday Countdown on ABC and ESPN’s NBA Shootaround. He appears weekly on ESPN Radio 1000 in Chicago, with Scott Van Pelt on ESPN Radio and with Kornheiser on ESPN980 in Washington.
He joined The Washington Post in 1980 as a sports reporter, after two summer internships atThe Post, and was a columnist from 1990-2010, dealing as much with the issues of the day as they related to sports as what transpired on the fields or courts. During his years at The PostWilbon edited two books with NBA legend and Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, “I May Be Wrong But I Doubt It” and “Who’s Afraid of a Large Black Man,” both of which made the New York Times best-seller list. For more than a decade Wilbon appeared as a panelist on WRC-TV-4’s “Redskins Report” and “Full Court Press” with host George Michael.
In 2009 Wilbon was honored by the National Association of Journalists with the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Two years earlier he and Kornheiser received The Post’sprestigious Eugene Meyer Award which recognizes employees who exemplify the principals embodied by the newspaper’s former owner/publisher. In 2001 he was recognized by Sigma Delta Chi, the Society of Professional Journalists, as the top sports columnist in America. In March of 2011 he was inducted into the D.C. Sports Hall of Fame for his coverage and commentary on sports in and around the Nation’s Capital.
Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, Wilbon graduated in 1980 from Northwestern University, where he is now a member of the Board of Trustees, and where he was inducted into the inaugural class of the Medill School of Journalism’s Hall of Achievement in 1997. In June 2010 Wilbon delivered the commencement address at his alma mater. He is a graduate of St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago, and resides in Bethesda, Md., and Scottsdale, Arizona, with his wife, Sheryl, and son, Matthew.
“Converting Fanhood to Revenue: The Role of Strategic Marketing”, will examine the challenge of building and maintaining profitable relationships with fans in the face of an increasingly fragmented entertainment market and an ever-improving at-home viewing experience. Panelists will discuss how they have adapted traditional consumer marketing tools and techniques to tap into the emotional connection with fans and drive revenue growth.
Senior Director in Pepsi Sports Marketing
In her 13+ years at Pepsi, Heidi has worked on nine different assignments in which she impacted the Company’s biggest trademarks, developed new ways of innovating brand experiences, and drove results on international businesses.
Starting out on the base Pepsi business, Heidi was an integral member of the Pepsi Challenge 2000 team and also spearheaded the Britney Spears on-line activation before launching Pepsi Twist nationally. In her first rotation in the Sports Team, she managed Mountain Dew’s Action Sports, Aquafina’s sponsorship of the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP), and Youth Sports. Heidi then transitioned into the National Promotions group where she spearheaded the development of two summer programs: the second installment of Pepsi’s “Play for a Billion,” which culminated in a primetime TV show on ABC, and Pepsi’s last tie-in with Lucas Film’s Star Wars franchise, “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.”
Heidi then spent three years in the Product Innovation Group where she developed numerous new consumer propositions for the Mountain Dew & Sierra Mist portfolios. She also led cross-functional teams to create two new trademarks, one targeted to Boomers & the other to Millennials, in hopes of re-establishing the relevance of bubbles in consumers’ lives. In 2008, Heidi moved to Pepsi International to become General Manager, International Coffee Partnership, a joint venture with Starbucks Coffee. Heidi then became the international brand steward for Tropicana, driving alignment on a new global brand essence and visual brand language for one of PepsiCo’s biggest global trademarks. In January 2011, Heidi returned to the domestic beverage business to lead the Media Strategy & Investment team for all of Pepsi beverages. And just last summer Heidi rejoined the Sports Team to lead all investment & activation of the brand portfolio.
Prior to earning an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Heidi worked in account management at Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising on the General Mills business.
Jay Blunk is currently in his fourth season with the Chicago Blackhawks and his first as executive vice president, since September 7, 2010. Since joining the Blackhawks as senior vice president of business operations on January 3, 2008, Mr. Blunk has engineered broad changes to the business landscape of the club, adopting the general business philosophy of fan accessibility and bold, innovative strategies. In recognition of the teams’ achievements, the Blackhawks earned a nomination for SportsBusiness Journal’s 2009 Professional Sports Team of the Year.
Mr. Blunk has overseen new concepts such as the Blackhawks Training Camp Festival, an innovative cross promotional partnership with the Chicago Cubs and White Sox, and other civic organizations, building a new year round marketing strategy. In December 2010, the Blackhawks were voted to have the NHL’s “Most Innovative Business Practices” by a survey of SportsBusiness Journal’s readers. During the 2008-09 season, the Blackhawks became one of professional sports’ biggest success stories, in what Forbes.com dubbed “arguably the most remarkable turnaround in the history of sports in the United States”. The Blackhawks drew more than 1 million fans for the first time in franchise history, set a league record by attracting an average of 21,783 fans to their 40 United Center contests and surpassed the franchise regular-season attendance record of 835,972.
Mr. Blunk also worked in partnership with Blackhawks President John McDonough, Chicago Cubs and NHL officials to bring the NHL Winter Classic 2009 to Wrigley Field. The television broadcast of the Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings match-up drew an 11.8 overnight rating, a 21 share on NBC 5 in Chicago and 4.4 million U.S. viewers overall, making it the most-watched NHL game in 34 years, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Mr. Blunk sits on the Board of Directors for United Service Organization (USO) of Illinois and Chicago Blackhawk Charities, which supports programs and institutions throughout Illinois that work toward creating a better tomorrow for the youth of today. Mr. Blunk and his wife, Marci, have three children: Brandon, Maggie and Cameron.
Vice President of Marketing and Brand Management, Cleveland Indians
Alex King is approaching his 3rd season with the Cleveland Indians. During the 2011 and 2012 seasons, Alex served as Director of Brand Management and was responsible for creating and directing all aspects of brand development, maintaining and executing brand standards, and working with internal departments and outside partners to ensure consistency of brand messaging across all mediums. During his time as Director of Brand Management, Alex focused on creating and executing new fan research capabilities, developing consistent brand standards, and establishing ROI metrics for all advertising and promotional activities. In his current role as Vice President of Marketing and Brand Management, Alex oversees all aspects of Communication, Marketing, and Brand for the organization.
Prior to joining the Indians, Alex spent 10+ years in marketing and branding including the past 5 years at Procter & Gamble. Alex received his undergraduate degree in Economics from The University of Dayton where he graduated cum laude and received his MBA from The University of Chicago with concentrations in Marketing and Finance.
Alex resides in Shaker Heights, OH with his wife, Kelly and their daughter Mallory.
VP of Branding & Communications, Chicago Bulls
Susan Goodenow joined the Chicago Bulls on January 1, 2012. She is responsible for developing and managing the team’s branding strategy and coordinating and integrating all team communication. She oversees Public and Media Relations, Community Relations and Chicago Bulls Charities, Digital, Creative Services, Publications, Broadcasting, BullsTV, Branding, and Advertising. Prior to joining the Bulls, Susan spent four years with the Boston Red Sox, most recently as Senior Vice President, Public Affairs and Marketing. She has also held positions with Major League Baseball/Office of the Commissioner and the American Red Cross. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Journalism, and from Georgetown University with a Masters in American Studies. Susan is a member of the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago Tiffany Circle Steering Committee and resides in Chicago.
Senior Director, Marketing, Chicago Cubs
Alison joined the Cubs in July of 2012 as senior director of marketing, bringing with over a decade of marketing experience at General Mills ... is responsible for marketing, fan research, advertising and game entertainment at Wrigley Field..
At General Mills, she was tasked with brand management of products including Cheerios, Pillsbury, Betty Crocker and executing various corporate sponsorships.Alison earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business in 2000 and her MBA from Harvard Business School in 2005. She was a starter on the women’s basketball team at Michigan, helping lead the Wolverines to two NCAA appearances in both 1998 and 2000.
Alison resides in Lincoln Park.
“Media Boom”, will explore the tremendous impact media rights and the underlying contract negotiations are having on the sports business world. From the sale of the Dodgers to the creation of the Longhorn Network, media is fundamentally reshaping the way revenue is generated. Panelists from both the media and sports sides will share their perspectives on this complex and fast-evolving topic.
J.A. Adande has spent two decades in sports media, the past six at ESPN. He began by covering college and pro basketball at the Chicago Sun-Times before moving to The Washington Post, where he covered the college football and basketball and the NBA. He then spent 10 years as a sports columnist at the Los Angeles Times. Adande has covered a broad array of sports and events, including the Super Bowl, the World Series, the NBA Finals, the Stanley Cup finals, the Olympics, the World Cup, Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Masters. He has been a panelist on ESPN’s “Around The Horn” for 10 years, in addition to making regular appearances on SportsCenter and other studio shows. Adande is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.
Chief Operating Officer, Chicago Fire Soccer Club
Atul Khosla is the Chief Operating Officer of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club. Mr. Khosla oversees all aspects of the Club's business operations including corporate sales and partnerships, ticket sales and service, marketing, communications, stadium operations, and finance & administration, while leading the club’s strategic initiatives both short and long term.
Mr. Khosla joins the Chicago Fire from Alli Sports, an action sports entertainment and multimedia division of NBC Sports. Here he served as the Vice President of Commercial and Business Operations from 2007-2011, and guided the company from an initial start-up to a multi-million dollar arm of NBC Sports.
Prior to joining Alli Sports, Khosla spent his early professional career with General Electric, within the multinational conglomerate’s Healthcare Division. Khosla got his start in General Electric's Operations Management Leadership Program, and then was selected to the company's Global Six Sigma Strategy group. After global assignments in Europe and Asia, Khosla moved to Chicago and held leadership positions in General Electric's Healthcare-IT division, and was the Director of Commercial Marketing for a $400M product line, prior to moving to NBC Sports.
Over the course of his 13-year career, Khosla has lead teams in Sales, Operations, Finance, Marketing, Digital & Media and Strategy. Khosla holds a Bachelor's degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MBA from Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management. He lives in Chicago with his lovely wife Charisse and their two beautiful daughters.
Chief Marketing Officer, Billy Casper Golf (BCG)
Kyle Ragsdale is the Chief Marketing Officer of Billy Casper Golf (BCG), the largest domestic owner-operator of golf courses, country clubs and resorts. He oversees development of strategic marketing planning and execution for all marketing activities involving BCG and its portfolio of courses. He also oversees all sales, marketing communications and PR, as well as the overall marketing strategy of the BCG brand.
Prior to BCG, Ragsdale served as the top revenue and finance officer at Vox Media, publisher of SB Nation, The Verge and Polygon. In that role, he led all sales, marketing and finance activities and helped grow Vox from a start-up to the 8th largest sports property online. Under his leadership, Vox pioneered the integration of brands and brand messaging into online communities, creating a delicate balance between writers, readers and advertising. He was the lead relationship executive for some of the biggest consumer brands including Sprint, Comcast, Procter and Gamble, Bud Light, Unilever, Samsung, Microsoft, NFL Networks, BMW, M&M Mars, Coca Cola Brands, Starbucks and more.
Prior to Vox, Kyle was Associate Athletic Director for External Affairs at Georgetown where he was recognized as one of the top marketers in college athletics. Kyle remains a faculty member at Georgetown where he teaches Sports Marketing in the Master of Sports Management program.
A graduate of Evangel University, Ragsdale holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and is a Certified Public Accountant.
President, Big Ten Network
In December 2006, Mark Silverman was named the first president of the Big Ten Network. With the increased exposure for the Big Ten, as well as the network’s financial contributions to the conference, the network has changed the collegiate sports television landscape. Silverman creates the network’s strategic direction, guiding it to profitability within two years of its launch as well as achievement of its distribution goals. The network is available to approximately 80 million homes throughout the country.
Under Silverman’s leadership, the Big Ten Network’s ratings have increased significantly year-over-year, with record-setting ratings for football Saturdays, studio shows and original programming in 2011. The network also has added top national advertisers, including Buick, Discover, Dr Pepper, State Farm, Sprint, and Verizon, and attracted top national talent, such as Keith Jackson,
Gus Johnson, Charles Davis, Jim Jackson, and Dave Revsine.Prior to joining Big Ten Network, Silverman served as Senior Vice President and General Manager of the ABC Cable Networks Group and Senior Vice President and General Manager, ABC Family Channel. He began his media career in the entertainment industry at The Walt Disney Company, where he held a number of executive positions during his eight-year tenure, principally in the television and movie studio divisions.
Silverman also previously served as Vice President of Planning and Development, ABC Inc. In this position he led the planning functions for the ABC Television Network, ABC-owned television stations, ABC Cable Group, ABC Radio, ESPN and Buena Vista Television. Before joining ABC, he developed and launched ESPN Zone.
Silverman holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from UCLA and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Michigan.
“The Globalization of Sports: Finding Growth Abroad”, will delve into the efforts of teams and leagues to expand across borders in an effort to appeal to cultures and people worldwide – and their pocketbooks. On the heels of the London Olympics, our panelists will discuss the quest for relevance amidst new audiences, distribution formats, and political environments and the role of strategy in overcoming these obstacles.
Professor, Kellogg School of Management
Dr. Rucker joined the Kellogg marketing department in Fall of 2005. Currently Dr. Rucker holds the Richard M. Clewett Professorship in Marketing. His primary research focuses on the study attitudes, persuasion, and consumer behavior. This work seeks to ask questions regarding what makes for effective advertising communications and seeks to understand the motives underlying consumer consumption. To answer these questions Dr. Rucker draws on his rich training in social psychology and evokes constructs of certainty, power, and human emotion. His work has appeared in numerous leading journals in psychology and marketing such as the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the Journal of Consumer Research, the Journal of Marketing Research, and the Journal of Consumer Psychology. In addition, his research has been covered in major media outlets such as The New York Times, Time Magazine, and ABC News.
Dr. Rucker currently teaches the advertising course at Kellogg. The course focuses on basic psychological principals to better understand how to plan and execute successful advertising. In recognition of his passion for teaching, Dr. Rucker was nominated as a finalist for the L.G. Lavengood Outstanding Professor of the Year Award. In addition to his work in the classroom, Dr. Rucker is a co-instructor of the annual Kellogg Advertising Superbowl Review. The review is in the spirit of Kellogg’s focus on experiential learning and is designed to cultivate basic principals learned in the classroom to critically evaluate advertising in a real world and high stakes environment.
Partner for Chicago Sports & Entertainment
Jeannie has led the sports and entertainment discipline at agencies Ogilvy and Arc. From developing strategic partnerships to creating award winning programs, she has overseen marketing/sponsorship strategy for United Airlines, VISA, McDonald’s, Kraft, Sara Lee, Kellogg's, AT&T Wireless, Coca-Cola and others. Jeannie has negotiated and executed partnerships with the Olympics, NFL (teams-Bears, Broncos, Redskins, 49ers), MLB, MiLB, NASCAR, ESPN, Olympians, Pro Athletes, grassroots programs and many more.
After graduating Denison University, Goldstein managed pro sporting events at ProServ and the Nuveen Senior Tennis Tour., Inc. While at ProServ, she worked with agents executing programs for athletes such as Michael Jordan, Nancy Kerrigan, Janet Evans, etc. Her Senior Tennis Tour responsibilities included building the Jimmy Connors brand through events, appearances, activation of programs, and more.
Jeannie serves on the National Board and Chicago Steering Committee for the National Sports Marketing Network.
Executive Vice President/Strategic Planning, Buffalo Bills
Mary Owen was promoted to Executive Vice President, Strategic Planning in January of 2011 having served as Vice President of Strategic Planning since May of 2006. She is responsible for developing franchise strategy for the team’s business operations. Most notably, Owen manages the Bills’ games played in Toronto at the Rogers Centre and the Southern Ontario regionalization strategy to further develop the team’s brand and fan base in Canada.
She also works closely with ownership as an advisor on league level issues. In that role, Owen was appointed to the NFL’s Super Bowl Advisory Committee in the Fall of 2007 and appointed to the NFL’s International Committee in the Fall of 2009. She also serves on the National Advisory Board for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The native of Champaign, IL also oversees the Bills’ Community Relations department, serves as the Executive Director of the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation and is the President of the Buffalo Bills Youth Foundation. In these roles, she manages and advises ownership on philanthropic matters and serves as a member of the Board of NFL Charities since her appointment to that position in Fall of 2007. After starting her career with the Bills as an intern from 1997-99, she joined the Bills full-time in 2000 as the manager of the Bills website, buffalobills.com. Owen has served in multiple positions throughout her tenure, including Coordinator of Marketing Communications, Manager of Marketing Communications, Director of Business Systems and Vice President of Strategic Planning. She is a graduate of the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia and is an Alumni Trustee for the McIntire Business School. She also serves as the Buffalo Regional Selection Chair for the Jefferson Scholars Program at the University of Virginia. Owen received her MBA from Walsh College in Troy, MI in September 2012 and resides in Birmingham, Michigan.
Director of Sponsorships, Aon plc
Patrick Pierce serves as Director of Sponsorships for Aon plc, the world’s leading provider of risk management and HR solutions.
Pierce oversees Aon’s sports marketing investments across more than 600 offices in 120 countries. Specific deals include Aon’s shirt sponsorship with Manchester United, a partnership with NFL UK, a B2B relationship with the Chicago Cubs and Team Aon of the World Touring Car Championships.
Prior to Aon, Pierce worked for Allstate Insurance Company where he managed a sponsorship portfolio of more than 100 properties, including the Allstate Sugar Bowl, Bowl Championship Series, Southeastern Conference and 70 universities. He launched Allstate’s partnership with the Mexican National Soccer Team and activated deals with NASCAR and the US Olympic Team.
Pierce was a senior manager at IEG Consulting before Allstate. His clients included Corona, Dallas Cowboys, Rockefeller Center, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and UNICEF. He also worked at McDonald’s Corporation, where he helped manage global alliances with FIFA and the IOC. Pierce began his career with Jet Set Sports and General Mills at the Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games.
Pierce earned his MBA from University of Notre Dame and his bachelors degree from Indiana University.
International Commercial Director, NFL
Marc Reeves joined the NFL in 2010 as the league’s first ever International Commercial Director. In this role, Marc oversees marketing, fan development, sponsorship and commercial efforts for the league outside of the US. He is also responsible for developing and executing the league’s strategy in each of these functional areas, which are managed by offices in 5 key territories.
Prior to joining the NFL, Marc was a Vice President of IMG’s Consulting division responsible for client management and West Coast business development. In that role, he was responsible for oversight and management of numerous corporate client accounts, including VISA, Electronic Arts, Kia Motors, 2K Sports, 24 Hour Fitness, Crown Plaza Hotels and Safeco Insurance
Marc’s previous work experience includes the NFL Players Association, where he advised players and agents on salary cap and marketing issues, the New Orleans Saints, assisting on various football operations and marketing projects, and ProServ, where he worked in the Tennis Client Management division. In addition, he worked in legal capacities at both Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., and WilmerHale. Marc was also a co-founder of the sports-focused social gaming company, Lionside, best known for publishing the leading games, Lionside Football and NBA Legend. Lionside was acquired by DeNA in 2011.
Marc graduated from Kalamazoo College with a BA in Economics and Political Science and was a four year member of the Tennis team, NCAA Division III Champions in 1992 and 1993. Subsequently, he graduated from Tulane University with a JD / MBA, with specializations in Sports Law, Marketing and Management. At Tulane, Marc was the Associate Editor-in-Chief of The Sports Lawyers Journal.
“Disruptive Technology & Entrepreneurship in Sports” introduces new and disruptive innovations that are changing the sports business landscape. Top management from entrepreneurial sports ventures will describe their unique business model, discuss how they find and groom their customers, and explore what lessons they’ve learned in entering this industry. Panelists will represent a diverse set of ventures, including ticketing, fantasy sports and sports video gaming.
Founder and Managing General Partner of MK Capital
Mark Koulogeorge is Founder and Managing General Partner of MK Capital a $250 million venture capital firm which invests primarily in software and digital media. Mr. Koulogeorge leads the firm’s digital marketing and software investment practices and has over eighteen years of venture capital experience. Mark’s functional expertise is in developing sales, marketing and distribution strategies to achieve market leadership and in the building of high performance executive teams.
Mark has served on the boards of directors of over 20 technology companies which have generated over $400 million of realized gains for his investors. He has been the lead or first institutional investor in a number of significant technology companies including: Tradex Technologies, ( sold to Ariba for $1.8 billion), Aprimo ( sold to Teradata for $540 million), Initiate Systems ( sold to IBM for $424 million) and The Cobalt Group ( sold to ADP for $400 million).
MK Capital has led 10 investments in the digital media sector including Outdoor Hub, the largest collection of on-line properties serving the outdoors category, and Machinima, the largest entertainment network on Youtube.
President, Craze Promotions
Over the last 10 years, Chris Bauman has become a serial entertainment entrepreneur, specifically focused on innovative ways to integrate technology into traditional marketing platforms. His most recent venture, Craze Promotions, is a hybrid marketing and media firm aiding entertainment venues, sports leagues and brands in engaging fans. Chris also is a co-founder of T Presents, a boutique talent booking firm that exclusively books popular venues across the United States.
Previously, Chris served as founder and CEO of FanFound, a distressed ticket inventory flash sales site distributing free and discounted tickets to fans. After only one year, FanFound accumulated a national marketing reach to over 4.5 million entertainment consumers and originated tens of thousands of these consumers to attend events at over 100 different entertainment venue clients including music venues, sporting arenas, night clubs, theaters, casinos and comedy clubs. Recognized by many organizations, publications, and industry leaders for his expertise, Chris has made numerous television, magazine, and radio appearances speaking about entertainment technology and the entertainment promotion industry as a whole. Most recently, Chris was recognized with a prestigious "Top 20 under 40" award. Chris received both his M.B.A. as well as his B.A. in Political Science and Psychology from Valparaiso University.
Taylor is an entrepreneur with businesses in several online niches, including poker and software. He is a former professional poker player and co-founder of CardRunners, the most recognized poker training website. Taylor is regularly featured in prominent poker publications and has been interviewed on Forbes.com, BusinessWeek, and the New York Post.
Hunter Hillenmeyer graduated from Vanderbilt in 2003 with a double major in Economics and Human and Organization Development. After college he played for the Chicago Bears for eight seasons from 2003 to 2010 and was the Chicago Bear of the Year in 2007. While in the NFL he also served on the NFLPA Board of Directors from 2006-2010 and was the founding member of the NFLPA Mackey White Traumatic Brain Injury Committee. He graduated from Kellogg in 2010 with a focus in Management and Strategy, Management and Organizations, and Entrepreneurship and Innovation and currently serves as the President and Co-Founder of OverDog, Inc.
Adam Smith runs Sales, Marketing and PR for Automated Insights. He is also heavily involved in company strategy, product, and mobile initiatives.
Prior to joining AI, Adam was a VP at Square 1 Bank, where he served as Director of a National Division called Square Roots. Adam was recruited by Square 1 to design, develop and launch Square Roots, which focused on pre-vc startups. As part of the program, he worked one-on-one with hundreds of early-stage founders, serving as an advisor providing hands on support with strategy, sales and fundraising. Adam built and led a team that grew Square Roots into a profitable division with hundreds of customers. During his three years at the bank, Adam was responsible for over 25% of the Bank's new company relationships and was number one in new company accounts every year.
Prior to joining Square 1, Adam was Vice President of the Council for Entrepreneurial Development, where he led the program team and was responsible for strategic relationships. While at CED, he led a team for The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation that authored the FastTrac TechVenture program, a world-renowned training and mentoring program for technology and life science entrepreneurs. As part of his work with the Kauffman Foundation, Adam sold the program to organizations nationwide and trained their teams in execution of the program.
Adam is heavily involved with the North Carolina entrepreneurial community and a rabid fan of UNC sports.