Dr. William Towns is a scholar, activist, and practitioner, dedicated to helping solve civic and urban issues at the structural level. He believes in the power of increasing access to capital, data, and academic resources to create pathways of opportunity for organizations and individuals to impact communities often overlooked. Using his lived experience, Dr. Towns takes a broad, system-wide approach to problem solving with respect to equitable community development.
Over the course of his career, he has managed more than $800 million in capital directed at reversing economic disparities and racial discrimination across the Chicago region. He has developed multiple corporate strategic plans, directing resources to local organizations to help solve complex civic issues.
He is the Managing Director of 4S Bay Partners, LLC’s Chi-Town Impact a private equity fund that invests in women and minority operating businesses utilizing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017’s Opportunity Zones.
Dr. Towns received his Bachelor’s in marketing from Loyola University Chicago - Quinlan School of Business, an MBA from the University of Notre Dame Mendoza School of Business, and a Ph.D. in Organization Development from Benedictine University.
His goal is to use his research to help cities, anchor institutions, corporations, and non-profits to develop policies and initiatives that welcome in those who stand just outside the door of opportunity to the table of prosperity.
Businesses founded and led by underrepresented and minority leaders are critically important components of our economy. According to the Minority Business Development Agency at the U.S. Department of Commerce, these firms employed more than 7 million people and generated more than $1.4 trillion in combined gross receipts in 2016. These businesses and their growth serve a critical role in the economic stability of many of our communities and families that have faced generational and structural inequities. As more corporations and investors look to deploy capital for investment in minority owned businesses, it will be critical for both the target companies and investment firms to have the strategic guidance and frameworks to increase their capacity to access and develop capital respectfully.
Over the course of this class, students, faculty, and client companies will focus in on the following central questions: (1) How can investors shift the ways in which they evaluate the opportunity and risk inherent to investment in underrepresented founders and their business in order to find and support opportunities that are currently being overlooked?; (2) How can underrepresented founders better understand how investment prospects are evaluated in order to present their strongest case to potential investors and access capital for growth and scale?
This class will provide students with an understanding of the heuristics - shortcuts - often relied on by investors as they seek to determine their interest in, and the value of ventures presented to them. Students will further learn frameworks and approaches that both investors and clients can use to identify and manage for these heuristics when they risk derailing an underrepresented founder's venture from measured consideration. Students will gain and master new approaches and perspectives on the inherent value and valuation of new and scaling businesses. Using a strengths-based framing and approach, students will learn techniques to value opportunities in investing in underrepresented founders, going beyond the heuristics we've explored.Corequisite: FINC-430 or equivalent
Recommended prerequisite courses: FINC-445 Entrepreneurial Finance and Venture Capital; MORS 952-5 Entrepreneurship: Building Innovation, Teams, and Cultures; ENTR-470 Launching and Leading Startups; ENTR 615 Growth Strategy Practicum;
Measures of business success have changed as the expectations of consumers, investors and employees shift beyond such basic key performance indicators of free cash flows, revenue growth rates, and inventory turnover. Today's businesses are also assessed on their contributions to address many of today's most pressing social ills, such as climate change, economic disparity, and structural discrimination.
William W. Towns, Ph.D., MBA founding Executive Director of Benefit Chicago will teach this course about purpose within and across the enterprise. This course will examine how companies are responding to this challenge through the use of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategies. You will gain an understanding of CSR's key concepts and its continued evolution, learn how to create organizational shared value through a Corporate Social Innovation framework, explore specific examples of successful CSR strategy implementation, and come away better equipped to identify innovative CSR opportunities and approaches.