Keith Bank is the Founder and Managing Partner of KB Partners and has a diverse background in start-up companies, real estate and other entrepreneurial ventures. He founded and serves on the Board of Directors of Club Champion Golf and was the past Chairman of SteadyMed Ltd. (NASDAQ:STDY). He also serves on the boards of Full Swing Golf, Phenix Real-Time Solutions, ANGLR, Hammerhead and Workforce Athletics and oversees the firm’s investments in MVPIndex, FanCompass and Shape Matrix.
Keith has been a very "hands on" venture capital and angel investor in a wide variety of industries, including the medical, semiconductor, internet, telecom, software, cable TV, sports and golf, consumer and retail, and social media arenas. Prior to forming the KB Partners venture funds, Mr. Bank co-founded and served on the Board and as President of MST Analytics, Inc., a semi-conductor product and services business which was successfully sold to ATMI, Inc., a public company, in 1999.
Keith was a founding board member of the Illinois Venture Capital Association, and served as its Chairman in 2005-2006. He was the recipient of the IVCA’s prestigious Fellows Medal in 2006. Keith founded, and for 16 years, served as the Chairman of the Chicago Select Golf Invitational, one of the largest American Cancer Society golf fundraising events in the country, having raised approximately $8 million under his guidance. He has been honored by Crain’s Chicago Business as a “40 Under 40”, a Who’s Who of Chicago Executives and as one of the 100 most prominent members of Chicago’s technology community. Keith is active in CEO’s against Cancer and NU Wave, an athletic fundraising vehicle for Northwestern University.
Prior to forming KB Partners in 1996, Keith was a Principal at HSA, a Chicago based national real estate development, investment, management and brokerage firm. There he was instrumental in the development, acquisition, financing, sale, and leasing of over three million square feet of property with a value in excess of $650 million. Other career highlights include co-founding a deep discount retailer, acquiring and completing a successful turnaround of a women’s apparel manufacturing and sales company, and procuring the equity and debt financing for, and serving as the Producer and Executive Producer of feature films entitled “Heaven is a Playground” (1991) and the BAFTA award winning "Tommy's Honour" (2017).
Keith graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. degree in Economics from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and holds an MBA in Finance with honors from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. He is 99% of the way towards achieving his goal of playing the Top 100 golf courses in the United States.
Stephan Ahern joined KB Partners in 2018 as part of the investment team. He currently serves as a board member for KB Partners’ portfolio companies StreamLayer, XY Gaming and Workforce Athletics and as a board observer for Hammerhead.
Prior to joining KB Partners, Steve was an Investment Banking Senior Associate with Citigroup in Chicago where he worked on debt and equity ﬁnancings, together with mergers and acquisitions across multiple verticals including automotive, industrial, heavy equipment, packaging and metals & mining. Before Citigroup, Steve was a Content Acquisition Specialist and Financial Analyst at DISH Network. Early in his career, he was a design engineer at Teledyne Storm Products and interned at Monroe Capital.
Steve received a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Southern California's Viterbi School of Engineering and an MBA from the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, where he graduated with High Distinction. Steve is an avid sports fan, cyclist, snow and water skier, and golfer, having played over 150 courses in the US, Europe and Asia.
Lance Dietz joined KB Partners in 2018 as part of the investment team. He currently serves as a board member for KB Partners’ portfolio company Asensei and as a board observer for ANGLR and XY Gaming.
Prior to joining KB Partners, Lance was an investment banker with J.P. Morgan where he managed M&A and capital raising transactions for companies in the building products, packaging and distribution sectors. Previously, he served for five years as an Engineer Officer in the U.S. Army with assignments in Germany, Afghanistan and the U.S.
Lance is an honor graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point where he was recruited to play men's Division I basketball, and holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He is an improving golfer, intermediate snowboarder, avid traveler and dabbling magician.
John is a retired Senior Partner at the Boston Consulting Group, and currently a BCG Senior Advisor. He led BCG’s Financial Services Practice in the Americas through the financial crisis. He has over 30 years of consulting experience on topics ranging from traditional strategy and organization work to breakout growth and digital innovation across banking, wealth / asset management, retail banking and insurance.
John also developed a growth strategy for a leading professional golf tour that included an in-depth assessment and segmentation of its fan base to drive higher growth and engagement. He was also part of a major effort to accelerate Chicago’s tech and innovation economy by creating a stronger eco-system across universities, corporate leaders, talent, tech incubators and venture capital.
John's current activities encompass a mix of Board work, PE advisory and venture work, including as Corporate Director at EVO Payments, Board Member at Treliant, Advisor at Sentilink, and Venture Partner with KB Partners.
John also sits on a number of civic boards, including the Chicago Public Education Fund, Chicago Civic Consulting Alliance, the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center and BCG’s Center of Illinois’ Future. He received his MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and a BS in accounting, magna cum laude, from Frostburg State University. He is a lifelong sports enthusiast, avid golfer and mostly retired hoopster.
Raja is a results-driven CEO with thirty years of experience in all facets of R&D, Product, Engineering, Manufacturing, Supply Chain, Marketing, Sale and Finance. He has successfully led public and private companies in the United States, Asia, Mexico and Israel, and has particular expertise in solid-state lighting (LED), advanced materials, energy, batteries, optoelectronics and semiconductors.
Raja’s executive roles include: President/CEO of Rubicon Technology, Inc. (Nasdaq:RBCN), where he led an IPO, President of Optigain, Inc., Chief Operating Oﬃcer of CyOptics, Inc., and Distinguished Member of Technical Staﬀ at Lucent Technologies/ Bell Laboratories. Raja serves on the board at Xerion Advanced Battery Corp. (lithium Fiber lasers) and mentors students at several Chicago area universities, along with executive teams at several technology start-ups.
Raja holds an MS in Management Science and an MS in Industrial Engineering from NYU and holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Peshawar. He was a Midwest Region Finalist for the E & Y Entrepreneur of the Year Award and was named Outstanding CEO of the Year by Cross Atlantic Capital Partners.
Jeremy is an industry thought leader who launched the Strategic Initiatives division for Interpublic Group’s sports and entertainment agency, Octagon, where he has worked with clients including Charles Schwab, Callaway Golf, Omega, Taylor Made Adidas Golf, Merrill Lynch and JP Morgan Chase. He has also managed the marketing and business development eﬀorts for key Octagon clients, including Michael Phelps, Hank Haney, Bill Cowher, Apollo Ohno, and Michael Breed. Jeremy started his sports career as Vice President of Business Development for David Leadbetter, one of the world’s top golf instructors.
He holds both a B.S. in Biology and a Master of Science degree in Human Genetics from Virginia Commonwealth University. He has been a frequent industry speaker, including at the 2017 PGA of Australia Summit, the 2015 Doha Goals Forum (Sports and Globalization) and the 2011 CES Show (Future of Mobile Apps & Social Media).
Steve Byrd is a senior executive with several decades of high-level experience in the sports industry. He currently serves as Head of Global Strategic Partnerships for Sportradar, a 1,600 employee, leading multi-national provider of sports data to national and international sports federations, media companies and bookmakers. They are an oﬃcial data provider of the NFL, NBA, NHL, ITF and NASCAR, amongst many others. Byrd was previously Co-Chief Operating Oﬃcer at STATS, Inc., where he led their growth and relationships with leagues, federations, broadcasters, brands and technology ﬁrms for almost 20 years.
Byrd has consulted for and served on the advisory board of numerous sports related companies, including ScoreStream, Togga and SidePrize. He also advises the private equity ﬁrm of Yao Ming, Yao Capital. He is a Founding Board Member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association and serves as an executive in residence for his alma mater, The University of Chicago Booth Graduate School of Business. His undergraduate degree is a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Purdue University.
Dr. Richard A. Chaifetz is the Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of ComPsych Corporation, the world’s largest provider of employee assistance programs and the pioneer and leading provider of fully integrated employee assistance, behavioral health, wellness, work-life and HR administration services. He is also the Founder and Chairman of Chaifetz Group, a private advisory and investment firm. Dr. Chaifetz has served on the board of directors, as well as an advisor, to several public and private corporations which currently include Pixel Press, Save Wave Energy, Kennet Partners, Vistria Group and MedAware.
He is on the board of trustees of The Field Museum of Natural History, Saint Louis University, TCS Education System, the Miami University Foundation Board, the Brain Research Foundation and the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center. Dr. Chaifetz and his wife Jill are active philanthropists with notable gifts to St. Louis University including Chaifetz Arena, the Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business, and the Chaifetz Center for Entrepreneurship. Additional significant gifts were to Miami University, the Field Museum, and the Illinois Holocaust Museum. Dr. Chaifetz, a licensed neuropsychologist, is a magna cum laude graduate of Saint Louis University and received his Psy.D. from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology.
Sami most recently served as President and CEO of Ignite USA, the North American market leader in environmentally safe reusable beverage containers. He transformed it from an industrial design ﬁrm into one of the fastest growing consumer product companies in the U.S. with over $300 million in sales. He sold the business to Newell Brands, one of the leading consumer goods companies in the world with over $16 billion in sales. Prior to Ignite, Sami held senior marketing and business development positions at Nestle USA, Favorite Brands International and EthnicGrocer.com, an internet startup funded by Kleiner Perkins, Benchmark Capital and others. Sami spent his early career as an investment banker in corporate ﬁnance at Smith Barney, Harris Upham and Banker’s Trust Company.
He currently serves as Chairman of Verrix LLC, a bio-medical spin-oﬀ from the California Institute of Technology and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He is an investor in, and member of the Board of four other privately owned middle market consumer products companies, including Full Swing Golf. Sami and his wife Laura support philanthropic causes including the Northwestern University Settlement House, Girl’s Hope Boy’s Hope, RUSH Hospital, The Night Ministry, Lurie Children’s Unit and Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern Hospital and C24/7. Sami received his MBA from the John E. Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA and graduated with distinction in 1984 from Stanford University with a B.A. in Economics.
Mark Kaufman is the founder and Executive Chairman of Athletico Physical Therapy, which offers outpatient orthopedic rehabilitation in twelve states and over 500 locations. In 1991, Kaufman opened his first rehabilitation center on Clark Street in the Gold Coast Area of downtown Chicago. Athletico’s reputation as a top-quality provider of outpatient physical therapy enabled them to expand their services and drive their expansion. The growth of Athletico’s outreach programs has mirrored the advancement of their patient care. Athletico is proud to be the official physical therapy and athletic training partner to organizations at all levels – from professional sports teams, to colleges and high schools, to elite endurance events, performing arts groups, and gymnastics programs. Notable partnerships include:
Professional: Chicago Bears, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Bulls, Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Cardinals
Collegiate: Big Ten Conference, Indiana University, University of Iowa, Northwestern University, Purdue University, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Performing Arts: Joffrey Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance, St. Louis Ballet
Endurance: Bank of America Chicago Marathon, Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle, Drake Road Races, Indy Half Marathon, XXX Racing
Gymnastics: Chow’s Gymnastics & Dance (US National Team Training Team Center), USA Gymnastics
Over the past 28 years, Kaufman has carefully monitored the growth of his company and recently stepped into the role of Executive Chairman. Athletico provides the following specialty services to the communities the company serves with Physical Therapy: hand therapy, women’s health, spine school, vestibular/concussion, pediatrics, video throwing and running analysis, running and endurance programs, and personal fitness and golf programs.
Mark and his wife Mary Ann, have three daughters. Mark has been a board member at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago since 2004 and served as Board Chair for two terms. He is also on the Advisory Board for Advocate Health System at Good Samaritan Hospital, a member of the Arthritis & Orthopedics Leadership Committee at Rush University Medical Center, on the Rush University Board of Governors, an Executive Council member of the Chicago Sports Commission, member of the Economic Club of Chicago, member of the Development Council for United States Soccer, and a founding member of the board of directors for Operation Walk Chicago. Mark graduated with a B.S. in Athletic Training and Physical Education from the University of Iowa and a B.S in Physical Therapy from Northwestern University. In addition, he obtained an M.S. in Exercise and Sports Sciences from the University of Arizona.
Ed was founder of Engine Shop, an industry leading entertainment, sports and lifestyle marketing agency recently acquired by Bruin Sports Capital. Kiernan serves on several private company boards and is the Co-Founder/Investor in OYO Sports Toys, Party Match, Coaches Tribune, Gramercy West and bluwinx.com. Prior to Engine Shop, he was Senior V.P., Sports and Entertainment for Omnicom’s GMR Marketing and also served as Executive VP and CMO of Peter Jacobsen Sports, where he oversaw the agency’s sports marketing and consulting practice. Ed served as Executive Director for the PGA Tour’s Verizon Classic while at Pro Link Sports, Inc., and earlier in his career had management roles at the Canon Greater Hartford Open, NEC World Series of Golf, Las Vegas Invitational and Senior Slam. He has served on boards and committees including the PGA Tour Tournament Association, The Tampa Bay Sports Authority and Tampa Bay Super Bowl Steering Committee. He has directed marketing initiatives for the NFL, MLB, MBS, NHL, NASCAR, NCAA, USGA, LPGA, PGA Tour, MLS, IOC and USOC, and consulted for clients including Mercedes-Benz, Rolex, Lexus, P&G, Bank of America, Nike, Capital One and many others.
Charley began his career at super agency IMG, where he recruited and represented over 20 PGA TOUR players and negotiated over $125 million in endorsement deals, including ground breaking ones for Tiger Woods and David Duval. He was also a co-founder of the PGA Tour Network on XM Satellite Radio and CEO of Pure Golf, LLC, a radio production company. As a private equity principal and Operating Partner at Falconhead he oversaw the successful acquisition and disposition of several companies and held multiple board seats, including GPS Industries, The Golf Warehouse and Escort Industries (radar detection). Most recently he served as a consultant for Lagardere Sports and Entertainment, a multi-billion dollar international marketing and media conglomerate.
Moore is a third-generation graduate of Notre Dame (BBA Finance) and has an MBA in Entrepreneurial Management from the Wharton School of Business, where he was student body President. He currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Wharton Sports Business Initiative, a think tank comprised of industry leaders focused on key issues in the world of global sports, and is active in charities Golf Fights Cancer and Feeding North East Florida.
Mary Owen is an accomplished business leader and strategic planning professional, a Life Trustee with the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, and Founder and President of MMO Capital, LLC. She is an investor and strategic Advisor to LA-based startup, Rival Inc., an investor and Board Member of Ascend FS, and also an investor and advisor to fashion brand, The Accessory Junkie.
Mary was a key executive for Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. and his management company, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Enterprises and held strategic and operational roles with all of his business and philanthropic interests, including the NFL’s Buffalo Bills. At the Bills, Mary worked her way from intern to Executive Vice President for Strategic Planning. In addition to her team level responsibilities, she was charged with representing Mr. Wilson at the League ownership level where she was appointed and served on the Super Bowl Advisory Committee, the International Committee and on the board of the NFL Foundation. During her time with Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Enterprises, Owen helped oversee the Ralph Wilson Equity Fund, a “fund of funds” venture capital firm with a focus on early stage companies in the Great Lakes region.
When Mr. Wilson passed in 2014, Mary served as a Trustee of his estate where she and three others were responsible for the team sale to the Pegula family and, ultimately, funding and starting a $1.2 billion foundation, The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation.
Mary is a graduate of the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia, where she is an active Trustee for the Jefferson Trust and longstanding Regional Selection Chair for the Jefferson Scholars Foundation. In addition, she holds an MBA from Walsh College and is a member of the National Advisory Board for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Sara Slane is a seasoned executive with expertise in the gambling industry. In 2019, Sara launched Slane Advisory, with a focus on providing strategic guidance and business development in the emerging U.S. sports betting market to media companies, sports leagues and teams. Slane’s clients include the National Hockey League, the PGA Tour, The Premier Lacrosse League, Comcast and Sinclair Broadcasting Group. Slane has over 13 years of experience working in the casino gaming industry. Prior to forming Slane Advisory, she was the senior vice president of public affairs at the American Gaming Association (AGA). During her tenure at AGA, she oversaw and drove the most important advocacy victory in the association’s history, resulting in the overturning of the federal ban on sports betting. Because of her leadership role, Slane is touted as “the face of legalized sports betting” and deemed one of “the most important and influential voices in gaming.” Earlier in her career, Slane served as Vice President of Regional Government Affairs with MGM Resorts International for seven years, where she spearheaded the largest gaming ballot initiative in the country. Her efforts led to a victory at the polls, the successful awarding of licensure to MGM National Harbor, and the building of the $1.4 billion gaming resort on the Potomac River.
Slane is the recipient of numerous awards, including Sports Business Journal's Forty under 40 and the 2019 Sports Betting Power Players list, Global Gaming Business Top 25 People to Watch, Gold Stevie Award for Best Communications campaign of 2018, Association TRENDS' Advocacy Campaign of the Year, and The Hill's Top Lobbyist in 2018. She was also most recently inducted into the SBC’s Sports Betting Hall of Fame Class of 2020.
Shawn is the Co-Founder and President of MVPIndex, a leading edge social media analytics ﬁrm focused on the sports, entertainment, social media inﬂuencer and eSports industries. The company serves brands, teams, leagues, agencies, entertainers and athletes, and is a pioneer in the areas of social media measurement and evaluation. Marquee customers include AB/InBev, WME/IMG, Under Armour, AT&T, NASCAR, MillerCoors, Bose, Oakley and many others. Prior to founding MVP Shawn had over 30 years of experience delivering results for Fortune 500 and start-up organizations, serving in strategic sales and management roles at Anixter International, Williams Communications, Network ICE, Internet Security Systems– ISS (sold to IBM), MacroSolve (sold to Decisions Point) and GuardedNet (sold to IBM).
Shawn has a host of connections in and around the sports, golf, entertainment and media worlds, and is well respected by teams, leagues, brands and agencies across the globe. He played college baseball and basketball at Lehigh and is a father to three successful athletes: PGA TOUR superstar, Jordan; former Brown University basketball player, Steven; and daughter, Ellen.
Jeff is a leading Sports Marketing executive who most recently served as President and Co-Founder at Whistle Sports, a creator, curator and distributor of breakthrough entertainment content for young, active males. Company owners, investors and content partners include the NFL, PGA Tour, Major League Baseball, NASCAR, Major League Lacrosse, Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning and Mia Hamm.
Previously, Urban served as the Senior VP, Sports & Event Marketing and Director of Sports Marketing at Gatorade, where he managed national property relationships, a stable of athlete endorsers, and led a 25-person team and $120M in investments. Prior to Gatorade, Jeff was VP, Sports and Entertainment Marketing at Frankel, and spent 7+ years as the Director, Sports Marketing at USA TODAY, overseeing all league and property relationships and sports sales.
He is a graduate of James Madison University where he was a member of the 1983 College World Series Baseball Team.
During his ﬁve-years as CEO of Topgolf, Joe led the then early-stage company through a period of rapid growth into a unique business that re-deﬁned the concept of a sports leisure experience. During his tenure, Topgolf grew in value from $30 million to $250 million. Joe has held numerous other sports related executive positions, including Chief Operating Oﬃcer of the Arena Football League; President of Act Global, a leading provider of synthetic grass turf products; and Chief Operating Oﬃcer of Suntex Ventures, a niche mixed-use Marina company.
Throughout his C-Suite career, Joe has led multiple companies from foundational stage into operationally developed high-growth ventures. He began his career in at Grant Thornton, is a Certiﬁed Public Accountant, and earned his MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. Joe has been a Board Member of multiple privately-owned companies.