Michael A. Scharf
Michael is an expert at structuring the deal. Over the course of his career, Michael has been part of teams responsible for billions in transactions. He has partnering with, and faced off against, some of the biggest names on Wall Street.
As a corporate executive, Michael spent 20 years in the financial services industry working with companies as varied as Experian, AOL Beneficial Finance, American Express, Great Western Bank, First Interstate Bancorp and as an advisor to Visa USA
Since leaving the corporate world, Michael has founded or led companies in a variety of sectors including telecommunications, entertainment, and technology.
Like every other entrepreneur, some companies created better outcomes than others, but every transaction created value for both buyer and seller.
An accomplished business and brand builder, Michael has built his investment banking practice around creating and closing transactions for emerging and mid-size companies. Obtaining capital, finding and creating strategic partnerships, each transaction is fully evaluated, promoted, and negotiated.
"We have a strategic plan. It's called doing things."- Herb Kelleher (co-founder of Southwest Airlines)
Antonio approaches engagements for Growthink clients with a blend of creative, strategic and financial skills. As an Engagement Manager, he executes business plans, feasibility studies, company valuations, and financial models for start-up and established businesses.
Notable projects include:
Antonio joined Growthink directly following his tenure at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Europe as an Experience Associate. His career at PWC began in Public Accounting, with a focus on the Financial Services industry, but soon transited into strategic consulting. In this regard, he collaborated with the Sustainability & Climate Change Advisory team to assess the viability of sustainability strategies for several Fortune500 companies in Europe.
Antonio is also an experienced entrepreneur – he co-founded and managed a start-up company in the green energy business.
Antonio completed his Bachelor in Economics and Master's Degree in Finance at Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Italy. During his graduate program, he studied at Santa Clara University, Leavey School of Business, and conducted a dissertation on private equity and venture capital partnerships in Silicon Valley. Antonio is fluent in Italian and English.
As a Senior Business Analyst at Growthink, Kevin provides direct support in all areas of project management and strategic business planning engagements. His passion for entrepreneurship motivates him to utilize his background to work with companies within the construction, real estate, professional services, restaurant, and a variety of other industries.
Notable engagements include:
• Business planning, valuation and investor presentation packaging for growing insurance company
• Business planning and Private Placement development for commercial real estate fund
• Business planning for payment verifications company
Prior to joining Growthink, Kevin worked as a licensed commercial real estate agent specializing in multifamily investments in Los Angeles. Additionally, Kevin worked as a sales representative for a leading global manufacturer and distributor of power tools for the home improvement, repair and construction industries. He also has experience in a number of customer service roles and is a proud Eagle Scout, the highest achievement or rank in the Boy Scouts.
Kevin graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor's degree in Entrepreneurship. He was actively involved on campus, serving in leadership positions for a student-run professional organization.
As a Senior Business Analyst at Growthink, Ethan provides direct support in all areas of project management and strategic business planning engagements.
Notable engagements include:
• Market research and competitive analysis for rapidly growing consumer health company with line of antibacterial and skincare products
• Support for development of Executive Summary, Financial Model and Private Placement Memorandum for a Midwestern community bank acquisition
• Strategic growth planning for third party logistics provider servicing the U.S., Mexico and Canada
• Business planning for startup fantasy baseball platform
Before joining Growthink, Ethan worked at Bay Federal Credit Union, which specializes in producing affordable loans and credit options for residents in the Bay Area. Ethan also worked at Gesher Group, an undergraduate consulting firm that specializes in catalyzing the growth of non-profit and community organizations in Santa Cruz County.
Ethan graduated from the University of California Santa Cruz with a B.A. in Business Management Economics and a minor in Technology Information Management.
As an Engagement Manager with Growthink, Kyle works with clients and senior team members on advisory, investment banking, and KPI management engagements.
Notable engagements include:
• Management Consulting: Co-lead on five-year strategic plan and expansion strategy for a $400 million construction company based in California
• Opportunity Assessment/Feasibility Study: Conducted in-depth market research for a Research & Development firm looking to enter into new markets following the production of new technologies
• Investment Banking: Assisted with the sell-side packaging and M&A Go-to Market strategy for one of the largest real estate rental franchises in the United States
Prior to Growthink, Kyle worked at Bardi Co. LLC, a boutique investment bank that specializes in sell-side M&A advisory and fairness opinions. Kyle has also held positions at Harvey & Company, a merchant bank in Newport Beach, CA, and Venture West Funding, a commercial mortgage brokerage in El Segundo, CA.
Kyle received his B.A. in Economics, cum laude, from Loyola Marymount University.
Also serving as Chief Operating Officer of Growthink Publishing, Andrew oversees the Growthink publishing team as well as various firm operational functions.
He brings to Growthink a vast background in social psychology and new media content development.
Prior to his work at Growthink, Andrew spearheaded online and offline marketing initiatives, oversaw content creation, and aided in the development of strategic partnerships for an online music news provider. A published scientific author, he has also created articles which generated significant traffic and were syndicated across the internet on sites including SportsIllustrated.com, CollegeHumor.com and Maxim.com.
In 2008, Andrew managed tech development and search engine marketing for a group of niche social networks.
With the Growthink marketing team in New York, Andrew has assisted in the creation and growth of the Publishing and Products division into a 7-figure business. In addition to the production of in-house audio/visual materials, Andrew has produced viral videos for Growthink clients that have attracted nearly 1 million YouTube views. Andrew currently manages email marketing and membership programs for Growthink Publishing.
Andrew earned a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Harvard University.
"What excites me about working at Growthink is the creative energy of entrepreneurship which constantly surrounds us. Through working with talented business owners and entrepreneurs, we're afforded the opportunity to be hands-on with the embryonic companies, ideas, and products that go on to revolutionize our world.
I also love the educational aspects of what we do in the publishing division:
What continues to amaze me is that across industries, there are some fundamental skills that are essential to every business's ability to survive and thrive in our new economy. Regardless of whether you are a fresh college graduate with a novel idea or a seasoned MBA with decades of industry-relevant experience, your ability to grow your business will be contingent upon your ability to communicate your mission to your team and your ability to deftly raise capital.
Here in New York, we work hard to provide timely and accurate information on those areas that are most critical to entrepreneurial success."
"The spirit and passion of entrepreneurship is exceptionally powerful and drives business owners to achieve the supposedly unachievable. The people of Growthink are deeply committed to helping entrepreneurs achieve their goals and change the world for the better."
As a Growthink Growth Advisor, Luke helps entrepreneurs in startups, early stage and growth companies focus on what it will take for them to achieve their goals. He also helps established companies move to the next level.
Having started and sold three companies, Luke evaluates everything in business from an entrepreneurial and investor mindset. His passion for entrepreneurship, startups and fast-growing companies drives him the extra mile to help his clients succeed.
Luke's most coveted skill is his ability to teach entrepreneurs how to successfully pitch investors. He has seen thousands of pitches and knows what investors want to see in a presentation. Luke has created this content for investor accelerators and spoken about it at universities and business organizations including the USC Marshall School of Business Leadership Summit, Inside Bitcoin’s conference, and SoGal Startup Bootcamp.
Since 2013 Luke has been a Visiting Entrepreneur / Professor at the University of Southern California at the Lloyd Grief Center for Entrepreneurial Studies in the Marshall School of Business. He teaches business planning and presentation skills and works with students in the USC Entrepreneur Club.
Luke was previously the Director of Client Services for Tony Robbins and Chet Holmes at Business Breakthroughs International. He worked with many types of clients from startups to Fortune 100 firms and was a member of their prestigious Inner Circle for top performers. Prior to that he was Vice-President of Sales for ProLine Industrial, one of the top industrial parts distributors in the country. In this role, he was instrumental in helping the company more than double its annual revenue.
Luke earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Management from Pepperdine University with a minor in Psychology. He also has a certificate in Internet Marketing from HubSpot's Inbound Marketing University. Luke enjoys USC football, playing hockey and is a Bitcoin / digital currency enthusiast and investor.
David BurnsDavid has aided the business planning, start-up, and capital raising efforts of companies in the renewable energy, technology, and manufacturing industries. He has also consulted with small businesses, venture-backed and private equity-backed companies regarding mergers and acquisitions, partnerships, valuations, financing, and performance measurement/evaluation. David has worked in the middle market merger and acquisition group at Salomon Smith Barney, where he initiated, executed and closed transactions. He serves on the board of directors for RRE Regents Center TIC, LLC and Doorways, Ltd. David has an MBA from UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management, where he was a Management Development for Entrepreneurs Fellow. He earned a Bachelor's degree in mathematics with minor in English and Chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania.
Melanie managers Growthink's customer service department. She has an extensive background in customer service and client relations. Prior to joining Growthink, Melanie worked for an array of companies including JP Morgan Chase and the Natural History Museum of LA County. Melanie also dedicates time to being the Mentorship Coordinator for MVT Projects, an organization dedicated to creating a platform of social change and awareness throughout her community.
Mr. Dickson has over 25 years of international business experience in sales, marketing, law and finance. He has negotiated over $500M in business transactions of various types on multiple continents (especially Asia), including business startups, product and service sales, intellectual property, licensing, financing and company acquisitions in various industries; including high technology, clean technology, manufacturing, services and software.
Paul has considerable experience working with companies of all sizes, from Fortune 50 companies such as Intel, Hewlett Packard and Motorola, to startups. Paul started up his own high tech software company, built it and sold it to a large public company. He also helped start a successful HVAC company. He has invested in, advised and served on the Board of Directors of startups. He has raised capital for and sold multiple companies and divisions of companies. Paul has volunteered with several local entities in helping the local business community, including the CleanTech Open, Innotech and the Oregon State Bar.
He holds a J.D. degree from the University of Oregon and undergraduate degree from the University of Santa Clara. He is a member of the California State Bar, holds Series 7, 63 and 24 FINRA/Securities Licenses and an Oregon Real Estate license. In his free time he enjoys engaging with his kids’ competitive activities, skiing, fishing and exercising.
“Entrepreneurs have been so instrumental in the improvement of everyone's lives that being involved with an organization like Growthink that assists entrepreneurs is an honor.”
As a member of Growthink’s Strategic Board of Advisors, Barry Fay brings high levels of strategic thinking, intelligence, positive attitude and team building to deliver optimal results to growing companies.
From 1992 to 2010, Barry was with Aqua-Flo Supply, which is a leading distributor of irrigation supplies and landscape products. Aqua-Flo has seven branches in the California counties of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara. Barry served as President from 2000 to 2010 and he led the company’s 900% growth over a fifteen year period while maintaining above industry average profitability. Barry was involved in all aspects of the company including operations, strategy, purchasing, sales, personnel, central control, quoting and pricing. Aqua-Flo was awarded numerous awards including the National Distributor of the Year award from Weathermatic in 2008. In 2007, 2008 and 2009, Barry served as a judge for the New Product of the Year contest put on by the Irrigation Association, which is the international trade association.
Barry received his MBA from The Anderson School at UCLA and earned his BBA from the University of Notre Dame where he graduated Summa Cum Laude.
Barry has served as a judge in national and local collegiate business plan competitions. He has been involved with numerous local organizations, primarily in youth sports. Barry has been a member of YPO (Young Presidents Organization) since 2000 and has served two terms as the Santa Barbara Chapter chair. He has made numerous investments in emerging companies. His interests include travel and many sports. Barry lives with his wife and four children in Montecito, California.
Phil has extensive experience in pay per click advertising, search engine optimization, sales conversion optimization, and lead generation for both B2B and B2C markets. Over the years, Phil has created and managed hundreds of successful direct-response online advertising campaigns using proven analytics and landing page optimization techniques.
Prior to working with Growthink, Phil managed a one million dollar Pay Per Click advertising budget for an affiliate marketing business. He tracked ROI down to the exact keyword level across multiple ad outlets like Google, Yahoo, and MSN/Bing, which allowed him to maintain a 30% overall profit margin. In addition to detailed tracking, Phil also continually optimized the ad campaigns by split testing ad text and landing page design/layout.
Phil's first Growthink project was to re-design the website in order to streamline the lead generation and Search Engine Optimization efforts. Once the website was live, he then developed a custom marketing automation and lead nurturing system for Growthink's sales team and centralized project management to a single platform.
Currently, Phil helps clients (and Growthink itself) with their online advertising. In the past year he has profitably scaled Growthink Publishing's advertising budget by 1,300% and this business unit is now on pace to generate more than one million per year in profit from his advertising campaigns alone.
When Phil is not working, he enjoys running "barefoot" (he wears minimalistic shoes since his wife no longer lets him run totally barefoot) in Central Park in New York City. He also is a member of the Determination running team where he raises money for the American Cancer Society by running road races in NYC.
Phil earned his Master of Engineering Management degree from Thayer School of Engineering and Tuck School of Business and his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Engineering degrees from Dartmouth College.
As an Engagement Manager Darlene is responsible for client and project management at Growthink. She also serves as Growthink’s social media guru. Darlene has a passion for entrepreneurship and during her time at Growthink, has helped nearly 100 companies launch and grow their ventures in the following industries: construction, hospitality, mobile applications, mining, fashion, insurance, health and fitness, wellness, and many more.
Notable engagements include:
• Strategic growth planning for luxury mega yacht company based in Ft. Lauderdale, FL with operations in the Caribbean, Europe and South East Asia
• Business planning and KPI advisory for Fantastic Sams franchise with eight locations
• Acquisition plan for Hawaii-based e-commerce company, assisting to secure deal terms
• Business plan for startup language e-learning platform
• Opportunity Assessment / Exit Planning for Chicago-based construction company
• Go-To-Market strategic plan for early stage energy drink company based in Miami, FL.
Prior to joining Growthink, Darlene has spent time in healthcare consulting; the U.S. Senate in Washington D.C working under Senator Pro- Temp, Senator Daniel Inouye, Chairman of the Department of Defense and at the law firm Vegari & Napolitano, specializing in business law, trusts and estates.
Darlene holds a Bachelor’s degree in Entrepreneurship from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles where she was also a founding member of the Entrepreneurship Society at the Hilton Conrad School of Business.
Darlene has strong passion for the community and is an active member of Rotary International and a founding member of Westchester Rotary Young Professionals Club. In 2014 Darlene was awarded the Paul Harris Fellow Award, the Rotary’s highest honor, in recognition for Darlene’s “service above self”.
I love research. You start with an assumption and end up with a great foundation of facts on which to build, or rework, your premise. Sometimes the facts are as you expected, and sometimes the facts are surprising. JRR Tolkien said it best when he wrote, “There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.”
Marci began her career as a Youth Librarian in public libraries, where she combined her love of books and her fascination with research to inspire the next generation of knowledge-seekers.
Before becoming a Growthink Market Research Analyst, Marci was a Competitive Intelligence Analyst with Fortune 500 Company, Kelly Services, where her research skills supported product development, strategic initiatives and executive thought leadership.
Marci holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music and a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science.
In his role as an Engagement Manager at Growthink, Jonathan is responsible for leading business planning and strategic advisory engagements. Since joining the firm, he has led over 70 engagements in industries including media and broadcasting, fitness, fashion, banking and healthcare among others.
Notable engagements include:
• Strategic planning for a private bank in Panama
• Financial planning and location expansion for a popular burger franchise in Florida, USA
• Funding presentation for medical startup specializing in micro-filtering particles at the molecular level
• Business planning and investor package for early stage video on demand platform
• Growth planning for established luxury sunglasses company seeking financing to expand brand presence from Europe to the United States
• Business planning for startup online luxury travel company servicing solo and group female travelers
Before joining Growthink, Jonathan worked with a venture capital firm specializing in consumer tech and software. He also has sound experience in the socially responsible consulting space working with several Fortune 500 firms and a billion dollar health foundation.
Jonathan graduated with his Bachelor of Science in Economics from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles where he was also a co-founder, along with Growthink’s Darlene Fukuji, of the university’s Entrepreneurship Society.
Lauren is a Dashboard Developer at Guiding Metrics specializing in the creation and implementation of tools to complement entrepreneurs' business growth and efficiency.
Lauren brings to Growthink experience in account management, education and creative arts.
Lauren earned her Bachelor's degree in music with a minor in business from New York University.
"The passion with which Growthink pursues its mission makes me want to see them realize their dream: to spread entrepreneurial opportunity everywhere it can make a difference for a person, within a market, and for society."
A member of Growthink’s Advisory Board, Jim Hartley brings to this role an extensive background in consulting engineering management and community board leadership.
In 30 years of consulting environmental engineering, Jim has established teams to serve local communities in San Diego, Los Angeles and Sacramento; as the Area Manager for CH2M HILL in Sacramento, Jim doubled the size of the office in 6 years (135 to 258) and reduced morale-based turnover to a new corporate benchmark.
Jim has also served as CH2M HILL’s California Governmental Affairs Director, and as the Program Manager for the largest utility client in his firm’s portfolio. Jim currently serves as a Principal Environmental Technologist, mentoring staff and directing teams addressing underground contamination over four continents. In 2006 Jim was named a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
In the northern California community, Jim is helping to lead the effort to bring a future Winter Olympic Games back to Lake Tahoe. He is active in his local area, serving as a Science Olympiad Coach, on the Editorial Board of Comstock’s Business magazine, and as a cantor and lector at his church. He also serves as an alumni volunteer for Stanford University, supporting the Haas Center for Public Service and the Undergraduate Admissions Office, and serving as an Alumni Mentor for engineering students.
Jim earned a M.Eng. degree in Civil Engineering from U.C. Berkeley, and graduated τβπ and φβκ in Civil Engineering and Italian from Stanford University. He lives in Fair Oaks, CA with his wife; their two children are in college.