CEO of Avant / Executive Chairman of Pangea Properties
May 5, 2015
McCormick Tribune Center
Al Goldstein is the co-founder and CEO of Avant, one of the fastest growing national online providers of consumer loans. By utilizing advanced algorithms and machine-learning capabilities, Avant offers a unique and highly customized approach to the personal loan process.
After securing more than $1 billion in funding, Avant was the most funded company in Chicago in 2014. The company has issued more than 180,000 loans operating in 46 U.S. states and in the United Kingdom.
Prior to Avant, Al co-founded Pangea Properties, a private REIT invested in distressed and value-add multi-family properties in the Chicago, Indianapolis and Baltimore markets. Al was co-founder, President and CEO of CashNetUSA, now Enova International, from 2004 until 2008, after selling to Cash America International in 2006. Prior to that, he was part of Deutsche Bank’s Leveraged Finance practice in New York and worked on various secured and unsecured leveraged debt transactions. Al is also an active member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and spends time mentoring young entrepreneurs. He received a Bachelor of Science in Finance with a Mathematics Minor from the University of Illinois where he graduated with High Honors and is a CFA charter holder.
Co-Founder of DominateFund
April 22, 2015
McCormick Tribune Center
Ben Parr is the author of the new book CAPTIVOLOGY: The Science of Getting People’s Attention. He is cofounder of DominateFund, an early-stage venture fund. He is a columnist for Inc. Magazine, the former Co-Editor and Editor-at-Large of Mashable and a former Columnist and Commentator for CNET. Parr was named by Forbes as one of its current “30 Under 30” and by StatSocial for its Top-100 Social Media Power Influencers, 2015, and Say Media identified him as one of the top ten tech journalists in the world. He appears regularly on CNBC, CNN and “Entertainment Tonight”. As an award-winning journalist and editor at Mashable he wrote more than 2,400 articles on science, technology, media and business.
He has a degree from Northwestern in Science in Human Culture -- the study of how science has impacted history, society, medicine, sociology, and economics. Today he works with startups and Fortune 500 companies showing them every day how to apply the science of attention. He will be using his research for the book to create several unusual marketing strategies designed to captivate potential readers.
More at: www.benparr.com
Founder and CEO of SBB Research Group
April 6, 2015
McCormick Tribune Center
Sam Barnett is the 25-year-old founder and CEO of SBB Research Group — a Chicago-area quantitative hedge fund. Sam and his team manage over $150 million with the algorithms they have developed. Sam's investment focus is on publicly traded equities, debt, derivatives and currencies. Sam travels extensively as a world-ranked tennis player.
Additionally, Sam is currently a PhD student at Northwestern University studying the neural bases of engagement and memory in Prof. Moran Cerf's laboratory. Sam holds a BS with Honors in Applied & Computational Mathematics and Business Economics & Management from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where he was a National Merit Scholar.
Fun fact: Sam started SBBRG in a 162 sq. ft. dorm room.
Venture Capitalist & PayPal Cofounder
December 8, 2014
Peter Thiel is an entrepreneur and investor. He started PayPal in 1998, led it as CEO, and took it public in 2002, defining a new era of fast and secure online commerce. In 2004 he made the first outside investment in Facebook, where he serves as a director. The same year he launched Palantir Technologies, a software company that harnesses computers to empower human analysts in fields like national security and global finance. He has provided early funding for LinkedIn, Yelp, and dozens of successful technology startups, many run by former colleagues who have been dubbed the “PayPal Mafia.” He is a partner at Founders Fund, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm that has funded companies like SpaceX and Airbnb. He started the Thiel Fellowship, which ignited a national debate by encouraging young people to put learning before schooling, and he leads the Thiel Foundation, which works to advance technological progress and long- term thinking about the future. Despite his criticism of the education bubble, in Spring 2012 Peter taught a class in the Computer Science department of his alma mater Stanford University. He has now revised and rewritten that class to make the new book called Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future.
Founder & CEO, Plug and Play
December 1, 2014
Saeed Amidi is the founding general partner of Amidi Group, Inc. He also founded Plug and Play Tech Center in 2006 and serves as its chief executive officer. He has been a technology investor since 1996. He co-founded Amidzad in 2000. He is a founding general partner of Amidzad Partners and is also the founder of American Liquid Packaging Systems. Amidi is a serial entrepreneur and a seasoned executive with over 28 years of experience in founding, operating, and growing successful companies. He has been closely involved with more than twenty new emerging growth companies, of which two became public companies (PayPal - acquired by eBay - and Preview Systems). In 2014, two of his portfolio companies filed for IPO: Lending Club and Zoosk. He co-founded the Amidi Group in 1980. For the past 23 years, he has chaired and spearheaded the operations and management of a number of the Amidi Group entities. He serves as a director of Twiki, Inc. (formerly TWIKI.NET Inc.). He also serves as a member of advisory board at Voyij, Inc. and Bouju, Inc. Lastly, he served as a director of Fotomoto Inc. Some of his working university relationships include MIT, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, Santa Clara, Wharton, Dartmouth, and more. Amidi is also an active member of the technology community and a frequent contributor to numerous charitable foundations. Additionally, Amidi is an active member of the Young President Organization (YPO)."
Founder & Chief Scientist, Shazam
November 14, 2014
Ford Design Center
Avery Wang has over 20 years of industry experience designing high-performance multimedia signal processing systems for the consumer market and is the principal inventor of Shazam's recognition algorithms and other key technologies. Wang holds graduate degrees in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics from Stanford University, with a PhD at CCRMA on Auditory Source Separation. He also studied Computational Neurosciences on a Fulbright scholarship to Germany. At Shazam, his responsibilities include innovation and intellectual property.
Mary Lou Song
Founder & CEO FUEL451
October 17, 2014
McCormick Tribune Center
The best advice Mary Lou Song ever got was in high school, when a teacher told her to simply, “Do what you love.” She follows that career advice faithfully, especially as a Silicon Valley entrepreneur.
Song joined eBay in 1996 as the company’s third employee because she loved shopping and the Internet. In the company’s early days, she led the product management and community teams, helping grow the user base from 15,000 members to more than 20 million globally by 2002. And she was responsible for the community products and initiatives that impacted eBay’s global marketplace.
Later she joined social networking startup Friendster. And her love of writing and the news prompted her to launch Tokoni, a story-sharing site, and Ongo, an aggregated news service with The New York Times, the Washington Post and Gannett.
Currently, she is CEO of FUEL451, where she is on a mission to help customers build and run video advertising campaigns for their businesses and to do what they love.
Song holds a BS in Journalism from Medill at Northwestern University and a master's degree in media studies from Stanford University.