Welcome to the Arena from ICR – Conversations with Today's Innovators & Business Leaders

ICR

In the increasingly crowded and competitive corporate and financial ecosystem, it’s harder than ever for companies to break through the clutter and be heard. The media, investors, agenda-driven influencers, even customers and competitors, are defining your business story on their terms. Therefore, it is imperative that companies take control and proactively drive the conversation with stakeholders in an effort to build & maintain equity value. In Welcome to the Arena from ICR, Co-Founder & CEO of ICR, Tom Ryan, interviews key business and financial players who influence the fate of public or aspiring public companies in the capital markets. As a former Wall Street Journal ranked sell-side equity analyst and the founder of one of the largest strategic communications firms in the world, Tom understands what it takes to navigate this complex environment. This is a forum for CEOs, CFOs, institutional investors, sell-side analysts, financial journalists, private equity professionals and other financial community participants to share their stories and give advice in an open and candid conversation. For more information, visit http://www.icrinc.com read less
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Episodes

Pete Najarian, Managing Partner, RW3 Ventures – Digital Disruption: Decoding the crypto world and revolutionizing finance through blockchain technology
5d ago
Pete Najarian, Managing Partner, RW3 Ventures – Digital Disruption: Decoding the crypto world and revolutionizing finance through blockchain technology
As the world embraces cryptocurrency, blockchain technology, and deregulated finance, there's a massive transformation on the horizon. But if you're going to invest in these innovations, you need to be incredibly diligent and have a deep understanding of the tech. Today's guest has both.We're sitting down with Pete Najarian, who is the Managing Partner of RW3 Ventures. RW3 is a digital asset venture firm built in partnership with The Raptor Group. The Raptor Group is a multi-sector venture firm with significant investments across fintech, sports and gaming, healthcare, and digital assets.Pete has significant dedicated digital asset experience, having previously served in senior leadership roles for two leading digital asset operating businesses: Zappo, which was ultimately acquired by Coinbase in 2019, and BitGo, the leader in digital asset security, custody, and liquidity. They provide the operational backbone for more than 1, 500 institutional clients and over 50 companies. They also process 20 percent of all the global Bitcoin transactions by value.Prior to that, Pete spent 20 years plus building and leading the global emerging markets businesses for some of the world's largest banks, UBS and RBS in particular.Highlights:Pete's experience in finance, discovering cryptocurrency, and founding RW3 (4:10)Pete's approach to investing at RW3 (7:24)Bitcoin, and Pete's outlook on when to invest in crypto (8:18)Analyzing Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies' place in the market (9:53)Pete breaks down the opportunities opened up by blockchain innovation (11:30)The use and value of cryptocurrency technology in the world economy (13:35) How Pete makes decisions on blockchain investments (16:03)How RW3 assists clients (18:47)Pete breaks down the relationship between traditional finance and cryptocurrency (21:06)Pete's predictions on the future of blockchain technology and finance field (24:11)Understanding decentralized finance (25:03)Government involvement in cryptocurrency (26:38)Some of Pete's current investments at RW3 (30:00)Qualifications for an investment at RW3 (33:10)Links:Pete Najarian on LinkedInRW3 Ventures on LinkedInRW3 Ventures WebsiteICR LinkedInICR TwitterICR WebsiteFeedback:If you have questions about the show, or have a topic in mind you'd like discussed in future episodes, email our producer, marion@lowerstreet.co.
Morgan Brennan, Co-Anchor, CNBC's Closing Bell: Overtime – Lights, Camera, Ascend: A behind-the-scenes look at scaling the media industry's fast-paced climb
Apr 10 2024
Morgan Brennan, Co-Anchor, CNBC's Closing Bell: Overtime – Lights, Camera, Ascend: A behind-the-scenes look at scaling the media industry's fast-paced climb
When it comes to climbing the ladder in any industry, being willing to try new things and seize opportunities is your fastest track to growth. Our guest today has built her impressive career and carved out her place in the industry by doing just that. Today we're sitting down with Morgan Brennan, who Co-anchors CNBC's Closing Bell Overtime, which broadcasts live from CNBC's global headquarters in Inglewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Previously, she was co-anchor of the 10 a.m. hour on CNBC's Squawk on the Street. and Co-anchor of CNBC's Squawk Alley.Morgan joined the network in December 2013, as a general assignment reporter and continues to cover a variety of sectors including manufacturing, defense, and space among others. She's also the host of the CNBC podcast, Manifest Space. Prior to joining CNBC, Morgan was a staff writer and reporter for Forbes Media where she reported for Forbes Magazine, Forbes Life magazine, and Forbes. com. She began her career at Forbes in 2009, holding several positions, including anchor reporter and producer for the Forbes video network, covering a wide variety of business and finance topics. Morgan has interviewed billionaires, and heads of state, thought leaders, and chief executives of multi-billion dollar corporations. Her profile story on Equity Group Investments' Chairman, Sam Zell was one of five magazine covers featured on the 2013 Forbes 400 issue. She's also a board member of the nonprofit, City Year New York. Morgan graduated summa cum laude from New York University, majoring in Social Science with a double concentration in Anthropology and Media Studies.Highlights:Morgan describes her journey from entertainment to journalism (4:09)Morgan's first on-air role (8:49)How the service industry prepared Morgan for her media roles (10:36)Morgan walks us through her trajectory at CNBC (12:08)How Morgan got comfortable with live broadcasting (13:20)The biggest challenges in TV and fast-paced media industries (14:32) Morgan's favorite part of her work (16:52)Morgan talks about her podcast 'Manifest Space' (17:47)Morgan's all-time favorite interview (20:00)How Morgan learned to conduct interviews and her personal approach to them (20:53)How CEOs and business owners should approach media and interviews (21:55)Morgan explains how she balances and manages her work schedule with home life (26:58)Links:Morgan Brennan on LinkedInCNBC on LinkedInCNBC WebsiteManifest Space with Morgan BrennanICR LinkedInICR TwitterICR WebsiteFeedback:If you have questions about the show, or have a topic in mind you'd like discussed in future episodes, email our producer, marion@lowerstreet.co.
Jake Karls, Co-Founder & Rainmaker, Mid-Day Squares – Bittersweet Victory: Showcasing challenges and successes in the entrepreneurial journey
Apr 3 2024
Jake Karls, Co-Founder & Rainmaker, Mid-Day Squares – Bittersweet Victory: Showcasing challenges and successes in the entrepreneurial journey
Introducing a new product into the extremely competitive snack market is not for the faint of heart. To succeed, you need more than a unique product; you need energy, creativity, and a bold approach. Today’s guest has all that in spades. We're sitting down with Jake Karls, who is the first to admit that he's a different kind of business leader, unapologetically authentic, refreshingly relatable, and completely free of bullshit. Jake is the Co-Founder and Chief Rainmaker of Mid-Day Squares, the good-for-you chocolate brand that turned a kitchen table dream into a global household name.Mid-Day Squares is leading the disruption of an extremely competitive vertical with a winning team, innovative marketing and a fearless spirit. Jake is recognized as a rising star in the business world, was a finalist for Ian Wise Entrepreneur of the Year Award, was named to Forbes’ 30 under 30 List for food and beverage, and has featured as a regular contributor to media outlets across North America.Jake has also nicknamed the ICR conference The House of Capital, and we love him for that. He’s officially a “FOICR” which stands for Friend of ICR.Highlights:Jake discusses his path into the business sector (3:57)Jake and Tom talk about their favorite Shark Tank Shark (6:51)Jake talks about failure, finding work purpose, and skill sets (7:35)Finding your niche in a competitive market, and Mid-Day Squares' social media approach to branding, and (9:57)Building a brand with emotional connection, and modernized marketing (12:10)Mid-Day Squares' conception and the idea behind the product (14:15) Jake and the team's experience with manufacturing and building their own facility (16:12)Best-selling products (19:02)Mid-Day Squares' retail connections and their proudest deal (19:45)Refrigerated snacking, and how Mid-Day Squares target their audiences (21:00)How the team balances retail and direct channels (22:55)Goal and mission of Mid-Day Squares (24:00)Jake explains the complexity and challenges in the CPG (consumer packaged goods) industry (25:21)Jake gets honest about building your own business (26:35)Ideas for near-future product extensions at Mid-Day Squares (27:57)How much capital Mid-Day has raised for growth and development (29:13)Links:Jake Karls on LinkedInMid-Day Squares on LinkedInMid-Day Squares WebsiteICR LinkedInICR TwitterICR WebsiteFeedback:If you have questions about the show, or have a topic in mind you'd like discussed in future episodes, email our producer, marion@lowerstreet.co.
Chris Hall, CEO and President, Personalis Inc. – A Prescription for Prosperity: Fueling medical breakthroughs with cutting-edge tech and strategic alliances
Mar 27 2024
Chris Hall, CEO and President, Personalis Inc. – A Prescription for Prosperity: Fueling medical breakthroughs with cutting-edge tech and strategic alliances
Big healthcare challenges demand cutting-edge healthcare products. Today's guest is building strategic partnerships to get ahead of disease and fuel the growth of their company. Today we're sitting down with Chris Hall, CEO and President of Personalis, which trades under the symbol PSNL. In his role, Chris drives the vision and strategy for the company, including commercializing its diagnostic product offerings. He brings over 20 years of experience in general management and product development within the diagnostics industry, most recently as CEO of Naring Health. Previously he served as President, COO, and Chief Commercial Officer of Veracyte Inc, where he led the company's commercial entry into endocrinology and pulmonology and scaled its operational groups. Chris also served as an SVP and Chief Business Officer at Berkeley HeartLab, part of Celera Corporation, where he helped new product launches, and restructured operations to improve profitability and streamline delivery of services.Chris holds a BA in political science from DePauw University and an MBA from Harvard.Highlights:Chris describes Personalis and their work (3:45)Personalis' MRD test and how it works (6:25)Chris walks us through Personalis' tech evolution (8:23)Personalis' current partnerships and collaborations (10:24)More about the internal team at Personalis (14:31)Chris discusses Personalis' recent Medicare coverage announcement (16:09) The current macro environment's effect on business (18:09)2023 highlights at Personalis (19:54)Near-future growth and development goals for Personalis (22:25)Leadership and company culture at Personalis (24:22)Product development and long-term objectives (26:19)Links:Chris Hall on LinkedInPersonalis on LinkedInPersonalis WebsiteICR LinkedInICR TwitterICR WebsiteFeedback:If you have questions about the show, or have a topic in mind you'd like discussed in future episodes, email our producer, marion@lowerstreet.co.
David Bandele, CFO, Hexagon Composites  – Energizing the Industry: Fueling growth by tapping into a sustainable future and a vast market
Mar 20 2024
David Bandele, CFO, Hexagon Composites – Energizing the Industry: Fueling growth by tapping into a sustainable future and a vast market
There are some extraordinary opportunities for companies with the vision and commitment to get behind the energy transition, and today's guest works with one of them.We're sitting down with David Bandele, who has served as the CFO of Hexagon Composites since 2014. The company is headquartered in Norway and trades under the symbol H E X . O L. Their business is focused on carbon-negative, zero-emission energy solutions supported by world-class manufacturing and digitization.Before joining Hexagon, David held several senior positions in the field of finance and controlling with the Acre Group of Companies, GE Healthcare, and Amersham PLC. He holds a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Sheffield and is an ICAEW Chartered Accountant. Highlights:Introduction to Hexagon Composites and their background (3:24)Hexagon's target audience and reach (4:24)David describes his road to Hexagon (4:51)David breaks down the similarities and differences between natural gas, and renewable gas (6:03)Hexagon's growth and quick expansion (8:02)Hexagon's total addressable market and sustainability benefits (11:43) David walks us through Hexagon Agility's mobile pipeline (15:34)Mobile pipeline demand (17:17)David takes us through the roll out of Hexagon Digital Wave and developments in other Hexagon verticals (18:11)Hexagon's recent partnership with Compass Natural Gas (19:45)The projects of Hexagon Purus (20:45)Hexagon Ragasco and their current market outlook (22:26)David gives his outlook on the current environmental and sustainability efforts in business across North America (24:20)How Hexagon is continuing to innovate and win over shareholders for the long term (25:59)David gives us his predictions and goals for Hexagon's near future (28:42)Links:David Bandele on LinkedInHexagon Composites on LinkedInHexagon Composites WebsiteICR LinkedInICR TwitterICR WebsiteFeedback:If you have questions about the show, or have a topic in mind you'd like discussed in future episodes, email our producer, marion@lowerstreet.co.
Jared Isaacman, Founder, Shift4 and Draken International, Part 2 of 2 – The Next Frontier: Exploring the boundaries of space and innovation
Mar 13 2024
Jared Isaacman, Founder, Shift4 and Draken International, Part 2 of 2 – The Next Frontier: Exploring the boundaries of space and innovation
If you've been to space and back, you're bound to have an amazing perspective about your own capabilities, and what humans can achieve. Our guest today knows all about that.On this episode, we're sharing part two of Morgan Brennan's interview with Jared Isaacman, recorded in January at ICR's 26th annual conference in Orlando, Florida. If you didn't catch part one last week, we highly recommend you do. Jared is an extraordinary business leader and on top of his incredible career as founder of Shift4, and Draken International, he's an accomplished pilot and an astronaut.  Jared has made significant contributions to financial technology, defense, and aerospace industries.  He is the founder of both Shift4 and Draken International. Jared founded Shift4 in 1999 at 16 years old, and under his leadership as CEO, Shift4 has consistently pushed boundaries.  Today, Shift4 employs over 2,500 people and processes $250 billion in payments annually for more than 200,000 customers across the US and Europe.Apart from his extraordinary success with Shift4, in 2021 Jared made history by commanding Inspiration4, the world's first all-civilian mission to orbit. That mission raised over 250 million dollars for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. And later this year, he's going to return to space as commander of the Polaris Dawn mission.  This is the first of three space flights under the Polaris program, which is a partnership with SpaceX, and we'll hear all about those missions in this next part of the interview. We're delighted to have Morgan Brennan as the guest host for this interview. Morgan is the co-anchor of CNBC's Closing Bell Overtime. Over the last 10 years, she's held various on-air roles with CNBC and was previously co-anchor of Squawk on the Street and Squawk Alley.  Highlights:Jared talks about the differences between being a private and public company (4:37)Insight on new upcoming Shift4 projects (5:06)Jared tells us the best and worst parts of being in space (6:19)Common questions Jared gets about space (7:01)Jared gives us an inside look at the training process for astronauts leading up to launch (8:04)How seeing space has changed Jared's view of the world (9:57) Jared answers whether he ever felt nervous regret before a launch (13:18)How Jared talks to his family about space missions (15:50)Jared describes what it feels like to come back to Earth from space (16:53)How your height changes after going into space and coming back to Earth (18:42)More about SpaceX's new Starship project (20:23)Links:Morgan Brennan on LinkedInJared IsaacmanShift4 WebsiteDraken International on LinkedInICR LinkedInICR TwitterICR WebsiteFeedback:If you have questions about the show, or have a topic in mind you'd like discussed in future episodes, email our producer, marion@lowerstreet.co.
Jared Isaacman, Founder, Shift4 and Draken International, Part 1 of 2 – Shooting For The Stars: Going beyond limits for lasting impact
Mar 6 2024
Jared Isaacman, Founder, Shift4 and Draken International, Part 1 of 2 – Shooting For The Stars: Going beyond limits for lasting impact
In business, there's success, and there's potential. Success is nice, but true greatness lies in tapping into unseen possibilities. Today's guest has harnessed their business's potential to make a lasting impact on a global scale.On this episode, we're featuring part one of a two-part interview recorded in January at ICR's annual conference in Orlando. It's a fireside chat hosted by Morgan Brennan, who was kind enough to step in to ask all the pressing questions. Morgan is co-anchor of CNBC's Closing Bell Overtime. Over the last 10 years, she has held various on-air roles with CNBC and was previously co-anchor of Squawk on the Street and Squawk Alley. We're thrilled to feature her as our host today. Morgan sat down with Jared Isaacman. Jared is an entrepreneur, a business leader, an accomplished pilot, and he's also an astronaut. He's the founder of both Shift4 and Draken International. Under his leadership as CEO, Shift4 has consistently pushed boundaries, developing cutting-edge payment technologies that empower businesses across countless sectors. Draken International is an aerospace defense company that provides tactical aviation services for all branches of the US military. In 2021, he made history by commanding Inspiration4, the world's first all-civilian mission to orbit. And later this year, he's going to return to space as commander of the Polaris Dawn mission, which is a partnership with SpaceX.Be sure to check out next week's episode for the second half of this fascinating interview. Highlights:How Jared got his start in payment processing and technology (5:18)Jared tells the origin story and inspiration behind founding Shift4 (6:58)Jared describes Shift4's recent public listing accomplishment (8:19)Shift4's current verticals and growth opportunities in payment processing (10:10)How Jared transitioned from payment to space exploration (11:58)How Jared got the opportunity to make space history (13:55) Jared describes the process of assembling the Inspiration 4 mission and crew (15:40)Jared's upcoming Polaris Dawn space mission (18:36)Jared discusses the working with SpaceX (20:36)More on Shift4's team and board members (22:34)Jared shares his biggest lessons in leadership (23:49)Links:Morgan Brennan on LinkedInJared IsaacmanShift4 WebsiteDraken International on LinkedInDraken International WebsiteICR LinkedInICR TwitterICR WebsiteFeedback:If you have questions about the show, or have a topic in mind you'd like discussed in future episodes, email our producer, marion@lowerstreet.co.
Amol Dhargalkar, Managing Partner and Chairman of the Board, Chatham Financial – Risky Business: How to strategically mitigate and manage market volatility
Feb 28 2024
Amol Dhargalkar, Managing Partner and Chairman of the Board, Chatham Financial – Risky Business: How to strategically mitigate and manage market volatility
Mitigating risk has never been more challenging, but today's guest leans on smart data technology, a great relationship with his clients, and over 20 years of working with his very successful firm.We’re excited to sit down today with Amol Dharkalkar, who is Managing Partner and Chairman of the Board of Chatham Financial. He is the Global Head of Chatham's corporate sector and brings over 20 years of experience in derivatives capital markets expertise to the treasury and accounting functions that support client strategies and operations.Amol created the corporate sector at Chatham in 2010. He’s advised some of the largest corporations in the world in the development, execution, and ongoing management of hedging programs across interest rates, currency, and commodities. Amol has also advised both public and private companies across all industries, including real estate, private equity, telecom, technology, industrials, and healthcare, just to name a few.Amol graduated from Penn State University with a Bachelor's degree in both chemical engineering and economics and received his MBA from Wharton at U Penn, where he was a Palmer Scholar. Highlights:Amol gives us an overview of Chatham and the focus of their work (3:10)Chatham's senior team and work culture (4:26)Amol describes Chatham's clientele and target audience (6:13)Amol tells us about one of the most complex cases Chatham has managed (8:03)What success means to Amol as a consultant (9:53)Amol's outlook on the current economic market and the future of interest rates (10:42)Risk mitigation in business and how to plan for interference (13:07) How Chatham has adopted and adapted technology into their work (14:48)How Amol and his team stay up to date on market developments (17:40)Amol says more about Chatham's recent EA market acquisition and partnerships (18:26)Chatham's recent report on the state of financial risk management (20:10)How companies continue to be successful in the changing economic climate (22:36)Amol's thoughts on M&A, and advice for potential clients (24:16)The current election season's potential effects on businesses (26:15)Amol talks about fluctuating currency valuations and its impact on clients (28:52)Future goals and plans for Chatham (30:30)Links:Amol Dhargalkar on LinkedInChatham Financial on LinkedInChatham Financial WebsiteICR LinkedInICR TwitterICR WebsiteFeedback:If you have questions about the show, or have a topic in mind you'd like discussed in future episodes, email our producer, marion@lowerstreet.co.
Bob Wright, President & CEO of Potbelly Sandwich Works – Bread Winners: How Potbelly's sandwiches are transforming fast-casual dining
Feb 21 2024
Bob Wright, President & CEO of Potbelly Sandwich Works – Bread Winners: How Potbelly's sandwiches are transforming fast-casual dining
At a time when everyone is paying more for a lot less, and service is in decline, today's guest is leaning in to added value, and it's paying off in spades. We're sitting down with Bob Wright, who has been President and CEO of Potbelly Corporation since July of 2020. The stock trades under the symbol PBPB. Bob has over 30 years of experience in the restaurant industry, most recently serving as Executive Vice President and COO of the Wendy's Company, where he ran operations for over 6,000 company and franchise restaurants located throughout the US and Canada.Bob has a strong record of business transformation throughout his career where he has leveraged brand strengths to revitalize top line sales and profit growth through marketing system-wide service standardization and quality initiatives. In addition to Wendy's, Bob has served in leadership roles with other restaurant brands, including Charlie's Philly Steaks, Checkers Drive-In Restaurants, and Domino's Pizza.Highlights:Bob's journey to his role at Potbelly (2:44)Bob gives us a history lesson on Potbelly's origins (4:03)What makes Potbelly unique among the competition (5:06)Potbelly's recent menu pivot and the inspiration behind it (6:13)Current plans for franchise development and growth strategy (8:47)Bob explains his outlook on the balance between franchising and company units (11:30)Potbelly's current projects and goals for 2024 (13:18) Brand digitization and new tech (14:53)Bob highlights current brand challenges (15:45)How Potbelly manages their margins alongside inflation and labor issues (16:58)Bob describes the menu features bestsellers (19:26)The team at Potbelly and work culture (21:52)Future expansion plans and locations (24:06)Bob's personal philosophy on leadership (27:25)Links:Bob Wright on LinkedInPotbelly Sandwich Works on LinkedInPotbelly Sandwich Works WebsiteICR LinkedInICR TwitterICR WebsiteFeedback:If you have questions about the show, or have a topic in mind you'd like discussed in future episodes, email our producer, marion@lowerstreet.co.
Christine Schindler, Co-founder & CEO, PathSpot  – A Clean Sweep: Revolutionizing health and safety in hospitality
Feb 14 2024
Christine Schindler, Co-founder & CEO, PathSpot – A Clean Sweep: Revolutionizing health and safety in hospitality
In an industry booming with customer-focused innovations, it's crucial not to overlook the backbone of an enterprise. Today's guest created a groundbreaking technology that prioritizes health and safety for both customers and in-house staff, that is a critical asset for hospitality businesses as a whole.We're sitting down with Christine Schindler, who is CEO and co-founder of PathSpot, a technology company dedicated to protecting businesses and their customers from the threat of food borne illnesses and outbreaks.An engineer and entrepreneur who is passionate about utilizing technology to overcome gaps in healthcare, Christine invented PathSpot's hand scanner in 2017, following a transformative educational trip to Mount Kilimanjaro. The scanner instantly detects carriers of harmful contamination commonly spread through poor handwashing. PathSpot has now broadened its safety suite to include a comprehensive range of back-of-the-house digital health and safety tools that track temperature, expiration, and more. Christine has a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering and Global Health from Duke University. Prior to founding PathSpot, she assisted with biomedical research for Engineering World Health at Mount Kilimanjaro, and spent two years on the innovation and M&A team at Cigna. In addition to PathSpot, Christine is Founder and CEO at Girls Engineering Change, a non-profit focused on increasing female representation in STEM. She was also featured in Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2021 and Hospitality Technology's Top Women in Restaurant Technology in 2023.Highlights:Christine's background in healthcare and public health (3:16)Christine describes the entrepreneurial influence that motivated her (4:12)The a-ha moment for PathSpot's hand scanner technology (5:09)How the hand scanner technology works (7:00)How PathSpot found and targeted their audience (8:09)Brands that PathSpot works with (9:08)Christine describes PathSpot's safety suite of services and data platform (10:07) The pandemic's impact on PathSpot's newly-founded business (11:50)PathSpot's economic model (13:16)How PathSpot uses their data bank as an ROI feature for businesses (14:03)Christine explains the data PathSpot technology detects, and how businesses can utilize it (15:45)How PathSpot maintains legal regulation and brand compliance(18:55)PathSpot's areas of focus for the new year (20:11)Christine's perspective on the society's mindset on health and safety conditions, post-COVID (20:52)PathSpot's goals and trajectory over the next 10 years (21:56)Links:Christine Schindler on LinkedInPathSpot on LinkedInPathSpot WebsiteICR LinkedInICR TwitterICR WebsiteFeedback:If you have questions about the show, or have a topic in mind you'd like discussed in future episodes, email our producer, marion@lowerstreet.co.
Anton Nicholas, Managing Partner, ICR  – Revving up Consumer Relationships: How Blue Engine Merges Creativity and Strategy in PR Communications
Feb 7 2024
Anton Nicholas, Managing Partner, ICR – Revving up Consumer Relationships: How Blue Engine Merges Creativity and Strategy in PR Communications
Today, there are countless platforms to reach consumers, but utilizing too many outlets can also fragment a brand's image. Our guest on this episode specializes in strategic brand exposure, providing clients with guidance to target consumers, and maintain a united market presence.We're sitting down with Anton Nicholas, Managing Partner at ICR. Anton just celebrated his 12th anniversary at ICR, and he runs the corporate PR team for all of Consumer, from retail to apparel to food to restaurants to CPG. It's a big practice within ICR, but we've also added a new brand: Blue Engine, an ICR offshoot creative consumer communications agency, and Anton is also taking care of that.We'll dive into Anton's career and his work with Blue Engine, but not before settling an important debate about snack foods...Highlights:Tom and Anton break the ice (2:51)Anton's work background and path to ICR and Blue Engine (4:34)Anton describes the work he oversees at ICR (5:30)How the ICR Lifestyle Lab transitioned into Blue Engine (6:52)Anton explains what distinguishes Blue Engine's work from the Lifestyle Lab (7:52)The acquisition that led to Blue Engine (8:52)Size and scale of the business (10:04) Where ICR and Blue Engine connect, and differ in their approach (11:52)Where the name 'Blue Engine' came from (14:21)The industries and clients Blue Engine is best suited for (15:28)Anton walks through potential hurdles as the business grows (17:47)An example of Blue Engine's offerings through their work with a specific client, and how they handle crises for clients (19:09)Anton answers a burning question from Tom (22:14)Links:Anton Nicholas on LinkedInICR LinkedInICR TwitterICR WebsiteFeedback:If you have questions about the show, or have a topic in mind you'd like discussed in future episodes, email our producer, marion@lowerstreet.co.
Matthew Tucker, Head of Tock – Data-Driven Dining: Optimizing the guest experience by reshaping reservations
Jan 31 2024
Matthew Tucker, Head of Tock – Data-Driven Dining: Optimizing the guest experience by reshaping reservations
In the effort to recover from the impact of the pandemic, the hospitality industry has had a surge of innovation, ideas, and new technologies. And while the boost has been essential to getting the industry back on it's feet, it has also intensified the competition. Today's guest is setting themselves apart with their consumer-focused approach.We're sitting down with Matt Tucker, who is the head of Tock, a technology driven hospitality business owned by Squarespace, and trading under the symbol SQSP. Matt oversees commercial success and growth of the Tock business, which includes a reservation system, table management, carry out operations and events for operators across 33 countries. Matt came to Squarespace after nearly two decades of experience building teams and operating companies of all sizes and has a strong background in hospitality tech and the startup world.Most recently, Matt served as President and COO of Olo, the leading provider of SaaS solutions to the chain restaurant industry, serving almost 90,000 locations. He spent nearly nine years there taking the company from 10 people and one product to a public company with over 700 team members, six core products and nearly 200 million in revenue.Prior to Olo, Matt was on the founding team of LendingTree and was also the founder of Rely Software. He has an MBA from Georgetown and a BA in political science from the University of Michigan. Highlights:Matt's background and path to restaurant software (3:10)Matt describes Tock's founding and current work (4:11)How Tock works in the restaurant to optimize reservations (6:01)Matt explains how Tock targets customers, and the ROI (7:36)Data captured through Tock, and what makes Tock's approach to data optimization unique (11:35)Matt talks about recent economic hurdles and how Tock has navigated the atmosphere (13:05)Matt discusses Tock's versatility in the restaurant industry (15:12)How Squarespace and Tock's work interconnect (16:50)Field competition and the state of the restaurant technology market (19:00)Tock's senior team and their history in hospitality (21:58)Links:Mathew Tucker on LinkedInTock on LinkedInTock WebsiteICR LinkedInICR TwitterICR WebsiteFeedback:If you have questions about the show, or have a topic in mind you'd like discussed in future episodes, email our producer, marion@lowerstreet.co.
Matt Frazier, Founder & CEO, Jones Street Investment Partners  – A Prosperous Pursuit: Mastering a market niche, one property at a time
Jan 24 2024
Matt Frazier, Founder & CEO, Jones Street Investment Partners – A Prosperous Pursuit: Mastering a market niche, one property at a time
Over the last few years, the wavering economy has presented problems for virtually every market. In real estate, rising rates and inflation have challenged buyers and sellers alike. But while wading in those waters, today's guest managed to find a silver lining in their unique investment field. Today, we get to sit down with Matt Fraser, a 20-year veteran of real estate, private equity, and corporate finance. He is the founder and CEO of Jones Street Investment Partners, a multi-family investor with more than 2 billion in assets under management. In this role, Matt is responsible for all aspects of the company's growth, including fundraising, deal sourcing, and the growth of the Jones Street team.Prior to forming Jones Street, Matt served as the VP of Investments and Capital Markets at Taymil Partners, a multi-family owner and operator active throughout New England. Before that, he was a VP at the private equity and venture arm of Fleet Bank, which became Bank of America. Matt received a BA in media studies with a concentration in philosophy, with honors and distinction from Penn State University.Highlights:Matt's background in finance, and the road to founding Jones Street (2:45)Jones Street's humble beginnings and team development (3:47)Matt describes Jones Street's strategic approach to their unique geographic locations (5:17)The status of supply and demand in Northeast / Mid-Atlantic markets (6:48)Cities that Jones Street are currently targeting in their specified markets (10:00)Financing options (11:29)How Jones Street have positioned themselves for the upcoming wave of multifamily loan expiration (12:50) The team at Jones Street (15:39)Where Jones Street fits in the market of multifamily real estate, and field competition (17:00)Future growth and current trajectory (18:48)How Matt approaches other opportunities outside of the multifamily market niche (20:15)Matt's advice to those interested in investing in multifamily properties (22:46)How Matt maintains his prudent focus in the market (24:29)Matt's vision for Jones Street in the next 10 years (25:44)Links:Matt Frazier on LinkedInJones Street Investment Partners on LinkedInJones Street Investment Partners WebsiteICR LinkedInICR TwitterICR WebsiteFeedback:If you have questions about the show, or have a topic in mind you'd like discussed in future episodes, email our producer, marion@lowerstreet.co.
Charles Baker, Partner, Sidley Austin, Co-Chair Entertainment, Sports & Media  – He Shoots, He Scores! : Winning strategies for the game of sports and entertainment investments
Jan 17 2024
Charles Baker, Partner, Sidley Austin, Co-Chair Entertainment, Sports & Media – He Shoots, He Scores! : Winning strategies for the game of sports and entertainment investments
Every investment comes with plenty of responsibility, but in a multifaceted market like sports and entertainment with varied revenue streams and worldwide integration, navigating this complex landscape can be overwhelming. Today's guest is helping his clients make sure that all the bases are covered. Literally. We're sitting down with Charles (Chuck) Baker, who chairs Sidley Austin's Entertainment, Sports, and Media Group. Chuck represents investors in professional sports, businesses and teams, and advises on sports and entertainment transactions. He has decades of experience in the sports industry and has represented sports franchise purchases across multiple leagues, including the NFL, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, the NBA, the NHL, the National Women's Soccer League, and multiple European football leagues.Recently, Chuck represented Genius Sports in its multi-year strategic partnership with the NFL and the Canadian Football League, and also advised on the acquisition minority interest in the Los Angeles Lakers, the Charlotte Hornets, as well as the 6+ billion dollar purchase of the Washington Commanders.Chuck has been highly recognized in the field of sports and entertainment law by multiple national publications. Most recently, the National Law Journal named him to its 2022 list of sports gaming entertainment law trailblazers. The Sports Business Journal also named him to their 2021 Power Players list, and Law 360 added him to their 2020 Sports Betting MVPs.Chuck is an active board member for the March of Dimes and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He is also an adjunct professor and advisory board member at the University of Miami School of Law, and a distinguished lecturer at NYU's Tisch Institute for Sports Management, Media and Business.Chuck was also an associate for former Senator, Dollar Bill Bradley, one of Tom's all time favorite Knicks! Highlights:Chuck's work background and how he came across his opportunity at Sidley Austin (3:36)Secular trends currently driving the sports and entertainment investment market (6:57)Chuck describes the investor audience specific to sports and entertainment (8:55)Current sports markets with high deal flow (11:59)Chuck tells the story of the Chelsea FC deal and his role in the transaction (14:15)The current trend and future of sports investments going international (16:54)Chuck describes Sidley Austin's recent partnership with Arctos (19:11) Market competition, industry saturation, and the market's outlook (22:12)How streaming and entertainment consumption affect media rights (24:18)Women's sports and growing investment markets (26:18)How market developments and investments affect fan experience (27:55)Chuck's most recent wins with his own sports teams (28:46)Links:Charles BakerCharles Baker on LinkedInSidley Austin on LinkedInSidley Austin WebsiteICR LinkedInICR TwitterICR WebsiteFeedback:If you have questions about the show, or have a topic in mind you'd like discussed in future episodes, email our producer, marion@lowerstreet.co.
Maital Rasmussen, Chief Commercial Officer at Octave – Harmony in the Healthcare Ecosystem: Creating a collaborative platform to drive treatment innovations
Jan 10 2024
Maital Rasmussen, Chief Commercial Officer at Octave – Harmony in the Healthcare Ecosystem: Creating a collaborative platform to drive treatment innovations
Providing effective healthcare isn't just about the right treatment, it's a field with many branches, and strong relationships and communication channels are just as essential to providing patients with the care they need. Today's guest has developed a platform to bridge those gaps and facilitate collaboration. Today we're sitting down with Maital Rasmussen, who has over 20 years experience as a global commercial executive and strategic advisor. In her role as chief commercial officer at Octave, Maytel is responsible for leading and bringing the first in market precision care solution in neurodegenerative diseases to patients, physicians, pharmas and payers.She is a leader in the global commercialization of digital health and precision medicine solutions and has extensive experience in growth and value creation of patient centric, data-driven health tech products across multiple disease areas, including oncology, neurology, diabetes, infectious diseases, and more.Maital previously served as Global Head of Marketing at Roche during her tenure there, she defined Roche's personalized healthcare strategy and successfully launched digital solutions globally, positioning the company as a world leader in health technology. Some of her other positions included Director of Strategic and Product Marketing at Oracle Healthcare and Precision Medicine, Vice President of Global Marketing at JPMorgan Chase, and Founder and CEO of Rasmussen Communications. Maital draws on deep insights, fresh thinking, and relationships. She turns great ideas into action and delivers results driven programs without losing sight of the big picture, as so many often do.Highlights:Maital describes her career background, and her transition from tech and finance to healthcare (3:16)Maital describes how the Octave opportunity came to her (4:38)Octave's work, and their unique approach to MS treatment (6:06)Octave's innovative digital platform, and its benefit to patients and physicians (10:41)Maital describes the unique technology in Octave's blood test (12:01)Market competition, and what sets Octave's precision medicine apart (13:10)Octave's relationship with MS research communities (16:24)Partnerships, and how Octave is facilitating collaboration across the healthcare ecosystem (18:17)Maital explains the outlook for Octave and how they allocate capital investments (19:31)The potential for Octave's innovative technology to expand into new disease sectors (21:32)Recent leadership changes and how that will affect the company and Maital's role (23:02)How COVID changed the digital health landscape (24:53)How Octave is collaborating to bridge the gap between patients, pharma, payers, and physicians in the healthcare ecosystem (26:52)Maital's goals and predictions for the future of Octave's platform and research (28:07)Links:Maital Rasmussen on LinkedInOctave on LinkedInOctave WebsiteICR LinkedInICR TwitterICR WebsiteFeedback:If you have questions about the show, or have a topic in mind you'd like discussed in future episodes, email our producer, marion@lowerstreet.co.
Chris Tomasso, CEO of First Watch Restaurants – Breaking Fast: A disruptive and innovative recipe for success in hospitality
Jan 3 2024
Chris Tomasso, CEO of First Watch Restaurants – Breaking Fast: A disruptive and innovative recipe for success in hospitality
As today's guest will tell us, breakfasts have recently overtaken Friday dinners as the number one dining out experience of choice. So in the always-competitive hospitality industry, restaurants that do those meals particularly well are in a fantastic position. Chris Tomasso definitely understands how to excel in this space. Chris is the CEO of First Watch Restaurants, which trades under the symbol FWRG.  Prior to taking the helm in 2018, Chris served as President for three years and as Chief Marketing Officer from 2006 to 2015.  Before joining First Watch, Chris led strategic branding and marketing for renowned national and international brands such as Cracker Barrel and Hard Rock Cafe International.In 2021, Chris was named one of the restaurant industry's most admired C-suite leaders by FSR Magazine. Later that year, he led First Watch into Wall Street with their IPO. Chris earned a BA from the University of Central Florida and is an active alum who currently serves on the University of Central Florida Foundation Board of Directors. He was inducted into the University's Nicholson School of Communication and Media Hall of Fame in 2016. Highlights:Chris describes First Watch's background and market concept (2:57)Competition and First Watch's position in the market (4:08)Chris describes First Watch's business model (6:17)First Watch's unique shift schedule, and why it attracts employees (8:43)Chris' approach to business operations (10:36)Chris describes the importance of remaining in the restaurant atmosphere as a CEO (12:06)How First Watch incorporates developing technology into their business (13:59)How Chris applies his marketing background in his role at First Watch (15:30)Chris' capital allocation strategies (17:21)More on First Watch's disruptive business model, and their strategic market placement (18:54)Chris' view on inflation and its ongoing impact on the hospitality industry (20:28)Chris describes the impact of First Watch to becoming a public company (22:09)How Chris was introduced to the hospitality industry (24:27)Links:Chris Tomasso on LinkedInFirst Watch Restaurants on LinkedInFirst Watch Restaurants WebsiteICR LinkedInICR TwitterICR WebsiteFeedback:If you have questions about the show, or have a topic in mind you'd like discussed in future episodes, email our producer, marion@lowerstreet.co.
John Carrington, CEO at Stem – Powering Up: Transforming the energy sector with AI (re-broadcast)
Dec 27 2023
John Carrington, CEO at Stem – Powering Up: Transforming the energy sector with AI (re-broadcast)
During the holiday period, we're re-sharing this very popular episode from earlier this year. If you missed it the first time, definitely check out Tom's chat with Stem's John Carrington!Extreme weather, aging grids, power storage and distribution; these are just some of the challenges that clean energy is stepping up to solve. And companies like Stem are at the forefront, with cutting edge AI-driven services. On this episode we get to hear from John Carrington, CEO of Stem. John leads the energy storage and analytics movement at the company and has more than 25 years of leadership experience in technology, energy, and industrial companies.John came to Stem from MiaSolé, the world's largest CIGS-based thin film solar company, where he was CEO and Director. Prior to that, John was the Executive Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at First Solar, growing the company from 250 million to more than 2 billion dollars in open markets in the US, Asia, and Europe.John also spent over 16 years at General Electric, most recently as the General Manager and Chief Marketing Officer of GE Plastics. He was part of a small executive team that executed on the 12 billion dollar sale of GE Plastics to SABIC in 2007. We sat down with John to talk about his fascinating career trajectory and the huge runway he has in front of him with Stem. Highlights:John discusses how he got his start in the energy field (2:51)How John ended up at Stem, and what the company does (4:39)How Stem fits into the larger energy transition (7:28)John talks about the ground-breaking software that Stem has built and the real-life use cases (8:39)Stem's total addressable market (11:44)How the Inflation Reduction Act is benefiting energy storage (13:16)The ease of "going solar" today (14:40)Stem's partnership with In Charge, an EV charging infrastructure solution(16:17)John talks about Stem's truly innovative approach (18:07)The benefits of being a public company for Stem (18:58)How John is positioning Stem in this challenging economic time (19:29)The key drivers for margin expansion in the next few years (20:49)The backlog for 2022 vs. 2021 (22:01)John talks about his great team (24:08)Stem's approach to capital allocation (25:20)John's outlook for energy storage in the next three to five years (26:31)John's most important mentors (27:49)Links:ICR TwitterICR LinkedInICR WebsiteJohn Carrington LinkedInJohn Carrington, Stem Inc bioStem LinkedInStem websiteStem TwitterFeedback:If you have questions about the show, or have a topic in mind you'd like discussed in future episodes, email our producer, marion@lowerstreet.co.
Michael Browning, Founder & CEO, Unleashed Brands – Business Jungle Gym: Scaling up with brands that help kids learn, play, and grow
Dec 13 2023
Michael Browning, Founder & CEO, Unleashed Brands – Business Jungle Gym: Scaling up with brands that help kids learn, play, and grow
At a time when parents are fighting a losing battle against screen-time for their kids, real world, active and educational experiences are a huge draw. Today's guest is passionate about these kinds of opportunities for kids, and has built an amazing business to fill that need.We're sitting down with Michael Browning, Founder and CEO of Unleashed Brands, a platform company that houses the world's best franchise brands to help kids learn, play, and grow. Michael launched Unleashed Brands in 2011 after noticing a void in the market for parents looking for trusted resources for kids' activities.The company's growing portfolio currently includes Urban Air Adventure Park, Snapology, The Little Gym, Premier Martial Arts, XP League, and Class 101. In 2011, Michael launched Urban Air Adventure Park, the world's preeminent family indoor adventure park, which has since served over 20 million kids annually and generated over half a billion dollars of system-wide revenue.A young entrepreneur, Michael was named a rising star by the Dallas Business Journal in their annual 40 under 40 list in 2021. Having spent years as an entrepreneur, he leads the team with true insight into the challenges that new businesses face as he doggedly pushes the team to look for new ways to overcome obstacles and break down barriers to achieving success.Highlights:Michael on ideation and execution (3:30)What the company does, their current scale and why they’re in their sweet spot (4:05)Some of the brands in the portfolio, and how the business model works (6:13)Why the business model is a competitive advantage, and how it’s been for the franchisees (8:53)Being asset-light (10:30)Their partnership with Seidler Equity Partners (12:05)How they are using data to improve the company (13:54)The decision-making process on what to include in the portfolio (15:50)Who is the customer and why Unleashed Brands are recession-resistant (17:24)What Michael is focused on for 2024 (19:50)Michael discusses the team and his leadership style (21:08)Michael tells us about how the Unleashed Brands Foundation is helping kids, and how his family has gotten involved (23:18)The goals for the foundation in 2024 and later (27:25)Links:ICR LinkedInICR TwitterICR WebsiteMichael O. Browning Jr. on LinkedInUnleashed Brands on LinkedInUnleashed Brands WebsiteFeedback:If you have questions about the show, or have a topic in mind you'd like discussed in future episodes, email our producer, marion@lowerstreet.co.
Kevin McLaughlin, Co-Founder & CCO, and Mary Ellen Coyne, CEO, J.McLaughlin – Dressed for Success: Designing a brand's future with customer-centric simplicity
Dec 6 2023
Kevin McLaughlin, Co-Founder & CCO, and Mary Ellen Coyne, CEO, J.McLaughlin – Dressed for Success: Designing a brand's future with customer-centric simplicity
The sign of a strong apparel brand isn't always about covering every billboard. It's about longevity, steady growth, and speaking the customer's language. And today's two guests certainly know how to do that.On this episode, we're sitting down with Kevin McLaughlin, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of J.McLaughlin, and Mary Ellen Coyne, the company's CEO. Kevin started J.McLaughlin in 1977 with his brother, Jay. They envisioned a timeless lifestyle brand with a legacy of style and a spirit of connection. And they did just that, opening their first shop on 74th Street and Third Avenue in Manhattan. It immediately became the post-brunch destination for the Ivy league, JG Mellon crowd. Kevin's taste and design-sense has guided the J.McLaughlin collection since the first store opened, and he prides himself on creating effortless and enduring styles with a modern twist. Each style is thoughtfully designed with impeccable craftsmanship, original colors and prints and innovative fabrics.  Mary Ellen Coyne is the CEO of J.McLaughlin, and joined the brand in 2016. She oversees all aspects of strategy and operations, including merchandising, product development, marketing, retail expansion, and e-commerce. Under her leadership, the brand has launched new product verticals, including swim and footwear, enjoyed robust retail expansion, and recently launched a brand refresh. Prior to joining the company, Mary Ellen had two decades of leadership experience at Ralph Lauren, where she most recently served as the Chief Merchandising Officer of Polo Women and Children's Division. Her career kicked off in the Macy’s Training Program, and from there, she sharpened her industry expertise with key merchandising roles at Ann Taylor, The Gap, and Victoria’s Secret.J.McLaughlin now has over 170 beautiful stores on the most charming streets in America and true to the McLaughlin brothers' vision, each store is entirely unique.Highlights:Kevin tells how he and his brother Jay started the business in 1977, and who the core customer is (3:48)Mary Ellen talks about why she joined the company (6:31)The store locations, key markets and expansion strategy (8:08)The menswear category as the early foundation of the brand, and how the company approaches their relationship with the customer (10:16)Kevin talks about the role that intuition plays in the company (14:53)J.McLaughlin's philanthropy and their "local and loyal" approach (16:58)Mary Ellen discusses the company's impressive financial performance (17:57)The company's marketing and the role that their catalogue plays in that mix (19:43)New categories and opportunities for 2024 (22:06)Working with Trey Laird to update the company's branding and marketing (25:16)Kevin discusses the expansion and brand awareness he'd like for the company (27:38)Competition, and the profile and shopping habits of J.McLaughlin's customers (29:39)Trends and retail projections for the coming season (30:47)Mary Ellen and Kevin's goals for the next 5 years (32:06)Links:Mary Ellen Coyne on LinkedInJ.McLaughlin on LinkedInJ.McLaughlin WebsiteICR LinkedInICR TwitterICR WebsiteFeedback:If you have questions about the show, or have a topic in mind you'd like discussed in future episodes, email our producer, marion@lowerstreet.co.