The team at Aspire Capital has significant investment, public company financing, legal, tax and accounting experience.

Steven G. Martin | Managing Member

Mr. Martin has more than twenty-five years of experience financing publicly traded companies and extensive experience in finance and venture capital. He was a founder and Managing Member of Fusion Capital, a Chicago-based investment fund started in 1999 that funded or committed to fund over $700 million in public company financings. While at Fusion Capital, Mr. Martin was responsible for the creation of the Fusion Capital investment structure and documentation used in virtually every Fusion Capital transaction. Prior to Fusion Capital, he was a principal at a $150 million Chicago investment fund where he originated, structured, and negotiated private placement investments in public companies. Mr. Martin was also a partner at the Chicago law firm of Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP. As an attorney, Mr. Martin represented institutional investors and public companies in highly complex private and public investments. Mr. Martin received his Juris Doctor degree with honors from Northwestern University School of Law. Mr. Martin graduated with high honors from the University of Michigan with a Bachelors of Business Administration, concentrating in finance.

Christos Komissopoulos | Principal

Mr. Komissopoulos has approximately thirty years of business experience in negotiating, financing and closing highly-complicated transactions. He was a principal at First National Development LTD for more than twenty years, where he negotiated and closed numerous transactions worth hundreds of millions of dollars. He has a strong interest in studying law as well as economics and has for many decades been a scholar in academia both as student and instructor: since 2003, he has been an adjunct professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law (IIT) where he teaches classes on agreement negotiations, real estate transactions and comparative transactional issues between the US and the European Union introducing students in the analytical tools of the law and economics discipline. Mr. Komissopoulos earned a Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) degree from Northwestern University School of Law, a Master of Arts (M.A.) in economics from University of Illinois at Chicago, a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree from DePaul University College of Law, an LL.M degree from Northwestern University School of Law, and a Law Diploma from the National & Kapodistrian School of Law in Athens, Greece.

Erik J. Brown | Principal

Mr. Brown has over eighteen years of experience financing private and publicly traded companies. He spent seven years at Fusion Capital where he was responsible for deal origination and negotiation. Prior to this, he was the President of CGI Capital, a venture capital firm and NASD broker-dealer in Illinois. Mr. Brown began his career in finance at Merrill Lynch. He currently serves as a member of the Advisory Board of the Financial Markets Institute at Michigan State University. Mr. Brown has also served on the Leadership Council of the Chicago Public Education Fund, a venture capital fund focused on improving public education, and on the board of the Kellogg Alumni Club of Chicago. He earned his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and his B.A. in finance from Michigan State University.

William F. Blank | Principal, Life Sciences

Mr. Blank has gathered extensive experience investing in publicly traded life sciences companies and conducting scientific, clinical, regulatory, and financial diligence throughout his time at Aspire Capital. Prior to joining Aspire Capital, he worked as Summer Associate within the healthcare investment banking group at National Securities Corp. Mr. Blank began his career in biotechnology as an Associate at Integrated Genomics, Inc. where he conducted research, including antimicrobial drug target discovery, and supported business development initiatives targeting large pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions. He earned a B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Illinois and a M.S. in Biotechnology from Johns Hopkins University. Mr. Blank also holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation and is a member of the CFA Society of Chicago.

Kathryn A. Wilson | Vice President

Ms. Wilson has experience in investment fund operations & accounting. She joined Aspire Capital after working at Northern Trust Hedge Fund Services. Ms. Wilson originally joined Omnium LLC, an affiliate of Citadel Asset Management which was subsequently acquired by Northern Trust Corporation. While at Northern Trust, she helped lead the investor accounting team advising hedge funds and private equity funds on fund structure, investor treatment, and accounting issues. She previously worked for EY (formerly Ernst & Young), focusing on audit clients in the private equity and biotech industries. Ms. Wilson currently serves as the treasurer of Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation’s Associate Board, of which she has been a member since 2015. She earned her B.S. and a M.S. in Accountancy from Wake Forest University and is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), licensed in Washington, D.C..

Michael P. Burrows, PhD | Vice President, Life Sciences

Prior to joining Aspire Capital, Dr. Burrows was a biomedical researcher at the University of Chicago where his work focused on better understanding the relationship between autoimmune disease and the microbiota. He has developed expertise in a number of disease models and his research has resulted in several publications in high impact journals including Immunity and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Additionally, Dr. Burrows gained significant experience in the technological and commercial assessment of early stage biotechnology projects while serving as a Chicago Innovation Mentors Fellow and a CIE Innovation Fund Associate. Previously, he worked as a research scientist for an immunotherapeutics company where he was responsible for drug development. Dr. Burrows received a Ph.D. in Immunology at the University of Chicago. He also received a M.S. in Microbiology from the University of Nebraska Medical Center and a B.S. in Microbiology from the University of Illinois.

John C. Wiet | Analyst

Prior to joining Aspire Capital, Mr. Wiet worked at Gelber Group where he successfully devised and implemented investment strategies for US interest rate securities and equity indices. He has significant experience employing both fundamental and technical analysis to identify new investment opportunities and effectively manage risk. Mr. Wiet earned his B.A. in Economics from Middlebury College where he was a captain of the varsity football team and a member of the varsity baseball team. He is a FINRA Series 7 license holder and is a Level II candidate in the Chartered Market Technician (CMT) program.

Matthew Z. Sesterhenn | Analyst

Prior to joining Aspire Capital, Mr. Sesterhenn worked at The Vanguard Group, Inc. where he traded equities for Vanguard’s high net worth and ultra-high net worth clients. He has experience in portfolio theory, equity trading, fundamental analysis, financial mathematics, and financial modeling. Mr. Sesterhenn earned his B.S. in Finance and Technology Management from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. Mr. Sesterhenn has passed all three levels of the CFA Program on the first attempt and may be awarded the charter upon completion of the required work experience. He also actively participates as a board member and committee chair on the NorthShore University Health System’s Associate Board.

Felicia A. Phan | Analyst, Life Sciences

Prior to joining Aspire Capital, Ms. Phan was a graduate student researcher at Washington University in St. Louis where she worked on several oncology projects as part of their Molecular Cell Biology program. She has additional academic research experience in cytokine signal transduction from Northwestern University and development of an ultrasound-based alternative to chemotherapy from Vanderbilt University. Ms. Phan earned her B.E. in Biomedical Engineering from Vanderbilt University where she received awards for the design of a preventive device for Zika Virus and development of a novel stent for treating bifurcation aneurysms.

John W. Colson, PhD | Analyst, Life Sciences

Dr. Colson was previously at ClostraBio, Inc, a University of Chicago spinout creating new medicines to prevent and treat life-threatening allergies to food. As the company’s first employee, John led all company and scientific operations, accounting, and financing activities. Prior to ClostraBio, Dr. Colson was a postdoctoral scholar and an Associate, then Senior Associate, with the Innovation Fund at the University of Chicago. As part of a multidisciplinary Associates team, Dr. Colson led the diligence process on multiple deals in the cleantech and internet connectivity spaces and made go/no-go recommendations to the Fund's Investment and Advisory Committee’s. Dr. Colson earned his PhD in Chemistry from Cornell University in 2014 developing techniques to prepare and measure polymer films. In 2017, he was awarded the Henkel Award for Outstanding Graduate Research in Polymer Chemistry, a national award from the American Chemical Society. His work has been published in Science, Nature Chemistry, and other leading journals and he is a named inventor on 3 patents.