Aspire to Be great

Team + Advisors

Executive Team

Metta World Peace

Founder / Chairman
18-year professional NBA player, NBA Champion, retired Los Angeles Laker, active philanthropist, and 3x startup founder.

Heidi Buech

President
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Heidi Buech has years of experience in entertainment and PR. Heidi has worked with many pro athletes on the business side and management side.

Cassidy J. Szarnicki

Chief Executive Officer
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Cassidy Jordin Szarnicki began her career in law and politics, having worked for now Vice President of The United States Kamala Harris. The last few years she worked in Venture Capital, having identified lucrative investment opportunities, closed $15M+ in deals, and driven exponential business growth. She received her B.A. from UCLA in political science and Mandarin Chinese, and is a former D1 rowing athlete. Fearless and ambitious, Cassidy has a versatile skillset armed with the strategy, vision, and execution to make an immediate impact.

Jessica Conforti

Operations Manager
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2021 BCOM, Finance candidate with passion and creative experience in the sports industry, including accomplishments in accounting, finance, strategy and technology. Proud business generalist, promoting the interconnection between business functions, as well as the integration with technology.
Eager to expand my knowledge and experiences in the industry.

Phillip Sanders

Chief Financial Officer
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Began career at Ernst & Young (VC, PE, Consumer, Bio-Tech, Saas clients), Rockwood Capital, Kapor Capital, Advised and Audited Public Fortune 500 companies, Assisted as an auditor with two IPOs, Managed over $1 billion in assets (Private Equity), Created Venture Capital and Start-up advisory practice. Active Angel investor.
Client management team

Dennis Hoth

Chief Operating Officer
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Dennis Hoth has established himself as an industry expert with over 25 years of entrepreneurial and corporate experience in the natural / organic food and beverage industry. Mr Hoth has held a number of roles from sales manager, director, vice president, marketing and brand management, and an executive sales leader and consultant. Dennis specializes in consumer packaged goods and works with organizations and corporations dedicated to improving consumers’ health, physical performance, spiritual well-being and mental acuity.

Gerard Cassaza

Global Financial Partner
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Gerard is a strategic finance and banking professional who has participated in global transactions totaling over $350 million. Focused on technology and marketing companies, he works with founders on all aspects of their growth strategies, M&A transactions, and corporate finance initiatives.

Tyrone Grant

Head of Sports Management and Philanthropy

Shamel Frye

Client Management
Advisors

Otto Chan

Vice President, Google
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Otto Chan is the Vice President at Google, board member of: Arista Networks, Greylock Partners, Sutter Hill Ventures, Cisco, Bell, Verizon.

Stephon W. Barnes

Investment Partner
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Stephon W. Barnes was the Chief Administrative Officer and Director of Operations and at Cyrus Capital Partners LP. a hedge fund with over 4 billion dollars in Assets under management. In his role he is responsible for all day to day operations, portfolio finance, technology, Human resources, administration and client services of the firm as well as the firm strategic operational initiatives. Stephon has played a key role in the growth from $900 million dollars to its current status of over 4 billion dollars in assets under management. He was a Vice-president at Brencourt Advisors LLC where he was Global Head of Operations as well. Mr. Barnes has over 25 years of operational experience at various financial firms of which over 20 are in the Hedge fund space in various asset classes and fund structures. Prior to joining Brencourt Advisors LLC, Stephon held positions at Morgan Stanley, Natwest and BPB associates. Stephon is a member of the operating, Charitable giving and Camaraderie Committees at Cyrus Capital Partners. Mr. Barnes serves as the board chairman of Team First Inc. and is also on the board of LaSalle Academy. Stephon is a former sponsor and student of the Student Sponsorship Partnership. Stephon is also the author of After the storm: Hurricane Sandy. A native of Far Rockaway Queens, he received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Temple University’s Fox Business school where he double majored in Finance and Economics. Stephon resides in New Jersey with his wife and 3 children.

Sean Madnani

Founder and CEO, Twist capital
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Sean is a highly regarded and seasoned financier with 22 years of experience on Wall Street, leading over $110 Billion in corporate M&A transactions across North America, Western Europe, and Asia-Pacific. His focus has always been within the Technology sector.

Prior to founding Twist Capital, Sean was a Senior Managing Director at Guggenheim Partners for five years. He previously spent ten years at Blackstone (NYSE: BX), most recently as a Partner, Senior Managing Director, and Head of Technology M&A for the Western US and Asia-Pacific.  Sean was formerly an M&A investment banker at Lazard Frères & Co. LLC, and has also held various roles at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette (DLJ), Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns, and Lehman Brothers. 

Before starting his journey in corporate finance, Sean began his professional career as a software developer for IBM Corp. He graduated from UC Berkeley as a Cal Alumni Scholar and an IBM Thomas J. Watson Scholar. Currently, Sean lives with his wife and son in Los Angeles, where he serves on the Board of Directors for the LA Opera and the Campaign Steering Committee for Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. He is a significant benefactor to several other philanthropic organizations, including the Boch Performing Arts Center in Boston, the Fund for Animals and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

James Zukin

Co-Founder, Houlihan Lokey
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James Zukin is the Co-Founder of Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin (NYSE:HLI), a top 10 global investment bank and global leader in financial valuation. He co-headed the Houlihan Lokey groups that created the modern fairness and solvency opinions. Mr. Zukin was the founding Chairman of the Valuation Study Group, the first organization of financial valuation professionals. His government clients included the IRS, the Dept. of Labor, the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, the Office of Thrift Supervision, CalPERS & the Korean Asset Management Corporation. He formed Houlihan Lokey’s Sovereign Advisory Services practice, whose 20+ clients included Antigua & Barbuda, Belize, the Dominican Republic, Greece, Liberia, Iraq, and the Russian Federation. Mr. Zukin served as a senior delegate to the Paris Club meetings involving the private sector and the IMF. He presented to the Paris Club a seminal paper and financial model on determining sovereign contingent liabilities. He created the “rapid sequencing” approach to sovereign debt restructuring. Mr. Zukin has performed, supervised or reviewed over 1,000 financial valuations, over 200 M&A / restructuring engagements and over 20 sovereign debt engagements.

Alif Khalfan

Vice President of Product, Walt Disney
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Alif Khalfan has spent the past six years as a Vice President at The Walt Disney Company, where he oversaw Product Strategy for Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products’ games and interactive experiences studios. Alif joined Disney through the acquisition of social gaming company Playdom in 2010, where he helped expand the business from 50 to 500 employees worldwide. He actively advises several startup companies and serves as a Chairman for the Western United States on the Aga Khan Education Board. Mr. Khalfan has filed 11 patents and holds B.S. from Stanford University.

Pialy Aditya

Chief Strategy Officer, Republic
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Pialy is an innovation-driven executive with proven ability to scale both multi-billiondollarpublic corporations and early stage startups. Pialy is the Chief Strategy Officer of Republic, an investment platform (spun out of AngelList) focused on private companies from pre-seed to pre-IPO.

Christa Jones 

Fundraising, Fortune 500
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Christa has over twenty-one years of academic major gift and capital campaign fundraising experience having held senior leadership positions at: ABCD, Inc., Brandeis University, Harvard University, and Endicott College. She has formed lasting relationships with an extensive list of domestic and international high net worth individuals and Fortune 500 companies. Many of which are connected to Major League Pro Teams in New England and beyond.

Colby Schinto

NBA AGENT
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Colby Schinto is a certified NBA agent. She has a bachelors in business management & marketing from San Francisco State University, and took law classes at Yale. She began her sports career working for the LA Clippers, and moved to New York to be the commissioner’s assistant at the North American Soccer League. Colby dabbled in finance working at the largest independent investment firm and a tax firm. She has worked with numerous pro athletes, assisting with public relations, event planning, endorsements, management, and contract negotiations.

Hazel Ortega

Vocational Expert
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Hazel G. Ortega is a leading expert in vocational rehabilitation for injured workers. As a single mother, it was very challenging to take classes and care for her children, but she went full speed ahead to complete her bachelor degree and went from Bounced Checks to Private Jets.

Stephen Stokols

Legal Team

Isaiah Artest, Esq.

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Isaiah Thomas Artest is an Associate Attorney at The Lew Firm in Los Angeles, California, and is licensed to practice law in California. As an attorney, Mr. Artest’s practice areas cover transactional and litigation, including hospitality, corporate structure, business litigation, and employment defense litigation. Mr. Artest attended London Metropolitan University in London, England, where he received his Bachelor’s degree in International Relations & British Politics and a Master’s degree in International Security Studies. Mr. Artest received his Juris Doctor degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, California. Mr. Artest is an avid traveler and has visited 48 countries during his travels.

Charles Lew, Esq.

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Charles has 25 years of experience in senior operational roles at technology-oriented companies where he successfully architected complex turnaround strategies. His experience includes senior roles at HRmony, Veritil and Flaunt.com. Charles remains the Non-Executive Chairman of The Lew Firm, the law practice he founded which represents notable athletes, entertainment personalities and numerous hospitality ventures. He also serves on the board of Loyola Law School, is a founding member of Forbes LA Business Council and is active in community and charitable organizations including board of director positions at AdoptTogether, Mental Health America and is a current Los Angeles City Small Business Commissioner.

Charles earned his undergraduate degree at Florida State University and has a JD from Loyola Law School.

Denise Fernandez, Esq.

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Ms. Denise Fernandez is in-house counsel and head of the Talent and A&R Legal Department at Say So Entertainment. Denise began her career in talent representation working at notable organizations such as Interscope Records, MGMT Entertainment (formerly known as The Schiff Company) and Artest Management Group.

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