Involvement in Companies and Organizations
Buycostumes.com was launched in the Fall of 1999. After leaving corporate mainstream in 2000 and becoming an angel investor, I became the Chairman and lead investor of the company, which became BUYSEASONS, Inc. Over the years, Buycostumes.com has become the largest seller of costumes on the Internet. In the Fall of 2006, we sold the company to Liberty Media (LINTA). Click here to read more about my experiences with BUYSEASONS
After leaving Kohl’s in April, 2000 and exploring the new direction of becoming involved in the local, early-stage venture capital community as an private equity angel investor, I was surprised to learn that Milwaukee had not yet formed a non-broker dealer angel network that regularly convened, evaluated and invested in start-ups. Over the summer, I invited a bunch of people over to the house to considering putting together a formal angel network. From those informal gatherings, Silicon Pastures was launched in October, 2000. For more information, check out these links:
- Angel investors step in where others fear
- Angel investors give out $800,000
- Business leaders join forces for investor network
ModernMed is a new startup launched in the Spring of 2007. Like the early days of BUYSEASONS, I am the Chairman and lead investor. The company’s goal is to become a leader in the health care industry that partners with primary care physicians in changing their economic model and facilitating a higher level of patient care and convenience.
Before selling Christmas.com in late 2006, I was trying to leverage the four million visitors to the site into a more year-round business model, with a continued focus on shopping for gifts. After selling the Christmas.com url but retaining the content, I relaunched this new concept as TopNetPix.com. Originally planned to be a better solution to the overall unsatisfying experience of a Google search, our primary goal now has expanded to become the preferred aggregator for people who use the Internet, by combining great content, great search, and great customization. Think of a combination of Mahalo, Yahoo and Netvibes.
My company, ETR Group, LLC, purchased Christmas.com in 2003
Wisconsin Human Society
I have been proudly serving as a director of WHS since 2005. Under the outstanding leadership of Executive Director Victoria Wellens, this non-profit is worldclass. In 2006 and 2007, I was particularly involved in supporting the effort, primarily coordinated by Physicians Committee for Responsible Medidine (PCRM), to stop the killing of dogs in a physiology class at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
ETR Group, LLC
ETR Group,LLC is the umbrella company for any small startups/acquisition I primarily fund myself. Currently the main investment is TopNetPix.com. Previously, ETR Group has owned Christmas.com and, alas, the ill-fated Zak Black!
ZAK BLACK was a new retail concept launched in the the Fall of 2004. Despite some of most dedicated management I have ever been associated with, we shut down the business a few months later.
Kohl’s Department Stores
I worked for Kohl’s Department Stores from 1994 to 2000, most recently as an Executive Vice President. After leaving, I realized that no one had ever written a book about the early beginnings and subsequent explosive growth of the company (like other books on Nordtrom and WalMart). So in 2001 I actually spent some time and wrote a book primarily about the success of the company, and actually tried to get it published, to no avail (actually, one prominent publisher was very interested, but they insisted that Kohl’s be willing to sell the book at point of sale in all of their stores, something which never was going to happen)! As it turned out, the rapid April stock splits of 1996, 1998 and 2000 have yet to occur again, so fast forward six years I’ve had to add an epilogue and change the title of the book. Click here to read part or all of The Rise And Stall of Kohl’s Department Stores.