Our people and network are integral to the success of our Freeform Investing model. We operate as a hub and spoke core team of advisors that pull from industry expertise and strengths that help reduce risk and accelerate growth at client companies. Beyond our core team we hold many strategic relationships with co-investors and have a database and social media network of over 8,000 people.
Robert R. Topping founded a hedge fund in 1998, a fund of funds in 2007, and formed the corporate structure of Topping Capital in 2006. He has been in the investment business for over thirty five years with prior experience in institutional and retail sales, venture capital, portfolio management, and the market making of securities. Beginning in 2010, and through 2013, Topping Capital reallocated approximately $5 million to distressed real estate with a group that had fifteen years and $100 million of prior acquisition experience. This initial reallocation away from the hedge fund, and the realization of the confluence of capital-market events provided the genesis of a major “pivot” of the business model. The subsequent merger of the two predecessor funds in 2013 was the foundation of a totally opportunistic, “freeform” business model in search of early identification of alternative solutions independent of market and economic outcome.
Rob is a board member of GlobeMed.org, a past treasurer and board member of the Old Masters Society at the Art Institute of Chicago and a former advisory board member of Cumulus Funding (Align Income Share Funding) . He was a member of the Evanston Entrepreneur Lab. He earned his BBA from Southern Methodist University in 1983, and received the Chartered Financial Analyst designation in September of 1993. He is married with two children and lives in Evanston, Illinois
Alex Topping is an equity holder in Topping Capital and an investor in the public private hybrid fund and various deal opportunities. He has been associated with Topping Capital since September 2001 and actively assists in due diligence, research, operational (accounting and audit) and mentoring.
In his prior experience and prior to his association with Topping Capital, he was a Senior Vice President of PNC Mortgage in Structured Finance. While in that position over a period of six years he increased security and whole loan sales from $2 billion to over $12 billion and pre-tax income for the conduit increased from a loss in 1993 to $22 million in 2000. Responsibilities included all aspects of pricing, hedging and marketing our whole loan position. From 1995 to 1997 he was also responsible for the warehouse lending business where average outstanding loans increased from less than $100 million in 1993 to $305 million in 1996. Pre-tax income increased from $4.9 million to $8.0 million.
John Lawrence joined Topping Capital’s Advisory Board in 2015. He is a healthcare executive with significant M&A experience having served as General Counsel of a healthcare services company for over 18 years.
John was one of the original employees of NovaMed, Inc. and served as its General Counsel during its growth from a start-up in 1996, to its initial public offering in 1999 (Nasdaq: NOVA) and ultimately its sale in a going private transaction to HIG Capital in 2011 during which it merged into one of HIG Capital’s existing portfolio companies, Surgery Partners. John then served in the same capacity as General Counsel of Surgery Partners until December 2014 when Surgery Partners purchased Symbion, Inc. and relocated its headquarters to Nashville. John has since founded JOLA Capital Advisors, LLC, which provides advisory and consulting services.
John is also active with and serves on the Board of Directors of a family business that engages in timber, real estate and agricultural operations in the Southeast. John has a B.A. in Economics from the University of Michigan and a J.D. from the Washington University School of Law. John resides in Chicago with his wife, Kelly, and their three children.
James Gallagher joined Topping Capital in March 2014. While at Topping Capital, James focuses on marketing and investor relations for both private capital raises as well as our private investment fund. Prior to joining Topping Capital, James worked for Discover Financial Services, Legacy Marketing Partners and Scudder Investments.
James holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Illinois State University, a Masters in Accounting and Financial Management from Keller Graduate School of Management and is currently earning an MBA with a concentration in Behavioral Finance from Kellstadt Graduate School of Business, DePaul University. When James is not studying the financial markets and how people make decisions, you can find him cheering for the local Chicago sports team, finding new restaurants with his wife and playing with his dog, Jersey.
Shima Rayej has over 10 years of experience launching new financial and technology products. She is co-founder and managing partner of Persee Ventures, a Chicago-based venture technology firm that works with promising fintech startups and large financial institutions to build scalable technology solutions for some of the industry’s toughest problems, including automated risk management, portfolio management, and asset pricing. She is also the co-founder and CIO of Safe Rate, a mortgage company commercializing socially responsible mortgage products for residential borrowers. Shima has previously worked in Deutsche Bank’s structured products group as well as OCA Ventures, a venture capital firm investing in software and financial technologies.
From 2005 to 2010, Shima was a robotics engineer, developing path planning and obstacle avoidance algorithms for autonomous ground vehicles. Shima received her BS in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT and her MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Dylan Hall has over 10 years of experience launching new financial and technology products. He is co-founder and managing partner of Persee Ventures, leading system design and data analytics. He is currently a lecturer at the University of Chicago, teaching Entrepreneurship in Technology, and co-founder and CEO of Safe Rate, a mortgage company commercializing socially responsible mortgage products for residential borrowers. Prior to Persee Ventures, Dylan was CTO at Classkick, a YCombinator / Imagine K12 - backed education technology startup creating real-time classroom technology to connect students with teachers.
From 2008 to 2010, Dylan was a math teacher in West Garfield Park, Chicago as part of Teach for America. He received his BS in Computer Science from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and his MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Starting her career in retail banking, Denise has spent the last nine years running the Small Business Development Centers at ICNC and UIC. In these roles she revitalized ICNC’s revolving loan fund, directed a workforce training program for single women entering the emergency medical field, in addition to advising entrepreneurs on how to start and grow their businesses. At UIC she organized and judged business competitions, launched and taught a new, graduate entrepreneurship program for military veterans, and acted as a partner resource for faculty and students commercializing technologies, including SBIR, seed and angel funding placements. She improved the connection between local entrepreneurs and the College of Business Administration through graduate student consulting services and co-launched Black Tech Scholars, a business and technology training program for undergraduate students wanting to enter the tech workforce. Her latest achievement was researching and writing a strategic plan for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity on how to modernize the Small Business Development Center program in the State of Illinois where she was honored with an outstanding achievement award by Deputy Governor, Leslie Munger.
Denise holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and a Master’s in Educational Psychology-Measurement, Evaluation Statistics and Assessment from UIC.
Amir Homayoun Rafizadeh
Amir Homayoun Rafizadeh is known as the family Office Network Sommelier. Amir is a valuable resource to Topping Capital in expanding our family Office Network. Amir builds strategic customer networks by pairing the right customers to the right companies creating strategic relationships.
Amir started his career in a Persian family office in London and built out significant multiple family office relationships. He has spent his entire career growing sales for customers and organizations not only in the operating companies these family offices own but during his tenure at Glaxo Wellcome(now GlaxoSmithKline) where he managed a team of 60 sales professionals and increased revenues over four years 4x $320M.
Amir has built a private network of over 150 family offices across the US. His Chicago family office consulting practice (678 Partners) provides advisory services on sales growth, sales strategies, and customer acquisition strategies. His customers typically include CEO’s, senior C-suite Sales Directors inside Family Office owned companies, who are focused on, and in need of, growth and scaling strategies.
Amir has a BSc in computer science and an MBA in international business. He is the Global head of Family Office and Strategic Partnerships at Salt Flats Innovation house. Amir is married and lives in Chicago.
Joe Rizzi is founder and principal at Journey Capital Partners ("JCP"). JCP is an investor and advisor that leads with CxO roles in emerging growth companies. Joe is an ex-investment banker that covered fintech, insuretech and emerging growth financial services firms in 15 years of enterprise experience. Additionally, Joe is Vice Chairman of Heartland Angels and has been active in consulting to portfolio company CartoFront and business operations at Topping Capital. Joe is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago (MBA & MSF - 4.0 GPA) and Indiana University Bloomington (BA - Economics) and is married living in Chicago.
Jason Harris is an operating partner of Topping Capital and is currently serving as CEO of CartoFront, a Topping Capital portfolio company, which is building intelligence and workflow into the flood insurance distribution process.
Jason has a unique blend of large systems background, having worked in leadership at McDonalds Corporation (1998-2011), as well as start-up, innovation, and agile business development at UI LABS (2013-2016) and Salt Flats (2016-2017) and practicing growth consulting with large (Exelon) and small companies (Gunderson Law Firm). He specializes in business strategy, designing efficient systems, and leading teams from identifying business initiatives to 100% customer execution.
He has a Masters of Science in Communication from Northwestern University and a Bachelors of Arts from the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. Jason resides on the north shore of Chicago, has four children — one in each US Timezone! — and enjoys running, yoga, cooking, photography, travel, baseball, antiques, and family.
Pamela Finney Swenson has more than two decades of experience coaching and directing student athletics programs in multiple sports at private schools and academies. She has helped at Topping Capital with special projects and events, business development and was responsible for the initial build out of the CRM in 2015. In addition, she is a former consultant in business operations, investment and financial management with a background in management and options trading. In the early 1990s, Pamela was an options trader for Chicago Research and Trading (CRT) in Chicago. She was also the Financial Manager for the Woman's Club of Evanston. Throughout her career, both in athletics and in business, Pamela has used her knowledge, experience, and natural talent for working with people to bring trusted guidance to her co-workers, fellow students, and clients. Pamela holds a Specialized Certificate in College Counseling from University of San Diego and a Masters of Athletic Administration from Ohio University, Athens, OH. Pamela has three children and lives in Evanston, IL.
Dudley Beyler is the founder of Laveer Capital Management, LLC (LCM) which engages in the execution of alternative investment strategies. Laveer seeks misunderstood markets, out of favor strategies, concepts disrupting legacy incumbents and inefficiencies identified through an understanding of investor psychology. Dudley is also active through two affiliate companies in real estate and tax lien strategies (Asymmetric Acquisitions) as well as investing in early stage growth companies and management teams (Greenlight Ventures). Dudley is also author of "Capital Disruption" - The stories of nine pioneers and their vision to change the lending industry - and a graduate of Indiana University with a BS in Finance.