April 27, 2017

Financial analyst to offer insights to business owners

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Assuring a small business is a viable enterprise that investors will want to be part of isn’t easy, but a presentation at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center can help.

Karin O’Connor, chartered financial analyst, will present “What Do Investors Want and Why?”  at noon on May 1 at the center, located at 1740 Innovation Drive in Carbondale. Current and prospective business owners will have the chance to take a step back and see their business or business plan the way an investor would. O’Connor will show them how to evaluate their concepts, models and operations to assure they are competitive and have what it takes to compete and succeed.

O’Connor is the founder and president of Perimeter Advisors, a Chicago-based advising firm that assists the owners of mid-market companies in planning and executing value enhancement strategies. The workshop, which begins with a provided box lunch at 11:30 a.m., is free and open to interested entrepreneurs.

The seminar will kick off the Entrepreneurs in Residence program, which serves to connect Southern Illinois entrepreneurs with seasoned business professionals who will provide expertise and serve as role models, mentors and coaches. The program is part of the “Growing Southern Illinois: Strengthening the Regional Entrepreneurship Ecosystem” project, funded by a $159,312 grant from the Delta Regional Authority to the Southern Illinois Research Park. The project is designed to assist with startup and expansion of small businesses that have high growth potential through mentoring, management and assistance with access to capital.

“We’re excited to have Karin Dommermuth O’Connor serve as our first Entrepreneur in Residence at the SIU Research Park,” Kyle L. Harfst, executive director of economic development and of the SIU Research Park, said. “Karen brings a wealth of experience to the region, having invested in 15 early-stage companies during her time with Hyde Park Angels, Chicago’s largest angel investment network. As an Entrepreneur in Residence, she will advise and counsel Southern Illinois early stage companies, focusing on business model building blocks and planning and executing value enhancement strategies.”

O’Connor was managing director of Hyde Park Angels for three years and is an active investor in and adviser to early-stage companies and entrepreneurs. Representing the Angels, she served on the boards of several portfolio companies, including FeeFighters, which was acquired by Groupon Inc. in 2012, and Moxie Jean, acquired by Schoola in 2015. She is a venture partner at Serra Ventures, a Champaign venture capital firm and also serves as Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the University of Illinois Research Park.

O’Connor holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from University of Illinois-Urbana and earned her MBA at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, where she was an F.C. Austin Scholar.

“Each of the Entrepreneurs in Residence will present a seminar or similar activity, designed to acquaint them with the local technology and with high-growth potential entrepreneurs, and vice versa,” Lynn Andersen Lindberg, managing director of the SIU Center for Innovation, said. “Individual consultations and ongoing business relationships will occur as these experts are matched with individual entrepreneurs’ needs. In addition, the experienced entrepreneurs will spend time with local high school entrepreneurs and with SIU student entrepreneurs from Saluki Ventures, the university’s student business incubator program, during the next year.”

Although there is no cost to attend the workshop, pre-registration is required. To sign up, call 618/453-6754 or email innovation@siu.edu.

Workshop sponsors include the Illinois Small Business Development Center/International Trade Center, and SIU’s Center for Innovation, Office of Technology Transfer, Vice Chancellor for Research, and Research Park. The Delta Regional Authority covers 252 counties and parishes in an eight-state region along the Mississippi River, including the 16 southernmost counties in Illinois. The authority’s States’ Economic Development Assistance Program is funding the grant that allows SIU to offer the Entrepreneur in Residence program.