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Thursday, April 11, 2019 7:30 AM - 5:00 PM
The Westin Book Cadillac

Join us for the biggest dealmaking event of the year. ASPIRE features an all-star lineup of entrepreneurs, dealmakers and investors for a day of dynamic discussions and one-on-one networking.

Go to the new Smart Business Dealmakers Detroit Conference Site
Detroit 2019

A Look Back

ASPIRE connects hundreds of Detroit-area dealmakers, including middle-market CEOs, top PE and VC firms, major lenders and leading service providers. With sessions ranging from raising capital to buying and selling companies to liquidity events, ASPIRE covers the breadth of the M&A landscape. To experience ASPIRE, take a look at this year's event.

Featured Speakers

Brian Demkowicz

Brian Demkowicz

Managing Partner

Huron Capital

Brian is managing partner and co-founder of Huron Capital Partners, a leading operationally focused private equity firm with a history of acquiring, repositioning and growing lower middle-market companies in partnership with strong operating executives. Since 1999, he and his team have established six Huron Capital investment funds totaling nearly $2 billion and invested in more than 150 businesses throughout North America. 

Jim Robinson

Jim Robinson

Regional President, Southeast Michigan

Chemical Bank

Jim’s professional knowledge, drive and energy as regional president of Southeast Michigan for Chemical Bank have been key catalysts to the bank breaking into the Southeast Michigan market. With more than 23 years of banking experience and a specialty in commercial lending, Jim is integral in aligning the efforts of a cross-functional leadership team to drive growth and ensure consistent service delivery throughout Southeast Michigan.

Sam Simon

Sam Simon

Founder & Chairman

Simon Group Holdings

Sam is founder and chairman of Simon Group Holdings, which he formed in 1985 with the founding of Atlas Oil Company. Simon Group Holdings, directly and through its subsidiaries, has interests and is an active investment manager in a number of industry sectors. In 2007, Sam created Atlas Cares, which supports Detroit organizations and encourages employees to volunteer at charities of their choice.

Host Committee

Stephen Polk

Stephen Polk

President and CEO

Highgate LLC

Stephen Polk is president and CEO of Highgate LLC, a private investment company in Birmingham, Michigan. Previously, he was chairman, president and CEO of R. L. Polk Co. until its sale in 2013 to IHS. He serves as chairman of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, vice chairman of the board of trustees of the Cranbrook Educational Community, vice president and director for the Detroit Zoological Society.

Christopher L. Rizik

Christopher L. Rizik

CEO & Fund Manager

Renaissance Venture Capital Fund

Chris is founder and CEO of the Renaissance Venture Capital Fund, a first-of-its-kind network fund formed by a consortium of Fortune 1000 corporations. Renaissance invests in and strategically connects venture capital funds and start-up companies with major corporations. His awards include EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® and Crain’s Detroit Business Newsmaker of the Year. Chris is also founder and publisher of, America’s most popular soul music online magazine.

Sherwin Prior

Sherwin Prior

Co-Founder & Managing Partner

Blue Victor Capital

Sherwin is co-founder and managing partner of Blue Victor Capital LLC. Previously, he was managing director of GM Ventures LLC, the corporate venture capital arm of General Motors, where he managed over $250 million in assets. In 2017, Sherwin was ranked 14th in the Global Corporate Venturing Rising Stars publication, and in 2018, he was named one of the Most Influential Blacks in Corporate America by SAVOY magazine.

Some of our Sponsors

Chemical Bank
Cendrowski Corporate Advisors

Conference Location