Client Highlight: Alianza Soccer

Those of you who recently visited the New Opportunities page on the site noticed that we have six exciting opportunities actively listed. It's a very diverse selection of opportunities. We want to take a few moments to highlight one of the companies: Alianza Soccer Complex.


The owners of Alianza Soccer Complex are excited to have the commitment letter from Wells Fargo for $4M. The bank financing is contingent on their ability to raise capital to cover early operational needs and "just in case" things come up during construction. Once cash is raised, they will be able to close on the bank financing. That will be the last step before construction begins. So far there has been interest from multiple members since we listed the opportunity. We now want to move from interest to commitment within the next two weeks. From that point we can close the deal with 30-45 days.

Project Recap

Over a year ago, Javier Roman and his team purchased 7.7 acres of land on 54th and Cermak. The 80,000 sqft. future home of Alianza Soccer. After further due diligence, we revised the project budget to roughly $5M. The amount they are seeking is $200,000, offering 4% equity or revenue share with a 1.25x total return. 

The complex will have 3 full sized indoor soccer fields, 2 outdoor soccer fields, batting cages, concession stand, merchandise and more. None of which matters if the demand doesn't exist. Fortunately, Javier's reputation helped secure commitments from 7 leagues.

If you are ready to move from interest to commitment, please contact Rowan immediately, 

Assemblize - Our first year of impact investing

Allow us to re...introduce ourselves

Last summer, Assemblize was launched to help bring capital and other resources to Chicago's under-invested communities. We kicked things off with a series of pitch events that took place at various of locations throughout the city.  Assemblize, the most recent start-up from impact entrepreneur Rowan Richards, spent the first four months sourcing start-ups and small businesses. Each month, a select group of business owners was invited to pitch their idea and need to a committed group of impact investors. The result -- an incredible learning opportunity and a road map for Assemblize's future. 

Recent Success

Today Assemblize is in full swing! After recently helping Annie Bell Fragrances and Uncle Remus Saucy Fried Chicken (both located in the Austin neighborhood) close their respective rounds, Assemblize is building a reputation for both sourcing great opportunities and raising capital. As we enter the summer months there is no plan for slowing down. In fact, Assemblize has received over 60 requests for funding, each of which will receive careful consideration as part of our initial screening process. This month we listed six new businesses on our platform, available to all of our members seeking impact investment opportunities. The new list of investment opportunities includes start-ups and small businesses ranging from a new sports complex, cancer treatment product, manufacturing EdTech, HR SaaS and entertainment technology.

Our Approach

Assemblize is dedicated to place based investments into companies that will deliver financial and social return.  The impact that we seek includes 1) job creation, 2) local wealth creation, 3) investing in minority/women owned business  and 4) products and services that provide benefit to society.  Geographically, we seek to invest mainly in companies located in Chicago neighborhoods such as Austin, Garfield Park, Logan Square, Bronzeville, Woodlawn and Englewood. That being said, Assemblize sources companies that fall out side of the previously mentioned communities, giving equal consideration to companies with downtown addresses. 

New Members

As we continue to source local businesses, we want to make sure we provide more impact mined investors with access to our investment opportunities. Perhaps you aren't sure if you fit that description. If you are interested in: 1) local startup and small business investment opportunities 2) potentially receiving a significant ROI and 3) helping to positively impact the city of Chicago,  then becoming an Assemblize member is right for you.  The membership process is simple.  You can visit:, read the information provided and complete the form. We look forward to adding you to our community of investors that are leading Chicago's impact investing activity. 

Upcoming Events

On Tuesday June 20 @ 7:30, Kinslahger Brewing Company is hosting a new-member gathering for folks who love the local start up scene. The Assemblize team will be there to share some info,  answer questions, discuss the pipeline of opportunities and sign up new members. Feel free to stop by if you are in the Oak Park area (6806 Roosevelt Road Oak Park, IL). Assemblize will also host a downtown event later in the summer. We look forward to connecting more investors with some of Chicago's most exciting businesses. 

Past Adventures

You may remember seeing this information as a page on the website. Several website subscribers have commented about how much they enjoyed reading about some of my past journeys. I'm grateful that some folks can relate and others enjoyed hearing about a journey different from their own incredible path. As or team strives to reflect our growth and direction, we decided to remove this page from the website and offer the story as a blogpost for our new subscribers. I hope you enjoy!


My Life Has been full of adventures. Pursuing one dream after another. Some have been reached, while others have led me to the right place. I hope to spend the rest of my life helping others reach their dreams as well.


At the age of  7 I laced up my sneakers, grabbed my synthetic leather baseball glove and headed out of the door racing to the dirt fields just west of my house. Excited and scared I was ready for my first baseball practice. I had no vision of success or honor, just the hopeful anticipation of having fun with my classmates. 30 minutes later my perspective completed changes. Now with broken glove, a black eye and hurt feelings I declared defeat as I walked back home. Who new that a decade later I would head to the University of Notre Dame to play varsity baseball, captain the team and be selected in the MLB amateur draft by the Texas Rangers. Life is mysterious...always finish well.


In 2001 professional baseball was wrapping up and I was seeking the next challenge for my life. A close friend suggested that I look at Chicago's historic futures industry. After one interview I was offered a trading position with Marquette Partners.  By September of 2001, my trading career began and continued for the next 10 years. Traveling twice to London, trading products ranging from corn to gold to sugar, I work every time zone that exists. It was exciting, rewarding and challenging. I learned a lot about the interconnected world, capital markets and about myself.

More to come

While vastly differentness from professional sports and the fast paced digital experience of trading, my adventures in the impact community are just as exciting and equally unpredictable.  Should i be so fortunately I will continue to be an impact entrepreneur, seeking for complex solutions to match the complexities of this world. I thank God daily for the incredibly risky and uncertain journey he has me on. I hope you enjoy your journey as well.

Writing a New Chapter

Where to begin...

Ten years ago I had a BIG idea to start an organization focused on creating wealth and opportunities in under resourced communities. Eventually this idea would be formed into The Stewards Market, a non-profit organization with the purpose of starting, growing and transferring ownership of social enterprises. Many of you already know the story. In fact you have been part of it for over a decade. Today I am letting you know the decision was made to officially close the doors at The Stewards Market. As you continue reading this post you will see that this is a reason to celebrate!


Why was it so important to start Stewards Market?

In 2001 I officially retired from professional sports and was ready to take on a new adventure. Opportunity brought me into Chicago’s booming futures market. Within weeks of moving to Chicago, I also found myself involved in a wide range of volunteer opportunities targeting the Cabrini Green neighborhood. For two years I developed great relationships with several of the families living in this community. Over time I noticed disconnect between Cabrini and the flourishing communities nearby. It became apparent that in order for communities to lead their own transformation, a period of local wealth creation had to take place. This is what Stewards Market set out to do. Stewards Market became the platform by which three revenue generating social enterprises were launched. 


So why wind down Stewards Market activity now?

When we formed the organization we did it with three things in mind:

1. At that moment, a non-profit organization was the most likely method for raising start up funding for the social enterprises we were launching.

2. The goal was create sustainable businesses that we could transfer into the ownership of the communities we served.

3. We would never maintain the non-profit solely for the sake of having it remain. We have too much respect for those serving our communities. With limited resources and increasing needs, it would be irresponsible to take support away from other groups. We hope to inspire other organizations to explore mergers, partnerships and even dissolution if it is best for our communities.


What remains?

 At The Stewards Market there has only been one exit strategy for the businesses we launched…transfer of ownership from The Stewards Market to individuals within the communities we serve. In 2015 we accomplished this! First we merged the assets of King Lizzy Apparel and King Lizzy music, forming King Lizzy Creative. Next we trained a small group of young men from Chicago to become business owners. Finally, we structured a deal that allowed the young team to purchase King Lizzy Creative from The Stewards Market in in latter part of 2015. It was an amazing experience!

With King Lizzy Creative off on its own, only SOAP remains in our portfolio. In January we brought Liz Rytych onboard as our business development specialist. Liz is focused on adding new hotels to our amazing list of clients. Our year-end goal is to provide month service to 20 local hotels. We are well on our way. Most recently we added The Langham Chicago and are close to finalizing Chicago Athletic Association. It will come as no surprise that we will eventually seek to sell SOAP as well. We will assess our opportunities as the year-end approaches.

It will be a tremendous blessing to know that our social enterprises will carry on in the hands of young talented people. We pray that the businesses will continue to grow and have more impact each year.


What’s next?

It is already happening! For the past year I have been devoting my time in two areas:

Last July I joined the amazing team at Roosevelt University, within the Department of Human and Community Renewal.  Within the department I am Personal and Career instructor working solely with our state’s formerly incarcerated. Through a coordinated effort and amazing relationships with employers, our clients are being restored and experiencing new opportunities.

Outside of the classroom I have the pleasure of working with impact entrepreneurs working on some of the most amazing projects. Some of the folks I work with include Goodcity Chicago, Joshua and Lindsey Dugue, Stephen Cutter MORTAR, Kinslahger Brewing Company, NIWA and others. I approach each project as an investor, strategist, fundraiser and mentor.  It is also opportunity to speak from my successes and my mistakes.

Overall, my passion is to help further connect the social impact community that already exists here in Chicago. That was true 10 years ago, and it remains a goal of mine. I have no intentions of leaving the social impact world; it is what I love and exactly where I know I belong. Thank you for the years of support and guidance. Let’s stay connected and continue to transform Chicago into the city we want it to be.

Investing without an exit

Part of my morning was spent doing chart work for my stock portfolio. I enjoy doing it and it keeps me connected to the markets. Looking at one of the tech stocks I own, I noticed that a head and shoulder pattern was forming. Historically, this is a key indicator of a reversal in the trend of the stock. This indicator and other types of technical analysis help investors of all levels and expertise decide when its time to enter or exit a trade.

When we invest in real estate, capital markets and start ups, finding tools to plan our entry and exit strategies is not very difficult. But what happens when our investment is in people? If you have ever intentionally invested in a coworker, employee or mentee, then you know that it is quite a commitment. For those who work with at risk youth, the homeless community, formally incarcerated and the mentally challenged, the investment can be even greater...and often long term. But is there ever a right time to exit an investment in human capital? Along with time, money, network and reputation we have to be willing to make a longterm investment of a relationship. This scares many of us from being willing to invest in the folks around us. Its complicated, costly and time consuming. Plus, we want to know that our investment actually paid off. I want to see the formula. I want the math to work out neatly. With a a HUGE multiplier! Unfortunately, that's not always the case. Sometimes our investments in people do not pan out and in fact they can seem to cost us a tremendous amount of resources with a negative return. At best, our investments in people often don't show a return until much later on.

So what if you do make that there ever an appropriate time to exit the relationship? Perhaps investments in human capital are meant to have the longest time horizon within our portfolios. We should expect long hours, slow growth and unidentifiable returns. As we consider making such an investment and whether or not to exit the deal, we should think about the investors that are still part of our own lives. That should help put our expectations and priorities in the proper perspective.

Chicago's Change Makers - part 1

For the past 14 years it has been my privilege to be part of Chicago's social impact space. During the past decade and a half my journey has brought me to the interaction of meaning and money. A thriving community that encourages entrepreneurs, universities, corporations and government agencies to include the most vulnerable amongst us. This is no longer a cool thing to just talk about - it is actually taking place. Social impact, which was once an obscure idea, has now become a legitimate market sector, attracting some of the worlds most talented thinkers, designers and leaders. Right here in our great city a flood of talented people have decided to bring their skills and resources into this growing area of social impact. 

For the next 10 weeks I am going to spend time mentioning some of Chicago's unheralded leaders that are tackling our city's biggest issues through innovation, entrepreneurship, technology, faith, education and pure will! If I could, I would mention all of them by name. Instead, my hope is that this post will help stir interest and send you off on your own journey to discover the great work being done by regular people with audacious goals.

A broken heart for life.

Perhaps it was stories of my father's days on the streets of Kingston as an orphan. Maybe it was sight of rundown tenement buildings in Brooklyn, Newark and East Orange that had something to do with it. Even better yet, the nightly news reports of starving families in nations such as Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan must be the underlining cause. Most likely, all the above can be considered contributors to the broken heart I experienced as a child and have never gotten over. 

Typically, the infliction of a broken heart is tied to the loss of a singular relationship. In this case, I am referring to the pain caused through empathy for another person or group of people experiencing loss of dignity, human rights or well being. I'm not alone. Many, for years, have had their heart wrecked in this sort of manner. Do we get over it and move on? Should we? Or are we and those around us better served if we remain broken in our solidarity for our fellow brothers and sisters? For me, I believe remaining in that place of underlying pain is necessary. It influences my thoughts, shapes my perspective and informs my decisions in life. I am grateful for my heart condition and I pray that it never heals.