Our services

As a trusted strategic partner, we offer a suite of services to identify critical goals, develop solutions, and execute the most efficient path to excellence.

Our clients

We work with a multitude of globally and nationally recognized restaurant industry leaders.

Jim Rand

Senior Vice President

Jim is the Senior Vice President of Acutely. He is started his career at McDonald’s in 1973 with the primary responsibility to develop statistical and mathematical models to predict new store sales volumes. Starting as a single person department, Jim’s career expanded to his final position as Senior Vice President, Global Development.


Jon Hegwood

Vice President

Jon Hegwood joined the Emerging family of companies in 2019 as Vice President of Emerging Capital Partners out of the Chicago office. As a proven real estate professional and financier, Jon works with investors and equity partners in helping support owners and operators with strategic real estate and capital solutions.

Prior to joining Emerging, Jon worked with a leading national real estate advisory firm before founding his own real estate investment management company specialized in structuring and sourcing real estate partnerships and joint ventures.

With an innate entrepreneurial spirit, Jon understands the challenges business owners face and can assist in realizing untapped opportunities for growth.

Jon holds his real estate license in Illinois and is an active member of ICSC, CCIM, and YREP.


Frederick Lowe


Frederick is a career technology entrepreneur with more than 20 years of early to expansion stage business experience. He has an extensive background creating and monetizing novel technology platforms for media and brand advertising, and consumer direct marketing.


David Stockwell


David Stockwell’s expertise and passion in real estate stems from his unique background of working both on the retail and development side of the shopping center industry. His career started with General Growth Properties Inc. as a Regional Leasing Agent where David was responsible for leasing shopping centers in the Philadelphia, Delaware, and Baltimore markets.

After working for GGP, David chose to broaden his horizons and became a Retail Broker with The McDevitt Company. With The McDevitt Company, he oversaw all lease negotiations and site selections for Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Free People, We the Free, Terrain, Paper-Source, L'Occitane En Provence, Blue Mercury and Blu Sushi in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida.

Prior to coming on board with Emerging, David was a Retail Site Specialist for Katz and Associates in their Charlotte Office. He oversaw site selection and lease negotiations for Bar Louie (NC/SC), Pholiciulous Inc., TCBY, Yong Kong Street, FUWA Teppanyaki, Wireless World, and Pinot's Palette. David was also responsible for identifying and developing new business opportunities with landlords and tenants seeking opportunities.


Nicole Vrankin


Nicole is an Associate at EMERGING, responsible for growing and managing the EMERGING Partner Program. She brings with her a passion for working with people and supporting her clients and team members. Nicole has prior experience in program development in the healthcare and hospitality industries.

Nicole graduated from the University of Iowa with a BA in Health & Human Physiology and certificate in Aging Studies.

Martin Barboza

Vice President

Martin Barboza has been providing marketing and repositioning strategies for real estate investment and development for 15 years. He has built a track record of maximizing investment returns during the hold period by ensuring an appropriate capitalization structure, while focusing on optimal property performance. His ranked in top 1% of REO sales across Chicago for five years running. He has led execution with acquisitions, asset management, investments, construction, development and consulting. Martin delivers economies of scale to his diverse capital group by identifying underutilized properties in prime urban locations with expert analysis, execution of purchase, construction, and sale of investment properties.


Ashley Robinson

Vice President

Ashley Robinson is a Senior Executive at EMERGING, a family of companies that are focused on using proprietary data analysis and market expertise to generate strategic planning and financial success within the restaurant industry.

Her work at EMERGING has allowed Ashley to merge specific consumer data and analytics with her unique knowledge of real estate and the restaurant industry. Her clients gain a valuable edge by using data obtained thru Point of Sale Integration and Mobile Device Technology, to better understand customer profiles and consumer behavior.

Ashley is differentiated in the data and real estate industries alike because she converts relevant data into actionable insights and strategic planning, with the intent to convert this foundation into increased valuation for capital events.

Her ability to deliver expert real estate performance comes from almost two decades of in-depth experience across many real estate sectors including restaurants, retail, real estate consulting and shopping center development. She has advised and executed expansion strategies in every region of the country, and now incorporates data technology and analytics into her skill set.

Ashley has helped EMERGING’s companies develop their range of products specifically for the restaurant industry. She has unique access to a wide spectrum of proprietary industry data including restaurants spend, sales comps, COGS, labor costs and other P+L influencers.

Ashley creates business strategies that address both top line and bottom line drivers, backed by data rather than “best guess” analysis. Working with each department in a holistic approach to growth strategy, she enables collaboration and helps companies avoid siloed departments and profit damaging blind spots.

Ashley supports companies by curating a strategic plan specifically for their long-term goals. Applying objective data analysis and sophisticated market expertise reduces financial risks and improves sales projections and outcomes.

With a heavy dose of curiosity and a passion for business and people, Ashley loves what she does for a living, and the end result for her clients is improved company success, informed “white space” analysis, and industry leading valuations.


Megan Schmidt


Megan Schmidt is an Associate at Emerging Concepts, with responsibility for national tenant representation and leasing, market research, and supporting all members of the leasing team.

Prior to joining EMERGING, Megan worked as a Senior Analyst at EY, a big-four accounting firm, in their Transaction Real Estate group, performing commercial valuations in almost every asset class including, hotels, industrial, medical, and retail.

Megan earned a BBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a double major in Real Estate & Urban Land Economics and Marketing. She holds her real estate license in Illinois and Wisconsin and is an active member of the Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Association and mentor in the Wisconsin Real Estate Student Mentorship Program.


Mathew Focht


Mathew has a passion for helping best in class restaurant and entertainment operators onto growing as recognized national leader in their category. Mathew has served hundreds of restaurant–entertainment owners and developers of lifestyle and mix-use centers. Mathew is founder of Emerging Concepts and Emerging Capital Partners, and co-founder of Consolidated Concepts and Acutely. Mathew has helped exciting concepts expand nationally with focusing on real estate, capital, operations, and reducing operating cost.

Mathew has worked with following restaurants and entertainment concepts; Silverspot Cinema, Blue Sushi, Pour House, City Works, Doc B’s, The PUB, Levity Live, Improv Comedy Club, AZN, TAPS, Flip Side, 3 Palms, Blue Lemon, Adobe Gilas, Bar Louie, Concepts America, Devons Seafood, Houlihans, Cheesecake Factory, Brio, Bravo, McCormick & Schmick, Blue Martini, Hyde Park Steakhouse, BICE, Lucky Strike, Houstons, Cameron Mitchell, and many other restaurant and entertainment concepts.

Prior, Mathew was Principal of Sierra Advisors and Vice President of RKF Retail Property Advisors providing comprehensive leasing, marketing, and consulting services to owners and developers of malls, lifestyle centers, and mixed-use projects. Responsible for securing national expansion sites for over a dozen top restaurant and entertainment emerging chains and executing leasing for the restaurant tenant mix for hundreds of thousands of square feet around the U.S. Prior to RKF, Mathew was with Pyramid Companies and Steiner & Associates where he was responsible for restaurant leasing and development the firm’s superior-regional malls and mixed-use lifestyle projects.

Mathew earned a Masters of Business Administration in Finance and Real Estate and a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Cincinnati. He is a member of International Council of Shopping Centers, Urban Land Institute, and National Restaurant Association.


Luis Lara


Luis Lara works with some of the top concepts and private equity firms in the restaurant industry. He is responsible for identifying opportunities for restaurant companies to reduce cost and improve their profitability. Luis has helped clients add millions of dollars to their bottom line without disrupting the restaurant’s operations or affecting quality or the integrity of the brand.

Prior to joining Emerging, Luis worked for a top Illinois financial institution, BMO Harris Bank, and for two of the leading technology companies in Chicago, Careerbuilder and Belly. Luis graduated from the business school at Elmhurst College with a double major in International Business and Finance.


Alan Katz


Spending the majority of his career in hospitality, Alan brings extensive experience and knowledge in fundamental business facets including real estate, data analytics/site selection, supply chain, operations, marketing, and technology. Inherently entrepreneurial, Alan has been a cornerstone in building the EMERGING family of companies. Over the years, Alan has worked closely with hundreds of leading restaurant and entertainment groups throughout the country; consulting on creating strategic real-estate expansion plans, fundraising, and building supply chain infrastructures. Alan deploys a dynamic understanding of both growth and operations; having been instrumental in creating back-of-house efficiencies and reducing cost through negotiating distribution agreements, manufacturer contracts, and implementing technologies to help optimize day-to-day operations. Alan holds a degree from Depaul University in History/Pre-Law and Hospitality Management and Leadership. He holds his real estate license in Illinois and is an active member of ICSC.


Haywood Wright

Business Manager

Haywood joined Emerging in March, 2017, bringing with her a background in restaurants and hospitality. Prior to joining Emerging, Haywood and her sister bought and returned to profitability a quick-serve café in California. She overhauled the business by changing the sourcing, menu, branding, social media presence and built a catering program from scratch. Haywood operated it for three years before selling it to move to Chicago.

Haywood grew up in California and played basketball while earning a Psychology degree from Yale University. She studied food and beverage marketing and menu engineering at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale.


Aaron Graham

Senior Developer Operations Engineer

Having spent half his life shaping the web, Aaron excels at molding creative concepts into functional and user-friendly applications. His work with top brands like Google, Nickelodeon, Warner Brothers, Nike, HBO, Kimberly-Clark and Allstate has netted him two Webby Awards, a pair of IMA Interactive Media Awards, and a Horizon Interactive Award. Based in New York, when Aaron isn’t plugged in to technology, he can be found hiking the Catskill mountains.


Veronica Zemon

Director, Business Development

Veronica has extensive experience building brands nationwide and creating comprehensive sales-driving solutions in the beverage industry. After completing her MBA, Veronica spent eight years working in the advertising agency world creating award-winning campaigns across channels. Her business background coupled with her creative experience fuel her passion for innovative strategy and technology.


Robert Johnson


As a director in the Chicago office, Robert is responsible for national tenant representation and leasing. Robert joined the Emerging Concepts team 2016, bringing with him a background in finance and commercial real estate. Prior to joining Emerging Concepts, Robert worked at R.J O’Brien (a founding member of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange) and Milliman Financial Risk. Robert then spent a year working in acquisitions, specializing in mixed-use assets. Robert has an entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for the restaurant industry. Born and raised in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin Robert earned his bachelors degree in Economics from Indiana University and Master of Science in Real Estate Finance from Depaul University, Chicago. He holds his real estate license in Florida and Illinois and is an active member of ICSC and CCIM.


Patricia Le

Account Manager

Patricia has worked in client management within multiple industries including social services, healthcare, and insurance. Patricia brings with her a desire to provide the highest level of service and to support her client’s best interests.


Keith Schnabel


Keith writes in the spheres of education, film, comedy, and politics. As a freelancer, he has created engaging copy and video content for hospitals, small businesses, documentaries, and political candidates. In 2016, he was an organizer and regional digital lead for a presidential candidate (hint: she lost). He is also licensed to operate a forklift.


Jennifer Griffin

Creative Director

Jennifer has nearly a decade of experience in a wide range of design roles, most recently as Creative Director Dharma, a humanitarian aid platform. She has worked extensively in User Interface and User Experience design for both web and mobile applications, and she also has a strong background in branding, marketing, and communications.

Michael Stark

VP of Strategy and Partnerships


Hudson Piehl


Hudson joined Tipzyy three years ago as it's first employee! As COO, he manages the product development and operations teams. He uses his extensive background in team building and project management to deliver high quality products and customer service to Tipzyy clients.

Hudson has held senior roles at leading interactive companies and gamification for over 20 years. He has managed multiple Mobile Gaming Groups and responsible for client management and overall direction of several apps in parallel. Has extensive history with product vision, client coordination and project management for games, educational apps and consumer branded mobile apps.

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