Extensive Experience in Consumer Investing and a Shared Philosophy
The Topspin Consumer Partners investment team has worked together and known each other well for many years. All of the team members share a similar investment philosophy and have extensive experience operating and investing in small businesses. Moreover, we have complementary industry and functional skills, which have enabled Topspin Consumer Partners to successfully grow its businesses and execute its investment strategy with consistency and discipline.
Leigh is a co-founder of Topspin’s private equity practice and head of the investment committee. Leigh joined Topspin in February 2004 and has over 25 years of private equity and transactional experience.
Leigh has extensive experience in consumer products and services, and in particular, has acquired deep knowledge and expertise in the health, wellness, beauty and personal care sectors through both a past senior operating role and past investments. Prior to joining Topspin, Leigh served as Chief Financial Officer of Stonewater Spas, a leading, private equity-backed operator and consolidator of day spas. Prior to that role, he served as Executive Vice President of Corporate Development of Small World Media, a game software developer. Earlier in his career, he was a consultant with McKinsey & Company and a corporate attorney at Cravath, Swaine & Moore. Before Cravath, Leigh clerked for the Honorable Charles S. Haight, Jr. in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Leigh received his AB in English and Economics from Duke University in 1992 where he graduated summa cum laude and his JD from Harvard Law School in 1995 where he graduated magna cum laude and served on the Law Review. In addition, Leigh is on the Board of Advisors of the Mamaroneck Schools Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to supporting the public schools in the Town of Mamaroneck.
Stephen joined Topspin in January 2008 and is a member of the investment committee. Stephen brings over 20 years of investing and operating experience and was instrumental in building the infrastructure and the success of Topspin Consumer Partners’ private equity business. During his tenure with the firm, Stephen has covered a wide range of consumer-focused industry verticals with significant experience in specialty retail, health and wellness and juvenile products.
Stephen began his career with Bain and Company, where he focused on business services and manufacturing firms. Following his tenure with Bain, Stephen left to support the executive leadership team of Spherion Corporation during a multi-year turnaround.
Stephen received his BS degree in Mechanical Engineering with highest honors from Georgia Institute of Technology in 2000, where he was a President’s Scholar, and received an MBA from Harvard Business School in 2007, where he was a George F. Baker Scholar, and helped support the Chair of the Finance Department in the development of a new course focused on private equity finance.
Ojas joined Topspin in July 2009 and is a member of the investment committee. Ojas brings nearly 20 years of private equity and investment banking experience and has played an integral role in building Topspin Consumer Partners’ private equity business and portfolio. Over his time with the firm, Ojas gained extensive experience in consumer products and services, and in particular, has acquired deep knowledge and expertise in e-commerce, health and wellness and specialty retail.
Prior to joining Topspin, Ojas worked at Merrill Lynch & Co. where he assisted in the reorganization of a portfolio of principal credit and equity investments. Prior to business school, Ojas joined Key Principal Partners (now Cyprium Partners), where he focused on equity and mezzanine investments to fund growth, buyout and refinancing of manufacturing, distribution and service-oriented companies. Ojas began his career with Salomon Smith Barney (now Citigroup) in the investment banking division focused on transactions in the automotive and aerospace & defense sectors.
Ojas received his B.A. in Economics and Philosophy with distinction from the University of Michigan in 2000, and his M.B.A. from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business in 2008.
Josh joined Topspin in 2018. Prior to joining Topspin, Josh was Founder and CEO of Oceanus Advisors Inc., an investment and advisory firm that specializes in working with private equity-owned companies on strategy, sales, marketing, product development, operations, HR and M&A. Prior to Oceanus, Josh was Founder and CEO of Mission Product Holdings, Inc., a leading, private equity-backed consumer brand in the health and wellness sector focused on sports accessories. Prior to Mission Product Holdings, Josh was Co-founder and President of GoSMiLE Inc., a leading innovative private equity-backed consumer brand in the beauty industry. Josh began his career as Co-founder and EVP of Student Advantage, Inc., a publicly-held consumer brand in the youth marketing and media industry.
Over the last 20 years, Josh has invested in, and served on the Board of Directors of several consumer companies. He has a deep network within brick-and-mortar retail, which includes senior level contacts for Walmart and CVS. Josh received his BS in Marketing and Finance from the University at Albany in 1997. He has received numerous industry awards and been recognized and featured on CNBC, Fox Business, and in NYT, WSJ, E&Y and more. In addition, Josh serves on the Board of Directors of Driving Force Group, a non-profit focused on social and justice equality.
Ekta joined Topspin in 2021. Ekta brings over 10 years of private equity and investment banking experience. Prior to joining Topspin, Ekta was an investment professional at Fireman Capital Partners where she was responsible for evaluating and executing new investment opportunities and supporting portfolio companies. Ekta began her career with Citigroup in the investment banking division focused on M&A and strategic advisory services in the consumer & retail space.
Ekta received her B.S.B.A in Accounting and Marketing from Georgetown University, where she graduated magna cum laude.
Nick joined Topspin in 2017. Prior to joining Topspin, Nick worked as an Investment Banking Analyst at RBC Capital Markets, where he focused on M&A and strategic advisory services for the Consumer & Retail industries.
Nick received his BBA from the University of Michigan’s, Stephen M. Ross School of Business in 2015 where he graduated with high distinction.
Matthew joined Topspin in 2021. Prior to joining Topspin, Matthew worked as an Investment Banking Analyst in the Consumer & Retail group at Rothschild & Co, where he advised clients on mergers and acquisitions.
Matthew received his BS in Economics from Duke University in 2019, where he graduated summa cum laude.
VP of Finance
Jason joined Topspin in 2017. Prior to joining Topspin, Jason worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers in the Alternative Investment Group, where he was responsible for providing valuation and financial reporting services to private equity clients. Prior to PwC, Jason worked at Loeb & Troper where he focused on healthcare and non-for-profit sectors.
Jason received his BS in Finance and Accounting from the Sy Syms School of Business at Yeshiva University in 2010 where he graduated cum laude and is a licensed Certified Public Accountant in New York.
Leo Guthart is a Senior Advisor to the Fund. Prior to its sale to Honeywell in 2000, he served as Vice Chairman of Pittway Corporation and Chief Executive Officer of its Security Group of companies. After Pittway’s sale to Honeywell, he served as Chairman of the Security and Fire Solutions Group of Honeywell International.
He was also Chairman of publicly-held Cylink Corporation, a leading U.S. supplier of encryption equipment that was sold to SafeNet Inc. He also served as a Director of AptarGroup, Inc. (NYSE: ATR), an international producer of dispensing valves, pumps and closures for pharmaceuticals and perfumes. He is a Trustee of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and served as its Treasurer as well as Hofstra University where he served as Chairman of its Board.
Leo is a graduate of Harvard College where he received a BA degree in Physics in 1958, and of Harvard Business School where he was a George F. Baker Scholar and received both an MBA in 1960 and a Doctorate in Business Administration with a specialty in Corporate Finance in 1966.
Board of Advisors
Joli Cooper is an accomplished leader and board director with over 30 years of global business experience. She is currently the Founding Executive Director of GreenLight Fund Atlanta, a venture philanthropy fund working at the intersection of community need and social innovation. Prior to joining GreenLight Fund, she was a founding member of CSW Private Equity Investments, LLC and served on the Board of Directors of privately-held Berkshire Blanket, Sqwincher Corporation, and H20+ Plus.
Joli’s career as an operating executive includes domestic and international marketing and general management roles at Nestle, Tropicana, Seagram and Vitality Beverages, Inc. She launched new products in Latin America, led global marketing initiatives in the United Kingdom and was named President and Chief Operating Officer of Pasco Brands, once the largest private label juice manufacturer in the United States. Additionally, Joli was honored to serve as 25th National President of Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated, the oldest African American family organization in the United States with over 250 chapters and 40,000 family members.
Committed to her community, Joli serves on the Advisory Board of The City of Atlanta Women’s Entrepreneurial Initiative (WEI) and has served on several nonprofit boards including Academy Prep of Tampa, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Tampa Bay, Junior Achievement and The Children’s Home. Joli holds a BBA in Finance from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, where she was awarded the Kathleen McDonald Distinguished Alumna Award from Wharton Women in Business in 2002 for her professional excellence and many philanthropic contributions.
Chris Elshaw is an accomplished advisor and board director, with over 30 years of global business experience. As an advisor, Chris provides guidance on strategy and execution, as well as leadership coaching to private companies, resulting in improved performance and value creation. As a board director, Chris provides leadership and seasoned strategic advice. Chris is currently Chairman of MAV Beauty Brands Inc. (TSX:MAV), and member of the Audit and Compensation, Nominating & Governance Committees; and Chairman of Paula’s Choice Skincare. He has also served as a director on the board of Topspin’s highly successful former portfolio company, JD Beauty, since its sale to Topspin in 2015. He was also a Board Director and member of the Audit and Compensation committees of Amplify Snack Brands Inc. (NYSE:BETR), a publicly traded company until its acquisition by the Hershey Company. Chris is a Board Director at a number of other private equity backed companies and a not for profit organization.
Chris was responsible for Revlon’s global business as Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of Revlon from 2009 to 2014. He also led the successful integration of two acquisitions, plus the due diligence and completion of a third acquisition. Prior to that, Chris was Executive Vice President & General Manager of Revlon’s United States business from 2007 to 2009 where he improved execution as well as enhancing and integrating the marketing mix. Prior to joining Revlon, Chris held a number of general management positions of increasing scope and responsibility with Clairol, before which he held various marketing and sales positions with Alberto Culver.
Mark Pettie is an accomplished Board member and CEO with rich experience in highly competitive consumer-focused public and private businesses ranging from $50 million to $2+ billion in revenue. He is currently President of Blackthorne Associates, LLC, a consulting firm providing strategic and tactical counsel to lower and middle-market companies and private equity sponsors. Mark is also an independent director with five public and private companies, including Topspin’s Bear Down Brands and Webster Financial Corporation. He previously served as independent director of Atkins Nutritionals and Paris Presents, PE-backed firms that returned 5x and 6x capital respectively at exit. Mark’s career as an operating executive included his role as Chairman and CEO of publicly-traded Prestige Brands (now Prestige Consumer Healthcare). Prior to Prestige, he led several major commercial divisions of Kraft Foods (now KraftHeinz) and ConAgra Foods as President, EVP and General Manager.
An avid golfer, cyclist and skier, Mark holds a BS in Accounting from Binghamton University and an MBA from Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management. He and his wife reside in Bergen County, NJ, where he does public address announcing for several high school sports.
Sally Genster Robling
Sally Genster Robling is an accomplished C-Suite Leader, Director and Board Chair. Sally’s experience and success span the food landscape, from established $1B+ category defining brands to innovative new brands and business models. Sally is currently a Director at Bowery Farming, where next generation farmers, powered by the Bowery OS, are bringing to market exceptional, sustainably grown produce. Sally is a Director at Daily Harvest, a rapidly scaling national brand, that delivers a collection of expertly designed, personalized, plant-based frozen foods. She served as Non-Executive Chairman of Plated, the meal kit company acquired by Albertson’s in 2017. Sally was EVP, Pinnacle Foods, exiting after its successful 2013 IPO. She was the founding President of the $1.1B Birds Eye Division. Under her leadership, the Birds Eye team delivered record earnings and industry leading levels of innovation. Sally championed a breakthrough public-private partnership for Birds Eye, earning a first ever public endorsement from First Lady Michelle Obama.
Sally began at Kraft where she advanced to Marketing Manager. At Campbell’s, her roles included Soup Marketing Leader, VP Sales for emerging channels and GM, Beverages. Sally was subsequently CMO of Trane (American Standard) where she was instrumental in building marketing capabilities and executing new growth strategies. A Princeton graduate, Sally holds an MBA from Darden. She serves on the No Kid Hungry Leadership Council and is an advisor to Understood.org. She and her husband live in Larchmont, New York.
Jeff Rosenzweig founded JD Beauty in 1977 while attending Stony Brook University, where he received his BA in Economics. As Founder & CEO, Jeff grew the business from the ground up, to over $50 million in revenue. Under the JD Beauty umbrella, Jeff launched WetBrush in 2006. WetBrush proved to be a disruptive force among personal care products, singlehandedly transforming the hairbrush category. Jeff possesses strong knowledge of consumer products with a specific focus on the professional beauty space. Under Jeff’s leadership, WetBrush became a household name with worldwide distribution. In addition to Jeff’s diverse business knowledge, his passion and expertise is Product Development and Marketing. He has worked closely with Private Equity, participating in multiple successful acquisitions and exits. Jeff serves on the board of directors of several companies including JD Beauty and has been nominated for E&Y Entrepreneur Of The Year.
“We thank the Topspin team for the value and support they provided to PlayMonster as our partners over the past four years. From the beginning, they shared our view for the potential of our business and helped us execute on both our M&A and organic growth strategies.”
Bob Wann, CEO of PlayMonster