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Investors & Team

Our Investor:

We are a firm with a single limited partner, the George Kaiser Family Foundation. This relationship allows us to draw on a deep network of fund managers, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and thought leaders who share a similar mission of cultivating a more vibrant and inclusive Tulsa. As such, we are at the center of effort to recruit jobs, talent, and new economic opportunities right here at home.

Our Mission:

Our mission is not only to drive returns and create jobs in Tulsa, but also to be an example to the world of inclusion, equality, and equity across all races, genders, educational backgrounds, and socioeconomic statuses. We believe in leading by example and are proud of the diversity of our team and expect the same from our portfolio.

Our Team:
43% Underrepresented
Minorities

Our Team:
43% Women

Intern Cohort:
57% Underrepresented
Minorities

Intern Cohort:
57% Women

University Investment Fellowship:
55% Underrepresented
Minorities

University Investment Fellowship:
55% Women

Our Team:

The team at Atento Capital shares a common goal of doing both good and well. We want to deliver for our shareholders, but we have an equal focus on doing good by our stakeholders. Each team member has a passion for making the world a better place, and we subscribe to the notion that social change can be driven through economic opportunity. We also believe in a universe of entrepreneurs that inclusively reflects the broader universe of humanity. And we work with passion each day to achieve our goals and to see our dreams turn into a reality.

The founding team has a very diverse background, but we are all generalist investors. Our team is a combination of successful entrepreneurs and traditional finance analysts, and each of us are competitive and thrive on the process of improvement.

We are honored to work at Atento and feel incredibly grateful to spend our time working in a role that sits at the crossroads of entrepreneurship, economic development, finance, and social improvement. For us, work is not a chore, it is a passion, and that is the same mindset we look for in all of our partners.

Michael Basch

Managing Partner

Mike on LinkedIn

Originally from California, I was born in San Francisco, and raised in Los Angeles. From 2010 to 2018, I had been living primarily in New York with 2 years in London and a splash of Tel Aviv before moving to Tulsa in the beginning of 2018. Raised by two parents working in the non-profit space, I have always been torn by my inner struggle for doing good vs. doing well. During my summers as a kid, I remember volunteering at my mom's non-profit (The Shoah Foundation) in the mornings, and selling lemonade on my street corner in the afternoons. But my love for business largely prevailed, leading me to pursue a BA in Business at USC in Los Angeles, as well as an MBA there a few years later. My passions outside of work include running (have run 5 marathons), volunteering, traveling, seeing friends, introducing strangers, and spending as much time as possible with my amazing wife, Romi.

For as long as I can remember, I have always loved to work, and loved to engulf myself within different kinds of businesses, both as an operator and as an investor. I started working full time while in high school as a barista at a coffee shop in LA, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. 7 Years later, I was operating 22 stores, overseeing nearly 400 people and managing a $19 million revenue operation. I was in the coffee space through undergrad and business school. During that time, two close friends of mine started a t-shirt company out of our fraternity. I joined as the 5th partner, and the 5 of us bootstrapped the business to 150+ people across 6+ countries, and $30 million+ revenue before selling to the publicly traded Superior Uniform Group. Prior to that sale, I had already begun angel investing, and eventually joined one of my portfolio companies, Spotad, as President.  Within two years there, we built the company to 45 people across 4 countries and $15 million+ in revenue. But then the 2016 election happened, and I felt compelled to follow my heart into the Clinton Campaign--initially as a volunteer and eventually helping to organize Madison, Wisconsin. When we lost the race, I was looking for ways to make an impact given the current American political climate, which led me to Tulsa. More on that here.

For the past two years, I have had the privilege of working closely with the George Kaiser Family Foundation in Tulsa, in a role that straddles both investment and economic development.  Some of the questions we were looking to address in the work we were doing were things such as: “Can you be intentional about how you deploy capital that not only drives return but has a local economic impact as well?”  “What are the right economic incentives needed to attract and retain talent in Tulsa?”  “Can you make large scale social change through economic opportunity?”  While many of these hypotheses are yet to be concluded, the initial work was compelling enough that it led to the birth of Atento Capital.  Now, with a committed team behind our work, we are looking to turn our efforts into turbo drive and really catalyze growth in 21st century jobs in Tulsa.  I couldn’t be more excited and grateful to be on a team undertaking this challenge.

Will Gray

Investments and Partnerships

Born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, I spent the majority of my life playing tennis. By the time I was 18 years old, I had competed from coast to coast against all the best US players my age. Most of the other top junior players were from big coastal cities, but I took pride in being a tennis player from Tulsa, and I have that same passion for my hometown today. I later played for the University of Tulsa, where I played on a team represented by eight different nationalities, it was that immersive experience which gave me an appreciation for other languages, cultures, and people. After playing at TU, I tried my luck on the ATP tour. But as it turns out, its tough to make a living playing professional tennis, so I went back to school to complete my Spanish degree and pursue my MBA.

I first realized that I enjoyed business when I helped organize one of the largest tennis events in state history. The exhibition event featured several of the highest ranked professional players in the world and served as a benefit for the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Oklahoma. Having volunteered as a Big Brother for several years, I wanted to help the organization at scale, and the best way I knew how was through tennis. The event raised funds for the Big Brothers and Big Sisters and led to several new volunteers through raised awareness. I've always had a passion for helping others, and through that event, I got my first business experience.

After completing my MBA at The University of Tulsa, I took a job at BOK Financial, where I always felt gratified working, because of the incredible impact our chairman, Mr. George Kaiser, was making in the community. I spent the majority of my career as a fundamental equity analyst for the internal mutual fund company, Cavanal Hill Investment Management, where I covered the Consumer Discretionary, Energy, REITs, and Communication Services sectors. While working on the buy-side, I became a CFA charter holder, and gained an incredible interest in tech related businesses. I still love tennis and get to hit balls with my wife, Michelle every once in a while (who played for the women's team at TU) but today I enjoy riding bikes, doing yoga, and walking our dog. Michelle and I also love hanging out with friends and introducing others to the city of Tulsa!

Chandler Malone

Entrepreneurial Development

Chandler on LinkedIn

I was originally born and raised in Dallas before moving to St. Louis to attend Washington University where I played on the basketball team as a freshman and sophomore. Much of my collegiate experience was centered on finding ways to help people improve their life situations. Through the Linus Foundation and Pyramid Foundation, my team and I were able to donate over $100,000 to low income St. Louis middle and elementary schoolers and my time with Building Futures and the Alberti Program allowed me to mentor over a hundred young people in St. Louis. My coursework as an American Culture Studies major helped to shape my interest in the intersection of technology, entrepreneurship, and economic development as my Captsone explored how entrepreneurship and intentional venture capital are the most effective vehicles for job creation in today's world. Now that I am a retired athlete, I still love to play basketball and exercise; spend time with my wife, Sahee and mother, Yolawnde; and travel. I'm always open to suggestions for new books to read and places to eat!

As a sophomore in college, the entrepreneurship bug bit me and I fell in love. That year, a friend and I launched a successful events company that went from selling concert tickets for a commission to booking a Billboard Top 10 artist ourselves in 1 year. A year later, I was blessed with the opportunity to spend some time at St. Louis based venture capital fund iSelect, learning the ins and outs of the early stage investing space. These experiences early on were quite empowering and in 2017, I founded and served as CEO of The Moves, a software company designed to disrupt the event ticketing space with industry leading transaction fees, text message notifications, and secure private events. After selling The Moves to Atlanta-based Wright Enterprises in July of 2019, I returned to St. Louis to join the investment team at SixThirty, a cybersecurity and fintech focused corporate-backed venture capital fund and began angel investing on the side, writing checks into Atlanta-based MedFlik and St. Louis-based Ideate. My experiences as both an entrepreneur and investor have given me a level of insight and empathy necessary to assist early stage companies in accomplishing their growth goals and becoming "investment ready".

The Director of Entrepreneurial Development role at Atento is a unique opportunity to fulfill a number of my passions including investing in early stage companies, working with founders, and creating jobs. There are countless venture capital funds, but very few have an explicit economic development focus, which really differentiated Atento for me. The historic Greenwood District's place of prominence as a hub of economic prosperity for African Americans played a significant role in my decision to join the team and I look forward to contributing significantly to the revitalization efforts. I am excited to be a catalyst for Tulsa's emergence as a hub for technology companies and sustainable economic growth. If you are working on a company or just have an idea that you think might have some potential, feel free to reach out at chandler@atentocapital.com.

Marcela Swenson

Special Projects

Marcela on LinkedIn

I grew up in the small-ish city of Grand Junction, Colorado, the daughter of school teacher from California and an immigrant from Colombia. Growing up visiting my mother's hometown of Medellin gave me an appreciation for the outside world and I longed to explore it. I moved to California to attend the University of Southern California where I satisfied my wanderlust by interning for the travel editor of The Today Show, and sneaking in a few international trips here and there. A few years after graduating, my husband Noah and I moved to Medellin to run a bed and breakfast out of my abuelos' home, and later to Chicago so Noah could attend business school. Now, much to my surprise, I have returned to my grandfather's roots by moving to his home state of Oklahoma. I am excited to provide my daughter with a similar small-ish city experience that I enjoyed growing up.

I have had an eclectic professional career, from producing a radio show for the travel editor of the Today Show, to hosting karaoke in Hollywood, to working for MySpace during its heyday, to running a bed and breakfast in Colombia. It wasn't until I moved to Chicago and became the assistant director of board administration for Northwestern University's Board of Trustees that I discovered my love of spreadsheets, finding opportunities for efficiency, and creating processes. I used these new-found talents to plan our quarterly board meetings, improve our trustees' experience, and better utilize my team's talents by leveraging technology to do repetitive tasks. During my time at Northwestern I volunteered for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, an experience that ignited my passion for civic engagement and led me to seek professional opportunities that aligned with my values and desire to make the world a more equitable place.

During my search for values-driven employment, I had the chance to visit Tulsa to see my friend Mike, for whom I'd worked during the 2016 presidential election. I was immediately impressed by the socially-minded community that I encountered in Tulsa and was intrigued by their willingness to address injustices from its past and present. During my lifetime of visiting and living in Medellin, I witnessed the kind of transformation that was possible when an entire community was united in a goal. I saw the most dangerous neighborhoods in the world become tourist destinations over the course of a single decade because the city invested in education and infrastructure. I sensed a similar energy in Tulsa to address the enduring cycle of poverty so I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the solution. I am thrilled to be joining the Atento Capital team in its effort to develop local entrepreneurs and hope that my enthusiasm for Tulsa will help attract businesses to the city and bring economic development to the community.

Susan Spears

Senior Investor

I am originally from Dallas, TX but have called Tulsa home since 2014. I grew up as a ballet dancer and attribute my lack of skill in organized sports to the fact that I spent my youth years at the barre and not on the field. I am a Double Domer and received both my undergraduate and Masters degree in Accountancy from the University of Notre Dame (Go Irish!). I met my husband Reid while at ND, and we have a son, Anthony, who brings so much joy to our lives. I love running, show tunes, and have recently taken up piano.

After college, I began my career with Ernst & Young as a tax professional. I worked in both the Dallas and Tulsa offices for several years. I then had the opportunity to work for The McNellies Group as a Financial Associate and helped with analytics for 15+ restaurants. Most recently, I worked as an Associate for Argonaut Private Equity in Tulsa.

I have always wanted to have a voice and make a difference in the community where I live. In Tulsa, that opportunity is tangible. Since moving here in 2014, I have found that it is possible to be involved in the future of the city as a young person in her career. The united desire for a better Tulsa is real, and I feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of the progress through my work at Atento.

Ciore Taylor

Director of Strategy and Operations

Ciore on LinkedIn

If I could sum up my life in one line, there would be no reason to invite me for coffee! For now, I’ll just tell you that since college I have lived in 8 states and 2 countries, launched 3 businesses, built a community of over 50,000 online followers and written two books about my life’s journey. Community advocacy has always been a passion of mine and I take great pride in being able to speak and advocate for those who may not be able to do so for themselves. I absolutely love free lunch! Red wine and sci-fi thrillers are my jam. Most importantly,  if you are ever looking for a karaoke partner, I am your girl!

As an engineer and entrepreneur, I love being able to identify, innovate, and implement trustworthy solutions to complex problems. Having consulted for 15+ Fortune 500 companies, managed program budgets in excess of $20M, and piloted regional program “Diversity Dialogues”, I have first-hand real-world experience in optimizing operations and supporting organizations as they “pivot into the unknown”. Whether it be strategizing robust solutions, organizing knowledge transfer, or designing new ways of working, I thoroughly enjoy creating systems that can benefit the many.

I never imagined building a career here in Tulsa..but once I heard about the city’s push for economic development, I knew immediately that I wanted to become a part of the solution. With the city in the midst of a boom, I strived to join a company that was at the forefront of it all. That’s when I discovered Atento  - a good company run by great people on a greater mission to impact the community. I look forward to exploring Tulsa from a new lense and fresh perspective. It’s an honor to be on a team that truly desires to positively impact the community just as much as I do.

Aaron Whigham

Program Director

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, I spent most of my youth playing sports. I competed with some of the best in the region in shot put and discus and came within inches of qualifying for the National Junior Olympics. It was through sports that I learned how grit, tenacity and hard work pay off. In addition to playing sports, I always had a mind for business, which led me to California University of PA, where I received my BS in Finance. While in college, I transitioned from playing sports to playing music and was hired as the school’s pianist. Before graduating, I became president of the gospel choir and treasurer of the Black Student Union. I did not know at the time that all these successes and experiences were working together to make me a multifaceted individual, something I realized as I transitioned to a professional career.

I have served the last three years as Director of Strategic Initiatives at Penn State University Greater Allegheny (PSUGA) and Founder of the Mon Valley Launchbox (MVL). Through the MVL, a business incubator that strives to cultivate a solvent ecosystem within the Mon Valley, I have provided strategic leadership and business acumen to current and aspiring entrepreneurs. Throughout my career at PSUGA, I’ve worked to create access points to resources and forge mutually beneficial relationships between government and community stakeholders. Over the last eight-years at PSUGA, I have managed an $11M campus budget, led multiple efforts on campus designed to increase retention and degree conferral rates, and served as a pillar of support to the campus and broader community.

I never thought my career would lead me to Tulsa, Oklahoma. However, my wife and I are excited to join the Tulsa community. As Program Director at Atento, I will be diligently working to cultivate talent in Tulsa, while creating high quality programming to advance the mission of both Atento Capital and the George Kaiser Family Foundation. In addition to working at Atento, I am pursuing my master’s degree in Organization Development Change Management from Penn State University and I serve as the Senior Pastor of Christ Is All InnerCity Ministries in Turtle Creek, PA. I embody servant leadership to the highest degree in everything I do, and I have an unwavering commitment to excellence.

We’re always looking for great people and organizations to work with. We’d love to chat.

Let’s Talk

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