BRADFORD A. BENZ
Founder & Managing Director
Brad has been creating, operating, advising and investing in growth companies for over two decades.
Brad is the founder of RedShift Group (RSG), an advisory and venture capital firm focused on helping companies rapidly scale their businesses. Brad has advised numerous companies including Pandora Media, StudyBlue, Sylvan, ASU Foundation, 3Day Blinds, Deltak, Rasmussen, Udemy, Grand Canyon, Inside Track, eBureau, uBoost, Noodle Companies, Atrium Capital, Marcus Corporation and Answers.com.
Brad has served as a Senior Advisor for TPG Growth and TPG Rise Fund since 2011, a top global private equity firms with over $85 billion under management. Brad helped architect InStride, a global marketplace that enables employees to earn their degree in a cost effective manner. InStride was spun out of the ASU/Starbucks business, a first of its kind public/private partnership. During his tenure at TPG, Brad has sourced deals, conducted due diligence on potential investments and advised several of TPG’s portfolio companies.
Prior to founding RSG, Brad was Senior Vice President of Corporate and Business Development for Aptimus (NASDAQ: APTM), a ad network that he sold to Apollo Group (NASDAQ: APOL) in 2007. He was also Robertson Stephens/Crosslink Capital's first Associate. At Crosslink, Brad focused on sourcing digital media and education companies. Three out of five of his investments achieved successful IPOs, including Saba Software, Eloquent and OnDisplay. OnDisplay was one of the top 10 IPO in 1999 and later acquired for $1.8 billion.
Brad earned his MBA from University of Michigan and an AB degree from Princeton University.
Marcel Valenta serves as an executive, consultant and investor at the intersection of public higher education, technology and private sector capital. Prior to joining RedShift Group, he spent seven years in executive positions at ASU Enterprise Partners. During his tenure at ASU, he structured the deals that led to the formation of the two educational services companies, InStride (together with TPG/RISE) and Cintana (together with former Laureate Education leadership). The first concepts of InStride were jointly developed by Valenta and Brad Benz in early 2017. Through the creation of these proprietary deals and investments in a variety of early-stage EdTech companies, Valenta built a significant equity portfolio to the benefit of the university that is expected to generate returns in excess of ASU’s current endowment. In his new role at RedShift, Valenta continues to conceptualize university spin-offs and the creation of investor-backed education businesses that focus on accessibility of quality content (both in pedagogy and production) and skill-based training in close collaboration with employers. Valenta serves on the board of CogBooks Limited a leading adaptive learning provider based in the UK. He started his career as a corporate lawyer at Baker McKenzie and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati where he represented companies such as Google, HP, Electronic Arts and Sequoia Capital in M&A and venture financings. He holds a J.D. and LL.M. from Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, which he attended after undergraduate legal studies in Germany and Italy.
J. MICHAEL LOCKE
J. Michael Locke serves as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Rasmussen, Inc. (Formerly, Deltak Edu, Inc.). Mr. Locke served as Senior Vice President of curriculum solutions of SunGard Higher Education Managed Services Inc. (Formerly, Collegis Inc.) since September 2001. He served as the Chief Financial Officer of Eduprise.com from February 2000 to September 2001. From September 1997 to January 2000, Mr. Locke was a vice President in the Investment Banking group at Banc of America Securities in San Francisco where he focused in the education and training sector. From 1992 to 1995, he was Corporate Finance Attorney with Sullivan & Cromwell D.C. and New York where he focused on capital markets activities. Mr. Locke earned B.A. in Economics from DePauw University, J.D. with a focus on corporate law from Harvard University, and MBA with majors in Finance and Entrepreneurship from Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Management.
James Sparkman is a Partner at Alpha Education, an advisory firm he founded in 2011. He currently leads a national practice representing colleges and universities exploring long-term private sector partnership opportunities. Prior to founding Alpha Education, James spent a decade as an investor, advisor and senior executive working with a range of postsecondary education companies. Previously, James was the co-founder of HigherMarkets, a venture-backed university SaaS company which was acquired by Jaggaer. James also held early executive roles at private equity firm New Mountain Capital and student lender Cognition Financial. James began his career as a public school teacher in Brooklyn, NY where he was a member of the first class of Teach For America. James received his B.A., cum laude, from Middlebury College and M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
Mark graduated with his MBA from Harvard Business School where he focused on opportunities in the education industry, including work at QuadLearning, Inc in Washington, DC and consulting to several Ed Tech startups. Mark began his work in education through a Stanford University teaching fellowship in China and then worked in large-scale program management with The Global Fund in Beijing. He completed his BA at Stanford with extensive international studies and is proficient in Mandarin.
Matt joins RSG after obtaining his MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Matt helped grow several startups in the Ed Tech space in CA and NY as well as build his own Civic Tech startup. Matt began his career in Investment Banking at Goldman Sachs and served as an Economic Advisor to NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Matt is a graduate of Princeton and served on the University's Board of Trustees.