There’s not much difference
between you and us.
You’re business owners, and so are we. The glories and the challenges are what we both thrive on.
How far can we go?
How much impact can we make?
How much impact can we make together?
You don’t have to sell out on your dream... ever. We know the power of keeping the heart in your brand.
We're servant leaders who grow businesses consciously, authentically and with higher purpose.
We're here when you're ready.
We're experienced leaders who have led, built, financed and advised countless successful companies.
We can provide access to capital if and when that makes sense for your business.
We deliver infrastructure, resources and support, the vital ingredients for growth.
We're supported by a team of industry-leading, expert advisors who are available at a cost and scale that makes sense.
Growing a multi-unit business is tough.
Omni-channel sales and marketing costs and complexity.
Finding, onboarding and retaining talent.
Locating, negotiating and securing real estate.
Keeping customers happy and in love with your brand.
Awarding units to the right franchisees.
And so much more... every day.
You had a team at the ready who has done this many times before?
There were time-tested plug-and-play resources waiting for you to use?
You could tap into an ecosystem that streamlines and accelerates growth?
You could confidently train and operate with excellence?
You could actually focus on the things that are most important?
But what if..
Getting down to
If your world feels chaotic right now, you're going to love our systematic growth platform. Any gaps you might have in your experience or team won’t be gaps anymore.
Imagine a strategic team with deep capabilities who understand the importance of infrastructure and know how to invest in your future.
Meet the team
Forte is acquiring and analyzing high-growth and high-potential businesses.
Christo Demetriades - Managing Partner
Managing Partner - Finance, BI, Acquisitions
Christo is a proven entrepreneur, visionary and leader. He has successfully created, owned and sold businesses both in the U.S. and internationally. His understanding of international finance, law and business operations, underscored by his strong accounting background, make Christo the perfect resource when acquiring and analyzing high growth/high potential brands. He has taken public a dozen Food, health and education brands leading to over a billion dollars in market cap, internationally on five continents. Among his many lucrative transactions are Health and Racquet Club which he sold to Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Active, and Lunchbox Wax which is the latest success story in Christo's transaction portfolio selling to WellBiz Brands.
His three-decade tenure as a CEO, CFO and COO for franchising, restaurant, entertainment and self-care brands, means Christo knows how to build and nurture strong, loyal management teams that drive both culture and goal achievement. And by working with executive teams to solidify the financial and operational structure of companies, he sets them up to reach their full potential providing public and private investors viable opportunities and business owners the chance to achieve their dreams.
Known for growing companies, enhancing key performance indicators and increasing value for all stakeholders.
Heather Elrod - Managing Partner
Operations, Learning, Marketing, Organizational Development
Heather’s career spans nearly three-decade in the franchise, beauty, and wellness industries. She has held executive positions in multi-billion dollar, as well as emerging companies, and partnered with private equity firms in the acquisition, growth, and sale of franchised businesses. Heather is known for her ability to grow companies by finding the key performance indicators that matter and moving them dramatically forward. The result is significant business growth and value for all stakeholders.
Before Conscious Capital Group, Heather served as CEO of Amazing Lash Studio Franchise. Under her leadership it was named the #5 top growth franchise and the #1 in category by Entrepreneur magazine. She was named #4 on the 2019 Franchise Times Fast and Serious List and awarded the ”dealmaker” award for leading the sale of Amazing Lash Studio Franchise to KSL Capital. Heather also was an executive for Mail Boxes Etc.® (with over 4,500 locations worldwide) and participated in the sale of the company to UPS® thereafter transitioning the company to The UPS Store®. She co-founded SkinPhD® Cosmeceuticals and worked as a consultant in the beauty category for Procter and Gamble. She has served on several corporate and charitable boards, and is a former IFA board member.
Data analysis pro who can see the patterns in the numbers and drives business success.
Jim Graham - Business Intelligence
Jim Graham has spent his career helping companies make sound business decisions. Through his decades of experience designing systems to track and analyze data. Data that has been the catalyst for rapid, if not explosive, business growth. Data reveals patterns that Jim can apply to virtually any business issue. As Conscious Capital Growth's VP of Business Intelligence, Jim shares his analytical abilities, strategic business wisdom and his experience growing bottom lines with our portfolio companies.
Before joining Conscious Capital Growth, Jim helped grow brands including Massage Envy, Massage Heights, Eat the Frog Fitness, MicroAge Pinacor, DMB and others. He remains humble about his contributions and praises the fantastic people he has had the privilege of working with throughout his career. It's not the position you hold, Jim believes, but the results you can achieve through great culture and the fun you have along the way. He is fiercely committed to success and loves working with great people.
Chris Richards - Technology
Chris Richards is a veteran of franchise technology systems. He has spent the better part of his career with well-known brands, including Massage Envy, Amazing Lash Studio, and many others. He is an expert at ensuring companies work with the highest levels of systems and infrastructures available, focusing on using technology to support the business with efficiency, security, and stability. That includes information and operational support systems. As Vice President of Technology, Chris leads and manages the various technology stacks and cyber security for both Conscious Capital Growth and the portfolio companies.
Information technology expert who can turn IT into a competitive advantage.
Proven track record of achievement in franchising, in start-up, emerging, and accelerated growth organizations.
Alex Samios - Managing Director
Alex grew up in the franchise industry and became passionate about the model at an early age. He was introduced to franchising in 1978, when his father became the first franchisee for Jiffy Lube. After joining Papa John’s Pizza at store 300 in corporate operations, Alex became a franchisee with the brand in 1996, building and operating 34 restaurants. He was nominated ‘Franchisee of the Year’ for 3 consecutive years. Alex was also the first franchisee and board member for a mobile dog grooming concept, launching the brand's initial franchise development initiative in the US. That brand remains the category leader.
Additionally, for 15 years, Alex was a director and partner in BrandAmerica, a consulting firm which expanded U.S. brands throughout Asia. In 2010, he pioneered a unique alternative wellness studio utilizing infrared saunas and franchised it, spawning an entire industry. That brand is now the category leader. Currently, Alex is the Chief Growth Officer (and investor) in Dogtopia®, the leading and fastest growing franchise in the booming $120B+ pet industry. Under Alex, the brand has grown from 19 locations to 400+ by 2024. He is an active investor and strategic advisor to several emerging brands and is currently a Director in Zoom Room and Costa Oil, two high-growth franchises.
Chief Growth Officer
Lauren has decades of experience as a franchise development leader spanning the beauty, wellness, and pet care spaces. Her track record working with organizations to attract and onboard the right franchisees in the US and internationally and helping them to achieve their personal business ownership dreams is unmatched. Lauren has held development positions with brands including Drybar, Amazing Lash Studio, Radiant Waxing, and Elements Massage.
Expert at guiding aspiring entrepreneurs to find their ideal brand and culture fit.
Finance leader in private equity, capital growth investment oversight and expanding businesses.
Ab Igram - Advisory Partner
Ever since his days as an Economics major at Northwestern University, and an MBA student in Entrepreneurship/Finance at Babson, Ab's been passionate about the world of entrepreneurship. That led him to his role as Executive Director of the Tariq Farid Franchise Institute at Babson College’s Arthur M. Blank School for Entrepreneurial Leadership. There the mission is to draw in the college's business and entrepreneurial expertise to create cross-disciplinary programming, combine it with the knowledge of franchising experts so students’ may better understand franchising and the opportunities it can create.
Prior to Babson, Ab was as managing director, head of franchise, food & beverage for Webster Bank’s Sponsor and Specialty Finance where he developed a specialty lending platform focused on Franchise, Food & Beverage and Health/Wellness and led a leveraged finance team providing senior debt capital solutions to private equity sponsors. Earlier in his career, Ab was VP of GE Capital Franchise Finance.
With over 25 years in a variety of finance, advisory and entrepreneurial roles, Ab also worked with GE Equity in Stamford, CT and was involved in identifying, negotiating, and structuring over $350 million in venture capital investments and served on the Board of Directors of several venture-backed growth companies. He has consulted for a variety of early and late stage companies in multiple industry sectors.
Known for creating a brand-culture connection, The Heart Effect™, that is the rocket fuel for business growth.
Kathy DeGrandi Heasley - Advisory Partner
Brand Development & Marketing
Kathy DeGrandi Heasley is an accomplished hands-on senior executive, entrepreneur, advisor, and thought leader. Through her company Heasley & Partners she has achieved decades of success in business development, communications, brand building, marketing, public relations, publishing, video, content development and more for companies and people spanning all industries.
Franchising, consumer products and services, financial services, online, hospitality, technology, manufacturing, real estate, healthcare, fitness and wellness, are just a few of the many industries in Kathy's experience arsenal. Brands she worked to develop include Cold Stone Creamery, Massage Envy, Premier Garage, the State of Arizona, NASM, Complete Nutrition, Amazing Lash Studio, Elements Massage and Fortune 100 brands including Coca-Cola, Exxon, and more.
Kathy’s diverse experience is a business asset because she readily identifies patterns and applies best practices from one industry to another. The result is unprecedented innovative thinking and creative execution by finding and applying the emotional connections that move people to action.
Proven pro at store development, design and turnkey solutions for rapid rollouts and rapid growth.
Jay Scalise - Advisory Partner
Store Design, Build-out, Logistics
Next time you walk into your UPS Store, know that Jay Scalise played a big role in bringing that convenience to your neighborhood. For over 18 years Jay led the oversight and execution of over 4,000 UPS locations world-wide. And if it seemed like your Mailboxes Etc. store rebranded practically overnight to UPS, it’s because Jay and his team pulled off that transition in just 120 days! That kind of magic takes knowledge, systems, processes, leadership and a get-it-done spirit that has fueled Jay’s successful 30-year career. Jay has been involved in acquisitions, mergers, high-level negotiations, trade and labor, strategic alliances, start-ups, growth initiatives and risk management. He's also an expert in store design and build-out efficiencies that minimize risk and increase profitability.
Today, Jay is the founder and managing partner of 360 GlobalFran, LLC, which provides franchise companies support, resources and services in store design, construction trades and trade requirements, supplier standards development and sourcing, cost-of-entry evaluations and implementations. He also provides executive oversight for 3C Store Fixtures, a company that specializes in the development of innovative retail interiors. Orange Theory, Amazing Lash, European Wax, The UPS Store, The Joint Chiropractic, Vs Barbershop, Elements, Merle Norman have all benefitted from Jay's expertise.
Marco Born - Advisory Partner
Investor Relations pro with a track record of exceptional relationship building that drives results.
Marco Born - Advisory Partner
Marco earned his stripes in the world of investor relations in an unlikely place: in the athletic departments of Middle Tennesee University and then Louisiana Tech. That's where he launched his career in fundraising. Years later, he continued to advance, build relationships with donors, and was named athletic director at Lamar University in Beaumont, TX. Not only did he lead the university's athletics department which included overseeing an $18 million annual budget, he did all the fundraising and investor relations as well.
Originally from Germany, Marco came to the U.S. on a scholarship to play college tennis. Exceptional talent and ability aside, his ethos of hard work and dedication paid off with two national championship titles to his name. Throughout his college sports career and into his roles within and leading athletic departments Marco used his natural relationship-building talent to build great teams. He loved seeing how far they could go and how much they could accomplished. Today, as a Conscious Capital Growth Advisory Partner, Marco has the same passion, this time with company's portfolio brands.