#12. Richard Levy
CEO & Founder, Victory Park Capital Advisors LLC
As the CEO and founder of Victory Park Capital, Richard Levy is a Chicago investor with a significant interest in Avant, which provides short-term consumer financing, and Funding Circle, which operates a crowd-funding small business lending platform. Thanks to VPC, Levy owns Giordano’s deep-dish pizza company, known for its famous Chicago style pies. He also likes to contemplate deep questions, like “How much money is enough?” as he told Crain’s recently. The process has broadened his funding strategy, which now includes a nonprofit company Gardeneers, which puts gardens in urban schools. A native South African, Levy came to the Windy City when a federal judge in Chicago met his grandfather by chance on a visit to Jerusalem after the Second World War and they became fast friends. Later, Levy and his family settled in Cincinnati. He earned a political science degree from Ohio State and a law degree from Chicago Kent Law School. Instead of practicing law, he turned to business after working at the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Eventually he got an M.B.A. In 1997, he began his first company, which sold microturbines to South Africa. When he was 27, he co-founded Crestview Capital Partners, a hedge fund, and left to join Magnetar Capital, where he says he got a “great two-year education” in risk management. In 2007, he started Victory Park, a private-equity firm with $2.25 billion in assets, which invests in distressed businesses. One of those was the Giordano’s pizza chain, which Victory Park acquired in 2011 for $52 million. Since then, the chain has been cooking up a storm, opening more than a dozen stores with another half dozen on the way in 2016. Recently, Victory Park listed a $300 million fund on the London Stock Exchange. Among his investments is Camp Kesem, a nonprofit for children of parents with cancer, and PrivateBank Fire Pitch, a 140,000-square foot soccer facility on the North Side of Chicago, just two miles west of Wrigley Field, that hosts a Major League Soccer team, the Chicago Fire, along with amateur clubs and youth leagues, camps and clinics. Levy definitely gets a kick out of all his investments.