Michael C. Gruber

Managing Partner

Michael Gruber is a Managing Partner. Mr. Gruber has close to 25 years of experience working with early stage investments, particularly in the information technology, financial services, energy, and agriculture sectors. Mr. Gruber is a founding Partner of Independence Equity, a committed venture capital fund focused on investments focused on improving resource utilization, with key areas of interest including: water; energy efficiency; material science; and agriculture. Mr. Gruber had served as Director at Taproot Ventures, an early stage investment affiliate of The Harbour Group, an investment holding company with assets under management exceeding $1.5 Billion.  Mr. Gruber has founded and run several private investment organizations of high net worth investors and family offices focused on growth stage investments, including Cornerstone Angels and its affiliate Cornerstone Opportunity Partners, LLC.  Collectively, the portfolio companies have raised in excess of $2.5 Billion in capital.

Mr. Gruber’s prior industry experience includes key operational roles in high-growth corporations (Koei Corporation, Intuit, InsWeb, Silicon Investor), two of which went public and one of which was acquired by a strategic investor.  In addition, Mr. Gruber has significant investment banking and M&A transaction advisory experience.

Mr. Gruber has become active in the cannabis business as both an advisor, mentor, investor, and speaker, and leverages his experience across technology, financial services, agriculture, and energy, all which are crucial within the cannabis industry.  Mr. Gruber has advised capital providers and families in allocating capital to the sector and in the acquisition and sale of assets as well as cannabis companies raising growth capital.

Mr. Gruber currently serves on several boards of emerging growth companies. Mr. Gruber received a BA in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania, an MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University, and a certificate in Japanese from Nanzan University in Japan. Mr. Gruber is also a frequent speaker and panelist relating to entrepreneurship and venture capital.  

Mr. Gruber lives in the north suburbs of Chicago with his wife and four children (all boys).  Mr. Gruber is a competitive athlete (with a love for snowboarding, golf and tennis), and highly enjoys traveling, including food & drink exploration.



Jeffrey Howard

Managing Partner

Jeffrey Howard is a Managing Partner.  Prior to Mr. Howard joining Salveo Capital, he spent 21 years on Wall Street in roles of increasing responsibility.  Mr. Howard’s last role on Wall Street was with the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) where he was a Managing Director – Global Head of Prime Services.  His responsibilities included running global Futures, OTC Clearing, Interest Rate Prime Brokerage and FX Prime Brokerage.  In that role he managed 90+ people across North America, EMEA & Asia Pacific, was responsible for the growth strategy of $150 million business and managed a $50 million front-to-back budget. In addition, Mr. Howard was appointed a member of the RBS Senior Leadership Team within the Markets & International Banking division.  This was a small group of the most senior executives within the bank responsible for driving strategy within their capital markets division.

Prior to joining RBS, Mr. Howard spent 15 years at Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith.  Mr. Howard’s last role at Merrill Lynch was Managing Director – Head of Americas Futures & Options.  In that role, Mr. Howard was a producing manager responsible for 61% of the global P&L and managed 50 sales people across the U.S. & Canada.  Mr. Howard’s client base consisted of multi-national corporates, hedge funds, asset managers, pension funds and central banks.  While at Merrill Lynch, Mr. Howard was a member of the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), Kansas City Board of Trade (KCBOT) and the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX).

Mr. Howard has become active in the cannabis space as both an investor & advisor to early stage growth companies within the industry.  Mr. Howard leverages his 20+ years of senior-level capital markets experience to source deals and perform due diligence on emerging cannabis focused companies, while providing financial & operational risk management guidance.

Mr. Howard received his BA in Philosophy (Cum Laude) from Westminster College and a MBA in Finance from DePaul University – The Kellstadt Graduate School of Business.  

Mr. Howard lives in Lincoln Park, Chicago with his wife and two daughters.  Outside of finance his interests include:  golf, tennis, skiing, surfing and traveling.


Alex Thiersch


Mr. Thiersch is a practicing attorney and entrepreneur who owns and operates three small businesses. In the last several years, he has established a record of building successful companies from the ground up, while at the same time identifying and responding to opportunities in the market.

In 2013, Thiersch became active in lobbying for medical cannabis in Illinois. He was a familiar face in Springfield as HB1 was being considered, and after passage he could often be found in towns around Illinois building relationships and campaigning for local support for the industry. Additionally, he’s toured the largest cultivation sites in the country and has made connections with the biggest players in cannabis. Mr. Thiersch co-founded Salveo Health &Wellness in early 2013, and was awarded one of the few Illinois dispensary licenses. He’s gained real-world experience assembling a business, raising capital, and applying for licenses in what was at the time the strictest legal cannabis program in the nation.

Mr. Thiersch founded his law firm, Thiersch & Associates, in 2010 to represent licensed medical professionals before the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. That same year, when he saw a lack of representation in this space, he founded the Illinois Medical Spa Association (ILMSPA), a trade group dedicated to providing legal services to local medical spas and physicians. He quickly grew the organization into a 200-member association representing small business owners across the state. After solidifying ILMSPA’s position in Illinois Thiersch sold it in 2013 to focus on creating a national presence in the same field after identifying a similar void of service. He founded AmSpa soon after, which has become the premier medical spa association in the United States.

John Dohm


Mr. Dohm is a small business owner and global businessman with experience in financial markets, as well as in the day-to-day operations of a company functioning in an international marketplace. He pairs his knowledge of wealth management with experience in retail and B2B sales, purchasing, importing and exporting, and inventory management and distributionIn 2013, Dohm co-founded Salveo Health & Wellness (a licensed Illinois medical dispensary operator), and oversaw the day-to-day operation of the company. He has been instrumental in raising the capital that carried Salveo through the Illinois application process, as well as filling out the team with qualified industry experts. He’s traveled the country gathering information and advice from the brightest minds in legal marijuana, and applied that knowledge to Salveo’s applications to cultivate and dispense medical marijuana in Illinois.

Mr. Dohm has over a decade of experience as a financial advisor. He began at Morgan Stanley, building networks and assembling a client base of high net worth individuals. He honed his ability to sift through myriad opportunities to select those with the greatest chance of return, and eventually he managed a portfolio of accounts valued in excess of $50 million. He carried his success to Wachovia where his recommendations continued to build the wealth of his clients.

Spurred by an urge for new challenges, and intrigued by his travels around the world, in 2006 he founded import-export company Dohm Worldwide, and domestic distribution company DPJ Wholesale to connect American companies to the global supply chain. Through these endeavors he brings products from Asia, Europe and South America to other small businesses across the United States. He built both companies from the ground up, and operates both as CEO.

Gary Jungels

Fund Attorney

Gary Jungels is a transactional attorney with extensive experience in private equity and venture capital, and expertise in fund structure, deal structure, legal compliance, and risk analysis.

He has represented fund sponsors and management teams in structuring, negotiating, and closing both general and industry-specific global and domestic funds, including buyout, mezzanine/sub-debt, venture capital and later stage private equity funds. In addition, he has significant experience structuring their management companies and advising private equity and venture capital professionals on their internal governance and economic arrangements, as well as regulatory matters that impact their businesses. 

He has been a partner at Freeborn & Peters LLP since 2013 specializing in corporate and securities law, private equity, alternative investment fund formation, and joint ventures. He was previously a partner at Mayer Brown for seven years with a focus on private equity fund formation including buyout, growth equity, sub-debt/mezzanine, and venture capital funds.

He earned his Bachelor’s Degree of Business Administration in Accounting from the University of Notre Dame, and his law degree from the University of Illinois.

Advisory Board


Cory Issacson


In the creative world of media, marketing and advertising, Cory Isaacson is a master of innovation and disruption, well known for cutting through traditional marketing silos and creating new ways of connecting with consumers that are changing the industry.

Over the years, Cory has been recognized for his groundbreaking work in pop culture, marrying Hollywood celebrities and Fortune 100 brands, including Diddy & Burger King, Budweiser & the Rolling Stones, Dove and Glee, Verizon and Kevin Hart, Axe One Night Only with 50 Cent, TI, Mary J. Blige, and more.

Isaacson has always had a healthy disdain for the status quo. After succeeding in key leadership roles at notable agencies, such as Omnicom’s Radiate Group and EMI (a Promo top 10 agency), he identified a need to reinvent the traditional agency model. Isaacson partnered with former Pepsi exec Aaron Walton and Earvin “Magic” Johnson to bring a new agency vision to life. In 2005, Walton Isaacson, “The Planet’s Most Interesting Agency,” was born.

Isaacson is actively involved in the development of the Walton Isaacson vision, client strategy and brand creation. With offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Tokyo, the agency boasts a premium client roster, a top-notch team and dynamic growth.

Clients include MillerCoors, Lexus, Spalding, Macy’s, McDonalds, The Academy Awards, Constellation Brands, Wells Fargo, Los Angeles Dodgers, Tony Roma’s and many more. Walton Isaacson’s unique approach has earned them PROMO’s Pro Award, Ex Awards, Tellys, Effies, Davies, Stevies, and recently, an Ad Age Small Agency Award and Black Enterprise’s Advertising Agency of the Year, to name a few.

While running his next generation creative agency where he executive produced Season 4 of Versus & Flow and started a television and film division, Isaacson’s entrepreneurial talents also have extended to co-founding the fastest growing super premium tequila, AVION (a Harvard case study on brand building) and a guest appearance on HBO’s hit TV show Entourage (alongside Mark Cuban & Breaking Bad’s Bob Odenkirk).

A graduate of The University of Wisconsin, with a Bachelor of Arts in History, Isaacson is a guest lecturer there and is a sought after speaker and advisor. He sits on the committee for Children’s Hospital “Champions for Children”, SOS Children’s Village, JDRF in addition to “Skate for Celiac.” He resides in Chicago with his wife and children.


Dr. Robby Flannery

Dr. Robert Flannery (PhD, University of California, Davis) is an expert in crop optimization practices, with specialization in the optimization of hydroponic, cut-flower production. During his time at UC Davis (voted the #1 university in the world for Agricultural Sciences), Dr. Flannery worked under the tutelage of Dr. Heiner Lieth and advised commercial flower growers producing crops ranging from roses and Gerber daisies to Cannabis.

Dr. Flannery served as Production Director of SPARC, a vertically integrated cannabis growing and retailer based in San Francisco. During his time at SPARC, Dr. Flannery oversaw the launch and management of 5 cultivation sites, where he set up horticultural practices that are standard in non-Cannabis commercial grows, but are wholly absent in the Cannabis industry. Through his guidance and standard practices implementation, crop production increased an average of 33% in total flower production. Under Dr. Flannery’s guidance, the quality of Cannabis at the many cultivation sites he oversaw had also increased (cannabinoid concentrations increased 37%).

Dr. Flannery is active in the cannabis industry as both an expert advisor on growing, as well as a specialty lighting company focused on serving Cannabis cultivators, while promoting efficient energy use. Dr. Flannery is also the Founder of Sierra Consulting, a cannabis consulting company. He serves on the agriculture committee for the California Cannabis Industry Association, has worked with representatives on the Cannabis Commission at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and often lectures around cannabis topics.

Outside the world of Cannabis, Dr. Flannery enjoys spending time with his family, hiking, cooking, exercising, photography (his primary subject is his daughter), and anything “gadget-y”. Although he enjoys watching football, he much preferred playing it. He was a 2-time All-American and 1-time Academic All-American football player in college.


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