Hospitality Industry Veteran Joins Polsky Center as New Executive Director
Dan Sachs, a seasoned business executive and entrepreneur in the hospitality industry, has been named the new executive director of the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. His appointment is effective Sept. 1.
In this new role, Sachs will oversee the education and programming function for the Polsky Center. This will include leading a team of professionals focused on developing co-curricular programs and experiential learning opportunities for students, alumni, faculty, and community entrepreneurs. He will also be responsible for developing and nurturing relationships with key stakeholders across all UChicago divisions and professional schools, as well as within the local, national, and global business community.
“Dan’s appointment comes at an exciting time as we have outlined a bold strategy for the Polsky Center,” said Jay Schrankler, associate vice president and head of the Polsky Center. “At its core, Polsky is a service and educational organization with many key customers and stakeholders. Thus, we are looking forward to leveraging Dan’s far-reaching experience and applying it here at the Polsky Center.”
Most recently, Sachs served as president of Meerkat Advisory, an A-list hospitality and leadership development advisory group, and was a professor of management and entrepreneurship at DePaul University. Before that, he was the founder and owner of BIN 36 Restaurant Group and grew the company’s wine brand domestically as well as to international acclaim. With 25 years of operating experience in the restaurant and service industry, Sachs has become a trusted expert for private equity firms, large hotel corporations, and owners of live entertainment venues. He recently published the book The Million Dollar Greeting, which provides insights on how to apply hospitality industry best practices to strengthen company profit, customer retention, and employee morale.
Sachs earned a bachelor’s degree in government from Harvard University, a doctorate in business administration specializing in organizational behavior from DePaul University, and a grand diplôme from École de Cuisine La Varenne.
“The Polsky Center is a catalyst in the ecosystem and has created a dynamic environment that enables entrepreneurs and innovators to move from a great idea to realization,” said Sachs. “As someone who intimately knows the challenges of starting and growing a business, I am excited to share my experiences and help advance Polsky’s educational mission.”
World-Class Business Expertise
The Polsky Center was born out of the world-renowned University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and has an unmatched track record of launching new ventures. In his executive director role, Sachs will serve as a member of the Chicago Booth Management Group and will work in close collaboration with Steven N. Kaplan, Neubauer Family Distinguished Service Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance at Chicago Booth and Kessenich E.P. Faculty Director of the Polsky Center and Starr Marcello, AM ’04, MBA ’17, the newly appointed deputy dean for MBA programs at Chicago Booth and former executive director of the Polsky Center.
Sachs will join as the Polsky Center kicks off its year-long celebration commemorating the 25th anniversary of its nationally-ranked accelerator program, the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge (NVC). The NVC has graduated more than 330 startup companies still in operation today that have gone on to raise more than $1 billion in funding and more than $7.5 billion in exits. Startups supported by the New Venture Challenge include household names such as Grubhub, Braintree/Venmo, and Simple Mills.
“I look forward to welcoming Dan to the University of Chicago and partnering with him to build on the strong foundation we have established at Chicago Booth,” said Kaplan who is a leading private equity scholar, co-founded the entrepreneurship program at Chicago Booth, and started the NVC. “I have no doubt that Dan will take the Polsky Center to new heights.”
Maintaining strong ties to the venture and investor community will be a critical part of the role. Another key focus will be continuing to nurture the entrepreneurial ambitions of all University of Chicago students across campus.
“I am thrilled to work closely with Dan on ways to continue to introduce new resources and opportunities for our students,” said Marcello, who was recently promoted into a new role at Chicago Booth overseeing the MBA Program teams of Admissions, Student Life, Career Services, Corporate Relations, and Leadership Development. “Each year, we have seen an increase in the number of students interested in entrepreneurship across campus. Polsky has a strong pipeline at Booth as well as in other parts of the University.”
Sachs will report jointly into Schrankler, head of the Polsky Center, and Marcello, deputy dean for MBA programs at Chicago Booth.