About Grow Forward

Grow Forward is a venture capital firm focused on investing and cultivating health, renewable energy, and sustainable food businesses. Grow Forward seeks to build community-driven ventures that betters the individual as well as the marketplace.

Grow Forward identifies capable partners whose projects can benefit from growth expertise, operational insights, and capital.

Grow Forward’s expertise is finding potential in forward-thinking food technologies, partnering with founders that champion sustainable practices, and seizing strategic opportunities that invest in the growth of locally, sustainably-produced food.

Company Profile

Established in 2006, Grow Forward was founded based on Jim Murphy’s passion for launching and accelerating community-driven businesses.

He has decades of experience raising investment capital and helping founders launch and propel their business forward. Jim has served in several leadership posts at the Chicago Board Options Exchange for his 25 year tenure.

Typically involved in early stages of a business, Grow Forward partners with In-Focus Ventures to provide business and financial leadership to its portfolio brands.

In-Focus works with management teams, providing affordable access to talent and support for all levels of the business—from handling the day-to-day financial and administrative transactions to developing strategies for achieving profitable growth, and everything in between.

Leadership

Jim Murphy

Jim Murphy

President and Chairman

Jim Murphy is the Chairman & President of Grow Forward. A founder and longtime supporter of several nonprofits, Jim serves as chairman for numerous businesses. Jim’s passion about health, food, and renewable energy and comes from decades of industry experience and achievements. Grow Forward is the culmination of those successes

Team

Pat Lauscher

Pat Lauscher

President/CEO,
InFocus Ventures

Patrick joined Grow Forward in 2015 with 22 years of diverse business experience, having worked for several divisions of a $2 billion private manufacturing company. He led a successful startup as CFO/COO of a retail marketing-services company, growing that business to an $80 million valuation. Patrick successfully led turnarounds as General Manager of a manufacturing company and a supply chain services business (both > $100 million), and as Controller/Sales Manager of a food service supply company. He graduated magna cum laude with a BSB in Accounting from the University of Minnesota, and later earned his MBA from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

Julie Martin

Julie Martin

VP, Finance & Corporate Social Responsibility,
InFocus Ventures

As a Certified Public Accountant, Julie Martin brings to the team a technical understanding of the complexities of the financial landscape of our business. Julie graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a BBA – Accounting. With experiences ranging from the nonprofit sector to private equity, Julie has a unique perspective of grassroots operations.

Impact

So far in 2017, Local Foods distribution has moved more than 175,000 pounds of food.

A Belief in Supporting Communities

Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund

Jim founded the Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund (DMSF) in 1989 to enrich the lives of Chicago youth. DMSF provides high school scholarship assistance and educational support to Chicago students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

DMSF seeks to make a life-altering difference in the lives of its scholars by providing them with the best opportunity to succeed in high school and college. To date, DMSF has awarded more than 2,200 scholarships. 100% of DMSF scholars who graduate high school gain acceptance to a four-year college or university.

Chicago International Charter School

Jim was founding president for the Chicago International Charter School in 1997, which now serves more than 8,000 students across 14 campuses.

Chick Evans Scholarship Program

Jim also serves as alumnus and Director for the Chick Evans Scholarship Program, which has provided scholarships to 935 students enrolled at 20 universities for the 2016-17 academic year. The scholarship fund provides more than $17.6 million in annual scholarships for housing and tuition assistance, and has awarded more than $348 million since its founding.

Frontera 30th Anniversary

With the help of Jim as event co-chair and Grow Forward as sponsor, the Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration will raise funds to benefit two Chicago-based non-profits: the Frontera Farmer Foundation and FamilyFarmed.

Founded by Rick and Deann Bayless in 2003, the Frontera Farmer Foundation is committed to promoting small, sustainable farms serving the Chicago area by providing them with capital development grants. The Foundation's board has approved nearly $2 million in grants to Midwest farmers since its founding.

The mission of FamilyFarmed is to promote and expand locally grown and responsibly produced food in order to enhance the social, economic, and environmental health of communities. In 2004, FamilyFarmed launched the Good Food Trade Show, where nearly 5,000 people attend to meet annually to learn, get inspired, and do business.