Our Due Diligence Team

Centarus Companies is a trade name for three separate companies: Centarus Legal Services PC, Centarus Business Consultants, Ltd, and CBD Due Diligence Services. Below is the staff at Centarus Business Consultants, Ltd., and CBC Due Diligence Services.

Erin Slone

Management Consultant

Erin Slone has over 15 years of investment banking, due diligence investigation, lending and consulting experience. She has provided creative and tailored solutions such as strategic planning, capital raising,  financial risk management, M&A advisory, business development and marketing strategy to tech startups, small and middle market businesses, healthcare systems, government, higher education institutions, energy providers, infrastructure companies and real estate developers. Ms. Slone has raised over 1.2 Billion of capital for securities offerings in her career.

She has marketed to a continuum of people ranging from C-Suite executives and public officials to community stakeholders, customers, lenders and investors to align interests, build consensus, to advance projects and investment.

Ms. Slone graduated from the University of Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honors in Economics and has a Master’s of Science degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Northwestern University.

Eric La Brecque

Management Consultant

Eric is a branding and business story-telling expert. He has advanced the brand marketing discipline through the introduction of influential, highly regarded tools and processes. Eric has developed successful solutions to complex challenges for leading brands in virtually every category of business, including DisneyABC, Intel, Lexus, Nationwide, Neutrogena, Qualcomm and Roxy/Quiksilver, among many others.

In addition, Eric has generated corporate and product names under which billions of dollars of business are conducted annually. Looking past his experience with established brands, Eric is deeply engaged in startup and early stage business development. He is an advisor to a number of innovative companies in the financial services, data analytics and online peer-to-peer marketplace sectors.

Joe Abadi

Management Consultant

Mr. Abadi is a seasoned business consultant with years of investment banking and private equity experience.  He has crafted business plans, executive summaries, valuation analysis, investors roadshow presentation for many dozens of companies in varying industries.  Mr. Abadi has worked as an investment banker for bulge bracket firms including: Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Bear Stearns and for well-respected private equity firms as Gazit Globe and Capstone Equities.  Additionally, he has held C-level jobs including CFO of a regional commercial bank and CEO for a multinational consumer goods trading company.  He earned an MBA from The Wharton School  with a major in Finance & Real Estate and a BS from NYU’s Stern School of Business with a major in Finance and International Business.

Paul Belanger

Management Consultant

Mr. Belanger possesses over 20 years of finance and accounting experience, and for the past 10 years he has been providing consulting services to a range of clients that include everything from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies. Mr. Belanger’s specialties include raising capital, management turnaround and cost reductions. Over $100 Million Dollars has been raised for his clients over the past 3 years, and he has also initiated cost savings of $32 Million for companies. Some of Mr. Belanger’s Fortune 100 clients include: Waste Management, Staples, Timberland Footwear, Dunkin Donuts, and Bose. In 2010 Mr. Belanger raised $38 Million Dollars for Annie Leibovitz with Colony Capital to refinance her well publicized debt. He currently provides equity fund raising to enterprises in the technology, life science, and retail sectors.

Edward Rhodes

Management Consultant

Edward Rhodes possesses over 29 years of investment banking and consulting experience. Since 2000, Mr. Rhodes has provided M&A, valuation, capital raising, strategic advisory, due diligence, financial modeling and business plan writing services for startup, small and middle market clients. During his career he has closed transactions with an aggregate value in excess of $400 billion across a variety of sectors, including, but not limited to energy, utilities, social networking, industrials, media/telecom and healthcare.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Rhodes served as an Investment Banker in New York with JP Morgan and BMO Capital Markets. He has closed significant M&A, Leverage Finance, Project Finance, Equity, High Grade and High Yield transactions for a wide variety of Fortune 1000 clients and strategic buyers. Prior to his investment banking career, Mr. Rhodes managed the closure of defaulted savings and loan institutions as a Case Manager/Financial Analyst with the Resolution Trust Corporation in Washington.

Mr. Rhodes holds an M.B.A. in Finance from Columbia Business School and a B.A. in History from the University of Virginia.

John Russo

Management Consultant

John Russo possesses over 15 years of Financial Services and Investment Banking experience. Since 2000, Mr. Russo has provided New Business Procurement, Capital Raising, Structured Lending, Banking and Wealth Management Solutions for Small Businesses and Middle Market clients. During his career he has closed transactions with some of the largest Exxon Mobile Franchisees in the Northeast, where he assisted them with complex Cash Management Strategies.

Previously, Mr. Russo served as a Banker in New York with JP Morgan Chase, a Financial Advisor for Merrill Lynch and a Risk Management Consultant at Goldman Sachs Position Control Group.

Prior to his Financial Services career, Mr. Russo Founded Wrapid-Pull, A Dispenser for the Restaurant Industry. He patented the design and sold the rights to a Restaurant Industry Manufacturer in New York City.

Mr. Russo Holds Multiple Financial Industry licenses including the FINRA Series 7, Series 66, Series 55 and Series 24 Licenses. He graduated From Pace University Lubin School of Business with a Bachelor Degree in Business.

Gobind Singh Khals

Management Consultant

Gobind Singh Khalsa is a Sr. Consultant at Centarus Business Services. He leads engagements providing business leaders and organizations with strategy, finance consulting services and business coaching. Gobind Singh’s knowledge and expertise include business planning, finance, creating and implementing strategy and leadership development. His extensive background includes 18 years experience in leadership, consulting and finance. He has led consulting engagements for executive management, human resources, operations, finance, and technology teams.

His engagement leadership includes servicing clients as a management consulting and CFO – providing leadership, developing creative solutions and project management in finance, business planning and strategy, organizational development, change management, merger integration, finance/technology transformation, process improvement and regulatory reporting. His clients include start-up, medium-sized, and Fortune 500 companies in the technology, energy, financial services, health care, LOHAS, marketing and consumer products industries. Some of the clients he has served include Eagle Energy, ECO Power Design, Kaiser Permanente, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Union Bank. His previous employment includes: Manager at Ernst & Young LLP within the FS – Business Consulting practice and a Controller at the boutique investment bank Donaldson, Lufkin, & Jenrette.

Tim O’Connor

Management Consultant

Tim O’Connor is a tremendous asset to our Consumer Products practice area and brings the innovation and passion of a proven entrepreneur plus the enormous volume of results from his classic brand marketing experiences on some of the world’s best known brands including Betty CrockerR, TropicanaR Juice, CoorsR, Star WarsR and many more.

With more than twenty years of experience in traditional consumer marketing, Tim is a hands-on leader in product development, strategic planning, sales management and operations issues. As an executive leader, Tim has built a reputation as a marketing & sales driven executive in corporate turnarounds and brings a level of analysis and urgency to strategic decisions facing large and small organizations. Tim has developed countless strategic plans and presentations in such areas as marketing strategy, business model innovation, consumer research, channel management, new product development, brand renewal and product launches to name a few.

Tim is also the Founder of Brightspot Brands, the company he created to focus on the emerging functional candy segment. His company created the world’s first healthy candy brand known as, gimmeR. The brand featured great tasting, premium chocolate candy packed with nutrition like real dairy calcium, Omega3 from flaxseed and probiotics. The business was sold to a strategic investor in 2010.

Tim earned his undergraduate degree in Economics at the University of Minnesota and earned his MBA from the JL Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University with emphasis in Finance and Marketing.

Jan Knight

Management Consultant

Jan Knight’s primary focus is on providing customized secondary market research to consulting companies, start-ups, entrepreneurs and small-medium sized businesses. Much of her work in the past 13 years has helped to shape business plans, strategic marketing plans and new business development in a diverse set of industries.

Having access to professional, subscriber-based databases that provide authoritative data, nationally and internationally, helps her to research far beyond what the Internet alone can offer. Her information gathering skills are also incorporated in her research-driving writing of white papers, her reviewing of global information products for a UK publisher, and the multiple presentations and workshops she provides on the topic of market research. Jan also brings marketing and advertising experience to her role as a market research specialist.

Currently, a member of the Association of Independent Information Professionals, she has been active in their committees and conferences since 2001. Jan has previously served as a Board Member for a local Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), is also active in various trade groups including the Arizona Technology Council and the Business Marketing Association, and is currently involved as a partner/mentor at a number of Arizona-based business incubators

Jan earned her M.A. in Information Resources & Library Science from the University of Arizona, and her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley.

Deree Kobets

Management Consultant

Deree Kobets brings to the team over 14 years of experience working with start-up companies. Her specialties include business plans, raising capital, cost reductions, creating organizational efficiencies, conducting due diligence and developing working cash flow and proforma financial statements.

Earlier in her career, Ms. Kobets designed a fundraising strategy and sourced target investors to raise $170 million for Apex Venture Partners, a technology-based private equity firm in Chicago. Not only does Ms. Kobets have experience with helping startup companies, she is an entrepreneur herself. Ms. Kobets is the founder of Grow Modern Kids, a unique brand which sold organic and modern products for children. Annual sales grew 20% consistently over five years. In 2012, she successfully sold her business for a profit.

During the last two years, she has provided consulting services to small companies in high growth stages and in need of funding. She assisted these companies with growth plans, systems restructuring, and the preparation of business and financial documents. From her experience with investors, she is skilled in writing business plans and knowing what investors want. Due to her experience with entrepreneurs, she is adept in assisting start-up companies prepare their systems and financials for investment sourcing.

Deree earned her undergraduate degree in Economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned her MBA from the J.L. Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University with emphasis in Management and Strategy and Marketing.

Dharmesh Patel

Management Consultant

Dharmesh Patel is a tremendous asset to our Management Consulting practice area and brings the innovation and passion of Silicon Valley plus the Strategic Planning domain expertise from blue chip firms like Adobe, Schwab, Visa USA, Merrill Lynch, and Prudential Financial.

With more than thirteen years of experience in Product Marketing and Business Development, Dharmesh is a hands-on leader in product development, marketing, strategic planning, organic/inorganic growth and operations/process improvements. As an executive leader and hands on strategist, Dharmesh has built a reputation as a quantitative “Growth Hacker” leading business growth while meeting ROI and ROE objectives. Dharmesh has developed numerous strategic plans and business cases in such areas as marketing strategy, business model innovation, market/product research, customer acquisition & retention strategies, new product development, M&A/Capital Raise and Investor Relations.

Some of the notable highlights from Business Development/Product Launches include:

  • Over $90 Million in Capital Raise stretching across the major stages—Seed (~$100k), Series A ($8M), Private Placement ($2M), IPO ($80M)
  • Eight M&A Deals totaling over $400M
  • Twenty + product launches for both startups and larger blue chip firms bringing in over $160 M in incremental Revenue

Dharmesh earned his undergraduate degree in Business Administration at the University of Maryland – UMUC and earned his MBA from the Warrington College of Business at University of Florida with emphasis in Finance and Strategy.

Hillary Finne

Operations Manager

Ms Finne is the Operations Manager and lead paralegal at Centarus Professional Services. She provides us with more than 20 years of business experience in industries, to include, legal services, financial, and manufacturing. Educationally, she possesses a Juris Doctorate from Loyola University Chicago’s School of Law and a Masters and a Bachelors degree from Northern Illinois University.