Our Story

When you operate, govern, and invest billions of dollars in small-cap companies – as we have – there are many takeaways.  Chief among them is that there are few harder jobs than leading a small-cap company.

Life for small-cap officers and directors is lonely, and even the most confident among them will experience bouts of severe self-doubt.

Volatile stock prices embolden every form of would-be advisor to tell them what they are doing wrong.  To make matters worse, even the most credentialed of those advisors have cringeworthy conflicts of interest.

Small-Cap Institute’s mission is simple and daunting at the same time: to maximize the chances of success for forward-thinking, small-cap leaders through a first-of-its-kind community.  A community only open to small-cap officers and directors, where they can learn from renowned investors, from capital markets experts, and from … each other.

Our ecosystem [currently in beta] is designed to elevate objective, differentiated education and transformative peer exchange, and empower small-cap leaders to avoid value-destructive advice. And given how important small-cap companies are to our country’s economy, we decided to make basic membership free.

One CEO told us during our formative diligence: “If I want an unvarnished investor perspective on how to avoid common financing pitfalls, or I’d like to ask a group of CEOs about their experiences with different service providers or investor conferences… there is absolutely nowhere to turn.” 

To that CEO, and countless other small-cap officers and directors: we heard you loud and clear.

David A. Scher

David A. Scher


During a 15-year tenure investing his family’s capital in small-cap companies, David has met with hundreds of small-cap officers and directors.  He has occupied a front row seat to the unique challenges that routinely vex small public companies, and seen how otherwise smart, well-intentioned CEOs and boards make similar, repetitive, value-destructive decisions.  A natural problem solver, he realized through years-long observation that the problem was an educative one.  More specifically, the capital markets, corporate finance, and corporate governance issues that small-cap CEOs and boards face lack intuitive answers.  In place of those intuitive answers is often the highly variable advice from service providers who are simply guessing how investors think. Consequently, in 2017, David founded Small-Cap Institute, and began to work on assembling that missing, comprehensive, educative resource. Previously, David joined LD Micro in 2014 to help manage the construction of the first true micro-cap index – the LD Micro Index – and oversee the rebuild of the ldmicro.com website. At LD Micro, now owned by SRAX, Inc., David was responsible for planning and executing LD Micro’s industry leading conferences each year, wherein over 5,000 one-on-one meetings between investors and micro-cap companies are facilitated.  As a result of his work with LD Micro/SRAX, David occupies a unique vantage point from which to understand at a granular level which issues are most troubling to small-cap CEOs and boards.

Editorial Advisory Board

Brian Balbirnie

Brian Balbirnie

CEO, Issuer Direct (NYSE: ISDR)

Brian Balbirnie serves as the Chief Executive Officer and strategist of Issuer Direct. Brian established Issuer Direct in 2006 with a vision of creating a technology driven back-office compliance platform that would reduce costs as well as increase the efficiencies of the most complex tasks. Brian is responsible for the strategic leadership of the company and oversees day-to-day operations. Under Brian’s direction, the Company has grown to serve over 2,000 companies since 2006. Brian is an entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience in emerging industries. Prior to Issuer Direct, Brian was the founder and managing partner of Catapult Company, a compliance and consulting practice focused on the Sarbanes Oxley Act. Prior to Catapult, Brian also advised several companies on their public market strategies, Merger & Acquisitions as well as their financial reporting requirements.
Dr. Rollie Carlson

Dr. Rollie Carlson

CEO, Immunexpress, Inc.

Rollie Carlson is CEO of Immunexpress, Inc.  He has over 25 years of global commercial, business development experience in the biotechnology space including fund raising in both public and private capital markets. Prior to Immunexpress, he was President and CEO of WaferGen Biosystems (NASDAQ:WGBS) a life science genomic company; President and CEO of Asuragen Inc., a molecular diagnostic company; and, he held several leadership positions at Abbott Laboratories NYSE:ABT).  He has a Ph.D.,  in Biology/Botany from Southern Illinois Iniversity.
Ian Cassel

Ian Cassel

Investor, Founder of MicroCapClub

Ian is a full-time microcap investor, founder of MicroCapClub, the MicroCap Leadership Summit, and co-founder of the Intelligent Fanatics Project. Ian founded MicroCapClub in 2011 with the goal of providing a place for investors focused on small-cap stocks to discuss their research in depth. It has since grown into the largest online forum for sub-$300m stocks with over 500 members and subscribers.
Adam J. Epstein, Chair

Adam J. Epstein, Chair

Founder, Third Creek Advisors

Adam J. Epstein is a former institutional investor, and, now, an advisor to CEOs and boards of pre-IPO and small-cap companies through his firm, Third Creek Advisors, LLC.  Prior to Third Creek, he co-founded Enable Capital Management, LLC; Enable’s special situation hedge funds invested in more than 500 small-cap financings. Mr. Epstein is the author of The Perfect Corporate Board  (McGraw Hill, 2012). In June 2017, The Perfect Corporate Board was the #1 ranked corporate governance book on Amazon.com. He earned a Juris Doctor from Boston University School of Law, and a Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, from Vassar College.
Sharon Gabrielson

Sharon Gabrielson

Board Chair, Sharps Compliance

Sharon Gabrielson is a public and private company Board Director, and C-suite executive with over 30 years of experience across the product and services industry, delivering a successful record in management of highly regulated businesses domestically and internationally. Sharon serves as Chairman of the Board, and on the Compensation Committee for Sharps Compliance (NASDAQ: SMED), a medical waste company. Sharon was most recently Corporate Chair, Global Business Solutions for the Mayo Clinic, the $13B, not-for-profit medical group practice worldwide. Sharon also serves as an Independent Director for Ethos Veterinary Health, a private PE backed, national veterinary health company. Sharon earned an MA in Health Administration and an MA in Management from Saint Mary’s University and a BS in Nursing from Winona State University. She has published numerous publications and presented internationally.

Amanda Gerut

Amanda Gerut

Associate Editor, Agenda (Financial Times)

Amanda Gerut is an associate editor with Agenda, a corporate governance publication, published by Financial Times. Amanda writes about board structure, CEO succession planning, executive talent development, director recruitment, board evaluations and director compensation. Currently, Amanda also serves as an advisor on journalism and reporting issues and as a senior editor for environmental, social and governance issues at CleanTechIQ, a publication focused on renewable energy and venture capital financing.

Select Contributors

Ben Cotton – Founder, CyFIR, LLC

Ben Cotton is a 21-year veteran of the US Army, Special Operations Command (SOCOM). Mr. Cotton specialized in sensitive site and digital device exploitation, Computer Network Attack (CNA), and Computer Network Defense (CND). He is the founder of CyFIR, LLC, an industry-leading computer forensics and incident response firm serving both public and private industry.

Priya Cherian Huskins – SVP of D&O, Woodruff Sawyer

Priya Cherian Huskins is a partner at Woodruff Sawyer, and a recognized expert in D&O liability risk and its mitigation. She is the author of the popular D&O Notebook blog, where she writes about current issues effecting directors and officers of public and large private companies in the areas of D&O liability, insurance, and corporate governance. She serves on the board of Realty Income Corp. (NYSE: O).

Beatriz Infante CEO, BusinessExcelleration

Beatriz Infante is a 4x CEO, former direct report to Larry Ellison at Oracle, and a veteran of more than 12 corporate boards. Named by Financial Times as one of the country’s “Top 50 Digital Directors,” she has unparalleled experience with small-cap shareholder activism — she’s been on boards confronted by activists, and she’s also been installed on boards by activists.

Ravi Kumar – Partner, Connor Group

Ravi is a Partner in Connor Group’s Technical Accounting and IPO Services Practice, advising and preparing prominent high growth companies as they scale their businesses towards an IPO or M&A transaction. Ravi has over 15 years of cross-functional, multi-national professional services experience, including Big 4 audit, M&A and deal advisory, and IPO readiness assistance.

Bob Lamm – Partner, Gunster

Bob Lamm co-chairs Gunster’s Securities and Corporate Governance practice, and he is a special advisor to Deloitte’s Center for Board Effectiveness. Previously, Lamm was assistant general counsel of Pfizer, and held senior legal positions at W. R. Grace, CA Technologies, and Financial Guaranty Insurance Company.

Mike McGlynn – Vice President of security solutions, World Wide Technology

Mike McGlynn spent 25 years working at the National Security Agency. Since leaving NSA in 2010, he has been vice president of security solutions at World Wide Technology and is a member of the CyFIR, LLC board.

Susanne Meline, Co-Founder Francis Capital Management

Susanne Meline is a co-founder of Francis Capital Management, a manager of small-cap hedge funds for 20 years. She formerly specialized in turnarounds and restructurings as an investment banker at Houlihan Lokey and attorney at Jones Day. Susanne has sat on the boards of private and public companies, serving as lead independent director and audit chair. She has been on activist board slates, had an activist campaign run against one of her boards and engaged in shareholder activism as an investor.

Mathew Newfield – Chief Security Officer, Unisys

Matt joined Unisys as CISO in 2018, prior to which he was the Director of Global Managed Security Services for IBM where he managed a staff of 1,500 security professionals. He is on the Board for the National Technology Security Coalition (NTSC).

Frank M. Placenti – Partner, Squire Patton Boggs

Frank Placenti is chair of Squire’s Corporate Governance & Securities Regulation Practice.  He is a Vice Chair of the American Bar Association’s Corporate Governance Committee.  Placenti is the editor of The Directors Handbook, A Field Guide to 101 Situations Commonly Encountered in the Boardroom (ABA, 2017).

Andrew Shapiro – Founder, Lawndale Capital Management

Andrew Shapiro is the founder of Lawndale Capital Management, a manager of small-cap activist hedge funds for over 26 years. Shapiro frequently speaks on matters of corporate governance, fiduciary duty, and activist investing, including as a faculty member of the director education program at UCLA Anderson School of Management.  In 2012, the National Association of Corporate Directors named him one of the 100 most influential people in corporate governance.

Bob Zukis – Founder/CEO, Digital Directors Network

Bob Zukis is Founder/CEO of Digital Directors Network, a boardroom advisor, advocate, and association focused exclusively on improving digital and cybersecurity oversight. He is a retired PwC advisory partner, and is a professor at the USC Marshall School of Business where he teaches the only executive education program in America on digital and cybersecurity governance.