Kinzie Capital’s Suzanne Yoon looks ahead to next fund, more hiring

Suzanne Yoon

“I do feel that as a female minority in our industry that I have an obligation to elevate women [and minorities] in all fields and industries,” said Suzanne Yoon, founder and managing partner at Chicago-based Kinzie Capital.

And Yoon said that it’s not just diversity in gender and race that she’s after in building her private-equity firm. It’s also diversity in age, experience, ways of thinking. “I know that diversity produces good results,” she said.



Kinzie Capital, which closed its debut co-investment fund at $20 million last month, has seven professionals, including three added in the last year and a half. The new employees are Analyst Hyo Lee, Senior Associate Michael Sullivan and Manager of Finance and Operations Kaitlyn Li.

Looking to 2020, Yoon said the firm would like to add up to two more people, one at the VP/principal level, one at the associate level. The added firepower will help sustain the firm as it looks to launch and raise what Yoon suspects will be a “significantly larger” second fund. Interested in landing one of these spots? Here’s what you need to know:

History: Rainmaker Yoon founded the firm two years ago after a distinguished career in corporate finance and restructuring. From 2010 to 2016 she led deals as an executive at Versa Capital Management, a private equity firm that specializes in distressed and special situations. Kinzie Capital has a strategic alliance with Chicago-based Clarity Partners, a management and technology consulting firm. Clarity Partners co-founder David Namkung is a co-founder and partner-operations at Kinzie Capital, while his fellow Clarity Partner co-founder Rodney Zech is partner-operations and CFO.

Investment Strategy: The firm invests in consumer, manufacturing and services companies generating up to $15 million in EBITDA. Targets are typically enduring some kind of wrenching transition that Kinzie Capital can help navigate. These might include a rapid-growth phase, the sudden appearance of aggressive new competitors; a shift from one generation of owners to the next; changes in client buying habits; or the evolution of new technologies.

How to Join: To have a shot at a position contact the firm about first joining as an intern. The firm has one to two business-school interns working part-time or full-time at any given time, as well as an undergraduate intern cycling through each quarter. Both Lee and Sullivan started at the firm as interns. “The cultural fit is something you can’t really know for sure until you’ve worked together for a certain period of time,” said Yoon.

Culture: As at most start-ups, you’ll find yourself playing a variety of roles in fluidly defined positions. Yoon, who said that her role includes “janitor,” said that “everyone on the team is very flexible, willing to work outside of what a typical job description might be for them.” She describes the environment as “warm and open” and one in which team players thrive. You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room, but you should always be looking for ways to strengthen your colleagues’ game, Yoon said.

Dress Code: Business casual to casual as a rule, but business professional when the firm has visitors in similar attire.

Perks: Most Thursdays in the summer, and perhaps once a month the rest of the year, the firm hosts wine and cheese gatherings in the late afternoon. It’s a chance for the Kinzie Capital and Clarity Partners professionals (who share office space) to mingle and catch up. The firm also tries to host a team activity once every four-six weeks—volunteering together for a good cause, going out to lunch or dinner, taking a boat ride, catching a Chicago Cubs game.

Final Word: “Ask good questions” to succeed at Kinzie Capital, said Yoon. “Understand your functional expertise but through the lens of the entire enterprise. I genuinely feel we’ll achieve great results with great culture.”

Contact Suzanne Yoon.

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