Brendan Burns has spent over 20 years at leading technology, graphic arts and financial institutions including Culture.tech, 1000|Museums, Moody’s Investors Service, Salomon Brothers, and AdOne, an Internet software pioneer. For the past 10 years Burns has managed consulting, advisory and strategic growth assignments under Stepping Stone Capital Partners and Stepstone Art Resources.
Since 2004, Burns has been a professor and senior lecturer in the Entrepreneurship Program at Columbia Business School. Burns is the lead professor for the innovative Entrepreneurial Greenhouse Program. Prior companies (graduate teams) are responsible for launching notable companies such as Happy Family (exit to Danone Group for $300 million), Olapic (exit for $150 million), Betterment (last round valuation $500 million+), Flexport (Ycombinator grad, current valuation over $500 million), FSAStore and many others. Curriculum is very process focused and geared to help motivated teams turn ideas into true, sustainable economic value and job growth. Notable social entrepreneur graduates include Out2Play and CityHealthworks among others.
In the private sector, Burns is the managing partner of Stepstone Art Resources, LLC (STAR), a holding company creating products from art. The company works directly with artists, foundations and museums and drives value to the creative and cultural sector. Prior to this (2013-2015) Burns developed a turnaround plan and strategic repositioning as the CEO of 1000|Museums, a venture-backed ecommerce and art licensing pioneer. 1000|Museums built a global network of fine art museums such as the Guggenheim (NYC), the Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam) and the MFA Houston, among many others. The Company’s mission is to make art and museums more easily accessible to consumers everywhere and generate economic value for museums by selling archival quality reproductions. Burns raised over $5 million in private equity capital for the Company. Prior to 1000|Museums, Burns spent two years at Excelsior Integrated where he developed a strategic repositioning of a traditional graphic arts business. At Excelsior Burns led the acquisition of Oatmeal Studios and BIS fundamentally changing the company and resulting in a 50% business shift in less than two years.
Earlier in Burns’ career, as part of the founding team at AdOne (started in 1995 as a pioneering Internet advertising company), Burns led a series of successful financings from leading venture firms including Venrock and the Pritzker family. Later, as CEO, Burns engineered a buyout with the financial backing of the Hearst Corporation, Scripps, and Advance/Newhouse (subsequently raising over $30 million). Under Burns’ guidance, the company became a pioneer in dynamic Internet classified advertising and built the largest network of local-based media websites in North America representing approximating 50% of total US daily newspaper circulation. Over the last three years of Burns’ tenure, the Company drove over $500 million of operating profits for its media partners.
Burns has a MBA from the Graduate Business School of Columbia University and earned his BS from Fordham University, both in New York City. Since 2004, Burns has been an adjunct professor in the Lang Center for Entrepreneurship at Columbia’s Graduate Business School and serves on the Advisory board of the Lang Fund which invests in and mentors promising student-originated startups. He also serves on the board of Lenox Youth Football Club and lives is Richmond, MA with his family (wife, 3 children).