Senior Franchise Consultant
iFranchise Group, Inc.
Michael Baum’s career spans more than 40 years in a variety of senior management positions. He specializes in marketing and channel development, operations, and capital formation, with firms both public and private. His expertise includes both the quantitative and the creative sides of direct marketing, with special market emphasis on education, business-to-business services, and growth strategies. He is also principal of Sophia Consulting, which assists companies improve their branding and marketing to institutional and consumer customers.
Mr. Baum’s particular specialties include selling and marketing to schools, especially marketing to K-12 schools, educational product development and branding, direct and online marketing of educational products to schools; franchising, franchise development, and developing dealer networks and other forms of indirect distribution; branding, rebranding, and positioning of new and existing products; and strategic planning, execution, and founder mentoring for small growing companies.
Mr. Baum was formerly CEO of Renaissance Learning, Inc. (Nasdaq: RLRN), a leading developer of educational software and training for K-12 schools. During his tenure as CEO, sales grew from $20 million to more than $100 million. Mr. Baum led a highly their successful initial public offering, interfaced regularly with institutional investors, repositioned corporate marketing, developed new products, and launched the company’s training and consulting arm, which became the core of its national sales program. In 2014, RLRN was acquired for $1.1 billion.
A veteran in both the quantitative and the creative sides of direct marketing, Mr. Baum has also served as president and COO of the Artful Home, a web and catalog retailer of original art and fine craft. During his tenure, Artful Home completed a major rebranding, doubled sales, and raised several rounds of growth capital from both angel and venture sources.
Earlier in his career, Mr. Baum spent a decade in franchise consulting, assisting with franchise marketing, distribution channel strategy, and branding. During this time, he oversaw and provided consulting services to hundreds of firms covering a wide range of product and service categories. Some of the major franchise companies with whom he consulted included Ace Hardware, Bally’s, Hallmark Cards, Shell Oil, Texaco, Valvoline, and Encyclopedia Britannica .
Mr. Baum began his career in merchandising, working for 11 years selecting and marketing high-quality giftwares for a Chicago-based national catalog firm. He is an experienced presenter, facilitator, and public speaker. He holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Yale University and an MBA from Northwestern University.