The Speakers

Jim Carroll
Innovations and Trends That Impact Your Business
Jim is recognized as one of the world’s leading global futurists, trends, and innovation experts.  He focuses on global analysis and growth and links future trends to innovation and creativity. In the past few years, Jim has been invited to speak at the PGA 94th Annual Meeting, the Consumer Electronics Association 2010 CEO Summit,’s 2011 Multi-Unit Franchise Conference, the 2010 Vibe Conference (Topic: High Velocity Innovation in the Beverage/Restaurant Industry), the Burger King Global Franchise Conference (Topic: What do World Class Innovators Do?), and the 2008 Foodservice Interchange Conference (Topic: The New Partnership: Achieving Velocity in the New World of Fast Consumers). He was also featured as an innovation expert on the CNBC show, the Business of Innovation, and was named one of four leading sources for insight into innovation by Business Week magazine.

Jim is an author, columnist, media commentator, and consultant, with a focus on linking future trends to innovation and creativity. He is also the author of several books, including, The Future Belongs To Those Who Are Fast; Ready, Set, Done: How to Innovate When Faster is the New Fast; and What I Learned From Frogs in Texas: Saving Your Skin with Forward Thinking Innovation.

Al Bhakta
Unit Growth Through Joint Ventures
Al is a co-founder of The Chalak Group, Inc. and has been a key contributor to Genghis Grill Franchise Concepts, LP’s foundation and development model. He is an influential leader with an in-depth concentration on development, operations, and innovative methods. Al and his business partners started their first company with an investment of only $4,200. Today, that same group is the franchisor of Genghis Grill. Al and his team have strategically grown the Genghis Grill brand from 6 locations in 2004 to 100+ locations in 22 states. The Chalak Group also owns the 13-unit Baker Bros. American Deli chain, and it owns 150 KFC/Taco Bell/Long John Silver’s restaurants in 12 states.

Al was named in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Young Millionaires article in 2006 and was also named as one of Dallas Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Honorees in 2010. In 2011, at the age of only 32, Al was named one of the Top 10 CEOs to Watch by Nation’s Restaurant News.

Al’s presentation will focus on growing a franchise system through joint ventures between franchisee and franchisor.

David Marlett
Crowdfunding is a hot topic related to alternative financing.  David Marlett, JD CPA, is the Founder and Executive director of the National Crowdfunding Association,, the world’s largest trade association for crowdfunding, and he will discuss how crowdfunding (reward and equity) can be a beneficial tool franchisors can use to add franchisees, gain market information, and build brand loyalty.

David also chairs the World Crowdfund Federation,, and leads Crowdfund International,, a comprehensive crowdfund consulting firm.  With 25+ years as an attorney and CPA, David has arranged financing for ventures across an array of industries including film (his specialty), energy, health, banking, real estate, tech, retail, and service.  He is a repeat-entrepreneur, having launched many companies, initiatives, and campaigns nationwide.  He has a law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and degrees in accounting, economics, and finance.  He blogs at and tweets @CrowdFundUs.

Jason Binford
Your Franchisee Just Filed Bankruptcy: What Every Franchisor Needs to Know
As an attorney at Kane Russell Coleman & Logan, Jason practices in the Insolvency, Bankruptcy and Creditor Rights Section.  His experience includes representation of debtors and creditors in large to mid-size Chapter 11 and Chapter 7 cases.  He has significant expertise in issues unique to vendor creditors and has developed several niche areas of experience including 363 sales, intellectual property, landlord/tenant, and franchisor/franchisee issues in the bankruptcy context.

Jason will discuss the issues franchisors face when franchisees file bankruptcy and certain steps franchisors should and should not take during the process.

Stephanie Russ
Employment Law Update for Employers
Stephanie had 15 years of franchise and human resources experience by the time she began her legal career, having worked for franchise industry giants, KFC and Burger King, and frozen yogurt pioneer, TCBY. She focuses her practice on domestic and international franchise regulatory, compliance, and implementation matters and on employment law. Stephanie’s business experience gives her a unique understanding of the challenges that often arise between franchisors and franchisees and employers and employees, and she has achieved multiple, successful outcomes for clients involved in such relationship disputes.

Stephanie also assists her clients in asset and stock purchase sales and lease reviews and negotiations. She is licensed to practice in federal and state courts in Texas and before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Stephanie will provide an employment law update with a focus on the ever-growing issues relating to social media’s presence in the workplace.

Maral Kilejian
International Franchise Law Update for Franchisors
Maral focuses her practice in the areas of franchise law, corporate law, trademark and copyright law, advertising law, and sweepstakes and promotion law.  She provides both initial and ongoing counsel and legal support to franchisors in the structuring and operation of domestic franchise programs and international expansion, including in the drafting of franchise related agreements, franchise compliance issues, franchise and business opportunity registrations and exemptions, non-traditional franchise venues, alternative distribution channels, managing franchisee relationships, operations manuals, marketing materials, gift card programs, and nation-wide sweepstakes and contests.

In addition, Maral advises clients on corporate sales and acquisitions, including asset and stock sales, as well as corporate formation and structuring.  She represents companies in various industries, including the restaurant, retail, convenience store, and beauty health, and fitness industries.

Maral will present information that every franchisor should know in preparing for international growth.