Global business accelerators

511 Capital is a hybrid between an entrepreneurial startup incubator and a private equity firm. We find business opportunities and build businesses to take advantage of them.

With four facilities spread between Chicago, Illinois and Shenzhen, China, we accelerate businesses through the startup phase by uniting proven product design skills with high-performance sourcing and manufacturing.

Portfolio Companies

Specialty Printing

PrintNinja is a specialty printing company that delivers individual creators, self-publishers and small businesses extraordinary levels of service, quality and pricing that have typically only been available to the largest corporate customers. PrintNinja’s very creative customer base relies on us to print projects that are labors of love - comic books, graphic novels, children's books, magazines, custom games, and so on – and we treat each project and each customer with great attention to detail and respect.

PrintNinja Logo

High quality instrument cases

Phitz makes design-forward musical instrument cases. We control every step in the design and manufacturing processes and we seek to build the most practical, most efficient, most innovative instrument cases and accessories in the world. Working in a variety of media – fabrics, foams, and plastics – we create beautiful, protective and occasionally outrageous instrument cases.

Phitz Logo

Pirate Lab
Gaming portability solutions

Pirate Lab is building a new generation of gaming cases and accessories for gamers of all varieties. Starting with collectible card games and miniature games, we’re designing and manufacturing innovative portability solutions for people that take their gaming seriously.

Pirate Lab Logo

Functionality-focused workwear

CHZL incorporates customer feedback into the design of garments built for working professionals. We combine excellence, design, and functionality with a sensibility of detail for workwear.


Portfolio storage solutions

Coureo serves artists and art students with large-format physical portfolio storage solutions. From simple fabric cases to fully waterproof cases specially designed to deliver the best in protection and portability, Coureo makes it easy for artists to carry and protect their artwork.

Coureo Logo

White-label soft goods supplier

Global Sporting Intentions is a white-label supplier of soft goods for the shooting and sporting industry. We design and build private-brand items from luggage to garments and more for some of the largest retailers in the outdoor industry.


Ninth Ground
MMA gear

Delivering a revolutionary approach to assisting MMA participants in their journey. Look for Ninth Ground products on popular eCommerce outlets in Q4 2016.

Ninth Ground

About Us

511 Capital lives in a space somewhere between “startup foundry” and private equity-style portfolio management. Always, we look for novel and competitively sustainable revenue opportunities - and then build branded portfolio companies to enter those spaces. We don’t work with people that want to start businesses like a typical incubator would – we hatch out the ideas and bring them to life ourselves.

For the first few years of its existence, the focus has been developing consumer durables and building the back-end manufacturing capability to manifest new consumer product visions. With offices and operational facilities in Chicago, Illinois and Shenzhen, China, the business is functioning as a mini-multinational. This global spread of talent lets us act as a “global business accelerator,” bringing substantial levels of design, sourcing and manufacturing talent to our array of startup projects.

Mr. Russell Potterfield, founder and CEO of 511 Capital, led his former company, Battenfeld Technologies, Inc., through almost a decade of rapid growth. In 2012, he and the other shareholders in the business sold the business to a private equity firm. The private equity group later sold the business to Smith and Wesson, SWHC.

For Mr. Potterfield, the great challenge – and opportunity – from the sale was the loss of the capabilities on the management team that had helped build the Battenfeld business. The structure of 511 Capital allows the management team the opportunity to develop, buy, and sell operating entities without having to re-talent the entire organization. The business model allows a full measure of single-entity entrepreneurial longevity as well as private equity’s enviable ability to maximize the value of an individual company when market conditions warrant a sale.

511 Capital’s first set of startups clearly demonstrates the incubator’s product development chops. More companies are in late-stage development, and more companies are in the evaluation stage. 511 Capital intends on scheduling launches of two to four new “front ends” a year while investing resources to grow each of the existing front ends.

Russell Potterfield
Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Russell Potterfield, who has worked with product and business development for nearly 20 years, founded 511 Capital to pursue new development opportunities. Mr Potterfield has over 40 pending and issued patents on his previous design work. He holds an MBA from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business as well as an undergraduate degree from Michigan in English Language and Literature. During his MBA coursework, Potterfield studied operations, organizational design, corporate strategy and entrepreneurial studies, graduating with distinction in 2003.

Russell Potterfield

Jeff Zwirek
PrintNinja Operations Manager

Jeff leads the PrintNinja Operations team. He and his team focus on creating the smoothest, most pleasant customer experience possible. Jeff uses his 12+ years in the printing industry to shepherd projects from dreams to reality.

Jeff Zwirek

Nikki Bai
Global Accounting Manager

Nikki Bai is 511 Capital's Global Accounting Manager. She is in charge of the accounting department for all portfolio companies and our Chinese factory. She loves data analysis, problem solving, and exploring good food around the world. Nikki is a CPA and CMA license holder. She graduated from UIUC in accounting.

Nikki Bai

Curtis Nelson
Director of Product Development

Curtis Nelson is 511 Capital's Director of Product Development. He is responsible for making concepts a reality with an international team of engineering, manufacturing, and logistics experts at his side. Curtis holds an undergraduate degree in Biomechanical Engineering from Marquette University, graduating summa cum laude.

Curtis Nelson

Contact Us

Find out more

U.S. Office

1603 Orrington Avenue Suite 1500
Evanston, IL 60201 USA
+1 312-477-0511 telephone

China Office

23A-2, Jiangxi Building, No. 6029
South of Shennan Road, Che Kung Temple, Futian District
Shenzhen City, Guangdong Province, China 518040
+86 755 82771055 - 813 telephone
+86 755 82779861 fax

511 Capital Office view Evanston, Illinois
Shenzhan, China