Category Archives: App

YOU MIGHT AS WELL DANCE

help-t-ms-officeIT Guys—Stop Playing Defense

by Howard Tullman

Not feeling enough love? Yes, techies are under appreciated until spit hits fan. But if you’re one of them, you’ve got a bigger role to play than you think. Here are three ways to raise your profile.

I feel bad for the guys in our IT department because they suffer the same career issue as the heads of Homeland Security. As we all know, terrorists and other scumbags only need to get it right one time and horrible things happen. Yet our counter-terrorism teams and other law enforcement agencies must try to be right every time. Then, when nothing happens, no one bothers to thank them or offer recognition for their work.

it-guys

People whine about cost, delays, and all the stupid rules. They figure that protecting us is what we’re paying these folks to do. The best the good guys can hope for is a tie. No harm—no foul. And no credit for keeping us safe.

I Don’t Get No Respect

IT departments in almost every business get the Rodney Dangerfield “I don’t get no respect” treatment. They’re taken for granted and get little or no recognition—from anyone—even though the complexity, significance, and risks associated with their responsibilities have multiplied exponentially in the last decade.

Face it, we humans only understand the degree of our dependence on machines and systems when they shut down, data disappears, and systems stop delivering the information we need to proceed.

help-ms-office

The truth is, you can’t do anything intelligent today without solid, timely, reliable, and accurate data. It’s the oil of the digital age and the IT guys are the ones with their mitts on the meters, mechanisms, and measurements. IT infrastructure is the make-or-break gate, tool and tunnel through which everything critical in our data-driven world passes. If they don’t get it right, your business simply doesn’t get done. Relative to your competition, you might as well be in the Dark Ages.

The Tide is Changing

I’ve been spending a fair amount of time with IT teams and I’m encouraged to see a few positive signs.

  • A slowly growing acknowledgement of the importance of IT.
  • Recognition of the turmoil caused by under-investing and under-appreciating the IT team.
  • How neglect exposes your entire company to critical and severe problems.

But time only changes what you don’t change first. I tell all the IT people I meet that they have to be their own best advocates and change agents if they really want to see meaningful improvements and add real value to their businesses.

This is no easy sell. These folks aren’t really built that way.

Selling their ideas is the last thing they ever thought they’d be stuck doing. But the waves of change are coming—and you can swim with the tides or sit still and be submerged.

I’ve found three specific ideas and approaches that senior-level IT folks can focus on to make a serious contribution to the future of their firms.

connected-devices-ms-office

1—Be a Weapon, not a Shield

Playing great defense isn’t enough. The smartest IT players are extracting from the plethora of connected devices and turning the data they develop into “weaponized” information—decision tools that move their businesses ahead by providing better and more timely solutions, both to internal users and outside clients. What gets done is what gets measured. Help your team optimize every aspect of the operation with real-time decision support. That puts everybody in a position to correctly make the most critical calls—like when to double-down on winners and how soon to ditch dogs. Providing increased metrics and visibility is what the best data-driven IT strategies are all about. Money is just expendable ammunition. Data is power and guess who’s in charge of the data?

future

2—Focus on Future

Everything is about the future. We need bridges—not more bandages. The network is the name of the game. Help your team exploit the extensive resources outside of your own shop. Connect your company to critical partners, collaborators, and new technologies that are beyond your four walls. Do it securely, without sacrificing speed, accuracy or ease of access.

Make sure your people are an active and effective part of all the “social” conversations that concern your business because these new channels are changing the way we all confer, compare, communicate, and consume. Unless your products and services are part of the ongoing conversations and decision sets, when the buyers are ready to buy, you’re nowhere.

Holding down the fort isn’t enough; you’ve got to do more than simple maintenance because your business needs a vision and a path forward—not another Mr. Fix-It.

be-the-solution

3—Be In the Room Where It Happens

If you don’t ask, you don’t get. As a senior IT professional, step up and insist that your presence and your input is central to securing the best solutions for the business. If you’re not there, if you don’t have some skin in the game, if you’re just a spectator, then the changes that do happen will happen to you, not through you. It’s not always safe to step up, but it’s the smartest bet you can make. If you don’t believe in yourself and your abilities, who else will? And take my word for it; waiting never gets you to a better result. The world is moving too quickly to give anyone the luxury of time. Just like in racing, you need to understand that no one waits for you.

If it’s any consolation in these tough and troubling times, just remember that they’re going to blame you for anything and everything that goes wrong anyway. So, if you’re already walking on thin ice, you might as well dance.

howard-tullman-double-gulp-t

Howard Tullman is the father of Chicago’s 1871 incubator.

Read his bio on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_A._Tullman

Check out his websites at http://tullman.com/

and http://tullman.blogspot.com/

Write him at 1871@Tullman

Image credits – Howard Tullman, Getty Images, MS Office

This is an excerpt from an article in INC.

http://www.inc.com/author/howard-tullman

Image credits – Howard Tullman, Getty Images, MS Office

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.
.Copyright © 2017 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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Filed under 1871, angel, angel capital, angel investor, App, Data, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Internet, Internet Marketing, jobs, Mobile, Mobile App, new companies, Social Media, Software, Startup, startup company, vc, venture capital, wireless internet

5 STARTUPS WE LOVED FROM TECHWEEK

Chicago’s Launch Competition

techweek-logo T

 

by Jeff Segal

Why does a B2B digital marketing agency that works with some of the biggest and best-known companies in America send a team to a startup competition?

Because marketing and startups actually have a lot in common.

  • Marketing is about problem solving, and startups are founded to solve problems.
  • Marketing is about storytelling, and every startup has a story.
  • Finally, a great marketing campaign and a successful startup both make people say, Wow, I wish I’d thought of that!

Out of the dozens of startups entered in last week’s Techweek Launch competition, here are five that made me and my coworkers say, “Wow!”

Techweek

 

CAST21

Technology has revolutionized nearly every aspect of healthcare in the last 20 years. But if you break your arm, your cast will look and feel just like one from 50 years ago.

Cast 21 wants to change that. Their lattice design—stiff on the inside, soft on the outside—lets patients shower and even swim, and lets doctors dress and treat the affected skin underneath. No more itching, no more smell.

Cast21

CEO Ashley S. Moy explains, “Our co-founder [and bio-mechanical engineer] Jason Troutner wore casts for nearly three years of his life. He was passionate about solving the complications that accompanied the casts, and his energy was contagious. We knew there was no other option but to change the way people heal broken bones.”

 

COMMON CENTS

If you know a college student or recent grad, you’ve probably heard about the increasing burden students loans are putting on the youngest members of our workforce.

Some recent University of Chicago graduates have designed a platform that makes paying off loans a little easier. Common Cents connects mobile spending apps like Venmo to a student’s loan accounts, so spare change from everyday purchases goes directly toward paying those loans down.

Common Cents

How much difference can a few cents here and there make? Co-founder Madeleine Barr says an average student who puts just $1.33 per day toward loan repayment can save more than $3,000 before finishing school, and more than $20,000 over the lifetime of a loan.

She adds, “As recent graduates with student debt, we are building the app we wish existed for us.”

 

FIND YOUR DITTO

Find your Ditto CEO Brianna Wolin has lived with multiple chronic illnesses since she was four years old. And she spent four stressful years at college without meeting a single other person living with the same conditions.

Her solution: build a mobile platform that allows people to make local, on-demand connections with others living with the same chronic illness. These connections can help relieve the isolation and depression that so often accompany chronic conditions like Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, diabetes, cancer and eating disorders.

Find Your Ditto

 

The result: Within five days of Brianna starting the Find Your Ditto pilot at the University of Michigan, another female student with exactly her same conditions had signed up.

 

FLIPWORD

If you read lots of online content, Flipword can help you learn a new language without special classes or software.

Like many startups, the idea for Flipword came from a real-life problem. CEO Thomas Reese was trying to teach himself Mandarin, but didn’t have time to study. One day while browsing the web, it hit him that he could learn Mandarin at the same time.

Flipword

The concept is mind-bogglingly simple. Read whatever online content you like, and Flipword replaces a few words per page with words from the language you want to learn, along with definitions and pronunciations. Maravilloso!

 

HERE 2

Jelani Floyd, CEO of Here2, explains how this “pop-up social broadcasting” app came to be:

“My brother and I attended a Bulls game at the United Center. We noticed so many people around us taking photos and videos and we wondered, where was all this content going? We searched hashtags on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, but we could not find any content relevant to that game.

“We posted a photo to Facebook, and one of our friends—whom we had no idea who was also at the game—commented on our pic and said ‘I’M HERE TOO!!’”

Here 2

Here2 locates users geographically, so they can connect with each other in real time without having to guess hashtags or channels. And users who can’t make an event can still get authentic insight from the crowd’s perspective—the next best thing to being “here too!”

 

Links to the Five Companies

Cast21

Common Cents

Find Your Ditto

Flipword

Here2

Jeff Segal

Jeff Segal writes blogs and social content for digital B2B marketing agency StudioNorth, while crusading tirelessly against the words provide, quality, strive and utilize. This post originally appeared at Inside the Studio, the StudioNorth blog.

Check out Stories We’ve Told and Techweek Launch Competition

Graphics courtesy Jeff Segal


Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2016 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, App, big money, chicago, Chicago Ventures, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Events, Innovation, Innovation and Culture, Invention, investor, Marketing, new companies, Social Entrepreneur, Techweek, vc, venture capital

SOURCING STRATEGIC INVESTORS

Monopoly Investor MS Office clipart TPart I – Funding your Business with Strategic Corporate Investors

by Laurence Hayward

It’s common to think of strategic investors, or strategics, as large established corporations that make equity investments in entrepreneurial ventures (and that is precisely how the Kauffman Foundation defines it). However, the reasons they make these investments vary and are more subtle than the definition implies.

The obvious reason is to gain a strategic or operational advantage by investing in emerging technologies. But let’s give it a bit more color.

  • To serve as a single contact point for emerging technologies, which historically can get lost in the organization.
  • To fill the gap in the capital markets where meaningful innovation needs to occur.
  • To align interests between several technology companies, which bring value to the corporate enterprise.

Corporations also create open innovation programs and becoming limited partners in independently managed venture capital funds. A corporation need not have a dedicated fund division to be actively involved in the world of venture-backed companies.

Monopoly Investor MS Office clipart

 

Corporate VCs

A strategic, in many cases, wants just the opposite of the typical venture capital operation. A VC fund is operated by a team of professional asset managers backed by limited partners as part of a financial return strategy. Much like the average investor in stocks and bonds, one doesn’t tell his mutual fund manager what to do. Like the average investor, limited partners often want little or no connection to the assets managed. They seek capital gains, not strategic or operational benefits.

This distinction was not always so clear. In the heat of the late 90s, corporations caught the private equity bug and many large companies entered the venture game—with or without venture experience. Companies often targeted companies not strategically aligned in product or service. It didn’t end well and many of these initiatives terminated. Today, I see corporate investors making significant efforts to ensure business unit alignment—seeking an operational benefit in addition to a financial one.

Today, corporate venture capital is experiencing a renaissance, but one more circumspect than in the past. This marks the strongest year since the crash of 2000. According to National Venture Capital Association, corporate venture groups invested $5.4B in 2014 accounting for 11% of all venture dollars invested.

Large corporations are playing an increasingly critical role in financing important technologies. There is a distinct lack of non-strategic investment in vital sectors such as Cleantech, Agriculture, Material Science and Advanced Manufacturing. (Cleantech investors themselves want more competition.) Because companies in these sectors tend to be capital intensive, with extended sales cycles, financial venture firms are straying back to traditional areas of focus such as Infotech.

Fortunately, strategic investors have stepped in where financial investors have exited. This is important. Many of these companies are commercializing breakthrough innovations that benefit mankind. Government research dollars alone cannot bring them all to market. I’m reminded of a cover of MIT Technology Review featuring Buzz Aldrin saying, “You promised me Mars Colonies. Instead, I got Facebook.”

 

Types of Strategics

Many entrepreneurs in underfunded sectors ask how to work with strategics. Just like other types of investors (angels, family offices, venture capital firms, etc.) there is a wide spectrum. They don’t all approach deals the same way.

Many strategic investors begin by making investments from their balance sheets through operating divisions within the company. This important activity may not be captured in the industry statistics, which represent more formalized venture funding.

Other firms set up a separate venture capital unit, in some instances as a separate corporate entity or business unit. This is done for a variety of reasons including internal organizational considerations for the strategic, but it is also done to address a key concern of the entrepreneurs, such as, “Will the strategic attempt to tie me up in some way?” Separate venture capital units are designed to avoid these concerns.

In most of strategic transactions, the investor seeks some special rights in addition to the purchase of equity. These can come in the form of distribution and supply agreements, license agreements, exclusive rights to product/technology, right of first refusals (ROFRs) for sale of the acquired company, preferred pricing arrangements and so on. It is critical for the entrepreneur and any co-investing financial investor to understand the implications of the agreement before beginning discussions with a strategic. These terms can make a significant impact on a company’s ability to pivot, its opportunity to exit, and ultimately its valuation.

For example, most venture capital funds will advise their entrepreneurs that ROFRs are a non-starter—and with good reason. A right of first refusal in the sale of the company can make a competitive bid or auction process entirely impractical. Why would a competitive buyer delve deep into diligence if they know the company holding the ROFR can sweep the deal away from them at the last minute? The potential buyer will also wonder how deeply entrenched the company is with the strategic owner and be concerned with competitive disclosure issues. The ROFR can restrict an entrepreneur’s ability to maximize value in an exit and inhibit a true auction-like environment.

Remember the objective of most venture-backed companies is extraordinary returns, not average returns. From the perspective of the entrepreneur and the non-strategic investors, it is not about seeking a fair price in an exit, it is about getting the best price possible.

 

Separating Equity from Everything Else

Many strategic investors in formally run venture capital units do not necessarily seek to become eventual acquirers of the companies in which they invest. And they often avoid conflicts such as ROFRs. Strategic and operational gains can be found in other ways.

For example, the gain can be a customer, distributor, supplier, etc. It can be first to market with a new technology. A distribution or supply agreement can be of great benefit. For example, imagine a small company that quickly gains access to global distribution of a large corporate enterprise. Therefore, a key consideration is the value of any arrangement outside of or in addition to the exchange of equity.

It’s important to account for any exchange of value above-and-beyond the equity. For example, a license provides value via access to technology. Such agreements often include upfront payments and royalties for the value of the technology to the strategic. A company will want to clearly capture and specify this value.

 

Too Many Cooks

An entrepreneurial venture will require multiple types of investors over time. If an angel, a venture capital firm, and a strategic invest in the same company, how do you ensure they have equitable value especially if the strategic is getting “extras”? On the one hand, access to the emerging company technology might provide the strategic a major competitive advantage in the marketplace. Then again, the strategic investor might bring added value that the angel investor can’t. What is one to do?

The answer is to account for each unique benefit with a discrete standalone agreement, separated from the equity arrangement. For example, if there is access to technology, then structure a separate license agreement. On the flip side, if the strategic is providing access to new markets, a distribution agreement might help ensure fair compensation for selling the company’s product. In other words, price “extras” separately where possible.

At some point, equity interest and operational interest may diverge. For example, a strategic may at some point elect to exit an equity position, but might still want to have an operational relationship such as a license with the company. If those are intermingled in the original agreement, separating them may become a challenge.

In short, meticulous accounting is required for operational and strategic benefits. They need to be valued separately from the price of equity. After all, the price paid for equity involves a fair exchange in percentage ownership in the company just as provided to any other investor.

 

GO TO PART II

Larry Hayward Photo

Venture Lab Logo

Laurence Hayward | lkh2@theventurelab.com | VentureLab | 2100 Sanders Road | Northbrook, IL 60062

This article is abridged from News From Heartland and TheVentureLab.

Copyright 2015. The VentureLab

Image Credits – Parker Brothers via MS Office, Laurence Hayward

Subscribe to Larry’s articles at http://theventurelab.blogspot.com/

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2016 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, App, Big Corporations, big money, Chicago Ventures, Conflict, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Invention, investor, new companies, vc, venture capital

DON’T GET DOWN—GET BUSY

Howard Tullman Double Gulp Tby Howard Tullman

If you run a startup you’ll hit a wall or screw up big-time at some point. It goes with the territory. What doesn’t is letting yourself get stopped. Adversity doesn’t need any help. There are things you can do to right the ship—and the first is to right yourself.

The bond between the best entrepreneurs and their businesses is often tight and all-encompassing—so much so that they can make the easy mistake of confusing who they are as people with what they do for a living. They can lose sight of some of the more important things that distinguish earning a living from having a life. And because they typically take the ups-and-downs of business so personally, there’s virtually no separation between work and what little time is left for the rest of life. Family, friends, everything suffers.

If the business takes a hit, which startups do on a regular basis, the tendency is to feel like a personal failure—to feel fundamentally worthless. If that sounds overly dramatic or overwrought, come live in my world for a few weeks and you’ll change your mind in no time. The external stresses of business creation are nothing compared to the mental beatings and recriminations we administer to ourselves. It’s not healthy, it’s not smart, but it’s common to what we’ve chosen.

Frustration from Getty Images

Getty Images

Having said that, I want to be clear that I believe that there’s no such thing as “just business.” It’s essential to take your business personally if you want any chance of real success—if you want to build something that matters and makes a difference. But, at the same time, I don’t think that you can let your identity and your sense of self-worth be entirely subsumed by the day-to-day crises and fire drills and the many setbacks that we all deal with. The ups and the occasional wins are nice; but it’s the downs and learning how to deal with them that makes all the difference in the long run.

We all get depressed from time to time because—and I hope this doesn’t come as a complete surprise to anyone—life isn’t fair. Even the nicest people get knocked on the head from time to time. The very best of intentions are scant protection from the vagaries of the startup world. And especially in the startup world, few things work out the way you planned. Sadly, and far too often, just being in the right time and place, or catching some other lucky break beats out a lot of better ideas, a bunch of long hours, hard work, and even much better technology and solutions. Bill Gates is a spectacular example. That’s just how it goes. But where things go after something good happens is up to you. How do you handle the bruises and blisters that are all an essential part of growing any business?

I’ve watched hundreds of entrepreneurs handle every kind of adversity, and lived through more near-death experiences myself than I care to recall, and I’ve concluded that there’s a right way to proceed and a lot of ways that are wastes of time, leading nowhere. Some of these approaches are just common sense ideas, but it’s easy to look past them when you’re feeling down and troubled. So here goes.

 

What Won’t Work

Playing the Blame Game

There’s always someone or something to blame. Usually it’s the people not in the room or circumstances you can’t do anything about. It doesn’t help to whine. Worse, by putting your fate in the hands of circumstances or third parties, you give up your own power to change things. Sitting back and feeling sorry for yourself isn’t ever a viable solution.

 

Settling for a Situation that Sucks

Nothing I know gets better by itself. If you want a better outcome or result, you have to take control of the situation and make things better. Standing still means you’re sliding back while others are racing ahead. As often as not, when you settle for less than your best, you end up with even less than you settled for.

 

Trying to Ignore the Problem

If you don’t want to believe or accept something, no amount of evidence will change your mind. But, if you ignore a serious problem long enough, you’ll eventually have a crisis on your hands and then you’ll have no choice but to take action. It makes much more sense to get started on a solution before things get out of control. Ignoring the unhappy facts doesn’t make them go away; they just fester.

 

Trying to Be Superman

You can’t solve everything by yourself regardless of how many all-nighters you pull. Important problems are complex and require a competent team to address and resolve. A team distributes the burdens, stresses, and makes for a much better result.

 

Trying to Distract Yourself

You may think that you can re-direct your focus on trivial things—see a show, a movie, take a run or workout, have a few drinks—and magically you’ll stop worrying about the elephant in the room. But that’s not the way an entrepreneurial brain works. It never shuts down completely. Convincing yourself that you don’t care isn’t as easy as you might imagine, regardless of what a great sales person you are. And even if you momentarily get your head out of the game, your stomach will still keep score.

 

What Will Work

Do Something Now to Fix the Problem

Nothing beats now. You may not get it totally right but you won’t get anywhere if you don’t get started. Better to do something constructive and move the ball forward than to sit in a pile of pity. People who work hard and still can’t find the right answers don’t come to a screeching halt. They bend the world to their needs and desires. They create their own solutions. They make conditions and circumstances that succeed.

 

Raise Your Sights and Expectations for Next Time

At 1871, one of our favorite mottos is: “It’s Only a NO for NOW.” The most critical skill of any successful entrepreneur is perseverance. Get knocked down. Get back up. Try again. While you’re at it, aim a little higher the next time because selling yourself short is stupid. Ignore all the people who tell you why things can’t be done.

 

Focus on What is Working and Build from There

I call this “eating the elephant one bite at a time.” Not every problem can be solved all at once. But you can build off the foundation formed by the accomplishments and successes that you’ve had to date and then break the remaining barriers down into manageable, bite-sized challenges. Take tasks on one at a time. A lot of small steps, pushes, and the occasional shove—as well as a little bit of patience—will get you there.

 

Acknowledge that Things Could Be a Lot Worse

People who aren’t living this life think that all entrepreneurs are cock-eyed optimists who view everything through rose-colored glasses and believe that trees grow to the sky. But we know better. Serial entrepreneurs will tell you that it’s never as bad or as good as it looks. Every day you must put on a brave and excited face for the world and your team. Deep down inside, it may pay to be a little paranoid, but it’s essential, in the privacy of your own mind, to be proud—proud of how far you’ve come when so many others never could, proud of what you’ve built so far and all the people you’ve benefited along the way. There are much worse ways you could spend your time and your life. Admit it and get on with it.

 

Remember Why You’re Doing This in the First Place

We didn’t come this far to quit or to only come this far. We didn’t come to play; we came to win. And we wouldn’t be doing this at all if it wasn’t important and likely to make a difference to a lot of people in addition to ourselves. That’s why we come to work; put our noses to the grindstone; and try to get better every single day. If it was easy, anyone could do it. It’s not.

 

Howard Tullman is the father of Chicago’s 1871 incubator.

Read his bio on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_A._Tullman

Check out his websites at http://tullman.com/ and http://tullman.blogspot.com/

Or just type his name into your favorite search engine.

 

Photo credits: Howard Tullman, Getty Images

This article is abridged from the version appearing in INC.

 

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2016 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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Filed under 1871, angel, angel capital, angel investor, App, big money, chicago, Chicago Ventures, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Howard Tullman, Innovation, Innovation and Culture, Invention, investor, Mobile, Mobile App, Mobile Marketing, new companies, vc, venture capital

THIS AIN’T NO LEMONADE STAND

20160402_143634-JAJ TLoop Lonagan—Verbatim

What if y’could combat starvation by producin’ yer own meat ‘n potatoes—and do it right at da local food bank? Hey, I’m lookin’ at a real working prototype here. What about a solution to student debt? Or, maybe fer yer next birthday party, ever’body plays laser tag with drones? Or learns music real fast? Or gets a little help rememberin’ stuff. I can use summa that.

This ain’t no lemonade stand—I’m talkin’ serious business ventures here. One of ‘em launched her company this year and raised $250K in revenue already. Yeah, you heard right—a quarter million bucks. IMG_6636And she’s a high school sophomore! They’s ALL high school students! This is POWER PITCH, ‘n’ we’re at IMSA—the Illinois Math ‘n’ Science Academy. Real smart kids go here. I never seen nothin’ like it—all I remember about high school is gettin’ in trouble all da time.

I sure hope John’s cleanin’ up my language before he prints this stuff.

Editor’s Note—This is a verbatim transcript. It is the policy of this journal to do each writer justice. I might point out that Lonagan doesn’t give himself enough credit. He graduated the University of Chicago with a Masters in Finance.

20160402_143634-JAJ

We got almost 40 teams pitchin’ here, and they’s all real professional-like. One o’ da mentors flew in all the way from Silicon Valley ‘n’ spent days ‘n’ days coachin-up deeze kids. They musta worked their little tails off. DSC_0055Another thing I notice—seems like nowadays, kids wanna do somethin’ good fer da world, insteada da usual greed ‘n’ avarice.

They’s buildin’ a whole wing o’ da school—exclusive fer startups. And today’s winners get thousands in prize money.

Jonelis invited a couple o’ the judges ‘n’ I don’t know why he picked me but I’m glad he did. I mean, c’mon—how can a guy pass up somethin’ like this?

DSC_0052Sixteen of us is tryin’ t’ pick da best o’ da best. Alotta these judges is big-time professional investors I know personal-like, ‘n’ I hear ‘em sayin’ stuff like, “Deeze pitches here is better den downtown.” Sheesh, I feel like a kid in a candy store. I mean, yer lookin’ at da hope o’ tomorrow! And it happens every year!

Just take a glimpse at summa deeze startups. I put ‘em in alphabetic’ order I think. And lemme say thanks t’ Carl Heine who runs dis thing. And Jim Gerry who’s retired but can’t stay away. And Britta McKenna who’s da Chief Innovation Officer. Naturally they’s all PhDs.

20160402_142354-JAJ

Tech Ventures

  • Drone Wars—Having fun with flying laser robots—Max Orr
  • FlashFun—The Personalized Concierge in the palm of your hand—Palak Agarwal
  • Flock—A free and efficient social media platform for easily getting together with your friends—Ben Maher, Timur Javid, Michael Dow, Shrey Patel
  • HeadsUp—A projectable HUD purposed to prevent distracted driving-based accidents by keeping drivers’ eyes up and on the road—Sneha Pathuri, Ian Anderson, Andriy Sheptunov, Xinyu Guan
  • Icosadeck—Icosadeck reinvents the flashcard, making it multi-sided and adding other features to let students note more information, with more organization, and more efficiency—Gunwati Agrawal
  • NoteHub—A Website where students can buy and sell their school notes—Katreena Subramanian, Devan Grover
  • Peanut Butter—Peanut Butter motivates Millennial employees by offering a unique benefit that reduces their student debt—Aneesh Kudaravalli, Tyler StockIMG_6631
  • RemindMe—You shouldn’t have to remind yourself to remember – RemindMe is a smart phone app that uses proven techniques in memory research to help you retain information longer and retrieve it faster—Ahana Narayanan
  • Right Glow—Right Glow is a silicone bathmat that when stepped on glows red, providing the user with a light source that does not cause the temporary blinding sensation associated with turning on a light late at night—Luke Morrical
  • Snowflake—An Automatic, not manual, fridge inventory keeper and recipe recommender—Xinyu Guan, Andriy Sheptunov
  • Vestal—Social platform where you interact with other in Virtual Reality using just a smart phone and a viewer—Isabel Lee
  • XYZone—Improve your pitching accuracy with the only 3D Strike Zone—Hector Correa

Social Ventures

  • AquaFood—A permaculture company proposing aquaponics as a biotechnological solution to combat starvation and environmental problems in your own neighborhood and in the world—Erol IkizIMG_6659
  • Blabl—A mobile application that engages speech impaired children in conversation with a virtual pen-pal—Ayan Agarwal
  • HydroHero—Generate water for the people—George Moe
  • Pass Your Plate—Pass Your Plate helps businesses by taking their waste food and donating it to shelters in the area—Aneesh Kudaravalli, Tyler Stock, Shana Farhang
  • SelfHealth—SelfHealth is a system that puts you in control of your own medical information—Alex Orlov
  • SirenAlert—SirenAlert, is developing a Bluetooth app and signal monitoring hardware to help emergency vehicles avoid traffic collisions and improve response time by alerting even the most distracted drivers, saving lives—John Valin
  • SocialGood—SocialGood translates social media activity into charitable donations utilizing social media activity—Vainius NormantasIMG_6637
  • Thinkubator—Thinkubator is a co-curricular program that challenges students to think & solve pressing community issues, for graduation-required service hours—Sivam Bhatt and Nabeel Rashee
  • The Muzic Academy—It will only take a minuet to learn, but what you learn will last a lifetime—Abinaya Ramakrishnan

Other Ventures

  • AlertIsabella Ginnett, Ashritha Karuturi, Priya Kumar
  • Ask Me 101Rishi Modi, AJ Federici
  • CirclesJulian Litvak
  • FunkyPlantsAkshay Verma
  • InspireEsther Mathew, Amahlia SuDSC_0036
  • LinguLucy Liu and Rebecca Xun
  • LoopNicholas Rodriguez, Isaac Adorno
  • LynxAllAnkit Agarwal, Sweta Kotha
  • MusiWebMaya Wlodarczyk
  • OmNoteClaudia Zhu
  • PoweritForwardShriya Chennuru, Harshita Degala
  • SlipTieSushil Upadhyayula, Pranav Upadhyayula
  • Spatio StationMarc Peczka
  • SugarSmart!Aimee van den Berg, Kate Rabideau, Pranav Narayanan, Abhay Gupta
  • The CommunityMadison Mack

Also read – RAW TALENT

Contact IMSA’s Britta McKenna at bmckenna@imsa.edu

Photo credits – IMSA & John Jonelis

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2016 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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HAWKS

Hawk Logo_JAJ0561by Mark T. Wayne

“Quit talking business!  This is important!”  A shocking pronouncement coming from one’s employer!  I go mum.  We sit behind thick glass, watching the Chicago Blackhawks clobber the Anaheim Ducks in the final game of the series.  The Hawks will win this game and go on to the coveted Stanley Cup.  That is correct, sir—an opportunity for a third championship in just a few years!

I comply with Jonelis’ rude order.  I do it because I sympathize with his lack of discipline in this arena of violent chaos.  And of course, like most men, I am quite prepared to revive my boyhood when the opportunity arises.  Certainly, there are subjects other than business worthy of utterance.

Mark T Wayne

Lonagan is at my right, constantly jostling, constantly booming, “Did ya see dat?” shouts the execrable fellow.  “He jammed da butt o’ his stick right into dat poor sap’s kisser.”  Permit me to note that Lonagan is able to perform a multitude of tasks simultaneously:

  • He shouts expert opinions about every detail of this free-for-all.
  • He gnaws great hunks from greasy bratwurst.
  • He swills beer from a paper cup with great skill.

I have never before witnessed a hockey game.  I attempt to test its worth with my closest scrutiny, but find it difficult to comprehend my editor’s rationale—dragging me out here to write about six bearded hooligans with faulty dental work beating up six over-muscled goons.  How can I stay abreast of the Chicago private equity action?  Nothing of impact happens in California.  Most of their financiers chase after the same-old, same-old mobile apps.  But I agreed not to talk business.

John thru the glass_JAJ05618B

Against the glass

Jonelis and Lonagan both jump to their feet and beer sloshes onto my fine white flannel suit.  “Goal!” they scream in rough unison, and the stadium erupts in opposing voices of victory and outrage.  Jonelis pounds my shoulder.  “Did you see that?  Did you?  A rebound—that’s the way to score a goal—always crowd the net!”  I am perplexed.  How can he possibly assume that I did not witness the occurrence?  Does the man think I am blind?  We are right here in the front row of the roaring crowd, watching this madness with an entirely unobstructed view!  A gentleman named Toews, who I am told, for some unknown reason, pronounces his name Taves, just flung a small black object into the goal by artful use of a stick.  I saw the act, as did every other bloodthirsty spectator in this crowded coliseum.

Meanwhile, Lonagan gesticulates broadly with both arms, then breaks into impassioned laughter that squeezes out a few tears.  He reaches across me and punches Jonelis square on the shoulder.  “Dis is da best!  First class airfare.  First class box seats!  I kin hardly believe I’m here!  What made ya ask me?”

Jonelis seems momentarily at a loss for words.  He grins sheepishly, then admits in a somewhat lower tone, “You know how to throw a party—I don’t.”  He clears his throat.  “After we win this game, I want to celebrate.  I want to do it right.”

I catch a glint in Lonagan’s eye.  “You want I should pour it on industrial strength?”

A wan smile.  “That’s the general idea.”

“Yer on!”  Lonagan grins like a slathering bulldog.  “What about old whisker-puss here?”

“He’s covering the game.”  Then Jonelis addresses me.  “Get the article out tonight, will you?”

I care not about a drunken felon denigrating the quality of my mustaches, but the second insult inflicts its sting.  My host reduces my status from guest to employee.  Such is the level of respect shown an accomplished novelist.  A writer is without honor, sir!  (I secretly resolve to delay the entire project for several days.  I, too, enjoy the Lonagan fellow’s raucous celebrations.)

Two huge bodies in bulky uniforms slam into the glass inches from my nose with an impact that rattles the structure of the enclosure.

I sit up and take notice.

Pinned, the Hawk reaches under an inadequate face guard and grabs the nose of the angry Duck, who bars his stick against the Hawk’s hairy throat.

A whistle!

With a bleeding nose, the Duck skates to the penalty box.

In the ensuing power play, I note amazingly deceptive and expert stick handling.  Fascinating!  Other members of the team, entirely out of the action of play, perform acts of sadistic menace upon each other’s persons.  These go unnoticed by the officials, otherwise engaged.  As an organ plays magnificent chants, I wonder how thugs learn to skate with such skill.

Toews scores another goal and I am wearing flecks of Lonagan’s mustard.  Only a few minutes have transpired since the splattering of beer—inadequate time to allow my suit to dry.

I stand and cheer!  “Hooray!”

This represents an important lesson!  Yes sir!  How is it that I have never before attended such an event as this?  And I speculate on the odds of bribing a season ticket from some luminary with the only real weapon I own—the promise to not write about him.

Read KIDNAPPED

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2015 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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KIDNAPPED

Clamps and Bone TBy Mark T. Wayne

Weeks have passed since my last conscious memory.  Weeks, I say!  A man can lose his hat and perhaps even his pants, but to lose several weeks is inexcusable.  Think what mischief might transpire over such a span of time!

I find myself crammed in the back seat of a slow moving vehicle on an unfamiliar and crowded freeway.  How did I get here?  I know the date by the prominent display on that infernal wireless device issued me by my employer.

Big Beefy Bill Blaire the Giant and Jim Kren the Toady occupy the front.  Neither accosts me with the usual raucous humor or churlish inquiry.  Perhaps they assume I still sleep peacefully. I resolve to surreptitiously conduct an investigation on the mobile internet.

Not a single message from Jonelis since he left.  The man must still be on sabbatical—in Israel, I think.  He left me in charge of this yellow rag of a journal and nobody has heard a peep from him since that day. That, sir is not good for troop morale.  Men will lose their discipline under such circumstances.  My last memory is a wild party at our offices behind Ludditis Shots & Beer.  I recall watching that execrable Lonogan fellow crack open another bottle of vintage Scotch and pour it into a dish for his trusty bull terrier, Clamps.

Now I sit in this automobile with no memory of circumstances since that time.

Mark T Wayne

Bill Blaire, the Paul Bunyan of Chicago, grips the mangled steering wheel of this automobile with his sausage-sized fingers.  That man knows how to fill space.  His head protrudes through a hole in the ceiling colloquially known as the sunroof.  The driver’s seat jams against the back, clearly off its rails.  Big Bill blocks any view to that side, but at least I feel secure in the knowledge that he is comfortable and in full control of the vehicle.

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Where Are We?

Kren gesticulates wildly at an overhead sign.  A glance reveals the surprising fact that we are driving away from Newark Airport toward the Holland Tunnel.  I have no recollection of the flight and from his plaintive squawks, I am given to understand that he does not wish to go in that direction.

I consider the possibilities and grit my teeth.

Perhaps we are running from the law.  I steel myself with the thought that whatever damning evidence comes forward at our trial, even if I gain back my personal memory of it, we can blame Jonelis for everything that has transpired.

Perhaps the magazine staff has kept me in a drug-induced coma all these weeks to accomplish some foul purpose yet to play out at an undisclosed but diabolical destination.  Even now, they run rampant down the public highway, my helpless body in the back of their car, kidnapped!

I stop this line of thought because there is no profit in such dire speculation, I choose to assume we are indulging in a sightseeing excursion.  I will enjoy the view.  Here we are in New Jersey and it is a fine day!  And such scenery, sir!  If I remain very quiet, those two may let me alone to enjoy it.

Yes, scenic wonders hold a peculiar attraction for me.  I will cross any wasteland on horseback, donkey, or camel and sleep in a tent to catch a glimpse of a marker of dubious historical import.  Travel in this comfortable little automobile seems a luxury by comparison to other excursions I have expounded upon in my writing.

We cross a high bridge fringed by a continuous line of blowing garbage.  I take that as the source of New Jersey’s fertile moniker, The Garden State.  The vista features a spectacle of belching smokestacks along with the other evidence of this nation’s industrial might, stretching all the way to the horizon.  I am in awe, sir!  Awe, I say!

Smokestacks

The two in front are still unaware that I have aroused from my slumber.

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Wireless Travel

We escape the Holland Tunnel and exit to Staten Island.  I receive my first clue to the real points of interest in the area. The sign directs us to Freshkills Park, New York.

Freshkills!  Every muscle pulls taught as I consider the possible motives for a destination with such a name.  But no—I quickly recover my equilibrium.  We are probably bound for some historic battlefield from the Civil War.  Lacking a travel guide, I turn again to my infernal device to consult Google, the fount of all modern knowledge.

My search reveals alarming locales such as Arthur Kill and Kill Van Kull.  According to Wikipedia, these are bodies of water separating Staten Island from New Jersey.  Also listed are Dutch Kills, English Kills, Bronx Kill.

Here I see references to the Whorekill River and the Murderkill River.  Who can explain such rude use of the English language?  I live in a city known far-and-wide as the murder capital of the world, but we have no such violent names associated with our waterways.  I believe I can travel to foreign lands and experience less culture shock!

My interest in this excursion is piqued and I cling to the hope of keeping these revelations alive in my mind.  Now that recent events have proven my memory faulty, I write everything down.

Further investigation reveals that Kill as a corruption of the Dutch word for creek.  I look up English Kills and find it feeds into Newtown Creek, an estuary that separates Brooklyn and Queens.  Wikipedia identifies that important waterway as the most polluted industrial site in the country, containing decades of discarded toxins, thirty million gallons of oil, raw sewage from New York City, arsenic, cesium-137, and polychlorinated biphenyls.  I leave the definitions of those ominous titles to your imagination.  The main point is the anthropological significance.  Yes sir!  It helps explain various behaviors and escapades the citizens perform in this area of the country.

But I believe we are headed for Freshkills Park.  I punch that name into the infernal device.

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The Park

What one can learn on the internet is staggering!  I say it again—staggering!  Freshkills Park is a 2,200 acre site—twice the size of Central Park.  Long before ecologists corrected our opinions of such property, the area was deemed an undesirable swamp.  Those were wilder days when intrepid men did not shrink from massive and daring exploits.  In 1947, the city began to improve the place by filling it in.

Their ingenuity gained admiration from municipalities everywhere.  This was the main destination of those daily barges of Manhattan refuse—barges that apparently did not always dump their cargos at sea, as other cities in the world do.  Why, with twenty barges a day, each loaded with 650 tons of material, this landfill has become the largest man-made structure in the world!  The Empire State boasted that it would one fine day become the highest point on the East Coast!  Consider that colossal achievement, sir!

Artist's Conception - Wikipedia

Artist’s Conception – Freshkills Park – courtesy Wikipedia

What better landfill material than garbage?  Garbage is the single biggest commodity produced by man!  It is readily available and inexpensive.  People actually pay their city haul it away!  Now, with merely another twenty years of planning and many billions of taxpayer dollars, this dump will become the second-largest park in New York City!  I call that progress!

I address the individual sitting ahead of me in my magnificent baritone.  “Mr. Kren,” I pause for effect. “Did you bring the camera?”

.

The Awful Truth

The man looks back at me and drops his jaw.  “Yer awake!”  He punches the giant.  “He’s awake!  Hey Blaire, Mr. Wayne’s awake!”

Just then we turn into the Staten Island University Hospital.  I sense the worst.  Running my hands through every pocket, I fail to turn up my pistol.  There is no taser app installed on my infernal device.  I am entirely at the mercy of these men and whatever foul operation they intent to perform at this institution.

Big Bill pulls to a stop at the curb.  His door creaks loudly and he extricates his head from the open sunroof.  Then he smiles at me, wide enough to display the gaps in his dental work, and utters in a deep, slow rumble, “Hi…Mister…Waaaayne.  Hope…yer…feelin’…oh…kay.”

They wheel me into the clinic and Kren explains the circumstances to the doctor who is apparently some relative of the execrable Lonagan.  I sit aghast at the account of the staff party—my last memory of home—Clamps happily lapping up good Scotch from his dog bowl and I, innocently reaching down to scratch the coarse fur behind his ear when he abruptly lifts his massive head—

Clamps & Bone

Have you ever been clocked on the jaw by an 85 pound bull terrier?  The dog means no harm and I understand it’s a common enough occurrence among those that own the breed but there is nothing to recommend the practice.  No sir!  I cannot recommend it!

read SABBATICAL

Mark T. Wayne is acting managing editor of Chicago Venture Magazine.

Photo Credits – Wikipedia, MS Word, John Jonelis

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2015 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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.

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Filed under angel, angel investor, App, Bill Blaire., Characters, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, loop lonagan, Mark T Wayne, Mobile, vc, venture capital, wireless internet