Category Archives: Christmas

PAVLOVIAN PT

Knee TLoop Lonagan

Ever’body’s gettin’ new knees, new hips, and what not. It’s an epidemic of elective surgery. And I’m talkin’ big money. An investor definitely wants in on a trend like this, but what’s da best play?

Take Jonelis, my good friend and boss. Da guy up ‘n’ gets two brand new knees—AT DA SAME TIME! Seems crazy, don’t it? What’s he s’posed to use fer legs?

So right away I gotta play bigshot. I invite John to my penthouse fer da whole rest ‘n’ recovery thing. Yeah, you guessed it—I wanna play Da Good Samaritan over Christmas. I figure they’s gonna carry him in on a stretcher ‘n’ I’ll be da hero that arranges fer all sorts o’ people t’ help out while he’s bedridden. Shows how much I know.

Two 2 Knees

Sometimes a guy gets faced with his own ignorance. Know what I mean? After two days, Jonelis checks outa da hospital and walks right into my place under his own steam. He’s accepting my offer. He’s stickin’ here fer da whole six weeks! My penthouse is now his personal spa!

I put ‘im in the biggest guest room—the one with a view o’ Da Lake AND da Chicago skyline. Then my dog Clamps deserts me and moves in with him.

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Next thing you know, tradesmen start showin’ up, gettin’ in da way o’ my Christmas decorating crew.

  • A plumber replaces da toilet with a throne near as tall as a barstool.
  • Movers install an electric reclining bed that tilts his legs 30 degrees above horizontal.
  • A carpenter shows up and installs cushioned tables, parallel bars, stairs that go nowhere, da works. Sure my penthouse is real big, but now I got a physical therapy facility insteada my dance floor. And 300 guests is coming.
  • Then six huge exercise machines show up ‘n’ lots o’ furniture gets shoved back t’ make room.
  • Then startlingly beautiful women show up unannounced.

One ‘o deeze ladies comes with da single-minded mission of assuring John’s wellbeing. She does all da stuff a nurse does—temperature, blood pressure, blood tests. She inspects his incisions. Does she shrink back in horror? No! “These are healing beautifully!” she exclaims with obvious ‘n’ genuine delight. They look like big sloppy wounds t’ me, but she’s da expert. And dis is da best dressed nurse I ever seen. No clunky white shoes. Shows up here in a real short skirt ‘n’ blouse cut way too low. I don’t think she wears underwear. I ask her on da sly if that’s da way all nurses dress nowadays. She blushes ‘n’ says, “It’s for the encouragement of the patient.” Hey, I feel encouraged, but she skips outa da door before I can take action.

And all da time, da purest narcotics is close at hand, should the whim lead to such pleasures. Oodles ‘n’ oodles of ‘em. And they’s all legal! And if you don’t like that, they got Acapulco Gold.

Blue Pills 2sw - JAJ

Did I mention da other woman? This one’s a long-legged exotic Asian gal, ready fer action in skintight leotards—a different color ‘n’ pattern every day. She’s PT—physical therapy. And she exercises with him—IN BED!

I ask her, “Why all dat equipment on da dance floor if you do yer work in bed?”

Her reply is matter of fact: “He’s still in the healing phase. The training phase comes later.”

Okay, but couldn’t they wait till he’s ready t’ set up all that equipment? Da way I see it, I’m stuck without a dance floor fer da big Christmas bash.

I peek in ‘n’ watch part o’ da session. Oh, the amazing positions she bends his legs! “Does this hurt?” she coos. Then she gushes shamelessly over the smallest physical accomplishments. I gotta admit, there’s no room fer a guy t’ indulge in self-pity under such circumstances, ‘n’ dat’s what makes her technique so effective. When this gal gets done, not only is a John’s body worked though da paces, but he’s under da delusion he’s Superman. Is there any bigger boost to da male ego than praise from a gorgeous, sexy, and intelligent female?

She covers his knees in ice, and is gone.

So I phone his wife, but she knows all about it. She says:

  • “These are professionals. What’s the harm in it?”
  • “It keeps him from slacking off on his PT.”
  • “It gets him out of the house and out of my hair.”
  • “What business is it o’ yours anyway, Loop Lonagan?”

Yeah, she tells me off real good. Sheesh! I feel like a heel.

DSC04929e500

I gotta ask myself, where did John find this combination outpatient therapy and modeling agency? I mean, these gals is likely t’ raise da spirits o’ any normal guy. I can sure see how they do a lot fer da morale of a patient just outa major surgery. I look in on John after she leaves. His hand trails down and scratches Clamps’ behind da ears. And all da time his eyes is gently closed, a big dumb grin on his kisser.

Both o’ these gals wear a cute heart-shaped logo. They’s from a new startup company called Pavlovian PT and they plan to take physical therapy to new levels. I’m definitely taking da plunge on dis one. Maybe even get a joint replaced in da cause o’ research.

A half hour later, a buxom Swedish blond wrapped in a big white towel with da same logo peeks outa da bathroom door. Time fer a hot shower ‘n’ Swedish massage! I recognize Hilda from last year’s Christmas party. Wish I had a peek at what goes on in dat big bathroom.

Later, over coffee, I learn she’s da CEO o’ this startup ‘n’ John himself set her up in business before he did the operation. I gotta admit, sometimes Jonelis knows what he’s doin’.

So go ahead—go out and have that operation. Then call Pavlovian PT. What’s stoppin’ you? Insurance pays for it all. Seems t’ me, with these kinda benefits, It’s gonna get real hard to keep ‘em out of the operating rooms.

And an old tune plays in da back o’ my head:

♪♪ How ya gonna keep ‘em down on the farm?

Now that they seen Broad—waaaaaaay! ♪♪

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read KILLER SHILLER

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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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3 Comments

Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, big money, Characters, Chicago Ventures, Christmas, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, investor, loop lonagan, Man's Favorite Sport, vc, venture capital

A LOOP LONAGAN CHRISTMAS

Clamps Portrait TJohn Jonelis

This is outrageous.  I’m concentrating on my computer screen when a huge mitt grabs me by the back of the belt and plucks me from my chair.  Next thing I’m dangled high over the desk, arms and legs flailing till I steady my balance and end up nose-to-nose with Big Bill Blair, our urban Paul Bunyan.

“‘Scuse me, Mr. Jonelis,” he says in a slow polite rumble that carries with it a stale smell of corned beef and cigar.

Big Bill slowly chews gum. Looks disinterested.  Acts like nothing’s unusual.

I know he once terrorized jobsites for Boilermaker Local 1, but he’s supposed to be tame now—supposed to be working for me.  Cripes, I even took him fishing this summer!  Yet this guy just reaches across my big WWII Air Force desk and picks me up as if I were a gum wrapper.

Canada 2014-8592p Bill Blaire SMALL A

Fishing with Big Bill Blaire

Abduction at Gunpoint

He turns his lazy gaze to the side. “Whaddayuh want I should do with ‘im, Mr. Lonagan?”

“What else?  Bring ‘im with.  Think yuh can handle ‘im all by yerself er what?”  I turn to see Loop Lonagan holding a huge Glock, giving the orders.  What is this?  Some kind of magazine mutiny?

Bill tucks me under an arm and we swoop out of the office (in the back room of Ludditis Shots ‘n Beer) and into the main dining area.  Between the pool tables, I see Alexander Harbinger, Mark T Wayne and Jim Kren tucking away potato pancakes while Donatas Ludditis polishes the bar.  Nobody glances our way.

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My Office

“Hey!  Look sharp!  Youse guys is all comin’ with me NOW!”  Loop makes menacing gestures with the oversized automatic.

First I see four sets of jaws hang wide.  Next they’re lined up behind us.  We move out to the street.

I scan for police.

Nothing.  Loop’s wagging that big pistol around and still nothing.  This is Chicago.

Like any ordinary citizen, I’m feeling a mite indignant by now and I jab an elbow into a tender place.  Bill doubles over and drops me to the cold concrete pavement.  Not wasting any time, I scramble to my feet and glare a challenge at Loop.  “What the—”

He puts two fingers to my lips.  “I’m warnin’ yuh John, don’t start up with me.   I had it up to here!” 

I pause a moment, tantalized by the thought that a clue to this madness might be forthcoming.

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A Clue to the Madness

The others crowd around, probably hoping for a fight while Loop keeps talking.  “Been plannin’ this shindig fer months ‘n’ nobody shows up.  Not a one!  Even set it a week early so nobody’s got an excuse.  My brother Boyle—” Loop’s voice alternates from angry to one pinched in mockery.  “—He’s settin’ up trains for Little Sean.  My sister Bridgett—she finally got an appointment with that oh-so-special hair dresser.  And Brianna ‘n’ her crowd all caught some kinda bug—‘n’ they’s so-so considerate and don’t wanna get me sick.  And Grandma ‘n’ Grandpa Lonagan—they’s way-way too tired after all that shopping.”   

He’s suddenly serious.  “Then my new gal Irene and her family o’ forty cancel out.  That finally sets me off.  I’m tellin’ yuh, da table’s all set—lotsa wine, sixteen waiters, da works.  More fancy food than you can eat in a month.  You guys is all invited!  Wanna come?”  

I’m stunned to silence. Do we want to come?  To a Loop Lonagan Christmas party?  I picture the sumptuous feast waiting for us and my mouth waters!  Hell yes we all want to come! Besides, everybody knows how important this is to Loop.  He cashed in millions and millions on that big deal and for months he’s been planning this huge event.  And now his lousy miserable family—many that he probably supports, the ungrateful louts—they let him down at Christmastime, the poor sweet guy.  And we haven’t seen his new penthouse yet, either.  Sure, we’re all eager to oblige!  A little thing like kidnapping can’t stand in the way of friendship!  (Such is the state of my rationalization.)

Loop abruptly moves down the street.  Blaire herds us along like sheep, but Ludditis, Wayne, Harbinger and Kren all follow grinning at one to another.  This is gonna be good.

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Man on the Street

Mark T WayneThe line abruptly halts.  Loop is talking to a street bum and I move up to hear.  “…Big Bubba?  Great!” says Loop, “and Old Man Percy?  Yeah, he can come along too.”  Then he sees me standing close.  “John, this is Fred.  I told you he’d be an asset to the magazine.  That was a long time ago and it looks like yuh missed yer chance.  He accepted the post as my personal sekertary.”  Fred shakes my hand while Loop keeps talking.  “Fred here rounded up some o’ my old street friends and a couple I ain’t met yet.”  Loop is smiling now.  “And I got Lonny and Lucile to come.  They run that terrific diner.  And Kate and Lafonda, too—they been workin’ at that joint forever.”  Loop spreads his arms in an expansive gesture.  “That makes Sixteen!  We yank all them extra spacers outa da table and it’ll be just right!  There’s gonna be one waiter fer every guest!”

Then he waves an arm.  A bright red stretch Hummer—it must be fifty feet long—slides to the curb sideways with the sound of squealing brakes and tires.  A fine, fat Santa Claus sits behind the wheel.  I think he’s smiling.  A tall, distinguished-looking man in a bowler hat steps out and holds the side door open in a deferential and inviting manner.

Naturally, we all pile in.

Some go straight for the car bar.  I sit back and watch.  Turns out the bowler hat’s name is Meadows—Loop’s new butler.  Loop hands him the Glock, which instantly disappears in his tailored coat.  I wonder how many other weapons he carries in there.

Along the way we stop and pick up various individuals and soon arrive in full celebration at a swank high rise with a view of Lake Michigan.

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Loop Lonagan’s Penthouse

Santa opens a door and we spill out like Cheerios from a cereal box except there’s nothing uniform about us.  I wonder if they’ll even allow us in this place.  True, Loop is wearing a suit that easily cost $2,000 or more and Meadows is impeccable.  Alexander Harbinger always looks distinguished and Mark T. Wayne might get away with his white flannels.  But Lonny and his crew came straight from work at the diner.  That guy still wears a greasy apron over a greasy undershirt.  Then there’s Fred and his friends Big Bubba, old man Percy, and a couple of guys named Pete and Eugene—right off the street.  And of course, Ludditis and me—I’ll leave that to your imagination.

A doorman wearing shoulder boards opens the huge glass entrance and stands at attention.  He doesn’t blink an eye as we file past.  Loop leads us to an elevator.  “This one’s mine,” he says.  The door opens to his key.

It whisks us straight to the penthouse.

Clamps and Bone 500

Clamps

It’s a strange feeling stepping off an elevator directly into somebody’s living room.  Clamps, an 85-pound bull terrier, enthusiastically greets each of us in turn, then disappears somewhere in the recesses of the room, tail wagging.  Turns out, Loop’s condo is the size of a furniture store.  A fifteen-foot-tall Christmas tree graces the room with thousands of tiny white lights and the most amazing collection of individual Christmas ornaments.  It’s flanked by piles of wrapped gifts.  Somewhere off to the side, a Swing band plays loud and lively carols.  Two blondes staff the bar and in no time, we’re all lounging on leather sofas singing along or listening to Mark T. Wayne tell ridiculous stories.  Old Man Percy sleeps in his chair.

Football Santa 500

Football Santa

Putting up my feet, I lean back to enjoy the music for a while.  Waiters rotate among the crowd balancing trays stacked with tall stems and tiny plates.  Ludditis cracks walnuts with his biceps.  He does that any time he gets a chance.  Harbinger is the only one who sits military-straight, a plate balanced on a thigh, a shot of schnapps held between two fingers.

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The Christmas Bash

Then a gorgeous buxom blonde, wrapped in a white towel, peeks out a door, bending low to best advantage.  In a heavy Swedish accent, she beckons to us.  Fred immediately floats toward her.  I’m thinking that guy’s pretty quick on the uptake.  Loop leans a hand on my shoulder.  “Hilda gives real good Swedish massages,” he says.  “And dis place’s got five hot tubs, all staffed.”

I look around and some of the other guests have already left to take advantage of the amenities.

The band plays Glenn Miller’s In the Mood.  Lonny and Lucile, now changed to formal attire, dance and they soon work up an enthusiastic jitterbug.  Kate surprises everybody by nicely filling out a slinky evening gown, bare back, neckline plunged to the waist, and Ludditis sweeps her away even if she’s sixty years younger.  They can cut a rug, too.  Lafonda, still in her waitress uniform, tugs Big Bill to the dance floor.  They make a good couple—she’s nearly tall enough for him, and certainly adequate in girth.

FREE SAMPLES - VODKA OR GIN 500

Open Bar

I’m polishing off my third round of spiced eggnog-and-cognac, when Fred emerges from the bedroom scrubbed clean, looking relaxed from his massage, wearing a big grin and a dark Hart Shaffner Marx suit.  If he’s Lonagan’s new secretary, he looks the part and then some.  After another eggnog, Big Bubba plops down beside me, decked out in spanking new Carhartts and smelling like a flower garden.  Amazing Loop had anything on hand big enough to fit him.  Eugene shows up in camo pants and an Eddie Bauer chamois shirt.  Loop says he can get these guys on the Bears roster.  If not—he just shrugs.

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Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth

Now Hilda and the other Swedish bombshells are packing the elevator, followed by a squad of haberdashers wheeling racks of clothing.

Pete sits with his drink, scrunched up, looking sour and desperately filthy.  Einstein 6bFor some reason, Donatas Ludditis is angry with the guy, and he’s waving his powerful arms in wild gesticulations.  Then the shouting starts.  “You not want Swedish massage?” says Ludditis.  “Why you not say?  Why you not give this old man a chance?  Now is too late!  Look, they all go!”

Pete utters a viscous curse and Ludditis gives it back double.  That cuts it and they’re at each other with bare knuckles.

In an amazing display of athletic prowess, Meadows grabs each by the shirt collar and hustles them to the elevator for its next trip down.  That accomplished, he brushes his hands and coughs by way of getting our attention, then announces, “Dinner is served.”

Old Man Percy jogs awake.

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The Feast

We file into a baronial dining room.  Loop must’ve scrounged the wood paneling from the Potter Palmer mansion.  The table is huge with delicately carved legs, fat as tree trunks—the sideboard enormous—the artwork of questionable taste and probably not fit for polite company.  I will not describe it here.

We sit down to an elegant setting, a waiter stationed behind each chair.  Loop asks me to pray and I do.  I thank the Lord for our meal, our companionship, and ask him to give everybody here the guts to rely on the One who paid it all because none of us will make it on our own steam.  Lonagan is already fidgeting.  Kren is clearly perturbed.  A couple others look uncomfortable.  But there are those at the table who echo my Amen.

Then the food comes and keeps coming.  Pheasant, Duck, Goose with dressing and potatoes.  Wine and exotic fruit.  All the trimmings.  This is game harvested by Lonagan himself.  Yes, he belongs to a fancy hunt club.  Owns it for all I know.

I’m happy to see Ludditis rejoin the party and we dig in with enthusiasm.   I ask him what happened and he gives me a cryptic response:  “He called plenty but chose few.”  He gives no other explanation, but the words sound familiar.

After huge helpings of mincemeat pie and ice cream, Loop sets out a mahogany box of cigars.  Fred taps a cigarette from a pack and three waiters snap expensive lighters to life.  I stagger out to the showroom and select a big soft couch for a nap.  Before I nod off, I hear Loop yell, “Presents everybody!”  The band strikes up again and brings me pleasant dreams.

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Overnight Guests

Late next morning, I say goodbye to Santa Claus and his long red Hummer.  All is well and I’m content.  And there’s still plenty of time to recover before for my family festivities get underway.  But the rest of that crowd keeps it going till after the New Year.

Deep in my heart I utter a silent, Merry Christmas to Loop Lonagan.

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More

For more on Loop Lonagan [click here]

Photography by John Jonelis except for Donatas Ludditis and Mark T Wayne

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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 © 2014 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, big money, Bill Blaire., Bums, Characters, chicago, Chicago Venture Magazine, Chicago Ventures, Christmas, city, Derelicts, Donatas Ludditis, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Homeless, Innovation, Innovation and Culture, investor, sleeping on a sidewalk, the man with the twisted lip, vc, venture capital

THE APPRENTICE MEETS DIGITAL BOOT CAMP

icstarg 1Techbash – Part 3

VERBATIM – John Jonelis

This is a story of high expectations, high reality, and high energy. I may as well give it to you straight, because Loop Lonogan would want it that way. He’s in the lockup. Too much hard partying on Twelfth Night. His guests spilled into the street and all kinds of trouble erupted—part of it involving a policeman he knocked cold.  So I’m here at i.c.stars headquarters.  Here to finish Lonagan’s series of articles.  I’m talking to the president and co-founder, Sandee Kastrul.

The location—downtown Chicago. The workspace—all business. I start by throwing out this question: “Can I call i.c.stars a social incubator. Is that fair?”

Sandee bursts out in a smile. “I love it—I love it. It’s all about transformation. Technology is a tool of transformation. Sandee 2We teach technology because it’s creative. It doesn’t know what you look like. At the end of the day you can be a rock star.

“But what really gets us jazzed about technology is the systems thinking and the process that’s embedded in it. If you can take that and apply it to community leadership, to organizing, to service leaders, to entrepreneurship, we can literally make a change in the communities that we come from. And so we sit between the leadership and the technology side. Our vision is 1000 community leaders by 2020. So everything is about the leadership angle.”

This gal is for real and genuinely creative and intellectual. I’m going to enjoy this conversation.

Then she pauses and cocks her head. “Why was the TechBash event so special for Mr. Lonogan?”

icstarg 14

High Expectations

“When Loop visited TechBash,” I say as I lean forward, hands clasped, “he met people that deeply impressed him. Everybody wants to give back—both interns and alums. They’re all wonderful evangelists for your program. He convinced me that you’ve really got something terrific going on here. I also think he feels a deep empathy with the people he met because, as you know, he grew up in a tough neighborhood—and he profited by it. Of course, with Loop we always have to consider the open bar.”

Sandee 16Sandee laughs at that and I ask her to fill me in. 

“Reciprocity is one of our seven tenants.” she says. “It’s embedded in everything we do. Our model is all project-based learning. You spend a week doing team building, leadership training, trust exercises, cross-cultural communications, and then that Friday the team is divided up into three teams that form their own consulting companies and they’re literally competing with each other for their first bid on a project.”

Now I feel a grin coming on.  That’s the kind of interactive hands-on education that I always loved and seldom experienced.  I ask her if the project is a simulation.

“It’s kind of like The Apprentice meets Digital Boot Camp,” she says. “Leadership objectives are baked into their project. There are monkey wrenches all the way through, and those things are scripted, but the software they’re building is real, the requirements are real, it’s all very real.”

How many of your people find work in their field in six months?”

90% placement rate for our graduates—within six months probably 95-100%.”

That’s a significant statement.  Amazing in any economic climate.  So I ask her for the details. 

“Four months of an intensive, twelve hour a day, project-based learning environment.”

“Homework?”

She comes right back. Sandee 6“You do the work until it’s done. I always say the difference between school and work is: School is all about you and work is about everybody else. Sometimes they’ll be here till one in the morning working on deliverables.”

“So twelve hours or even more.”

“Yes. It’s project-based learning. The student is in a meeting and client will say, Okay, we want you to build this mobile app.”

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High Reality

“Corporate sponsors come in with real needs?”

“That’s right. And then the interns figure out how to do it. Then in the last hour, we have a subject matter expert who will come in on a parachute from the sky and help them over the last mile. And what’s important about that from a pedagogy standpoint is that you are learning how to learn—how to figure things out—how to learn quickly—and how to apply that information. Sandee 7It’s not pre-teaching for later—it’s literally learn-for-the-month. What’s interesting is that our whole program is built on the premise that people who have overcome adversity have developed resiliency. And they wouldn’t be sitting at our table without it. Resiliency is the number one thing we’re looking for in our assessment process.”

That makes so much sense to me. I know she’s right.  Of course, not everybody thrives in such a setting and it takes strength of character.  So I ask her where she finds her intern candidates.

“We recruit from all over. Most come from the South and West sides of Chicago.”

Consider the magnitude of what she’s saying. Those are some of the roughest neighborhoods in the country. So I relate to her what Lonagan described last night through the steel screen: “Some of the alums told Loop they felt helpless till they found i.c.stars. Angry. No expectations out of life. No hope. No reason to have any. But each of them somehow had the drive to try this program and somehow got accepted. Does that describe your students?”

“I think so. We’re looking for people who are fighting for something bigger than themselves. That and the resiliency piece. Sandee 9So at some point, they faced adversity in their life and said, ‘I’ll show you. You’re not gonna tell me no.’ And it’s that fight—that resiliency—that develops this tool kit that has creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, all these things. We’re taking that toolkit and providing different context for them to learn. Our assumption is they already have all the raw materials. The project-based learning environment says, You already know—we’re just giving you this other context.

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High Energy

“But you train them first—before they go into a project?”

“A little bit. A week.”

I sit straight in my chair. A week? Who can do that? She must be describing the hottest recruiting ground in the world. “So they learn to program while doing?”

“Yes. We also have night classes. Experts come in and teach a concept.”

“Where do you find the experts to teach?”

She grins. “We have about a thousand volunteers plugged in. The training program manager handles that. A technical coach is on staff. It’s a busy place.”

She’s describing a training program on steroids.  “How many recruits do you accept for a four-month internship?”

“We have capacity for 20 people at a time. We err on the smaller side.”

“I heard that you start with 3,000.”

“That is a very interesting statistic. The top of the funnel is about 400 people who are interested enough in i.c.stars to show the necessary commitment. Sandee 10What happens in that pipeline is quite rigorous: Four phases of assessment tests. At each level, people drop off. They self-select out. They might say, ‘It’s a little too intense—I’m not ready yet.’ It’s not as if we’re kicking people out all the way through—they’re saying, ‘I’m not ready.’

“The last leg is our panel interview. That really looks at resiliency. It is nothing more than seven existential questions in a panel setting. That interview has been THE greatest indicator of people’s success in the program. And on the job. And in the community. It really is looking at, ‘How do you see yourself in the world?’ Are you coming from a locus of control, like, ‘I’m a victim,’ or are you at, ‘This is what I want to do.’ Where do you sit? It’s very powerful. It’s like, ‘What are you gonna do about it?’”

Sandee 8Then she abruptly stands. “High Tea is going to happen now. It’s something we do every day. We have a different business or community leader come to the table and share their story.” She ushers me in and gives me a seat. “You’re going to introduce the person to your left.”

Introduce who—how? Suddenly I’m getting a small dose of what it means to learn while doing and it doesn’t feel comfortable at all.

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GO TO PART 4 – HIGH TECH HIGH TEA

GO BACK TO PART 1 – TALENT HIDES

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Contacts

i.c.stars – www.icstars.org

Sandee Kastrul – President & Co-founder – sKastrul@icstars.org

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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 © 2014 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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4 Comments

Filed under Big Corporations, big money, chicago, Chicago Venture Magazine, Chicago Ventures, Christmas, city, Conflict, Data, Education, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship and Politics, Events, i.c.stars, Impact Investing, Innovation and Culture, jobs, loop lonagan, Mobile App, philanthropist, philanthropy, Public Schools, Social Entrepreneur, TechBash

GIVING BACK

DSC_0911 TTechBash – Part 2

by Loop Lonagan

as told to John Jonelis –

Seems to me Christmas is all about givin’ to other people and I say we keep it that way. I love Christmas. Ever’ year I start my celebration on Thanksgiving and don’t take the tree down till January the Fifth. That’s Twelfth Night fer youse guys that don’t know. That night I throw a big party, hire cooks, a piano player, ‘n’ ever’body burns a branch from the tree before they leave.

There’s an outfit right here in Chicago that keeps the spirit o’ giving alive all the yearlong. They find people with talent, creativity, intelligence, hard knocks ‘n’ plenty o’ moxey. Then they pay ‘em to train fer big-time jobs. That’s one o’ the nicest gifts you can give a person with them kinda attributes—a chance to use what they got inside themselves. Think about it—all that potential just waitin’ to burst out so bad a guy could explode.

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And the corporations is eatin’ it up, ‘cause they need them kinda people more than anything else, and it ain’t easy to find ‘em. They need ‘em so bad they’ll pay for it in time and money. I think this outfit is gonna be one o’ the most successful self-sustaining social entrepreneurial ventures that ever started in Chicago. They call themselves i.c.stars.

Here I am at their huge TechBash party where I expect to find hoards o’ ravenous, greedy corporate Scrooges. What I really wanna find is a story about giving. The food and bar is open and maybe I take more’n my share of them good things ‘n’ by now I got lotsa Christmas cheer inside o’ me. But hey—it’s a party. I can be just as greedy as the next guy and I’m havin’ such a good time at it.

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Da Passion Project

I hold my MP3 recorder at arm’s length and stick it in the middle of a buncha i.c.stars alums. It’s a weird-lookin’ gadget and these guys freak out like I’m one o’ them Men in Black. I gotta tell ‘em, “It isn’t gonna erase yer memory.” They see I make the movie connection and that brings peals o’ laughter all around.

Two of ‘em stick with me—Nkosi White (Nik) and Christopher Butler. IMG_9829 BChris works fer WGN and the Chicago Tribune, which is a helluvalot bigger rag than this one.

“I love doing graphic design for them. It’s great,” he says. “What i.c.stars was able to do was show me the business end. I didn’t know how to market myself, how to present myself—just to be able to look at an interviewer and figure out what they’re looking for in that time. So they teach you how to assess those things very quickly and how to act on the fly. They put you on the spot but you learn how to rebound and jump into position faster than you could before.”

Nik landed a big-time IT job with WW Grainger just a month outa i.c.stars. We hang out a while and I find out he makes Craft Beer. Then he tells me something that grabs my attention:

“Passion projects,” he says. Passion projects are huge. That’s one thing they teach us at i.c.stars. Have a desire to learn technology, but then in addition to that, identify with what your passion is. Understand that you have a civic duty to fulfill—whether it’s from the neighborhood you came from or whether it’s highlighting others that don’t really get the visibility that you get. Have a passion project—have a civic duty. And then be great in technology as well. It’s a combination of the two. That’s what makes i.c.stars special.”

Now THAT—that right there is what I call the spirit o’ giving.  That’s what we need more of.

icstarg 4 B

Da Sponsor

I talk to one o’ the Big Honcho Sponsors—Jon Mathews from BridgePoint Technologies. (Yeah, he spells his name with one ‘t’.)

“We do a lot with i.c.stars,” he says. “Especially with the interns they take on—teaching them development. We work with a lot of companies who need young developers and need more people going into this avenue.”

So I ask him straight out: “D’ya find these interns come out fluent in programming?”

“Yes, they’re trained very well. It’s amazing what i.c.stars does for those who weren’t brought up in IT. We’ve had positive feedback from clients where we placed them.”

So that’s good news right from the source.

I wanna talk summore to Vera Shabazz. (See Part 1 of this series.) So I hunt till I find her ‘n’ ask just what i.c.stars did for her—personal-like.

icstarg 17 B“They teach you how to think technically—not just thinking—but thinking technically,” she says. “It’s just a great place to be. It’s a great place to learn. Through i.c.stars, I was able to re-invent myself from being in banking to now working IT at United Airlines. I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t gone to i.c.stars. I don’t.”

Quashe׳ Granville joins our little circle: “i.c.stars is a place where you can bridge the gap between technology, business, and leadership skills.” That’s a good businesslike description. Just one line. I’m impressed. I drink down the last o’ my Scotch ‘n’ Soda and ask, “How d’they do that exactly?”

Vera smiles. “After the first few weeks of training, the purpose is to do a large project with a major company, build teams and camaraderie, and to get you in the mindset. It’s like a boot camp. Once you’re done here, you can secure a job.”

The music gets louder and I lean close to Vera. “So you do a simulation or some kinda practice project?”

“No, it’s real. When I was at i.c.stars, our company was TTX. You know who they are, right? Well if you ever ride the Metra, those are their cars. The CIO and two others were the mentors that helped us through our project. Their CIO was the one who helped me get my job at United Airlines.

Quashe׳ leans-in closer too, but even in all this noise, I don’t have no trouble hearin’ his deep voice. “Right now, our team is working on a mobile app that’s going to help UL with brand awareness.”

That catches me off-guard. “UL asked i.c.stars to do somethin’ that big?”

“Actually, WE put the project together. UL just told us they needed help with brand awareness.”

“The interns figure out the project,” says Vera. “What is it the company wants? What do they need? From the time you’re doing that project, they’re analyzing you. Asking questions. They want to know how well you handle yourself.”

I study these two. Both hard survivors—both soft hearts. “Sounds to me like a tough kinda program.”

Vera nods. “It is tough. But i.c.stars makes sure about you. If you think about it, they’re putting us back into the community and asking us to give back. If we’re not prepared, then what do we have to give back?

icstarg 8 B

Giving Back

“Everything is about giving back,” says Vera. “They let you know that if you don’t give, you can’t get. So once I graduated, whatever I have, whatever I can do, whatever I can give—I give it because I know that it’s coming back tenfold.“

This gal makes a wonderful spokesman ‘n’ she’s a terrific lesson in gratitude—somethin’ most of us just don’t seem wired for.

“I love i.c.stars!” she says. “ Whatever I can do, they’ve got my help. I think all of us who are alums still give back to i.c.stars. We volunteer for whatever Sandee needs.

“I also give back through Virginias House – a non-profit organization, which is for victims of domestic violence. My goal is to provide traditional housing for 1000 survivors and their children by the year 2025. I want to build a facility on the south side of Chicago that will allow them to leave their abusive homes and also stay for a year, getting themselves prepared to move on”.

“Whats the chance o’ gettin’ that off the ground.?”

“We’ve already got the programs together. We already did one function and we’re doing more. Since leaving i.c.stars, we have helped 50 families. They might need food. Their children might need clothes or school supplies. We help them with that as well. We have partnerships from Jewel and Dominick’s. Gift cards. Food. Clothing.”

Gettin’ In

I ask Vera, “How hard was it to get into the i.c.stars program?”

“The first thing I thought when I did the application process was, ‘What the heck? What is this for? Why do I need to fill out so many pages?’ It didn’t make sense to me. But I think it’s to see how badly you want it. I could have been discouraged and just said, ‘Forget it.’ But just because it was so lengthy, I decided, ‘I’m going to do this and they’re going to take me.’

“After the application, there’s a newbie puzzle, and that is a real brain twister. Then you go down for the written assessment and the technical assessment. And then once you’re done with that, they call you back for the interview.”

icstarg 0

Da Mobile App

I snag myself a snack from a passing tray and ask Quashe׳, “What’s with all these booths scattered around the place—all them people waitin’ in line?”

“Interns are trying to talk to CIOs,” he says. “Consulting firms too. They’re trying to get their idea out there and CIOs of all sorts are right here to listen.”

“So what about your mobile app?”

“It’s designed for 5-9 year olds to become junior scientists. Kids create an avatar. They’ll see science projects based on fire, water, electricity. Everything about it is going to be virtual. You get to play around with these things and the beautiful thing about it is that when you want to mix two compounds together, you can just shake your phone and you’ll be participating. Let’s say two sets of wires are not UL safe—that’s out of spec. So your avatar goes to touch the wire and gets a shock.”

“D’ya shock the kid’s hand?”

“Oh, no . . . no-no-no.” That deep bass again.

“Maybe give ‘em a vibration?.”

“We can do that. There are a lot of things we’re going into but at the same time we have to focus on one key area: You know how you always tell your kid, ‘Don’t touch the stove, because it’s hot.’ Well now we have to deal with, ‘Can you touch the stove handle? Is it UL safe? Is it UL approved?’

“Sounds kinda elaborate as a mobile app. So what’s your personal goal when ya graduate?

“My personal goal is to find a decent company that has a solid culture that will actually cultivate what I already know. Basically somewhere I can grow.

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Da High Tea

I asks Vera, “When you was at i.c.stars, what was yer favorite part o’ the day?”

“We have what we call High Tea. Celebrities come—we call CIOs celebrities—and they tell us their stories. But first, each team member pours tea for the team member on their left and introduces that team member to the CIO and it goes around the table. We don’t talk about ourselves—we talk about the person whose cup we fill—what he does, what his likes are, what his super thoughts are, what he’s going to do when he graduates i.c.stars and why they should hire him. Just to go through that phenomenon, it will blow your mind. It is just something that you do not get used to. You need to come to see a High Tea for yourself.”

“Well, I dunno…  That’s all they serve?  Tea, I mean?”

“Just tea.”

“Hmff.” I stroke my chin to make her feel like I’m thinkin’ real hard about it, but to me it’s a no-brainer. I wanna check the place out anyhow. “Okay, you got me. Lemme know when I can come.”

GO TO PART 3 – THE APPRENTICE MEETS DIGITAL BOOT CAMP

GO BACK TO PART 1 – TALENT HIDES

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Da Contacts

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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 © 2013 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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.

5 Comments

Filed under App, big money, Characters, chicago, Chicago Ventures, Christmas, city, Education, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Events, i.c.stars, Innovation, Innovation and Culture, jobs, loop lonagan, Mobile, Mobile App, Mobile Marketing, Social Entrepreneur, The City

TALENT HIDES

icstarg 10aTechBash – Part 1

By Loop Lonagan,

as told to John Jonelis –

 I feel the bite of Christmas in the air. It’s the season o’ giving. I’m here at TechBash coverin’ fer Da May Report but I never seen an event like this before. Right away, I get hit with pounding music, flashing lights and maybe a couple thousand er more people. Place is fulla bigshots.  So many C-level execs at one party—mosta them CIOs o’ big corporations. And the food and open flowing bar. I mean, this is a HUGE party that puts Dennis Koslowski and Tyco to shame—but this one’s legit. Lemme tell you about it:

icstarg 2b

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Talent Hides

You know where talent hides? In places where people got no hope. In the tough neighborhoods with lousy schools, worn-out housing, and alotta crime, gangs, ‘n’ drugs. Yeah, talent hides real good in them places ‘cause so many people don’t know they got potential.

A gal named Sandee Kastrul came across this idea:  There’s more talent here than in all o’ them comfy middle class suburbs or even at the universities. And there’s people here with a whole lot more inner strength than them soft-living places, too. We got lotsa neighborhoods like this right here in Chicago. Yeah, it’s still a city o’ neighborhoods—nothin’s changed much since the FIRST Mayor Daley.

What that means is there’s a huge population o’ smart people them big companies don’t know nothin’ about. And the companies wanna find out who them people are. They wanna do that in the worst way. That’s the genius o’ this thing. So Sandee co-founded i.c.stars to make it happen and throws dis big TechBash party every year along with alotta other events.

i.c.stars is a place where raw corporate greed and avarice can do some good in this rough old world. That’s right—this ain’t no charity organization—it’s an opportunity fer big business.  A company that wants in on this thing hasta participate and support i.c.stars if dey want a good outcome. And why not?

  • It’s better than outsourcing yer executive search, ‘cause you get to know the applicants up-close ‘n’ personal.
  • You get yer tech projects done cheap ‘cause them projects turn into curriculum fer the i.c.stars interns.
  • And that means the interns get paid t’ learn, so it’s a big opportunity fer them too. Thousands apply every year.

Big business knows a good deal when they see it and so do smart people looking fer a career. The whole idea’s brilliant! What we’re lookin’ at here is somethin’ that’s gonna grow into a self-sustaining social enterprise.  That’s like a gift to ever’body.  Hey—like I told ya, it’s Christmastime!

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Da Event

So all deeze huge companies come to this party fer what they want most—TALENT. That’s somethin’ that’s always hard t’ find.icstarg 9a And at dis TechBash event, Da Talent can talk one-on-one with Da Top Brass—if they can make themselves heard in all this hubbub. I’m talkin’ here about executives that most folks never even get to meet. Believe it er not, these C-levels bigshots even cough up their contact info and follow up with these interns personal-like.

i.c.stars stands for inner-city computer stars, and from the look of it, there’s lotsa them kinda folks here. All the interns and alums is wearin’ star-shaped badges that flash colored lights so it isn’t hard t’ spot ‘em.

QuasheI meet one intern that’s built like a football player in a good suit. Name of Quashe Granville [pronounced QUAH-SHAY] ‘n’ he’s got a voice dat rumbles like James Earl Jones. I’m expectin’ to hear somethin’ like “Luke, I am your father,” but he’s real professional. So I asks him, how does i.c.stars really work? Is it some kinda incubator?

“Yes. It’s not like a traditional college,” he says.  “You get the tools and everything you need but it’s largely self-taught. When it comes to computer languages—jQuery, CSS, JavaScript, Ruby on Rails—in order to learn those, it’s about what you put into it. You get out of it what you put in.”

Man, I love listenin’ to that huge voice.

icstarg 1b

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Who Gets In?

I run into Jerry Johnson, their Candidate Relations Manager, ‘n’ ask him how hard it is to get into dis program.

“It’s 20 out of 3000.”

That sends me reeling ‘n’ I almost spill my free scotch ‘n’ soda. A waiter comes by with a tray o’ food ‘n’ I wolf down some carbs ‘n’ protein. “Hey Jerry,” I say, “That’s a hellovalot tougher than getting into the U of C.” I say that while munching on somethin’ that tastes real good. I don’t know what I’m eatin’ but it’s great.  Summa them Hors d’oeuvres, I guess.

Quashe pipes in: “It might be hard, but out of those 3000 I can genuinely say 2600 eliminate themselves because they don’t want to go through the process. So then it’s Jerry’s job to sift through the other 400.”

So I ask: “The ones with enough hope dat you can make ‘em believe?”

Jerry comes right back: “The ones that have the fortitude to do what we ask them to do.”

“So whadaya look for in yer applicants?”

“Resiliency—that’s the best thing. Creative thinking. We have a lot of different logic puzzles. We have coding exercises if people have never done it. It’s all resiliency built.”

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Da Result

VeraI meet an alum named Vera Shabazz [pronounce SHUH-BAAZ] and what she says is somethin’ worth hearin’:

“Anything i.c.stars does, I’m behind 100%. Before them I lost my job and had no inkling of what I was going to do. Then I found i.c.stars. They pay you $150 a week just to come and learn.

“It’s not easy. This is a tough job and they treat it like a job. It is very, very tough. You have to go through a lot of training. At first I was afraid. I’d never done it before.”

I look her in the eye and decide this gal means what she says. So I put it to her, “Ain’t that an awful huge learning curve to overcome.”

“It was huge. It was HUGE. And to tell you I was afraid is an understatement. But my colleagues were so phenomenal. They helped to bring me through what I did not know and they erased all my fears.

“I didn’t know anything about technology. Now, I work with United’s 55,000 employees. Whenever something goes down, they call us. A ticket agent might say, ‘The computer isn’t working—the printer isn’t working—I’m getting an error message or I’m getting this or I’m getting that.’ With i.c.stars I learned how to drill down. How to ask, ‘What are you seeing? What is happening? What did it do first? What did you do first?’ And it calms them down that we know what we’re doing. They can help their passengers board their airplanes on time.

Whatever they call me with, I’m able to decipher and figure out what they need, all because of i.c.stars.

Now Vera’s givin’ back by supportin’ Virginias House. They help survivors of domestic violence.

Checkout dis great video on i.c.stars:

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GO TO PART 2 – GIVING BACK

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Contacts

i.c.starswww.icstars.org

Sandee Kastrul – sKastrul@icstars.org

Jerry Johnson – Jjohnson@icstars.org

Quashe’ E Granville – QuasheGranville@gmail.com

Vera Sabazz – vaShabazz@VirginiaHouseInc2.com

Vera’s outreach: Virginias House – http://VirginiasHouseInc2.com
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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 © 2013 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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.

14 Comments

Filed under big money, Characters, chicago, Chicago Venture Magazine, Chicago Ventures, Christmas, city, Consulting, Education, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Events, Homeless, i.c.stars, Impact Investing, Innovation, Innovation and Culture, Internet, Internet Marketing, jobs, loop lonagan, Marketing, Mobile App, Mobile Marketing, philanthropist, philanthropy, public servants, Social Entrepreneur, Social Media, Software

7 TIPS FROM A WINNER

Funding Feeding Frenzy – Part 5

VERBATIM by Loop Lonagan – Investor and man about town,

as told to John Jonelis

FFF LogoLoop Lonagan here. I’m gonna go full circle at dis Funding Feeding Frenzy.

No, I ain’t drunk—well maybe I am by now—but what I mean is, I’m goin’ back to the start o’ this event. After all that stuff I already talked about, I’m finally gettin’ ‘round to the first speaker at the FFF—Palette App—the company that won last time.

Like I said, I seen the pitch before. I also seen them at BNC Venture Capital and later at their corporate offices. Research. A guy’s gotta check stuff out fer himself.  Anyhow, here I am at the FFF in the Chopin Theater to hear what he has to say.  And as it turns out, I’m very glad I to be here.

Chopin Theater Lobby

Lobby – courtesy Chopin Theater

The speaker is Jerry Freeman, founder of Palette App, and the guy’s real smart. He’s doin’ his pitch fer us as a demo—to break the ice before all the poor slobs face the judges.

So I’m sittin’ here next to Jay Kinzie, a colleague o’ mine from Mastermind Advisory Board in this cushy seat in the Chopin Theater. Rong Mayhem ain’t gonna wheel up behind me and start yellin’ like he did at that car barn they held this thing at last time. And the noisy crowd is banished to the trough downstairs.

Feeding Trough

Feeding Trough

That means I’m free. Free to concentrate on findin’ the companies I wanna follow up on. But first comes Jerry Freeman. He starts by giving his own pitch. I know it by heart so I’ll paraphrase:

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Da Pitch

Palette App logoPalette App helps architects and designers do their job better, faster, cheaper. (Jerry doesn’t actually say better, faster, cheaper, but that’s what it amounts to.)

They take away them old-fashioned sample binders that designers and architects been blowin’ their money on for 150 years. They hand ‘em this beautiful digital palette. It’s easier to put together, better organized and more efficient to use. You can make changes fer free! That’s a big deal in this industry.

Palette App

Palette App

It saves a designer about 30 business days a year. That’s alotta man hours. And that kinda time’s worth a few bucks. The digital palette’s better for the client too. That’s why I been excited ‘bout this company right from the first.

Palette

Palette

The software usta be just on iPad ‘cause that’s what designers and them kinda people use. But now it’s on Android too. There’s a version for architectural design schools, which turns out to be a big deal. You can read all about it at https://chicagoventuremagazine.com/2012/07/16/150-years-of-waste-meets-technology/

The company is up-and-running and generating revenue. They already got 35,000 products loaded in their system. They got multiple profit centers. They make money whenever a designer orders a sample. And they make money through subscriptions.

Far as capital goes, they already raised $700K and the first round is gonna close pretty quick. 70% of that came from the last FFF. You can read about that at https://chicagoventuremagazine.com/2012/11/23/shark-tank-meets-the-apprentice/

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Da Interview

So after his sample pitch which I kinda butchered—but hey—how ya gonna spoil something as good as that? Anyhow, Jerry sits down with David Culver and does an interview about what it’s like to run a startup. This is good stuff and I learn something.

Jerry Freeman and David Culver

Jerry Freeman interviewed by David Culver

Raising Money

This seems to be the biggest question on ever’body’s minds. Jerry says, keep pitching at every event you can ‘cause it’s the best way to get connections to lotsa investors. Raising money is a full time job. As CEO, raising capital turns out to be his #1 job.

Then there’s cold calling. You start by pitching on the phone to some junior-level gatekeeper. Then to the next one up, then the next. Then maybe you gets a face-to-face with a decision-maker, fly way out somewheres and run up the old expense account.

All that takes months. Then maybe you get a commitment. Whoa—the money ain’t in the bank yet, fella. Gotta go thru due diligence. Paperwork. It takes six months to get the check, if it comes at all. People drop out. Meanwhile, how you gonna pay yer staff? So you gotta watch yer cash flow real close.

So he says to keep entertaining small investors till the big checks come through—just to pay the bills. The little guys come through quicker.

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Crowd Funding

Glenn Gottfried

Glenn Gottfried

Let’s talk about the new self-directed IRA. Lotsa baby boomers got millions stashed in their IRAs. All those add up fast. There’s five trillion in investment dollars hidden away in these accounts. That’s right—I said five TRILLION dollars—almost a third as big as the national debt! It dwarfs private capital. Blows it away! And deals like that close in thirty days—not six months like with VCs and Angels.

This is a form o’ crowd funding. Usta be only charities raised money that way. Now there’s brand-new laws that open it up to investors. So far it’s only for accredited types—people with a million bucks plus. That’s gonna change but the government is draggin’ its toes—nothin’ new about that.

So fer now, friends ‘n’ family ‘n’ Kick Starter is still the best way for small cash, then

Loren Minkus with Jay Kinzie

Loren Minkus with Jay Kinzie

millionairs with self-directed IRAs. Pretty soon we might see the dam burst on crowdfunding and money’ll flow all over the place.

Jerry gives 7 more tips on how to run a startup:

7 Tips

  1. “The shorter your pitch, the better,” says Jerry. If you think yer gonna get through it in eight minutes, cut it back ‘cause it’ll always take longer. “Practice 21 times,” he says, “so you’re not nervous.”
  2. “Simplify. If you’ve got twenty ideas, narrow it down to three,” he says. When Steve Jobs came back to Apple, he cut down their product line to about five. Now they’re huge.
  3. “Challenge is important.” He asks himself why he ain’t tripling his users every month. You gotta find creative ways to reach that target.
  4. “The dot bomb era is over.” Start raising revenue ASAP. That helps attract investors way better than flashing yer goofy projections on PowerPoint. “When you can say, We already started generating revenue, it puts you in a different pile from the rest.”
  5. “Crank up sales fast because sales sell. Get to risk mitigation ASAP.” That’s important ‘cause investors is more risk-averse than dey ever was before. And the banks ain’t lending. Actual sales sounds a lot less risky.
  6. “Keep your people motivated.” Use every success to get your people rejuvenated. Tell ‘em stories from the road. Celebrate small successes.
  7. An entrepreneur is somebody who goes from failure to failure to failure without getting discouraged.” It’s good to come from a sales background so yer already used to rejection. “If you’re a wallflower, get over it,” he says. Then David Culver follows that with, “The fortune is in the follow-up.”
Chopin Theater

Stage – courtesy Chopin Theater

Gotta Go

I gotta catch a cab to another meeting, so after plenty o’ good food ‘n’ drink, I say g’bye to the FFF kinda early. Two guys tag along to share the ride. One’s an investment banker, the other a VC.

And wouldn’t you know it—I trip on another pothole, right there on the sidewalk. Now my suit’s slashed in both knees. Neither o’ these guys helps me up like the bums did.

And when I drop ‘em off, neither offers to share the cab fare.

Happy New Year to all o’ youse out there.  Cheers from da merry land of Shark Tank Meets the Apprentice.  

NOTE TO JOHN – I seen your articles on a buncha sites.  One o’ dem usta be a real good tech jounal run by the Huffington Post.  It went through a buncha changes.  Now it’s runnin’ third-rate soft porn right along with da articles.  Don’t know what’s with that but thought you’d wanna know.

NOTE TO LOOP – Thanks for the heads-up.  I’ll check it out and maybe put a stop to it.

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Continue to WHAT’S GOOD?

Go back to Part 1

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Da Contacts

Palette App – www.paletteapp.com

Funding Feeding Frenzy – www.facebook.com/FundingFeedingFrenzy

The Chopin Theater – www.chopintheatre.com/event.php?id=2275&pageId=soon

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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 © 2013 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

.
.

5 Comments

Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, App, big money, BNC Venture Capital, Bums, Characters, chicago, Chicago Venture Magazine, Chicago Ventures, chopin theater, Christmas, city, Conflict, CORE Insight Story, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Events, FFF, Funding Feeding Frenzy, Innovation, Internet, Internet Marketing, Invention, investor, loop lonagan, Marketing, Mastermind Advisory Board, Mobile, Mobile App, Mobile Marketing, new companies, pitch, Software, The City

THE LUCKY DOG

Funding Feeding Frenzy – Part 3

VERBATIM by Loop Lonagan – Investor and man about town,

as told to John Jonelis

FFF LogoLoop Lonagan here, sittin’ with my friend Warren D Mink at the Funding Feeding Frenzy. We’re waitin’ for the first presentation, and I’m expectin’ some kinda high tech gadget.

Mink’s a real sharp VC and he tells me we’re gonna have some fun with a consumer product he knows all about ‘cause he saw it at BNC Venture Capital last night. This one serves a good purpose, he says, and looks like a winner. I sit back and enjoy myself ‘cause I know I’ll get all the detail I need from Mink’s notes.

And this one ends up takin’ 3rd place fer da whole event!  Summa the best inventions is the simple ones, and hey—how come YOU ain’t the first one to think of it?

KumfyTailz logo

Kumfy Tailz

EDITOR’S NOTE – Kumfy Tailz won 3rd Place for the entire FFF event.

This is a new slant on properly outfitting yer dog in harsh weather. So whaddaya think this thing can do? It keeps the animal’s core temperature in a good range. The core o’ the dog is what counts—that’s the findings of two years of veterinary science.

  • Too cold outside? It keeps Fido warm.
  • Too hot outside? It air conditions yer pooch.
  • And don’t worry about Rover rippin it up. It uses their own proprietary non-toxic UltraGel pack.
KumfyTailz Functions

KumfyTailz Functions

Gail Sanders-Luckman is the driving force behind this one. She’s a serial entrepreneur and this is her 4th venture. No gaps in the management team neither. Gail gives a solid presentation and I decide I gotta get me one o’ them things fer my dog fer Christmas.

I ask her where they’s sold and she gives me her display model, gratis! Here it is on Clamps, my 85-pound Bull Terrier.

Clamps wearing his Kumfy Tailz

Clamps wearing his Kumfy Tailz

I tell Clamps how good he looks in it and he wags his tail and stands proud. It snaps on fast and easy. Takes maybe 10 seconds to warm up in the microwave. Notice he ain’t wearin’ no collar. The Kumfy Tailz comes complete with a dog-sled style hitch to hook yer leash.

They also make a coat with the same technology. But Clamps seems happy with the deep core-warming he gets from the harness. You should see this big guy plowin’ thru snow, actin’ like it’s a day in spring! Don’t even wanna come in outa the cold. That’s way different than how he usually acts when he gets his feet wet. And I know he’s gonna love the cold pack in the summer heat.  And if yer like me and don’t read instructions, check this out:

KumfyTailz Instructions

KumfyTailz Instructions

The Business

Kumfy Tailz is priced with the ordinary harnesses—from $35 to $55 depending on model, but get this—they’re squeezin’ out 73% margins. The dog harness and apparel niche is two billion dollars strong ‘cause people spend more on their pets than anything else. The pet wellness space is exploding. They got products on the drawing board for horses even. Why stop there?

Comfy Tailz markets their stuff through social media but customers really find out about it through their vets. It’s already available on Amazon, Petsmart (1100 locations), Tractor Supply (1400 locations), and Global Pet. As you can imagine, there’s lotsa interest in Canada and the company’s ready to defend their patents on an international basis. Already $75K in sales last year and expectin’ $3M in six months. $35M in 5 years with EBITDA of 12-15%

They already raised seed money and only want another $250K which buys 10% of the company. They’re willing to offer a number of complex financing structures. I like complicated deals.

KumfyTailz features

So what’s the verdict? It’s unanimous. Every one o’ these judges holds up a sign bearing the coveted big-block letters—FUNDABLE—along with alotta oohs and ahs and plenty of outright enthusiasm. That hardly ever happens at FFF—especially for a non-tech offering.

The Judges

Almost forgot to mention these guys. This is an all-star panel that’ll be familiar to you. Ron Kirschner and Konstantine Kostov of Heartland Angels. Will Goldstein, another angel investor. David Beazley of Synergy Financial along with Les Teichner of Strategic Processing. Mike Moyer from Lake Shark Ventures. Bob Davidson from NASA, Chuck Corush, Craig Bradley, Bob Davidson and Christopher Ziobehr round it out with Glenn Gottfried, who fer my money’s probably the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Chopin Theater

Chopin Theater – Wikipedia

This time, David Culver alternates judges throughout the day so the guys don’t get tired and cranky like I told ya about in Part 1 of this series. And the Chopin Theater turns out to be a terrific venue—a whole lot better than the old place. I hope they hold it here again. .

Continue to Part 4

Go back to Part 1

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Links

Kumfy Tailz

www.KumfyTailz.com

Funding Feeding Frenzy

https://www.facebook.com/FundingFeedingFrenzy

BNC Venture Capital

http://www.bnchicago.com/

The Chopin Theater

http://www.chopintheatre.com/event.php?id=2275&pageId=soon

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Find Chicago Venture Magazine at 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. I do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not my fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2012 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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