Category Archives: CORE Insight Story

MAKE TIME FOR LOVE

Lovendar Logo

Your calendar reminds you this is the anniversary of the day you first met. That’s a great heads-up because if you’re like me, you sometimes don’t remember the things that are truly important in a love relationship. How many years has it been? How can you create a surprise? Do you have a clue what to buy, where to go?

How much of your day do you spend poking around stores and websites for ideas? Or is Ellona Fersonit already 5pm on your anniversary—too late to get those theater tickets and you don’t know how to bust loose from the office?

What if love knowledge opened up to you and freed you to spend quality time building your relationship? Wouldn’t that be better?

Enter Lovendar.

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No Action, No Marriage

Lovendar is a free calendar-driven mobile app—an intimate Pinterest.  It’s a relationship tool that turns wishes into actions.

It prompts you with new ideas, day to day. It reminds you of the important days. Where will you go? What will you buy? What special meal will you prepare? You and your spouse already entered personal wishes on the site. Lovendar is telling each of you exactly what the other wants at just the right time and how to find it using a seamless connection through online vendors.

Lasting relationship and lasting intimacy is built around small things—the day-to-day thoughtful surprises—the frequent expressions of love—the celebration of the special days.

Have you ever been faced with the question, “What have you done for me lately?” Well, Lovendar keeps a record of it all, so you’ll never find yourself tongue-tied.

Ellona Ferson - Lovendar CEO

Ellona Ferson – Lovendar CEO – jaj

 Ellona Ferson is the perfect spokewoman for this company. Her striking appearance and personal magnetism lead the listener to long for a perfect relationship. Her strong, articulate presentation skills, her knowledge and professionalism project acute business acumen and will lend confidence to any investor. In person, she is warm and real. You can’t help but like this gal.

Contacts

Contact Ellona Ferson at http://Lovendar.com

Find BNC Venture Capital at

http://www.bnchicago.com/Groups.php?group=8

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Go to – BNC TUESDAY NIGHT SMACKDOWN

Back to –  FUNDED TONIGHT!

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Find Chicago Venture Magazine at www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts are welcomed and encouraged. This is not investment advice – do your own due diligence. I cannot guarantee accuracy but I give you my best.

Copyright © 2012 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

2 Comments

Filed under BNC Venture Capital, Chicago Ventures, CORE Insight Story, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Internet, Mobile

THE RIGHT WAY TO FAIL

The Story of Ray Markman – Part 6

by John Jonelis

Ray MarkmanFriday, 3:30 pm

The hour of the duel is closing fast.  Can I get the information I want out of these two hotheads before they beat each other senseless? If I prove one or the other right, will that snuff out the fuse?  At this point, I can’t be sure of anything.

This conflict hinges on some ill-chosen words by Loop Lonagan during heated debate with Alexander Harbinger, PhD. Fuel for the fire is an interesting research assignment—Ray Markman’s assertion, I never worked a day in my life.   We’ve all done our homework and given each other our reports, but it’s turned out to be far from routine.  Lonagan and Harbinger will fight a duel this afternoon.

I reach across my scarred WWII Air Force desk and refill their empty tumblers.  The bottle of single malt is more than half-gone.   They sip their scotch and for now, remain peaceful.  It brings to mind a picture of diplomats at a negotiating table—polite, formal, with seething hostilities hidden beneath a veneer of protocol.

Finally, Lonagan begins. “Da thing impresses me most about Ray,” he says, “is he knows howta take a loss. Ray says, ‘If you never lost money, you never did anything.’  And he’s dead right.”

That makes me smile. “Sounds like trader talk to me.”

“It’s da truth. I don’t care if it’s a trading floor or a corporate office.  Don’t matter.  It cuts against ever’body’s logic.  It ain’t easy fer a guy to learn but it’s a proven fact.  Winners know howta lose.”

Lonagan swallows a slug of his whiskey. “So Ray comes across this big fantastic product. Some sorta skin lotion—solves all kindsa problems ‘n’ feels great on yer hide.  He uses da stuff himself and thinks it’s terrific.  He falls in love with it.”  Lonagan shakes his head.  “That’s always a mistake. It’s an axiom on da trading floor:  Never let yerself fall in love with a deal.  You get burned.”  He blows on his fingers in pantomime style.

“Can’t blame ‘im.” Lonagan displays a toothy grin.  “Hadda learn it the hard way myself. Anyhow, here’s what Ray does.  He wants to mass market dis product.  The inventor ain’t got no money so Ray buys an option on it.  Now he owns it on the cheap.  Then he puts his heart ‘n’ soul in it.  He makes the rounds of all his advertisers—real rich men.  One thing for sure, Ray’s got contacts. 

“But for one reason or another, they all turn him down—every one of ‘em.”

Lonagan forms a fist and squeezes like he’s crushing a walnut. “But he ain’t givin’ up. He reads how the Tony Company—the outfit created da first home permanent—just sold for 20 million bucks to a big-time player.  That’s like maybe…”  He squints, “…maybe half a billion in today’s money. So then this Big Player makes it known he wants to invest in risk businesses.  Well, Ray’s figures—‘Hey, I got a risk business’—so he goes and sees duh guy.  Doncha love it?  He just goes out and sees dis guy dat spends half a billion like nothin’!

Half a Billion Dollars

“And it turns out, da guy’s impressed with Ray’s pitch. But does he fund da project?  No!  Instead, he offers Ray a job!”

Lonagan takes another slug of scotch before going on.  “Naturally, Ray turns da guy down so’s he kin laser-focus on his startup project.  But after a while, with no real capital, he’s gotta give up on that. So he takes da job after all, ‘n’ bides his time.”

Harbinger holds up a finger.  “Ziss! Ziss is yet another example of what I am saying.  He works as an employee!  He cannot claim he never worked a day in his life!”

Lonagan drains his whiskey and slams the tumbler on the desk so hard, the glass cracks.  “Shuttup, Mr. PhD.  I’m tellin’ dis story my way. Sure it’s a job, but I don’t think Ray sees it as work.  What about you?  I bet them universities pay real good, but whadaya think about it yerself?  Is lecturing work?  Is research work?  When yuh publish, is it work?  It’s a challenge, right?  There’s plenty o’ rewards and ya love it.  Gettin’ up early mornings.  Can’t wait to get started.  Is that work?” 

Lonagan cocks his head.  “‘Course maybe you’se is waitin’ for tenure so’s you can loaf da rest o’ yer career away.”

“Back off, Loop.”  I feel an urgent need to intervene before things get prematurely violent.  “Alex has a right to his opinion.  You two get to maul each other at five o’clock.   Right now I want to pick your brains while you both still have brains to pick.”  I slide across a new tumbler and the bottle.  “Think you can hold off hostilities till five PM?” It looks to me like Harbinger’s blood pressure is rising fast.

Lonagan sloshes whiskey into the glass.  “Could be you’re right.  Maybe I set my sites too high.  Maybe that big-time education, don’t leave no room in a guy’s head fer the common sense we’s all born with—‘specially a big German goon like Alex.”

 “Loop!  Can’t you stick to the point?”  It comes out louder than I expect and my voice seems to ring in my ears.  I sneak another glance at Harbinger.  He looks like his eyeballs might explode but he sits there and takes it, jaw clamped shut, arms crossed tight.

Lonagan smiles—a grin with real malice behind it. “Okay, I’ll play along.  Where’d I leave off?”  He leans back and his chair lets out a grinding squeak as he raises his feet to my desk.  “Oh yeah.  Ray gets busy and makes good on a buncha projects for Mr. Big.  Does a real fine job. Model exec.   So he figures, the time’s right, and he pitches that old product he’s in love with one more time.  After all, da guy owns the Tony Company and dis product’s a great fit.   Ray never gives up, see?  Just waits for the right time.”

Lonagan chuckles.  “Dis gets good—Big Shot makes up a survey, right there on the spot.  Sends Ray out to do consumer research.  When Ray comes back, his results are unbelievable—way too good to be true—like batting a thousand.  Ever’body loves dis thing.  All of ‘em do.  Hey, I’d like to invest in it myself!” He licks his lips and rests the tumbler on his belly.  Some whiskey sloshes on his shirt.  “Now, da boss says they’ll form a company.  Ray’s gonna be president and run it.  His boss brings in brand managers from the Tony Company.  Also a muckity-muck from a big ad agency.  Then he goes away on a trip—expects everything’ll be ready when he gets back. So Ray works the team.  Gets a lawyer and draws up the articles of incorporation.  Writes a national plan with the brand managers.  Gets everything buttoned up in three weeks—before the boss comes back—”

“You continue to use zee word ‘boss.’  You again identify Mr. Markman as an employee, not an entrepreneur.”

Lonagan looks at Harbinger out of the corner of his eye, clearly telegraphing an insulting sentiment.  His voice comes out in low sarcastic tones.  “He pitched a product venture, Alex.  He built a management team, made a business plan. Any time my meaning ain’t precise enough, just lemme know, okay?” 

Loop turns back to me.  “Now, Ray’s got ever’thing set for a big meeting. But nobody shows up.  Nobody!  Can you picture that?  Right away, Ray knows somethin’s really wrong.  I mean wrong in a huge way.  Ever’body knows somethin’ he doesn’t—but nobody’s talkin’ to him about it.  It’s what yuh call ‘big corporate office politics.’

“And sure enough, when Big Shot comes back he decides NOT to do da project, even though ever’thing looks great.  Ever’thing’s ready.  Don’t give no reason for it—just dumps the idea.  Maybe somethin’ on his trip made ‘im change his mind.  Maybe he didn’t wanna be in that line o’ business—maybe alotta things—I dunno.  End result, Ray gets stiffed.”

Lonagan swallows more scotch.  “You know as good as I do, after a thing like that a guy’s gotta move on.  Mr. Big offers Ray a position with another one o’ his companies, but Ray says no.  So the long ‘n short of it is he’s outava job, his wife is pregnant with their second kid and he’s stuck with this product nobody’ll fund.  All ‘cause he fell in love with a deal.”

I’ve seldom heard Loop go on that long—at least in a coherent manner—and it takes me a moment to get my thoughts together.

Harbinger is scowling down at Lonagan.  “Can you please come to zee conclusion?”

“Yeah, Loop.  What are you driving at?”

“It’s like I said—da loss don’t get to ‘im—it don’t make ‘im give up—he just starts another company, and he keeps on makin’ companies.  He ain’t got no quit in his body.  If he can’t make one thing fly, he finds another.  There’s plenty other ways to do business.”

Harbinger and I don’t say anything and Lonagan looks from one of us to the other.  “Don’t you guys get it?  Ray knows yuh gotta fail a lot to succeed. He puts his losses behind ‘im.  He knows da right way to fail—with style.”

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Continue to Part 7

Go back to Part 1

Find Chicago Venture Magazine at www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts are welcomed and encouraged. This is not investment advice – do your own due diligence. I cannot guarantee accuracy but I give you my best.

Copyright © 2012 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

1 Comment

Filed under Biography, Characters, Chicago Ventures, Conflict, CORE Insight Story, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Invention

THE DREAM COME TRUE

The Story of Ray Markman – Part 5

by John Jonelis

Ray Markman

Friday, 3:00 pm

Across my desk sit both Alexander Harbinger PhD and Loop Lonagan. So far they haven’t come to outright blows but their big duel is set for 5:00 pm.  That leaves two hours to pick their brains.

I realize both men are waiting for my part of the story on Ray Markman, so I report.

“I’ve got the story on the job Ray was gunning for—the one at Leo Burnett, the big-time ad agency. First let me get you into his mindset.  Ray has a theory that all great companies are two men, not one.  There’s Mr. Outside and Mr. Inside.  The idea man and the guy who runs the factory.  Look at it this way—when Apple loses Steve Jobs—Mr. Outside—the company doesn’t just dry up.  There’s a Mr. Inside who’s already running the shop in the background.”

I slap my palm on the scarred desktop. “Same thing at this ad agency. And at that time Leo Burnett himself is Mr. Outside.”

“So Ray makes good his escape from that cosmetics firm. He’s on the loose.  Brand manager experience under his belt.  He shows up at Leo Burnett and talks to the executive that fills the role of Mr. Inside.  And the guy puts Ray through their regular jury system.”  I pause and look each man in the eye. “That’s a set of grueling two-hour interviews with ten people.”

I sip my scotch. “Here’s where it gets good.  Eventually, the personnel department sends Ray to interview with their biggest brand manager—the guy that runs the Philip Morris account.  At that time, cigarette manufacturers spend hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising.  Doesn’t matter how much.  The more they advertise the more they sell.  It’s a direct correlation.”

Philip Morris

Philip Morris

“Yeah.” Lonagan is grinning.  “I remember them times. Kinda like the way they sell cheap beer, nowadays.”

Harbinger merely nods and looks particularly aloof. Probably a smug belief that German beer is better than Budweiser or Miller.  I don’t want to take sides in their duel, which is based chiefly on nationalistic pride, so I agree:

“You got that right.” I say as I take off my glasses and rub them clean with my shirttail.  “So here’s how this interview comes off. Ray and this guy are both standing the entire time—standing at opposite sides of a huge desk, talking over the din of a lot of background noise.  Some kind of construction in the next office.  A lot of hammering.  Then he hands Ray a pack of cigarettes.

“Now, Ray doesn’t smoke but his father did, so he tears off the cellophane just the way he watched his old man do. But then he tears a hole in the top and reaches in to get a cigarette.  Of course, he’s doing it all wrong and makes a mess.  His cigarette’s coming apart.  The Philip Morris guy puts a lighter to it and suddenly Ray’s got a torch in his hand.”

Harbinger is leaning toward me while Lonagan is leering and I go on: “Picture this: There’s all this noise.  They’re standing there talking at each other.  Paper all over the desk and ashes are falling from that ruined cigarette.  Little fires are burning everywhere on the desk.  Meanwhile the guy peppers Ray with questions like a machine gun.  Doesn’t pay any attention to the chaos. And Ray’s praying, ‘God, how can you punish me this way?  I wanted this job.’  Remember, he took that spot at Helene Curtis just get brand manager experience and land this position.”

I’m having a good time telling this story and these guys are still with me. I wind it up.  “Afterwards, Ray goes home to his wife and says, ‘Honey forget it.  They’ll never hire me after this.’  But a couple days later, he gets a call.  Come in.  Tell us when you want to start.”

Lonagan and Harbinger are both grinning as I go on. “Let me give you an idea of the culture of this organization. Leo’s absolutely huge on creativity.  He puts together the most august group of ad people in the industry.  Then he gets four creative groups competing to win each campaign.  Everybody works their asses off.  Competitors say Leo Burnett’s throwaways are better than everybody else’s finished ideas.

“Anyway, Ray goes to work for them. And he submits ideas to the top man himself.  And Leo says, ‘Let’s do this.’  That really shocks Ray.  He sees himself as just an account guy—the low man on the totem pole and Leo Burnett himself is listening to him.  Turns out Burnett will listen to anybody with creative ideas.  Doesn’t matter who you are.  And he gets to like Ray.”

I lean back and lift my feet to the desk. “Nowadays, they’re under a conglomerate like all the agencies. But back then this job is Ray’s dream come true.”

 

Continue to Part 6

 

Go back to Part 1

Comment on this article — Name and email optional

Find Chicago Venture Magazine at www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts are welcomed and encouraged. This is not investment advice – do your own due diligence. I cannot guarantee accuracy but I give you my best.

Copyright © 2012 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

1 Comment

Filed under Biography, Characters, Chicago Venture Magazine, Chicago Ventures, Conflict, CORE Insight Story, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Invention

THE SECRET PROTÉGÉ

The Story of Ray Markman – Part 4

by John Jonelis

Ray Markman

Friday, 2:30 pm

We’re sitting across my battered WWII Air Force desk digging out the history of Ray Markman. Alexander Harbinger’s argument that Ray isn’t a pure entrepreneur seems pretty well shot to pieces. Loop Lonagan told some amazing stories about risk ventures and I think Alex is squirming a bit, but I want to hear what he’s turned up before these two beat each other senseless at the duel scheduled for five o’clock today. So I put it to him.

“Yess,” he says. “I did find quite ze important story about Mr. Markman. To me, it iss poignant und highly significant. It illustrates not only his personality but ze way he affected people around him.”

He pauses, and I think he does it for effect. Harbinger is still 100% university professor but he’s reverting to his thick German accent. That’s a signal he’s passionate about what he’s saying.

“Markman wass very young und yearning to work at ze premier advertising agency, Leo Burnett. Ziss vass when Leo ran ze agency personally. He created fantastic campaigns—Marlboro, Pillsbury, Jolly Green Giant. But when Markman attempted to, as you Americans say, ‘get in ze door,’ he vass told to first learn brand management.”

Jolly Green Giant

Leo Burnett – The Jolly Green Giant

Lonagan is drumming his fingers on the desk, but Harbinger ignores it and continues.

“So Mr. Markman made…What iss word…” He pauses and raps my desk with his big knuckles. “He make ‘cold call,’ He approach a large cosmetics company, Helene Curtis. It wass what people call ‘a hot company’ at ze time, marketing exclusively to beauty salons—but just starting in retail. As so often occurs, organization vass insufficient for new market. It used a prototypical model but no brand managers. Markman called on CEO of consumer goods, und convinced him of brand manager system. Right away, ze man hired him.”

I interrupt: “What exactly is a brand manager, Alex?”

“He iss one with final sales und profit responsibility for a particular brand. It iss analogous to account executive at an advertising agency.”

Procter & Gamble

I nod and he goes on.

 

“Ze concept of a brand manager originated at P&G und Mr. Markman read every Harvard Business Review article on brand management going back to 1920.” Harbinger stops to sip his scotch. “He decides to start by selling—to learn ze business from deep in trenches. He also knows he must impress sales manager if he iss to gain acceptance within company culture. He worked tirelessly for a month, from store opening to store closing. It vass only a month so he poured himself into his work. And he broke all company sales records.”

Now Harbinger is actually smiling. “Und he did impress ziss sales manager. He wanted to hire Markman but no—he vass slated to be brand manager. Mr. Markman then hired other brand managers. He formed department und became head of it.”

Lonagan is still drumming his fingers and it’s getting on my nerves. “What’s your problem, Loop?”

“No problem. Ain’t you bored?”

“No.”

Harbinger is suddenly agitated. “I get to ze point. As you know, Mr. Markman hass always been a man with many ideas und he proposes one campaign after another to his new employer. I have no data to explain reasons but his superior denied—he denied perhaps all of his proposals. I am told, ‘he svatted ze ideas like flies.’”

Harbinger places a sheet from his notes on the desk. It tells the story of a meeting between Markman and his boss. The highlighted sentence reads, ‘Ray, this has got your thumb prints all over it.’ Harbinger clears his throat. “Certainly it casts doubt on his quote, ‘I never worked a day in my life.’”

“Bullshit,” Lonagan snaps.

I narrow my eyes at him. “What’s wrong with it, Loop?”

Lonagan throws out an arm in an expansive gesture. “Ray’s still dreamin’ dreams. He just ain’t gettin’ as many of ‘em done. It’s a bigger challenge, is all.”

Harbinger doesn’t even acknowledge Lonagan. “Important part of ze story vass when Markman met head of company’s outside advertising agency. Ze man was only twenty-nine, but brilliant. A Northwestern MBA.” He pauses, I think for effect again.  “Of course, Mr. Markman earned his MBA from University of Chicago, both very prestigious schools but ze men got along famously anyway. Then later this man went on to successful career—many highly important positions in private enterprise und public service.”

NU and U of C

Lonagan’s ears are turning red again. “What’s that got to do with anything?”

“Just let him tell his story, Loop.”

Alex draws himself tall in his chair. “I can answer Mr. Lonagan’s question. Mr. Markman came to know many important persons in his life. I believe ziss vass crucial to his success. I believe it stemmed from his personal gestalt.”

“His what?”

“His…how you say…his overall manufacture.”

Lonagan grins. “Y’mean it comes natural to ‘im. Just happens that way. It’s how he’s made.”

Harbinger lets out a lungful of air. “Yes. Dot is ze vey of it.”

“Then why don’t you just say so?”

“Zat is vat I did!” Anger tints his voice and it’s time for me to intervene.

“Why don’t you two save it for the boxing ring? I want to hear Alex’s story. Don’t you want to hear it, Loop?”

Lonagan draws circles on the scarred desktop with a finger. “I suppose.”

“Then shuttup. Go on with your account, Alex.”

Harbinger clears his throat before continuing. “Markman immediately liked CEO of outside agency und two men they make what iss called ‘a pact.’ Markman gives him exclusive responsibility for company advertising account. In exchange, no one comes between them. No one! Und ziss relationship works well for quite some time. Ziss young advertising executive presents many ideas to Mr. Markman’s superior—und they are many of Markman’s own ideas, presented as if coming from ze outside agency—but now they are received with enthusiasm rather than rejection. At same time ziss young man vass, as you say, ‘taking Ray to school,’ und young Mr. Markman learned all about advertising business very quickly.”

Harbinger leans forward in his chair. “But ziss could not continue indefinitely. Mr. Markman’s outside counterpart vass asked to run an important political campaign und he accepted. Of course, ze advertising arrangement fell apart.

“Now vee come to truly fascinating set of events: Markman resigns from Helene Curtis. His superior—ze ‘tough guy’ as you Americans say—ze man who crushed so many proposals—he wass entirely overcome by loss. I am told he actually showed tears in his eyes!” Harbinger looks at Lonagan and back to me. “Mr. Markman did not know what to make of such behavior! You see ze irony?”

I notice Lonagan’s attention is now riveted on Harbinger. He makes as if to say something then holds back when Harbinger abruptly resumes.

“I believe zat I understand Mr. Markman’s superior. He sees Ray as his protégé. He feels betrayed by ze resignation. But he did not treat his employee as he should have treated him. That vass his mistake! Ze same mistake so many of us make! So common in my country! I find zis not only startling but also personally meaningful. It iss very sad because it iss so pervasive—almost universal.”

Lonagan slowly nods. “I can picture that.”

I lean back, sip my scotch, and consider. And I’m struck by the conflicted ways we so often go about our business.

Harbinger smiles. “Ah, but remainder of story: Notice—Mr. Markman learned all about brand management. He groomed himself for position he vanted so badly at Leo Burnett. He vass ready to go to work for ze premier agency…”

 

Continue to Part 5

Go back to Part 1

Comment on this article — Name and email optional

Find Chicago Venture Magazine at www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts are welcomed and encouraged. This is not investment advice – do your own due diligence. I cannot guarantee accuracy but I give you my best.

Copyright © 2012 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

2 Comments

Filed under Biography, Characters, Chicago Venture Magazine, Chicago Ventures, CORE Insight Story, Innovation, Invention, Kellogg, Northwestern

THE DUEL

The Story of Ray Markman – Part 2

by John Jonelis

Ray Markman

Friday, 1:30 am

Ray Markman claims, ‘I never worked a day in my life.’ Now I wait for Alexander Harbinger and Loop Lonagan to give their analysis based on boxes of old documents and memories. The clock reads 1:30 when Loop and Alex finally file in. They each carry thick note pads and plunk down in soft chairs across from my desk. From the way Loop pats his belly, I know they’re straight from some heavy lunch spot.

Lonagan is first to speak. “Me and Alex want you should go first.”

“What?” I say. “There’s some problem?”

Harbinger responds in his heavy German accent. “Vee are at a point of disagreement. Perhaps, Yon, you vill set ze right tone for this meeting.”

I lick my lips. That sounds like trouble and I hesitate a moment wondering what’s under the surface. Each of us started with a bulging box of documents and I like what I found in mine. Finally: “Okay, I’ll kick it off.” I glance at my clipboard of notes. “Ray Markman is living one of the most interesting business careers I’ve ever researched. Right from an early age, I get the picture of an enthusiastic entrepreneur, just playing with the world. He attends Erasmus—first public high school in the country. Barbara Streisand is there. Ray sees Sid Luckman play high school football. Lainie Kazan, some Nobel prize winners, and other luminaries come out of that program. Ray runs the school paper. He figures he can get a scholarship to an Ivy League college but the faculty sells him on the University of Missouri—the first formal school of journalism in the world. Lots of illustrious figures go there. He sees Walter Cronkite. Meets the head of CBS, the head of NBC—all those guys. Connections that pay dividends later on.”

Harbinger shakes his head. “Zat is veak. You vill not prove your point based on such information. Have you nussing  from his vork life?”

“Well, yeah.” I turn a page. “This one’s interesting. He creates the Britannica Achievement in Life Award—you remember that. The award goes to people like Louis Armstrong, Hank Aaron, Ella Fitzgerald, Olympians, astronauts, singers, artists, athletes, academics, actors—it must be quite a rush doing that.”

Both men nod but nothing registers in their eyes. They’re still waiting.

Ray Markman

Is that Polly Bergen with Ray Markman?

I turn another page. “Okay, try this one. He finds out that National Geographic has lots of fantastic footage—reels and reels of film. Underwater clips of Jacques Cousteau, footage of Americans climbing Everest, Jane Goodall and the wild chimpanzees, even discovering the first Homo Sapiens. But they aren’t TV shows—just footage. So he gets John Allen and a team to help him create shows. Allen is the genius that got the Peanuts shows on prime time. So that’s how the National Geographic Series happens. Certainly you’ve seen that.”

“Yes, ziss I remember vell.”

“Well here’s where it gets good. They make the whole series on spec. Then Ray tells his client—Encyclopaedia Britannica, ‘We won’t sell it to you unless we get prime time.’ Wrap yourself around the moxie behind that. He doesn’t want it aired on Sunday afternoon the way Hallmark does at that time. He figures people are watching football that day and he’s right. After finishing the shows, he’s saying if they’re not a raging success, he’ll chuck ‘em. He’s taking a huge risk.”

Lonagan shakes his head and scowls. “A guy shouldn’t never oughta let his ass hang out dat far on a deal.”

“Maybe, but Ray doesn’t seem to have any fear in his makeup. So he takes the show to NBC. They turn it down. Same old story: They don’t know where it fits—it’s not news and it’s not a documentary. It’s a whole new genre. Always hard to sell a new genre. And ABC? Same story.

“Anyway, he realizes there’s only one man who’ll buy this show—the head of CBS—the king of the documentaries back then. So he spends a whole month and works up a super-detailed 30-minute presentation. All the visuals, the financial projections, the entire picture.”

I lean back and glance at my two guests. “So the big day finally arrives. Ray and the agency meet the head of the network face to face. Ray’s just three minutes into his presentation when the guy says ‘I got it. Let’s do it.’ Just like that.”

Lonagan nods. “I seen stuff like that happen.”

“Well Ray’s not done. He tells them there’s one caveat. ‘We gotta have prime time.’ Seems to me he’s pressing his luck but the guy says, ‘Done. You got early prime time four times a year.’ So Ray goes ahead and gets Britannica to sponsor it for four years. Great show. I don’t think I missed a single episode.”

Lonagan leans across my beat-up desk. “I got somethin’ even better.” That close to my face, his breath stinks of corned beef and beer.  Smells worse than a cheap cigar. I roll my chair back, away from the stench and put my feet on the desk. “Fire away.”

He cracks a malicious grin. “Ray’s one o’ them born entrepreneurs. He loves every part of it.”

Then Harbinger barges in. “Ze man spent his career in advertising, not as an entrepreneur.”

Lonagan reels on him. “Listen, you candy-assed school boy. Everything he does, he goes at like an entrepreneur. It’s impossible to figure out where his corporate work stops and his entrepreneurship begins. When he ain’t bettin’ his dough, he’s bettin’ his job.”

Once I watched a debate between Loop Lonagan and Alexander Harbinger almost escalate to blows and I need to head that off quick. “You guys are off on a tangent. Entrepreneurship isn’t the question on the table. I’m looking to prove or disprove his statement that he never worked a day in his life.”

“No John, yer wrong,” says Lonagan. “Bein’ an entrepreneur’s the heart of it all. In da mindset of an entrepreneur work ain’t work. It’s doin’ what you love for the love of it. It’s creatin’ somethin’ new, then creatin’ somethin’ else that’s new. That’s why Ray makes that statement—‘cause that’s how he lives his whole life. Don’t matter if yer workin’ in a startup or a big organization. If you got enough freedom and love what you do, you’re an entrepreneur. Ray’s a serial entrepreneur. Anybody says different don’t know his keister from a hole in the ground.”

Harbinger scowls. “I cannot agree wiss you. Your premise—it iss badly flawed.”

I’m keeping a close eye on Loop’s reaction. He doesn’t respond immediately and his face slowly swells purple. If they start swinging, I sure hope they take it outside.

Then Lonagan blurts out, “Ever hear of a little thing called a hedge? That’s how the smart guys do it. A paying job’s nothin’ but a ‘covered call.’ It counters da capital risk on all dem companies he starts. That’s a real smart setup if you got the energy to pull it off.” He raises his voice. “But then, you never been in the trading world riskin’ real money. You hang out at that college and teach bullshit like ‘random walk theory.’ You don’t know nothin’ about business, you lousy Kraut.”

Harbinger rises from his chair. Stands erect like a soldier.  Dignified—all six foot five of him in his impeccable gray handmade suit. “I cannot accept such personal abuse—zis slur on my nationality—and ziss from an inarticulate, uneducated, and ignorant man. I demand an immediate apology.”

Lonagan jumps to his feet, pulls off his sports jacket, and throws it to the floor. “Apology nothin’. And whadaya mean, callin’ me ‘little’?” Standing in a crouch with his fists raised, he cranes his neck to meet Harbinger’s eyes. “You kin cram that where the sun don’t shine, mister.”

Harbinger looks down his nose at Lonagan and hands him a card. “Zen I vill have satisfaction. Ze Union League Club. Vee meet at Five p.m.”

I can hardly believe it. I am witnessing the preamble to a formal duel. The only thing missing is a slap to the face or a glove hurled down. Will it be pistols or foils?

“Okay, Mr. PhD.” Loop flashes an evil grin. “You’re on. Boxing gloves. Three rounds. And make sure you show up.”

I let out a sigh of relief.

A boxing match.

And after a moment’s thought, I’m actually looking forward to it. But somehow I need to find a way to get these two back in their chairs and working on the subject at hand.

 

Continue to Part 3

Go back to Part 1

Comment on this article — Name and email optional

Find Chicago Venture Magazine at www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts are welcomed and encouraged. This is not investment advice – do your own due diligence. I cannot guarantee accuracy but I give you my best.

Copyright © 2012 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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Filed under Biography, Characters, Chicago Venture Magazine, Chicago Ventures, Conflict, CORE Insight Story, Entrepreneurship, Financial Markets, Innovation, Nobel Prize

FUNDED TONIGHT!

I’m at BNC Venture Capital. I came to see two exciting companies that have already crossed my radar screen. One easily won the recent FFF event and the other was in the top three.

BNC Venture Capital

BNC Venture Capital – jaj

I like Business Network Chicago events because they’re ALL BUSINESS. Most other events are all hype, but here, each company gets grilled with five standard questions:

1.) Exactly what is the product or service?
2.) Why should the customer buy it?
3.) Is the management team the best in the business?
4.) How does the company make money?
5.) How does the investor make money?

That’s tough and hard-nosed and that’s why I like it. Not every startup is ready to subject itself to this kind of rigor, but Len Bland manages to find three each month. The fact that he and Ray Markman are starting the Midwest Renaissance Fund probably creates a big draw to qualified companies.

After the presentation and grilling, the audience votes on a 1-10 scale. A score of “1” is considered “entre-manure” while a score of “10” means, “Where’s Grandma’s pension fund?” I’ll give you a quick peak into what two of these companies are doing:

Youtopia

Editor’s Note – YOUTOPIA picked up three angel investors at this meeting and achieved their stage-one funding goals.

The e-Harmony of Altruism

• Today, school districts across the nation require 40 hours of community service for graduation. Kids get stuck doing meaningless tasks that don’t match their interest. With Youtopia, the engagement starts with “What do you like?” The answer might be, “I like cats.” So maybe the system hooks-up the kid with an animal shelter.

• Under the present system, tracking is almost non-existent. With Youtopia, a web and mobile application enables schools to track and generate an organized social report card complete with recommendations for college admission offices.

• The business connection is huge as well. Corporations dearly want to advertise this kind of altruism.

Simeon Schnapper & Brett Singer of Youtopia

Simeon Schnapper & Brett Singer of Youtopia

Become a Youtopian

They already launched two weeks ago with three customers while they continue to develop their model. I like that aggressive approach.

This company was the subject of my previous article, DOT – A FILM

Some Backstory – I was already familiar with Youtopia.  I saw them present at the recent Funding Feeding Frenzy.  It happened at the end of a long day—after the judges got plenty hot and cranky. One of them turned on the presenter.  The others followed like lemmings.  As far as I could see, they’d just blown their chance to invest in a really exceptional company.

Disgusted, I visited YouTopia at their downtown offices. These guys are highly creative and very coachable. I gave them a transcript of their FFF presentation, complete with Q&A.  They took all my suggestions, even improved upon them.  Then they accepted coaching from Len Bland and crew and delivered a sparkling performance at BNC.  And they picked up three angel investors tonight.  That completes their stage one round.

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PaletteApp

Jerry Freeman of PaletteApp

Jerry Freeman of PaletteApp – jaj

PaletteApp is a digital design tool that helps manufacturers, designers, architects, and contractors, accelerate the design and sample ordering process. With a vast library of products, designers can put together a package in mere minutes.

This company recently walked away with the Funding Feeding Frenzy grand prize—and well deserved. Tonight, at BNC, they make a big stir. PaletteApp proposes to change the 150-year-old way architectural design is done. In the process, they’ll transform a job that takes many man-hours into a joyful process that takes just a few minutes.  What used to take 5 hours now can be done in 15 minutes.

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Contacts

These two tied for first place in the voting. At present time, PaletteApp is further along while Youtopia holds the promise of going viral and becoming over-the-top profitable.

Youtopia – Simeon Schnapper and Brett Singer – https://youtopia.com

PaletteApp –Jerry Freeman – www.paletteapp.com

BNC Venture Capital – Len Bland – http://bnchicago.org/Groups.php?group=8

Funding Feeding Frenzy – David Culver – www.fundingfeedingfrenzy.com

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Go to – MAKE TIME FOR LOVE

Back to – TECH MEETS BRICK & MORTAR

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Find Chicago Venture Magazine at www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts are welcomed and encouraged. This is not investment advice – do your own due diligence. I cannot guarantee accuracy but I give you my best.

Copyright © 2012 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

6 Comments

Filed under BNC Venture Capital, Chicago Venture Magazine, Chicago Ventures, CORE Insight Story, Entrepreneurship, FFF, Innovation, Invention, Midwest Renaissance Fund, Software

THE BEST CHALLENGE YET

 The MIT Whiteboard Challenge

Think of it as the white-knuckle challenge for entrepreneurs. Bare bones, no props, no slides. Just you alone, your idea, five minutes and a whiteboard.

photo by Y Malina

photograph by Y.Malina

Are you in mid-sentence when the clock expires? Tough. “TIME!” calls the moderator. And you just shut your mouth and take a seat. More than one finalist got caught saying, “The most important thing is—” only to have the sentence lopped off by an abrupt, “Time’s up! Next presentation!”

That’s right—just five minutes to get your message across to a huge roomful of Angel and VC investors, scientists, entrepreneurs, and probably

the highest concentration of PhDs of any investor gathering. MIT alumni. Luminaries from top schools like Northwestern and the University of Chicago. The venue itself—the IBM Innovation Center—can prove overwhelming and daunting.

IBM Innovation Center - Chicago

IBM Innovation Center – Chicago

Truth-be-told, I love it. I love everything about it. The people running this event work long, hard hours and are actually very polite and friendly. But they’re drop-dead professional. It’s a highly competitive environment and they set an ultra-high standard of fairness. Even the criterion is transparent: They’re looking for quality of presentation, use of the white board, a clear problem, a clear, realistic, and unique solution.

The Chicago chapter of the MIT Enterprise Forum consistently puts on top quality events. They keep a lot of talent busy behind the scenes to do just that. As usual, Nancy Munro runs a tight ship. Twenty preliminary judges already narrowed the field to ten finalists. For each of those presenting here, nine worthy companies didn’t make the cut.

And this is by far the best Whiteboard Challenge in five years. I feel privileged to sit beside a distinguished panel of judges headed by Dr. Moises Goldman. Audience voting by mobile phone will augment the assessment of his panel. Ted Wallhaus, chairman of the global board, is here tonight and kicks things off. As I switch on my recorder and prepare to take notes, I feel the chill of excitement in this room. Tonight I’ll see the best of the best. I actually know two of these outstanding people. How will they do under this kind of pressure?

The evening starts with the introduction of winners from previous years that have established themselves as viable companies. Then for tonight’s entries: This is a super-strong group of entrepreneurs. Every one of them brings to the table a unique business idea with a compelling social need. There’s money lying on the floor for any one of these companies.

1st Place

SwipeSense—Yuri Malina

The Problem—“Two million people contract hospital-acquired infections every year. One hundred thousand of them die. The lowestSwipeSense logo projections place the cost to hospitals at $5.8 billion per year.”

“The CDC and the WHO say the number-one way to prevent infection is hand washing. But compliance in hospitals is only 40%. That’s right—the staff washes their hands less than half as many times as required.”

Yuri Malina and his partner Mert Iseri studied hospitals in an 8-week marathon and came up with some startling insights. Sinks and the wall-mounted gel bottles are fixed in place—never where you need them. Staff needs to sanitize their hands 4-5 times during a patient visit but did you ever see a doctor or nurse do that? No, the typical behavior is to wipe hands on pants. That’s known to spread disease but it’s a habit ingrained in us over a lifetime. So hand washing is a problem—both practical and behavioral.

Hospitals are so serious about this issue that they want tracking of hand washing. Some have been using tattletale schemes, asking nurses to observe their peers and write up infractions. What’s the result of that? An annual report that nobody reads and a stressful work environment.

SwipeSense Hand Sanitizer

SwipeSense Electronic-Reporting Hand Sanitizer

The Solution— Yuri believes we can get to the point where there is no such thing as a hospital acquired infection. SwipeSense provides a portable gel dispenser that is worn on the belt—readily available to the caregiver. A natural swiping motion, much like wiping hands on pants, dispenses a measured dose of sanitizing gel. The unit collects and processes feedback using a simple wireless network. That enables hospitals to deploy goal setting and incentives to drive behavioral change. “The result is a straightforward solution to a simple problem.”

Yuri Malina

Yuri Malina

The Inside Story—Yuri Malina and Mert Iseri first earned national stature while still in school, by co-founding Design for America, now with chapters in major universities across the country. As that organization takes root, they will step into board-level roles.

I first met these two at the Levy Mastermind Group when they arrived on their longboards—laid back but sharp and wildly passionate. These guys love the game—every part of it. They wowed everybody there. Their enthusiasm was so high, I became convinced that these two can make any project work. More on that subject in the article, Six Reasons Why Tech Belongs to the Young.

I visited Mert and Yuri at their Northwestern digs and found that they take full advantage of University facilities. PhD level advisors. Free prototyping—a huge competitive advantage. Then they collaborate with hospitals in pilot projects that test the prototypes and uncover new needs.

Because they went through the first generation of the Healthbox incubator, a staff of distinguished professionals has a stake in their financial success. Their device has gone through several iterations. Now, with a mature product, SwipeSense has signed six beta customers.

Just a short time ago this pair of young entrepreneurs had already raised $500K in investment dollars to fund further research. Then they went on an east coast tour and boosted that to $750K. No doubt these guys will meet their $1M goal—no doubt whatsoever. Yuri’s presentation captured everybody at the MIT Whiteboard Challenge. Tonight they walk away with the $3,000 first prize—another in a long list of accolades.

Yuri Malina

Yuri Malina

Yuri is an inventor, artist, and adventurer. This was the best presentation I’ve seen from him—the best I’ve seen from most anybody. When awarded first place, his partner’s loud call was heard over the cheers of the audience. “You’re awesome, Yuri!” How can anybody compete with that kind of energy? Keep hitting it out of the part, you guys. We’re all rooting for you.

Yuri Malina

Yuri Malina

2nd Place

CerViva—Solomon Arman Nabatiyan, PhD – Cervia Diagnostic Innovations

A cancer biologist trained at Oxford and Camridge, he’s affectionately known as Dr. Sal at Northwestern University where he serves as aCerViva logo research professor. He co-founded the crowdfunding site, TechMoola.com for raising funds through non-traditional sources as well as CerviaDX.

The Problem—The #1 killer of women worldwide is not breast cancer—it’s cervical cancer—a disease that is 100% preventable. A woman dies from cervical cancer every two minutes. $5.8M is spent each hour on screening using the Pap-smear test.

The Pap test is 90 years old. It’s expensive, takes 7 days to process, and requires high-priced equipment and skilled technicians to perform. After all of that, it’s about as accurate as flipping a coin. Scraping to obtain a sample causes discomfort in patients. The result? Only 25% of women have access to the test and overall efficacy is only 13% prevention—that for a disease that is 100% preventable.

The Solution—CerViva is a test that is 95% accurate, using molecular markers to produce results not subject to human error. It costs only

Dr Sal

Dr Sal

$5 per patient, takes only 30 minutes to process, uses cheap disposable equipment, and requires no skilled technicians. Rather than scraping, the experience is similar to a 3M Post-It Note picking up dust. The result? According to projections, 95% global access, and 95% prevention.

Dr. Sal raises laughter from the audience when he points out with a smile that a university professor gives 13% an F and 95% an A. “We all have important women in our lives,” he says, “and we need to support them and keep them cancer-free.”

The Inside Story– I talked to him at length after the meeting. He knows entrepreneurship and coaches it at Northwestern. He mentored Mert and Yuri of SwipeSense. The guy’s the complete package. Can you imagine the social implications of his discovery? The dollar value? This is the kind of stuff is the reason I try never to miss an MITEF event—especially the White Board Challenge.

Dr. Sal was interviewed by TechCocktail after being in the Chicago Startup Spotlight event at TechWeek. He described his social motivation: He hopes to plow profits into worldwide access to life-saving technology—especially in the developing world. “Cervical cancer has to disappear and we won’t take no for an answer! We already have the technology. We just need to do the work.”

photo by Yuri Malina

photograph by Y.Malina

3rd Place

SiNode—Samir Mayekar

The Problem—What happens when your day isn’t over but your smartphone’s day is? Samir shows a familiar icon that he calls the red battery

SiNode

SiNode

of death and gets a lot of laughter. He’s got my attention. To take notes before my battery dies, I’m running my laptop at 10% power with the screen dim.

He goes on to explain how a battery works off a cathode and an anode. “There’s been a terrific amount of innovation in cathode technology but the anode has remained fundamentally unchanged over the past 20 years.”

The smartphone market is huge and growing at 35% per year. Same story for tablets and other devices.

The Solution – Here’s what SiNode can do:

Capacity – Batteries can store more energy. 8 hours of talk time goes to 25 hours—a 3x improvement.

Charging – 95 minutes of charging time becomes 10 minutes—a 10x improvement.

Scalablility – The battery uses simple chemistry so it’s easy to manufacture.

The technology is published with two patents pending. He will supply the Army, the Navy, the CIA, and Homeland Security. Those

Samir Mayekar

Samir Mayekar

organizations are willing to pay a significant premium for these batteries. Using that revenue, SiNode will bootstrap into the device space—phones, tablets, computers, and all forms of electronics. The long-term plan calls for forming partnerships with large battery manufacturers. Eventually he expects to move into electric cars.

It’s a strong team that includes the inventor. I like the business plan—a minimum of outside investment and immediate cash flow. I looked for more on the internet and discovered that SiNode has already won a number of accolades:

The Clean Energy Challenge 2012 – Finalist
First Look West Clean Energy Challenge 2012 – Finalist
Kellogg Shark Tank – 1st Place
CleanTech Open 2012 – Advanced to semi-final round
And now—The MIT Whiteboard Challenge – 3rd Place

Hey, I can’t wait to get me one o’ them super batteries. How about you?

MIT Enterprise Forum

The Rest of the Field

Givby— Bill Scheurer—”Philanthropy for the Rest of Us”  Here’s an exciting idea  —something that makes you feel good about yourself. Something that revs you up before, during, and after. Giving is a buzz, and it can be just a click away. Raising large sums by many tiny donations, Givby makes micro-philanthropy easy and affordable. By combining with social networks, it makes giving fun as you crowdsource your friends onboard. And you pick the charity. The trick is to keep the gift amounts secret rather than trying to drive competition, which only discourages people from participating. This guy spent 20 years in fund-raising with 10 years in non-profits. He seems to have a new insight on the matter. I talked to him afterwards and learned that he’s bootstrapping the project and yet it’s already live. Development is moving at a rapid pace. Keep your eyes open for this one.

Green Tech—Prasad S. Kodulkula PhD, PMP, PgMP, Professor at Northwestern University has found a way to produce Green Energy from Greenhouse Gases. He converts air pollution into clean energy to drive our cars and fly our planes. His goal is to recycle pollution the same way we recycle water. To do that he uses CO2 to grow algae then makes biofuel out of that. Algae is already a proven source for biofuel but this new method makes it 5-10 times cheaper to produce than existing pond or light-based solutions. One patent has issued and one is pending. I close my eyes and imagine a coal-fired plant with no stack—directly feeding one of these units. Could that happen?  Could we re-open all the Midwest coal mines and put all those small towns back to work? Could we again make steel in Gary Indiana, yet keep the air clear?

NoRedInk—Jeff Scheur—Virtual tutoring—This is a web-based solution to teaching grammar using kid’s personal interests. 14,500 teachers and students have already used the site and he hasn’t yet resorted to  paid advertising. Kids have dedicated 8700 hours working on it since last Feb. A passionate member of the audience told me that schools are crying out for this technology. Millions of education dollars are going unused for lack of a working system. Schools can’t find enough tutors to fill the gap.

Virtual Field Trips—TJ Pavlov— This is a way to enable schools to take interactive field trips via the internet. The distinctive here is

drawing by Yuri Malina

drawing by Y.Malina

the word, “interactive.” Students can converse with people on location. If the business model doesn’t stick, he plans to use the system in his own classroom.

Intelligent GRE Tutor—Jonathan McBride—This is an intelligent tutoring system for the GRE exam using artificial intelligence and learning sciences. It finds out what a student knows and teaches to the need. It maintains a balance between difficulty and skill with enough repetition to make it stick. The military is already using this kind of technology. It should be ready for market within 6 months. After the event, I heard members of the audience suggesting many more opportunities for this technology.

Turning Chicken Feathers into Playground Equipment—Neil Kane—This is a bioplastic application with a hilarious name—perhaps to help people remember. With a patented method licensed through Northwestern University, he proposes to make plastic using chicken feathers—a waste product. The result? Petroleum use is reduced by 40%. A stronger plastic is produced.

Clean Water Forever—Len Bland—Water is a $360B market. Wastewater plants use 4% of our electricity and produce sludge. Now they can supercharge the process using natural bacteria to eat up 80% of the sludge and reduce electricity use by 90%. Their IP includes 70 worldwide patents. I know Len as a highly competent businessman. He’s still going through his due diligence process, but if everything’s in order, this could be huge.

Links

Video of last year’s MIT Whiteboard Challenge –

Related Article— SIX REASONS WHY TECH BELONGS TO THE YOUNG

MIT Enterprise Forum – Chicago

Ungaretti & Harris – host attorneys

IBM Innovation Center

IBM logo
SwipeSense—Yuri Malina— http://swipesense.com

Yuri is co-founder of Design for America— http://designforamerica.com

Yuri’s Blog— www.yurimalina.com/yuri—blog.html

CerViva— Solomon Arman Nabatiyan— www.mycervicaltest.com

Video— www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DUNxa–a_E

TechMoola— www.techmoola.com

SiNode— Samir Mayekar— www.facebook.com/NUSiNode/info

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GO TO – THE MIT WHITEBOARD

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Find Chicago Venture Magazine at www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts are welcomed and encouraged. This is not investment advice – do your own due diligence. I cannot guarantee accuracy but I give you my best.

Copyright © 2012 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

2 Comments

Filed under Chicago Venture Magazine, Chicago Ventures, CORE Insight Story, Events, Innovation, Invention, Kellogg, MIT Enterprise Forum, MITEF, Northwestern