Category Archives: Northwestern


By Moises J Goldman & John Jonelis

Today’s business culture is more strongly creative and entrepreneurial than at any time in history, posing new organizational opportunities and challenges.  That calls for a new way to think about and implement design management.  Using the language of the digital age, this article introduces a new perspective, applying a radically different technique to the management of the creative process, and then demonstrates an intuitive working model that functions in any modern organization.  This is the first installment of a four-part article. 

Current Management Models

Management models have undergone disruptive changes over the years.  The early 1980s was a time when Japanese productivity achieved the highest level anywhere in the world. At that time, productivity had fallen in the USA, and many felt that America could and should learn from Japan.  There was a real call to break from the Traditional Model of product management.

Curiously, the Japanese renaissance was, in large part, the product of an American—the pioneer W. Edwards Deming.  He espoused high product quality coupled with a humane approach to managing people.  He laid out a complex set of principles to realize those ideals.  Deming built his approach on different assumptions than the Traditional Model.  I had the pleasure of working at a company founded on his principles.  This was rare in the USA, but the Japanese implemented his theories with fervor.  Much can be said about the details, but when you boil it down to its simplest terms, Japanese success was actually based on three broad factors:

  • A focus on a strong corporate structure
  • Long-range staff development
  • Consensus decision-making

These factors led to lower turnover, higher job commitment, and higher productivity.  This initiative was then adapted for use in the USA by William Ouchi and became known as Theory Z.1   For a time, Eli Lilly, Rockwell International, General Motors, Westinghouse and many other large corporations embraced this new dogma.

But this new paradigm clashed with the ideas of western management and the expectations of an American workforce.  Theory Z didn’t gain lasting traction in America, where the Traditional Model continued to dominate.  Why the cultural clash? It has to do with the way we think—more particularly, the way in which we picture or imagine a process.  Figure 1 lays out the Traditional Model of product management in graphical form:

Figure 1 – Traditional Product Management Model

The Traditional Model can be expressed as a high-level sequence and it is, quite simply, one specific mode of thought.  To its credit, it does an excellent job of defining a product life cycle.  Everything is placed neatly in a row.  There is a defined beginning and end.  But the weakness of this model slows many organizations that use it and it does nothing to improve or optimize a process.  The inherent top-down mode of thought is a limiting factor, and is also limiting to the models that grew out of it or rose up in reaction to it.

New Paradigms

Nowhere was the contrast with Japan greater than in automobile manufacture.  Japan, long known for its cheap, low-quality vehicles and other junk, began to crank out the best-made cars, electronics, and other products in the world.  Meanwhile, Detroit remained mired in the concept of planned obsolescence.  Consumers took notice and they voted with their wallets.

Then Toyota rolled out Just-in-Time Manufacturing (JIT) as a way of reducing the cost of inventory.  Among other changes, JIT heightened the awareness of design management itself.  Eventually America had to adjust if it was to compete with the Japanese, and the resulting chaos changed the way we do business today.  Companies began to adopt JIT, and increasingly moved toward a new ideal—the Hollow Corporation—also known as the Virtual Business.6

At its extreme, the Hollow Corporation is an organization stripped of almost every function.  Brand means everything and the company makes nothing.  Everything is measured in money, and profit is the only goal.  A simple example of a hollow corporation is an American clothing designer taking on a European-sounding name and making designer clothing in China for sale to the world.  As this trend grew, companies outsourced more and more functions.  This intensified the importance of brand marketing and marketing for globalization.  While this was going on, America was busy transforming itself into a service economy.

Globalization Matures

But industry discovered that it was not only possible but also cheaper to manufacture products overseas and ship them back to US shores.  Whole industries moved their factories offshore—especially to China.  The entire textile industry left.  Tool and dye left.  Electronics manufacture left.  With time, others followed, including crucial smokestack industries such as steel.

The next logical step was to offshore project management and product development.  Creative and physical design had always been a key competitive advantage in the USA.  Its business world smugly expected it to remain so.  But due to the ability to collaborate across the internet, actual design began to take place at multiple locations across the globe, with products for sale to the world—and with great success.

These trends were not without intriguing and sometimes counterintuitive aspects.  Businesses made adjustments.

  • Many US electric generation utilities sold off their physical power plants in search of greater profits as distribution networks.
  • Fluctuation in the currency market led Japanese automobile manufacturers set up production facilities in the USA, closer to the end consumer and using American workers—and still, American manufacturers struggled to compete with them.
  • US automobile manufacturers and other industries abandoned the policy of planned obsolescence and over time learned the new culture of quality.
  • South Korea began to design and manufacture high-quality goods—from pianos to automobiles to mobile phones.
  • China began outsourcing to the Vietnam and other third world countries in search of even cheaper labor.


In the early 2000s, after the internet bubble burst, it became abundantly clear that the US needed a new competitive edge.  A product management philosophy took hold, called Lean—Lean Development, Lean Manufacturing, Lean Planning, Lean Sigma, Lean Start-up. 2  Lean is a management philosophy that considers any part of the enterprise, which does not directly add value to the final objective, as superfluous—be it product development, customer service, or for that matter, the entire enterprise.  It examines all processes and eliminates the ones that do not add value to the end objective.   Lean is an attempted departure from the traditional way of doing business.  It found favor in the US and, to one extent or another, became a dominant model.

The next article will compare and assess Lean in light of previous models.  Then we will introduce an entirely new way to manage creative enterprises.


Download full paper (PDF)


  1. Deming, W. Edwards (1964) [1943].  Statistical Adjustment of Data. Dover. ISBN 0-486-64685-8. LCCN 64-24416. (1966) [1950].  Some Theory of Sampling. Dover. ISBN 0-486-64684-X. LCCN 66-30538.
  2. William Ouchi: “Theory Z” How American Business can meet the Japanese Challenge. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1981
  3. Lean was originated by Eiji Toyoda and Taichi Ohno of Toyota Motors. Ohno, Taiichi (1988), Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production, Productivity Press, ISBN 0-915299-14-3
  4. C. F., L. S. Shieh, Joint Automatic Control Conference, Michigan, p 454
  5. Shieh, L.S. and Goldman, M. J., 1974 I.E.E.E. Trans. Circuit Syst., 21, 341
  6. The Hollow Corporation, Anita Campbell, Small Business TRENDS (2012)


Flow-charts by Moises Goldman and John Jonelis.

Graphics from MS Office.

About the Authors

Dr. Moises J Goldman holds an MSEE and a PhD in Engineering Systems from UCLA, specializing in large-scale systems, process optimization, and product innovation. MBA from MIT Sloan, specializing in strategic planning and business development.  His focus is on periods of challenge and change, including startup, growth and restructuring.  Goldman served as CEO, COO, and CTO in diverse industries and developed business across the USA, Germany, Spain, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Brazil, working with small firms as well as branded giants such as Lockheed, Rockwell, ATT, America Movil, GM, Ford, Scotia Bank, and HSBC. Sits on several boards where entrepreneurship and innovation are the primary goals.  Consults to merging companies during the integration phase as well as startups, helping them become going concerns. Member of several advisory boards at MIT.  Founding member of the TALENT program at IMSA.  Dr. Goldman can be reached at

John Jonelis patented seven products and developed dozens more in the field of air pollution control.  Created the Revelation suite of trading algorithms.  Private equity investor.  Artist.  Writer, and publisher of Chicago Venture Magazine and News From Heartland—the Journal of the Heartland Angels.  Author of the novel, The Gamemaker’s Father.  Illinois Wesleyan BFA, 1974.  Kellogg MBA 1989.

Copyright © 2019 Moises Goldman & John Jonelis. All rights reserved. Quotation with attribution is permitted for educational purposes.

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press 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. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money..


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jockey-and-horse-t-ms-officeInsights from the Cornerstone Angel Meeting

by Stephanie Wiegel

Angel investment deals aren’t made on the spot as the TV show Shark Tank suggests. Instead, entrepreneurs are excused from the meeting after delivering their pitches. If you’re vying for early investment money, what’s said behind these closed doors can make or break a deal. Continue reading

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Howard Tullman Tby Howard Tullman

“Winners have a sense about other winners and you can’t miss the shift in their interest and attention when they encounter another of their own species. Wanting to win is fine – wanting to do the work that it takes to win and to keep at it until you do win is what makes the difference in the end.”

It’s not just Country Music that we rely on to say the simple things that need sayin’. And the Blues don’t have any monopoly on tellin’ it like it is (or how it ain’t) or the way it should be. The fact is that, over the years, many songs from other genres have also told some basic stories which then resonated with millions of listeners and turned those “hits” into timeless classics. The format was inexpensive and the songs were “popular”; but that said nothing about the depth and reality of the feelings they successfully evoked. Even big boys do occasionally cry – as does everyone else. Music moves us all to extremes.

Sometimes, but only rarely, the elements that drove the widespread appreciation of these special tunes were the song’s memorable hook; a special intro (like Keith’s on Satisfaction); or a guitar solo (think Carlos Santana) that seemed permanently stuck in our minds. Most of the time, however, it was the immediate and intimate connection that we had with the lyrics which sealed the deal. They seemed to be speaking directly to us and “killing us softly” with a sensation of unexpected emotion. They surprised and touched us because they spoke to and about the very things that were important in our own lives. The truth is that music and music alone has both the power and our permission to enter our lives every day and excite and move us in these magical ways. As Sara Bareilles says in Brave: music can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug.

But putting all the “love” (including love of country) and all the “loss” songs aside, what strikes me is that the singly most successful and consistent message in the largest number of classic songs (which are as powerful and telling today as they were on the day they were written and first performed) is one that’s just as significant in our business lives as it is in our personal affairs. It’s about the importance of being there.

Think about it.

What have you got “when you’re down and troubled and you need a helping hand”?  Of course, you’ve got a friend.

And who will “take your part when darkness comes and pain is all around”?  Simon and Garfunkel – for sure.

And for all those times “in our lives when we all have pain – we all have sorrow”?  We know we can lean on … Bill Withers.

Everyone needs someone in their lives that they can count on – someone to call when there’s no one else to call. And, these days, with radical change and ongoing disruption being a constant part of every business, the most valuable people in any company are the ones you can count on in a crisis or a crunch – the “go-to” guys and girls. The people who are there in a pinch and who you just naturally tend to run to – not from – when the feces hit the fan.

This isn’t part of anyone’s job description. And it’s not something you can create on the fly or on the spot. It’s a visceral feeling that you just get about the people who’ve got it. But here’s the good news. It’s something you can build over time (like any other part of your reputation) and it’s something that you can work on and work at every day that you’re at work and – over time – if you’re truly committed and your efforts are sincere and authentic; you can make it happen.

And, just in case it’s not obvious, there’s no better investment you could possibly make in your career or your future than being the first stop when someone’s looking for help and not the last resort.

Howard Tullman 1871

So what does it take to get it done?


(1)   Stay Up (Perspiration)

Be the early bird at the office. Effort and energy trump talent all day long. And it never hurts to be the night owl too. Not the guy who’s the last to leave the office TGIF party, but the person who puts in the extra time to make sure that things are done right the first time. Turns out that the buddies you buy beers for aren’t very often the ones you’d bet your business on. And, as often as not, while you’re bellying up to the bar (or buying someone a breakfast burrito the next morning); the real winners are back at the ranch taking care of business.


(2)   Step Up (Passion)

Make sure that everyone knows you’re interested and available. That you’re excited about the business and the opportunities and that you really want to be a part of the program. Ya gotta want it and it’s gotta show. You need to put it out there and understand that all anyone can do is say “no” – they won’t eat you.  And – if you keep asking – I guarantee you that it’ll only be a “no for now” and it’ll be full speed ahead soon enough. You won’t get your shot if you don’t take every opportunity to try and you’ll miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Anyone who tells you it’s not cool to be out front and eager these days will soon be changing the bottles on the water cooler while you’re being welcomed into the club.


(3)   Study Up (Preparation)

Even in the world of great entrepreneurial BS-ers, it actually does help to know what you’re talking about. “Wingin’ it” is good for sports bars and on Thanksgiving, but it’s not a strategy for success in business. As I said recently, saying you don’t know something these days isn’t a commentary on your lack of knowledge – it’s a confession of laziness and lack of interest – because the information is out there today; it’s mostly a matter of looking.  And if you cared; you’d care enough to get the answers before the questions were asked. The kind of knowledge, research and situational awareness that matter don’t grow on trees or happen automatically or without help. You’ve got to put in the time, do the looking, and ask for assistance (when you don’t have or can’t find all the answers) in order to be ready when someone asks you for a hand.


(4)   Stand Up (Principles)

You can’t create value if you don’t have a set of real values of your own that consistently guide and inform the way you behave. Charismatic leaders can attract a lot of followers, but the attraction is to themselves rather than to something greater and more important. Cause leaders bring the multitudes along with them in support of doing things that matter and make a difference not simply to a single business, but in terms of a broader and more general good. It’s important for the people you work with (and for) to understand that – while we don’t expect anyone, but a monk to be utterly selfless – you believe that the best plans and the best businesses are focused on creating situations where everyone can be benefitted and where it’s a win-win-win all around. Not easy to engineer or to pull off, but very important in the end.


(5)   Stick to It (Perseverance)

Execution is everything. Keeping at it – getting knocked down and picking yourself up again – making it clear that you won’t settle for less or take “no” for an answer – these are all behaviors and traits that give off a certain vibration that the big dogs in the business will quickly sense and pick right up on because (a) it’s absolutely a part of their own DNA and (b) it’s also a big part of what got them to where they are. Winners have a Spidey-sense about other winners and, while their ears don’t exactly perk up like a dog’s; you can’t miss the shift in their interest and attention when they encounter another of their own species. Wanting to win is fine – wanting to do the work that it takes to win and to keep at it until you do win is what makes the difference in the end.

That’s all it takes. You can make it happen and there’s no time like the present to get started. It’s a lifelong iterative journey and the good news is that it gets better all the time.

If there’s a goal or an endpoint to the process, it’s very simple. When the chips are down and the fat’s in the fire, you want to be the one who people can count on.

PP:  “You Get What You Work for, Not What You Wish for”


This article is re-printed by permission of Howard Tullman.  Photo Credits Howard Tullman.

Find him at:

 Read his Bio

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press 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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Chicago Social Enterprise Eyes a Trillion Dollar Market

Piggy BankImpact Engine Part 9 – by Jeff Segal, Message Therapist –

“Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.”— James Baldwin

Imagine your reaction if your bank charged you a 9% fee to write a check to your sister in Cleveland. You send $100, but she only gets $91.

It’s unthinkable. But if you’re a low-wage immigrant sending part of your wages to family in your native country, that’s standard procedure—just one of the ways  you pay more for being poor.

But this isn’t an article about how immigrants get ripped off. It’s about vast piles of money.

Dubai is one of the world’s largest employers of foreign workers

Dubai is one of the world’s largest employers of foreign workers

Estimates vary, but there are currently well over 200 million people who work in one country

and send their earnings somewhere else. Rahier Rahman, Founder and CEO of Pangea a Chicago-based global payments company, says “Remittances through formal channels in 2012 were estimated at $534 billion. Many experts believe that flows through informal channels double that estimate. We’re looking at a trillion dollar market.”

Do I have your attention yet?

Rahier Rahman - CEO

Rahier Rahman – CEO

Between fees and the spread on exchange rates, the World Bank claims the average cost of an international transfer is 9.3%. Nine percent of a trillion dollars is a vast pile of money. Hell, any percent of a trillion dollars is a vast pile of money.

“And some markets are more competitive than others,” adds Rahman. “In corridors like Japan-to-China, fees can be as high as 20%.”

Now then. On the one hand we have millions of hard-working, poorly paid people getting the

Carson Junginger - Product Dev

Carson Junginger – Product Dev

shaft from the corporate banking establishment. On the other hand, we have vast piles of money. It’s a textbook opportunity for a social enterprise solution.

That’s where Pangea comes in.


A textbook social enterprise solution

To review: a social enterprise generates its sustainable revenue and profit from a business model that achieves a social benefit. Startups from Chicago-based incubator Impact Engine are proving that profit-driven innovation can create solutions to some of the world’s direst problems.

pangeaPangea is one of eight startups from Impact Engine’s first cohort They’ve developed a new approach to money transfer that skips the entrenched, agent-based system. With a beta launch scheduled for later this year, Rahman doesn’t share many details, but says Pangea will work through existing retailers, online or mobile, will make funds available instantly, and will “help consumers save between 50% and 80% of what they’re paying now.”

Some perspective: Workers in the US remitted $22.4 billion to Mexico in 2012 —more than all foreign direct investment in Mexico—and incurred just over $2 billion in fees. Cutting those charges by half would put an extra billion dollars into the hands of 1.4 million Mexican working class families.


Workers transfer billions to Mexico every year. Workers in the US remitted $22.4 billion to Mexico in 2012

Money like that has what Rahman calls “a reverberating impact,” since earnings are so much lower in developing economies. What we Americans might consider spare change can create meaningful lifestyle changes for poor families in places like India or Latin America.

Bottom line—if Pangea succeeds, millions of people will lead better lives.


Investors Won’t Do Badly, Either

Omar Khudeira - Engineering

Omar Khudeira – Engineering

Of the five Impact Engine startups to receive funding since December’s Investor Day , Pangea has closed the most to date—a $1 million angel round. “Our partners recognize and respect our mission,” Rahman says.

I imagine they also recognize and respect the profit potential of a company that seizes even a fraction of a percent of a trillion dollar market.

That’s not cynicism. That’s capitalism.

Pangea has identified an underserved market, determined a pain point, and built a solution.

Lamia Pardo - Marketing

Lamia Pardo – Marketing

Like any other startup, their success will make a few wealthy people even wealthier.

Unlike any other startup, their success will also make large numbers of poor people a little less poor.



Pangea –

Impact Engine –

Image credits:   arstechnicaPangea

This article appeared on the wildly popular WE’RE NOT EXPECTING ANY SURPRISES


About the Author

Jeff SegalJeff Segal Twitter Bird @MsgTherapist, works with entrepreneurs as a Message Therapist, translating great ideas into messages that connect with customers, partners and investors. He also writes at BrokerSavant and We’re Not Expecting Any Surprises. Contact him at


Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press 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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Impact the World TImpact Engine – Part 8

By Jeff Segal – message therapist

Less than a year ago, I asked a prominent figure in Chicago’s startup community about local investors’ interest in the social enterprise model.

She told me flatly, “No one cares.”

Well, they care now. Six months after the first Impact Engine Investor Day, five of the eight members of the initial cohort have closed a round of funding. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s 62.5%, compared to 6% or less for startups in general, according to Forbes.  Impact Engine and social enterprise are killing it – killing the competition.



Portapure, one of the first group of grads, builds individual water treatment devices for developing nations. The company recently closed angel funding worth potentially $300K. I didn’t see that one coming. What did I miss?

“Other filtration technologies aren’t specific to developing countries’ needs and environment,” says founder George Page. “They are high-end products developed for the first world, some with pumps that require electricity or batteries. They’re useless in developing countries. Portapure units work on gravity, with no complex mechanisms. Anyone with a 2nd grade education level can understand how to use them.”

Page explains that Haitians, who on average earn less than $1,000 a year, can spend as much as $3.50 a week on drinking water—but can buy a Portapure unit with a microfinance loan and pay it off in 4-5 months with the savings. With more than 4 million Haitians lacking access to clean water, that’s a promising market.

Before Impact Engine, Page says he was offered $50,000 for half of his company. It’s now valued at $4 million. He thanks Impact Engine “…for access to folks who understand that sustainable social impact is a true value-add, at the forefront of changing how business works.”

Impact the World courtesy Technori.

Legitimacy for the Whole Social Enterprise Space

Collaborative Group closed on funding of $550K. They connect retail brands with artisans in the developing world—for example, a line of Rachel Roy/FEED handbags is now sourced from India. Founder Kathleen Wright describes the impact such projects create: “We’re employing five artisan groups, and they’re all now sending their kids to school. It really enables them to have different dreams for their kids and themselves.”

But it’s not all social impact—Wright projects that her revenues will double this year.

ThinkCERCA got funded to the tune of $490K and launches its platform this August. They provide curriculum and tools that teach the critical thinking and literacy skills essential to the new Common Core State Standards—standards 49 states already adopted—standards that nobody knows how to implement.

For starters, they’ll reach more than 5,000 students between grades 4 and 12 in both city and suburban school districts. “It helps teachers and kids collaborate and construct new knowledge,” says founder Eileen Murphy, “because you just can’t teach someone to write using multiple choice questions.”

Aside from its feel good vibe, Murphy points out a concrete advantage of the social enterprise model in the tech community: “The social impact focus makes a big difference (for a startup company) competing for engineers.”

Regarding Impact Engine, Wright says, Chuck Templeton’s  guidance—how can you put a price on that? It gives legitimacy to the whole social enterprise space.”

Murphy adds, “Their energy, intelligence, support, and influence can’t be replicated, no matter how brilliant you are or how hard you work.”


Two More Funded

Asadi, which markets inexpensive feminine hygiene products in rural India, has since moved back to India to build and train its sales network of 100 female entrepreneurs.

Pangea —which, for reasons unstated, didn’t even pitch on Investor Day—has closed on more than $1 million to finance its multiplatform, worldwide money-transfer solution.

Elizabeth Riley, Impact Engine Program Manager, explains the kind of company that fits the incubator’s profile: “We don’t accept companies with a Buy-One, Give-One business model,” she says, referring to companies that just donate to charity every time someone makes a purchase.

That’s not the social entrepreneurship model. A true social enterprise creates its social benefit from the exact same business activity that generates its sustainable revenue. It’s a model that’s gaining credibility and winning converts, and the eight members of Impact Engine #1 are establishing Chicago as one of the world’s top social enterprise centers.

So—who’s next?


About the Author

Jeff SegalJeff Segal   Twitter Bird @MsgTherapist, works with entrepreneurs as a Message Therapist, translating great ideas into messages that connect with customers, partners and investors. He also writes at BrokerSavant  and We’re Not Expecting Any Surprises. Contact him at

This article can also be seen at Technori

Photo credits – Technori and Jeff Segal


Look for Part 9 – Coming Soon

Back to Part 1 – WHAT’S GOOD



Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press 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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PIVOTJohn Jonelis—Verbatim from special correspondent, Donatas Ludditis

Welcome—welcome to Ludditis Shots & Beer! Glad you come in.

Got question for you.

Don's look-alike

Don’s lookalike

I hear about this guy: Nikhil Sethi his name. No, don’t ask me—I never say it right. He got easy way to advertise on social web. His outfit called Adaptly. Got three slick platforms that work as if by magic. And his company, it grow like crazy! This I want to know more about.


Ludditis Shots and Beer

Pivot to Success

There you see? Is quiet now.

So I go to big Northwestern University event and hear him speak—entrepreneur@nu they call it. Hey, finish drink. I give you highlights only. Here, I got notes—wait, my thumbs too big, even for this gadget.

Editor’s note—Ludditis keeps his notes on a huge Samsung Note II phablet but his fingers look like sausages. Ah, he’s found his notes:

Business only three years old. It still baby but look how big already! He start when still at university. So how he get funding to grow so fast? He say, “If you ask for money you get advice. If you ask for advice, you get money. We ask for a lot of advice.”

Nikhil Sethi at e@nu

Nikhil Sethi of Adaptly

He make me think. He say, “Technology just way to copy some kinda human behavior,” or words like that. I crank that over in my old noggin a long time. It finally sink in.

Then he say, “At any given moment, eight groups are working on the same idea. Somebody will do what you’re doing whether or not you do it yourself.”

So outa all them company’s, maybe only one is winner. How you become winner? I like answer he give. He keep pushing to next level. You think he too pushy? That is what make success. Drive, he call it.

Hey – there no be this bar if I not drive business.

Is same for this guy.


Another thing—nowadays startups all in big hurry. Wait, I check word: “Minimally viable product.” Yeah that is what these kids make nowadays. They put junk out there and see how people like it, then change, then change again. “Pivot,” I think they call it. “Fake it till you make it,” he say, “You don’t know you missed it till you miss it.”

You want truth? I like this new way. Is quicker than expensive marketing study and faster too.


What Makes a Great Team?

What about his people, you ask? Every team member must understand deep root of why they do what they do. That way it make sense to them.

Then surprise: “Don’t hire your friends,” he say. “It is about going into a world that’s not so friendly.” Then he say, “One of the biggest reasons for failure is difference of opinions between founders. It’s like dating. You want to know each other’s deepest and darkest secrets. If you don’t find out now, it will come out later.”

Seem like – how you say – contraption. Non-sequencer maybe. I mean I cannot put his two ideas together, but lots o’ times I no can put two ideas together. So I give him benefit of doubt. Here, I pour you another—no worries.

Nikhil Sethi

Nikhil Sethi

How he keep growing so fast? Is initiative! “We make sure we keep reinventing ourselves at a high rate. Our rate of change is ridiculous. We have to destroy and reinvent the business every six months.”

So he create when he destroy. “These things are working and growing but they’re not going to keep working and growing forever. It’s hard to throw something that’s working in the garbage but you gotta do it. There no lack of opportunity—only lack of focus.”

I say it take special talent to do that. Startup is high-stress. I like bar a whole lot better. So I get rough and throw out troublemaker sometime. That – what you call – therapy. Let off steam. Is good for the old ticker. Here, have another shot.

When can he break his own rules? “When you need to.” He says. “It’s a gut feeling. You first have to understand what the rules are.”


How he know what advice he take? “Ignore everything and only do what you think is right. Otherwise, it hinders making a decision.” Then he bounce this off wall: “Get your advice from a limited group of trusted people. The biggest decision on picking a board is you trust each other. Find people you can trust.” To me it sound like another contraption, but I see wisdom on both sides. I live my whole life with people I trust. Is best way to live. Best way do business.

You already have enough drink? Come back and I tell you how student companies make money.




ContactsInc Magazine Cover

Follow Nikhil Sethi on Twitter – @nsethi


Entrepreneur@nu Pivot to Success Conference

Forbes - NU most entrepreneurial Inc. Article on NUvention

Forbes article – “63% of NU students claim they want to start their own businesses”

Photographs courtesy Northwestern University, Adaptly, John Jonelis Studios.


Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press 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 . .


Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, big money, Biography, Characters, chicago, Chicago Venture Magazine, Chicago Ventures, Donatas Ludditis, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Events, Innovation, Innovation and Culture, Internet, Internet Marketing, investor, Kellogg, Mobile, Mobile Marketing, new companies, Northwestern, Software, vc, venture capital


Impact Engine—Part 7

VERBATIM by Loop Lonagan – Investor and man about town,

as told to John Jonelis

Claire Tramm - Effortless Energy TLoop Lonagan here with a real simple story. I’m at the CHICAGO CLEANTECH COMPETITION watchin’ ten green companies go head-to-head for the chance to move on to the international GCCA contest.

Hey, dis old world needs a good scrubbin’, doncha think? I’m here, trying to use my natural greed on somethin’ constructive fer a change. I glance around and see a company I know has da potential. We’re gonna hear some good stuff.


Effortless Energy Logo

Claire Tramm CEO

Lemme ask you a question:

Elec MeterIf you could make your house energy efficient with no effort and get paid to do it, would you?

Effortless Energy is planning to make that happen. Here’s their offer:

  • Their experts figure out what your house needs. Then they find the contractors and do the work. You just sit back ‘n’ sip yer beer.
  • They pay for everything. They add insulation, plug air leaks—all the stuff that makes yer house comfortable and cheaper to live in. Effortless Energy 35 percent
  • Then they split the energy savings with you.
  • You get a nicer house, more money in your pocket every month, and you don’t plunk down any up-front money at all—nada.

With an offer like that, who wants to rob their bank account or take out a loan? Who Claire Tramm - Effortless Energy 2wants to wait years fer da payback? Who wants to go through the hassle o’ hiring alotta contractors? This makes me smile, ‘cause now I ain’t gotta do them things no more.

And yer helpin’ the environment by doin’ it! Inefficient houses is a big part o’ da carbon footprint and there’s 120 million in the USA. Hey, that’s a $230 Billion opportunity fer Effortless Energy! This one looks like a winner to me!

Effortless Energy Home GraphicI hear talk and read stuff—all kindsa complicated explanations about what they do, but it’s really a no-brainer. I got an old house. I want to work with these people. Don’t you?

Have a look-see at their video:

So’s I listen to nine other presentations. Some sound pretty terrific. Others don’t look like real companies. Now the distinguished judges is leavin’ to select the winners. Will they pick the best ones? Don’t make me laugh.


Strange Goings On

The judges is leavin’ to vote on the winners and the audience just moved to the feeding trough. So I’m just sittin’ there when one judge—this delicate oriental lady—hangs back and asks Rong Mayhem to give back her business card. To me that shows good judgement.

But Rong holds it outa reach and asks, “Why do you put PhD at the end of your name?” Sheesh! I mean, why do you suppose? After summore o’ that kinda behavior, she stamps her foot and insists.

His response? “I’m gonna have to put you in my doghouse. That’s for people who give me trouble.” Actually, he used a different word than doghouse, but I can’t say that here.

So I finally speak up: “Rong, she hasta go do the judging. You wanna keep us here all night?” So he hands it over and things get back to normal for a while. Sometimes strange things happen at these events. It don’t bother me none and it’s kinda fun to watch.

When da judges finally file back in, they pick some pretty good companies, but my favorite ain’t one of ‘em. But who can tell what’ll happen when these ventures hit the real world? Here’s all of ‘em and da skinny on what they do:


Da Competitors

Software to drive energy efficiency in industrial buildings with alerts.

Wind generator using a venturi to increase safety and efficiency.

Synthetic diesel and jet fuel from garbage.

More efficient hot water solar panel using a mirror.

  • Greenlight5th Place

Smart Meter for consumer electricity savings.

Make your house energy-efficient for free and get paid for it.

Pelletized torrefied wood to replace coal in power plants.

  • Kriisa Research

Reliable and stable portable energy fer developing countries.

  • Chicago Nat Gas Tanks

Custom low-pressure tanks to carry nat-gas using NuMat MOF technology.

  • Community Retrofits (participated via Skype)

Just like Effortless Energy, but for entire community associations.


Da Judges

From readin’ the stuff on these judges, I get the impression they ain’t the kinda tree-huggin’ folk I expected:

  • Ben BrownClean Energy TrustExpert on energy systems. Commercializes renewable energy with alotta hands-on experience.
  • K. Quentin Burchill Jr.—Angott Search GroupTrack record fer matching energy companies with the right investment firms. Another hands-on guy.
  • Barbara A Fatina, CPA, MBA—Argonne National LaboratoryDeputy CFO at Argonne and big business. Energy operations experience. She builds businesses and teams.
  • Jared Gonsky—LanzaTechGroups businesses on a global scale. Experience in ethanol, VC work, marketing and supply chain in big business.
  • Diana Y Hu, PhDMolecular physicist and Biophysicist. University of Chicago MBA. Education of foreign-born professionals and clean energy.
  • Philip M Martin—United AirlinesFinance, development, operations, process—especially in transportation. University of Chicago MBA, which counts fer a lot with me.
  • Mark Menarik—UltraCarbonSerial entrepreneur in tech, alternative energy and nano materials. Focuses on cleantech scale-ups.
  • Travis Narum—Acciona EnergyWind and solar energy expert. West Point grad, and that ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at.
  • Anthony F Toussaint PhD, MBA—DSM Functional MaterialsChemical industries expert. R&D in fiber optics. PhD Chemical Engineering, University of London. Kellogg MBA, which gets top marks from me.
  • Klaus Voss—BW IndiaLong-time entrepreneur in environmental energy and biotechnology. Commercialized bio-wastewater tech for Mexico, India, and the ASEAN community. Another hands-on guy.


Da Organizations

Dis thing is put on by some good folks:

One of over 50 global clusters responsible for nominating companies eachChicago Clean Energy Alliance logo year for the Global Cleantech Cluster Association’s Later Stage Awards competition.

They connect cleantech companies globally to create value chains. They seek GCCAcompanies that are scalable, equity investible, and willing to take risks. Their ten 2011 winners raised $462 Million.

Northwestern University – Kellogg School of Management accelerator located Impact Enginewithin the 1871 incubator. Linda Darragh’s baby.  Focus on social entrepreneurship.


Photos and Video courtesy of Impact Engine, Effortless Energy, Chicago Clean Energy Alliance, and GCCA.




Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press 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



Filed under 1871, angel, angel capital, angel investor, big money, Chicago Clean Energy Alliance, Chicago Ventures, Cleantech, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship and Politics, Events, GCCA, Global Cleantech Cluster Association, Impact Engine, Impact Investing, Innovation, Innovation and Culture, Invention, investor, Kellogg, loop lonagan, new companies, Northwestern, Social Entrepreneur, University of Chicago