Category Archives: Software


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

by Howard Tullman

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

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


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

I Don’t Get No Respect

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

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


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

The Tide is Changing

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

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

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

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

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

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


1—Be a Weapon, not a Shield

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


2—Focus on Future

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

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

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


3—Be In the Room Where It Happens

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

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


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

Read his bio on Wikipedia:

Check out his websites at


Write him at 1871@Tullman

Image credits – Howard Tullman, Getty Images, MS Office

This is an excerpt from an article in INC.

Image credits – Howard Tullman, Getty Images, MS Office

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 © 2017 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

Leave a comment

Filed under 1871, angel, angel capital, angel investor, App, Data, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Internet, Internet Marketing, jobs, Mobile, Mobile App, new companies, Social Media, Software, Startup, startup company, vc, venture capital, wireless internet


Howard Tullman B&Wby Howard Tullman

From the Journal of the Heartland Angels

Today, entrepreneurs have tools and technologies to collect, monitor, and document more data than ever before. You’re likely swimming in data, since customers leave a trail of it everywhere to be captured and analyzed in real time. As I’ve often said, in business, what gets measured (and acknowledged and rewarded) is what gets done. I haven’t changed my belief about that, but I have come to see that we are putting too much emphasis strictly on the numbers. Numbers don’t lie, but they never tell the whole story. They can only take you so far before they top out and you need something qualitative and experiential to get to the right conclusions.

Pie Chart Hesitation

Peter Drucker’s dictum “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” has created a whole generation of leaders so focused on perfecting their company’s processes that they lose sight of the company’s purpose. I hear managers all the time talking about the need to get more work out of their people when they should be trying to get the best work out of them. Optimizing (not maximizing) the team’s output is what matters most to the ultimate success of a business. Working smarter and more effectively—not necessarily longer or harder—is how you ultimately move ahead of the competition.

You need to be exceedingly careful these days that you don’t let the ease of access and the ubiquity of massive amounts of quantitative performance data cause you to over-emphasize the math and measurements—and thereby lose sight of the far more important qualitative attributes of what’s going on. Not everything is easy to measure or quantify, but that doesn’t make these things less important; it just makes your job as manager tougher. But when you get so wrapped up in the measurement process that it becomes the goal itself, it loses its effectiveness. It’s easy to confuse movement with progress, but not all motion is forward. And lots of activities that run up the numbers aren’t remotely productive. Measuring is easy; measuring better is tough.

When you let the numbers drive the train, you give up two important advantages that are critical to your success. First, the goal isn’t to be the thermometer; it’s to be the thermostat. It’s not about measuring the heat; it’s about generating and controlling the heat. You don’t want the analytics to lead you; they’re a useful benchmark and a guide for course corrections, but it’s your job to set the direction and move the business forward. Second, when you get so focused on specific and concrete financial results (sales targets, growth rates, etc.) and you direct all your team’s energies toward getting as close to achieving those numbers as possible, you actually limit your ultimate upside because you lose the ability to think and see beyond those immediate goals. When a game-changing opportunity arises or a quantum shift occurs in your sales prospects, your team will likely be so heads-down chasing those numbers that someone else will come along and grab the new brass ring.

Black Hole of Data

Here are three principles that have helped me resist the temptation to get too caught up in the numbers—and focus on what truly matters at my company:


Elaboration is a form of pollution

Tell your team to keep it simple. No one gets paid by the page, and shorter is almost always better. I’ve found that when people expand and extend their plans, proposals, and presentations, there’s a high degree of likelihood that they’re concerned about the value of their pitch, so they try to bury it in a boatload of facts, figures, charts, citations, and everything else that just hides the hard truth. It’s better for everyone when your people put things right out there—front and center—and take their medicine if that’s what’s called for. If you torture the numbers long enough, they’ll say whatever you like, but that’s not any way to get to the truth or the right result.


Not everything is worth doing well

Tell your team that everyone’s always on the clock. There’s an opportunity cost associated with everything you do, so choosing what not to do (and how extensively to do the things you need to do) is critical in any startup which has scarce resources and time. Some things just don’t warrant the full-court press, and it’s important to make sure that everyone knows that that’s okay with you. Other things shouldn’t be done at all, and you should never try to do things cheaply that just aren’t worth doing. It’s never easy to turn people down or say, “No,” to marginal choices, but it’s part of the job.


No one’s ever measured how much the heart can hold

Ultimately, the value of the critical connections your people make every day with your clients and customers can only be roughly approximated by even the best math. But it’s those daily personal and emotional interactions with your empowered employees that build crucial engagement as well as the lifetime value of those buyers for your business. You need to give your team permission to do what’s best for the customer in the moment that the opportunity arises. If they need to consult a rule book or have a calculator handy to do the math, they’ll lose the value of the moment every time. The best businesses don’t worry about the number or sheer volume of moments–they work to make each moment matter.



Howard Tullman is a philosopher, investor, and Chicago entrepreneur.   For more from Howard, go to

Read his bio:


This article appeared in the following publicatons:

News From Heartland

INC Magazine


Graphics: Getty Images, MS Office, H Tullman

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 © 2015 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved


Leave a comment

Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, big money, chicago, Chicago Venture Magazine, Chicago Ventures, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Innovation and Culture, Internet, Internet Marketing, Invention, investor, Marketing, new companies, philanthropist, philanthropy, Social Media, Software, vc, venture capital


Team Interval 7

by John Jonelis

Kids are dropping dead on the athletic field. Dead!  These are our kids—those highly cherished and precocious little brats, grades K-12.  Just a few years back we suffered a miserable year—120 deaths according to the Youth Sports Safety Alliance.  Here’s a huge problem waiting to get fixed.

I recall Coach Bodle from my high school years. “Hey kid,” he’d say, “Scrape yerself off da ground. Yuh got yer bell rung is all.  Shake it off!  Da team needs yuh.  Get back out there and gimme a hunert ‘n’ twenty percent!”  An inspiring speech.  Always got results.  Players knew the alternative.  During my moments of serious academic pursuit, I’d draw Coach Bodle in the margins of my textbook. The result always came out looking like the Frankenstein Monster.  This was a guy whose claim to fame was an ejection due to unnecessary roughness in a semi-pro football game.  But I made allowances for his furious temper.  Had no alternative.  Anyway, I figured the guy got his bell run too many times.

That was a different era. Nowadays coaching is a profession.  They know better.  The liability is huge.  People can go to jail.  Eighty percent of athletic injuries happen at the high school level.  Same old/same old doesn’t cut it and the demand for change rings powerful and loud.

Tonight I get to see Tyrre Burks, founder of Team Interval tell us what he proposes to do about it.

BNC 500

The Field of Play

Last time I saw Burks, he was winning the pitch competition at FFF here in Chicago. He probably deserved that win.  When a social entrepreneur presents his company well, he’s gonna get the nod.

But now we’re in the friendly confines of BNC Venture CapitalTeam Interval 3I don’t know if you ever had the pleasure, but month after month, BNC—short for Business Network Chicago—puts on the best show in town.  That is if you like personal confrontation and plenty of drama like I do.  If you want a chance to rake a budding entrepreneur over the coals.   If you enjoy watching grown men turn beet red with anger in their eagerness to ask probing business questions.  Oh yes, there’s always some smart guy that says, “Wait a sec. Go back three slides.  Where’d you get that number?”

The beauty of the system at BNC is Len Bland’s five magic questions. Answer all five and you’ve probably got a sound business plan.  Dazzling the throngs with pizzazz doesn’t cut it here.  You must address the tough stuff.  That keeps everybody in the room at attention because the crowd gets grilled on some of this too.

FFF 9-17-14 JAJ-2169e200The Q&A can get a bit hot. But tonight, through it all, Tyrre Burks remains poised.  Informed.  Confident.  Pretty much indomitable.  He’s tall, fit, and stands proud.  Somehow, the guy manages to seem humble about it too.  I guess professional sums it up.

And why not? This is a man that knows his business.  Burks played Pro Football—a career plagued with injuries—so he understands this problem on the personal level.  He teaches High School, so he knows the weaknesses in the current system.  I see passion, and passion gets results.  The man is on a mission bigger than himself—Full reporting of childhood sports injuries.  And he seems to know precisely how to make it happen.  As he unpacks his plan, I find myself hoping he’s right.

Team Interval 2

Lousy Records

The way we record injuries just stinks. Most go unreported.  Records are sketchy.  Team Interval 4Many teams don’t even hire trainers. Ambulances get called too late.  Disaster strikes and parents bite their nails waiting for information.

Here we are in the mobile information age, surrounded by advanced medical technology. So what do we do?  That’s right—we drop the ball.  Only 18% of sports injuries get documented at all.  Eighteen percent!  There’s no meaningful data from ages 8-18!  I don’t know about you, but statistics like those get my attention.

Consider it from the coach’s perspective. I think we can agree that nobody wants players dropping dead on the field of play.  Don’t you think a coach wants to know if a kid had five concussions since his Pop Warner days?  Or a heart problem?  You better believe it!  What about college programs?  Do you suppose a recruiter would like to review the childhood injury records for prospective scholarship athletes?  Well, d’ya think?

So how do we get that done?

Right here at BNC, Tyrre Burks is giving us his answer. Trainers will log the injuriesIf there’s no trainer on staff, then the coaches.  Trainers? Coaches?  That takes me by surprise and seems to raise the emotional level of the entire room.  Objections get raised right away.

FFF 9-17-14 JAJ-2168e500

How to Answer Stupid Questions

Bill Blaire once coached football and wrestling—till they politely asked him to leave. When he stands up to ask a question, his bulk blocks half the room.  His deep rumble rattles the light fixtures: “Dem coaches ain’t dumb,” he says with all sincerity.  “And reportin’ injuries is gonna turn out real dumb fer a coach.”   When asked to elaborate, he indicates in so many words that it opens a guy up to liability.

Team Interval 5Turns out, according to Tyrre Burks, the reality is just the opposite. Nobody wants to get sued.  That’s a huge incentive, especially for trainers and coaches today.  It occurs to me that reporting absolutely everything might just be the best CYA maneuver in the business.  And maybe Burks is right.  Given the tools to do it quickly and immediately, a coach will dutifully log every incident, if not for the player’s benefit, at least to protect the old career.

Sheldon Tommygun looks like he’s about to burst a blood vessel and he finally gets called to speak. “An athletic staff,” he says in his incongruously cultured voice, “isn’t qualified to make a medical diagnosis.”

Turns out, when you think about it, any trainer, any coach knows when a player gets his bell rung or hurts a knee. When follow-up is required, the doctor’s diagnosis will appear on the athlete’s and the school’s records. Mission accomplished.  Burks predicts that we’re moving to legislation to mandate this in 48 months.  If that happens, there’ll be a land grab for the data.  And don’t forget the goal—to save over a hundred lives a year.

Janet Case used to teach school and I’ve been after her to write for this journal. “Coaches are disinclined to fill out detailed injury reports,” she says with admirable precision.  “They are overworked and ill-equipped to carry out such a function.  How do you turn an onerous task into an immediate action?”  Yeah—that’s the question on everybody’s mind, but maybe not quite in those words.

Turns out it’s a simple pictorial interface. FFF 9-17-14 JAJ-2178e200All a coach or trainer needs to do is whip out his phone or tablet and highlight an area of the body where the injury occurred, and add a voice memo.  The system instantly alerts all the right people from parents to administrators to ambulance and doctors.  It’s tied to an electronic tracking system that organizes the records and documents.  This is the first universal health record system for athletic injuries.  Coaches can make informed decisions about the status of individual players and the injuries that accumulate in other sports.  Administrators get a birds-eye view of the health of all their athletes and can analyze trends and re-direct policy using the data driven dashboard.  For college programs, it’s like a CarMax report for players. “Later on,” says Burks, “Insurance companies will get involved.”

Loop Lonagan has the floor. “Yer gonna run into all kindsa privacy issues. This bird ain’t never gonna fly.”

But it turns out Burks system is up and running in 16 school systems.  FFF 9-17-14 JAJ-2177e200He’s deep in negotiation with more.  It’s already built with with role permissions that prevent privacy issues.  This thing is moving and moving fast.

Warren D. Mink calls out, “Go back three slides. What’s that number?”  A lot of time gets spent in a group effort at basic arithmetic.  When the argument finally winds down, I’m too confused to know if their sums are correct.

I walk to the front, congratulate Tyrre Burks, trade business cards, and then escape for my train. Later that week I learn Burks landed another huge contract.  Yes, this is moving very fast.

Team Interval 6

Contacts & Credits



BNC Venture Capital –



PHOTOGRAPHY – John Jonelis, Team Interval


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


Leave a comment

Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, App, big money, Bill Blaire., BNC, BNC Venture Capital, Characters, chicago, Chicago Ventures, Data, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Events, FFF, Funding Feeding Frenzy, Impact Investing, Innovation, Innovation and Culture, Internet, investor, loop lonagan, Mobile, Mobile App, pitch, Social Entrepreneur, Software, vc, venture capital


FFF 9-17-14 JAJ-2111-3001by John Jonelis

This is a winner. You wanna wow the judges?  Win the crowd?  Get your game face on, kiddo!  Hit ’em with real passion, overflowing personality and a canon shot of enthusiasm.   State what you want to do with bravado.  With humor.  With intelligence.  With dazzle and power.  While you’re at it, throw in a pair of fitted black leather pants so they’ll sit up and bark.  It never hurts to be feminine and smart.  By the way, she’s an award-winning mathematician from MIT.  Really!

This is Joy Tang and she’s pitching InstanTagThe Social Fashion Network at the Funding Feeding Frenzy in Chicago—a private equity arena with no speed limit in an industry dominated by sweaty men.  Men pack the judging panel.  Men pack the audience.  That doesn’t stop her.




Tang moves forward with authority, hitting every detail and point required of a superb private equity pitch. She plucks an orchestra of human emotions and plays each to her favor.  Curiosity, Compassion. Avarice. Anxiety. Hope—lots of Hope..

FFF 9-17-14 JAJ-2128-500

She isn’t tall, isn’t boardroom, and speaks in somewhat broken English.  You think that slows her down?  Guess again buddy!  Tang is stunning, smart, and rivets your attention.  We know nothing about her but make no mistake—she steals the show.  Everyone falls in love with her sizzling energy and she backs it up with a complete business story for as nice a package as I’ve seen in a long while.  She’s not asking for your money, Mr. Investor.  No—she’s demonstrating an opportunity, and she’s ready to sail.

FFF 9-17-14 JAJ-2127-500So I’m thinking, Another social media play?  But this is different—it’s all about fashion—and she’s holding the judges between two dainty fingers.  You think, just maybe she might pull this off?  Yup.  I’m betting Tang will turn a successful business no matter how many times she pivots in this or that ballroom.

FFF 9-17-14 JAJ-2132-300Between pitches, the leadership of three angel groups ask me what companies I like. I like Nano Gas Technologies.  I like Team Interval.  I like Geek Bar.  But most of all, I like InstanTag’s Joy Tang.  Turns out, she’s already at the top of those three lists.

FFF 9-17-14 JAJ-2157-500


Two weeks later at Business Network Chicago, it’s a reunion of FFF FFF 9-17-14 JAJ-2136B-200speakers. And in a roomful of sweaty men, there’s Tang in her black leather pants, asking the tough business questions—pinning down the speaker and making him squirm—but with such consideration and aplomb!  As the lyrics to the song go, “Don’t change baby, please don’t change.”

And Mr. Investor—catch this boat before it sails. This is the time to bet on the captain, not the ship.





InstanTag – The Social Fashion Network

Joy Tang, CEO & Co-Founder


FFF 9-17-14 JAJ-2117-200Nano Gas Technologies

Team Interval

Geek Bar

Funding Feeding Frenzy

Business Network Chicago

Photography Copyright © 2014 John Jonelis

Lyrics from the song Bella Donna as performed by Grace Slick


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


1 Comment

Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, Bella Donna, big money, BNC, Characters, chicago, Chicago Ventures, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Events, FFF, Heartland Angels, Marketing, new companies, pitch, Social Media, Software


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


Leave a comment

Filed under 1871, angel, angel capital, angel investor, big money, chicago, Chicago Venture Magazine, Chicago Ventures, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Innovation and Culture, Invention, investor, new companies, Northwestern, Social Entrepreneur, Software, vc, venture capital


Figure 1The Angel Edge – John Jonelis

From the Journal of the Heartland Angels

 Yes you can – you CAN measure the future!


According to the Kauffman Foundation, Angel Investors—on average—enjoy a capital gain on three out of ten deals.  Out of those—on average—one is a huge blockbuster winner, three—on average—do marginally better than break-even, and the other six—on average—are complete losers.  The winner is so huge that, according to Kauffman, Angels do very well indeed—that is, on average.

You may ask, “Hey Jonelis, why all the harping on the word average?”  Because average is a fantasy.  It doesn’t exist for you.  It doesn’t exist for me.  It’s a composite of the whole crowd.

We’re all familiar with the equity line, which gives an overview of our investment returns over time.  We all want ours to look positive and smooth—something like the cartoon at the opening of this article.  I do.  This is hope.

In reality, we all experience drawdowns to our accounts.  We hope the trajectory is positive, governed by careful decision-making, and wise management and that could be true in some cases.  But the smoothing of the line comes from diversification.  You cannot achieve it with a handful of private equity deals.  And one healthy drawdown can put you out of business.  Permanently.  Your account can blow up.

Risk lies in nasty places where most investors never stick their heads.  A lone-wolf angel investor that places large chunks of grandma’s pension fund in just a few companies is likely to meet with disaster.  It’s like betting on a few rolls of the dice.  To make it worse, you plunk down your money, then wait and hope a long, long time.  A lot of bad stuff can happen.


Measuring What’s Possible

But we can make use of a simple technique to forecast the future.  It’s relatively obscure but don’t let that throw you.  This is a really simple way to estimate the range of possible outcomes.  It’s called a Monte Carlo simulation.  You feed-in a series of winners and losers and let the computer string them together with replacement many, many times.  Say 100,000 times.  It might look like the chart below:

Figure 2

So what is that mess?  I mean, this is a whole lot more information than the cartoon at the beginning of this story.  But in reality, it’s nothing more or less than 100,000 hypothetical future equity lines.  Your portfolio may lie along any one of them.  Some of these outcomes are wildly positive, but some of them go negative a long time and you go broke.  Notice that more of the lines cluster in a central core.  It’s more likely that you’ll wind up somewhere in that group.  But no guarantees—and even some of those are lousy outcomes.

What you’re looking at is a graphical representation of Risk.  I think about this problem a lot.  It’s entirely possible that I’ll see a frighteningly long string of losses.  Maybe I’ll never see a single gain.  Maybe my children will get rich.  Or I could see five big winners in a row this year!  The probabilities are all over the map.  So that brings us to the question I’ve asked before: Are Angels fools?  Maybe, but I hope not.  Let’s talk about getting the situation under control.


Controlling Risk

The game is to get that scatter plot narrowed-down and headed in the right direction.  Nobody but a lunatic wants possible outcomes as wild as that last chart.

The big banks and hedge funds are doing this for their stock, futures, and currency portfolios—(and yes, my charts are taken from that world).  A robust strategy in those markets can be right 60 to 70 percent of the time.  Of course, to be right that often slices returns thinner and thinner till the strategy finally stops paying off.  But the advantage to being right so much of the time is very small drawdowns.  Small drawdowns mean less chance of going broke.  Look at this chart:

Figure 3

That’s more like it.  Who wouldn’t be all-in with that set of possible outcomes?   I admit it’s wildly exaggerated, but hey—it makes a point.  You don’t need a PhD in Statistics to see that the strategy in this chart is a whole lot better than the previous chart.  Just compare them!  Which one do you like?  That’s how to use this technique!


Making the Magic Work

For a simple but more detailed explanation, see my white paper, ALTERNATE HISTORIES [click here]    “But,” you rightly object,  “That paper deals with short-term trading.  How do you apply that to Angel Investing, which is anything but short term?”  Well, I think we can answer that one.  Let me suggest an experiment:

Using Kauffman’s averages, make up a few sets of imaginary investment outcomes—sets of ten.  Each set will have one huge winner, three mediocre to break-even results, and six complete losers.   For units, use dollar gain or loss in a range that fits your investment horizons.  Shove those numbers into a Monte Carlo software package.

Here’s the drill:  Run this several times, each time with a larger quantity of sets.  You want to find out how much deal flow results in a range of outcomes you can live with.  That gives you an estimate of your risk.  Like I said, it’s simple.

By the way, don’t invest in an expensive, complicated Monte Carlo package.  Get a simple one, like the free Equity Monaco package offered by TickQuest.   [Find it here]    ■



Read it in NEWS FROM HEARTLAND [click here]



Heartland Logo 2NEWS FROM HEARTLAND – The Journal of the Heartland Angels, is published quarterly as an information service to its members. Articles may be reproduced in full with attribution for educational purposes. Copyright © 2014 Heartland Angels – John Jonelis, Editor –

CAVEAT EMPTOR – These articles are for educational purposes and not investment advice. Investment involves substantial risk. Please perform your own due diligence.  Contact Ron Kirschner –



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


Leave a comment

Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, big money, chicago, Chicago Venture Magazine, Chicago Ventures, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Heartland Angels, investor, Software, vc, venture capital


Dr. Alois Alzheimer TAdapted from the Journal of the Heartland Angels

By John Jonelis

ADMdx has pioneered a new science to help big pharma wipe out Alzheimer’s disease. With a mission that huge, they can pivot and adjust, yet never stray from their course. I’m talking to their CEO, Dawn Matthews and her first statement knocks my socks off.


The Urgent Need

Dawn Matthews—Up until now, all of the Alzheimer’s trials have unfortunately failed. It’s a needy market.

Brain Scan 2

That jolts me and I shove my coffee aside. Dawn fires up her computer and shows me a series of images—brains lit up with bright red and blue blotches. I look at the scans of diseased brains and wince.


Dawn—When a patient expresses a pattern, it’s important to know what it would look like over time. Here are people with Mild Cognitive Impairment. Then you see deficits emerge. As it worsens, this pattern becomes more and more pervasive.

3 years, 6 years

John—Not pretty pictures.

Dawn—Not at all. Alzheimer’s is a disease that progresses over maybe twenty years. In this disease, the neurons stop functioning and die. By the time doctors see symptoms, these changes are pretty advanced.

D—There is thinking in the medical community that the earlier we can intervene, the better.

I take that as a yes.


The Solution

D—The good news is we’ve discovered that Alzheimer’s has a very characteristic fingerprint:

  • We can now detect it LONG BEFORE symptoms appear.
  • We can tell whether it’s Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
  • We can predict the rate at which someone is likely to decline.

brain scan 4

J—That sounds a whole lot more hopeful. There must be a huge demand for that.

D—There is. We conduct imaging studies for pharmaceutical companies and we help them understand whether their drug is working. Say a drug company collected data for a big clinical trial. They want to know answers such as:

  • Is the drug generally effective?
  • What are the responses at different doses?
  • Is the drug viable to bring into a larger clinical trial?

D—Larger trials are expensive, so—

J—So they can target what they do. That sounds incredibly valuable.

D—It is. One company actually used our data to kill a drug. They saw VERY EARLY that the required dose would cause unacceptable side effects.

brain scan 1


Brain Scan 101

D—This is a CT scan—it measures tissue. This one’s an MRI—it shows brain anatomy in exquisite detail. Here’s a PET scan—it measures chemical activity. Here, we’ve superimposed PET and MRI imagery to give an anatomy reference to our analysis. The colors you see are from a radioactive tracer.

For Alzheimer’s research, we use a tracer that binds to amyloids (inappropriate proteins). Now, in Alzheimer’s disease, you see a lot of amyloid plaque. The diagnostic criterion at autopsy is the presence of a certain number of plaques and a certain number of tangles.

That phrase, “at autopsy” is a bit chilling for me, but I stuff my feelings and ask the next question.

J—It’s something like hardening of the arteries?brain scan 5

D—It is.

J—So you find amyloid plaque, using PET. You fit that to an MRI showing brain structure and detect Alzheimer’s before anybody knows it’s there.


Reaching for my coffee again, I feel a grin coming on. I just aced a quiz!


Reading the Mind

J—What’s actually unique here?

D—Pattern recognition and automation. Different kinds of dementia have overlapping symptoms and it’s impossible to differentiate by conventional means. It’s not always possible to tell what’s going on by just eyeballing a scan. That’s why an automated algorithm is crucial. With machine learning, we can read the fingerprint of the disease. Over time, the pattern becomes more and more pervasive but each keeps its unique fingerprint.

J—Sounds like chart patterns in algorithmic futures trading.

D—Yes, Yes! Perfect analogy! We combine subjects and perform group comparisons:

  • We compare low and high doses to the placebo.
  • We see if the drug is binding to a certain receptor in the brain.
  • We determine patient suitability. That’s important to run a valid study.


I get a strong sense that Dawn Matthews is passionate about her work.


Fingerprints in the Brain

Fingerprints in the Brain

The Secret Sauce

D—Scans are costly. If you want to point to one technical differentiator, it’s the methods we use to extract data from images generated from almost any scan available. Our secret sauce is the way we analyze them.

J— You don’t perform scans yourself?

D— We don’t. The data is electronic and it comes to us. We process and analyze it centrally. It’s true that a lot can go wrong when taking a scan, but it’s better to be proactive than limit your database to only the highest quality scans. We have been fortunate in that. We have over 5000 scans in our repertoire and feel we’ve reached critical mass.

J—That data must be noisy.

D—It is. Because clinics perform the scans, there is different scanner hardware noise, different detector noise, different doses of tracer, and differences in how the tracer is absorbed. The raw signal changes from scan to scan and from person to person.

J—So signal-to-noise ratio is an issue. What does the medical community do about it?

D—Currently, they don’t do anything. What you get is something really distressing. Big companies can’t make sense of their data. Even at the best universities, known for their Alzheimer’s programs, there’s about a 20% rate of misdiagnosis.


What she’s telling me is that conventional methods find the disease way too late and even then the chance of a correct diagnosis is worse than Russian Roulette.

brain scan 6

D—But we’ve solved the noise issue. Our pharma partners tell us what we’ve done is a game changer. We’ve built two very sophisticated platforms. We can innovate rapidly. We can perform drug studies and automatically create an audit trail that records everything that happened to the data. It’s 21CFR Part 11 validated and can do large Phase III clinical trials.

J—That’s all in place?


J—It’s artificial intelligence?

D—It’s machine learning. The program finds the COMBINATION of patterns (because it’s not just one pattern) that best discriminate these different classes. During accuracy tests, we scored 100%. I’m not saying that we’ll always be exactly right, but it’s highly accurate.


J—You don’t have to go through Clinical Trials—Phase I, Phase II, Phase III?

D—No, no—that would be for a drug company. We already did the work to get compliant for the studies we do. Going forward, there’s no reason we can’t successfully grow our business.

J—Any buyout prospects?

D—Yes, we’ve already been approached. Our expectation is that a large company will partner with us.

J—Well well – It sounds to me like, “Goodbye Dr. Alzheimer.”

And when ADMdx cracks that one, they can bring their platform to bear on the next big problem.

brain scan 7



This article is adapted from the Journal of the Heartland Angels







Phone 847-707-0370

Photo credits – ADMdx, Wikipedia


NEWS FROM HEARTLAND, The Journal of the Heartland Angels, is a quarterly newsletter published as an information service to its members. Articles may be reproduced with attribution for educational purposes.   Copyright © 2013 Heartland Angels – John Jonelis, Editor

HeartLand Angels

CAVEAT EMPTOR:  This article is for educational purposes and is not investment advice. All investment involves substantial risk. Please do your due own diligence.

Contact Ron Kirschner –

For more information, go to:  www.HeartlandAngels .com


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


1 Comment

Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, Chicago Venture Magazine, Chicago Ventures, Entrepreneurship, Heartland Angels, Impact Investing, Innovation, Invention, investor, Software