Tag Archives: Joe Perogi


Techweek Part 4 –

Two Points T

by storied business consultant, Joe Perogi,

as told to John Jonelis –

Been hearin’ complaints ‘n’ controversy about Techweek this year. People gripe so you figure there’s gotta be a good reason, right? Yeah, I hear you. Yer sayin’, where there’s smoke there’s fire. But all them critics completely miss THE HIDDEN ROOM that you and me stumple upon—the hidden room that makes this thing truly amazing. Now the dust is settled, lemme take you on a tour o’ what I seen.

First, permit me t’ introduce myself. Name’s J. P. Pierogiczikowski, but you can call me Joe Perogi. Everybody else does. They say I have way too much fun. Maybe they’re right. Confidentially, there’s alotta money in it, too.

Da Speakers

We meet at the office in the backroom o’ Ludditis Shots & Beer.

Ludditis Shots and Beer 3

It’s just a good stretch o’ the legs from here to the Chicago Merchandise Mart and we get there in fifteen minutes easy. This event takes up a whole floor and gets a special elevator.

On this tour, you and me start in a room packed with chairs and people eager to hear Sal Khan of Khan Academy—one o’ da featured speakers. I wanna hear this guy. His company solves problems in education. Uses technology to help the kids learn ‘n’ helps the teachers make better use o’ their time. That’s huge. I’m figure this is gonna be good.

Khan Academy’s gonna partner with big business—a move that’ll give ‘em a longer reach. None of us know about that at the time—all we wanna do is hear the guy talk.

Look at that outrageously pretty lady on stage. Now she’s tellin’ us how great the speaker is. Now she points out the big screen. Hey, Sal Khan ain’t even here. You’re here. I’m here. We paid to be here. All these other people are here, too. But no Sal. He’s on Skype. So I’m a little bit offended, but whaddaya gonna do? They call it Techweek, so I figure we’ll give it our best shot.

All the computers crash at Sal’s office out in California or wherever he really is. But Sal’s no quitter. He carries on—with his smartphone. Ever notice how people believe them smartphones can do anything? Maybe it’s ‘cause they call ‘em smart when they’re really just pocket-size computers waitin’ to go wrong.

THE MERCHANDISE MARTWe look at the big screen and see this faded picture of Sal Kahn. You can tell he’s holdin’ the phone too close to his face. That’s why he looks kinda distorted. And he’s got a lousy connection—maybe one bar, tops. Truth be told, none of us can get our phones working here in the Chicago Merchandise Mart. Too much concrete. But apparently the organizers think smart phones is a smart move. So we sit through snips and swipes o’ Sal’s voice, cutting in and out. Nobody knows what the hell he’s saying. It creates a feeling of suspense, doncha think? I mean, the way that distorted face skips and jerks across the faded auditorium screen.

Why don’t anybody get up and walk out? Easy. It’s that gorgeous gal on stage—she’s really somethin’. Class. Intelligent-looking. Businesslike. She apologizes. Now she’s promising they’s gonna fix the problem. Now she’s watching that big screen with such intense interest—like she can understand what he’s sayin’ and she’s hangin’ on every word. She creates in us what they call a sense of suspended belief. (I read that somewhere.) And it keeps everybody in their seats.

Sal keeps cutting in and out till his battery dies and that means, lecture over. It teaches me a lesson: It’s usually more about marketing than technology. But you don’t know that till the technology breaks down.

Did I mention that the Blackhawk’s rally is going on downtown today?Blackhawk logo You don’t wanna go? Hey—they won the Stanley Cup. It’s a big deal. Okay then, let’s crash a few more presentations.

So we take in summore lectures. Seems like every speaker talks in some important-sounding corporate lingo. It’s all meaningful stuff, right? Maybe it’s what they call high-elf—I dunno. I’m wishin’ I can be with the Blackhawk fans. So you and me ditch the lectures and hit the booths.


Da Booths

There’s rows ‘n’ rows o’ these little islands o’ commerce packed side-by-side, with all sortsa people plugging up the floor and it all seems to go on forever. Pretty soon I get turned around and confused and everything’s a blur. Don’t it hit you that way, too? This place is so big, a guy can get lost in here real fast.

Look around. Everywhere it’s corporations hawking their wares. (There’s that word Hawk again.) Notice how most people just mill past the booths. Except fer that one—the one serving free booze. We stop there for a while. Pretty good, huh?


So I learn a second lesson, but it don’t hit me till later: Big corporations waste lots of money. But they help an event pay the bills.

Then, just when I’m about to give up and say goodbye, we find the hidden room.

startup city logo

Da Hidden Room

See that wall with the huge Startup City logo painted on it? Looks like a dead end, don’t it? We walk up and take a closer look at the artwork. There’s a small door on our right. We go through there and WHAM! It’s a whole ‘nother room packed with booths ‘n’ people ‘n’ lotsa noise. These is all startup companies. Seventy of ‘em. Ambitious entrepreneurs, brilliant inventors and gutsy financiers ready to take a risk on a new idea. This is where the action is. So let’s do the rounds. Hey, I know summa these people! I like this place!

And whaddaya know—they got a competition goin’. The judges go from booth to booth and try to pick out the five best startups. Which o’ these folks is the judges? I can’t tell. It’s kinda like a benched dog show.

Now we find out the winners are gonna get announced at a special event with the mayor. Our tickets ain’t good enough to get in—those tickets musta cost thousands! No problemo. We crash it.

We’re in and now the mayor’s up there giving a speech:

“…I think the city of Chicago will become the mecca of the Midwest in startup cities,” he says. IMG_9067“The city of Chicago is building the digital economy as the fifth pillar…” I gotta ask you: Where’d he get all that mecca and fifth pillar stuff? I mean I like the guy but them terms don’t feel right coming outa him. Maybe if he wore a keffiyeh or a turban er somethin’. Naw, that ain’t never gonna happen.


Da Shortlist

Then they announce the winners. But I’m an investor and I got my own short list. Lemme tell you about ‘em:

cervia diagnostic logoCervia Diagnostic Innovations is gonna wipe out cervical cancer by replacing the age-old pap smear with a better test. They got all the research and their team’s fulla PhDs and Nobel Prize winners.


PaletteApp logoPaletteApp is bringing architects and interior designers outa da closets and into the digital world and saving companies a whole lot of money.


youtopia logoYoutopia is gettin’ high school kids emotionally involved in those service projects they gotta do and documenting the results fer the colleges they wanna get into. You got a high school kid? Then you know that’s something worthwhile.


faspark logoFaspark is helpin’ us all find street parking for our jalopies. It’s based on data analytics and probability of success and reduces time cruising the streets by 70%. Shows up as a map on your phone. They’re setting up in Chicago and Munich at the same time.

UPDATE – Faspark now gives you parking garage information in addition to the street parking.  Check out this article in Crain’s Chicago Business.  

None o’ them great companies made the finals ‘n’ that makes me scratch my head. And now they announce the winner:


Da Official Finalists


wedeliver logoWeDeliverFirst Place. I gotta say, this one’s on my short list now I get to know ‘em, and there’s an article about them in this magazine. But this is my first look at ‘em. You ever see these guys before? Great business model. Terrific CEO. Tech enabled same-day local delivery for brick and mortar businesses. These guys is gonna level the playing field with Amazon and create a buncha jobs right here in Chicago—and that’s just fer starters.


Crowdfynd LogoCrowdFynd is a lost-n-found service that uses crowdsourcing to find yer stuff.


Furywing LogoFurywing is is a gambling play. I don’t like online gambling, but it ain’t my place to judge.



24Fundraiser logo24Fundraiser is a one-stop solution fer online auctions.



neststepio logoNextStep.io helps you get yer daily workout by usin’ yer daily routine. I like that idea a lot. Gotta find out more about this one.



trinet logoThe whole Startup City production is sponsored by TriNet. I talked to them folks at length and came away impressed.

Then I get a big surprise on the way home:


Da Hawks

I ride the water taxi to the train and it turns out I don’t miss the Blackhawks celebration after all. The train’s loaded with drunken smiling people singin’ songs, makin’ a whole lotta noise, and generally havin’ a great time. Now it’s my turn, so I belt out The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.





Photos courtesy Techweek, The Chicago Blackhawks, John Jonelis.  Logos courtesy companies.

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

.Copyright © 2013 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved



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Business Network ChicagoVERBATIM – Interview with storied business consultant, J. P. Pierogiczikowski—affectionately known as Joe Perogi.

As told to John Jonelis


Joe—“Before we get started, I heard yer writin’ a novel.”

John—“Yes, The Gamemaker’s Father.”

Joe—“Well? Whatsit about?”

John—“A machinist competes with his brilliant son in verbal game of wits. The game turns into a duel that takes over their lives.”

Joe—“One o’ them crime novels?”

John—“A regular machinist, Joe.  Union.  Publisher’s shooting for a December launch of the electronic version. Then we follow up with a hardbound. Check out the videos, summary, reviews, and the first few pages at www.JohnJonelis.com

Joe—“Enough already.”

John—“You asked.”

Joe—“Not fer the whole story. That crosses the line into what I call shameless self-promotion”

Editor’s Note—Joe Perogi strikes me as a bit of a curmudgeon. I wonder how he made all those companies so successful.  But I take his cue and get back to the interview.

Q—”Tell me about the BNC meeting.”

A—”Yeah. I been comin’ to these things ever since Len started ’em. I like the way he makes all these companies sit up ‘n’ bark.  Hafta answer the same five questions every time. And I can tell you fer sure—these questions is foundation for any business.”

Q—“Can you just give the highlights?”

A—“Sure, but most of them usually answer all five. The guys in the crowd grill ‘em pretty hard. And if yer financials don’t add up, they say so up front good ‘n’ loud.”

Q—“Maybe just tell me what they do.”

Editor’s Note—For those who haven’t attended a BNC Venture Capital meeting, the questions are as follows:

  1. What’s the product or service?
  2. Why will customers buy it?
  3. Why is the management team qualified to execute the business plan?
  4. How does the company make money?
  5. How will the investor make money?


Mill Creek Life Sciences

Judy Lundy – CEO   www.millcreekls.com

Joe—“This group makes natural proteins to grow adult stem cells. They can grow proteins better, faster, ‘n’ with less risk. This’ll be the first heart regeneration treatment on the market, and there’s a lotta other uses, like Lou Gehrig’s disease, used-up kidneys, arthritis, diabetes, severe wounds.”

Q—“What’s your read on the industry?”

A—“Starved for new ideas. Stem cells from animal protein don’t cut it, with mad cow and human rejection. Then the genetical’ engineered stuff’s way too expensive and there’s problems with cell mutation. Fetal tissue is a fer barbarians. The concept o’ growing and harvesting babies like a crop is just morally depraved. Some people are fine with it but I call it murder and so do a lotta other people.”

Q—“I’m with you on that one.”

A—“Good. Mill Creek gets around all them problems. They use the patient’s own cells. That speeds up the healing and there’s no rejection.   They already passed their Phase 2 study. Phase 3 is pending.”

Editor’s Note—Phase 1 proves safety. Phase 2 proves it works. Phase 3 validates Phase 2.

Joe—“One of the interesting things about the business is their other supply o’ materials. These is fer experiments and stuff.  They collect expired adult human platelets. It’s useless to hospitals after five days and they scramble to get ridda the stuff. Mill Creek picks it up on day six and makes ever’body happy. They cryofreeze it and build a nice stockpile. Frozen, it lasts two or three years. So think about it. Their supply is cheap waste material or a guy’s own tissue.  They get it almost free. They been busy signin’ 5-year supply contracts.”

“The CEO’s got credentials. Mayo, ISU, Novartis. She’s a scientist and an MBA. Good combo. From the look of it, they rounded up a top management team. Tech licensed by Mayo, which is the normal way Mayo does R&D.”

Editor’s Note—The Mayo Clinic’s model is to research the technology, then license it for 17 years and stay on as a partner.

Joe—“They already locked in two clients with others knocking at the door. Expected Y5 revenue—$52 mil. 5-year return about equal to a 183% annual interest rate.  This one looks like the real thing t’ me.”


CFC Air Car

Stephen Cook – President     www.labicheaerospace.com

Q—“Listen Joe, can you keep it short. Stick to the important points.”

A—“You wanna hear this er what? CFC’s product is the FSC-1. FSC stands for ‘Flying Sports Car’ It’s a flying car with wings that fold into the body. Yeah, you heard me right. James Bond stuff. Fold-away wings gets around the main obstacle these things always face. Can’t even tell they’s there when you tuck ’em away.  The initial modal sells for $150K and they’re working to bring that down.”

Q—“Still cheap for an airplane.”

A— “Steve Cook’s got seven years in Aerospace and plenty o’ connections. He met with Burt Rutan, Tim Draper, and Clayten Christianson. Got a list of amazing people involved, from NASA to Toyota and Mazda. His team includes a Ph.D, a CPA, an MBA. He’s doing a Round A funding.”

Q—“As I recall, Henry Ford predicted this car in 1940. So far there have been nothing but duds.”

A—”Well it ain’t sci-fi no more.  Technology’s a lot better now.  Competition is heating up. Another outfit’s got a 2-seater, does 120 mph in the air– already FAA approved. That company’s got 250 hard orders for $250K each. Far as I’m concerned, that proves the concept. CFC’s got a better product for a lot less money. They plan to build theirs to hold five people. It’s supposed to do 150-225 mph in the air at 17 mpg with a 500-mile range.”

Q—“IFR capable?”

A—“Yeah.  And counter-rotating pusher props to make it safe and easy. I seen a video of it flying.  Looks good. And there’s even an airframe parachute to bring it down safe if the engine fails. I like it that they’s working with Burt Rutan. He knows how to pull this off. Another huge thing to consider—as a car, it looks hot. Nothing brought to market in the past can say that.”

Q—“You think they can deliver a car with sports car handling that has great flight characteristics? I’m an instrument rated pilot and I can tell you it’s a picky crowd.”

A—“Yeah, I can tell.”

Q—“Can they get past Rutan’s famous ego?”

A—“Yet to be seen.  I think they need a good advisor to get them past the financing hurdle.”

Q—“What’s that? A little shameless self-promotion?”



John Dolphin      www.heatwavesolar.com

Joe—“This’s advanced solar heating technology called “The Harvestor” and it’s made in the US of A. Looks real slick, like a big window. It’s a self-contained unit that mounts anywhere. Easy to put up. Hang it on yer south wall, hook up the fan, and it pumps hot air into your house. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. They’s probably gonna market through the home improvement outlets. Already talking to Menards.”

Q—“Can you wrap up your comments?”

A—“Yeah.  I think it’s a killer product. It looks great on your house. In Minnesota you get 25% back as a tax credit. It pays for itself in five years and lasts 20. The competitors stuff is too hard to install and costs three times as much. There’s no national player in the space.  Sells for just 12K.  45% margins.  Patented. Company’s bootstrapped so far.  Expecting a 20x return to investors in three years. Does that wrap it up fast enough for ya?”

Q—Yes. How did the voting come out at the end of the evening?

Joe—Mill Creek won big-time, followed by HeatWave and then CFC Air. Let me know when yer book comes out.

A—Will do.

That’s the way Joe told it to me.






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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.

© 2011 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved.


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