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Posts tagged ‘Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center’

1871 Alumni Startups (One-Pagers)

Everpurse 1871 One-Pager

Client: Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center (CEC) / 1871

CEC’s situation: Gearing up for its annual Momentum Awards fundraising dinner, the CEC needed to assemble a slick packet of information touting their past 12 month’s accomplishments to generate sponsors for the big event. Several startup companies recently grew out of their co-working digs at the CEC’s tech startup hub, 1871, and into their own office spaces. The CEC wanted to profile these “graduates” to drum up sponsorship dollars.

My solution: The founders of the startups were also being interviewed on camera for a video that would run during the awards dinner, so I coordinated schedules with the video producers and the CEOs and conducted my own round of off-camera interviewing. I identified relevant pull-quotes, and important facts/figures for the graphic designer to layout in the sidebar of each one-pager.

The result: I’ve done freelance writing for the CEC since before 1871 launched, so I was well versed in the tone and style they wanted. My relationship with the tech hub also meant I knew what angles to highlight for each startup to best position the companies and 1871 to pull in the sponsorship dollars.

Click the images below to view each one-pager. 

Everpurse 1871 Alumni One-Pager Food Genius 1871 Alumni One-Pager MarkITx 1871 Alumni One-Pager WeDeliver 1871 Alumni One-Pager

A Fireside Chat with Steve Case, Co-Founder of AOL (Blog Post)

A fireside chat with Steve Case at 1871

This is a blog post I wrote after AOL Co-Founder Steve Case visited 1871, the startup hub managed by the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center (CEC).


A Fireside Chat with Steve Case, Co-Founder of AOL


By Heidi Lading

When you picture a rock-star, he’s not often found in a blue button-up shirt. But this past Monday, 1871 was graced by a visit from technology rock-star, Steve Case, founder of AOL. An energetic buzz flooded the entire space as the standing-room only crowd waited for Case to appear for his fireside chat with 1871’s interim CEO, Jim O’Connor.

They touched on the Internet’s early years (when it was illegal for businesses to connect to the Net), and explored Steve’s passion for helping develop the next generation of entrepreneurs. He truly believes in the “Rise of the Rest,” meaning VC dollars should flow to entrepreneurs in cities like Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Austin, etc., rather than flowing straight to Silicon Valley.

Jim also touched on Steve’s work on immigration reform–which both men deemed vital and important since 40 percent of our Fortune 500 companies were started by immigrants–and the philanthropic reach of the Case Foundation.

There might not have been any “I ❤ Steve” signs in the crowd, but the cell phones in the air and constant stream of live tweeting said it all. And what visit from a rock-star is complete without a swarm of people (both in hoodies and suits in this case) flocking to the VIP to touch him and shove a phone number (okay, business card) in his hand.

Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer Visits 1871 Community (Blog Post)


This is a blog post I wrote after Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer visited 1871, the startup hub managed by the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center (CEC).


Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer Visits 1871 Community


Chicago can teach Seattle a lot in terms of snow removal, but yesterday in a standing-room only crowd, Chicago entrepreneurs turned to a Seattle business icon, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, for a lesson in building not only great companies but also a thriving tech community.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, J.B. Pritzker and our very own Kevin Willer all said a few words before the never dull Ballmer took the stage. The first half of his talk was an impressive litany of highlights Microsoft has achieved since the launch of Windows 8 last October as well as a cool show-and-tell of new technologies.

Then, Ballmer sat down for a Q&A with Rob Rutenbar, Bliss Professor and head of the computer science department at University of Illinois, and regaled the audience with early stories of Microsoft and sage advice for all startups.

Startup Advice #1: Big Vision Helps

Ballmer shared an old college story where Paul Allen ran into the dorm room Ballmer and Bill Gates were in, and exclaimed to Gates “we have to build every piece of software for this machine.” The machine was the first microprocessor driven computer and was featured on the cover of Popular Electronics.

Never mind the fact that the machine on the magazine cover was the only piece of hardware of its kind. Gates and Allen built an environment to simulate and tool-ate. Ballmer pointed out this kind of simulation is much cheaper today thanks to tooling already in place, which brought him to his second point of advice.

Startup Advice #2: You Can Stand on the Shoulders of Others

By the time Gates convinced Ballmer to quit school and join Microsoft it was a 30-person company. Ballmer quickly figured out that those 30 people were doing the work of 45. When he approached Gates to hire 15 employees Gates replied, “ I didn’t ask you to drop out of school to bankrupt our company.”

Gates had yellow notes all over their apartment to constantly remind him how much money was coming in and going out. He never wanted to lose sight of the finances. This anecdote dovetailed in Ballmer’s obvious but important third point.

Startup Advice #3: Don’t Bankrupt Your Company

He reminded startups in the audience that, sure, they are there to make a popular product, but they are also there to keep in mind what happens with the money.

“We all know statistically what happens to most startups. Please avoid that.”

He went on to provide the recipe for success he believes all cities with great startups share:

1. They have great universities.
2. They are great places to live.
3. They have 1, or 2, or more big companies that have made it in the tech field, which helps fuel the VC funding.

When Microsoft was starting out, that anchor tech tenant in Seattle was Boeing. Perhaps Chicago’s future anchor tenant was in the audience for this very speech.

He closed by wishing everyone well and reminding entrepreneurs that even though there’s a risk in failing, there’s no real risk in trying because whether they fail or succeed they will be smarter, better, and have more opportunities moving forward.

(Photo courtesy of Vincent Cabansag, Starter League)