Product Keynote

Charles Adler, Co-Founder of Kickstarter

Charles Adler, Co-Founder of Kickstarter

Charles Adler is a social entrepreneur, Co-founder and former Head of Design at Kickstarter, the ground-breaking funding platform for creative projects. As a leading entrepreneur and designer, his interest lies in platforms that empower creatives to pursue their ideas with economic footing.

Since its launch in the spring of 2009, Kickstarter has become the world’s largest marketplace dedicated to funding independent creative endeavors. Over the past 6 years Kickstarter has raised over $2 billion from over 9.7 million people toward more than 95,000 successful projects ranging from computer games to music albums, technology, fashion, educational projects and even full length feature films.

As the Kickstarter phenomenon continues to grow and find an ever-expanding userbase, Charles has been widely recognised as one of the digital era’s most exciting innovators. In 2013 he was named as one of Forbes Magazine’s Top 12 Most Disruptive Figures in Business.

Charles Adler previously co-founded the online art publication Subsystence, a platform dedicated to leveraging the web to provide global exposure to the work of independent artists. He also co-founded Source-ID, where he operated as Principal Creative Director from 2004 to 2009.

Serial Panel: How Building Has Changed in Chicago

Mark Tebbe, Chairman of ChicagoNEXT [Moderator]

Mark Tebbe is the Chairman of ChicagoNEXT, an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at UChicago’s Booth School of Business, and the Polsky Center’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence.

Mark also serves as an Operating Executive at Lake Capital, a $1.3 billion fund that focuses on marketing and technology services. He is also a board advisor to Merrick Ventures and assists with several portfolio investments such as higi, Merge Healthcare, and Wrapports.

In 1984, Mark founded Lante Corporation, (NASDAQ: LNTE) a Chicago-based tech consulting firm in which he served as CEO and Chairman. The firm helped create over 250 new businesses and built backend infrastructure and websites for established companies including Microsoft and Dell. Lante was taken private by SBI Group in September 2002 and sold (as Razorfish) to aQuantive in July 2004.

After that, Mark was Co-Founder, Vice-Chairman of the Board, and Lead Director of Answers Corporation, (NASDAQ: ANSW) formerly GuruNet. Tebbe co-conceived the answers.com website which became one of the Web’s leading Q&A publishers.

Finally, Tebbe is a featured technology contributing writer at the Chicago Sun Times and is involved with various civic organizations, like the CEC and 1871, throughout the city.

David Kalt, Founder & CEO of Reverb.com

David Kalt, Founder & CEO of Reverb.com

David's background is a blend between entrepreneurship, building technology firms, and a passion for music and gear. David Kalt is the founder and CEO of Reverb.com, an online marketplace for used, vintage and handmade guitars and gear. Kalt is also the owner of the Chicago Music Exchange, one of the world's largest vintage guitar dealers.

Prior to launching Reverb.com, Kalt was the cofounder and CEO of online broker optionsXpress (#10 on the 2005 Inc 500 list), which went public in 2005 and was sold to Schwab in 2008 for $1 billion.

Kalt was also the founder of ClientBASE, the first CRM solution for travel agents and tour group operators, which is now offered by the Sabre Travel Network.

Vip Sandhir, Founder & CEO of HighGround

Vip founded HighGround in 2012 with a mission to change the way companies engage their employees. He has vast experience building start-ups from the ground up and growing them significantly. Vip is also a Co-Founder of the corporate food technology platform Fooda. He previously worked as the Executive Vice President and Founding Executive at Echo Global Logistics (Nasdaq: Echo), the COO and Co-Founder at The BusBank, and the VP of Sales and Operations at Iexplore.

Genevieve Thiers, Founder of Sittercity.com

Genevieve Thiers, Founder of Sittercity.com

Genevieve Thiers is an disruptor, entrepreneur, speaker and investor that lives in the Chicago area. Her first company, Sittercity.com, is America’s first company to take caregiving services online. Sittercity.com now has millions of users and new locations in the UK and Canada.

Genevieve was recognized by President Bush at the White House as the Small Business Administration Young Entrepreneur Champion of the Year for 2006, and her companies have won over 18 major awards, including the CEC Momentum Award, the WBDC Rising Start Award, a CNN Young Heroes feature, the UPS Out of the Box Award, the INC 500 list, and more. Genevieve has been featured thousands of times in the press for her work, by the TODAY show, Ellen, the View, MSNBC, the CBS Early Show, CNN, Live & Style, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Redbook, Parents, Parenting, Marie Clare, TIME, Better Homes and Gardens, Working Mother and more. She has lectured or spoken at the TED Global, Cusp, Amex, Groupon, Enova, Inland, the CEO Conference, the Heartland Conference, Microsoft, Harvard business school, Kellogg, Columbia, Babson, Boston College, U Chicago and for hundreds of other entrepreneurial groups around the country. She is the author of the book Love at First Sit, and frequently writes for various tech publications in the Chicago area.

Genevieve has mentored hundreds of entrepreneurs throughout her career. She is on the board of the CEC, which has created 1871, a co-working space in Chicago. Genevieve teaches classes at 1871 and is a frequent mentor and teacher within the space. She is also an investor in TechStars and the Firestarter fund, and in several female-run new tech startups that target women and lesser-known industries. A mother of twins, she speaks regularly on the lack of women in tech and how to right the balance.

Mark Achler, Professor of Entrepreneurship at Kellogg School of Management and Managing Director of MATH Venture Partners

Mark is the Managing Director of Math Venture Partners ‐ www.mathventurepartners.com ‐ an early to mid‐stage technology venture capital fund and an Adjunct Lecturer of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Business.

He is a serial entrepreneur who started four companies, managed three venture funds and was head of Innovation for Redbox.

Achler is a frequent speaker, resource and ardent champion for the entrepreneurial community, where he is a mentor for TechStars, the Junto Institute and several other entrepreneurial organizations.

Product: Social Impact Fireside Chat

Elizabeth Coston, Senior Associate with Impact Engine [Moderator]

Elizabeth Coston, Senior Associate with Impact Engine [Moderator]

Elizabeth Coston is a Senior Associate at Impact Engine. She is responsible for identifying and evaluating investment opportunities and conducting financial and business due diligence. She also manages the fund’s operations and investor relations. Prior to joining Impact Engine in 2015, Elizabeth was active in developing the social impact community in Chicago as manager of the social innovation and impact investing programs at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. She previously worked in investment banking and wealth management at UBS and Hightower Advisors. Elizabeth earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Harvard University and an MBA from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

Michael Slaby, Head of Mission at Timshel

One of the foremost technology and digital strategists in the world, Michael brings an unparalleled passion and commitment to solving the world’s most challenging problems. A leader of President Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns, Michael was the 2012 campaign’s Chief Integration and Innovation Officer, overseeing the effective integration of technology, digital strategy, and analytics.

Previously, Michael was the Executive Vice President and Digital Global Practice Chair of Edelman and Chief Technology Strategist for TomorrowVentures. Active in a host of philanthropic causes, Michael advises a variety of organizations, including LiveStrong, Citizen Effect, Invisible Children, Jumo, F*ck Cancer, Bright Pink, and I Am That Girl.

Pipeline Keynote

Andreas Cangellaris, Dean of the College of Engineering at University Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Andreas Cangellaris, Dean of the College of Engineering at University Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Andreas Cangellaris is the M. E. Van Valkenburg Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE). In June 2013, he was named Dean of the College of Engineering at Illinois.

He joined the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Illinois in 1997 and served as head of the Department from 2008-2013. His service at the University of Illinois also includes a two-year appointment as Associate Provost Fellow, (2006-2008), leading an effort to revise campus promotion and tenure processes. He was a co-founder and co-leader of iFoundry.

Professor Cangellaris’ expertise and research interests are in applied and computational electromagnetics. He is a Fellow of IEEE. In 2005, he received the Alexander von Humboldt Research Award for outstanding contributions to electromagnetic theory. He is the recipient of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory Director’s Coin in 2011, and IEEE Microwave Theory & Techniques Society 2012 Distinguished Educator Award “for outstanding contributions as a teacher, mentor, and role model for students in the microwave profession.”

Pipeline Panel: How to Diversify the Pipeline

John Flavin, Executive Director of the Chicago Innovation Exchange (CIE)

John Flavin, MBA is the Executive Director of the Chicago Innovation Exchange (CIE) at the Chicago. Opened in October 2014, the CIE fosters innovation and commercialization through shared space, connections, and collaboration, providing resources for more than 1,500 members, including UChicago students and faculty, and local South Side community entrepreneurs. The CIE manages a state-of-the-art Fab Lab for prototyping and a $20 million Innovation Fund, which invests in the commercialization of technology developed by UChicago faculty and staff.

An entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in the life sciences field focused on finance and operations, Flavin has co-founded and built several companies, raised over $220 million in private and public capital, and led 2 successful NASDAQ IPOs. John is Managing Director at Flavin Ventures, LLC, a venture creation and management firm, as well as a board member at the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition, and he sits on Governor Bruce Rauner’s Illinois Innovation Council, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s ChicagoNEXT technology council and the City of Chicago’s Small Business Advisory Committee.

Charisse Conanan Johnson Director at Next Street Financial

Charisse Conanan Johnson Director at Next Street Financial

VCharisse is a financial strategist, speaker, and generator of ideas.

Charisse is a Director at Next Street Financial. As Head of Next Street’s Chicago office, she oversees Chicago’s portfolio of client engagements, builds strategic relationships across the market, and manages the Chicago team. She also leads the Enterprise Finance practice community, helping enterprises and institutions improve their financial position.

Charisse most immediately came to Next Street as a Director from the Chicago Infrastructure Trust, where she led multi­million dollar infrastructure deals for the U.S’s first municipal infrastructure bank. Prior to The Chicago Infrastructure Trust, Charisse was Founder and CEO of www.smarteys.com, which provided a web­based technology platform for financial planning for college grads. Prior to building Smarteys, Charisse was a Vice President at JPMorgan Asset Management in New York City. She conducted stock market research as a generalist, and her research covered 18% of the $10billion JPMorgan Mid Cap Value Fund. Charisse is a graduate of Yale University and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Charisse is also a chartered financial analyst (CFA) charterholder. Charisse is a sought after financial expert, contributing often to FOX News and Experian. Charisse is also a financial contributor to the Huffington Post and American Express OPEN. Charisse is also a General Partner at the Bulldog Innovation Group in her spare time. You can follow Charisse @CharisseSays.

Jimmy Odom, Senior Advisor of Minority Business Development

Jimmy Odom was named Senior Advisor of Minority Business Development for the Illinois Department of Commerce in September 2015. In his role, Jimmy works with minority communities throughout the state to help create, develop, and grow entrepreneurs. Before joining the Department of Commerce, Jimmy founded WeDeliver Inc., the largest hyper­local logistics service in Chicago. As CEO, Jimmy created, communicated, and implemented the vision, mission, and corporate direction of the company. By engaging the Board of Directors and advisors, Jimmy formulated and executed the organization’s strategic plan, and he regularly examined the competitive landscape for growth opportunities. Prior to launching WeDeliver, Jimmy worked at Apple Inc. as the Head of Customer Experience for the Midwest Region. At Apple, Jimmy developed, coached, and mentored over 450 Apple Brand Specialists, who contributed over $100 Million in sales and maintained top revenue and sales performances across Apple retail worldwide for three consecutive quarters.

Jimmy is a celebrated leader in the state’s entrepreneurial community, and his recognitions include the IBM North America’s Most Innovative Company Award, the Chicago Urban League Innovator Award, Crain’s Business Chicago’s 50 Most Influential People list, and the Moxie Award for Best Founder in Chicago. Jimmy was raised in Chicago, Illinois, and he currently resides in Homewood with his wife and three children. He is passionate about the entrepreneurial community and a fanatic about creating transformational experiences and not transactional ones.


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