Friday, February 05, 2016

1871 Celebrates Women in Technology with WiSTEM

This past week was a great week for women in Chicago and in America.
And yes, progress takes time, and there are a lot of feminists and activists who help to advance women in the workplace every day. These women and men create better self-esteem in women by doing things like access women’s beauty standards. They create opportunities for women when they didn’t know there were obstacles.
There’s something about this past week that made me want to stand up and give women in Chicago and in the world a round of applause. And so, I want to share with you the highlights of women’s progression last week.

1871 Celebrates Women in Technology with WiSTEM:

1871 has always been a spot for developing new ideasthat build community. Lately, they have spotlighted women. In fact, 1871 made this statement on its website:
“For a whole host of reasons, 1871 believes Chicago is the best place in the country for women entrepreneurs to start a business.”
Their first step was bringing in Nicole Yeary from Ms. Tech, a global women’s networking group that helps business women do tech and tech women do business.
More recently, they introduced a new, first of its kind program, WiSTEM, which fosters opportunities for women in technology entrepreneurs by giving them access to capital, technology, and community.
The WiSTEM program includes 13 women founders who will facilitate a 12-week program that includes weekly educational courses and access to female and male mentors and investors, said 1871 COO Tom Alexander, The Chicago Tribune reported.
The program is part of Google for Entrepreneurs’ #40Forward initiative, and is also supported by the Lefkofsky Family Foundation, Motorola Mobility Foundation, and AT&T.
WiSTEM had its first event, the WiSTEM showcase on January 25, 2016, which included female founders of the following startups:
  • mRelief simplifies the qualifying process for social programs by quickly showing people if they are eligible or not, and recently unveiled a text messaging feature that makes the food stamp screening process even easier.
  • Pay Your Selfie brings brands and consumers together using selfies. It creates a performance-based mobile marketing platform for advertisers, and it pays users cash for selfies, turning their social currency into real currency.
  • iTravel Benefits is a shared, elective benefit that rewards employees who save for personal travel by providing a company match.
  • PartySlate is a digital platform designed for party hosts and event professionals.
Spring courses for WiSTEM are currently closed for the 17-week program from March 7, 2016 – June 30, 2016. For more information about mentoring or applying for future WiSTEM programs, visit the 1871 WiSTEM website.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

The State of Innovation in Education: An Interview with Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871

The State of Innovation in Education: An Interview with Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871

People working in a large office space with tables and chairs and couches
Howard Tullman
Howard Tullman
Howard Tullman is CEO of 1871, a startup incubator that has done much to put Chicago on the map as a hub of innovation, design thinking, and entrepreneurialism. Now home to hundreds of startups, 1871 is working to ensure that each team or person with a vision that comes through its doors ultimately has the resources needed to go it alone and become a sustainable and viable business.
The ed-tech business in Chicago, in large thanks to Tullman, is booming. With its strong educational ties, 1871 was just named a “Top University-Affiliated Business Incubator in the U.S.” Tullman, with his extensive experience in education, understands the growing challenges schools and universities today face around implementing tech, keeping pace with new developments and, in many cases, doing more with less. A tech-savvy and entrepreneurial generation of thinkers will be critical to solving much of America’s ongoing education challenges. With that in mind, we caught up with Tullman to better understand the link between education and entrepreneurialism: what’s broken, what’s working well, and what will education look like in 20 years time?

Describe the current relationship between education and innovation—how can it be enhanced and improved?

It’s a very interesting situation. The traditional top-down or bottom-up innovation models are being replaced with lateral change. That is, parents, students, and teachers are finding alternative methods to innovate in the classroom. For example, we’re seeing that the people responsible for delivering educational outcomes are bringing the tech with them into the classroom.
So, how can we improve? Well, the paperwork is getting in the way of teaching the students. In order to see some improvement, we need to eliminate the stuff that’s sucking hours out of educators’ days that really doesn’t benefit the students and replace them with technology that permits the teacher to do more.

Why is adopting tech for technology’s sake a bad idea for higher education institutions? What are some institutions that have adopted tech the right way?

I say this all the time:there probably isn’t a school district left in the U.S. that doesn’t have a 3D printer, though probably 99.5% of those places aren’t qualified to operate it. They bought the technology, but there’s no instruction, so the tech isn’t benefiting anybody.
Men talking in a meeting room surrounded by laptops, sticky notes on glass

Now on the other hand, institutions that successfully adopted tech apply some of these systems and approaches. For example, when teachers use online evidence-based learning with a class that is performing under par, they get about a two-year jump in their assessed capabilities. If a school is at par or ahead of par, the jump is less, but the enriched environment and quality of the learning is enhanced.

What strategies do institutions need to adopt to increase the role of technology/innovation in their work?

I think we have to figure out how to get a device in the hands of every kid—both during and after school. Currently, we don’t have a good answer to that. Most of the successful school districts have said that it’s absolutely essential that the device belongs to the kid or family, even if it’s totally subsidized, so they have an incentive to take care of it.

What challenges do educators who are new to technology face when teaching a population of digital natives?

Well, I think we have to outlive one whole generation of current teachers. When the Teachers Union used to ask the Chicago mayor for a technology representative, he’d answer, “No, I want the teachers to learn the technology, not rely on somebody else.” I think that’s where we’re headed.

What are the consequences for institutions that don’t keep pace with technological advances?

I think those institutions are going to fall behind, or just be completely left in the dust. Going forward, you have to have a strategy. The two words that we use are “Transparency” and “Efficacy.” The thought is that more parents, students, and regulators will know what you’re doing and how well you’re doing; if you’re not doing it well, they’ll find a better solution. Either the performance is there, or it’s not.

What across the board advice would you give to higher education institutions looking to expand their tech and innovation capacities?

Honestly, they need to not focus on how many hours you spend with your butt in a seat, but on what skills you’ve mastered. We are seeing these flex programs, where basically, they’re saying, “We don’t care if it takes two years or four years. If you demonstrate a mastery of these subjects, you’re going to get your diploma.”
We’re headed towards mastery-based learning and going forward I think we’re going to see certification break away and be separately administered. So, maybe there will a “Good Housekeeping seal of approval,” rather than a degree in marketing from, say, Indiana University, whatever that may mean.

How can institutions be assured that their investment in innovative tools is worthwhile?

The technology is neutral; you could overdo it. It has to be in service of the learning.

What qualities position a student for success in an innovation economy? How do tech advancements support their development?

I think they have to be critical thinkers and understand that you need to approach almost everything with a combination of innovation and iteration. Innovation, meaning, look at things in a new way and perspective. And iteration being the tech or the system you use to get closer to the best possible solution. You just keep doing that loop: try something, evaluate it, measure it, adjust it, and do it again. I think if you judge students by their critical thinking skills, we’re going to turn them into more employable and successful people.

How can we teach young people to be successful entrepreneurs in an innovation economy?

You can’t teach someone to be an entrepreneur. You can teach somebody to be a better entrepreneur if they’re entrepreneurial. But while I do think everyone won’t have a single job description, everybody will have to be a lifetime learner. It’s not going to be one job for 30 or 40 years.
When we try to roll that into a simple analysis, I would say that there are really three propositions. You actually have to love yourself—be a happy person, in some respect—love what you’re doing or do something else, and you have to love the way that you’re doing it.

What will higher education classrooms look like in 20 years, and what role will innovation play?

I think everything will be on wheels and designed to be conducive to constantly forming teams and collaborative groups. Rarely will there be a sage on stage. All of the stuff will be prepared outside of class and problems and solutions will be interactively worked on in class. You’re going to see a lot of instances where technology is going to inform and enable new kinds of collaboration. It might not even be on a single university campus—people are going to find resources and tools wherever they are.

What single tech innovation do you anticipate having the greatest institutional impact on education in the next decade?

Video. All of our lives, we learned visually. And yet, 90% of all the knowledge on the Internet is text-based. So the biggest single change is going to be: How are we going to use video? How are we going to make it interactive? How are we going to distribute it? All of the learning is going to be bite-sized, taught to students by peer-to-peer interaction rather than by a 50-year-old grey haired lady with 10 years of experience speaking French.

Despite the shrinking of the digital divide, there are people who are, due to a lack of resources, still living in what could be called a digital desert. What are some of the most effective innovations you’ve seen that provide educational tech access to these populations?

I think the most powerful thing is this idea of having instructional videos in the cloud where everyone can access them—parents, teachers, and students alike. The family will sit and watch an eight minute video that will prepare the students for the next day’s studies. This way the student can learn the night before and spend class building on what they’ve learned. The videos can be accessed anywhere, after school, at the library, on your phone or at home through a variety of different tools.
* interview was edited for brevity and clarity

On February 10th, Howard Tullman will give the morning keynote address, When Forces Collide—Emerging Tech’s Impact on Education at
Register to attend in person or virtually, or join the conversation on Twitter at #PearsonCite. We look forward to seeing, Tweeting, listening and learning alongside you.

About the Author
Freelance writer Ashley Friedman has worked in a communications and programming capacity with education reform organizations including New Visions for Public Schools, and The New York City Teaching Fellows.


1871 CEO Howard Tullman Leads Off INC.EDU Startup Accelerator

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

February Merchant Spotlight: Under Armour

February Merchant Spotlight: Under Armour

27 January 2016
Louis Rownd Operations Manager, eCommerce
Christina Jordano | Senior Fraud Analyst, eCommerce
What processes do you have in place that protect against fraud/chargebacks/account takeovers?
Under Armour has aligned itself with the most trusted brand protection forces in the industry. We value our partnerships with Accertify as our eCommerce fraud prevention platform, WhitePagesPro as our data validation service, and the MRC as our fraud network. We have adopted the practice of proactively reaching out to victim cardholders to alert them to suspected fraud. We pride ourselves on alerting the consumer before their bank. It's the right practice for our brand as we take the security of our customers more seriously than sports apparel. Our fraud team takes point on the manual review of orders and maintains ownership of resolving chargebacks. When researching disputes our team uses data across multiple purchase funnels, customer interactions, and behavior patterns to determine the validity of the dispute. These data points roll into our KPI's. We are a KPI driven brand, constantly evaluating our KPI's and believe in "knowing our numbers." Our number one asset is our team. We have built a team that we believe is the gold standard in fraud prevention. A team built with a focus on a global vision, brand protection, intellectual honesty, "married to data," unmatched patience, and a passion for story-telling.
What is the most common type of attempted online fraud you see at Under Armour?
As a top athletic performance brand, we see a variety of fraud attempts. Ranging from digital gift cards, to footwear and gloves, Under Armour is always a target. As a premium brand we are also concerned with counterfeit merchandise. Large eCommerce purchases shipping to unauthorized resellers are a major concern. Protecting our customers by ensuring the product they are purchasing, in the channel they prefer, is our top priority. Defending the Under Armour product is a top concern of the eCommerce fraud prevention team. Under Armour has assembled top talent in this space to target authorized resellers and those looking to counterfeit our merchandise.
How do you benefit from MRC membership? What MRC resources do you rely on?
We view the MRC as a valuable partner in fraud prevention. We were excited to see the MRC roll out their new website in late summer 2015. With the addition of the member forums, the additions of new members, and a talent board, the MRC will continue to foster an environment where brands align to prevent fraud. The value in partnering with the MRC is the opportunity to join the top brands in the world. There is not another place in business where companies that are fierce competitors on the field come together to strategize about protecting their brands. There is no competition in fraud. The melding of the minds and sharing of data is the true value of the MRC. As the top social network of brand protectors in fraud, the MRC is facilitator of fraud prevention advancement and its value is in community.
What consumer benefits do you offer that set you apart from your competitors?
Founded in 1996 by former University of Maryland football player Kevin Plank, Under Armour is the originator of performance apparel gear engineered to keep athletes cool, dry and light throughout the course of a game, practice or workout. The technology behind Under Armour's diverse product assortment for men, women and youth is complex, but the program for reaping the benefits is simple: wear HeatGear® when it's hot, ColdGear® when it's cold, and AllSeasonGear® between the extremes. Our mission is to make all athletes better through passion, design and the relentless pursuit of innovation. Through our suite of Connected Fitness platforms, UA Record, MayMyFitness, Endomondo, and MyFitnessPal, we boast the world's largest digital health and fitness community with 160 million members and counting. Under Armour is a technology company that designs performance apparel and also builds software that powers the most pioneering Connected Fitness ecosystem on the planet. Partnerships with IBM and HTC solidify Under Armour as the leading technology sportswear company. We look forward to sharing the future of fitness with our customers.
According to your website, net revenues increased 28% in the third quarter of 2015 to $1.20 billion compared with net revenues of $938 million in the prior year's period. What contributed to this substantial increase?
2015 was an incredible year for The Brand. Steph Curry caught fire leading the Warriors to an NBA Championship and claiming the crown of league MVP. Jordan Spieth, the number one golfer in the world, became the youngest player ever to win both the Masters and The U.S. Open in the same year. Misty Copeland became the first African-American to be promoted to the principal dancer in the American Ballet theatre's 75 year history. Our viral "I Will What I Want" campaign, led by Misty and Gisele Buncheon, inspired the masses with 1.5 billion impressions. Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals swung his way to the 2015 NL MVP. It was a championship year for The Brand and we look forward to a successful 2016, working hard to make all athletes better at what they do. In 2015, team Under Armour, powered by the greatest athletic gear on the planet, dominated. In early 2015 Under Armour made two strategic acquisitions; we acquired Endomondo and MyFitnessPal. With their combined 100 million users, stacked with the 2013 acquisition of MapMyFitness we have positioned ourselves as the global leader in innovative fitness with 160 million members in our fitness community. This offers our customers the world's largest, and only, social fitness network.
The second half of our formula is Team. Under Armour has assembled a team of all-stars; a team that embraces fitness, wellness, and innovation. A team comprised of executives that are the thought-leaders in their industry and the best at their craft -- who obsess over increasing the value our customers receive from our digital and physical products. Proprietary talent sets Under Armour apart. Part of our culture is a salacious appetite for competition and curiosity. The key to building a winning brand is building an incredible roster of influencers combined with the smartest, hardest working, most innovative professionals on the planet. We are the "oldest" startup in the market. As a company founded nearly 20 years ago, we govern ourselves with the hunger and humility of a startup. Good judgment, relentless energy, and the ability to anticipate our customer needs before anyone else is a celebrated practice at UA. Join us as we continue to build a company where technology and clothing meet. BE HUMBLE AND STAY HUNGRY.





                                 IHCC Weekly Digest
                                                                                February 2nd, 2016
We're making big changes in 2016

Here's what you need to know:

We're moving!

We’re moving.  On February 29th we’re packing up our things and relocating from the West Loop to the Merchandise Mart. IHCC’s new headquarters will be located in 1871 – one of the leading global entrepreneurial hubs.

This is great news for our members, our partners and our clients. Why?  Because we’ll be at the center of entrepreneurial activity in Chicago and we’ll be able to connect our businesses to more resources and opportunities.

As of February 29th our new address is:

222 Merchandise Mart Plaza
Suite 1212 c/o 1871
Chicago, Illinois 60654

Our phone numbers will stay the same – call us anytime at 312-425-9500.

We can’t wait for you to visit us in our new space. Stay tuned for info on our upcoming open house.

We'll launch a Hispanic tech incubator

This summer we’ll be launching an incubator for Hispanic tech start-ups in our physical space at 1871. 

As part of the incubator, entrepreneurs will have access to a collaborative co-working space as well as programming designed to accelerate business growth. 

The incubator is part of a larger initiative to get more Latinos working in and contributing to the growing digital economy.

Stay tuned for more information on the launch of this exciting initiative.


The state of Illinois has serious financial woes. That’s not news here in Chicago and it would be difficult to find any state that doesn’t have money problems. There’s plenty of misery to share and Alaska, Louisiana and Missouri, among others, are sharing it.  Sorry state finances are as much of a “bitter sweet” oxymoron as jumbo shrimp, military intelligence or exact estimates. The more interesting part of this situation is what the best state managers are trying to do to solve the problem. We all acknowledge that they can only address the budget parts within their control and those funds and resources available to them. Notwithstanding these limitations, the Illinois Treasurer, Mike Frerichs, is leading the way in a fashion that couldn’t be better or more timely news for entrepreneurs, startups and the overall tech community.
I would expect that you will quickly see other states jump on this business-boosting bandwagon and follow Illinois’ lead.  I’m hopeful that— as an entrepreneur— when the conversations and arguments start in your state that you’ll have the ammo to hold up your end of the discussion as well and, if you’re so inclined, even help to lead the charge.  
As the state’s chief investment officer, Frerichs has just announced the creation of a new $220 million growth and innovation fund (representing a very small percentage of the existing state investment pools and not tied to Illinois’ budget stalemate), which will drive innovation and job creation by supporting investments in emerging technology companies. These funds will not be directly invested by the state (thank goodness for that), but will be distributed to 15-to-20 existing, experienced and successful venture funds (selected by an independent investment manager and financial institution), which will in turn make the specific company selections and investments. It’s expected that this action will attract another $400-to-$500 million in private-sector money as well for young and growing Illinois startups. Sounds pretty positive to me. 
Much to my surprise, though, and to a certain extent because of an overall lack of understanding of the fact that the funds in any state’s coffers aren’t fully fungible, a lot of people—including some of our own VCs and entrepreneurs at 1871— have been critical of this new initiative. While there are legitimately two sides to parts of this argument, I think that it is really important for all of us to understand what really isn’t open to argument. Then, at least, the discussion can proceed on the merits instead of simple misunderstandings.
            What’s not open to argument?
If you’re the chief investment officer of any state and you’re charged with earning the best possible return on all the state funds that have been entrusted to you (including, for example, thousands of families’ 529 college investment funds), then you simply have to invest. There’s really no choice. You can’t save your way to success by sitting on the sideline. In addition, you can’t spend a dime of these “trust” funds to help the state solve its general operating problems and deficits because the use of these funds is rigidly restricted by state law. It would be nice to see some of these dollars spent to save critical programs, feed and care for folks, and address other pressing needs, but it’s just not legally possible. So the choices are pretty clear —sit on it or invest it smartly.
            What’s debatable?
Venture capital investments are risky. Startups fail every day. Maybe the last place that the state should invest even one fiduciary dollar is with early-stage and growth-stage businesses. But I personally don’t agree. This topic we can debate all day long and there are certainly multiple viewpoints, but almost every fund (professional, institutional, family offices, etc.) understands the idea of diversification and the need to have some exposure to the various parts and sectors of the new economy. In addition, we know that the only real job growth in our economy for at least the last decade has come from the hiring spurts of new businesses (not small businesses) and frankly it’s very much in all of our interests to keep that ball rolling.
            What’s really smart?
As often as this idea has misled us in the past, I firmly believe that the smartest part of this investment strategy is the state’s decision to leave it to the pros. The beauty of the VCs who will be making the investments is that they have one simple agenda and that is to maximize returns for their investors. They don’t have to deal with the media. They don’t have a million competing political concerns. They don’t have to try to be all things to all people. They just have to do their jobs the very best that they can and make a ton of money for the state.
Bottom line: you can argue the merits of the program any way you like. Just don’t tell me that by encouraging the growth and expansion of hundreds of new businesses and the creation of thousands of new jobs that Illinois is taking the food from any families or helping the “haves” to the detriment of the “have nots” ‘cause that ain’t happenin’. 

Total Pageviews


Blog Archive