Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Is Rahm Emanuel desperate to make tech hub 1871 a hit?

Mar 18, 2014, 12:39pm CDT

Is Rahm Emanuel desperate to make tech hub 1871 a hit?

Howard Tullman, CEO and drill sargeant at 1871, has his own theory of how the digital incubator will evolve as Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduces a new competition to attract startup talent.

Reporter-Chicago Business Journal
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Is Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel getting worried? So far results have been mixed — to say the least — in Emanuel's effort to establish Chicago as a major incubator for tech startups.
Certainly the Mayor's latest gambit, just announced, suggests the Mayor isn't yet willing to count on young entrepreneurs making their way to Chicago and the city's much-ballyhooed tech incubator 1871 entirely of their own volition.
Under the guise of the Chicago College Startup Competition, Emanuel now hopes to lure college graduates and their startup companies to 1871 with the promise of free office space and mentoring for a year.  Will that really be enough to attract the top young entrepreneurs who have Silicon Valley or New York City to choose from as well?
Of course, Emanuel believes it will be.
In a statement announcing the  Startup Competition, Emanuel said: "I am completely focused on attracting the best and brightest to Chicago. In giving an opportunity for collegiate entrepreneurs to continue their business in Chicago upon graduation, we will open up a whole new avenue of talented people coming to Chicago."
Yes, Emanuel is a dreamer, as well as Mayor of Chicago.
Meanwhile, drill sergeant Howard Tullman, who was appointed CEO of 1871 last November, has been busy assessing the prospects for the entrepreneurial-minded business people already under his watch at the tech hub.
He has brought in consulting firm Accenture which has been applying appropriate metrics to the 240 or so startups based at 1871 to determine which ones have the best chance of actually becoming something. That's important to Tullman because he came to 1871 with the theory that there might be too many slackers among those based at the incubator.
In an interview today, Tullman said he expects this study being done pro bono by Accenture to be completed by the end of April.  He doesn't yet know whether it will result in some startups shutting down altogether or possible refocusing their efforts. Tullman also suggested that when the analysis is done, some talent now attached to one startup could move to another one where their talents could be better utilized.
As 1871 evolves under his leadership, Tullman also said he expects the type of businesses the incubator ends up developing will prove to be more business-to-business focused, rather than business-to-consumer.
While 1871 may be short on truly sexy start-ups right now, Tullman said he is particularly excited about one business there that he described as a sort of Blue Book of the IT business — a company that can determine the true value of used IT equipment.
Overall, Tullman doesn't believe Emanuel needs to panic just. "I am confident about where we're headed," said Tullman.

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