Saturday, January 31, 2015
Friday, January 30, 2015
Sir Richard Branson met with a dozen entrepreneurs from Chicago’s 1871, a huge start-up incubator with more than 325 companies (which are operating on a single floor in a 75,000 square foot space), to hear brief descriptions of their businesses and answer their questions. Branson was his usual relaxed, thoughtful and irreverent self even in the midst of the media frenzy surrounding the opening of his first Virgin hotel (soon to be a chain of at least 20 others) in the Windy City.
Lead by 1871 CEO Howard Tullman who first summarized the Chicago and Illinois startup scene and 1871’s own growth and remarkable results to date, the far-ranging conversation ran the gamut from packages (Package Zen), pot and pets (Wondermento) –to people, planes (OpenAirplane) and porn – and all the way from slipped disks to outer space - with more than a few important tidbits of business advice and philosophy thrown in from a guy who’s truly been there and done it all.
On people and delegating, his advice was simple: find people smarter than you to run the day-to-day operations as soon as you can so you can keep focused on the future. Responding to a question from the founder of Herbfront on investors’ aversion to investing in pot-related businesses, Branson (after noting that he had enjoyed many a spliff himself) spoke passionately about the need to decriminalize all drug abuse and to treat it as a health problem instead of an excuse to lock up a bunch of kids who were as likely as not to turn into great entrepreneurs.
Asked by the CEO of Georama what he thought about future travel becoming more video-based and virtual with folks traveling world-wide without leaving their homes, he reminded everyone that he did own an airline so he wasn’t really that enthused about the prospect, but then he went on to say that online video certainly worked well for sex, so who knew what might be coming down the pike.
On the issue of social entrepreneurs, after hearing about SHIFT’s business of cash advances to the very poor in underdeveloped countries, he challenged everyone to use their entrepreneurial skills to make a real difference by taking on the world’s problems. He added that they needed to look for new and novel approaches because just being another “me-too” business in any industry was a certain path to failure.
As to choosing the best opportunities (and running the risk of missing others), he told the co-founder of We Deliver that he himself accepted way too many challenges and that he was known around his businesses as “Dr. Yes”, and he added that you shouldn’t fear missing the boat because there were always more chances and new things coming along and that it was most important to focus on being the best you could be at what you were doing. But smart operators should also keep one eye out for the folks trying to leapfrog you and you need to be ready to leapfrog them right back.
When the maker of the MagicTags iPhone app asked him about being included in a classic Apple commercial, Sir Richard said that the best type of advertising is when it’s for someone else and you don’t have to pay for it. Then he recalled some of his early PR and promotion stunts with sunk planes and balloons over the years and even an ad that showed a sinking boat with a prominent Virgin logo and the line – “next time, Richard, take the plane”.
And asked about strong branding by the owner of Crowdtap and the origin of the name Virgin, Branson said that it was hard today to come up with a good brand name because so many names were taken. As to the Virgin name, he had narrowed the choices down to two – Virgin and Slipped Disk records – and he happily choose Virgin because Slipped Disk would have been an awful name for an airline.
Shown the Bluetooth-enabled Gramovox music player offering a classic Sinatra tune, Sir Richard asked how he could get one to keep right there in the Shag Room. He was promptly gifted the demo unit by its builder on the spot and he jumped up (in his smashing red socks) and started dancing to Frank on top of the nearby ottoman.
Wrapping up the give-and-take session, and after shooting a bunch of selfies lead by the developer of the SELFIE app at 1871, he left the group with a most compelling comment. He said: “between all of you, you can run the world.”
And then, lo and behold, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel appeared.
And then, lo and behold, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel appeared.
1871 CEO HOWARD TULLMAN AND COO PIVOTAL EDWARD HIEATT ANNOUNCE PIVOTAL TRACKER SOFTWARE AVAILABLE TO ALL 1871 MEMBERS AT OPENING OF NEW CHICAGO OFFICE
Today, Pivotal opens the doors to our new office in Chicago. Located at 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, in the center of Chicago’s high tech scene, this new office expansion will provide more accessible, local support for a growing number of customers in the region.
To celebrate Pivotal’s new accessibility for local businesses, Pivotal is offering members of the 1871 digital startup community access to Pivotal Tracker. The Chicago-based entrepreneurial hub of over 200 digital startups is giving Pivotal a warm welcome and in return, Pivotal is allowing members to qualify for free access to the award-winning, agile management tool.
At part of today’s launch, there will also be an exclusive, opening event showcasing Pivotal Cloud Foundry.
Expanding Operations in ChicagoChicago’s extended metropolitan area hosts 100s of companies from the Inc. 5000 list, and 33 Illinois-based companies have been on the Fortune 500 list, including companies from the surrounding metro area like OfficeMax, Hillshire Brands, John Deere, Kraft Foods, Walgreens, Sears, and McDonalds. There are also a number of tech conferences and events in Chicago, the largest Midwestern hub in the U.S.
By opening this office, Pivotal expects to deepen relationships with existing insurance, travel and consumer products companies that already depend on Pivotal Cloud Foundry, Pivotal Big Data Suite and Pivotal Lab’s agile development prowess. Also, as demand for these next level tools and services continues to rise in the area, Pivotal will have a team on the ground ready to help more companies move to the benefits of the 3rd platform.
Working at Pivotal ChicagoPivotal is bringing highly sought after high-tech jobs, the best in agile development practices, and a culture of innovation that respects work/life balance. The office is already 30 strong and expects to grow significantly (see the job openings for engineers and consultants). Pivotal offers competitive salaries for experienced software industry vets as well as the pool of graduates from local universities like University of Chicago, Loyola University, DePaul, Illinois Institute of Tech, and Northwestern.
Most importantly, Pivotal’s technology and approaches to application development are leading edge—integrating PaaS, big data, mobile and web development, Lean Startup techniques, and agile methods—helping companies compete digitally by becoming more data driven, scaling technology, improving software delivery times, and decreasing costs.
Inside the Box: Rethinking Space from Disrupt CRE Chicago Conference, 1/29/15 from John Fecile on Vimeo.
Tear down those office walls? Open up that space? Not so fast
Chicago Blue Sky
30 January 2015
Offices are no longer as simple as a couple of cubicles and a water cooler. But taking down walls and throwing in a ping pong table doesn’t automatically inspire innovation, panelists said Thursday at DisruptCRE.
Panelists discussed the changing nature of offices at the real estate and technology conference at Willis Tower. The panel, titled “Inside the Box: Rethinking Space,” included 1871 CEO Howard Tullman, Gensler global design leader and design principal Carlos Martinez, IdeaPaint president John Stephans and SpaceTrak CEO Kristine O’Hollearn. The panel was moderated by Chris Bentley, midwest editor of The Architect’s Newspaper.
The panelists discussed a growing hesitation toward the open-office trend.
“We think that ‘open’ is over, that we’re going backward to more contained spaces, more identity, more sound control,” Tullman said. “We’re discovering that there’s a myth about multitasking — which is actually that you’re doing a lot of things poorly.”
He said an analysis of 1871 shows that.
“In our time-lapse measurements of our space, we’re seeing that anytime anybody wants to concentrate, focus or get any kind of privacy or any work done, they literally leave the space and go to a quieter space,” Tullman said. “Frankly, if 80 percent of the time you’re exiting your space to get work done, there’s probably the case that your space isn’t working for you.”
But that isn’t to say that open offices don’t work for anyone. Each office should design space according to its needs and goals, Gensler’s Martinez said.
“We no longer have a single answer to workplace,” he said. “Workplace is emerging so that every company, every workgroup needs different solutions and the offices are being designed now to accommodate the diversity of those work environments.”
Offices are often missing one crucial element to spark collaboration and new ideas, Martinez said.
“We have been promoting this notion that there are four key work modes,” he said. “I think that the one that many times gets underleveraged is this idea of the importance of socialized space — great collaboration starts first from a social dynamic.”
IdeaPaint’s Stephans emphasized that those fun, social spaces require leadership.
“You can design the greatest space, but if leaders of an organization don’t make it clear that it’s space to let your ideas out, then it’s just space and it becomes empty,” he said.
Panelists also said spaces must be “hackable” and flexible — allowing employees to change the configurations and interact with the space.
“We don’t all work the same. We don’t all think about working the same way,” O’Hollearn said. “We have to be able to go to those spaces… and convert and have a flexible environment where we can move the furniture around to individualize it.”
1871 WELCOMES GERMAN AMBASSADOR TO THE
UNITED STATES PETER WITTIG
Ambassador Wittig tours 1871, meets with several early-stage technology companies
CHICAGO (January 30, 2015)—1871 CEO Howard A. Tullman welcomed German Ambassador to the United States Peter Wittig to 1871 yesterday to showcase Chicago’s technology and entrepreneurial ecosystems. Ambassador Wittig toured 1871’s 75,000 square foot facility before meeting with several 1871 startups from a variety of industries.
“We are excited to welcome Ambassador Wittig as he experiences Chicago’s unique startup environment,” said 1871 CEO Howard A. Tullman. “Cities like Chicago and Berlin are leading the way in supporting entrepreneurs who are creating successful, sustainable businesses, and these new businesses are making important social and economic contributions on a global scale. It is a great pleasure to showcase the exciting things happening at 1871 and we are hopeful this visit leads to increased partnership opportunities.”
“Working out of 1871 provides access not only to a productive community of like-minded international entrepreneurs, but also to a significant set of resources that have helped our company succeed,” said Gerhard Boiciuc, VP Business Development for 1871 member company Parknav, one of the companies that met with Ambassador Wittig. “From meeting with top technology companies to discussing our business with foreign dignitaries, 1871 continues to provide amazing support and great opportunities to further develop and grow our business.”
Since its opening, 1871 has hosted thousands of foreign dignitaries and entrepreneurs seeking to explore the entrepreneurial and technology industries in Chicago. 1871 has in its history hosted Ambassadors from Colombia, Mexico and Morocco, and recently co-hosted an event in Toronto with the U.S. Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman. In June of 2014, 1871 hosted twelve international startups for the US Department of State’s Global Innovation through Science and Technology Initiative (GIST), and more recently hosted groups of companies from Colombia and Turkey that are interested in expanding to the United States.
1871 also has formalized agreements with incubators and co-working spaces in London, Tel Aviv and Mexico City. This international involvement not only highlights Chicago’s growing ecosystem for digital entrepreneurs, but also provides 1871 members with an expanding set of tools and resources so that they can remain globally competitive as they develop their businesses.
1871 is the home of more than 325 early-stage, high-growth startups. Located in The Merchandise Mart, this 75,000 square foot facility is also the headquarters of nationally recognized accelerators, Techstars Chicago and Impact Engine; half a dozen industry-specific incubators in key areas such as real estate, education technology and the Internet of Everything; several emerging tech talent schools (The Starter League and the Startup Institute), and the state's leading technology advocate, the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition. It is the second home to Chicago-based VCs, Pritzker Group, MATH Ventures, Hyde Park Angels, OurCrowd and Chicago Ventures, as well as satellite offices for Northwestern University, University of Illinois, University of Chicago, Illinois Institute of Technology, Loyola and DeVry. 1871 has fast become recognized as the hub for the city’s entrepreneurial/technology ecosystem and has been featured in TechCrunch, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Crain’s Chicago Business among other top media.
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