Friday, January 09, 2015

Going Against the Flow: Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871

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Going Against the Flow: Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871

Howard. Tullman is the CEO of 1871, Chicago's largest tech innovation hub. Howard has over 45 years of start-up, management, IPO and turn-around experience with several organizations. He was appointed by President Clinton to serve on the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities ( and served throughout the Clinton presidencies. He has a B.A. and a J.D. from Northwestern University.

Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871
What does entrepreneurship mean to you, and what underlying characteristics do you see in successful entrepreneurs? 

HT: Entrepreneurship to me means the freedom to imagine, create and then pursue your dream of making something from nothing that will make an important difference in the lives of others.
Successful entrepreneurs are achievement and goal-oriented, willing to take responsibility for their actions, have high levels of energy and imagination, and have a tremendous work ethic. They have great degrees of perseverance - they won't take "No" for an answer, and they have contagious enthusiasm and sense of purpose.
What are you most proud of  in your professional career? If you could do something over in your life, what would it be? 

HT: I have created more than a dozen successful startup businesses which in turn have created over 10,000 jobs which have changed and bettered the lives of thousands of people and their families.

I would start earlier, work harder, sleep less, and try to accomplish more.

Tell us about an instance where you had to go against the flow to realize your goal. 

HT: Every business I have created has been primarily based around creating disruptive and innovative changes in traditional, large, old-line industries like insurance, automotive, media, education, etc. In each case, the changes were ultimately sensible and needed; the difficulty was overcoming the resistance to change which people have when they are relatively happy with solutions that have worked O.K. for them in the past and don't know any better. My life is about going against the flow!

With a large education incubator (Leap Innovations) and half a dozen universities and other educational offerings (like The Starter School and General Assembly) already at 1871, why did you decide to work with Fullbridge to offer 1871's own XBA - accelerated course in entrepreneurial studies - starting early next year and how has the interest level been so far?

HT: The response has been amazing. I think that the initial 30 week class is already over-subscribed, but we are looking at multiple sections if necessary and, of course, until the classes actually start, there may be some "melt" as we say in the school biz. The big news is that it's absolutely clear that the need and the demand is there and that this offering (priced at less than $6000) is a new and disruptive entrant into the supplementary education space. We wanted to give our member companies access to still another tool set of resources to make them better and more complete business men and women. It's not enough today to learn some code and call yourself a company - especially if you want to succeed. Our job - whether it's through bringing equity crowd funding to 1871 with OurCrowd - or the Bitcoin exchange and incubator that we'll be opening shortly - or our veteran's Bunker initiative - is always the same. We want to keep raising the bar and making our companies the most successful in the space. It's not enough to be the first or the biggest - we want to continue to be the best.
LinkedIn style - If you were to give advice to your 22 old self, what would it be? 

HT: I would have spent less time being a lawyer and started my first post-law school startup business sooner. Law school is good training for some things, but not especially for being a successful entrepreneur. The only worse preparation is business school.
Follow Howard Tullman at @Tullman, and check out the other interviews in Going Against the Flow series at or

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