Wednesday, October 07, 2015

1871 CEO Howard Tullman Keynote Presentation at FUND Conference

Fund Conference: Howard Tullman on time and the sharing economy

Blue Sky Innovation

Howard Tullman ⇒ on Wednesday predicted a long-thriving sharing economy and called time the scarcest resource for entrepreneurs.

He also called it the future of business.

“I want what I want when I want it,” said Tullman, CEO of Chicago’s 1871 tech hub, about the prevailing sentiment among consumers.

Tullman spoke on the main stage at the Fund Conference at the UIC Forum, which features investors and more than 100 startups in workshops and conversations about funding. Readers can keep up with the conference through Blue Sky Innovation's live blog.

Tullman joined other leaders from Chicago’s startup community in a day of discussion and discovery about funding, crowdfunding, diversity, customer service, consumer engagement, the sharing economy — and time.

“Whatever was yesterday’s miracle is tomorrow’s ‘So what?’” Tullman said.

Citing Amazon’s one-hour delivery service, among others, Tullman emphasized that the future of business is all about time and speed to market. The future is in streaming and sharing and in peer-to-peer business relationships, he said. He cited Uber’s delivery service as an example of the latter.

Businesses must compete for customers’ attention and ask themselves what keeps people from engaging with a product, Tullman said.

He emphasized the significance of 18- to 35-year-old consumers. They’re where the money is, he said. Yet businesses can’t overlook the newest generation.

“The kids are connected beyond your wildest imagination,” Tullman said.

As for the sharing economy, Tullman said “you can expect ‘Uber everything’ for a period of time.”

Utility today trumps ownership, said Tullman, pointing out that Uber doesn’t own cars and Airbnb doesn’t own real estate — resulting in low barriers for entrepreneurs in those areas.

At a workshop called “Getting Revenue Without Investment,” Todd Connor ⇒, CEO of The Bunker incubator at 1871, said entrepreneurs need to identify businesses interested in their products or solutions. Then they need to get bold, he said.

“The best thing you can do, and the easiest path I’ve seen to investment, is you showing up unsolicited to the CEO ... and saying I’ve got a solution that’s going to upend your industry,” Connor said.

Connor asked at his workshop: “If you had to go generate revenue next week against your business idea, what would that look like?”

Many at the workshop raised a hand to say they’re frustrated at attempts to find money. Connor asked what entrepreneurs could do to generate revenue. Answers from attendees included, “You can eat,” “Hire the right people” and “Attract more investors.”

During another discussion, Michael Sachaj of Hyde Park Angels suggested that entrepreneurs research venture capital firms and angel investor groups to discover on what areas those investors are focusing.

Jason Fried ⇒, founder and CEO of Basecamp, emphasized in a "fireside chat" that entrepreneurs shouldn't wait for funding before proceeding with their concept. He also discussed the value of prompt customer service, saying "one minute is our average response time to emails ... what matters to people is what matters to us."

Events also focused on diversity, including the perspective of female, black and LGBT entrepreneurs.
Genevieve Thiers ⇒, founder of, advised male investors to examine potential unconscious biases toward women. Joel Bosch of StartOut, a nonprofit organization that fosters LGBT entrepreneurs, said entrepreneurs who see and manage diversity better understand the diversity of their customer base. Thomas Stovall, founder of Chicago-based technology company Candid Cup, cited an advantage for black folks in tech: the ability to address a specific need for a specific group of people.

At end end of the conference, 10 companies got the opportunity to pitch on the main stage. The companies included K9 Fit Club, Amplifinity and Open Airplane.

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