Earlier this month, we announced the 150 finalists for 50 on Fire, our annual awards show celebrating the individuals and companies that are heating up their respective industries. On 12/8, we'll be revealing the final 50 live at the big event via an action-packed, 15-minute video. And if you've seen the staggeringly impressive list of 150 finalists, I'm sure you're all wondering the same thing - "how the heck are they going to pick just 50?"
And that's a really great question. This year, the finalist list is complete with people and businesses that are all driving the city's innovation economy forward, from civic technologists helping bridge the digital divide to founders revolutionizing healthcare. But the event's called 50 on Fire, not 150 on Fire (unfortunately). And that's where the below folks come in.
To select the final 50, we assign a handful of judges a category or two each and send them a comprehensive packet complete with submission info and other details. We've also carefully hand-picked our judges, making sure that each category is being determined by industry experts, veterans, and thought-leaders. In other words, 50 on Fire is always judged by people that are, themselves, on fire. Also, this year, we've brought in a handful of 2015 winners to weigh in on the category they represented last year. (Companies listed will get one vote, which a representative making the selections for the group).
Finally, if you'd like to meet the judges and finalists and learn more about the December event and the selection process, we'll be hosting a 50 on Fire meetup on Thursday, 11/3 at Life Creative.
Below are the 2016 judges for 50 on Fire and we'll be adding to this list over the next week or so. (Also, for judges with conflicts of interest - i.e. if a nominee is a colleague, connection, or portfolio company - we've assigned them a different category).
- April Lane, Executive Director, Catapult Chicago
- Bailey Moore, VP, Wintrust Ventures
- Curiosity, 2015 Winner
- Dennis Grunt, Managing Director, Silicon Valley Bank
- Fred Hoch, CEO, Illinois Technology Association
- Galen Mason, Senior Counsel, Foley & Lardner LLP
- Howard Tullman, CEO, 1871, 2015 50 on Fire Winner
- Jeff Cantalupo, Listen Ventures
- Jessica Tenuta, Cofounder and Head of Design, Pacback and 2015 50 Winner
- Jim Dallke, Chicago Inno Staff Writer
- kCura, 2015 Winner
- Karis Hustad, Chicago Inno Staff Writer
- Kate Drane, Senior Director of Tech Outreach, Indiegogo
- Linda Darragh, Clinical Professor of Entrepreneurial Practice, The Larry Levy Executive Director, Kellogg Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative Executive Director, Heizer Center for Private Equity and Venture Capital
- Mark Tebbe, Chairman, ChicagoNEXT and Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business
- Matt Matros, Founder & CEO, Limitless Coffee, Founder Protein Bar, 2015 50 Winner
- Nick Brown, CEO & Founder, Glappitnova
- Peter Wilkins, Managing Director, Hyde Park Angels, 2015 50 Winner
- Raise, 2015 Winner
- Randy Rivera, SVP, BBVA Compass
- Rick Desai, Listen Ventures
- Todd Connors, CEO, The Bunker, 2015 50 Winner
- World Business Chicago
(Image via Chicago Inno)