Saturday, March 25, 2017

Craig Kielburger at 1871

On February 28th, Craig Kielburger, Founder of WE Charity, came to 1871 to discuss his charity and how he got his entrepreneurial start at an early age. “WE Charity is an international charity and educational partner.”

People all around the world are involved in the charity. There are several powerful members of the WE team, including the Board of Directors, celebrity ambassadors, volunteers, etc. ME to WE (the social enterprise aspect of the charity) has several retail partners like Pacsun, Walgreens, Nordstrom, Staples, and many more. Since 2009, ME to WE has donated more than $8.5 million to WE Charity. There are constant strides and success measures. Since 2010, attendance stats at Manac Primary School in Haiti have increased over 40%.

Mr. Kielburger is 34 years old and from Canada. His original motive to help people from poverty and exploitation began when he was only twelve years old. He read in the newspaper about a 12-year old former child slave in Pakistan, who had been murdered because he spoke up about human rights. This is where it all sparked for Mr. Kielburger. Twenty years later, WE Charity makes constant strides to improve daily lives of children and families.
The main difference between WE Charity and other organizations is the idea of “Tracking Your Impact”. Mr. Kielburger stated how this form of donation proves to be more profitable. He used the example of going door-to-door to collect money for a charity or giving a dollar at the cash register when making a purchase. There is a connection lost through these interactions. People don’t fully know where their money is going. That is not the case with WE. Every ME to WE item sold has a tracking number that lets the consumer see directly where their donation is going, digitally. This is the personal component to WE. This is the new wave of giving.
Mr. Kielburger emphasized the importance of social change and incorporating this into everyday life. Whether through social enterprise, embarking on a ME to WE trip, or learning in school, we see how our lives are related to social change. His central theme revolves around being present and understanding the difference each person is making when they decide to join this movement. From Mr. Kielburger’s presentation, I could understand the level of commitment and personal thought he has contributed.
The insights that were shared enlightened a new approach to entrepreneurship, and more specifically how this charity stands out. The techniques and technology broaden their audiences and shed light on their actions. WE Charity is living proof of a well thought out charity/social enterprise that changes the world.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Chicago – The Best Incubator in America?
Recently, published an article about the best cities for early-stage companies. The premise: Chicago is the surprise winner.
Why would that be? San Francisco and New York are both beautiful, thriving cities that diametrically represent the diversity of American ideas. San Fran – younger, more venture-oriented with beautiful natural vistas. New York – the classic, bustling private and public equity concrete jungle.
What do they have in common?
It costs a kidney to pay rent for a closet.
San Francisco may be where most early-stage companies go – entrepreneurs know the venture capital money is there. However, that is also where the costs are highest and the competition is fiercest.
Early-stage companies are constantly battling with expenses. Part of the nature of starting a business is scraping by, working long, uncompensated overtime hours hoping that the sweat equity will fertilize their company equity.
Cost, or a high burn rate, is often what takes a promising idea under. The clock ticks too fast.
What if these companies could slow down time?
Chicago could be the “Goldilocks City” for early-stage companies. There is a massive capital opportunity from the volume of people, headquarters, and wealth in the Chicagoland area. Combine the opportunity with relatively inexpensive costs to operate the business – from both an HR and real estate perspective – and the environment may be “just right.”
In Chicago, 45 percent of investments produced 10 times return on investment. This was far higher than the runner up, Raleigh, where 26 percent of startups produced the same return on investment. Chicago raked in high numbers across the board, with 81 percent of its startups producing between three and 10 percent yield on initial investment. New York came in third below Chicago and Raleigh.
The study used proprietary data via Pitchbook, and took a few factors into account. For instance, companies included must have been acquired or gone public within the last 10 years, and raised $500k or greater prior to exit.
Chicago and Raleigh only have 31 startups that met the profitability requirements. New York City has 98. As the granddaddy region of startups, the Bay Area has 613.
To be a successful investor or entrepreneur, many believe thinking outside the box is helpful, if not necessary. That beneficial alternative thinking may apply to location choice as well. Burgeoning hubs like 1871, Matter, and 2112 are gaining traction with the national audience who can no longer afford to not pay attention to the projects growing there.
While everyone with an idea seems to go to the home of Apple or the Big Apple, it seems early-stage companies find it easier to flourish in the “City in a Garden,” Chicago. And while the coasts have certainly laid the ground work for other cities to make a strong entrance into the incubator space, it seems Chicago’s firm footing and propensity for change has served it well. The right environment, lower costs and plenty of savvy investors have brought Chicago to receive’s recognition and our team at Venture Connects intends to keep pushing this city to the forefront!

Written by Denny O’Malley

Monday, March 20, 2017

Phase 1 of the Great K'nex Clock Project

How to Start Collecting: 6 Tips by Howard Tullman

·         #RainbowedPicks
MARCH 14, 2017

How to Start Collecting: 6 Tips by Howard Tullman

Emerging, mid-career, and established artists peacefully coexist under one roof in a renovated warehouse that is packed floor-to-ceiling with paintings and sculptures, hand picked and installed by Howard Tullman, the collector, himself. The hallways, the office, the kitchen, even the bathrooms of the West Loop loft are a vision that one needs time to take in. 

This is one of the largest and most diverse collections of contemporary realist art in America and the legendary Chicago entrepreneur admits to love each and every piece for entirely different reasons.

Tullman has an eye for figurative realism. He first developed a fondness for realist drawings which then led to his strong collection of photorealism work, he explains as he walks a handful of art devotees around the loft—in this case, to call this the grand tour would be an understatement. After 45 years of acquisitions, the collection currently includes over 1,300 works, most created by living artists. 

Big names in the collection include Chicago icons like Ed Paschke, Roger Brown, Roy De Forest, Bernardo Torrens, Jim Nutt, and Gladys Nilsson and showcases an eclectic ensemble of painting, photography, and taxidermy sculpture—from life-size installations to vintage Pez dispensers and Superman lunch boxes, it’s all about cultural commentary.

Howard A. and Judith Tullman Art Collection

Bringing beauty to the city, Tullman, hangs original pieces from his personal collection onto the walls of Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy, which he founded, in the nonprofit, technology startup hub, 1871, where he serves as CEO, but his efforts to make the world a prettier place won’t stop there. 

From taking over the 80-feet hallway leading up to the doors of 1871 (think bright colored cow heads, the splitting of the atom and a Chicago-style hot dog,) he extended his interest in the community mural-making process in more public spaces, namely local artist Jeff Zimmermann’s mural along The 606, that actually includes Tullman’s face in it.

As an art collector, serial entrepreneur, venture capitalist, educator, writer, lecturer, and humanitarian among other titles, Tullman has approached prodigious status in local, national, and international circles alike, blurring the lines between technology, business, entrepreneurship, and contemporary art. 

He’s started more than 12 companies, one of his first being a magic performance business at the age of 10, he’s held senior executive positions at a variety of established institutions, he is a member of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago NEXT and Cultural Affairs Councils and he’s intrigued by creating something from nothing. For one of the most accomplished, best-connected people in the country, he is humble and driven with a poignant sense of humor; he’s the kind of person you don’t want to stop talking. 

“There are a lot of breasts in here,” he says, as if one wouldn’t notice that a big chunk of the work features nudes themselves. “It’s the kind of art my wife wouldn’t want to keep in the house,” he smiles, adding that they have very different tastes in art but they always make it work. She jokingly calls the loft “The Breast Home,” he says and the tour crowd bursts into laughter.

With more than 40 years experience as an art collector, Tullman knows firsthand that to own a home full of art, one has to start somewhere.

Howard A. and Judith Tullman Art Collection
·         Buy only what excites you. Liking something is not enough. You will be living with these things for decades. Buy things you can’t live without.
·         Buy art being made by your contemporaries. Dead artists aren’t worth the investment and famous living artists aren’t worth the money.
·         Buy original work not prints. Drawings are OK, but paint is best. If you can’t afford it, wait until you can, rather than buying something cheap that you shouldn’t buy at all.
·         Buy through a few galleries that you like to deal with and who aren’t pressuring you to buy. Concentrating your purchases makes sense for both business and personal reasons. Also it is painful and very difficult to negotiate purchase prices directly with the artists. The galleries are a good buffer.
·         It’s rarely a smart plan to buy a large number of one artist’s work instead of a sample of several artists’ work—even if you really love one artist.
·         Make sure that the artists you are collecting are good (ideally even trained,) technical artists first before they are experimenters and Avant Garde. Any slob can throw paint on paper or canvas and call it a work of art—this doesn’t make them artists or professionals.

Howard A. and Judith Tullman Art Collection

1871 Hosts Mayors' Roundtable on Tech

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