Thursday, November 28, 2013


30Second Mom

30Second Mom creates a network of bite-sized tips and advice

From the second their children wake them up in the morning to the time they wrestle them to bed at night, moms usually have few seconds to spare.
But Elisa All, an Evanston mother of three and founder of the iParenting Media Network, acquired by the Walt Disney Co. in 2007, realized that most moms have 30 seconds a day when time stands still -- as they wait in the car for their children to get out of school.
“I was a busy mom, and I realized that none of the moms were getting out of their cars anymore,” she said. “Instead of talking to people, they were connecting on their phones.”
When she realized she could capture those 30 seconds of a mother’s day with a business venture, 30Second Mom was born.
30Second Mom, based in the 1871 tech workspace, is a stream-based website and app that offers tips on topics ranging from money to beauty to kids. Contributors include physicians, nutrition and fitness professionals, and financial experts who make as little as $1 per segment – and every piece of advice is delivered in 30 seconds or less.
Those who log on can choose to follow streams and share any tip on their social networks.
“We’ve all been trained to absorb a message through TV ads in 30 seconds in a message,” All said. “Why can’t we do the same thing with content? Give them a credible piece of information with just what they need to know in 600 characters so they can read it or watch it in a video in 30 seconds or less. We’re harnessing the best of both worlds.”
All, a Medill School of Journalism graduate, launched 30Second Mom two years ago, at first funding it herself, she said.
She then approached U.S. Cellular because she knew that mothers were one of that company’s largest target markets, and U.S. Cellular became her launch sponsor. They gave her a sum of money that she said “got us off to a nice strong start.”
Instead of traditional advertising, the site emphasizes custom content created for a particular sponsor.
“The way of thinking is a little different,” All said. “With U.S. Cellular, we identified an employee of theirs who was a busy mom, and developed content relevant to her life, and branded it – and offered tips on how your mobile device could make your life easier. They paid us to do that.”
30Second Mom made a profit in its first year. But the business has lost its sponsorship from U.S. Cellular, which this year sold its Chicago business to Sprint. All said she hopes to establish a relationship with Sprint.
In the meantime, she said, she just completed Springboard, a 13-week mentor-led accelerator program for women-owned businesses, and is refining her business model. The company’s only full-time employee, she said she plans to hire five full-time staff members to help with editorial, marketing and contributor relations.
Cheryl Leahy, a Wilmette mother and a blogger, has been there from the beginning and usually contributes a tip every week.
“I try to share my successes and failures in hopes of making another mom’s day a little easier, and her job of raising healthy, independent children a little more manageable,” Leahy said. “Many women who become moms feel a loss of identity, and 30Second Mom has helped me regain a sense of purpose and connection in addition to access to a wealth of experts in every field.”


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

1871 Gets Down to Business

1871 gets down to business
November 27, 2013

Howard Tullman

Kudos to the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center for picking a businessman to run its startup incubator, 1871.

Notice I said “businessman,” not “entrepreneur.” I've come to distrust that highfalutin' term, which too often confers status without accomplishment.

Anybody with a half-baked idea and no full-time job can claim to be an “entrepreneur.” A “businessman” or "businesswoman,” on the other hand, has a business. You know, the kind that sells actual products or services to actual customers. For actual money.

That's what Chicago needs. And that, lucky for the CEC and 1871, is what Howard Tullman is.

As my colleague John Pletz reported, Mr. Tullman has signaled he will bring an “up or out” philosophy to the CEC's 1871 startup incubator in the Merchandise Mart when he becomes its next CEO at the start of 2014. In other words, he'll expect incubatees to prove their ideas have some value in the marketplace. Or, to put it more concretely, he'll expect them to sell something to somebody. And he'll measure success by revenues generated, not by investment capital raised.

Without that kind of discipline an incubator can turn into a cocoon that insulates startups from the market forces that will determine their ultimate success or failure. It can become a magnet for the angel investors and venture capitalists willing to prop up some Mark Zuckerberg wannabe while he figures out how to turn a “vision” into a business.

Mr. Tullman knows what it takes to build a real business from scratch. He's done it many times, dating back to the early 1980s.


A lot has changed since people like Mr. Tullman, Mike Birck, Casey Cowell and Joe Mansueto were starting their businesses. In those days, there were no incubators, nor flocks of angels fluttering around fledgling businesses. To make it, startups had to generate enough cash to pay the electric bill.

Without cushions of venture funding, they learned to move fast, read markets, figure out what customers wanted and give it to them before somebody else did. That experience breeds the keenness, flexibility, resourcefulness and tenacity that make a business person.

I'm all for startup incubators, and I'm glad more early-stage funding is available these days. But these supports can foster the wrong kind of thinking as startups focus more on raising the next round of VC money than on landing the next customer.

If you're wondering what can go wrong when a company raises oodles of venture money before figuring out a viable business model, take a look at Groupon Inc. One of the most lavishly funded VC babies of all time, Groupon went public without a profitable strategy. Two years and billions of dollars in lost shareholder value later, Groupon still hasn't solved the riddle.

Let's not incubate any more Groupons.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Howard Tullman steps in as 1871 CEO

      Howard Tullman steps in as 1871 CEO

File 30889

Startup incubator 1871 has found new leadership in serial entrepreneur Howard Tullman, who currently serves as managing partner of G2T3V, LLC and Chicago High Tech Investment Partners. Expect the space, currently home to 240 Chicago companies, to focus deeply on digital and manufacturing and to have far greater reach.

Tullman said he’s focused on bringing new resources to the space plus a host of global partners, ranging from Indiegogo to Cisco and GE. Intent on turning the space from a room of entrepreneurs with great ideas to a factory of businesses with great products, Tullman said he will execute the following game plan:
  • Telecommunications capability: He said he wants startups  to communicate with the global community, so he’s making sure they will have the resources to do it. A potential Cisco partnership would make this possible.
  • Video capability: As chairman of Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy, Tullman has new age media in mind and wants a way for startups to market their messages to a greater audience in more visceral ways.
  • 3D printing: As startups turn from purely digital towards more tangible products, Tullman said he wants to make sure companies can build and prototype. A partnership with companies like GE would help 1871 manufacture.
  • Increased investment: Tullman said he knows that there’s space for new investment in the community and he is starting with talks with leadership at Indiegogo to help amplify not only outreach and marketing, but also investment inflow. 1871 will be the crowdfunding site’s Midwest headquarters.
All of this is in effort to make 1871 a global hub of innovation and concentrate the capabilities of the Chicagoland entrepreneurial community as it becomes increasingly infiltrated and complex, Tullman said. And while entrepreneurs can expect more resources in the space, they can also expect greater exclusivity.

“We want to be more focused,” Tullman said. “We want to be less focused on volume and more focused on companies that produce great products.”

Tullman’s entrepreneurial expertise has been developed over his 40-year career founding companies such as CCC Information and the Cobalt Group, which sold to ADP in 2010 for over $300 million. He has formed major strategic partnerships with corporations for Tribeca Flashpoint Academy and is credited with turning around culinary school Kendall College in 2003. He also owns venture fund G2T3V - whose investments he said he will be transparent about with 1871’s board to prevent any conflict of interest.

Tullman replaces 1871’s interim CEO Jim O’Connor, who will still be on the board of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center – the nonprofit that oversees 1871. The incubator’s previous CEO was Kevin Willer, who founded Google’s Chicago office and now runs the venture firm, Chicago Ventures.

Tullman’s proven leadership experience has earned him the blessing of Chicago’s entrepreneurial and political leaders as he steps in the new role: “Howard Tullman is the perfect person to take 1871 to the next level,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a statement.

Governor Pat Quinn said in a press release that “Howard knows what Chicago’s best and brightest need to push the innovation boundaries further than ever before.”

File 30892


Chicago Tech Hub 1871 Names Howard Tullman CEO

Nov 25, 2013, 2:09pm CST

Chicago tech hub 1871 names Howard Tullman CEO

Howard Tullman is the new CEO of Chicago tech hub 1871.

Reporter-Chicago Business Journal
Email  | Twitter
Is Howard Tullman really the mentor and facilitator — and drill sergeant — that Chicago's much-hyped 1871 tech center has been awaiting?
The parent Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center has tapped Tullman as the next CEO of the digital start-up hub that 1871 was designed to be. Tullman replacesKevin Willer, who announced his departurein February of this year.
According to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Tullman, 68, is the right man for the job, calling him "the perfect person to take 1871 to the next level." Illinois Gov.Pat Quinn hailed Tullman as an "experienced innovator and visionary leader."
Emanuel has set a goal of doubling Chicago's tech economy over the next 10 years and adding 40,000 new jobs in the sector.
Tullman's task, however, will be much harder than was that of his predecessor Willer. Now that the novelty of 1871 has worn off after well over two years, Tullman must prove that 1871 can really help establish Chicago as a major tech center.
Though past performance may not guarantee future success, Tullman has a history and a reputation in Chicago and beyond as an entrepreneur. Among his accomplishments is the founding 33 years ago of CCC Information Services, which is said to have subsequently created thousands of jobs in Chicago and nationally.
Tullman also is credited with having saved Kendall College by moving it form Evanston to Chicago and transforming it into an institution known for training culinary professionals.
More recently, Tullman founded the Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy for vocational training in the digital media arts. The Academy has graduated more than a thousand students 2007.
With top politicos Emanuel and Quinn having both blessed Tullman's appointment as 1871 CEO, he has wasted no time positioning himself as a change agent within the tech hub.
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Tullman suggested he is going to get tough with start-ups that are part of 1871. Tullman apparently believes too many of these start-ups are talking too much about raising investor capital and not doing enough actually to grow these start-ups and generate revenue.
Whether Tullman's stance will be enough to make 1871 realize its full potential remains to be seen. Just how much success he will have will depend in large part on the city's economic health in the months and years to come and how that weighs on young entrepreneurs as they decide whether Chicago is the best place to launch their start-ups and, just as important, whether the city is the best place to grow the start-ups once they are up and running.
Noted Tullman of his new role: "As a serial entrepreneur for more than 40 years, I can honestly say that there has been no more exciting time to be part of a start-up organization in Chicago than today."
The tech hub 1871 opened in May 2012. More than 240 start-up companies currently are housed at 1871, located in the Merchandise Mart. These businesses have attracted $40 million in investment capital and created 800 jobs that have contributed an estimated $15 million to the Illinois economy.

Flashpoint founder Tullman leads 1871 tech startup hub

Flashpoint founder Tullman leads 1871 tech startup hub

Flashpoint Howard Tullman now heads 1871 hub

Rock star entrepreneur Howard Tullman, having completed the successful establishment of an innovative vocational school dedicated to digital arts, will assume one of the most important leadership roles of his career.

On Jan. 6, the former CEO/chairman of Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy will lead 1871, Chicago’s marquee technology start-up hub, considered the public face of Chicago’s technology community.

The two-year old 1871 houses more than 240 individual entrepreneurs and startups in 50,000 sq. ft. of space in the Merchandise Mart.  It’s the flagship project of non-profit Chicago Entrepreneurial Center — which Tullman also will lead — committed to supporting, promoting and growing Chicago’s start-up community.

Hiring Tullman was “a home run,” said 1871 founder J. B. Pritzger of Pritzker Group Venture Capital. “I don’t think anyone imagined we could get someone with the level of talent he brings.”

One of the focuses now is going to have to be up-or-out.  We’re not just a hobby,” Tullman told Chicago Confidential. “We’re not a place for people to go to feel good about attempting to be an entrepreneur. We’re about people committed to building businesses.”

Some of Tullman’s plans include Indiegogo opening its Midwest office at 1871; additions of a TV studio to produce promotional videos and 3D printing facilities.

Tullman’s career of innovation and investment

Tullman has a national and international reputation as a longtime relentlessly successful entrepreneur.  His CV of business and innovation endeavors and investments, leadership roles, honors and civic involvement is almost book length.

After spending a few years turning culinary Kendall College around, Tullman took on the challenge of starting a vocational school exclusively for digital media education.

In 2010, Robert DeNiro’s New York-based Tribeca Enterprises became 50% partner and the name was changed to Tribeca Flashpoint Academy.

Last year, a local private equity firm acquired a majority interest in the school and having achieving his goals, Tullman recently left Tribeca Flashpoint to start his own capital venture firm.

At 1871 Tullman replaces Kevin Willer, who left in June to become a partner at Chicago Ventures.

Howard Tullman Named CEO of Chicago Tech Hub 1871

Howard Tullman Named CEO of Chicago Tech Hub 1871

Tullman, an iconic business leader in the city, has been appointed to take control of the  hub that has become a focal point for the city’s rapidly developing startup community.

Howard Tullman / Getty

Chicago’s leading digital hub, 1871 recently announced that announced Howard Tullman will be taking up the position of CEO of the high-tech incubator,  succeeding. Kevin Willer, who was in charge of the organization for the past two years but had to leave his position in June of this year.

The 1871 tech hub operates under the auspices of CEC, a city of Chicago financed non-profit organization whose role is to support, promote and generally encourage the growth of  the rapidly developing startup community in the city.

According to a spokesperson for CEC, Howard Tullman’s appointment to take control of the 1871 hub serves as a classic example of what we in the Windy City describe as “Chicagoness”. Chicagoness is a situation where talented people such as Howard Tullman  who have been the mastermind behind the launching and success of some of the countries leading organizations have returned home to pass on their knowledge to the next generation of entrepreneurs to allow the cycle to continue.

Despite his busy schedule Howard Tullman has taken on the role of CEO at 1871, as well as his duties as President and Chief Executive Officer of Flashpoint Academy,  CEO of Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Experiencia, Inc., and President Emeritus of Kendall College  as well as a number of other positions that he holds in Chicago.

The 1871 tech hub first began operating in May of 2012, since when, it has earned itself the number one niche for providing ground breaking programming,  becoming in the process a local, national and global model of how a successful tech hub incubator should operate. Since opening its doors 1871 has provided thousands of hours of individual mentorship from leading entrepreneurs to budding ones as well as hands-on training and important provision of working space to allow digital entrepreneurs to get their projects physically off the ground.

1871 also serves as home to two major national incubators including Tech Stars Chicago. Currently close to 250 high-tech companies operate out of 1871, having drawn a total of $40 million in investment capital, as well as creating close to 1000 jobs, making for a substantial contribution to Chicago’s economy.

Headquartered in a 50,000-square-foot facility within the central Merchandise Mart, 1871 is the flagship project of the CEC, a non-profit organization committed to supporting the spirit of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship in the city of Chicago.

Accepting the position Howard Tullman pointed out that there’s little doubt that an entrepreneurial renaissance is taking place within the city of Chicago and 1871 are a major driving force behind the drive which may well see 1871 become nationally known as a center for entrepreneurship.

“As a serial entrepreneur for more than 40 years, I can honestly say that there has been no more exciting time to be part of a startup organization in Chicago than today.” Mr. Tullman summed up.

Howard Tullman was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. After the end of World War Two,  Howard the oldest of  six siblings, took it upon himself to try and help the family fortunes, doing all kinds of part-time jobs as well as entertaining at children’s parties by clicking on magic performances.

In the mid-50s Tullman and his family moved to Highland Park, Illinois where he graduated from High School going on to  study for his undergraduate degree at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois  graduating Cum Laude with a B.A. in Mathematics and Economics in 1967.

Howard then went on to receive his Juris Doctor from Northwestern’s School of Law graduating with Honors in 1970.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


To the CEC Board and Team…

               I just want to briefly join in Jim and Bryant’s comments (now that my phone has slowed down a bit and the 300 emails have been dealt with) to say how grateful I am for this opportunity and how excited I am about the prospects of working successfully with all of you and the terrific staff and all of the sponsors/supporters (and the City and State as well) whom have come together to accomplish so much and to take 1871 so far already. I hope that we can keep building aggressively on the great progress that has been made to date.

I also want to thank many of you for your personal notes and kind words of congratulations and good wishes. Jim and Bryant have been amazing leaders for this entire effort and they have been great to me already in guiding me through the interview and evaluation process. I think we have a very clear and shared view of how CEC and 1871 can both continue to move forward in these electric times to further the cause of entrepreneurship throughout our great city and state. The entire search committee (as luck would have it) were both friends and business acquaintances and that made the process feel so much more like a family affair than an inquisition and it set things off in a very supportive and positive direction.

I too want to commend Kevin on his very hard work and impressive results in bringing 1871 to this point – I can honestly say that we’ve been regularly connected and speaking about this adventure since before it even began. He’s been a great friend and supporter of our efforts over these last several years as well and the entire City and all the members and beneficiaries of 1871 owe him our thanks. 

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