CHICAGO, September 21, 2023 — 1871 honored eight award winners at the 16th Annual Momentum Awards on September 21, 2023. 

1871 celebrated eight award winners at The 16th Annual Momentum Awards. The ceremony celebrated the past year in innovation across Chicago and honored the brightest leaders and companies in tech today. Relive the best moments of the night in our 2023 Momentum playlist

In the spirit of Momentum, the Chicago tech community continues to be a powerhouse. Among the many milestones recognized, 1871 CEO Betsy Ziegler reinforced the role of 1871’s Innovation Labs in bringing the tech community together to accelerate progress within and across industries and technologies. 

The winner of the Corporate Champion Award — CDW— was publicly announced in advance, but was officially recognized during the program. The 7 awards were presented live at the event: Chicagoness, Outstanding Tech CEO, Industry Disrupter, Social Impact, Rising Star, Momentum, and CityLIGHTS. 

“This year’s winners and finalists are a mix of visionary founders, leaders, and companies with a relentless drive and commitment to innovation,” said Larry Eppley, Chairman of 1871 and Founding Managing Partner of Sheppard Mullin’s Chicago office. “The 16th Annual Momentum Awards pay tribute to their achievements and, just as importantly, give us a glimpse into their promising futures. We could not be more excited to have them as part of our thriving community and support their excellence in tech.”

The 16th Annual Momentum Awards perfectly showcased how our expansive and engaged community of innovators are playing a crucial role in spurring Chicago’s economy, and  having an impact on the global stage,” said Betsy Ziegler, CEO of 1871. “Our 30 finalists and 8 award winners tonight have been recognized for their progress and  impact and 1871 is thrilled to honor them. We are proud of their successes and are their forever cheering squad.”

Corporate Champion Award winner: CDW

The Corporate Champion Award was presented to CDW for their commitment to empowering technological transformation across industries and providing companies with a wide variety of technology solutions and services to enhance efficiency and productivity.

CDW demonstrates their commitment to the community through a collaboration with local schools and organizations, like 1871, to promote STEM and entrepreneurship education, equipping the next generation with essential skills.  

A fortune 200 company led by Christine Leahy, one of only 19 female CEOs leading the Fortune 200.

The 2022 Corporate Champion award went to Navistar.

Chicagoness Award winner: Kevin Willer

The Chicagoness Award was presented to Kevin Willer for his unwavering commitment to making Chicago a more inclusive city and being an advocate for equitable opportunities in tech and entrepreneurship. 

Kevin’s entrepreneurial spirit shines through his numerous ventures in the Chicago tech and startup scene. As the first Chicago-based employee of Google, to the first CEO of 1871, and opening Chicago Ventures, to the Chair of the Board for mHUB, he has played a pivotal role in establishing the city as a tech hub and fostering collaboration within our community.

His philanthropic efforts are also a testament to his deep-rooted Chicagoness. Kevin’s involvement in various community initiatives, local universities, and a long list of nonprofits demonstrates his commitment to creating a brighter future for Chicagoans.

The 2022 Chicagoness award winner was James (Jim) Reynolds Jr., Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Loop Capital

Outstanding Tech CEO Award winner:
Maria Christopoulos Katris of Built In

The Outstanding Tech CEO Award was presented to Maria Christopoulos Katris, CEO of Built In

Maria’s strong leadership skills and innovative thinking have not only led to the company’s impressive growth but also positioned Built In as a trusted platform for connecting professionals in the tech community. Her dedication to fostering a diverse and inclusive work culture has been instrumental in attracting top talent and nurturing a collaborative environment. 

Under her guidance, Built In continues to thrive as a trailblazer in the tech world, empowering individuals & companies alike to unlock their full potential.

The 2022 Outstanding Tech CEO was Kelly Manthey, Global CEO of  Kin + Carta

Industry Disrupter Award winner: Rivet

The Industry Disrupter award was presented to Rivet.

Rivet, founded by an all-MIT team, uses machine learning to find and understand their high-potential fans and provides creators with actions and automation to unlock more revenue.

In a historically overlooked and service-oriented industry, Rivet’s approach to using AI to streamline business processes for artists & creators is fundamentally disruptive. Rivet’s recommendation engine and associated fan engagement score open the door to significant intelligence & workflow automation. 

The 2022 Industry Disrupter award went to Rheaply.

Social Impact Award winner: WeSolv

The Social Impact award was presented to WeSolv

WeSolv is an AI and performance data-driven platform that automates sourcing more diverse candidates & objectively assessing skills and competencies with real mini-projects. WeSolv democratizes access to real experience and uses predictive data to reduce hiring bias. 

WeSolv’s  purpose, beyond profit, is to create a world where candidates of all backgrounds can access meaningful careers while infusing companies with diverse, high-performing talent to propel their businesses forward.

The 2022 Social Impact Award was presented to Zing Health.

Rising Star Award winner: ReloShare

The Rising Star award was presented to ReloShare

ReloShare, Inc. is an instant booking technology company that powers custom hotel and corporate housing reservation systems.

 In June 2021, ReloShare launched Safe Stays, a one-of-a-kind custom hotel booking site that provides social service agencies like domestic violence shelters & human trafficking response agencies the ability to book rooms at national hotel partners with complete anonymity via alias check-ins and no credit card or ID requirements.

The 2022 Rising Star Award went to Valqari.

Momentum Award winner: 1440

The Momentum Award was presented to 1440, founded at 1871.  

1440 is a daily newsletter helping 2.6M+ Americans stay informed, it’s news without motives, edited to be as unbiased as humanly possible. On a mission to fix distrust in the media, 1440’s team of editors, experts, & analysts scour hundreds of sources across science, culture, politics, and business to deliver an impartial report on the day’s news so readers can be more informed. 

Designed to be read in under five minutes, 1440 aims to serve the vast majority of Americans who are exhausted by the constant barrage of agenda-driven coverage.

In addition, Tim Huelskamp, CEO of 1440 is one of the co-founders of Fifth Star Funds, a venture philanthropy fund that invests in Black tech founders in Chicago at the early stage “Friends & Family” round.

The 2022 Momentum Award went to Ocient

CityLIGHTS Award winner: SpotHero

The CityLIGHTS Award was presented to SpotHero, founded at 1871.  

SpotHero is the digital parking leader & the largest platform to buy and sell parking in over 300 cities in North America. With over 8,000 parking locations on SpotHero and over 50 million cars parked, SpotHero has changed the parking industry by providing price transparency, convenience, and safety to millions of drivers, while helping parking garage operators improve their operational efficiency and increase revenue. 

The 2022 CityLIGHTS went to ActiveCampaign

About The Momentum Awards

The Momentum Awards, now in its 16th year, is the largest annual celebration of tech innovation across Chicago and beyond. The event brings together 1871’s full community of innovators, leaders, civic supporters, and partners to celebrate the people that are disrupting their industries, building up their communities, and shaping the future.

With ~200 nominations, over 2,000 votes casted, and ~100 judges, this year’s finalists were selected from the most competitive and impressive pool of nominees in the event’s history. Winners were determined by a combination of public vote and vote by the 1871 Board of Directors. 

Lead sponsors this year include Ann Drake, AbbVie, AON, CDW, Discover, Kristi Ross, Jennifer Steans, McKinsey, and Sara Star. 

About 1871

1871, a nonprofit global innovation hub, exists to inspire, equip, and support early stage, growth stage, late stage,  and corporate innovators in building extraordinary businesses. 1871 is home to ~500  early stage startups, ~250 growth  and late stage companies, and  ~60 corporates, and is supported by an entire community focused on accelerating their growth and creating jobs in the Chicagoland area. The member experience includes virtual and in-person access to workshops, events, mentorship, and more. The nonprofit organization has 350 mentors available to its members, alongside access to more than 200 partner corporations, universities, education programs, accelerators, venture funds and others. Since its inception in 2012, more than 1,050+ alumni companies are currently still active, have created over 14,700 jobs, and have raised more than $3.7 billion in follow-on capital.


J Blaszczykiewicz

Director of Marketing, 1871 

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