When it comes to the 14th Annual Momentum Awards, Our CEO Betsy Ziegler said it best: Chicago tech is ON FIRE right now! 

On September 23, 2021, we came together both in-person and virtually from across Chicagoland and the world to celebrate the year in tech innovation at our first ever hybrid Momentum Awards! From familiar faces to new connections with a lot of laughs in between, this night was truly unforgettable.

We started the night with some pre-show fun. Our in-person attendees mixed and mingled and virtual attendees were treated to a special cocktail demonstration and an exclusive first look at 1871 VX, our new immersive online campus! 

A virtual attendee explores our new immersive online campus, 1871 VX!

The show kicked off with a warm welcome from our wonderful host for the second year in a row, Val Warner of Windy City Weekend. From there, we heard from 1871 Board Chairman Larry Eppley and our very own Betsy Ziegler, who shared some of our community’s recent milestones and set the tone for our evening of celebration.

Host Val Warner welcomes our in-person & virtual attendees to the 14th Annual Momentum Awards.

As we approach the 150th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire—a pivotal moment in our city’s history and the source of 1871’s “mojo”—Betsy made clear that our members are leading in shaping the next generation of possibility. Among the many successes, she noted that we’ve seen 13 new unicorns in Chicago in this past year alone, including 9 members and alumni alone. 

“This past year highlighted why Chicagoland is the best place to build and grow a business,” said Betsy. “It also underscored for me that you are the people we want to be with in times of challenge, triumph, and everywhere in between.”

1871 CEO Betsy Ziegler addresses the crowd.

Following some inspiring words from Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, it was finally the moment our crowd had been anxiously waiting for, as we handed out seven awards and recognized some of the brightest stars in tech today! Here’s a complete rundown of our incredible winners:

Our incredible winners of the 14th Annual Momentum Awards!
Mycocycle Founder & CEO Joanne Rodriguez accepts the Industry Disrupter Award.
The Farmer’s Fridge team celebrates their Momentum Award win.

But it wasn’t just the winners that made headlines. Our presenters brought the energy, from the comedic stylings of 1871 Board Members Leslie Anderson and Troy Henikoff to the show-stealing performance of our COO Lisa Laws, who did a rap about Chicago that would make her idol Biggie proud. 

Finally, we kept the party going long after the award ceremony ended with a set from DJ Jay ILLa. 

Thank you again to our sponsors, nominees, and everyone who attended the 2021 Momentum Awards both in-person and virtually! You made this celebration special, and you are the reason why Chicagoland is the best place to build and grow a business. 
Even 150 years after the Great Fire, our community of innovators is still rebuilding, re-imagining, and shaping the next generation of possibility—TOGETHER!

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