The Magic of Momentum Explained

For 15 years, the Momentum Awards have annually celebrated tech innovation & impact across greater Chicago and beyond. But what makes them so special? 

This award program  is our premier event, bringing together our full community of innovators, leaders, supporters, & partners to make the largest celebration of tech in Chicago!

Here’s your primer on everything you need to know about the Momentum Awards, its history and evolution, & the impact it has on the work we do for our community!

View 2021’s recap here.

About the event 

Each year, the Momentum Awards honor the top tech innovators and leaders that are disrupting their industries, building up their communities, & shaping the future.

Our 8 awards represent key areas of achievement across the entire business maturity curve, from idea all the way to Fortune 50. Together, our award ceremony recognizes the strength of our community and the ingenuity that emerges when innovators are connected with the necessary resources, mentorship, & support system.

The Momentum Awards supports our mission 

As a 501c3, the work we do is made possible by the generous support of our community. The Momentum Awards is our most important fundraising event of the year, so you can help us continue to inspire, equip, & support innovators and leaders across the entire maturity curve for years to come by making a contribution, becoming a sponsor, or attending the event!

You can also help us recognize the best in tech by nominating yourself, your company, or your peers across our award categories. Nominations open each year during the summer, and your participation will help determine which innovators and leaders make our esteemed group of finalists!

Finally, you can support us by celebrating with our community at the event itself! Just reserve your ticket and join us in-person or virtually for the big day. 

The story of the awards

The Momentum Awards actually predate 1871 itself!

The Chicago Entrepreneurial Center (CEC) first introduced the awards in 2007 as a way to bring attention to the people who were building businesses and growing the community at a time when not many viewed Chicago as a top tech startup destination. 

A lot has changed in 15 years! Since our first event, we’ve seen incredible growth in our local tech industry in large part because of the strength of our community. Every day, founders are creating important solutions, building new businesses, and scaling their companies, and our annual gathering has evolved as well to reflect these developments. The Momentum Awards serves as the largest tech networking event and celebration of innovation in Chicago!

In 2020, we welcomed our community of growth stage companies following the acquisition of the Illinois Technology Association (ITA, which expanded our event to include winners from across the entire business maturity curve. With awards recognizing early stage startups, growth stage companies, and corporate innovators, the Momentum Awards celebrates outstanding individuals and companies now matter where they are at in their business journey!

The Momentum Awards impact

Not only is it one of the best places to connect with some of the brightest stars in tech, the Momentum Awards also has a long history of recognizing startups that have become leading disruptors in their industries. You’re sure to recognize many of our past winners, including Cameo, tastytrade, Discover, Rheaply, and ShipBob just to name a few.  In fact, it wouldn’t be the first time one of our award recipients became Chicago’s next unicorn! 

As an attendee, you’ll also see the density and diversity of our community on full display. The Momentum Awards brings together our full community of members, mentors, corporate sponsors, community & university partners, VCs, alumni, & policy makers for an unforgettable night of celebration and highlights what makes 1871 special—the energy that comes from every fortunate collision with supporters that share your passion for innovation!

For any questions about Momentum contact [email protected]

Want to help us recognize the best in tech but don’t know where to start?

Each year at the Momentum Awards, we honor the innovators & leaders across the business maturity curve with 8 awards representing key areas of achievement—with 6 that are open to public nomination & vote! 

Nominations for the 15th Annual Momentum Awards are open until 6.17! 

We know that it can be hard to know where to start with so many incredible community members, so we put together a helpful list of resources you can reference before you cast your nominations:

Fast 50: Chicago’s Fastest-Growing Companies 2022

By Sophie Rodgers, Crain’s Business Chicago

Meet 30 Companies in Chicago Pushing the City to New Heights

By Matthew Urwin, Built In Chicago

Top Chicago Startups to Watch in 2022

By Lauren Zyber, Purpose Jobs

The 25 Best Tech Companies in Chicago to Work for in 2021

By Tiffany Webb, Flatiron School

Best of SaaS: The Top Tech Companies in Chicago

By Brittany K. King, Learn Hub

These 5 Chicago Companies Ranked on Forbes’ Best Startup Employers List

By Abel Rodriguez, Built In Chicago

Top Startups in Illinois

Startup Ranking

2022 Best Tech Startups in Chicago

The Tech Tribune

230 Illinois Companies Make Fastest-Growing List: Inc. 

By J. Ryne Danielson, Patch

Nominations will be accepted from Wednesday, June 1, 9AM CST through Friday, June 17, 11:59PM CST via Reviewr.

Want to learn more? We are hosting two introductory webinars on the categories and process. Register for them here: June 8 @ 10am CST | June 9 @ 1pm CST.

CHICAGO, November 22, 2022 – 1871, non-profit global innovation hub, announces their second Innovation Lab program — Cannabis Innovation Lab, the first tech program designed to bring startups, growth scalers, corporates, investors, and operators together to approach the Cannabis industry’s problems collectively, in partnership with Grown In.

The program uniquely enables innovation across the business maturity curve with a 4-month immersive, yet hybrid, experience. Exclusively built to serve each stage respectively, and uniquely bringing everyone together in one entire group.

The Lab begins on 1.23.23 and is open to those with an existing tech solution, proven market fit, or are curious about partnering with a tech company. Program eligibility varies depending on which business stage you are at.

Applications are now open until 12.16.22. There will be a selection process to ensure those admitted to the program have proven readiness for their best possible outcome. 

Info sessions will take place on 12.01.22 and on 12.13.22, to provide more information and open up a Q+A on 1871’s latest program experience.

“Cannabis  is a booming industry and is excitingly Chicago-centered,” said 1871 CEO, Betsy Ziegler. “The data is clear that as more and more businesses enter this space, technology advancements will be required to unlock new solutions. Our incredibly diverse community of innovators, combined with our partnership with Grown In and the unique positioning of Chicago as an axis point in Cannabis, means this is the time and the place to launch this Lab.” 

Innovating with industry experts as our guides

“We’re thrilled to combine our extensive cannabis industry knowledge and learning expertise with the robust resources and network of 1871,” said Brad Spirrison, CEO of Grown In. “Situated within Chicago, the commercial cannabis capital of the United States, this partnership will accelerate newly licensed startups in Illinois and modernize technical processes encumbered by federal regulation restrictions.”

“Chicago offers a global advantage to cannabis startups with our deep bench of cannabis ecosystem leaders, workforce, and innovators. We’re excited to partner with 1871 on this program, which will be critical to our success as a cannabis innovation powerhouse,” said Michael Fassnacht, President & CEO, World Business Chicago. “From our diverse talent, economy and strong transportation, distribution and supplier network, to overall efforts driving equitable economic development in cannabis and all other industries—companies are best positioned for success in Chicago.”

Benefits  for joining the lab

  • Early stage
    • Share their product with Corporate innovators and VCs
    • Level up product and business strategy
    • Create a network of peers in their industry
    • Get advisory from the best cannabis operators tech companies
  • Growth scalers 
    • Access to canna-curious corporations exploring their strategy
    • Emerge as a showcased thought leader
    • Connect with the largest operators + early startups innovating
    • Explore curated connections to potential partners and VCs
    • Network with leaders in the industry
    • Scale with new tech talent interested in cannabis 
    • Give back by mentoring early-stage startups
  • Corporates
    • Network with approved and vetted retailers
    • Amplify industry leadership with press, events, and more
    • Engage in curated networking and exclusive events
    • Activate employees with engagement points
    • Connect with tech talent interested in the cannabis industry
    • Give back by mentoring early-stage startups
    • Explore curated connections to potential partners and VCs
    • Sit on the 1871 Cannabis Innovation Advisory Council

The Cannabis industry and what it means for Chicago 

From a $10B US market in 2021 to projections of up to $100B by 2030, the Cannabis industry’s high growth rate signals a need for innovators to help unblock and mobilize products with digital solutions, nationally.

Chicago is quickly becoming a place of massive importance for the industry boom, according to World Business Chicago, a supporting partner in this new experience:

  • Funding, in Chicago alone, is growing with $265.9M raised in growth capital in 2021 with 9 deals, with a scaling trend for 2022. Accessibility to market present with 180 licenses granted
  • Chicago is the headquartered location to three of the top four public companies that exclusively cultivate, process, and sell medicinal and recreational cannabis: Green Thumb Industries, Verano Holdings, and Cresco Labs

“We’ve built this program with learnings from our first lab – Supply Chain Innovation Labs. But, we’ve customized it to scale with what each of our players in the ecosystem need in order to solve their problems over 4 months  – whether it be  content, support, resources, networking, or funding,” said Rachael Feuerborn, CPO of 1871. “This program is offered at the perfect timing, and we’re excited to see what influence the participants will have over the future of the Cannabis iIndustry.”

The lab experience broken down

Four months long, one week of involvement per month, and alternating in virtual and in-person experience, this lab is designed to connect the early stage, growth scalers, and corporates together, while also introducing VCs, Cannabis operators, and mentors. 

The program ends in the Cannabis Innovation Summit—taking place next year on 4.20.23, a public event similar to 1871’s recent Supply Chain Innovation Summit, that took place in October, 2022. 

For inquiry about involvement in partnering with us or learning more about sponsor options for either our Cannabis Innovation Labs or Cannabis Innovation Summit, connect with our team.

To stay updated on all Cannabis Innovation Lab news, subscribe here.

A parallel program is currently being run by our partners from Grown In for new Illinois License Operators to help them grow their businesses. Apply here

About Grown In

Grown In is the go-to trusted source for cannabis industry news and compliance training. Their national team of journalists, subject experts, and learning designers transform key market insights into actionable knowledge and applicable skills to ensure employees are not only informed with cutting-edge articles and reports, but also equipped to confidently navigate nuanced legal requirements and diverse workplace circumstances through credentialed online courses. They also offer media sponsorship opportunities and interactive product showcases to increase market awareness and product understanding.

About 1871

1871 is Chicago’s innovation hub and the #1 ranked private business incubator in the world. It exists to inspire, equip, and support early stage, growth stage and corporate innovators in building extraordinary businesses. 1871 is home to ~400 technology startups, ~200 growth stage companies, and ~1,500 members, and is supported by an entire ecosystem 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 850 alumni companies are currently still active, have created over 14,500 jobs, and have raised more than $3.5 billion in follow-on capital.

1871’s 13th Annual Tech Challenge, in partnership with Statefarm, brings the nations top student coders to Chicago to compete in an immersive weekend competition. 

From 9.01.22-9.23.22, global tech innovation hub 1871, hosted the 13th Tech Challenge coding competition in their hometown of Chicago, IL in partnership with Statefarm.

Over 150 students from the nation competed on our qualifying assessment in hackerrank, which assessed their ability to code in the form of accuracy, ability to solve problems speed, and more – in any coding laguage available on the hackerrank platform. 

20 students were from 10 universities, were thereafter invited to Chicago with all-expenses paid for, to more forward in the competition. The names of these students are confidential, as they are accessible only to those with talent benefits in our community, but the schools they attended are as follows: Georgia Institute of Technology; Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta; Harvard University; Purdue; UCSD; UIUC; University of Chicago; University of Illinois at Chicago; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and UW-Madison. 

Top place was awarded to 2-time champion Maxwell Zhang of Georgia Institute of Technology, scoring 100% and finished the final challenge in 17 minutes. The top 5 winners all had a score of 100, which meant top times became the main factor of their excellence. 

Tech Challenge supports two mutual goals for 1871’s – inspire young talent to support this very industry and supply high growth companies looking for the best developers new to the gig market. The competition includes elements beyond the hard skills, like exploring city, networking with other amazingly talented coders, touring 1871’s headquarters, and getting the chance to think-forward about their careers.

1871 is excited for 2023, where they’ll continue to support new talent with this university/student focused event under this vertical. 

Interested in partnering on this or another talent category? Let us know.

The competition experience

2022 Tech Challenge winner, Maxwell Zhang

Maxwell Zhang, winner of 2022 Tech Challenge, came to 1871 from Georgia Institute of Technology.

The coders

Here are some of the coders of the experience 

Our why and how

When thinking about building this experience and offering, our CXO Stephanie Miller said:

“Tech Challenge is a fantastic event for students who are rockstars in coding to compete on a national stage against top tier universities for prizes and career fast-track. It’s part of our talent pipeline, where access to these students resumes are limited to our growth-stage and corporate sponsors, looking to meet the best of talent in one room. We are committed to making 1871 a space for tech excellence even at the university level.”

View the whole playlist from the 2022 Tech Challenge! 

Learn more about Tech Challenge, donate to our mission, or browse our story to further engage.

Jordyn Bonds  October 19, 2022

You’ve identified a pain point and you have an innovative software product idea to solve it. What now?

You might be tempted to jump immediately into scoping and building an MVP. We know the feeling! Once you see the opportunity, you have to assume others see it too and the race is on to be the first to market with a solution. This moment is precisely when slowing down can actually speed you up. Taking the time to validate the opportunity now will ensure you don’t waste time and resources building the wrong solution. Running a validation process will also help you identify the right solution to build instead.

What is validation?

Validation is the process of stress-testing your assumptions. Broadly, what you’re trying to uncover in this process is whether or not your product will be desirable to customers, viable for your business, and feasible to build.

The questions that a validation process can help answer include:

  • Does the pain point you identified exist?
  • Is the pain point widespread enough to present a market opportunity worth pursuing?
  • Does your product idea address the pain point?
  • Will people be willing to buy and use your product?
  • Is your product feasible to build?

Why would you not validate an opportunity?

If you’ve made it far enough to consider building an MVP, you are likely to already be emotionally invested in this pain point as well as your idea for solving it.

Because of that, you may feel like you can skip validation this time, or that your handful of casual conversations with friends and family is enough validation for you. It can be helpful to remind yourself that problems and solutions are in no short supply! Validation will help you figure out where you fit in the market, and in terms of your product, it clearly shows you what not to build and what to build instead.

Sometimes your original idea ends up being the right one. Validation is still important because it will arm you with the evidence you need to confidently invest resources in the idea or secure outside funding for it.

What’s at stake when you build the wrong thing?

Let’s say you do move forward with building and launching an MVP without first validating your approach. What are some of the risks to the business?

You may find that what you’ve built is valuable to some customers, but that the costs of maintaining the product outweigh that value. You may find that in the time you spent getting to market, a competitor emerged with a better solution. Catching up with them may require an even steeper investment. You may have redirected resources away from sales and support of your current offerings to a degree that their viability also suffers.

These types of risks will hold you back from continuous growth. They could make or break not just your product, but your entire business.

What should you build instead?

We are happy to report that validating your opportunity is not all doom and gloom! An equally important consequence of this process is discovering what to build instead.

The world is a work in progress. We have not built products to address every single human pain point or need yet. It is therefore very likely that during the validation process you will uncover a long list of additional pain points your customer is experiencing. One of those pain points may be more valuable to solve than the one you had initially focused on.

Validation will help you figure out which of those to pursue now, and which ones can wait until later. It will help you figure out how (and how much) to invest in the most important opportunity such that you meet the need with as little risk to your business as possible.

How to get started validating

To learn more about the validation process and how we approach it at thoughtbot, check out our new Research & Strategy Playbook. Inside you’ll find guides for:

  • Finding, learning from, and engaging your customers
  • Turning customer insights into innovative products
  • And more!

To chat more with us about doing a validation project together, contact us.

1871’s inaugural 3-day event, in partnership with Accenture and World Business Chicago, convening supply chain innovators across the business maturity curve.

From 10.4 – 10.6, global tech innovation hub 1871, hosted the first-ever Supply Chain Innovation Summit in their hometown of Chicago, IL in partnership with Accenture and World Business Chicago.

Over 400 unique corporates, startups, VSs, universities, and others in the 1871 community connected over the possibilities of the Supply Chain Industry from around the world, sending the note out that innovation takes all the players in the space.

The Summit itself capstones 1871’s Supply Chain Innovation Lab experience, where 45 founders and their teams gathered to move through a curated, 4-week immersive program with the ultimate goal of furthering innovation within Supply Chain as we know it. United Airlines and AbbVie being a key program partner to the program experience.

1871 is excited to continue to expand offerings under this vertical, and is already designing Supply Chain Innovation Lab 2023. Again, each Innovation Lab ends in the Summit. 

Interested in partnering on this or another innovation category? Let us know.

Recap of Main Summit Day

Day two took place at the so-beautiful and new Accenture Tower, with opening words from 1871, Accenture, and World Business Chicago’s leadership, followed by a Q+A between 1871 CEO Betsy Ziegler and Former Cheif Customer Office and current leader of Flexport Fund Ben Braverman.

Thereafter, a pitch competition between startup founders kicked off across the following categories: Sustainability, End-to-End, Planning & Procurement & Manu, and Fulfillment (Trans + Warehousing). Attendees voted in real-time re: the best pitch of the day.

Next, juicy conversational breakouts happened regarding:

  • Sustainable Supply Chain – What does that truly mean? 
  • The Role of Data & AI in Supply Chain Transformation 
  • The Great Reinvention of Supply Chain 
  • Supply Chain Resiliency and Business Continuity
  • Chicago’s Startup-focused Economic Development Strategy
  • Building the future supply chain workforce: Human + Machines

In and out of the day, sat “Startup Alley,” where the startups of 1871’s Supply Chain Innovation Lab set booths up for public engagement, investor conversations, and product demos, as a fixture of the event.

All the while, the community was surrounded by emerging tech like the robot dog from Boston Dynamics, 3D printers, AR/VR wearable demos featuring 1871’s VX campus, and Accenture’s Maker’s Space. 

The day ended with a celebration of the winning pitches, closing remarks from 1871 and Accenture, and an afterparty at TheWit.

Winning pitches

Out of 30 supply chain startups pitching, 3 winners took home 3D-printed trophies from Accenture’s Makers Lab.



Pollen Returns

Our why and how

When thinking about creating this Summit, our leaders said:

“Our community of innovators is uniquely equipped to come together to tackle today’s most pressing challenges because 1871 serves the entire business maturity curve, from idea all the way to Fortune 50” said Betsy Ziegler, CEO of 1871. “There is no problem we can’t solve when we activate the power of our collective brain. We look forward to bringing leaders , entrepreneurs together and empower them to create the supply chain solutions that will build a brighter future in our city and beyond.”

“There was no better city in the world than to launch the Supply Chain Innovation Lab in Chicago, one of the largest TDL industries in the nation,” said Renato Scaff, Senior Managing Director and North America Supply Chain and Operations Lead at Accenture. “And we’re connecting industry with founders and investors to meet the demands of the world’s economy with innovative technologies and solutions.”


Rachael Feuerborn, CPO @ 1871 

Kris Timmermans,  Lead – Supply Chain & Operations @ Accenture

Stephanie Miller, CXO @ 1871

Jorie Sax, Head of Technology Innovation Lab  @ United Airlines

The ecosystem

From entrepreneurs, to startups building and scaling, leaders supporting and innovating, investors growing and developing, and community members cheering, our hold on passion for solving problems across the supply chain was extremely well-represented.

Are you an innovator? What’s innovation? We asked around, and found that we all have our unique answers, while we exist in a similar community.

Lead of Supply Chain & Operations @ Accenture Kris Timmermans welcomes the entire community.

Emerging tech and innovation was the theme of the event, where we’re pushed to envision what’s next or what’s never been done before to create a better tomorrow.

Lakhveer Jajj of startup Moselle shares his experience from the Summit’s Startup Alley.

Pitching startups

Sustainability focused

End-to-End focused

Planning & Procurement & Manu focused

Fulfillment (Trans + Warehousing) focused

Startup Alley

View the whole playlist from the Supply Chain Innovation Summit!

Cheers to Cogtive for winning 1871’s fall 2022 LTNtech Pitch Competition, a component of their Latin affinity program offerings.

On 10.13.22, global tech innovation hub 1871, hosted the fall 2022 LTNtech Pitch Competition at their Chicago headquarters, where Cogtive took home the top prize. The competition started off with 60+ founders pitching to win, the top 20 moved into the semi-finals, and the top five got to  pitch in the final competition.

Congratulations to the 2022 LTNtech Pitch Competition winner

Cogtive Software Industrials | Rodrigues Ribeiro Junior, CEO

Taking home: $15K in cash, $4K in equity, $10K in software development credits from Aloa, and 6 months of 1871 membership.

Other prizes received:

Kadeya | $2K in cash, $5K in equity, $2,500 in software development credits from Aloa, & 6 months of 1871 membership

MindCo Health | $10K in cash, $2,500 in software development credits from Aloa, & 6 months of 1871 membership

Science on Call | $7K in cash, $2,500 in software development credits from Aloa, & 6 months of 1871 membership

Speeko | $2K in cash, $5K in equity, $2,500 in software development credits from Aloa, & 6 months of 1871 membership

Judges for the competition included:

David Kokonas, Senior Associate at OCA Ventures

Jason Weingarten, Co-Founder & Co-CEO at Subconscious Ventures

Jorge Calderon, Managing Director  at Inicio Ventures

Roza Szafranek, CEO at HR Hints

About LTNtech

Our LTNtech initiative supports Latin entrepreneurs & leaders with regular programming, tailored resources, mentorship, & community designed to help them embrace their unique strengths & break down the barriers they face.


In 2021, venture capital investors funneled $150 billion to startups but only 2.1% of those funds were distributed to Latin founders. Despite the rapid growth of Latin entrepreneurship, there is a vast and growing funding gap.

This event activates our community of early stage startups, corporate partners, venture capitalists and the wider tech ecosystem. As a collective we aim to deepen the pool of funds that Latin founders can access.

Learn more about our affinity programs under LTNtech Founders.

Author: Kelly Gebo

In the past 2 years, thoughtbot has transitioned from a studio model, to a team model, focused on supporting clients specific needs in various stages. That now includes two teams, Ignite and Lift Off, focused on supporting start-ups. In exploring partnerships that can equip our clients to be successful, we are proud to list Forecastr as a new partner. Forecastr is a leading FP&A software company that helps startups create great financial models to impress investors, confidently raise capital, and effectively run their businesses better.

Recently I had the pleasure of teaming up with Jeff Erickson, the Director of Strategic Partnerships to pass along the tips we commonly share with startups who need help navigating milestones. This blog is a written summary and our full event recording can be found here.

We see start-up leaders seeking support in the following situations:

  • “I have a simple MVP and need to know how to scale it to a robust v1.”
  • “I have gotten some traction with my startup but aren’t sure how to get to the next stage.”
  • “I’ve recently fundraised and need to determine where investment is best spent”
  • “I’m struggling to fundraise and need help solidifying my story and ask”
  • “I want to feel confident in making strategic business and product decisions”

Speaking to both of our team’s perspectives, Jeff and I shared our strategies on Product Strategy and Financial Readiness.

Clarifying Product Strategy – thoughtbot Perspective

To put it simply, Product Strategy is your approach to aligning your product (website, web app, mobile app) with your business goals. This is important when starting a company but equally important when navigating milestones. A sound product strategy includes a clear understanding of the following:

  • Target Audience—Who your product and/or services provide the most impact with. This should include their needs, motivations, pain points, demographics, etc.
  • Problem Statement—The primary problem you are solving for. We suggest using a jobs to be done format. This keeps you focused on the pain point, motivation and goals – less so the product itself.
  • Critical Path—A step-by-step flow of the user’s simplest experience through your product.

We suggest getting the full team together to brainstorm and align through a Product Design Sprint or specific design thinking exercises to fill any gaps. Make sure to capture assumptions along the way as these inform research with target customers. The next step is to connect with your target customers through 1+ mediums; surveys, polls, communities, events, and 1-1 interviews. As you learn more, your understanding and testing script should be optimized.

Another important aspect of your Product Strategy is understanding where you fit in the market, or your Product Market Fit. Two suggestions we have for uncovering info:

  1. Conduct a Competitive Analysis of indirect and direct competitors, using set attributes to draw conclusions (ex; SWOT analysis). At a minimum you should talk to their customers, see how they present their value proposition, and/or demo their product.
  2. Keep a pulse on the Industry by setting up news alerts, following top industry players, joining relevant communities, attending events, and networking. These channels will be great to establish now and revisit as things evolve.

The Importance of Financial Readiness—Forecastr Perspective

Similar to doing research, Financial Readiness means being on top of your financial situation, and projections, and being prepared to answer an investor’s financial questions. Whether you are a startup who has already raised capital, or a founder with a solid business plan looking to raise money, knowing your numbers (or not knowing your numbers) can greatly affect how investors view you. Knowing how much investment you’ll need to reach and surpass key milestones is crucial to business and fundraising success.

Each investment firm will have different statistics they care about, but without exception, any educated investor will want to know details beyond revenue projections. While you may not need this level of detail for a pitch, before an investor actually writes you a check they are going to want to confirm some crucial numbers.


  • Monthly Recurring Revenue/ARR
  • One-time revenue (Pilots/Proof of Concepts) versus Subscription Revenue
  • Debt (short and long-term)
  • Monthly Burn & Current/Needed Runway

Customer/User Statistics:

  • Average contract value
  • Average contract length
  • Customer acquisition costs
  • Usage statistics (where applicable)

Previous Investments:

  • Past investors
  • Previous investment terms
  • How the money was spent


  • Total addressable market
  • Market growth rates
  • Competitor market share and differentiation

Remember, investors expect you to live and breathe your company, and knowing your numbers lets them see that you’re doing just that. Although your numbers may be changing constantly as you grow, developing a good sense of where your company is at a given point in time is an important skill for any founder.

Financial model

The best way to organize these metrics and project your longer term financial situation is with a thought out financial model. Taking the research and validation you’re conducting, you can plug assumptions into your model to better understand how much you need to raise, how long the money you’re making will last you, and where you should focus spending.

Using best assumptions, you can run different scenarios to see what moving money around will yield. Seeing these projections and having the visibility to make smart decisions will reduce risk for you and your inventors.

You’ll also be prepared to answer questions such as:

  • How much are you raising and why are you raising that much?
  • What are your sources of capital?
  • How do you need to spend the money?
  • Who specifically are you planning to hire, and what impact does that have on burn?
  • What are your customer acquisition plans and how many do you need to hit certain revenue milestones?
  • How do you plan to grow the business? What specific actions will your team take in order to ensure that the investor has the greatest chance of returning a profit?

If your model is buttoned up, and you can tell your investors your plans based upon the financial picture, this builds their confidence in your knowledge and chances for success.

In Summary

Having a solid financial model in place, along with your customer validation and product research from work with thoughtbot, differentiates you as one of many founders talking with investors. If you are a startup that is looking to grow, we would love to discuss making your product and product team the best they can be. As our client, we are happy to introduce you to the Forecastr team and extend a discount to their services. Send us a note here.

Special Offer from Forecastr

Forecastr is offering a 25% first year discount, and waiving the implementation fee for any thoughtbot customer. This gets you a solid, readable financial model, created in cooperation with one of their financial analysts. See more about Forecastr’s services on their website.

Other resources from today’s discussion

1871’s 15th annual tech award show

On 9.22.22, global tech innovation hub 1871, hosted the 15th Annual Momentum Awards in their hometown of Chicago, IL at Morgan Manufacturing. This award show began in 2007, and since its origin has grown to honor 8 award categories that covers the business maturity curve and innovation community of 1871. It’s currently the largest fundraising effort of the non-profit, generating support for all the programs, resources, and community efforts throughout the year.

Congratulations to the 2022 Momentum Awards winners

Corporate Champion Award | Navistar

Chicagoness Award | Jim Reynolds Jr., Founder, Chairmen & Chef Executive officer of Loop Capital

Outstanding Tech CEO Award | Kell Manthey, CEO of Kin & Carta

Industry Disrupter Award | Rheaply

Rising Start Award | Valqari

Social Impact Award | Zing Health

CityLIGHTS Award | ActiveCampaign

Momentum Award | Ocient

This year was extremely special. 1871 doubled down on its Chicago roots post-pandemic, embracing core business partners to better serve their community of early stage founders, growth-scalers, and corporates innovating, while connecting entrepreneurs globally. Notably, WMNtech, BLKtech, LTNtech, affinity initiatives, as well as industry lab experiences for fintech products, supply chain, soon-to-be others such as cannabis, and more to launch in 2023.

The event included networking with 1871’s Chicago innovation community, silent auction, NFT collection drop, hearing from the Governor of Illinois  JB Pritzker, and Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot, 1871’s CEO Betsy Ziegler, COO Lisa Laws, Board Chair Larry Eppley, Board member Jeremie Bacon, the winners above, and afterparty with DJ iLLa. 

Enjoy 1871’s favorite memories from the 2022 Momentum Awards

60 second event recap

Opening Remarks by 1871 CEO Betsy Ziegler

Chicagoness Award Acceptance Speech from 2022 winner James (Jim) Reynolds Jr., Founder of Loop Capital 

Industry Disrupter Acceptance Speech from 2022 winner Garry Cooper of Rheaply

Being star-struck by our community

1871’s 2nd NFT collection: Momentum Awards

View on OpenSea.

Love from Team 1871

To all who could attend virtually or in person the full 1871 team thanks you for your support their mission to inspire, equip, and support innovators building extraordinary businesses. Sponsors such as Aon, Navistar, Discover, West Monroe, Abbvie, tastytrade, Comcast Business, PNC, theMART, BMO, Beam Suntory, Microsoft, Madison Dearborn Partners, ITW, Jellyvision, Aloa, Justworks helped make this year possible. 

Learn more about Momentum 2023 on 9.23, donate to our mission, or browse our story to further engage

 We’re excited to announce the founders that are moving on to our LTNtech Pitch Competition final event on 10.13!

Congratulations to these incredible founders & best of luck to them as they pitch their businesses for a chance at cash & equity funding. Join us in-person or virtually for the final event as we cheer them on!

2022 LTNtech Pitch Competition finalists

MindCo Health by Emilio Goldenhersch

Cogtive Software Industrials by Reginaldo Rodrigues Ribeiro Junior

Kadeya by Manuela Zoninsein

Speeko by Nico Aguilar

Science On Call by Luisa Castellanos

About LTNtech

Our LTNtech initiative supports Latin entrepreneurs & leaders with regular programming, tailored resources, mentorship, & community designed to help them embrace their unique strengths & break down the barriers they face.


In 2021, venture capital investors funneled $150 billion to startups but only 2.1% of those funds were distributed to Latin founders. Despite the rapid growth of Latin entrepreneurship, there is a vast and growing funding gap (Source).

This event activates our community of early stage startups, corporate partners, venture capitalists and the wider tech ecosystem. As a collective we aim to deepen the pool of funds that Latin founders can access.

Learn more about our affinity programs under LTNtech Founders.

After a tough deliberation over an incredible group of 50 semi-finalists, we’re thrilled to announce the 10 companies who will be presenting at the Equifax Accelerate finalist showcase! 

At the capstone showcase, our participants will present their products to leaders from Equifax, their clients, and partners representing digital and fintech spaces.

Our Equifax Accelerate is an immersive, three-phase product development studio where participants had the chance to tap into Equifax’s powerful suite of API tools and mentorship to take their business to the next level.

Congratulations to our 10 finalist and to all of our participants!

Meet the top 10 companies in the Equifax Accelerate Product Studio 2022


Billy is a digital insurance agency that makes it easier for construction businesses to manage and purchase insurance. They plan to utilize Equifax APIs to automate and expedite the underwriting and quoting processes.

Nyasha Harmony Gutsa, CEO


Clocr is an estate planning platform for all digital assets. They plan to leverage Equifax APIs to protect consumers from fraud and identity theft.

Sree Chintala, CTO / CoFounder

Nitin Gaur, Advisor

Rajiv Nekkanti, Architect

EQL Finance

EQL Finance is a fintech platform focused on changing the financial outcomes of American households who are living paycheck to paycheck. Leveraging Equifax APIs will allow them to expand their service to more households.

Eddie de Guia, CEO & Founder

Ramzy Ismail, VP Growth

Songjie Gao, Credit Risk Manager

Freede Solutions

Freede provides agencies with a self-service debt resolution capability. They plan to leverage Equifax data to improve their predictive algorithms, with the goal of enhancing consumers’ experiences with creditors and debt collectors.

Jared White, Director of Engineering & AI

Aaron Million, COO / CCO

Mini City

Mini City is connecting one of our nation’s most vulnerable groups, the homeless, to much needed services. They plan to use Equifax APIs to remove the existing barriers in validating end users’ identities.

India Hayes, CEO 

Jason Davey, CTO

Radha Jagwani, Business Admin 


Neofin is a disruptive fintech SaaS that brings a Shopify-like experience to the lending business. They plan to launch new Onboarding and Decision Engine capabilities utilizing Equifax data and services.

Svitlanka Sergiichuk, Co-Founder & Co-CEO

Oleksandr Kshutashvili, Co-Founder & Co-CEO & CTO

Anton Shkarupa, Business Analyst


VacayHQ combines travel with personal finance so you can stack your funds while stacking your “FUN”s! They want to partner with Equifax to enable their consumers to build credit while saving for their next vacation.

Damondrick Jack “D.J.”, Founder

Rebecca Marriott, Product Manager / Project Manager



Bobsled is the easiest, fastest way to share data to any cloud or platform. They plan to launch a new product, the Bobsled Analytics API, which enables instant cross-cloud delivery of Equifax data.

Jake Graham, CEO


Dytrix provides closing agent management and wire validation services to lenders. They plan to tap Equifax identity services to launch a service that protects consumers against wire fraud.

Tony Schweiger, COO

Nancy Chew, SVP Operations


Denim helps freight brokers grow faster by automating their back-office and providing fast & affordable working capital. They plan to provide on-demand credit lines and optimize processes through a partnership with Equifax.

Sean Smith, Head of Product

Shawn Vo, Co-founder and CTO

Learn more about Equifax Accelerate.


J Blaszczykiewicz

Director of Marketing, 1871

[email protected] 

1871 honors eight distinguished innovators & leaders for their contributions to the Chicago technology community at the 15th Annual Momentum Awards.

CHICAGO (September 22, 2022) — 1871 honored eight award winners at the 15th Annual Momentum Awards on September 22, 2022, including the first-ever Social Impact Award. 

The ceremony celebrated both 15 years of the Momentum Awards and 10 years since 1871 first opened its doors. In addition to these milestones, 1871 CEO Betsy Ziegler acknowledged the incredible impact of the community and laid out the path forward for the organization as an independent, nonprofit innovation hub. The ceremony also featured recorded remarks from both Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Illinois Governor Pritzker. 

The winners of the Corporate Champion and the Chicagoness Award—Navistar and James (Jim) Reynolds Jr., respectively—were announced in advance, but were officially recognized during the program. The following six awards were also presented live: Outstanding Tech CEO, Industry Disrupter, Social Impact, Rising Star, Momentum, & CityLIGHTS. 

“This year’s finalists and winners were selected from our most impressive and competitive nominee pool to date, which highlights the incredible growth of our tech community since 1871 first opened a decade ago, ” said Larry Eppley, Chairman of 1871 and Sheppard Mullin’s Chicago office founding managing partner. “The 15th Annual Momentum Awards was a celebration of their past successes and bright futures, as well as a reminder of the impact our community will continue to have for years to come.” 

“In 2022, we marked 10 years of 1871 and 15 years of the Momentum Awards, and what better way to celebrate than by honoring this remarkable group of innovators and leaders,” said 1871 CEO Betsy Ziegler. “Our finalists and winners are the present and future of the tech industry, and the work they’re doing to launch innovative products, scale successful companies, and give back to their communities is building a brighter future for all of Chicagoland. We’re proud to come together to honor them here tonight.” 

Here are the eight winners from the 15th Annual Momentum Awards:

Corporate Champion Award: Navistar

The Corporate Champion Award was presented to Navistar for their commitment to impactful innovation both internally and externally.

Navistar is a purpose-driven company, reimagining how to deliver what matters to create more cohesive relationships, build higher-performing teams and find solutions where others don’t. With a history of innovation dating back to 1831, Navistar has more than 14,500 employees worldwide and is a member of TRATON SE, a global champion of the truck and transport services industry. 

The 2021 Corporate Champion Award went to Abbott.

Chicagoness Award: James (Jim) Reynolds Jr.

The Chicagoness Award was presented to James (Jim) Reynolds Jr., Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Loop Capital for his work in supporting and uplifting the community and its future leaders.

The 2021 Chicagoness Award winner was Ellen Carnahan, Principal of Machrie Enterprise LLC. 

Outstanding Tech CEO Award:
Kelly Manthey of Kin + Carta

The Outstanding Tech CEO was presented to Kelly Manthey, Global Chief Executive Officer of Kin + Carta.

Kelly Manthey is the CEO of Kin + Carta, a global digital transformation consulting firm committed to working alongside their clients to build a world that works better for everyone. 

The 2021 Outstanding Tech CEO was Stan Chia of Vivid Seats.

Industry Disrupter Award: Rheaply

The Industry Disrupter Award was presented to Rheaply.

Rheaply empowers people to transform companies into climate-centered organizations. Their B2B SaaS resource management technology scales reuse and the circular economy within organizations, helping lower procurement and storage costs and reduce waste.

The 2021 Industry Disrupter Award went to Mycocycle, LLC.

Social Impact Award: Zing Health

The inaugural Social Impact Award was presented to Zing Health.

Zing Health Choice IL (HMO) is a Medicare Advantage plan serving Medicare-eligible beneficiaries. By extending 21st century health service solutions built around community, Zing Health seeks to drastically improve health outcomes in diverse populations that have been chronically underserved.

Rising Star Award: Valqari

The Rising Star Award was presented to Valqari.

Valqari has developed a patented, intelligent mailbox that is compatible with traditional and future delivery modes. With the Valqari landing station technology, drone deliveries become simple, safe, and secure..

The 2021 Rising Star Award went to 86 Repairs

Momentum Award: Ocient

The Momentum Award was presented to Ocient

Ocient completely reimagined the modern data warehouse from the ground up for rapid, continuous analysis of complex, hyperscale datasets. Unlike any other data analytics solution provider, Ocient brings storage adjacent to compute to maximize performance on industry standard hardware, enables users to transform, stream or load data directly and returns massive queries in seconds.

The 2021 Momentum Award went to Farmer’s Fridge.

CityLIGHTS Award: ActiveCampaign

The CityLIGHTS Award was presented to ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign is the global leader in customer experience automation, helping growing businesses make meaningful connections with their customers. Their personalized, automation-first approach helps teams save time, connect with customers, and grow by providing access to 500+ pre-built automations that combine transactional email, email marketing, marketing automation and CRM for powerful segmentation and personalization across social, email, messaging, chat and text.

The 2021 CityLIGHTS Award went to ShipBob.

About The Momentum Awards

The Momentum Awards, now in its 15th year, is the largest annual celebration of tech innovation across Chicago and beyond and 1871’s primary fundraiser. 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 nearly 200 nominations, over 8,000 votes casted, and 82 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 AbbVie, AON, Discover, Navistar, and West Monroe Partners.


About 1871

1871 is Chicago’s technology hub and the #1 ranked private business incubator in the world. It exists to inspire, equip, and support early stage, growth scalers and innovators in building extraordinary businesses. 1871 is home to ~450 technology startups, ~200 growth stage companies, and ~1,500 members, and is supported by an entire ecosystem 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 100 partner corporations, universities, education programs, accelerators, venture funds and others. Since its inception in 2012, more than 850 alumni companies are currently still active, have created over 14,500 jobs, and have raised more than $3.5 billion in follow-on capital.

Hybrid work, inflation, a volatile labor market and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are spurring HR leaders to reexamine and retool their people strategy. Learn how to cope with these radical changes and better prepare for the future even when under-resourced.

Authors: Ruby HamacherKathleen Schulz Amanda Sheps

Recent years have left overwhelmed HR teams with competing priorities in an environment where many employee needs and expectations have radically changed. Hybrid work, a volatile labor market and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) concerns are requiring them to reexamine and retool their people strategy.

That’s not all. Add on the effects of both price and wage inflation, and the need for an updated approach to benefits and communication couldn’t be clearer. While managing the challenges of significant change, HR is also tasked with maintaining a positive employee experience that drives attraction, engagement and retention.

Strategies for coping with pressure and preparing for the future

During the pandemic, the dedicated efforts of HR personnel in response to a global crisis spotlighted their value. Recognition may be long overdue, but their ongoing involvement in resolving unfamiliar and complex or sensitive issues — on top of routine people management — has been incredibly taxing.

In 2022, most employers describe their HR team as either somewhat (52%) or very (21%) overburdened.1 As resilient as HR employees can be, a persistent incapacity to meet the time and energy demands of their jobs can pose a threat to their health and the organization’s wellbeing.

Securing essential talent in a destabilized environment is a proactive investment. By strengthening support for HR now, organizations help protect themselves against future unknowns. This central function serves as a key driver of the employee experience and operational outcomes.

Technology solutions can improve efficiencies, while processes can be adapted to alleviate procedural bottlenecks. Ensuring adequate staffing levels through recruiting is fundamental to optimizing the HR work experience. Inherently, organizations look to their HR leaders to model positive cultural attributes. But performing these pivotal roles can invite burnout, which makes self-care resources a necessity.

Changing HR competencies and strategic imperatives

Required competencies for HR staff are changing as workforce and labor market dynamics evolve. They increasingly emphasize strategic planning aligned with the direction of the organization, which requires the ability to collaborate and delegate across functions. Underscoring the importance of this shift, some employers are creating cross-functional departments to synergize ideas and efforts to better support the employee experience.

Technology solutions can improve efficiencies while processes can be adapted to alleviate procedural bottlenecks.

Supporting tools and other resources may also need a refresh. By evaluating existing tools and other resources, employers can identify any gaps that should be filled. Also important is establishing dedicated HR channels that streamline the assignment of communication tasks, such as messaging, which allows HR leaders to focus ahead on strategic priorities.

Refocusing on the employee value proposition (EVP)

Flexibility has become a prerequisite for adjusting to constant change brought on by market forces, including the latest inflation challenges that compromise the power of pay to attract and retain talent. While HR teams focus on keeping benefits spend competitive but affordable in an unsteady economy, employees increasingly seek out companies that put purpose over profit.

Showing appreciation for the value of individual effort connects employees to the organization — and it’s essential to cultivating engagement. To this end, elevating purpose, strategy and values should be a top priority.

Just a few years ago, many HR leaders invested considerable time, money and strategic intent in the EVP. And then the pandemic arrived, causing organizational challenges and workforce changes that distracted their teams from this crucial focus. Twenty-three percent (23%) of employers now place a high priority on developing or implementing an EVP.2

Sweeping change, still in progress, provides new insights into improvement potential. Shifting the EVP’s emphasis — and some of HR’s attention and limited time — from pay and benefits to experiential interests like career development and flexible policies may better fit the times. An organizational purpose that resonates with employees and a commitment to equitable opportunities are also highly influential.

Making DEI a strategic priority

Diversity may be a data point, but the decision to equitably support all employees is an organizational responsibility that heavily involves HR. Thirty-four percent (34%) of employers believes their current level of commitment to DEI will continue through 2024, while 66% think it will increase. No employers expect a decrease.1

Integration of DEI into the organization has already been achieved to some extent by 83% of employers. For 45%, the main focus is on compliance, but there is some leadership involvement, and grassroots diversity networks may exist. Where it’s significantly integrated, 31% of leaders understand and appreciate the business case, and have communicated a DEI vision and strategy to employees. Also, the strategy includes dimensions beyond race, age, gender and disabilities. That leaves 7% whose C-suite treats DEI integration as a top priority. Leaders are accountable to objectives, and principles and practices are integrated into all talent strategies and business systems.1

Appreciating different employee perspectives, while remaining sensitive to societal issues and historical contexts, supports better HR interactions with employees and guides better decisions.

By listening first, HR leaders and other team members can improve the thoughtful development of DEI programs and messaging, so they land with the intended tone and deliver targeted outcomes. An analytic workforce assessment adds another dimension, potentially providing direction on engagement, benefits and retention strategies, and helping to identify any misalignment of current HR practices and policies.

Supporting HR goals by improving management communications with employees

Well-crafted HR policies typically produce better results when they’re authentically communicated and actively demonstrated at all levels in all departments, and when staff is accountable to meeting goals and objectives. Not surprisingly, 81% of organizations changed their expectations of leaders and people managers in their roles as communicators over the past 12 months.2

Now, to make HR messages more relatable and effective, wording and tone often project more sincerity and empathy when acknowledging employee stress and other challenging experiences. But not all people managers — even within communications and HR teams — are proficient in these skills. Twenty-seven percent (27%) of employers cite poor communication skills among this group as a top challenge, and 31% consider this deficiency a top priority to address in 2022.2

Focusing too much on what to say and too little on the desired outcome is a common messaging oversight. Instead, when the intended response is identified up front, whether simple awareness or a specific reaction, it informs the structure, content and tone of the message. Communication training for people in key roles can help organizations keep messaging clear and consistent.

When people managers have specific expectations for employees, it’s important for them to be explicit. Being explicit may require including not only “the what,” but also “the why” in messages. Equally important for leaders as well as managers is providing ample opportunity and a psychologically safe environment for employees to speak out.

Using employee feedback to inform HR and other business decisions


of organizations consistently share
employee survey results and action
plans with their workforces

Conducting employee surveys may seem simple enough on the surface, but extracting optimal value from the results is an entirely different exercise. Participants often appreciate the organization’s interest in their opinions and anticipate learning about the findings. However, while employees want to be heard, only 47% of employers consistently share results or subsequent action plans.1

To maintain trust and a strong culture, any actions HR teams take should align with the EVP in spirit. Transparency is particularly important when the organization is undergoing change, and workforce disruptions may not be readily apparent to leadership.

Soliciting feedback without a path for sharing results with employees or explaining how the data will be used can raise doubts about the true intent. And if there’s no platform for discussion, employees may feel overlooked, devalued or disengaged.

Greater appreciation for the value of HR leadership coincides with employees’ higher expectations for their work experience. But investments are needed to develop individual and organizational competencies that sustain and strengthen HR’s capacity to perform at their best. Meeting talent goals and contributing to growth, without feeling squeezed, requires HR team members to have a strong and resilient support structure.

The state of flux in the world that’s affecting economies and businesses has forced changes to talent management. Yet these disruptions also create timely opportunities to make improvements that position organizations for future success. Examining organizational values, such as DEI, could easily become a missed opportunity. Moving toward more equitable policies and practices now will boost engagement going forward, which is so vital to achieving operational goals, strengthening the employer brand — and competing better in any labor market.

Learn about the latest trends in compensation, benefits, healthcare consumerism and more, to help you run a thriving organization in a volatile economic climate. Download the Q3 issue of Gallagher Better WorksSM Insights.

Originally published here.


1Gallagher. “2022 Workforce Trends Pulse Survey #2,” Jun 2022.

2Gallagher. “State of the Sector 2021/22,” Feb 2022.

1871 is excited to announce that Navistar, Inc. will be honored as this year’s Corporate Champion Award recipient at the 15th Annual Momentum Awards!

The Corporate Champion Award recognizes a company that consistently champions the growth of the Illinois tech industry through community-focused action. As one of the leaders in the emerging zero emissions, autonomous trucks and transportation services space, Navistar is reimagining ways to drive sustainable mobility to transform the future of transportation and logistics. 

Navistar has consistently shown a commitment to impactful innovation both internally and externally. In 2019, the company formed its first dedicated innovation that was designed to build a strong culture of entrepreneurship and ingenuity across all functions and roles. Since then, their intrapreneurs have been embedded in the 1871 community, working and learning alongside our members to fuel their next creative breakthrough.

“Through 1871, Navistar is part of a larger community of founders outside of Navistar, and the businesses within this community stretch across various industries and range in stages of maturity,” said Navistar SVP & Chief Information Officer Julie Ragland. “Exposure to so many unique ideas and individuals have helped us overcome challenges we encounter on our journey to launching new business models.”

Navistar’s investments in internal innovation have propelled them forward in the emerging tech space. Today, the company is leading the way in electric, autonomous driving and digitization technologies that deliberately disrupt their legacy business models. In doing so, Navistar is positioned to deliver solutions that will comprehensively solve today’s biggest challenges.

“Navistar embodies an entrepreneurial mindset that our entire 1871 community can take inspiration from,” said  Larry Eppley, Chairman of 1871 and Sheppard Mullin’s Chicago office founding managing partner. “Their team is both driven to innovate and motivated by their purpose. They are the definition of what a Corporate Champion Award recipient should be.” 

Headquartered in western suburban Chicago, Navistar actively advocates for our local tech community. Their win also marks the first time a company operating in hard tech manufacturing has won the Corporate Champion Award.

“We first partnered with Navistar to support their innovation efforts in 2021, and our relationship with them has quickly deepened since then,” said 1871 CEO Betsy Ziegler. “We’re proud to see firsthand how their team is both investing in their internal culture and pushing the boundaries of possibility from a tech perspective. It’s an honor to celebrate their impact at this year’s Momentum Awards.”

Navistar will accept the Corporate Champion Award at the 15th Annual Momentum Awards on September 22, 2022, where we will also honor the innovators and leaders that are disrupting their industries, building up their communities, and shaping the future. Get your ticket today to join us for the celebration in-person or virtually!

We’re proud to announce that James (Jim) Reynolds Jr., Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Loop Capital, will be this year’s Chicagoness Award recipient at the 15th Annual Momentum Awards!

The Chicagoness Award is presented each year to an individual who exemplifies the values of the Chicago entrepreneurial community and empowers future innovators through a commitment to civic leadership. As a 30-year financial services veteran with a passion and record of giving back, Jim is the perfect person for this honor.

Following a long career at several global Wall Street firms, Jim went on to found Loop Capital, which was then a municipal bond firm. Today, Loop Capital has grown to become a leader in investment banking, brokerage and advisory services with a reputation for integrity and service.

Jim is also an active community advocate who serves on various boards for organizations devoted to creating equity in Chicago and beyond, including as Board Chairman of both the Chicago Community Trust and Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA). In addition to these responsibilities, he also serves as a board member of World Business Chicago, Kellogg Global Advisory Board, Hope Chicago Executive Leadership Advisory Board, Intersect Illinois, and the Chicago Urban League. In 2013, Mayor Rahm Emanuel chose Jim to co-chair Get IN Chicago, which aims to prevent violence through intensive mentorship and intervention in the lives of at-risk youth. 

“I’ve known Jim for a long time, and I can safely say that there are few people who have had as much of an impact on the finance industry and community as Jim has,” said Larry Eppley, Chairman of 1871 and Sheppard Mullin’s Chicago office founding managing partner. “His business success is well known, but he has also been a selfless advocate for Chicago. He embodies all the things that the Chicagoness Award stands for.”

“Throughout his career, Jim has broken new ground and built bridges for others to succeed,” said 1871 CEO Betsy Ziegler. “Not only has he grown Loop Capital from a team of six to an industry leader, he has continually stepped up to support and uplift our city and its future leaders. We’re honored to recognize him for his incredible impact at this year’s Momentum Awards.” 

Jim will accept his award at the 15th Annual Momentum Awards on September 22, 2022, where we will also honor the innovators and leaders that are disrupting their industries, building up their communities, and shaping the future. Get your ticket today to join us for the celebration in-person or virtually!

Our very own COO Lisa Laws sat down with nine incredible people from her personal life to chat about their stories, in her very own speaker series: I Got A Story To Tell. 

This speaker series is our second annual summer program designed to inspire & motivate our interns at 1871 with introducing them to individuals succeeding in their professional industries. 

While these individuals have experienced & lived different lives from one another, what each brings to the discussion are hidden “gems”—as Laws likes to call them— they’ve learned from their own journey. 

From each speaker we’ve narrowed down 9 gems that anyone can add to their own personal story: Betsy Ziegler, Ryan Mundy, Jonathan Williams, Curtis Johnson, Yemi Akisanya, Chasity Williams, Mike Tresvant, Matt Forté, and Pete Opalacz.

Own your life, and bounce back from your mistakes

We kicked off our series with our very own 1871 CEO Betsy Ziegler

From her past employment roles to  CEO of 1871,  Ziegler has learned over the years the importance of “owning” your life and the mistakes you will make along the way. 

“Your life story is the summary of the choices you’ve made over time, and if you don’t like  a choice you’ve made, make a different choice,” Ziegler said. “You’re always defining who you are and who you want to be, so actually owning that, and not letting others own that for you is key.” 

Ziegler learned this as she made her “40 by 40” goal list for her life before she turned 40 years old. The list helped Ziegler think about her time in life and how it should be, and not worrying what others thought about a choice, but ultimately what she thought instead. 

Her other biggest motto in life? “Bouncing” back from the mistake. 

“The first time you make a mistake you think it’s going to be job ending or career ending, and five years later you’re going to look back on it and think, ‘why was I even worried about that’,” Ziegler said. “People are going to remember your response to the “bounce” more than they’re going to remember the mistake.” 

With any mistake you make, be sure your “bounce” back is stronger and own the choices you make in life, because ultimately that is YOUR story.

Endurance is key—rest and recover

Former NFL player Ryan Mundy is the founder and CEO of Alkeme Health— a mental health platform that offers culturally centered therapist-led courses and expert guided mindfulness and meditation practices.

Mundy played in the NFL for 8 seasons from 2008-2016, and a lot of what he learned—from a physical standpoint— wouldn’t transfer into the real world. But, what he did carry over from his time in football was discipline, working hard, being a better communicator, and especially, endurance. 

“Having the ability to endure the good, the bad, the indifferent—endurance is so key. You need to rest and recover, and you need to take care of yourself,” Mundy said. 

This drove Mundy to create Alkeme Health, so his platform can help support others be the best they can be, but also learn how to rest and recover. 

“Everybody talks about working really hard, but no one talks about the side of taking care of yourself mentally and physically so that you can show up to be the best version of yourself for everything,” Mundy said.

Learn from your failures

Jonathan Williams is the Partner Chicago Market Head with Dialexa. Before his current role, Williams  guided leaders at the world’s most influential companies, such as Apple, Bloomberg and BMW, through digital transformations. 

As a co-founder of  businesses in the marketing, digital & health care industry, Williams said his biggest takeaway was being able to see the successes of his businesses, but also acknowledging where the company could approve and using those as teachable moments in his career. 

“Looking at the work I’ve done and looking at what I’ve contributed honestly and deciding, ‘Did I hit the outcomes and the goals that we’ve had for success, and if I didn’t why didn’t I’,” Williams said. 

Instead of letting these failures get in the way, Williams used these teachable moments to continue to build his career—and businesses— and he encourages others to be critical and persevere through their own challenges. 

“Space is the key to allowing yourself to be critical of the situation and learning from it, but not internalizing it. Take the lessons and move forward,” Williams said. 

Williams has found that his career has been a decent amount of learning from his failures, and seeing these “lumps” in life as teachable moments to learn from later on. 

“Your journey is not linear as you build out your career, everything won’t always be smooth,” Williams said. “ It’s really about trying to keep yourself in the game, and trying to keep yourself available to take advantage of opportunities.”

Tie yourself to what you’re good at

Curtis Johnson, Executive Director of Malaysian-American Commission on Educational Exchange (MACEE), is passionate about public service & the opportunities a high-quality education can provide. 

As the first and only Black American leading a Fulbright Commission globally in 75 years, he’s currently focused on growing “Educational Diplomacy” between Malaysia & the United States. 

Johnson said growing up in his household he was told ‘you can be anything you want to be’.  Which is exactly what he believed for himself and his professional career along with his strive to work hard. 

“My focus is I’m going to be the best I am at whatever it is I do,” Johnson said. “And I’m going to throw myself into whatever it is I do.” 

With Johnson’s extensive background and experience in global & political affairs and his strive to be the best he could be, his advice to anyone: Figure out your “5 skills” you’re good at. 

“It’s not about the field you’re interested in, but there’s a specific skill set that each and every one of you have— and those skills are transferable to any job you want to go into,” Johnson said. “Tie yourself to what you’re good at, versus tying yourself to an industry.”

Use your influence to help others

Yemi Akisanya is the Global Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Groupon.  

Prior to Groupon, Yemi served as a Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Options Clearing Corp (OCC), where he was responsible for building the first-ever Diversity & Inclusion office.

He’s also the current Chairman, Board of Directors for Digitalundivided, a leading non-profit leveraging data, programs, and advocacy to catalyze economic growth for Black and Latinx women entrepreneurs and innovators.

Akisanya said his time at boarding schools in Nigeria and his experience in the U.S. has shaped him to be inclusive and  to use his influence to create opportunities & access for those in need. 

My purpose is being able to influence or be part of a team that influences access for opportunities for those who typically don’t get it,” Akisanya said. 

Akisanya, with his passion for Nigerian fashion and business degree, created ‘BOLD’, a fashion line that brings Nigerian fashion &  its culture to the United States. 

To help young girls and women in Nigeria struggling to get their certificate from high school due to financial constraints, Akisanya partners up with nonprofits in Nigeria who help pay the costs. Twenty percent of all profits from BOLD clothing goes directly to these nonprofits to help those in need. 

“I’m hoping to change the narrative about Nigeria and Africans, since there is a stigma that comes along with it,” Akisanya said. “I’m hoping BOLD will begin to shift that narrative.”

Communicate with empathy

Chasity Williams is the Digital Venture Advisor for Media & Entertainment at Microsoft. She currently serves on Microsoft’s Media & Entertainment digital advisory where she co-creates, co-innovates and co-invests in new digital businesses with corporate clients. 

 In January of 2020, she created Collective Intelligentsia to empower humans to meaningfully enhance their lives through digital experiences. 

 “Inclusive design is a huge topic of radar for me being from an underserved and underestimated community, so how do we create communities for women and women of color and people from all different walks of life in this space?” 

Williams says her key to building relationships and communicating with others to know exactly what they need, she uses empathy. 

“Empathy is one of the greatest soft skills that’s never talked about,” Williams said. “How do you get to a level where you have empathy towards another person, and through that empathy, you’re then able to have a different type of conversation with them.” 

Through this, Williams and her team at Microsoft are able to help businesses build relationships with their customers and understand exactly what technology solutions can do to help different needs from customers and people. 

Williams also invests and advises Black & LatinX women-founded startups and nonprofit organizations  to help grow their businesses and close the wealth gap between differing communities. 

“Being grateful for it all, creates an opportunity that you learn from every experience, you grow from every experience,” Williams said. “But it also gives you humility and a sense of empathy for other people who are going through a journey as well.”

Chase your dream and keep working

Mike Tresvant is the Senior Vice President at Complex Networks and the creative consultancy Climate.

With over 20+ years of agency, client & publisher expertise, Tresvant has fueled strategic marketing solutions for brands such as McDonalds, Gatorade, MillerCoors, FritoLay, State Farm, General Motors, Toyota, American Express and Citibank. 

Tresvant said his career was motivated by constantly chasing his dream— even if the finances weren’t there in the beginning. Along with his interest in pop culture, music and his strong desire to not  be a “suit and tie” worker. 

“A career is supposed to be really about discovery, and sometimes a discovery may be challenging and you might fumble along the way,” Tresvant said. 

Now, Tresvant is continuously thriving in his industry and loves his work. His team is his inspiration, since they are a part of his “tribe” of others who are interested in the same field and career as he is.  Tresvant said he wouldn’t change a thing. 

“You never know what the path will take,” Tresvant said. “So take the internship,  learn from what you can, and continue to find places where you can see an opportunity, and it will always open up opportunities when it’s right for you.”

Be resilient and keep evolving

Matt Forté is a former running back for the Chicago Bears and Co-Founder of What’s Your Forté Foundation. 

During his time in college, Hurricane Katrina impacted where he was raised and threw obstacles in his and his team players’ way. Forté was resilient and kept his dream to become an NFL player, and after retiring, used his status to help others  persevere like he did. 

“ It [Hurricane Katrina] taught me to be resilient, it taught me to be grateful for what you have and not grateful for what you don’t have in the moment,” Forté said. 

After playing football for over 25 years, Forté wanted to evolve his opportunities and experience into something that can help others. 

“When that’s  over, you have to throw yourself into something that has a purpose in your life, and that is what’s going to give you the fulfillment you’re looking for,” said Forté. “So to me, that ended up being the foundation.” 

In 2013, Matt founded the What’s Your Forté Foundation with his co-founder and wife Danielle Forté. 

The foundation provides a network of people & resources to build capacity and shape youth on the South & West Sides of Chicago that will help them & their families to grow and prosper by giving opportunities to harness talents and learn skills to help evolve their lives. 

“In life, when things happen, the world doesn’t stop,” Forté said. “Be grateful for every single moment, and take advantage of the opportunities that have been given to you. No one is going to feel sorry for you, so go out there and get it done while you can.”

Set goals and be a leader in your life

Pete Opalacz is the  Divisional VP at Martin Brower. Prior to his time at Martin Bower, Opalacz served in the United States Marine Corps & retired after almost 8 years of service. 

His extensive experience and background resulted in his three deployments with the Marine Corps and was selected for several positions and academic opportunities that resulted in many awards and honors of service. 

“What I learned in my time in the military is to be a leader and figure the problem out and be there for the team, then go from there,” Opalacz said. 

He took this mindset from his service in the Marine Corps to his work as a head leader for international business companies.  

“It’s all about how do you become a better person and leader,” Opalacz said. “You learn a lot about yourself through those types of situations.” 

Now, after several promotions at Martin Bower; from Global Operations role, to  Director of Operations for the Central Division and finally to Divisional VP, Opalacz uses his skills learned from being in the Marine Corps and his climb up the corporate ladder to motivate others to continue to grow and don’t hold on to past mistakes. 

“Set goals for yourself,” Opalacz said. “If you’re not potentially  achieving goals or outcomes for you to live your best life and be happy, then you might need to have a change in profession or life. Because life is too short to be unhappy professionally and personally.”

thoughtbot has worked with hundreds of product teams from all over the world—from individual, self-funded founders, to large multinational organizations—to design, develop, and grow their products. 

The foundation of all our work is our user-first, design-led approach to generate qualitative and quantitative research. Our Research & Strategic Insights service synthesizes a clearer picture of your customers, business, and value proposition, and equips you to make the best decisions for reaching your goals.

Gaining customer insights

Customers are the lifeblood of your business and having a deeper awareness of who they are allows you to better speak to them, find them, and serve them through your services.

Whether you are a startup looking to identify your product market fit, or an established company looking to grow or pivot, we have experience helping clients to:

  • Identify & connect with your audience
  • Uncover customer insights & taking smart action
  • Find and acquire more customers
  • Minimize customer drop off

Exploring innovation

Hoping to make innovation more than a buzzword? Innovation is about challenging norms, asking questions, and deciding whether to start something new. The best way to do that is with quality information that guides your actions. We help clients understand how innovation can help resolve important challenges like:  

  • Identifying what’s holding your business back
  • Finding opportunities to successfully grow your business
  • Conducting a competitive analysis that generates actionable insights
  • Focusing on concrete steps to scale

A key advantage of working with thoughtbot is that we use the insights to help you choose a path and actually get started.

Research is thoughtbot’s go-to tool for navigating change. Working closely with our clients, we help them uncover strategic insights to set a clear direction, and our rapid approach allows them to quickly pivot. In as little as 2 weeks, we can give you the confidence you need to make an informed decision. 

Reach out if we can help you optimize workflows, deepen relationships with customers, expand into new markets, or successfully execute a new initiative.

In the meantime, also check out the following resources that continue to share thoughtbot learnings, successes, and insights:

  • Purpose Built Our curated resource center for entrepreneurs.
  • Our blog covering topics on product management, design & development.
  • Giant Robots, our podcast covering entrepreneurial success stories.
  • Digital Transformation Consultation, free 30 minute session to connect with our team to discuss a potential project, pain point, or idea.
  • Office Hours, free sessions to connect with one of our designers or developers on a particular challenge.

Authored by: Kelly Gebo

Thoughtbot had the pleasure of working with the SumIt team on bringing their Beta product to life. SumIt is a money management platform for freelancers, solopreneurs, and the self-employed but has the long-term goal of growing into a robust platform that expands into more functionality. I sat down with the Co-Founder of SumIt to discuss the journey SumIt has taken from concept to Beta launch.

Idea Stage

The pandemic was a catalyst for change, and as folks shifted their work into their homes, there was a growing desire for more flexibility and freedom. This resulted in an increase in independent workers and a growing audience of freelancers and solopreneurs who were looking to deliver value and make a living while doing what they love on their own time. In seeing this audience growth, the shift in how individuals were categorizing “work”, and the gap in right-sized support for this growing audience, the idea for SumIt presented itself.

Validation and User Research

Validation and research was the first step in deepening the understanding of the target audience and the opportunity in the market. The team had lots and lots of conversations with freelancers to dig into their day to day workflow, needs, and motivations. In total this research phase extended across 9 months and used a variety of tools to collect insights.

Graphic showcasing early persona work

There were quite a few rounds of testing with target users and the team tapped a variety of formats such as 1-1 interviews, storyboard co-creation, and usability testing with clickable prototypes. The team also tested for real market needs in the form of landing pages and Paid Ads to see what resonated.

The goal was to learn a lot more about a user holistically and not just their thoughts on a potential feature set and product experience. We discovered freelancers love what they do, but running their business successfully requires them to step into a lot of other roles like accountant, sales person, and legal team. They want to make more room to do more of what they love, and are using a variety of tools to manage their work.

“By starting with such a robust research phase, we were able to keep in mind our users through all future stages of the product, like the UI/UX design, writing acceptance criteria, and defining the overarching strategy. This was a big part of being able to define a user-first solution.” – SumIt, Co-Founder

a image showcasing our critical path

Opportunity In The Market

In conducting a competitive analysis of comparable products, and reviewing the market as a whole, we uncovered that freelancers were struggling to find a tool that balanced their needs without being too large and cumbersome. If they used a third party tool, it tended to do a lot more than they needed and was confusing at times. For folks tracking things manually in spreadsheets and Notes app, time was spent tracking status, there were issues with data consistency, and trying to uncover actionable insights.

It was clear that there was an opportunity somewhere in the middle, between large, complex solutions that freelancers were trying to make work, and manual workflows that quickly became outdated. We also chatted with finance experts to understand what data points would best allow trends to be detected in both the short and long term.

graphic showing competitive analysis

Parallel to the product itself, ideas began to take shape in the form of a business plan which was tested as well. As we started to see trends, we worked to bring all these pieces together, and the plan for the Beta launch and first external milestone began to take shape.

Beta Roadmap & Prioritized Iterations

Our research and in-market tests uncovered lots of ideas for providing value to our target audience. For Beta, we set out to do 2 – 3 things really well, and in identifying those 2 – 3 things, we worked to understand the impact they would have for users and the effort it would take to bring them to life.

Figma designs

Working together, prioritization and collaboration was the name of the game. The entire team was remote and regular checkpoints and asynchronous tools were used so we could stay in close communication. Understanding the Beta Milestone timing was firm, we synced regularly on the priorities and made changes as needed to maximize our velocity and the impact of our first version. Marching towards a large launch milestone is exciting but can also be a bit stressful, and we appreciated the positivity, trust, and close partnership our teams were able to foster.

The goal of our Beta launch was to ship a real life product that could be formally promoted into the market. We were looking to onboard new users, and have them really see the value in SumIt, in a way that makes us “sticky”. If we do our job well, they should successfully onboard, and come back to engage again and again as the value should only deepen over time.

What’s Ahead For SumIt

Now that Beta is live, the work doesn’t stop. The focus currently is optimizing our strategy for attracting, acquiring, and creating value for new users. For a new product, especially in fintech, earning the user’s trust is important. The messaging set out to be authentic and clear. During our Beta, we continued to test, experiment and pivot at minimum on a week by week basis.

Beta Launch highlighted on the Landing Page

“Growing a new brand and user audience is tough, but the ability to stay agile and be resilient is what helps us best navigate and do our best in proving ourselves. We set out to serve the needs of freelancers, with a mission to help them achieve financial security. How we move forward will continue to be shaped by the users and where the market needs SumIt to go ” – SumIt, Co-Founder

We see a natural progression of growing a user audience, providing value, and adding the next most impactful feature to support more of the freelancers day to day workflow. We choose finance as the place to start, but feel confident that SumIt has lots of expansion opportunities ahead.

Beta is now live and if you are a US-based freelancer or a solopreneurs, we encourage you to check it out.

If you have your own product idea, and want to chat with thoughtbot about bringing it to life, we would love to work with you.

Originally published here.

Many businesses have been adversely affected by a change in the tax treatment of research and experimentation (R&E) expenses that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2022. Instead of having the option to currently deduct R&E expenses, businesses will need to begin amortizing Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 174 R&E expenditures — over five years for U.S.-based expenses and over 15 years for foreign research expenses. The law applies to a broad range of costs typically associated with research and development, as well as “any amount paid or incurred for the development of any software.” This change can result in a significant reduction in deductible expenses for 2022 and, in turn, higher taxable income. Some businesses are already feeling the pinch of this change in their estimated tax calculations for the first and second quarters of 2022.

For many taxpayers, the first step in complying with these new rules is creating an accounting process that accurately tracks the costs that must be amortized.

Read more from Plante Moran’s tax credit experts here.

We’re proud to announce the 30 finalists of this year’s 15th Annual Momentum Awards, and share that our voting period is now open until 8.19

Our finalists were chosen from one of our most impressive pools of nominees to date. After a difficult deliberation, our judges have selected an incredible group of founders, innovators, & businesses that are leading the way in their industries and communities. 

The six award categories include: Rising Star Award, Momentum Award, CityLIGHTS Award, Outstanding Tech CEO Award, Industry Disrupter Award, and our new Social Impact Award

“The 2022  Momentum Awards finalists exemplify the spirit of innovation and creativity that makes Chicago the best place to build and grow a business,” said Betsy Ziegler, CEO of 1871. “We’re proud to honor the achievements of these innovators & leaders that are advancing the world forward and shaping a brighter future for the communities they serve.”

Reminder, the voting period closes on 8.19.2022, so dig into the details of our finalists and let us know who you think should win!

The Momentum Awards will be held on  September 22, 2022, both in-person and virtually, where  we publicly celebrate these incredible innovators & leaders by unveiling the winners on stage! Stay tuned for details on tickets, and see below for this year’s finalists.

Rising Star Award

Presented to an early stage company that is positioned to grow into a leader in its market.

CASH DROP | 💸 Start an online store from your phone in minutes. Zero commissions. Zero monthly fees.

Homethrive | Homethrive is a technology-enabled healthcare service company that reduces work, worry and stress for unpaid family caregivers, their loved ones and their employers. Our family caregiving platform, Dari, uniquely integrates our digital assistant for coaching, navigation and resources with expert personal interaction and service coordination to help ease the difficult and stressful responsibility of supporting loved ones who are aging or have special needs. Family, or unpaid caregivers, and their loved ones get the support they need to confidently maneuver the aging, eldercare, and special needs journeys.

Valqari | Valqari has developed a patented, intelligent mailbox that is compatible with traditional and future delivery modes.

Honest Game | As the industry leading on-demand academic compliance solution, we empower student-athletes with a plan that provides guidance on the classes, grades and test scores they need to meet NCAA academic eligibility status. We leverage a passion for sports as a motivation for learning.

Bonfire | Bonfire is a unique talent development accelerator helping employers attract, develop and retain diverse talent. We help companies build a strong leadership pipeline by empowering women to realize their own potential and change the rules of the modern workforce.

Momentum Award

Presented to a growing company with the strongest potential to emerge as a leader in its market.

Packed with Purpose | Packed with Purpose blends the best of two worlds: gifting and doing good. We are a certified woman-owned business on a mission to create meaningful impact through gifts that give back. From empowering underserved women with job skills to supporting sustainability efforts, our gifts transform lives, enrich communities and preserve our environment. We curate thoughtful and sustainable gifts by sourcing products from purpose-driven organizations. The result is a unique gifting experience that is as inspiring as it is memorable.

Cooler Screens Cooler Screens is transforming retail cooler surfaces into IoT-enabled screens. Our media platform reimagines the brick-and-mortar shopping experience for consumers in the cooler and freezer aisle while delivering new marketing opportunities and smart merchandising for brands and retailers.

Leaf TradeLeaf Trade is the leading wholesale marketplace between cultivators/processors and dispensaries in the highly regulated cannabis states. Leaf Trade streamlines order management and fulfillment by providing a CRM, essential integrations and other tools that save time and help grow your business.

Ocient | Ocient completely reimagined our modern data warehouse from the ground up for rapid, continuous analysis of complex, hyperscale datasets. Unlike any other data analytics solution provider, Ocient brings storage adjacent to compute to maximize performance on industry standard hardware, enables users to transform, stream or load data directly and returns massive queries in seconds.

Rippleshot | Rippleshot is transforming the way that banks and credit unions detect fraud through a cloud-based technology solution that leverages machine learning and data analytics to distinguish fraudulent activity more quickly and efficiently. Rippleshot’s award-winning technology processes millions of payment card transactions to proactively pinpoint when and where a data breach occurred. Following detection, Rippleshot provides financial institutions with the tools they need to update fraud detection rules in order to lower their fraud losses while avoiding unnecessary card re-issuance.


Presented to a growth stage company that has become a serious competitor in the marketplace.

G2 | G2 is the largest and most trusted software marketplace, helping 60 million people every year make smarter software decisions based on authentic peer reviews.

Wavicle Data Solutions | Wavicle Data Solutions is a trusted cloud, data and analytics consulting and development partner for businesses that want to get more value from growing volumes of data. Well-known brands across industries work with our team of data management experts, cloud migration consultants and analytics professionals to modernize their data environments; build robust analytics solutions; and leverage machine learning to improve predictive insights.

Snapsheet | Snapsheet makes claims simple for everyone. Through our pioneering expertise in virtual estimating and leading cloud-native claims management software, we are transforming the end-to-end claims process – delivering faster, modern claims experiences.

ActiveCampaign | ActiveCampaign’s category-defining Customer Experience Automation Platform (CXA) helps over 180,000+ businesses in 170 countries meaningfully engage with their customers. The platform gives businesses of all sizes access to 500+ pre-built automations that combine transactional email, email marketing, marketing automation and CRM for powerful segmentation and personalization across social, email, messaging, chat and text. Over 100,000 of ActiveCampaign’s customers use its 850+ integrations including Microsoft, Shopify, Square, Facebook, and Salesforce. ActiveCampaign scores higher in customer satisfaction than any other solution in Marketing Automation, CRM, and E-Commerce Personalization on and is the Top Rated Email Marketing Software on TrustRadius. Pricing starts at just $9/month.

SpotHero | SpotHero is the digital parking leader and only independent off-street parking marketplace in North America. Millions of drivers use SpotHero’s mobile apps and website to find, book and access off-street parking in over 7,500 locations across 300 cities in the U.S. and Canada. Leading operator partners leverage SpotHero’s AI-powered dynamic pricing platform SpotHero IQ to power data-driven decisions.

Outstanding Tech CEO

Presented to a CEO who has successfully scaled & nurtured their company through outstanding leadership.

Marc Shiffman, President & CEO, SMS Assist |  Marc Shiffman serves as the president and chief executive officer at SMS Assist, in addition to serving on the board of directors. With over a decade of experience leading SMS Assist, most recently as president and chief financial officer, Marc has been a driving force behind the company’s rapid revenue and profitability growth, and he has overseen the development of technologically driven, market-leading solutions in the facilities management industry.

Kelly Manthey, Global CEO, Kin and Carta |  We exist to build a world that works better for everyone. A global digital transformation consulting firm built for the 2020s and the first publicly-traded certified B Corporation on the London Stock Exchange, Kin + Carta helps make the journey to becoming a digital business tangible, sustainable and profitable. We bring together technology, data and experience to drive connected outcomes for clients. By building digital twins to replace existing analog processes, designing and launching new digital products and services, and unlocking future innovation through modernization initiatives, Kin + Carta seamlessly integrates the strategic consulting, software engineering and marketing technology needed to help businesses make it happen.

Brian Barnes, CEO & Founder, M1 Finance | I was a personal finance nerd from a young age. I apply that passion towards building and supporting organizations that help people manage their money and improve their financial well-being.

Ben Weiss, CEO, Coinflip | Ben Weiss co-founded CoinFlip in 2015 and served as the Chief Operating Officer before being appointed as Chief Executive Officer in April 2021. Since its inception, Ben has led the company’s strategy and helped CoinFlip surpass $1B in transaction volume. In addition to running a burgeoning startup, Ben spends his time working with governing bodies advising on cryptocurrency regulation. Regarded as a thought-leader in the space, he is regularly interviewed by major news outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN Business and Moneywise, and has given several keynote speeches about the future of cryptocurrency.

John Williamson, Co-Founder & CEO, Songfinch | Serial entrepreneur, operator, problem solver, builder, creator…loving every minute of the grind 20+ yrs in. Our lives are full of stories. Those experiences are meant to be shared. At Songfinch, we believe in helping people tell their stories by utilizing the power of music.

Through the SongFinch platform, we utilize our hand-picked artist roster to transform requests into song. This allows artists to make money doing what they love on their own schedule while creating lasting memories for the recipients.

Industry Disrupter

Presented to a company that has developed an innovative product that has significantly disrupted the industry.

Rhaeos |  Rhaeos is a VC backed, clinical stage medical device company developing FlowSense, a platform technology and a noninvasive wireless, wearable skin patch that can assess and monitor fluid flow subdermally throughout the body. The company is initially targeting hydrocephalus, a life threatening condition caused by an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Implantable shunts, the gold standard treatment, often fail— leading to multiple trips to the emergency room and repeat surgeries. There is no technology available today that can easily assess CSF flow in shunts wirelessly, bedside and without capital equipment until now.

Rheaply | Rheaply is a B2B SaaS resource management technology to scale reuse and the circular economy within organizations, helping lower procurement and storage costs and reduce waste.

ReloShare |

ReloShare and their Safe Stays program is a custom hotel booking site — the only one of its kind — that provides social service agencies like domestic violence shelters and 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.

NuCurrent | NuCurrent’s innovative wireless power technologies and proven processes create premium user experiences for product developers.

Anthill | Anthill helps you understand your employees by giving you an award winning, simple platform to communicate, engage, assess, reskill and map opportunities with your employees that don’t sit at a desk.

Social Impact

Presented to a company that has fostered a commitment to DEI, community contributions, & social impact. 

Clinify Health |  Clinify Health is a digital health company that works with healthcare organizations caring for populations in underserved communities to achieve financial stability through value-based decision-optimization that enables providers to succeed in alternative payment arrangements.

Zing Health | Zing Health Choice IL (HMO) is a Medicare Advantage plan serving Medicare eligible beneficiaries. Zing Health Choice IL takes the time to get to know you and partners with you to develop a plan to help meet your health needs and goals.

Fixer | We are dedicated to creating long-term, sustainable careers for skilled Fixers in the home repair trades. The demand for skilled workers has far outpaced supply in urban areas across the US. There simply are not enough opportunities for young people to get into the building trades and create sustainable careers vs. contract work. We have taken this challenge head on by creating our own training program and career track. In fact, our mission is written into our business charter. It’s a true commitment to our community.

Aqua Cultured Foods |  Aqua Cultured Foods has developed a novel new tech that creates an alternative seafood option through the use of fermentation. This tech should launch us forward as a first mover in the refrigerated set as an alt seafood analog to Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. Creating the first whole muscle seafood alternative created through fermentation.

SpringFour | SpringFour is the only Certified B, social impact fintech company that helps financial services institutions limit risk by empowering improved payment performance and increased customer engagement. Trusted by BMO Harris Financial Group, Beneficial State Bank, Oportun and more, SpringFour’s suite of financial health cloud-based solutions for financial institutions provide vetted financial resources to millions of customers and enable them to meet financial objectives, reduce household expenses and avoid payment delinquencies. More than 95% of our financial institutions report that their customers experienced increased affinity for their brands after receiving a referral from SpringFour.