25 results for author: Technori Staff


Technori is Hiring a Sponsorship Sales Rockstar

  Join The Awesome Technori Team! Technori is building the best starter community in the world and you can be a part of our growth in 2013. (more…)

The Six Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs: Be Prepared to Play in The Grey (#1)

Since co-founding Technori in November 2010, I've had the distinct pleasure of interviewing 77 very successful entrepreneurs, from both inside and outside the tech world. These transcripts encompass over 800,000 words and hundreds of "sound-bite" worthy moments. Keep in mind, my interviews for Technori are not typical in many ways: These interviews were normally two to three hours in length. Much of these conversations were completely off-the-record, unless explicitly stated otherwise. Each entrepreneur knew going into it that I had zero agenda to try to embarrass them. There is no aspect of their lives that was off limits, including: ...

Shed the Costume of Perfection & Embrace Vulnerability

We all wear costumes - and once a year, many of us put on a different one for Halloween. The notion of always "being yourself," offered up as convenient wisdom in popular self-help books, lacks an appreciation for the realities of the business world. From conversation to conversation, in-person or otherwise, there is a constant pressure in the startup world to put on a show. Too many entrepreneurs walk around like tanks and one can watch them plow around an event, slamming into one another; touting their thicker armor and better weaponry to take out their competitor. Except as a startup entrepreneur, the tank costume is made of papier-mâché. It's ...

A Million Cups

After spending the last year living and breathing Chicago startup community, I can say without a doubt that a startup community is created by “a million cups.” As I said in my first post to start off 2011, a startup community does not come from massive events, nor does it come from publications like Technori. It doesn't come from cramming 50 startups into a space together or bringing in a major keynote or having a billion dollars in investment. These are all components of a community, but none of them can stand alone. A true community is built upon a million cups of coffee (or pints of beer). A million meaningful interactions between ...

The Magic Man

THE FIRST THING ANYONE WILL NOTICE walking into Howard's office is how completely understated and cluttered it is. A simple desk with things strewn everywhere, walls plastered with endless pictures, and the man himself sitting in a Hawaiian t-shirt behind it. A quick glance over the room and my first reaction was, "Is it time to call the TV show Hoarders?" There are pictures, creations, papers, and gadgets covering every inch of his office. It's not until you start to look closer that you realize, this is not junk, it's all part of the magic show you are about to experience. Those aren't just pictures on the wall, they are Hollywood's A-list in ...

How to Find a Developer in Chicago

**Special thanks to Griffin Caprio, Pek Pongpaet, Ray Hightower, Dave Hoover, and Raymond Reinhart for their contributions.** So you're looking for talented developers, huh?  Well you better grab a number and get in line because you're one of literally hundreds of people hunting for them as well right now. You may think it's the only obstacle standing between you and being the next Groupon. At events audience members jockey for the opportunity to ask successful entrepreneurs the "developer question"; not to mention it's a quarterly agenda item for practically any company doing business in 2011. There is certainly no shortage of opportunity ...

You Can’t Run Away From Your Roots

RAISED IN A FAMILY OF SCIENTISTS, it wasn't a surprise to anyone but Fred that he would end up working on a biotech company. He was completely burned out on science after growing up with two parents whose nightly dinner table chat was more of a scientific dissertation, than the typical "How was your day?" Fred didn't want to find himself ever working in the world of science, but there he was in his early 20's working on a  biotech company with his parents and two other scientists. As the business progressed, they were generating patents, but not generating the revenues they need to sustain the company. Looking back, he thinks it might have been ...

Nicholas Spencer has Got Some “Jolly Posh Bangers”

Our St Patrick's Special Story ------------------------------------------------- SSSSzzzzzzzzzzzzz……. That’s the sound of the kitchen at The Gage and Hot Doug’s and Bangers & Lace and any of the other dozen great restaurants that are cooking up Spencer’s British sausages. Nicholas Spencer’s journey from a small town in England to Chicago was a complicated path of tragedy & perseverance, humility & introspection, and finally love & entrepreneurship. Not wanting to shy away from his British roots, but rather fully embrace them, Spencer’s is designed to showcase British food as it should be, not as just another ...

John Roa Wants to Make the “Second City” First in UX Design

SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD JOHN ROA sat in his parent's living room dumbfounded. He had just been pushed out of the company he had helped build piece by piece over the course of two years. "I couldn’t even process it. It didn’t make sense that somebody could do that." John got an earlier start in the business world than most entrepreneurs ever will. He and a high school friend had launched an at-home computer repair service that was growing quickly and generating a reasonable income for the two of them. Sadly, John's first experience with business would be a painful lesson on the importance of setting up good contracts before launching a venture ...

It Took 33 Years for Bernhard Kappe to Find the His Own Path

IN THE EYES OF AN ENTREPRENEUR, no matter how comfy a job may be, it's still a job. It can be quite a shock to family, coworkers, and friends to hear someone throw caution to the wind and say, "I'm outta here!" Bernhard Kappe, co-founder of Pathfinder, certainly wasn't the first person to walk away from gainful employment and by no means is he the last, but looking at his background it's a sharp deviation from his upbringing. Like so many before him, he left his parents slightly bewildered. "You know, they had a hard time understanding why I was leaving a nice, comfortable job at Merrill Lynch in order to go do something completely different. ...

Troy Henikoff Wants You!

It’s when we least expect opportunity to find us that it typically shows up. Most businesses will have at least one chance encounter in their lifetime that leads to a big opportunity. These are the opportunities no one can plan, whether it’s sitting at the right barstool, a handshake at a conference, deciding to strike up a conversation with the person next to you on the airplane, etc. In 1992, six years after founding his first company, Specialized Systems and Software, Troy Henikoff (current co-founder of Excelerate Labs)  was sitting in the boardroom of a one of their larger clients, Medline Industries. He had been brought in to discuss a ...

Jeff Eiden & Present Bee Want to Help You Find the Perfect Gift

PICKING YOUR FOUNDERS is one of the most critical aspects of starting a new business. Typically most founders pick one or two additional people to partner with. Imagine for a second having seven additional co-founders to start off with from day one. That's where Jeff Eiden of Present Bee found himself in a new initiative at Northwestern University called NUvention:Web . The program is described as "a two-quarter capstone course in which students work across disciplines and Northwestern schools to design, plan, and run web-based businesses coached by faculty and software industry experts." That translates to taking the experience of launching a ...

The Mennonite Ad Guru

THINKING OF THE WORST MOMENT to enter the Chicago technology scene, one would probably pick the end of the year 2000. The tech bubble was in full collapse, many large companies were already vanishing, and jobs in the space certainly were not easy to find . However, that did not stop a young Shawn Riegsecker from jumping head first into a position at streaming media company, Real Media. Moving here in Oct 2000, Shawn would immediately find himself in one of the most uncomfortable positions he has ever been in – as a new employee dealing with a merger within his first months of arriving. He had been brought in from Ohio to run their Midwest ...

Burned By Hollywood, Chicago Native Corey Blake Returns to Start a New Path

IT’S RARE that anyone gets the chance to inspire a declining industry with a new product that shows true potential to bring in new revenues. That’s what Corey Michael Blake, CEO of Writers of the Round Table, experienced when he began to showcase a new publishing product he was about to start distributing. “I got a national distributor on board.  They love the idea.  They actually said in their 30 years, it’s the freshest, most innovative thing they’ve ever seen.” The product itself is not new. The audience is one of the largest and most targeted of all demographics. The idea was simple. Take a successful business or self-help book ...

The Key to Better Networking? Saya Hillman Says, “Take it Back to the Dinner Table”

We wanted to start the year off at Technori with a person who encompasses much of what we discussed in our open letter to the community. Someone who is building meaningful connections and encouraging community inside the business world here in Chicago. It just so happens she has found a way to build a small business around that concept as well. Meet Saya Hillman. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- MOST OF US BUILD LISTS of things we want to get done, things to accomplish, ...

A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

The need to come together as one business community has never been greater than it is now. In 2011 there is going to be a continuing explosion of new startups to follow up on the growth in 2010. In addition there will be new initiatives and events all centered around the promotion of entrepreneurship and the exploration of technology. While this may give some sense of interconnectedness, a true community does not come from there. A true business community must be built upon a foundation of openness and trust; a sense of shared purpose found not in the common desire for one’s own success, but in the desire to build a foundation upon ...

How Bryan Johnson has Taken Braintree to Explosive Growth in Three Years

CONTEMPLATING THE SHAMBLES of his broken business, Bryan Johnson knew he needed a break from entrepreneurship for a while. His angel-funded VOIP company had just evaporated following the collapse of the dot-com bubble and 9/11, burning through $500,000 in angel funds in the process. Inquist, Bryan’s VOIP company (he had three other founders) that aimed to bring together the common features of both Vonage and Skype into a single platform, had made it all the way to delivering a version 1.0 of the product. As Inquist went to get an additional $2 million in angel funds to start marketing the product, 9/11 happened and the VC market froze. Deep ...

Katy Lynch: The Social Media Assassin

KATY LYNCH'S life can seem contradictory in many ways, but it seems to work so well for her. At first glance many see an all American woman, blond hair and blue eyes, but then this deep Scottish accent comes out of nowhere. As our conversation would tip-toe in and out of life, business, and hobbies phrases like “pork-pies” and “bang out of order” would throw me for a bit of a loop. Talk to her for a few minutes and she can flow through a conversation with such enthusiasm and ease that you would assume she was born that way. It turns out it's an adaptation that came from years of moving to city after city with her family and having to ...

Things Are Anything but Sour at MILK Design

There are so many faces of entrepreneurship; some more colorful than others. Let’s just say Joe’s interview contained a lot more colorful language and side stories than any I have conducted so far. Maybe the only thing more interesting than talking to Joe was touring the staircase facility. Walking around his massive warehouse-like metal shop down in Pilsen, the gritty nature of the work and large machinery everywhere screams “Chicago.” We are the “City of Broad Shoulders” because of companies like Milk Design, where men toil in cascades of sparks from blow torches, and metal forms loom so large they would crush a dozen men if they ...

“Journeyman” Coder, Corey Haines, Finally Finds His Home

Where to begin to describe Corey? “Where” is actually a great word to begin with, since as of the publishing of this article, Corey may not even be in the country. Maybe he is in Europe, maybe the west coast, maybe sitting on his couch. You see, Corey has been proudly bestowed the title of “Journeyman Coder” since his travels have led him to endless places, couches, floors, and tents all in the pursuit of one immense challenge: master the art of coding (and spread happiness). That long journey and thousands of hours of developing software has led him to Chicago, the home of Ruby on Rails, and an entrepreneur community that he has become ...

The Pragmatist: How Chris Hill Leveraged His Private Equity Experience to Launch PerkSpot

It appears like the typical Midwestern story of a successful 31 year old man. Oldest child grows up in loving household in the Chicago suburbs.  Gets good grades, plays sports, has friends, etc…  Eventually heads off to college and sets out on career path. Only this particular story ends with Chris Hill launching PerkSpot which has doubled its revenue every year since 2006 and boasts a client list that includes Starbucks, Chevron, Abbott Labs, DIRECTV, and Altria Group. Not to mention a side project called crowdclick, which has turned out to be a very fast growing business of its own. The more I learn, the more it’s apparent this is no ...

From Trading to Toasts: How Ben Reid & Foodie Registry Disrupted the Wedding Industry

In late 2004 it was the beginning of the end of the housing bubble and Ben Reid was in big trouble. Not only had he gotten himself in over his head with some college acquaintances in Florida who were flipping houses, but he had unknowingly drawn his best friend into the mess with him. Over the next year he would work tirelessly to not only free himself from the ordeal, but insure his buddy didn’t lose a penny. “Some guys who I went to school with were down in Florida flipping houses and making a ton money. I saw them doing really well, having a ton of fun, and calling their own shots.  They said, ‘Why don’t you get involved with us? ...

Want to Write for Technori or Know Someone Who Would?

We are looking for a few exceptional writers to join the Technori team. If you believe you are the perfect fit, please email us at seth@technori.com. Please send along any current blogging or writing you do for other publications, so we can check out your work. If you aren't a writer yourself, but you know a great one who is looking for a publication, send them this link. Ideal candidates to join our team are: Passionate about entrepreneurship or are currently an entrepreneur themselves. Love the Chicago business community and have large aspirations for it. People who want to make a big impact on Chicago. Self-motivated and ...

Week of Oct 31st – Nov 6th Wrapup

Our first week has wrapped up and here is a look back at what you may have missed. 1. We launched Monday Nov 1st and have had a little over 2,000 visitors and 5,500 pageviews in the first week. Apparently Chicagoans really want to hear about what is happening in the entrepreneur community and we are happy to be the ones supplying it. 2. We have received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback and we thank you all for reaching out to us. Several new interviews have been lined up from submissions that were made and we look forward to bringing you those stories soon. 3. Links you should probably check out from our Twitter this week: ...

Celebrating Chicago Entrepreneurship

Technori is a celebration of entrepreneurship in Chicago, a celebration of those who take risks, chase their dreams, build brands, change communities, and create the culture of Chicago’s business community. Giving real and accurate accounts of what it’s like to start a company in Chicago, detailing both the good and the bad, we are committed to profiling and celebrating the people behind the leading companies in Chicago. And when we say celebrating entrepreneurship, we do not mean just the successes.  Technori showcases both the achievements and the breakdowns in entrepreneurial endeavors because it takes determination and courage to ...