Non-profits deserve recognition

Non-profits are on the front lines of combating violence and inequality in America. They deserve more attention. Get a run down of what role non-profits play in America. Also, Ryan Pollock from T4Youth drops in to talk about his ping-pong tournament that raises money for the Chicago Tech Academy. Trala creator Sam Walder also drops in to talk about how to teach yourself music. Sean Froelich hosts the Startup Showcase on WGN radio.


Startup Showcase: Ryan Pollock from T4Youth and Sam Walder from Trala

DePaul will be offering a summer coding program for girls

Nonprofit Girls Who Code is unveiling an new summer program called Campus. According to GWC, the program will offer a slew of educational opportunities in tech.

“Girls Who Code is expanding its reach across the US with a brand new summer program, Campus. Campus offers Girls Who Code’s first-ever specialized coding courses to help middle and high schools girls get an edge for college and connect with other girls with similar interests. The two-week intensive courses, hosted on select school and university campuses, go deep on a range of topics from Website Design and Development to Wearable Tech & Fashion Design and iPhone App Development.”

Only 1 in four coders is a girl, according to Girls Who Code. And GWC’s mission is to close that gap by encouraging young girls to geek out with glee! The organization says they’ve reached over 40,000 girls so far and want to reach a thousand more on college campuses across six cities including DePaul University in Chicago.

Here is a list of all the campuses where girls can sign up for Campus:

  • The Hewitt School, New York, NY

  • Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School, New York, NY

  • The Spence School, New York, NY

  • Brooklyn Friends School, Brooklyn, NY

  • Boulder Country Day School, Boulder, CO

  • Colorado Academy, Denver, CO

  • Kent Denver School, Denver, CO

  • Minnetonka Public Schools, Minneapolis-St Paul, MN

  • Convent of the Visitation School, Minneapolis-St Paul, MN

  • St. Catherine University, Minneapolis-St Paul, MN

  • Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA

  • Scripps College, Los Angeles, CA

  • The Bryn Mawr School, Baltimore, MD

  • Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, Washington, DC

  • DePaul University, Chicago, IL

Chicago Bear Prince Amukamara invests in alma mater startup

Nebraska Startup opendorse raised $3.5 million in a Series A financing round led by Serra Ventures, Flyover Capital and a pack of Nebraska football stars including Chicago Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara.

opendorse is an athlete branded-content platform that connects athletes to major brands.  opendorse, founded by two college athletes Adi Kunalic and Blake Lawrence, streamlines the marketing process for athletes. Today, opendorse has 2,400 athletes with a combined following over 80 million.

“I’m proud to invest in a company built by my former teammates that understands the challenges and opportunities of athletes like me and keeps the business focused on athletes first,” said Prince Amukamara of the Chicago Bears. “I believed in opendorse when Blake and Adi pitched me my first social media deal in 2012, and I believe in the company’s direction today more than ever. opendorse is like a personal assistant in my pocket, helping me build my social brand while I’m focused on the field.”

“We have a clear, unique, and disruptive path to success for thousands of athletes and hundreds of brands to easily engage sports fans in the social space, and we welcome our new investors who support our mission and share our vision,” said Blake Lawrence, CEO of opendorse. “We know that athletes have incredible power and we’re proud to have built the infrastructure to help foster their impact on social media.”

opendorse was founded in Nebraska but has an office in both New York City and Chicago.

This is what disruptors should really fear

You have to play nice.

Keep in mind that your startup may be cutting into the pie of a centuries old industry for the sake of innovation, cost and convenience. Sounds righteous, but it won’t be easy.

At least that’s what we learned after speaking with ClearCover CEO Kyle Nakatsuji about existing in that precarious position of being a disruptor. ClearCover is a startup focused on lowering car insurance costs by cutting past all the unnecessary charges that Big insurance companies may straddle you with.

Nakatsuji’s startup is off to a hot start. They have raised over $11 million in its first year.  Venture Capital Firm Lightbank was the primary benefactor behind this initial round of funding. Managing partner Vic Pascucci III said the undisclosed investment is one of the largest ever made by Lightbank.

Disruption is a game that can pay big dividends but also creates enemies. Look to ride sharing and the taxi industry. Or keep a close eye on how Amazon is creepily moving past industry disruption into home disruption.

“It’s an interesting dynamic,” Nakatsuji said. “You do want to have respect. But we won’t let that respect stop us from competing.” It’s about being friendly and acknowledging the failings of the industry, he said.

Technori Live host Scott Kitun pointed out to Nakatsuji during an interview that facing resistance when entering into a disruptive venture can be a positive sign that you are on to something big.

One of the signs that Nakatsuji recognized was the wealth of information on the web was allowing consumers to make better informed decisions. This meant that it would be difficult for long-standing industry leaders to lay down unnecessary charges on customers.

This is about recognizing the flaws in an industry and offering services that address them. That’s what ClearCover did with car insurance.

Kyle Nakatsuji (mid-right) got his start at The University of Wisconsin where he earned an MBA.

But when do you get started? Having an idea is one thing, according to Nakatsuji, but putting that idea in motion is a whole other issue. “You want someone to tell you here’s when you know, here’s when you’re ready. And that doesn’t exist either,” he said.

So what can an entrepreneur do? In Nakatsuji’s pursuit of wanting to “know what to do” he instead reached a position where he became comfortable not knowing what to do.

“The answers never present themselves. In fact, the questions only get bigger and harder,” he said. Nakatsuji realized that he became more afraid of not trying than trying and failing.

“In that moment, the decision was made,” he said.

ClearCover is having a big first year. But that doesn’t mean the road ahead is certain. The lessons learned during Nakatsuji’s career can help guide him and any entrepreneur looking to disrupt.

Listen to our full interview with Kyle Nakatsuji on WGN Radio.

Using mindfulness to tackle mental disorders

Barath Anandakumar is the founder of Actiwit. Barath’s younger brother dealt with seizures and after getting training from their father, Barath’s younger brother’s health improved. Barath next wanted to find a way to make this treatment more portable. Currently Actiwit is a program that offers individualized brain tracking for children diagnosed with ADD and ADHD. But Barath plans on expanding to all mental ailments.

Listen on WGN Radio. 

Disruptors have to be friendly and unafraid to compete

ClearCover is a platform with the goal of cutting down on car insurance costs. CEO Kyle Nakatsuji saw his company raise over $11 million in year one. Nakatsuji’s company is a disruptor. So how do you disrupt a powerful industry like car insurance while also maintaining relationships with the old guard?

Listen on WGN Radio. 

You can make so much wealth if you know what you’re doing

TopstepTrader lets you test your skills without losing large sums of money. Michael Patak is the CVO and founder of TopstepTrader. Patak lost deals before building a million dollar company. You learn by doing and trading is one of the hardest games to play, according to Patak. So what do you need? Discipline. Get this and more tips as host Scott Kitun opens the trading floor.

Listen on WGN Radio.

Baltimoron: Super Mario Odyssey, Assassin’s Creed: Origins, and Wolfenstein 2

Listen to John and Sam analyze the big releases of the weekend and arguably the biggest weekend of the year.


This Startup is attracting global med students to the US

Kyle Swinsky is the CEO and Co-founder of AMOpportunites. His team won the University of Chicago New Venture Challenge back in June. The business has grown to have 500 sites across the United States. The US needs access to high-skilled physicians and AMOpporunities is giving talent a reason to work here.

Listen on WGN Radio. 

Can tech help patients get seen sooner?

Physicians are in demand and are hard to come by. Ben Albert is the CEO and Co-founder of Upfront Healthcare Services. Albert noticed how inefficient doctor patient scheduling was when helping with his ailing grandfather. Upfront ensures practitioners efficiently meet patients to cut down on wait times.

Listen on WGN Radio.