Don't miss out! Grab your ticket

Report from our Ombudsperson

In the past few weeks, the Techweek team has learned an incredible amount. We have used this opportunity to take a closer look at ourselves and understand where we need to make changes and improvements as the result of concerns from our community here in Chicago.

In response to these concerns, we commissioned a report to be issued by Kelly Stickel,Co-Founder, President and Global Community Builder at Remodista. As a neutral third party, Kelly accepted the responsibility of acting as the Techweek Chicago 2014 Ombudsperson. As promised, we are making her full report available today. We are also working with our key stakeholders to ensure that we take all necessary steps to address all concerns and determine the way forward. As such, we have the following action items that we can announce right now: There’s no doubt that Techweek has experienced rapid growth in a very short period of time, and we are appreciative of the opportunity to take a deep look inward. We value all the feedback we have received about how we can be successfully inclusive and transparent from all members of the Techweek community.

We want to thank Kelly for coming in on short notice, working with our team as we prepared for a major event, and for executing her report in the requested short timeframe. We value Kelly’s findings and suggestions and look forward to implementing changes to truly be an inclusionary platform for all who have a passion for technology and innovation.

We also thank you, the Techweek community, for continuing to push us and make us better – we are dedicated to earning and keeping your trust.

You can find Kelly’s report in full here.

With appreciation,
Team Techweek  

Thank you to our 13,000+ attendees!

TY14CHI-Pane-Option-2

We want to say thank you to everyone who attended Techweek Chicago 2014! We sincerely hope you enjoyed it as much as we did! On the heels of this year’s big event, we’re announcing that we’ll be back again next year … look out 2015! Highlights of this year’s event include:
  • High-Profile Speakers: Techweek Chicago gathered the foremost leaders and influencers in technology in nine summits focusing on trends, innovation, growth, action and change within the greater tech industry. Notable names included: Brenna Berman, commissioner and CIO of the City of Chicago; Ryan Ozonian, president at Cyber Dust; Kathryn Minshew, co-founder and CEO of The Muse; and Jeff Hoffman, partner and co-founder of ColorJar and founder of Priceline.
  • LAUNCH Competition: Roughly 100 pre-qualified startups competed for cash and sponsor-donated gifts valued at $50,000. Judged by a panel of top tech and business leaders, the winner of this year’s LAUNCH Competition is Jail Education Solutions. With a mission to provide an intuitive learning platform that incentivizes educational attainment, Jail Education Solutions provides an easy-to-manage solution that is free for most corrections facilities.
  • Future Sound Music Festival: The intersection between music and technology was explored during the inaugural Future Sound Music Festival that took place along the Chicago River with sweeping views of the city. Innovative and award-winning headliners included Eric Prydz, St. Lucia and Morgan Page, who ended the 3-day festival with an immersive 3-D show.
  • FashionTECH Runway Show: The latest production in wearable technology, e-commerce and innovative manufacturing brought tech front and center to the Techweek Chicago runway. The show included influential local tech entrepreneurs Shradha Agarwal, co-founder of ContextMedia, Coco Meers, founder and CEO of PrettyQuick and Brent Payne, CEO of Loud Interactive, who showed off the latest in fashion tech trends from: Central Standard Timing, The Empowerment Plan, Garmin, GiftBar, LUNATIK, Misift Wearables, The Tie Bar, Brideside and other local Chicago brands.
  • Hackathon: With 24 hours of development fueled by participants’ passions for business, innovation and technology, Techweek Chicago’s Hackathon, presented by AngelHack and Rackspace, featured more than 50 developers, designers, and entrepreneurs working to create the next big web or mobile app. This year’s winner is Road Raven, an app that locates potholes on roads across the nation, suggests alternative routes for motorists, and provides real-time road condition intelligence for local governments.
You can expect to see a lot more in year five of Techweek Chicago, including: more speakers, happy hours, LAUNCH Competitors, an even bigger Expo Hall, Hiring Fair, FashionTECH Runway Show, colossal parties, and even Future Sound Music Festival. Don’t wait until next year to see what the fun is all about, check out photos from:

A note from our sponsor, Argyle

argyle

Dear Techweek’ers,

As a tech enthusiast and Chicago community advocate I wanted to formally introduce myself to this group of like-minded individuals, many of who have been pioneering some of the most notable digital efforts to date.

I have been involved with this great event since its inaugural year and as the founder of Argyle Search partners I am proud to be an official sponsor to the 2014 Techweek conference.

I wanted to take a moment to introduce the team. Argyle is a search firm who understands the unique characteristics of those who are able to take a great idea and evolve it into a sustainable company. The entrepreneur spirit is alive and well these days and we are looking forward to doing our part to continue to fuel that movement.

As many of you are attending Techweek to accelerate your business into a period of high-growth, Argyle is here and excited to help you take on the war on talent. I welcome you to share a drink, a byte and a conversation at the Argyle lounge this year. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly if you are unable to stop by and would like to get to know Argyle.

We look forward to sharing in on the celebration with you.

Cheers,

Liz Vellojin
[email protected]

  techweek_argyle_floorplan  

Announcing Our Ombudsperson


We are committed to providing an open and inclusive platform upon which to celebrate and enable innovation and technology, and as we continue to respond to the recent community discussions about Techweek and women in technology, we have seen the need for an independent, third party ombudsperson to represent the interests of the community and provide us with feedback on inclusivity at Techweek Chicago 2014 and our future events.


We have hired Kelly Stickel, Co-Founder, President and Global Community Builder at Remodista. Kelly has a background of over 10 years in management consulting, staffing, vendor relations, and alliance partnerships, as well as, an advocate for women in business and technology. She is an active member of the tech community in Chicago with a deep commitment to connecting and supporting women in business and tech. As an independent ombudsperson, Kelly can provide Techweek with constructive, impactful feedback.


As Techweek’s ombudsperson, Kelly will:

  • Interview Techweek’s leadership team to address our culture and decision-making processes
  • Review Techweek’s content to ensure we are using our platform to make tech in Chicago better for all
  • Examine Techweek’s marketing and guide our messaging to promote community values
  • Be an additional line of communications for Techweek attendees and members of Team Techweek to confidentially report violations of our Code of Conduct

All of Kelly’s findings, assessments, and recommendations will be published within two weeks of the conclusion of Techweek Chicago 2014, without internal editorial control, on the Techweek blog. A copy will also be provided to anyone who requests it, including sponsors.


We are dedicated to remaining transparent and accountable and are looking forward to bringing Kelly on board to help provide us with recommendations for improvement as she takes a deeper dive into the concerns expressed by the community, and into Techweek as an organization, as well.


Best, Team Techweek

Entrepreneurs: Make the Most of Networking

Most professionals live by the old adage, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” That statement is true for all professionals, but for entrepreneurs, embracing that idea can make or break their new business venture.

The reality is that networking can help drive sales, recruit candidates, raise capital and secure key partnerships, making it a crucial part of any startup’s strategy. Establishing, nurturing and leveraging a deep network of business connections can be the deciding factor in whether a startup fails or succeeds.

One of the most challenging parts of networking is making the time to actually attend events. Instead of looking at networking as time spent away from your business, you should realize that a strong network can actually help build your business faster than you could on your own. You never know what new client, investor or employee you’ll meet at a networking event, which are typically very productive given their face-to-face nature.

Here’s how to make the most of time spent networking at Techweek and similar events.

Identify events

Networking events come in all shapes and sizes. There are industry specific events, task-focused events (e.g., strategy, marketing, technology) and events for professionals of a certain level or stage (e.g. CEO’s, startup founders, etc.). To keep all of these events on your radar, utilize your respective industry associations, trade publications and local event calendars. There are many local organizations that publicize key events, including BuiltInChicagoIllinois Technology Association and Crain’s Chicago Business.  Many other local organizations host their own events, including TechnoriLean Startup Circle and Ensemble.  Shared startup office spaces, like 1871 and TechNexus, are also good places to visit, as they host many of the key events.

Prioritize

Although networking should be a top priority for startup entrepreneurs, you must invest your time wisely and attend only the events that will benefit your business. When assessing in-person networking opportunities, you should analyze:
  • The expected size of the event (more people is better than less)
  • The quality of the attendees (you’ll likely want to meet more CEOs than lower level staff members)
  • The location of the event (it’s less time-consuming to attend events in your home city)
  • The type of event itself (dinner events don’t provide much time to mingle)
  • The reputation of the hosting organization (certain companies are known for throwing great networking events)


Identify your goal

Ensuring you have a clear mission for the event is crucial. Is there a certain company you’re looking to introduce yourself to or a specific executive you’d like meet? If so, try arranging a meeting time prior to the event. But keep in mind that you don’t always have to be the “hunter” at networking events. Participating in a roundtable discussion or sitting on a panel can save you money on ticket prices, secure extra exposure for your company in promotional materials and encourage attendees to approach you during the event.

Get online

Thanks to the never-ending chat room that is the Internet, networking can happen outside of in-person events. All entrepreneurs should be active users on LinkedIn and Twitter to engage with audiences specific to their industry or location. This means having a rich profile that positions you as an expert in your field, sharing relevant news and participating in conversations with relevant sub-groups in your network.  When networking online, remember to keep discussions two sided to avoid sounding like a salesman.

Startup executives are busy, but that doesn’t mean they can neglect networking. If you devote ample time to building your network, great things will happen. You’ll meet and work with new clients, highly qualified employees and motivated investors who will help take your business to the next level.

George Deeb is the managing partner at Chicago-based Red Rocket Ventures, a startup consulting and financial advisory firm. Red Rocket is also a founding member of Ensemble, an all-star powered ‘digital services suite’ for entrepreneurs desiring high-ROI ‘do it for me’ solutions at 20-to-40 percent savings. You can follow on Twitter at @georgedeeb@RedRocketVC and @EnsembleHQ.

Roundtable Discussion Points and Next Steps

The roundtable hosted by Techweek, with the support of Ms. Tech, yielded both a positive and productive conversation on a number of topics. We want to thank those who participated for their insight and honest contributions.  We are excited to incorporate five actionable ideas to build upon Techweek’s 3rd Annual “Women In Tech” programming, which has been in development over the last several months.

We got it very wrong this time and, in doing so, learned some important lessons.  We already have initiatives for “Women in Technology” in place at Techweek, and we are now determined to make those good initiatives great.

Below are key discussion points and action items that resulted from the roundtable:

Discussion: Context and communication are key to content of this nature.  Techweek is, in large part, defined by innovation, edginess, and the ability to feature technology in alternative ways.  Unfortunately, our poor judgment obscured the positive intent and negated the relevant content of the newsletter.
Action:
  • Communicate deliberately: Techweek is committing to increased sensitivity and awareness of context and overall intent of message and audience.  We know that images and marketing materials have the power to marginalize the very groups that we seek to celebrate; we will be acutely aware of this as we develop materials and market events in the future.  In summary, we will be more deliberate, more thoughtful and more sensitive in how we communicate, including the selection of the photos and logos we use.
Discussion: Techweek’s platform gives us a unique ability to empower rising female entrepreneurs and technologists with opportunities and access to the resources necessary to gain experience, confidence and connections to achieve business goals.
Action:
  • Techweek Fellows Program & Hiring Fair: Techweek will select 50 fellows as part of a Women’s Leadership program, based on community nominations to open this Friday. The Fellows will be provided with a full Summit pass and will be highlighted at a dedicated reception, which will be linked with the Women In Tech luncheon and the Hiring Fair. This Fellowship program had a successful trial last year, and is now set up for significant expansion alongside Techweek’s programing specific to women in tech.
  • Techweek LAUNCH: Techweek will recruit 25 more LAUNCH competitors from historically underrepresented groups within technology.  We will focus on extending our reach to growing entrepreneurial communities and institutes of higher education that have previously been underrepresented.
Discussion: In our roundtable discussion, participants were honest and critical, leading to a productive conversation. There was, however, a shared feeling of disappointment that some of the most publicly outspoken critics did not express an interest in joining together to actively create solutions.
Action:
  • More dialogue: Techweek will again host open forums with those who wish to create real change in Chicago’s tech community and beyond.  We realize that last night’s roundtable came at short notice; we will host a second round table, similar in format, next Tuesday at 7PM in our offices, 222 W. Hubbard.
  • More quality discussion from leaders: Techweek wants to create more discourse on this issue.  We will work to bring influential leaders to Techweek who have been vocal about these important topics, both locally and nationally, to continue the conversation at Techweek Chicago.
Discussion: The participants at the roundtable were clear that we should continue with all planned programming for this year, including the Black Tie Rave and the FashionTECH Runway Show.  Participants encouraged us to continue to push the envelope in creating new engagement opportunities, especially for women. We take great pride in the fact that female attendees at Techweek Chicago account for ~40% of our participants. This is notable, as the industry is made up of ~20% women.
Action:
  • Black Tie Rave: Although roundtable participants felt Techweek should continue with all planned events, Techweek has decided to cancel the Black Tie Rave on the 14th of June, which has clearly begun to distract from our important mission.  We will be in touch with all attendees within the next 24 hours and will be issuing full refunds.  Techweek will donate the projected proceeds, $25,000, to Tech Gives Back initiative recipients.
  • FashionTECH Runway Show: The Techweek FashionTECH Runway Show will continue as planned.  This event is an integral part of our programming that supports fashion tech and wearables companies, attracts a diverse set of attendees, and showcases how tech is integrated in our everyday lives.

The constructive conversation was encouraging last evening and we feel confident about the impact that will result from turning words into actions. We are moving forward immediately to act on these next steps to maximize the opportunity presented by Techweek Chicago 2014.   We will provide more details on program specifics and applications tomorrow.

Team Techweek
UPDATE: If you are interested in our Fellowship program email: [email protected]. To join our discussion next Tuesday email:[email protected]

A Note to Our Community

To Our Community:

Techweek is what we call a “big tent,” gathering local communities and shining a national spotlight on them. Our goal is to create new engagement events that connect the community in various ways. We learn from them. Sometimes things work, and sometimes they don’t.

Our latest, the “Black Tie Rave” is a tongue-in-cheek branded event that has a serious mission: Giving back. Our inaugural event in Miami in March of 2014 was a success, both in raising money for a deserving cause and in gathering many of the local tech leaders. Ultimately, our aim is to create a multitude of ways to engage with those who have a vested interest in – and a passion for – technology.

The last thing we want to do is alienate anyone in the community and we sincerely apologize if this event or imagery is offensive to you. The photo in question was taken from a series of photos of event attendees that were posted on our Facebook page in March. These photos were taken at a photo booth featuring top hats, bow-ties, and other fun black-tie related props. It was used with the intent to promote and encourage attendance at the inaugural event here in Chicago. The goal was not to offend or upset, but we understand and recognize the criticism that the photo was poorly selected. We take full responsibility.

We recognize the seriousness of this situation, and as a result, we will be taking immediate action:

1) Techweek Chicago will be hosting a round table on Wednesday, June 4 with key influencers in the tech community in Chicago to have a candid discussion about the messaging of our Black Tie Rave and how we can better communicate positive and exciting events in the future. For more information, please contact [email protected].

2) Techweek Chicago has always included multiple open forum sessions and speaker panels focused on addressing the broader issues involved with diversity in technology as a whole. We have spent considerable time developing additional forums in 2014 which address these topics which will be announced in coming weeks. These forums serve our mission of showcasing the underappreciated contributors in technology- whether based on geography, gender, or anything else. We continue to encourage everyone to visit our site and submit suggestions for speakers and specific topics as it relates to the support and advancement of both diversity and women in technology, particularly in Chicago.

3) Techweek Chicago has already begun engaging with senior leaders who want to participate in an open conversation about real, actionable issues in the both the local and broader tech communities. It is our intent to open a clearer line of communication to make necessary changes to our approach to programming. We recognize the need to understand the perspective of those impacted to better align ourselves with the needs and challenges faced by those within the local community.

Techweek’s overarching goal is to be as inclusive of the Chicago technology community as possible. We sincerely apologize if our messaging and actions have in any way made people feel unwelcome at our celebration of Chicago’s tech community.

We recognize the need to be sensitive to all needs and concerns within the tech community, and again want to emphasize that we regret any offense that has resulted. We’re thankful for the support we’ve received over the years here in Chicago, and we welcome feedback and want to hear all voices.

Please see our policies here — they reflect our thinking, and we continue to strive to continue to break new ground and provide an open forum for the greater community.

As always, we welcome any and all feedback.

Best,

Iain Shovlin [Chairman] and the Techweek Team

Announcing our 2014 Presenting Sponsor!

microsoft_email_pane  

Techweek is proud to announce world-class software and hardware provider Microsoft is the Techweek Chicago 2014 Presenting Sponsor!  Along with Microsoft, Techweek will welcome an anticipated 15,000 attendees representing 3,000 brands150+ exhibitors and 100+ speakers to the Merchandise Mart June 26-28.

Join us at Techweek to learn more about Microsoft’s journey in becoming one of the top tech corporations in the world and see new products from Windows to Xbox, Azure, Surface, Skype, and more!

Techweek Chicago Prices Rise on on May 15: Get Your Badge Today!

With our roots in this city, Techweek Chicago has always been our largest and most vibrant event and we’re excited to bring more excitement, entertainment and entrepreneurs to our 2014 event. Here are 5 reasons you need to attend Techweek Chicago 2014:
  1. Summits: With topics ranging from the future of media to education in the workplace, our lineup of more than 150 speakers will explore the boundaries of technology and business as we know it.
  2. Future Sound Festival: Our inaugural music festival, featuring St. Lucia, will bring three nights of musical entertainment showcasing local bands to some of today’s hottest indie and electronic acts.
  3. Hiring Fair: Find your dream job in tech and meet with hiring managers for more than 75 companies looking to fill their talented ranks.
  4. LAUNCH: Watch as more than 100 startups showcase their innovative products, services and ideas while they compete for a grand prize of $100,000 in cash and prizes.
  5. Food Truck Face Off: We’re lining the Merchandise Mart’s South Drive with the finest food trucks in the city. Chow down and sample special offerings while industry judges vote to crown a winner.
From the incredible speaker line-up to our new Future Sound Festival, there is something for everyone. You don’t want to miss all that Techweek Chicago has in store. Badge prices for the event are going up May 15, so purchase your pass today!

Interview with Techweek100 Miami Member: Max Borges

  1. What is the most important leadership quality you rely on from your senior staff?
    Thoughtful decision making and execution.  As our organization grows I need to trust that the leaders I put in key positions have the insight and ability to make smart decisions.  They must share our vision for the future and have the ability to encounter problems, think about them strategicially and develop the appropriate course of action.  I’m very fortunate to have a team that does just that; enabling us to sustain growth percentages more than double industry standards.

  2. What separates Max Borges Agency from other tech PR agencies?
    Our business model is completely different. While most agencies say they are focused on results, their structure leads you to believe otherwise.  Our team members are all partners in the success of our clients.  They are financially incentivized to deliver great results; and, in fact have their paychecks tied to it.  This significant change in compensation structure has lead to the unparalleled creativity, thoughtfulness and execution our clients have come to love about us. With our organization, the individual truly does not succeed without the client first succeeding.

  3. When you look for new clients, what makes you particularly attracted to an account?
    We’ve got to believe.  This extends not only from the product or service, but to the management team, the branding and our day-to-day contacts.  If all of these pieces fit together, the business is in a sector we know well and we know we can do amazing work, we’re all in.  Sidenote – If you’re launching a ‘new and improved’ Snuggie, we’re going to have a tough time getting behind it.

  4. Why focus on technology? Is there an advantage to keeping your scope of work more specific?                
    I love this question.  For one, we stumbled across technology and more specifically consumer electronics.  We landed a headphone client, found it easy and fun to deliver great results, so we decided to do more of it.  A year or so later, we looked at our roster and separated them into two categories – good and bad.  We noticed the bulk of our challenges were coming from the clients that weren’t tech.  We got rid of those clients and grew 74% that year.  The message is that focus leads to efficiency.  We became the best at consumer electronics PR.  Best practices could be applied across our clients because they were all in the same category.  Plus, technology is fun!  Who doesn’t want to be on the cutting edge of product development and design?

  5. If you had to guess, what new technology could change public relations the way Twitter did a few short years ago? Have you seen anything new recently that you feel could work its way into the mainstream soon?
    1. I believe agencies will continue to utilize Big Data to deliver better, more impactful results for clients.  The ease of access to critical end user information will be driving our public relations decisions.  Users want to be communicated with, not talked at.  Our strategies now are focused on developing ways to bypass traditional media outlets and talking directly to our clients’ customers.
    2. We’re also developing a proprietary  software platform that allows bloggers, writers, editors, prodcuers, YouTube reviewers, etc. to easily locate information and products for their stories.  When it’s all said and done, the challenge that exists for media members looking for content for their stories could all but be eliminated.  Stay tuned!
    3. At the end of the day, our goals are to communicate to our client’s ‘public’.  Wherever those clients are, we’ll develop strategies to get in front of them in meaningful ways.
  Check out Max Borges Agency!