Strong and Talented Crop of Tech Businesses Among Nominees for Merrick Momentum Award and Momentum Rising Star Award; Winners to be Announced at Largest Ever Momentum Dinner November 2
The Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center announced Monday the six finalists for the 2017 Merrick Momentum Award and four finalists for the Momentum Rising Star Award, who will be honored at the 10th annual Merrick Momentum Awards Dinner, held by CEC for the benefit of 1871 on November 2 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. The dinner will recognize one company from each category of the coveted awards, which are bestowed upon companies that represent the best of Chicago’s constantly expanding tech ecosystem and showcase the innovation and success of the entrepreneurial community throughout the city.
Nominees for the Momentum Rising Star Award -- given to a company with significant growth potential that is less than five years old -- include BallotReady, ThinkCERCA, Tock and Catalytic. Nominees for the Merrick Momentum Award -- which is given to a company that is on track to become one of the next great companies to emerge from Chicago -- include Keeper, SnapSheet, Narrative Science, tastytrade, G2 Crowd and SpotHero.
“It is fitting that the tenth Momentum Awards will honor such an incredibly innovative, high-performing crop of Chicago-based companies,” said Jim O’Connor, Jr., CEC Board Chairman. “These nominees represent the profound potential of the Chicago tech community, and each is inspiring and a testament to the strength and continued growth of the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
Previous winners of the Merrick Momentum Award include Avant, SMS Assist, kCura, Braintree, Cleversafe, GrubHub, SitterCity, Eved, SAVVO and @properties. The previous recipient of the Momentum Rising Star Award, which debuted last year, was Civis Analytics.
Several other honors will be presented at the event, including the Chicagoness Award, the Corporate Champion Award, the Entrepreneurial Champion Award and, for the first time, the Lifetime Achievement in Entrepreneurship Award. The event will be attended by more than 1,000 of Chicago’s best and brightest tech innovators, corporate leaders and civic supporters. It is the largest gathering of the tech community annually and the primary fundraiser for CEC, which supports the activities and operations of 1871.
The 2017 Merrick Momentum Dinner is co-chaired by Michael Ferro, Chairman of Merrick Ventures, LLC, Jeffrey Aronin, CEO of Paragon Biosciences and Tom Ricketts, Incapital CEO and owner of the Chicago Cubs. The Momentum Dinner Host Committee co-chairs include Matthew Summy, Vice President of External and Government Affairs for Comcast, Renee Sang, Managing Director for Innovation and Talent at Accenture, Holly Copeland, Director of Public Affairs and Corporate Social Responsibility at Horizon Pharma, Leslie Anderson, Senior Vice President, Head of Treasury and Payment Solutions at BMO Harris Bank and Omar Duque, President and CEO of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
“One of the core pillars of 1871’s mission is to strengthen and champion our city as a global leader in technology and entrepreneurship, and the companies nominated this year embody our belief that Chicago is the best place in the world to start a business,” said 1871 CEO Howard A. Tullman. “These companies and their leaders are among the best and brightest minds in their fields, and we are looking forward to recognizing each of them at the Momentum Awards and continuing to watch them flourish for years to come.”
Information about each of the ten nominees is listed below.
BallotReady provides data and tools to drive downballot civic engagement - powered by the most comprehensive and complete dataset to every level of government. BallotReady also creates compelling customized voter turnout tools for campaigns, advocacy groups, and nonprofits to inform voters about their entire ballot and get out the vote, every election.
ThinkCERCA’s personalized literacy platform helps educators teach critical thinking skills through argumentative writing. With students and teachers using its platform in all 50 states and 130 countries, the company has partnered with prominent leaders in education, including Follett Corporation, and has been featured by The Atlantic and EdSurge. A 2016 SIAA CODiE Awards finalist in the Best Learning Capacity-Building Solution and Best Reading/English/Language Arts Instructional Solution categories, ThinkCERCA has also been named one of the best tools in edtech by Common Sense’s Graphite. In July 2013, ThinkCERCA was the recipient of a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Literacy Courseware Challenge grant, and in December 2012, graduated from the inaugural class of Impact Engine’s social impact accelerator.
Tock is a comprehensive toolbox built to fundamentally change the way restaurants think about and run their business. This includes the industry's first cloud-based reservation, guest, and table management system for restaurants, wineries, and other culinary experiences across the globe. Today, Tock has seated millions of guests, processed over $210M in prepaid reservations, and has built the definitive platform for discovering the best culinary experiences around the world - From Alinea, Milk Room, and Smyth and the Loyalist here in Chicago, to Eleven Madison Park, The French Laundry, The Fat Duck, Atelier Crenn, and hundreds more across the world.
Catalytic frees up your team to do more of what matters by making business processes fast, simple and seamless. Catalytic’s cloud-based platform automates mundane low-value tasks, connects your systems together and guides your team through processes, avoiding missed handoffs, forgotten steps and needless rework.
About Keeper Security, Inc.
Keeper Security is transforming the way businesses and individuals protect their passwords and sensitive digital assets to significantly reduce cyber theft. As the leading password manager and digital vault, Keeper helps millions of people and thousands of businesses substantially mitigate the risk of a data breach. Keeper is SOC-2 Certified and utilizes best-in-class encryption to safeguard its customers. Keeper protects businesses of all sizes across every major industry sector. Keeper partners with global OEMs and mobile operators to preload Keeper on smartphones and tablets.
Snapsheet is the pioneering provider of virtual claims technology to leading auto insurance carriers. The Chicago-based company currently employs over 250 technology and claims professionals and services more than 35 major auto insurance carriers. Snapsheet's Virtual Insurance Claims Exchange platform optimizes the claims process for auto repairs from customer photo submission to efficient estimate processing to final repairs and payment.
About Narrative Science
Narrative Science is the leader in advanced natural language generation (Advanced NLG) for the enterprise. Quill™, its Advanced NLG platform, learns and writes like a person, automatically transforming data into Intelligent Narratives—insightful, conversational communications full of audience-relevant information that provide complete transparency into how analytic decisions are made. Customers, including Credit Suisse, Deloitte, MasterCard, PricewaterhouseCoopers, USAA and members of the U.S. intelligence community, use Intelligent Narratives to make better business decisions, focus talent on higher-value opportunities and improve communications with their customers.
tastytrade is one of the most-watched online financial networks, engaging investors and traders across 150 countries with 8 hours of daily, live, cost-free and commercial free programming and accessible through video on-demand 24/7. tastytrade’s research-based content teaches a logical, mechanical approach to investing and identifying opportunities based on probability and volatility. Investors are continually challenged with financial math, humor and new market perspectives. tastytrade has over 30 million hours watched of free archived programming. And now, tastytrade has launched a new online broker in January 2017, called tastyworks (member of FINRA, NFA and SIPC). The teams are leading a financial revolution to change the culture of investing and debunking the myths around active vs. passive investing for the do-it-yourself investor.
About G2 Crowd
G2 Crowd, the world’s leading business solution review platform, leverages more than 170,000 user reviews to drive better purchasing decisions. Business professionals, buyers, investors, and analysts use the site to compare and select the best software and services based on peer reviews and synthesized social data. Every month, nearly one million people visit G2 Crowd’s site to gain unique insights. Co-founded by the founder and former executives of SaaS leaders like BigMachines (acquired by Oracle) and SteelBrick (acquired by Salesforce) and backed by more than $45 million in capital, G2 Crowd aims to bring authenticity and transparency to the business marketplace.
SpotHero, North America’s leading parking reservation service, empowers drivers with easy parking at thousands of garages, lots, and valets in major cities across the US and Canada. Launched in 2011, SpotHero is headquartered in Chicago and has secured $57.5 million in funding.
Notably, in 2017 SpotHero launched SpotHero for Business, the first in-app solution to offer businesses and their employees tools to manage parking expenses and provide increased visibility. Also this year, SpotHero launched its Parking Developer Platform, enabling select websites, apps and connected or autonomous vehicle manufacturers to extend parking reservation functionality to their native interfaces.