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1871 COVID-19 Update: 03.16.20

With the growing concerns of COVID-19, we want you to know that we are committed to doing our part to keep both our members, guests, staff, and community healthy. We are continuing to monitor the situation and are keeping a close eye on official information, including the Chicago, Illinois, and U.S. Departments of Public Health and guidance published by the CDC.

Effective immediately, access to 1871 is members-only. Everyone who enters must have their own badge: no public or visitor access will be permitted.

1871 Events COVID-19 Update

Our 1871
Posted by: 1871 on 3/12/20 10:15 AM

Given the varying levels of uncertainty in regards to hosting public events due to the progression of COVID-19, your health and safety are our top priority at 1871. 

The Unanticipated Upside of Meeting Widely and Giving Unconditionally

Food Foundry
Posted by: 1871 on 10/15/19 3:27 PM

The Food Foundry is a Chicago-based accelerator program by Relish Works designed to support, connect, and propel innovative startups who are rethinking the food industry. 86 Repairs was a member of Cohort 1.

Top 5 Tips for Maximizing your Time in a Start-up Accelerator

1871, Food Foundry
Posted by: 1871 on 10/1/19 10:14 AM

From those who went through one. 

The Food Foundry is a Chicago-based accelerator program by Relish Works designed to support, connect, and propel innovative startups who are rethinking the food industry. Participants of Cohort 1 provided valuable advice for those looking to take the leap into an accelerator. 

GUEST AUTHOR: Mandy TahvonenManaging Director of Relish Works

Last year, Relish Works launched our accelerator program, The Food Foundry, built in partnership with Gordon Food Service and 1871. For three months, our team searched the globe to find the top startups who were disrupting the broader food industry. Suffice to say, we met a ton of great folks, all-star entrepreneurs and mentors, and learned a lot along the way. 

Are you an entrepreneur who’s considering joining an accelerator? Have you already been accepted into a program and are just counting down the days until you can hit the ground running? 

We talked to the folks who participated in our first Food Foundry cohort to gather their best pieces of advice that they would give to the next group of entrepreneurs entering or considering an accelerator program.

Here’s what they had to say:

Food Foundry Cohort 1 Demo Showcase

1.) Start by Finding the Right Fit 

With so many programs out there, how do you really know which accelerator is the best for you and your business?  

The answer comes in three parts. Find a program that fits a.) your lifestyle, b.) your business, and c.) the network you’re looking to be a part of. 

For example, can you take the time away from your business to be a part of an accelerator that meets 5 days a week, or do you need the flexibility of a program that only meets once per week, or once per month? Because our startups were coming from all over the country, The Food Foundry met one week each month for 16 weeks. 

“Stay in town on the weekends whenever possible. Plan time outside of the regular scheduled program to be in Chicago (or whatever city you’re in) for at least 1-2 weeks to explore the city, get to know folks and better engrain yourself in the industry as a whole.” 

Know that when the program ends, it’s not really over. So pick a network that you’re excited to be a part of and support for the long run.  

“There were folks that I met through the program that I still talk to every week. It’s a community for life and I love that I’m a part of it.” 

2.) Network, network, network 

Across the board, this was the #1 piece of advice from the cohort that they would give to future program participants. 

“Network all the time...The actual work started after 5:00pm.” 

One of the best parts of being in an accelerator program is opportunity you'll have to tap into the incredible community of experts, mentors, VC’s, industry thought leaders, and general community supporters who are dedicating their time and resources to make sure your business is successful. This also includes access to new customers that you may not have ever had the chance to meet had it not been for that one special connection. 

Treat everyone you meet like they’re about to hand you your future, but also remember that networking goes both ways.

“The informal conversations at external networking events, accelerator hosted events, general meet-and-greets, etc. were the highlight for me. I now have a large group of people that I can call upon for advice at any time, and who I will gladly return the favor if ever in need.” 

Help your fellow startups out and hopefully they’ll do the same for you. These relationships are lasting - even after demo day - so make ‘em count. 

3.) You Get Out What You Put In 

You have a business to build, and while some companies may think they’ve gotten there and are fine, there’s always room to check yourself, pivot, and/or perfect. 

“There are some amazing learnings that you’ll get to experience on topics that may be new to you (or that you think you knew, but really didn’t), such as how to maximize Google Analytics, KPI exercises, business modeling and the finance related programming. All of these workshops were valuable and forced us to re-look at our priorities.” 

You’re about to walk into a series of classes and programming where you’ll have the undivided attention of experts in the field coaching you every step of the way to help you grow your business and develop certain skills along the way. Show up on time, put your phone on silent for an hour or two, and make a point to be as present as possible. 

4.) Ask and Give Feedback 

Ask the facilitator for any specific help that you need for you and your business from the get-go. If there’s something distinct that you really want to get out of a certain track, such as specific questions about hiring processes or equity sharing, be vocal about this. 

Constructive criticism can also be immensely helpful for those facilitating the program. The feedback throughout our first cohort helped us to pivot and perfect the details in order to maximize the experience for participants. 

“Tell your facilitator what you want right at the beginning and don’t be afraid to share feedback along the way. If you want something, say something!” 

5.) Be a Little Selfish

You're about to go through an intense experience that requires your focus and dedication. This may mean that you won’t be as available as you would normally be for your friends, family and significant others. 

The Advantages of Hyper Local Food

Posted by: 1871 on 9/4/19 1:16 PM

There are many problems with the American diet. According to the AMA, almost 40% of Americans are considered obese. Although the reasons for that are numerous and complex, one way to begin to address the problem is with healthier eating habits. Growing produce at home makes people more likely to cook healthful meals, allows them to eat local food and if there are children at home, can help parents instill healthy habits. Exposing children to fresh produce at an early age also has a big impact. In this guest blog post, Hank Adams, Founder and CEO of Rise Gardens, takes a look at the advantages of hyper local food.

Traits Small Business Owners Should Look for When Hiring

Posted by: 1871 on 8/19/19 10:07 AM

Building the right team is the key to success for small business owners. However, that's not always as easy as it sounds. Finding the right people -- and the right qualities can be very difficult, but fortunately, Joseph Brady, Vice President of Digital Marketing for Reliant Funding, has some tips on how the traits that small business owners should look for when hiring. 

1871 Names Mike Gamson as Entrepreneurial Champion

12th Annual Momentum Awards to Recognize Relativity CEO and LinkedIn Alumnus as Entrepreneurial Champion

Mike Gamson, CEO of Relativity; Image Courtesy of Relativity

CHICAGO (August 8, 2019) -- 1871 and The Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center (CEC) announced today that Mike Gamson, CEO of Relativity and the former SVP of Global Solutions at LinkedIn, will receive the Entrepreneurial Champion Award for his impact on Chicago’s founder community at the 12th Annual Momentum Awards

“There’s a vibrant tech community here in Chicago, and it’s humbling to be recognized for this award among so many great tech leaders and champions in the city,” said Mike Gamson, CEO of Relativity. “I’m excited to continue to work with 1871 and the entire community to make Chicago an inviting, exciting, and inclusive place to work – where innovative, mission-driven organizations like Relativity can thrive.”

As LinkedIn’s first Chicago employee, Gamson was instrumental in founding and growing Chicago’s LinkedIn office and has supported numerous companies in the city and its surrounding areas as an angel investor, mentor, board member, and advisor. Gamson has spent a significant amount of time advocating for founders both within 1871 and Chicago’s greater tech ecosystem. 

In his new role as CEO of global legal technology company Relativity, Gamson partners closely with Founder and Executive Chairman Andrew Sieja to help Relativity continue fulfilling its mission for its customers: organize data, discover the truth, and act on it.

The Entrepreneurial Champion Award is given to an entrepreneur to recognize their individual dedication to the Chicago tech community through mentorship, civic leadership, and economic contributions. Past recipients of the Entrepreneurial Champion Award include Linda Darragh of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, Ellen Rudnick of the Polsky Center at the University of Chicago, and former CEC Board Chairman Jim O’Connor, Jr.

“I can’t imagine a better recipient for this year’s Entrepreneurial Champion Award than Mike Gamson,” said 1871 CEO Betsy Ziegler. “He’s transformed the futures of many founders here at 1871 and in the Chicagoland area. I’m proud to recognize him as a champion not only because of his impact on the local startup community, but also because he personifies what it means to be an entrepreneur: collaborative, passionate, and committed to innovation.” 

In addition to the Entrepreneurial Champion Award, several other honors will be presented at the 12th Annual Momentum Awards on September 19, including the Corporate Champion Award, Chicagoness Award, Momentum Rising Star Award (of which Relativity is a prior winner), and the Momentum Award. The event will be attended by 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 the CEC, which supports the activities and operations of 1871.

About Relativity

At Relativity, we make software to help users organize data, discover the truth, and act on it. Our e-discovery platform is used by more than 13,000 organizations around the world to manage large volumes of data and quickly identify key issues during litigation, internal investigations, and compliance projects. Relativity has over 160,000 active users in 40+ countries from organizations including the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 70 Fortune 100 companies, and 199 of the Am Law 200. Relativity’s cloud solution, RelativityOne, offers all the functionality of Relativity in a secure and comprehensive SaaS product. Relativity has been named one of Chicago's Top Workplaces by the Chicago Tribune for seven consecutive years. Please contact Relativity or visit our website for more information.

About 1871

1871 is a not-for-profit organization that exists to inspire, equip, and support founders to build great businesses. It is the #1 ranked university-affiliated business incubator in the world, and the home of ~500 high-growth technology startups and ~1,500 members supported by an entire ecosystem focused on accelerating their growth and creating jobs in the Chicagoland area. Located in a 140,000 square-foot space in The Merchandise Mart, 1871 has 350 current mentors available to its members, as well as more than 100 partner corporations, universities, education programs, accelerators, venture funds and other organizations that make its extensive matrix of resources possible. Visit for more information.

Three Secrets to Running a Company and Fundraising When Your Co-Founder is on the Other Side of the World

Posted by: 1871 on 8/7/19 9:32 AM

Fundraising for an early stage startup is challenging. But what about fundraising when your team is sprawled across the country, or even the world? In this guest post, Fiona Lee -- COO and Co-founder at Pod Foods -- shares her insights on how you can run a company and raise capital even when members of your team are located all over the world.

1871 Jobs Roundup: Week of 8/5/19

Posted by: 1871 on 8/6/19 10:51 AM

JOBS! Every week, we highlight a number of open jobs for our member companies. If you're looking for an exciting career in the tech industry or an opportunity to work alongside Chicago's best and brightest, then you've come to the right place. Here are the job openings for the week of August 5, 2019.

How The Most Successful Founders Tackle Startup Hurdles With Resourcefulness

Posted by: 1871 on 7/31/19 12:45 PM

Jeff Bezos once said, “life’s too short to hang out with people who aren’t resourceful.” Resourcefulness is often called the ultimate resource, and the best indicator of success. Successful entrepreneurs come from all backgrounds, but one thing they share is the ability to come up with the resources they need. In this guest post, Megan Mahoney of Flume Health talks about why resourcefulness is almost a superpower for startup founders.

Read the 1871 Blog for news about the Chicago technology and entrepreneurship community, as well as helpful tips, guides, and insights into the startup and investment world.

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