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ScaleUp Chicago 2020 Revisited

First, we’d like to give a heartfelt thank you to all the attendees who came along with us on the adventure of ScaleUp Chicago 2020 ⁠— we are all navigating the new terrain of virtual events and conferences together. And, as we do so, 1871 is thrilled to have been able to bring our spring conference to you right in comfort of your home! For those who were not able to attend, we missed you and there's always next year.

Secondly, let's give it up to the amazing sponsors who made this year's #ScaleUpChi possible:

Presenting sponsor: OneSpan

OneSpan enables financial institutions and other organizations to succeed by making bold advances in their digital transformation.

Gold sponsors: Invest Northern Ireland, Okta and Wipfli

Silver sponsors: Aon, Looker, and Talend.

Let's revisit some of our spectacular moments of the day. From virtual perks like desk yoga to sessions such as "Designing Your Company's DNA," it is relevant content that we're all after. And, on May 19th, we pressed full send. Check out the recap of all that happened during the day:

Coffee & Conversation


We started the day with Coffee and Conversation via Zoom. The early birds who joined us shared what they were most excited about in terms of the conference and gave us the 411 on what they’ve been up to since the stay-at-home order. Attendees were surprised with Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards!


Welcoming Remarks:

Betsy Ziegler & Scott Clements

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1871’s CEO, Betsy Ziegler, and Scott Clements, CEO & President of OneSpan, set the tone for the day with their warm opening remarks to ScaleUp! 

“What makes Chicago so extraordinary is our sense of community. Here in our city, a win for one of us is a win for us all,” said Ziegler. “Our most important tool during times of panic and crisis is our mindset. I am very fortunate that I get to be surrounded by people like you every day ⁠— people with unbelievable drive, ingenuity, and generosity.You are invested in your community and we’ve never needed each other more.”

Clements added, “We’re here to help encourage you to have the courage to embrace invention and innovation in your organization.” He continued, “In times of crisis, innovation and risk-taking become more valuable ⁠— not less ⁠— for those who have the insights to solve problems”


Stronger Together Panel ft. Betsy Ziegler, Jeremie Bacon, Amanda Lannert, and Rachael Pfenning


Our first panel discussion of the day focused on what has been tried and proven, what is currently in the works, and how the panelists are leaning on peers to help the Chicago tech community persevere.

During the panel, Jeremie Bacon, CEO of Imagineer Technology Group, noted, “There’s a lot to be said about how businesses cope together and sort of mourn together in this situation. Personal mental health starts and stops with the person, their family, and their closest network, which inevitably is their colleagues at work.”

The panel continued to share examples and offer refreshing views on the business world’s efforts to be resilient together.


Sales Empathy: How Buyers Decide, Buy, and Prioritize ft. Todd Caponi

Todd Caponi, author of The Transparency Sale, explored ways to use information for prospecting, positioning, presenting, and even negotiating. Todd delivered numerous insights throughout his session, including our favorite: “Transparency sells better than perfection.”

Caponi presented his sales expertise in a way that resonated with the audience. “Think more like a sherpa than like a dog chasing a car tire down the street,” Caponi analogized at one moment. “Having too many choices is hard, but our role as sales professionals is to be the sherpa ⁠— lead them down the path of choices.”


Desk Yoga with Kat Carter


Yoga instructor Kat Carter visited with the group for a quick desk yoga and meditation session. A wonderful way to break up the sessions of the day, the mindful yoga session allowed us all to relax and pause for a moment.


The Myth of "Fit" - Managing New Leader Risk ft. Linda Reese & Stephanie Henderson

In this session, Linda Reese, Managing Partner and Stephanie Henderson, Practice Leader at OnBoarding, discussed how leader hires are high impact, especially in growth mode.

The future of a company hinges on who is hired. Often,the problem we face is the leaders who try to contribute too quickly or in a way that isn’t helpful and runs the risk of derailing. The solution isn’t easy ⁠— these leaders need to start going slow in order to go fast.

An in-session poll concluded that 38.2% of attendees had had a bad experience with a new hire and 34.5% had had a bad experience with both a new hire and a hiring manager. Ultimately, we all want better hires.

Reese stated, “Every success story we’ve ever experienced has included 3 things: relationships, knowledge, and feedback...These three factors are critical ⁠— the first and most important is relationships.”


Adopt a Customer Success Discipline to Scale Panel ft. Brian Hall, Geneva Gross, Kallie McConkie, and Lon Chow

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What is a customer success discipline and why is it important to establish this for a tech company that intends on scaling? To successfully scale a tech business, it’s not enough to simply fund and build a Customer Success team. Rather, imbuing a company with a customer success discipline drives growth via the culture and then enables the business to scale organically.

Brian Hall, President at Carema Consulting, moderated the panel with thought-provoking questions, including, “What is customer success?” Lon Chow, Partner at Method Capital, answered, “Customer success, in my opinion, is the most underappreciated, underinvested, and misunderstood function for most tech companies.”

Geneva Gross, VP of Customer Experience at Call One, continued with “Each department plays a role, whether it's finance, support; you have to lay out a service vision across the organization. You have to inspect it and measure it. Leadership's responsibility is to provide a clear and concise vision on what that experience is supposed to be and ensure it is embraced across all departments within the organization and measured and adjusted as needed.”

Each member of the panel had their own take into what is needed to make sure a customer success discipline is successful in every organization.

Networking Over Lunch


During lunch-time, ScaleUp attendees had the option to join multiple breakout rooms with different topics to further discussion and networking.

The breakout rooms included: Setting Customers Up for Success with ​moderator Brian Hall of Carema Consulting; Marketing Through Change (and Beyond) with moderator Courtney Beasley of Walker Sands; Leadership in Time of Change with moderator Maria Pergolino of ActiveCampaign; and an Open Networking breakout.


Building a World-Class Go-to-Market Team ft. Yoni Solomon


In this session, Yoni Solomon, Director at G2, discussed the three value pillars from G2’s product marketing: a balanced team of product marketers, a uniform process for go-to-market (GTM) & launches, and end-to-end biz outcome tracking.

So, what does a balanced team of product marketers include? The 5 personas of product marketers include the Storyteller, the Performer, the Evangelist, the Strategist, and the Playmaker. Ensuring his team has an even mix is a major part of the playbook Solomon used to build his top-ranked product marketing team.

“Success in product marketing and in go-to-market starts and ends with having a strong and versatile team,” asserted Solomon.“If you can be sure product marketing and sales are hitting their goals and getting the love that they need, then you know you are adding the kind of value that you need to at the center of your organization.”


Tech for Good: Redefining Success in Business ft. Andrew McGrath & Laura McCord

KeHE is one of the largest and most respected national distributors of fresh, natural & organic, and specialty food. During their session, McGrath and McCord highlighted KeHe Cares, KeHe’s philanthropic & volunteering foundation.

Through KeHe cares, KeHe’s employees are encouraged and enabled to seek out volunteer opportunities all over the world. McCord noted, “Leaders become better leaders when they serve others”. These experiences have changed how KeHe professionals work and behave in their personal lives.

A huge takeaway: It’s not about seeing what other people don't have, it’s about seeing what they do have, which is hope and a sense of community. “We recognize that some of the best ideas, the sticky notes, actually didn’t come from the people in the C-suite,” McGrath said. “Those ideas actually came from people who were working on the front lines, running elements of an organization.”


Common Threads: Designing Your Company's DNA ft. Matt Kunkel & Jason Felder

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Just like the strands of DNA that make each person unique, organizations have their own strands of DNA that lead to a successful culture. Matt Kunkel, CEO of LogicGate, and Jason Felder, Operating Partner at Jump Capital, walked through how these strands weave together to power organizations to the next level.

The conversation centered around LogicGate’s core values, when and if they’ve been tested, and how these values are communicated to their customers. Kunkel affirmed that their values are currently being tried, noting, “The current situation we’re in is testing. You really have to, especially during this time, have to be one as an organization.”

On how a company’s DNA is communicated to their customers, Kunkel added, “We get our customers excited about it through storytelling around how our values affect our relationship. We talk about that you’re not just getting a piece of tech through LogicGate, you’re getting a partner. There will be hiccups along the way, but we’ll be there very fast to fix those hiccups.”


Managing Through the Chaos: Scaling for the Future ft. Dan Kardatzke & Chris Nielsen

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Our final session for the day involved speakers Dan Kardatzke, President & CFO, along with Chris Nielsen, Principal, Americas at Kin + Carta, where they provided an honest and open discourse around managing through chaos and how a strong culture can strengthen how you will look on the other side as you scale again for the future. A few of the takeaways included:

  • You must be intentional and talk to your clients on what they’re looking for in the future
  • Right now, it’s about supporting your client and making sure you’re helping them get through this time. Kardatzke advised, “Talk to your clients. Don’t be scared to ask them about the things they’re concerned about.”
  • Make sure to specify your mission, then build the culture around it.


Closing, Cocktail-Making, and Conversation with Bartender Joseph DeFalco

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The day concluded with a special activity: DIY cocktail and mocktails tutorial with bartender extraordinaire Joseph DeFalco. Between crafting ScaleUp’s specialty drink, ‘Summertime ScaleUp,” and the fan favorite, ‘Bees Knees,’ the Q&A flowed freely.

ScaleUp Chicago 2020 was a success because of all the incredible speakers, sponsors, and attendees. On that note, 1871 would like to issue a final thank you from the bottom of our hearts to the Chicago tech community for bringing all of us together and making us stronger during this time.

It’s because of you all that this year’s event was one of the best yet! Until next year.

Topics: ITA

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