When I left my fulltime job on January 6th, 2012, I didn’t really know anyone in Chicago. When I say no one, I really mean it. I knew no one.
It made sense that one of my 2012 goals was to get more connected. The people I talk about below are all extremely driven people and they are consistently pushing the envelope. The best part about them is they are willing to help you out, and are the most unselfish people I’ve ever met.
95% of the people I mention below I met for the first time in 2012. The other 5% I got to know a lot better.
(Note: I stole every single image from the Technori Facebook Fan Page. Thanks Crystal!)
One of the first people I met was Bernadette Freeman at an event called “The Big Idea Forum“. She changed her career and became a lawyer at 45, and now she’s an administrative law judge for Cook County. If that’s not inspiring, I don’t know what is. At the same event I also met Nik Rokop who gladly took my 10 dollars to attend the event .
Towards the end of 2011 I started to hear more about Technori and I reached out to Seth Kravitz a few times to get more involved with Technori. After he didn’t respond back to my emails (thanks man), I reached out to Val Chulamorkodt and before you know it I was working out of the Technori Office, and soon became the CTO. Soon after Melissa Kong comes all the way from Brooklyn (REPRESENT) to become Technori’s Editor in Chief. Crystal Schuller joins us from Florida to become Technori’s Events Director even though she has a Georgian accent. Some things you just can’t explain.
At a Depaul Coleman Center
event I met Ethan Austin
of Give Forward
and Aksh Gupta
of Play Occcasion
. Ethan’s a burrito eating machine and Aksh is all up in the political world. Throughout this year we got to know each other through mutual acquaintances.
As I was working through my limited network, I got connected to Reid Lappin at Vokal Interactive who, in my opinion, has the best mobile company in Chicago. Reid’s a no bullshit type of guy and that’s why we got along. I got connected to Reid through Razi Khan who was connected to me by my cousin whom I wrote about here. The first time I heard about Vokal was when I met Hashim Ali at a Technori Unwind event and he recommended I talk to Vokal. Now that I know Hashim, I would recommend you stay as far away from his as possible . He’s the type of guy who only responds to me on Twitter and Facebook so he can increase his Klout Score.
I met Deborah Ritchey
through an ad I placed for my company
in an email distribution, and we must have had at least had 7 or 8 coffee / lunch meetings this year. Whenever I need marketing help, she’s my go to person. The SpotHero
, Mark Lawrence
) guys were kind of hard to ignore since all they did was wear their SpotHero shirts everywhere. By everywhere, I mean everywhere.
Howard Diamond from Rise Interactive is part of an amazing success story. I remember sitting in Rise’s office a few years ago, and there was about 6 or 7 employees there. Now they are in the heart of downtown with an amazing office.
I also got connected to “John” from my mentor Frank Mack. The only reason I am calling him “John” is because he doesn’t want his name associated with his hilarious and anonymous 4 inches of love blog. We started brainstorming funny taglines for the blog such as: “4 inches of love, because 8inchesoflove.com was taken”, or “4 inches… from the ground”, or my favorite “4 inches of love, and that’s only half the story”.
Liz Kammel at Zipfit.me opened up a retail store on Michigan Avenue, and Julie Bashkin has made great progress with KlutchClub, Jeff Scheur is killing it with NoRedInk and Pek Pongpaet is doing great with Pinstagram.co. Fun fact about Pek is that he can woop your ass without a sweat. If you don’t know now, I warned you. Do your research
At another Technori event I remember meeting Jeff Carter
and at the time I had no idea who he was. I asked him what he does for a living and his response was that “he’s an angel”. I’m a tech event, but for some reason I didn’t put 2 and 2 together and all I thought was “Why is this tall dude telling me he’s an angel? This is kind of weird”. Then I figured it out he’s an Angel Investor.
BIG DIFFERENCE. I guest blogged
for him a few times on his blog pointsnfigures.com
which is a must read blog for any entrepreneur. I remember pitching him a “buy in bulk, deliver fresh” service which I blogged about here
. I still think someone should steal that idea.
The first time I ever waited outside for Chipotle to open was with Chris Ziohbehr
who is starting his own Micro Venture Capital Firm. It was 11:01 and the doors weren’t open yet. Let’s just say, nothing gets between Chris and his Chipotle.
I met Nick Delgado from Dignitas at a TechWeek event and he is the best looking bald dude I know (Sorry Jeff. He has an irresistible tan complexion). He connected me to Arabel Rosales who is the founder of Latino Fashion week and AAR Rosales. I introduced her to Amit Rana who is a consultant and created the Chicago South Asian Film Festival was a success this year. I am convinced that the three of us will eventually create a company together, once I get my shit together! Amit connected me to Kaivan Dave of Myinsens who went to India to create the best organic incense there is!
Through Technori Pitch, I meet Tom Giles
AKA Megatron who is the founder of StageBloc
who came here all the way from Wisconsin. He’s also one of those dude’s who wears his company T-shirt everywhere. As I was bullshitting with him and he coined the term “Executive Urban Dish Washer”, which would be a portable dishwasher for college students. It would clean one fork, one spoon and one plate at a time and would have some sort of alternating mechanism so you can also use it as a drawer while the rest of the dishes are being cleaned. That’s something I will create if I ever have too much money I don’t know what to do with.
I get connected to Len Kendall of CentUp who is the only person I know who proposed to his wife online, and got away with it. He basically crowd-sourced the proposal. Genius, or crazy – I’m not sure. Nima Oftadeh who went to Purdue & Deloitte with me and now works at Google, connected me to Len.
I met the Colorjar team because partly I had no choice. They were sharing an office with Technori. David Gardner is like 8 feet tall and his twitter background picture is one of my favorites. Bryan Knight is one of my favorite people because I can bullshit with him for hours. I could say ”You know what I hate about forks?”, and then Bryan will go on a rant about why fork’s are just not that important anymore and why the Chinese were right about the Chop Sticks.
I can’t say bullshitter without mentioning Clay Neigher. If me, Clay and Brian ever got into an argument it would probably end up with us dying of laughter and calling each other out. Jonathan Pasky is the only human being I know who can have 5 Google Chrome windows open, and each have 70 chrome tabs open in each. He is a reading machine. Jon Nacewicz AKA “Snacks” is the master of anything snack related. He is the snacks Guru. All hail Snacks.
I got to know Alex Lumley of Incisent Labs really well, and he’s definitely one of the smartest people in Chicago. One of these days I’ll be able to work with him an official way. Dan Weinfurter was the CEO at my last company and he’s also someone everyone needs to know. We’ve kept in touch and helped out each other wherever we can. He is a packers fan, so if you decide to follow him – beware.
I met David Kadavy who is the Author of Design For Hackers at his book launch. If you click on any link, click on his book link. I have an affiliate link hooked up to it, and baby needs a new pair of shoes. The book is really good too. He’s in colombia living the single man’s dream. He’s very similar to Rob Modzelewski who is the definition of a nomad. If it’s too cloudy in Thailand, he’ll just go to Cambodia instead. This is all while he works remotely. I secretly hate him, but I would never say that out loud.
I will sometimes hang out at Resultly’s office with Ilya Beyrak who is another person who tells it like it is. Golli Hashemian is an ex-Accenture turned freelancer and by rule of thumb, I get along with anyone who worked at Accenture.
At 1871 I will always bump into Scott Mandel at SnapClass, David Pritzker of Mouthee, Avi Levine of PhilterIt and Asif Elani of Ourlabel. Eric Shen is also always good for a cup of coffee. A good friend of mine from College Zeshawn Ahmed also joined the startup scene at 1871 with Hoppin.
Lindsay Lamb has been helping me out with my first book and I am forever grateful & Michael Stark will wear a suit anywhere he goes.
I’m sure I missed a few people along the way that deserve to be on this list, so If I did, my apologies!
Put yourself out there and amazing things will happen.
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