2017 Past Winners Showcase

Date(s) - 04/18/17
5:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Google Office

Hosted by
Chicago Innovation Awards

Tue, April 18, 2017 5:30 PM – 8:00 PM

Much can be gained from those who have tried, failed, learned from their mistakes and ultimately succeeded in launching ground-breaking new products and services. That is why we bring together our past winners to educate the public about the skills of innovation.

The Chicago Innovation Awards and the Mayor’s Office invite you to experience the future of Chicago innovation. Top leaders will share their bold predictions, daring plans and unique insights to further accelerate innovation in the Chicago region.

Like past Chicago Innovation Awards events, we expect this event to sell out.




Speaker Bios

Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Rahm Emanuel has served as the 55th mayor of the city of Chicago since 2011. During that time he has made the tough choices necessary to secure Chicago’s future as a global capital. He attracted numerous companies to Chicago and helped to build the next generation of start-ups, while investing in the infrastructure, public transportation, open space and cultural attractions that make Chicago a great place to live, work, and play. Prior to becoming Mayor, Emanuel served as the White House Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama and served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives representing Chicago’s 5th District. He previously served as a key member of the Clinton administration from 1993 to 1998, rising to serve as Senior Advisor to the President for Policy and Strategy.


Chris Gladwin

In 2005, Chris founded Cleversafe which became the largest and most strategic object storage vendor in the world (according to IDC.) He raised $100M and then led the company to a $1.4B exit in 2015 when IBM acquired the company. The technology team he created generated over 1,000 patents granted or filed, creating one of the ten most powerful patent portfolios in the world. Prior to Cleversafe, Chris was the Founder and CEO of startups MusicNow and Cruise Technologies, and led product strategy for Zenith Data Systems. He started his career at Lockheed Martin as a database programmer, and holds an engineering degree from MIT.


Shradha Agarwal

Shradha Agarwal is the President & Co-founder of ContextMedia, a healthcare media company that delivers lifestyle education to 20M patients each month nationally. Her organization has doubled its revenue, profitability and distribution year-over-year while being consistently recognized for its culture, customer service and technology leadership. Shradha also co-founded JumpStart Ventures in 2011 to fund other passionate entrepreneurs who are executing ambitious solutions in healthcare, education and media communications. The CEC recently honored both ContextMedia co-founders with the “2015 Chicagoness Award” for their deep commitment to developing the city’s ecosystem. Shradha was also recognized as a Champion of Change by the White House and awarded the Prominent Woman in Tech by ITA.


Thomas D. Kuczmarski

Thomas D. Kuczmarski, president of Kuczmarski Innovation, is a nationally recognized expert in the innovation and development of new products and services. Over the course of his career, he has helped hundreds of clients, ranging from small businesses to Fortune 100 corporations, learn to systematically unlock the value of innovation. The author of six books and many articles, Mr. Kuczmarski has taught product and service innovation at Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management for 32 years. Mr. Kuczmarski is the founder and co-chair, along with Dan Miller, of the Chicago Innovation Awards, which recognizes each year the most innovative new products, services, business models and processes developed in the Chicago area.


Matthew McCall

Matthew McCall is a Partner at Pritzker Group Venture Capital and was formerly a founding partner with DFJ Portage over his 20+ years in the business. He also has a strong interest in venture as a platform for good, guiding Millennials and empowering woman/girl entrepreneurs. McCall has been involved with investments including: DollarShaveClub (acquired by Unilever), Honest Company, SMS-Assist, Mapbox, Graphiq, Signal, Eved, Feedburner (acquired by Google), and many more. McCall has been honored on Crain’s annual “40 under 40”, Crain’s top Tech 25 list, the Re/code top 30 tech power list, a Top 100 VC, a Media 100 and a Hollywood 100 Power Player. He is the founder & trustee of the McCall Family Foundation, focused on encouraging social entrepreneurship and global human/girls’s rights.


Brian Bannon

With nearly twenty years of experience developing and implementing innovative educational programs and leading large-scale operations that provide digital skills training, community-based learning, and educational advancement for children, families, and adults, Brian Bannon is a recognized leader in the government and nonprofit sectors, and has developed cross sector recognition as an innovator. Since 2012, Brian has served as commissioner and chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Library (CPL), one of the largest public library systems in the world. Over his tenure, Bannon has built an executive team that has dramatically changed the library’s organizational direction and brought design thinking—specifically human-centered design—and experimentation front and center to the CPL’s programming and operations.


Kristi Ross

Kristi Ross is the co-CEO and President of dough, Inc, a newly formed company which includes tastytrade, the fastest growing online financial network and dough, a financial technology content aggregator. Previously, Ms. Ross was the CFO of thinkorswim where she led numerous mergers, acquisitions and integration. Thinkorswim was sold to TD Ameritrade for $750M in 2009. Prior to that Ms. Ross was CFO of Automated Trading Desk Specialists, a stock specialist on the Chicago Stock Exchange (CHX). Ms. Ross started her career in public accounting, specializing in financial services industry clientele including individual traders, proprietary, market makers, specialists, discount brokerage and advisory firms. She is also a certified public accountant and has been in and around the trading business for more than 20 years.