In Case You Missed It: A recap of the “Angels & Entrepreneurs 2014” Luncheon

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DATE: May 27, 2014

(Chicago, IL) The Entrepreneur Group of the Union League Club of Chicago, a member panel of professionals, successful business owners, and executives, chaired by David Lynam, of Lynam & Associates, provides support and guidance to Chicago entrepreneurs from startup to growth stage and beyond.

On Monday, May 12th, the group hosted the “Angels & Entrepreneurs 2014″ luncheon at the Union League Club of Chicago, where an audience of 100 Union League members, entrepreneurs, professionals, and students participated in a discussion of the vibrant “angel” investor community in Chicago and how Chicago’s recent startups are faring in the current environment.

Presenting at the luncheon were Professor Raman Chadha, formerly of the DePaul Coleman Entrepreneurship Center, and now of the Junto Institute; Kelsey Balk, of Level Office; and Jeff Carter, co-founder of the Hyde Park Angels. All three panelists emphasized the importance of leadership by talented people as the key to success in entrepreneurship. “Successful startups have leaders who know how to execute,” said Carter.

Professor Raman Chadha focused on entrepreneurial education and the increasing importance of accelerator and incubator programs wherein entrepreneurs receive mentoring and funding. He emphasized that as a community, our goal should be to “make entrepreneurs smarter.” Entrepreneurs believe the four most important keys to success are prior work experience, learning from successes and failures, the management team, and luck. Chadha, however, stressed that failure is overrated and ability trumps experience. In his practice, an entrepreneur has no greater likelihood of success in a second venture after failing at the first. Instead, he works through the Junto Institute to make startup founders infinitely better at their craft. “We believe a company’s value is driven by the capability of its leaders.”

A slide from Professor Raman Chadra’s presentation:Small Business Survival Rates

Chadha was followed by Kelsey Balk of Level Office, who offered insight into the challenges and considerations Level Office faces as a startup providing services to a customer base composed entirely of other startups. Kelsey’s key takeaway was that Level Office believes that the traditional office image
space no longer caters to the needs of the average business and seeks to bridge the gap between an incubator environment and a traditional executive suite by providing well located, affordable, amenity-rich, and modern office spaces without pretension for small business professionals. Kelsey stressed that until Chicago provides the resources necessary for a thriving entrepreneur community, the city will continue to lose out to other cities in terms of the competitiveness to attract the single greatest resource, human capital.

Jeff Carter’s presentation focused on the investment side of the angel community and the rules for success in Chicago. Like Kelsey, he noted that Chicago has struggled in the past to attract entrepreneurs because of a culture that looks for handouts instead of hand ups, risk averse corporate customers, and an image that Chicago’s violence is worse than its weather. He emphasized the four MegaTrends of today’s business world: networks not hierarchies; everything will be unbundled; everyone is a node on the network; and software is eating the world. To keep Chicago competitive, he encouraged the attendees to become startup customers, to mentor entrepreneurs and give startups feedback, and to encourage local government to support startups through reducing regulations.

Jeff asked, “When do successful investors invest?” As a reply he showed a breakdown of first investments by Andreessen Horowitz, a $4 billion venture capital firm known for its investments in startups such as Facebook, Groupon, Twitter, Airbnb, and Foursqaure.


The Union League Club Entrepreneur Group meets monthly to provide a forum where entrepreneurial ideas can be exchanged and new business ventures can be developed. David Lynam can be reached at firm@lynamlaw.com.

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