Marina sets the perfect example of tech excellence and a passion to inspire others in joining her. Not only does she lead one of the most recognized and successful Chicago tech teams, but she also is leading the charge to improve diversity, representation, and a stronger candidate pipeline of female tech leaders.
With the release of Conversational Analytics and Vibes Everywhere Commerce, two industry-first products, Brian plays a massive role in positioning Vibes as a constant innovator. Brian’s technological advancements at Vibes foster meaningful and personal Brand-to-Consumer relationships.
PerkSpot's latest 50M investment has positioned them to go from being a leader in perks and discounts to rapidly growing their Chicago-based team and product through technology to reach more users and offer more value. With over 48% of employees worried about their current financial state, we know employers are looking for solutions to support their employees on their financial wellness journey, and PerkSpot's on a mission to do so.
Named the 2016 Lighthouse winner as kCura, Relativity has endured as a beacon for inspiration in Chicago tech and world-wide. They continue to add staff, especially in key roles, to help expand their offerings and innovation.
Sanjay Shah created and bootstrapped Vistex to a global company of $250 million with 21 offices, 1,500 employees and has shaped technology that is a pioneer in enabling global organizations (i.e. Adobe, Kellogg’s, Sony and Whirlpool) to better deploy their products and services, by increasing revenue and reducing costs. In January 2019, Shah led Vistex to a new growth milestone, with the first equity capital raise in the history of the company, setting a new precedent for an enterprise software company to grow to a size and scale like Vistex without any external capital.
Sara Rossio has defined and created some of today’s most helpful technology products for a variety of industries -- from airline to navigation to ecommerce. Her experience paired with her willingness to help others grow and succeed makes Sara an inspiration to her team and the employees around her.
Since winning the CityLIGHTS Industry Champion Award in 2000, i.c.stars has continued to advocate for underserved communities in the Chicagoland area, even spreading the mission to Columbus, OH and Milwaukee, WI. From receiving grants, funding and partnering with Salesforce to help increase the reach and impact of their programming, i.c.stars continues to be a standout in Chicago.
Tej is unique because he realizes the value of innovation through organizational design. Guaranteed Rate's tech is extremely flat in structure (almost no managers and span of controls of 1:40, staff of over 150+) , teams are autonomous, and they are known in Chicago as the masters of Functional Programming.
Showpad has established itself as a leader in the Chicago tech community and sales enablement market by driving growth in the city through acquisition and expansion, and focusing efforts on innovating its platform, whether that be through the implementation of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and augmented reality, or by prioritizing training and coaching as a crucial component of the sales process. In a B2B landscape cluttered by vendors, Showpad provides a holistic solution where customers trust they’ll not only get the best, most well-rounded platform experience, but be able to offer that experience to buyers and prospects across the globe.
“In our line of work, the team matters, and we stand out because of the people we attract and grow. Only with the best team can a company sustainably grow 45% year over year.” - Aurimas Adomavicius, President of Devbridge.
Shawn Riegsecker is the driving force in pivoting Centro’s product development approach, which incurred $100 million in costs over four years. Basis, the product that emerged from that labor, gained 200 customers over 18 months and now facilitates $500 million in yearly digital media spend.
Named the 2012 CityLIGHTS Rising Star winner, Braintree has continued to excel in reach and impact. Since 2012, Braintree has expanded their reach locally through acquisitions, been acquired itself as part of PayPal, and expanded local and worldwide service and payment processing power.
First named the 2006 Lighthouse award winner, Trading Technologies has recently celebrated its 25th year of business and innovation. With offices around the globe and talented staff with a background in trading – making them hyper-connected to Trading Technologies’ client base, the company is constantly evolving and problem solving.
We’re a mission-driven team committed to simplifying a complex industry. From product development to customer success, we’ve built out our capabilities at a rate and to a level of quality matched only by larger companies, and in turn created a powerful unified platform that grows with our customers.
With 20+ years in the Chicago tech industry, Vibes proves that a successful company culture is not only defined by benefits, but instead is defined by a company’s dedication to its core principles, emphasis placed on diversity and care taken to hire smart, passionate, hard-working people. Vibes will be remembered as a company that enriches its community and creates a successful path for employees to learn and grow.
Envoy Global offers the world’s first and only enterprise platform that makes hiring and managing a global workforce seamless. Using SaaS design to find scalable efficiencies without sacrificing the quality and thoroughness of service, Envoy has reinvented the way companies approach immigration management in an age of increasing regulation and reform
NuCurrent is a small company delivering big programs for some of the most recognizable companies in the world. Our wireless power technology and expertise are disrupting the way products designed and produced.
Solstice cares about its employees personal and professional development and does so much to celebrate career and personal growth, all while celebrating individuals for being just that..individual. From a range of ages, ethnicity, backgrounds, religious and political views, Solstice celebrates everyone equally and welcomes all into their thriving world of technology.
Healthcare is broken and instead of just talking about the problem, we’re helping solve it with our platform and services focused on what really matters: aligning incentives to ensure insurers and providers deliver the best health outcomes for patients, at the lowest cost. Since going live in July 2018, we have analyzed over 10 billion claims uncovering $3.6 billion of potentially avoidable complications (AKA care and expenses that could have been avoidable).
Despite tremendous employee growth over the last three years (350%+) we’ve been able to foster a unique, employee-centric culture at G2, as evidenced by our above average employee NPS scores. As we’ve grown the business, we’ve prioritized investing money, time and resources into furthering our D&I efforts, strengthening our already competitive benefits, and enhancing our ability to make an impact in the global community.
Prior to their acquisition in 2009, SPSS was recognized as a winner at CityLIGHTS in the Lighthouse (2000), Spotlight (2009) and CEO of the Year (Jack Noonan, 2010) categories. With a unique offering of predictive analytics software used by both businesses and government agencies, SPSS was a leader in the Chicago and national market.
Solstice is an incredible champion for Chicago's Technology community, constantly pushing for further innovation and working to help the city attract talent around the country to Chicago as a go-to technology destination. Solstice’s focus is not only on building Solstice employees to be better technologists, but helping the community become more knowledge on the every-changing landscape of technology. Solstice is a driver for Chicago's technology community and is extremely deserving of this award.
In sum, John is the most consummate advocate, ally, collaborator, mentor, and more; I could not think of a more deserving individual for the City Lights Industry Champion Award. Please feel free to contact me for questions or additional information to support his nomination.
Topstep operates at the intersection of trading and technology—two industries that, to put it nicely, have not been bastions of diversity and inclusion. We have sought to flip this narrative and create an award-winning culture that celebrates differences and challenges what is expected of a FinTech startup.
Three years after Grubhub was named CityLIGHTS’ 2010 Rising Star, the company merged with Seamless, another online food ordering system. Since then, Grubhub’s trajectory has fulfilled the promise of being “the next big thing” through numerous mergers, the addition of new brands to the portfolio and continued expansion of service and features to customers.
Most healthcare startups tackle a single problem with a single solution. Unlike most startups, Apervita empowers its clients to solve many problems with many solutions built upon its HIPAA-compliant, platform purpose-built for healthcare. Apervita allows enterprises to build applications leveraging the most current healthcare standards, such as Clinical Quality Language (CQL), electronic Clinical Quality Measures (eCQMs), FHIR and CCDA, as well as vocabularies such as SNOMED-CT, LOINC, ICD-10, and RxNorm. Providers, payers, vendors and others such as regulatory bodies can easily build applications on the platform, and deliver outputs from those applications directly into clinical and operational workflows at scale. Apervita allows these enterprises to share applications and data within and outside of their organizations in a safe and controlled fashion, helping them save lives, improve outcomes and reduce costs.
In less than six years, David has transformed the musical instrument industry by unlocking new revenue streams for traditional retailers, enabling new entrepreneurs and gear builders to exist and flourish, getting more music gear into the hands of more musicians, and growing the entire available ecosystem of music gear. Along the way, he’s gained the trust (and funding) of notable music and tech industry pros, given hundreds of musicians and music lovers a dream job, and made the world a little more musical.
Fastest growing company in the precision medicine industry and is already making an impact on patient lives based on the collaborations with hospitals partners. Tempus has already built a platform to make data actionable today to improve patient lives and useful tomorrow to enhance cancer research initiatives.
Innovating in a space in need of modernization, YCharts has continued to evolve to address the core pain points of its target audience — wealth advisors, financial planners and asset managers — from the angle of simplification and scalability. YCharts’ data and tools streamline user workflows in a way that no other competitor in the market can claim, including better client communication, improved transparency, and faster, more robust analyses on a multi-device, web-based platform.
Hettie has the ability not only to think big, but to make big ideas happen. She is a consistent champion for the adoption of cutting-edge technology to solve real business problems, and her strong technical abilities combined with a passion for the “magic of databases” raises the bar for everyone around her while also keeping things fun!
Megan is a selfless connector who works tirelessly to help people find opportunities. She is a passionate supporter and advocate for underrepresented groups in Chicago Tech.
Ethos is the only company bringing a background in high-growth startup investment to the leadership, diversity, equity, and inclusion work so vital to creating the conditions for everyone to thrive in our community. As our tech companies scale around us, Ethos is scaling its mission to help growing and growth-stage companies build incredible - and incredibly inclusive - company cultures by partnering with the most influential, far-reaching community organizations.
21 serves car shoppers, dealers and automakers to move metal. The company has always been forward looking, launching one month before Google in 1998.
Enova is a $1B company that has been at the forefront of fintech in Chicago and has helped more than 5 million hardworking people across the world get access to over $20 million in fast, trustworthy loans and financing. The organization has grown from a Chicago startup with one product to an internationally-recognized, publicly traded company with a variety of products that are closing the world’s credit gap and helping people move up the credit ladder.
Recipient of the 2004 Angel award, Origin Ventures continues to prove its dedication to serving emerging software, B2B marketplace and B2C companies not only in Chicago, but across the country. Recently, Origin Ventures introduced the Origin Ventures Network, an engaged community of portfolio companies to offer expanded opportunities for collaboration and support amongst the portfolio companies’ hundreds of employees.
Not only is John Barnes a driver of innovation inside of Infutor’s doors as chief technology officer, but he’s also a professor and student of technology in the industry and community on the outside. John’s unparalleled vision and leadership have influenced industry-changing technologies and helped inspire the next generation of technologists.
Cleversafe, prior to the IBM acquisition, received the CityLIGHTS Newcomer (2007), Rising Star (2013) and CEO of the Year (Chris Gladwin, 2015) awards. Led by Chris Gladwin, a big believer in reinvesting in the city, the sale of the company led to an influx of reinvestments by former employees to help continue to build the next generation of startups.
Sprout Social is no stranger to CityLIGHTS – CEO Justyn Howard was recognized as Technologist of the Year in 2013, and the company was named the Rising Star winner in 2014. Since those achievements, Sprout has continued to rapidly expand – through funding, products, staff and reach – all to increase their impact on companies around the world.
Regulatory compliance costs businesses ~8% of their revenue. By reducing this cost and making it easier for firms to be compliant, Ascent’s technology has the potential to completely transform the market by 1) enabling businesses to spend less on compliance, passing the savings on to consumers, 2) increasing consumer protections due to proper adherence to regulation, 3) increasing market operating efficiency as reduced compliance costs encourage competition.
Reem is a humble leader who embodies servant leadership and not afraid to challenge the status quo to bring positive change while bringing everyone along for the ride.
Al Goldstein is a serial entrepreneur who has built multiple companies throughout his professional career, creating over 2,500 jobs and over $4 billion of enterprise value. As CEO and co-founder of digital lending platform Avant, Goldstein has taken the company to profitability in under 7 years while also growing the company to over 500 employees with a valuation of $2 billion.
RedShelf has relentlessly worked alongside the higher education community to make education both more affordable and accessible for all; since 2015 RedShelf eTextbook prices have decreased by 26 percent. The company’s success is largely credited to its passion for improving education.
Doug Waggoner is CEO of the Year because of his ability to provide efficient solutions in a highly fragmented market, expand the company’s services with new, innovative technology, and invest in talented logistics professionals. Echo’s exceptional growth (surpassing $2.4 billion in revenue in fewer than 14 years) under his period as CEO demonstrates his strong vision, leadership, and commitment to Echo’s clients, carrier partners, investors, and employees.
Amy stands out in her leadership because of her desire to make a difference—from the workplace to equal opportunities to the community to the environment. Also, her honest communication creates vision that she turns into action and results in making a person, a project, a team, a company better than it was before.
Jellyvision has several CityLIGHTS Credits to their name, including Lighthouse (2015), CityLIGHTS Industry Champion (2016) and CEO of the Year (Amanda Lannert, 2018). With a unique combination of hard work, smart and talented employees and a dash of humor, Jellyvision continues to take the Chicago scene by storm.
The TRUCE solution has proven to have a significant impact on employee accident rates -- we are helping our customers protect the communities they serve, ensure their employees get home safely and save lives. With TRUCE, companies can confidently incorporate new mobile technologies into their existing workflows, enabling valuable productivity gains, knowing that the devices won't cause risky distractions for their workforce.
Lin isn’t just an incredibly intelligent and skilled woman in the tech industry, she’s using her experience and position to make the industry a better place for future generations of women. Lin isn’t sitting on the sidelines waiting for change to happen - she’s making it happen and won’t be stopping any time soon.
Victor Ciardelli is unique because as a nonconformist who has found his success by going against the grain of how things have been done in the past and paying attention to new ideas. He's all about growth, efficiency, the company and the customer.
Ben is the first in the industry to democratize the process of product visualization, and he does so through his unique perspective in Hollywood visual effects. With the significant rise of online shopping, Ben helps companies implement their e-commerce growth strategy with cutting-edge imaging software, without the heavy investment into advanced equipment or specialized talent.
Lexio marks a change in the way the world interacts with and uses data. It represents a cultural shift to bring data understanding and action to everyone in the workplace - regardless of role, level, or skill. Lexio delivers a personalized, easy experience that you have come to expect from today’s consumer-focused apps, and provides a new way for companies to empower every single employee to become truly data-driven.