Feb 22, 2024 | 24 min read

Funding Dynamic, Chicago-Based Innovation with Brad Henderson

By: Patrick Emmons


Coupling a charitable mindset and a drive to solve some of the toughest intellectual and scientific problems has led to success for P33 Chicago and founding Chief Executive Officer Brad Henderson. Serving Chicago and embracing the city’s challenges and strengths, Brad envisions the city as a hub for new technologies built on collaborative and dynamic innovation, all while embracing inclusive growth.In this episode, Brad shares the successes of P33 Chicago and TechRise’s efforts, including outlining how two million dollars invested into Black, Hispanic, and women founders led to ninety-three million in additional private financing. He discusses the lasting effects of starting a business under-capitalized and the realities of how most founders raise capital. Brad offers insight into connecting investors with opportunities where they might lack first-hand expertise or experience and the benefits of encountering and working with new people and ideas.

Brad dives into ongoing success stories in Chicago (EventNoire and more), the ripe environment for a Chicago-based battery boom, the new CZ Biohub, and the aims and recent triumphs of Innovate Illinois. He shares a key component to the city's success: the collaborative spirit of the top-caliber universities. Brad paints a picture of an innovative Chicago that utilizes the abundance of college graduates and embraces scientists and thinkers across institutions working together to create new technologies funded by bold Chicago investors and building on the city’s history of innovation.

  • (04:26) – Introducing Brad Henderson and P33 Chicago
  • (05:52) – TechRise
  • (07:27) – The impact of an under-capitalized start
  • (09:45) – Proof points and coaching founders
  • (12:05) – Success story: EventNoire
  • (14:21) – A battery boom
  • (18:41) – Chicago-based investors
  • (20:34) – The impact of exceptional, collaborative universities 
  • (25:25) – Where is Chicago headed?
  • (26:17) – Leveraging a small staff
  • (29:38) – Chicago-based innovation and collaboration

About Our Guest

Brad Henderson is the Founding Chief Executive Officer at P33 Chicago, the forward-thinking nonprofit organization dedicated to elevating Chicago's status as a world premier hub of technological discovery and development. Brad's leadership extends to various roles on boards and advisory committees of Interfaith Youth Core (Board Chair), the College Visiting Committee at the University of Chicago, the President’s Advisory Council at the University of Illinois, the College of Computing Advisory Board at Illinois Tech, Rush University Medical Center, Rush University (Board of Governors), Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and the Chicago History Museum. Brad earned a bachelor’s degree in economics with honors and a master's in social science from the University of Chicago. A Rhodes Scholar, Brad also earned a master’s of science in economics and social history from the University of Oxford and an MBA from Saiid Business School at the University of Oxford.

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Podcast episode production by Dante32.

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Full Show Transcript 

Patrick: Hello, fellow innovators, this is Patrick Emmons.

Shelli: And this is Shelli Nelson.

Patrick: Welcome to the Innovation and the Digital Enterprise Podcast, where we interview successful visionaries and leaders, giving you an insight into how they drive and support innovation within their organizations.

Welcome to another exciting episode. Today we have the privilege of hosting a truly remarkable guest, Brad Henderson, the chief executive officer of P33 Chicago. For those who don't know, P33 Chicago is a forward-thinking nonprofit organization dedicated to elevating Chicago's status as a world premiere hub for technological discovery and development.

As the founding CEO, Brad plays a pivotal role in spearheading this ambitious initiative. His leadership is focusing on driving global technology leadership for Chicago while ensuring inclusive economic growth that benefits everyone. Brad brings to P33, a wealth of experience spanning over two decades. His expertise lies in unlocking economic opportunities that not only foster business growth, but also positively impact individuals and communities. This deep understanding of economic dynamics is pivotal to P33's mission and objectives.

Apart from his professional achievements, Brad is a highly respected figure in the Chicago community. His leadership extends to various significant roles, he's the board chair of Interfaith Youth Corps, and contributes his insights and expertise to other prestigious organizations. He serves on the college visiting committee at the University of Chicago, the president's advisory council at the University of Illinois and the College of Computing advisory board at Illinois Tech.

Additionally, Brad holds positions on the board of Rush University Medical Center and the board of governors of Rush University. His contributions to the community don't end there. Brad is also a board member of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Chicago History Museum. His past involvements include valuable roles on the board of Action Chicago, the Action US Network and the Association House of Chicago.

Brad's academic credentials are equally impressive, he's a Rhodes Scholar. He has earned multiple degrees with distinction. These include a bachelor of arts in economics with honors and a master of arts in social science from the University of Chicago. From the University of Oxford, he holds a master's of science in economic and social history, and he completed his master's of business administration at the University of Oxford.

With such an extensive background in leadership, economics and community service, Brad is undoubtedly a visionary leader and a beacon of innovation and growth. We're really excited and thrilled to delve into the insights and experiences on today's episode. So without further ado, let's welcome Brad to the Innovation and Digital Enterprise Podcast.

Shelli: Welcome to the show, Brad.

Brad: Yeah, it's a real honor to be here. Thanks for having me.

Shelli: So Brad, if you don't mind, can you share with our listeners a little bit more about your role at P33?

Brad: Yeah. P33, I am the Chief Executive Officer, which means I lead an amazing team, about 15 people. I also have a board of 25 very diverse and interesting leaders from around Chicago and the country, leaders in their own field. You might have a bit of a chuckle that I have more board members than staff, so we get to think about that sometimes. We can talk about that challenge maybe later, but they're an incredible group of people.

And we wake up every day and we get to do something that's pretty incredible. We get to say, how do we help Chicago? How do we help Illinois? But not help in the way that we might've done it in grade school where you're volunteering at the soup kitchen. The kind of help we're providing is to say, how do we all rally to become the quantum computing ecosystem of the future? How do we all rally to solve the hardest problems in biology at scale? So it's sort of a charitable mindset in terms of truly trying to drive a mission and help. But trying to think through some of the hardest intellectual and scientific problems we can imagine. It's an incredibly invigorating role.

Patrick: That's awesome. I think, from what I've seen, I hear a lot of the quantum, but I'm also wondering what are some of the other exciting accomplishments that P33 has been part of in the last year?

Brad: Yeah, a couple I'd bring to mind. So one of the ones that I'm most excited about is the work we're doing in the early stage of the venture markets, trying to get more capital to Black and Hispanic founders and women founders.

And so this journey for us started about two years ago, where the data said Chicago got about 2% of its venture capital to people of color. That's not very good because that's clearly not representative of the demographics of our city. And so we launched this program called TECHRISE.

TECHRISE actually invests money. We are Chicago's friends and family round for underserved founders. We've invested about two and a half million dollars. Every Friday, 30 times a year, we give a check out, $25,000 to $50,000 to a series, there's one winner each Friday, and we pick the best idea, and it's venture investors who make that choice.

The crazy thing is over that two year time period, and this is fresh data, so you asked about this year, it is why I'm particularly proud this year, that $2 million has led to $93 million in additional private financing to those founders. So that's a heck of a leverage ratio. The data actually says therefore Chicago is now giving a larger percent of its venture capital in the early stage to people of color than any other city in the country.

Shelli: Wow.

Brad: So you want to talk about being proud of something, that's something I'm very proud of.

Shelli: That's awesome.

Patrick: That is awesome. I'm curious, the initial, your investment led to significantly more investment. Could you tell us what is the process for something like that?

Brad: Yep. So we are a very data-driven organization. And the research we've done says if you start your business, regardless of your background, if you start your business undercapitalized, for the life of that business, you always lag the company that's in your peer set that was better capitalized to start. So just imagine starting at the starting block of a race, but the company you're running against is 10 yards ahead of you. That's what it means to start your early stage company without funding.

Most people of means get that funding from their friends and their family. If you live in Grand Crossing on the south side of Chicago, what are the chances that your family has a hundred thousand dollars to give you for your idea? So that's a big problem that we're solving that closes that gap.

There's one other thing that we work on that I think makes a big difference. And I'm a big fan of Shark Tank. I watch it with my 12-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son. They love it. And Mark Cuban is incredible. But he often says to female founders, "That's something I don't know a lot about, it sounds like a great idea, I'm out." And in a lot of ways there's nothing wrong with that. Maybe that's a sound strategy.

But does that mean, if he doesn't know somebody from that background, he'll never invest in their business? How much do you miss if that's your mindset? And so a lot of what we work on to raise that funding is to introduce more investors to really cool business problems that they wouldn't naturally meet in their neighborhood that they normally or the club that they normally go to or the alumni organization that they're involved with. How do we expose people to new ideas and new problems?

Patrick: Definitely. I think the network, who are you connected with, is so critical. So these follow-on investments, is that because they've seen success with your early stage investments? Are they looking at others or are you vetting things as well? Is that something people are saying, "Hey, these folks, they've already been vetted, so ..." I'm curious on that follow-on investment.

Brad: Yeah, it's a great question. Two things are happening. The first is the team that I have, led by a woman named Desiree Vargas Wrigley, who's just, she of herself, a very seasoned and savvy investor, entrepreneur, etc-

Patrick: She was actually on our podcast already.

Brad: It doesn't surprise me. You chose very wisely. So Desiree and her team really coach all of our participants to think about what's the one metric or milestone that will give me my next check. A lot of times when you start a business, you think about a million things. What my marketing plan is, what's my business plan, what color should my website be? And what they focus on so clearly is, if you show that that shows your business is working and you'll get the next check. And that saves founders so much time to have that degree of focus. And so they get funded more because they've got a proof point.

The second thing is it does take a village. And so we write the first check. We actually work with partners like LongJump and Fifth Star Fund and Don Thompson's CAST US that are funds that are later staged than ours, but still early stage, that write very consistently the second and the third check.

So we give it a nudge, but we've been working with a set of partners that came about the same time as us in the post-George Floyd moment. And so there's actually four or five different initiatives that work together. You put those two things together, like a moment that says I'm fundable, and then other funders who have the same philosophy, and you make a lot of progress quickly.

Patrick: That's tremendous. It's awesome work. One of the stories that sticks out in your mind, one of the founders that you've invested in that you think is really a huge success that you're super proud of?

Brad: Yeah, there's a fun list to go through.

Patrick: I guess, I'm asking who's your favorite kid in the same way.

Brad: There are many things. I won't answer that either.

Patrick: Yeah, no, that would be unwise.

Brad: I think they listen regularly and they'll know.

Patrick: Shelli can do it.

Shelli: I have one.

Brad: The one that I get really excited about because we use it all the time is an app called Eventnoire. Eventnoire has been a consistent winner across multiple competitions that we've had. And it's a better Evite system that makes so much of what it means to put together, we have a city that I love where people love to get together and celebrate and do things. And Eventnoire is a Black owned event management company. I think their technology is better. I think they're better at building community. I think they solve some real pain points. And I think a lot of it comes because their founder has a different perspective than those who founded Evite. And so it's one where we just had our big finale, we had hundreds of people in the room celebrating, and they were all there because of Eventnoire. And so that one I just get to see again and again because it keeps helping us.

Patrick: Now is that company something people could reach out to right now?

Brad: Yeah, get on their website. Next time you plan your corporate event or your meetup with your friends from college or whatever it is, I highly encourage using. It's very, I mean, this is a scalable company waiting for you to find them online and leverage their technology.

Patrick: Could you spell the name just so ...

Brad: Eventnoire is one word. E-V-E-N-T-N-O-I-R-E.

Patrick: Eventnoire. Gotcha.

Brad: Yeah, you need to put the French accent in a little bit, which from southern Ohio, I think we'd say Eventnoire.

Patrick: Well, I grew up in Des Plaines, so there's not really a whole lot of French going on there.

Brad: It's good to know that the same thing happens in Illinois.

Patrick: Oh yeah. Well, there you go. At least you didn't say Illinois. Well, that's really cool stuff. And I definitely will check it out. I guess, one of the things I'd love to hear more about maybe some of the stories that don't get as much attention, maybe some of the things that are going on that are maybe big booms, 10X kind of things happening in the greater Chicagoland area or have the potential to be?

Brad: I'll start with one, and I think it's something that's going to matter to all of us, it's one of those challenges facing our country and the world for the next 30, 40 years. And that's essentially how do you get a battery that is going to work well enough to allow us really use a vehicle to get from point A to point B without being panicked that the car is going to stop in the middle of the Kennedy? A lot of cars stop in the middle of the Kennedy these days, but that's because of construction, not because of batteries.

So batteries, they're a massive limiting factor to the electric adoption. You'd say, "What in the heck does that have to do with Chicago?" I think it's the perfect encapsulation of maybe some of the opportunities we've missed the last 30 years and how we can change that going forward.

So Argonne National Labs is the best place in the country for battery research. And if you're a company like Apple or Tesla, you go there to do really, really hard research. And you work with a couple of people. And then you build that battery plant in a place like Nevada where it employs thousands and thousands of people. Lots of startups working with them, lots of suppliers, etc.

Well, how is that possible? How can we have the best battery people in the country and not have a booming battery industry in Chicago? And we've just missed that. And I think that's something that's changed in a really big way in the last two to three years.

So first, there've been a bunch of programs built at places like mHUB, at places like University of Chicago, Polsky, at Northwestern to take the battery geniuses and help them build battery companies. So our former deputy mayor, Samir Mayekar, actually is a battery entrepreneur, a company called NanoGraf that is crushing it, raising money. They've just moved from one facility to a bigger facility on the west side of Chicago. And soon they're going to need a massive battery plant. That's the kind of stuff that can go from one person employed at Argonne to, we just want a battery plant in Manteno, Illinois. I don't know if you know where Manteno, Illinois is?

Patrick: I do.

Brad: Manteno, Illinois because of the work of P33 and the state and all of our civic and public sector leaders just landed a two and a half billion dollar battery plant that will include thousands of construction jobs and 2,500 permanent jobs.

Shelli: Wow.

Brad: And these are the kinds of things that really excite me. Imagine a battery boom in Illinois. And in many ways we have more of a right to win than anybody else because the smartest people are already here. But it takes to me real teamwork to have that turn into a battery boom.

And what I love about that one, and if you compare that to one more addictive piece of social media, the world needs batteries, we needed to address our climate issues. So how about having a boom where we also save the world in the same time? That one gets me really excited. And it's happening here and we just got to keep pushing.

Patrick: What is the biggest barrier to something like that being successful?

Brad: The real big challenge is, how do you go from the lab to industrial scale? And there are two parts that get in the way. The first is you need really sophisticated venture investors. It's very risky. It is one thing to bet on a B2B SaaS company where you can know if it's profitable in six months. A battery company takes 10 years sometimes before you even know if it works. You can't charge somebody for something that doesn't work.

And so a lot of what we've been trying to do is get more of those very sophisticated national and global battery investors closer to our scientists and our science entrepreneurs. And that takes time.
The second part of industrial scale is you actually need a ton of economic development coordination. Where's the site? Who are the workers? How do you get the permitting done right? How do you get the incentives done right? Does the state have the right laws? And in the last three years, actually under the leadership of Governor Pritzker, they've put in place the policy levers to accept these big plants as well. Those things are hard, they take time and they require a lot of people to be involved. That's the big barrier.

Shelli: Are a lot of your investors Chicago based or Illinois based?

Brad: No, I think that's the puzzle that we've got to work on together. So Chicago, by most measures, is very blessed to have a whole set of very wealthy families and households and institutions. What you observe as you get a little deeper into the sociology of Chicago is there's a comfort level with private equity investing, real estate investing, all very good things. But taking crazy bets on companies that might work out in 15 years isn't really in our DNA. That's the DNA of Palo Alto, that's the DNA of Cambridge and Kendall Square in Boston. And so I think we're on this journey, a journey that we're making progress on, to have more investors, more people of means, more institutions of means in Chicago, build the capacity and the comfort making these crazy bets on companies that might change the world.

Patrick: It is interesting, having grown up here, watching Motorola grow and quite a few very large multinationals was really very common. And we do seem to have lost a little bit of the edge on that. And I've always enjoyed the Midwestern philosophy of worrying about winter and you have to bury things in the backyard and we don't get too risky, that kind of thing. So you said you're seeing some changes. Do you think that's the outside influences of some of these other investors maybe encouraging local investors to be a little bit braver, a little bit more aggressive?

Brad: In many ways the thing that's changed the most that made the outside investors pay attention more is actually the leadership at our universities. And that is going to be a bit of a surprise. So University of Chicago, too many of our beloved Chicagoans have moved to Miami, they like the sun definitely. I always like to joke that low marginal taxes are a heck of a drug. And you're willing to put up with a lot of things you don't agree with if you can just not have to pay taxes. And so we don't have low taxes. And so for a lot of folks, it's easy to go to Florida, easy to go to Texas.

The University of Chicago is not going to move to Florida. The Northwestern is not going to move to Texas. Urbana is not going to move to Arizona. And so we have this gift of these universities. And there's a famous quote, 'if you want a great city, build a great university and wait a hundred years'. And we've got three.
And so what has changed is those three universities, Urbana, UChicago, Northwestern, are now working together. They're working together to bring their best science and their best science entrepreneurs to scale. The story I would share with you to just say why I'm excited about the future and why this has changed. Chan Zuckerberg is the Mark Zuckerberg and his wife's big foundation, and they give out $500 million at a time to people with the best translational science ideas in the world. And Chicago just competed for that against 50 other cities give or take, that normally clean our clock. And we got to the end of that process and we won.

So the West Loop of Chicago right now, there's a CZ Biohub, Chan Zuckerberg Biohub. The craziest scientists with the best ideas have set up shop across those universities to work together in one building to solve basically the challenge of biosensors of the future. That only happened because those three universities worked together. When they bring their talent into one spot, every investor around the world needs to pay attention. And we just started doing that the way we're supposed to.

Shelli: Wow. I had no idea.

Patrick: Neither did I.

Brad: It's pretty cool. I mean, worth reading about. Basically imagine you can go and take an X-ray of a cell in your body, learn that it might have trouble a couple of years from now, and then have crazy detailed capability to deliver the drug you need exactly to that spot. That's what they're working on in that building. That's what Chicago is capable of if we work together.

Shelli: Wow, that's incredible.

Patrick: That is awesome. That's amazing stuff.

Brad: Hiding in plain sight.

Patrick: Yeah. So this is on the West Side?

Brad: It is. There's something in the West Loop called Fulton Labs. It's actually two lab buildings. And they are full of innovative new biotech companies. And that's the site of the CZ Biohub. I think they're in 400 North Aberdeen by the Google building and many people's favorite restaurants. And if you went in there today, you'd see scientists from all over Illinois doing crazy stuff together.

Shelli: That's awesome.

Patrick: Side note, growing up here, watching that whole West Side, that's where you went to go get the best brisket, or every year I get corned beef from that area, and how much it's transformed over the last 10, 15, maybe 20 years.

Brad: One of my wife's favorite things is there's a spot you can stand by that I think it's been renamed the Acme Hotel, right over there on probably Peoria, and you can see the Google building and then right behind it is the Kugel building. The Kugel building is a poultry facility and the Google building obviously ... So it sort of shows in one word, Google, Kugel, how much just in a short period of time it's transitioned from what it was to what it is. And it's one of the most dynamic innovation districts in the country.

Patrick: Yeah, it's amazing. The growth there is just awesome. It's a lot of fun to visit. A lot of great organizations. It's interesting how much organizations have moved from the lake towards the other side of the Kennedy. That shift has been pretty dramatic over the last decade or so.

Brad: Cities are always on the move, always changing. 

Patrick: The successful ones.

Brad: Yes. There have been so many positive things in Chicago's evolution the past five years. And compared to many of our peer cities in the Midwest, a long list of only in Chicago. But there are many challenges too. And I think the thing for Chicago that's really hard to discern sometimes is, between the tailwinds, which are many, and the headwinds, which are really hard, where are we headed? And that's why I love my job is it will only land where we want it to be if we wake up every day and we work to make it better. I don't think Chicago, we do not have 85 degree weather every day and 0% state income tax, it's only going to be what we want it to be if we work at it.

Shelli: And speaking of, Brad, you mentioned earlier that you have more board members than staff members, so how is it that you get all of this done with such a small, lean staff?

Brad: Yeah, I think our core approach to the work is to find a really hard problem. That if you solved it it would have an out sized impact on Illinois and Chicago. And that the only way you solve it is by getting organizations to work together.

So I'll give you an example. We launched something with the governor, business leaders, university leaders, et cetera, in March. It's called Innovate Illinois. I recommend going to the Innovate Illinois website. And we had this very clever concept. It's chaired by the governor and my organization staffs it with one person and then we partner with the state and University of Illinois and others. Here's our premise of Innovate Illinois.
The federal government just passed three big bills, the Infrastructure Bill, Ships Act, Inflation Reduction Act, $4 trillion. We had a fun premise. What if we thought about that $4 trillion as an investment fund for Chicago's best ideas. As opposed to apply for a grant and hope it does something. Let's take our best ideas there.

So we now have across University of Illinois, the state, the city, all these universities, companies, 60 people working on that project, going after $4 trillion in money. And we have one staff member on it. That's leverage. That's the power of working together. And it has delivered. So that one staff member was part of the team that won the billion dollar Hydrogen Hub win from the Department of Energy. We want two big tech hub wins from the US Commerce department. We're delivering big, big wins with not a lot of staff by putting all the pieces together across the state. That's how we do our work with 15 people.

Shelli: Wow.

Brad: And a lot of that means credit goes to other people. So the woman, Amira, who leads that work for us, she's this incredible PhD in chemistry who really knows her stuff. But she would acknowledge, and I would acknowledge, a lot of the success in that is because the best people from U of I are working with the best people from University of Chicago, working with the best people from Underwriter Labs, if you know that company, who are working with the best people from the mayor's office.

Shelli: Yeah.

Patrick: Oh yeah.

Brad: And so it's one of those ones where the best part is the credit goes to Team Illinois. Everything we do is about Team Illinois.

Patrick: As you were talking, I grew up, one of my neighbors, their father worked at Underwriter Laboratories, and that's an interesting organization, founded after the fire, the great Chicago Fire. And it's a perfect Chicago company of it's everywhere, you use their products, you use their service every day, but you don't know it. When I tell people it's the little circle on the back of whatever electronic device you have. But the foundation of that was born out of the underwriters, the insurance companies wanted to reduce the risk of fire. And so was a collaboration. And to your point of what has always made Chicago great, it's always been the collaborations.

Brad: I love it. I think it's an incredible example, UL, I just think it's a great example. And again, you compare it, we always say we like to think of Chicago as where tech gets real. And if we had a choice between building a business that, again, gets me to stare at my phone for 20 more minutes or I'll make sure there are less fires and less people get hurt and have their properties damaged by spending a hundred years perfecting that with people around the world who've got the hardest safety problems that you can imagine, I'll tell you where I'd put my time and energy.

And I just think we've got a lot of stories like that. CME to me is another, hiding in plain sight. Chicago Mercantile Exchange. That's how the world manages its risk. It doesn't make mistakes. So you can go there, whether it's hogs or corn or oil or interest rates. And that happens in Chicago every day. And I think we don't give ourselves enough credit for our ability to solve really, really hard problems at scale. And we look at Palo Alto with envy. I like UL better than a lot of businesses I read about in Palo Alto.

Patrick: I think that's historically been the challenge, it's not that we don't have the smart people or that we don't have the capacity to solve big problems, it's to keep the companies here. Just even thinking about the first browser created at University of Illinois. And I think that's hopefully, it sounds like that's part of the mission that you're after. And I think it's noble and worthy and obviously really important.

Brad: And hard.

Patrick: And hard.

Brad: We probably made a series of very disappointing decisions over a long period of time in terms of how we thought about the finances of the state and some of the priorities that we made and how we invested. And those make it harder. The reality is that's just true now. And so what do you do about it?

And what we find, and we talk to some of the leading companies in the world on a daily basis, is you have to acknowledge reality. You have to say, those are our deficits. And then say, but let me give you the data on one of our advanced battery plants and how much more productive and loyal the workers are. And so do the math on that. Let's talk about ... And this is just one of the thing I'll briefly share.

This website, Handshake, that is where young people apply for jobs. And they just published where, the life of any company is young people, getting new talent in every year, and Handshake's data says that Chicago is the second most popular place for college graduates to go after college in the country. And so you're trying to build a company and you want to build it in Miami? Miami's not in the top 25 in getting young people to move there. How the heck are you going to build a company without college graduates? We have these things that I think get taken for granted. And we got to make those arguments.

Patrick: Yeah, definitely. You mentioned the big three, but then you still have UIC, Illinois Tech, there's still so many great tech schools.

Brad: Great schools. Illinois Tech is on the move too. I mean, they're growing. KyRed is shrinking. Illinois Tech, I've spent a lot of time with their leadership, they are trying to turn themselves into the best school in the country for first-generation college students to get technical degrees and a job. That's an awesome mission. That is the mission right there.

Patrick: They're going to have to take on UIC because historically that's what I've seen UIC is, that almost every ... it's a great place.

Brad: I'm excited to see them compete and learn from one another. Because we all succeed if they both succeed. But that's right. And they're very close to each other, actually both in great spots. And I think that's ... not everyone's going to go to Harvard. UIC and IIT are excellent schools that can educate lots of people very well and get them jobs. I think that's the role that those institutions can play.

Patrick: And most importantly, Illinois Tech now has a lacrosse team that they're investing in, and that we all know that is always the signature of a successful university of any size, shape, or form.

Brad: I will tell you as a, I am six eight, we've met in person before. 

Patrick: We have.

Brad: It is in a sport like lacrosse, like many sports like soccer, being a jockey, et cetera, is not a sport for a 6'8" person. 

Patrick: I'm going to argue with you. 

Brad: Really, you think so?

Patrick: The goalies are always tall, they're 6'3"/6'4".

Brad: That tall?

Patrick: Oh my God. Yeah.

Brad: You just throw it at my legs and I couldn't reach it.

Patrick: Well, that's the thing, you got to use your legs, and there's no protection there, it hurts. You don't want to be a goalie guy.

Brad: Okay, I just retired, you've lost me.

Patrick: Yeah, you'd have to ... I played goalie in hockey, I don't know, you got to be ... you got to hate yourself to be a lacrosse goalie, there's just got to be a lot of self-loathing.

Brad: It seems ill-advised.

Patrick: Yeah, it's not a long-term goal. But Brad, I wanted to say thank you for coming on and sharing your experiences. Really tremendous. A lot of great stuff here for our listeners. I encourage everybody to check out Eventnoire, check out Innovate Illinois, check out mHUB. Lots of great things going on in Chicago. P33 is leading the charge. They've got Brad at the helm. That's going to be awesome. Really excited about seeing what's going to happen this year. And obviously we're all pulling for you.

Shelli: Yeah, thank you, Brad.

Brad: Pleasure was mine. Thanks for having me, very grateful.

Patrick: Awesome. All right. So we also wanted to thank our listeners, we really appreciate everyone taking the time to join us.

Shelli: And if you'd like to receive new episodes as they're published, you can subscribe by visiting our website at dragonspears.com/podcast or find us on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

Patrick: This episode was sponsored by DragonSpears and produced by Dante32.


About Patrick Emmons

If you can’t appreciate a good sports analogy, movie quote, or military reference, you may not want to work with him, but if you value honesty, integrity, and commitment to improvement, Patrick can certainly help take your business or your career to the next level. “Good enough,” is simply not in his vernacular. Pat’s passion is for relentlessly pushing himself and others to achieve full potential. Patrick Emmons is a graduate of St. Norbert College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and Mathematics. Patrick co-founded Adage Technologies in 2001 and in 2015, founded DragonSpears as a spin-off dedicated to developing custom applications that improve speed, compliance and scalability of clients’ internal and customer-facing workflow processes. When he is not learning about new technology, running a better business, or becoming a stronger leader, he can be found coaching his kids’ (FIVE of them) baseball and lacrosse teams and praising his ever-so-patient wife for all her support.

Recent Episodes

We interview leaders from early-stage start-ups to billion-dollar enterprises who distill their lessons from their victories and their failures. Learn how these high-performing leaders organize their teams, establish a growth-minded culture, and leverage new technologies such as DevOps and Cloud.