“Incubate Illinois” Conference Puts Focus on Chicago as an Epicenter for FinTech Development

CHICAGO – June 19, 2017 – Freeborn & Peters LLP is pleased to announce the Second Annual Incubate Illinois Conference will be held July 12 in the mezzanine conference space at the firm’s Chicago office at 311 South Wacker Drive. While the conference will address the needs of entrepreneurs, investors and incubators across many different sectors, this year’s event will have a particular focus on financial technology – or “FinTech.”

“Chicago has always been at the forefront of financial innovation. Large-scale commodities and futures trading operations started here, and they were soon joined by major intellectual advances in finance at the University of Chicago,” said Anthony J. Zeoli, a Partner with Freeborn’s Corporate Practice Group and a leader in the area of equity-based crowdfunding.

“Chicago is taking on a similar role in the growth of financial technology or ‘FinTech,’” continued Mr. Zeoli. “A recent ranking named Chicago number 4 of 44 global FinTech hubs, outranking other global participants such as Shanghai, Hong Kong, Paris and Zurich. It was Chicago's first time on the list. This is an amazing opportunity for Chicago to tap into its share of a sector whose current market value is close to $1 trillion worldwide.”

Scheduled speakers at the 2017 Incubate Illinois Conference include the leaders of three leading Chicago area incubators:

  • Jason Henrichs, Co-Founder of Currency, and Co-Founder of FinTEx Chicago, a FinTech industry association
  • E.J. Reedy, Director of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, The University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  • George Vukotich, Co-Founder of FinTank

The conference will also share details of key resources available to entrepreneurs in Chicago and across Illinois, including incubation space and access to venture capital, including crowdfunding.

“Many local innovators have great ideas and concepts, but they may not have secured the equity to grow and help bring their ideas to market,” said Zeoli, who helped draft the Illinois law passed in 2015 that allows Illinois companies to take investments in exchange for equity through crowdfunding platforms. “The Incubate Illinois Conference will help guide entrepreneurs through viable approaches for securing investment funding through various life stages of their companies, as well as how to navigate the pitfalls and challenges they may face along the way.”

Registration is currently open. The cost to attend is $50. To register, visit

Following are the event’s scheduled presentations:

1:30 to 2 p.m. – Introductory Keynote on “The Future of Chicago Startups, Incubators, and Growth,” presented by Fred Hoch, Executive Chairman, ITA and Founder and General Partner, TechNexus Venture Collaborative.
Mr. Hoch will share his vision for the future of incubators across Chicagoland and beyond. Mr. Hoch also is co-founder of the TechNexus incubator, a venture collaborative of entrepreneurs, investors, and industry leaders, which has advised and mentored more than 450 enterprise-focused ventures that have attracted in excess of $400 million in capital.

2 to 2:50 p.m. – Panel Discussion on “The Midwest FinTech Revolution,” moderated by Freeborn Partner Andrew L. Goldstein
There are currently over 1,000 FinTech companies (startups and established companies) operating across the U.S., Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, which, together, represent over $105 billion in total funding and nearly $870 billion in estimated current value. Representatives of some of Chicago’s top FinTech-specific incubators will discuss what they are doing and how they are helping to make Chicago the epicenter of FinTech activity in the Midwest.

  • Jason Henrichs, co-founder of Currency, a Chicago-based FinTech incubator
  • E.J. Reedy, director of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  • George Vukotich, co-founder of FinTank

3 to 3:50 p.m. – Panel Discussion on “Chicago Early Stage Company Founders: ‘Bridging the Gap’ between Idea and Reality,” moderated by Freeborn attorney Meghan E. Tepas
Four early stage entrepreneurs will share the secrets of their success and describe the many pitfalls of entrepreneurialism and how they have overcome them.

  • Jami Youmans, MHA, founder and managing partner, VantEdge One Group
  • Ravin Gandhi, CEO and founder, GMM Nonstick Coatings
  • Lisa Carrel, co-founder and chief sales officer, Proxfinity
  • Jeffrey Dirrenberger, CEO/founder, Vault Innovation

4 to 4:50 p.m. – Panel Discussion on “Illinois’ $220 Million Growth and Innovation Fund (ILGIF) and How You Can Participate,” moderated by Freeborn Senior Counsel Rita W. Garry
Representatives from 50 Street Capital and participating local investment funds will explain the ins and outs of the ILGIF, which was announced in January 2016 with more than $220 million in committed capital and the goal of investing in technology businesses seeking to locate, expand or remain in Illinois. The presentation is geared to help VC firms, investment funds and local technology based companies learn how they may be able to receive funds from the ILGIF.

  • Chris McCrory, vice president, 50 South Capital (ILGIF program administrator)
  • Nathan Brown, managing director, Wind Point Partners (ILGIF participating investment fund)
  • James Lynch, head of Chicago office, Public Pension Capital (ILGIF participating investment fund)

5 to 5:05 p.m. – “An Introduction to Proxfinity,” presented by Lisa Carrel, co-founder and chief sales officer, Proxfinity
Ms. Carrel will explain the workings of Proxfinity, a powerful proximity-based technology that connects attendees based on the affinity of their interests, and how Incubate Illinois Conference attendees can make the most of it. Proxfinity will be utilized for networking at the conference’s closing reception.

5 to 5:30 p.m. – Closing Keynote on “Next Steps for Chicago and Illinois,” presented by Scott Kitun, CEO and host of Technori

5:30 to 7 p.m. – Reception, Powered by Proxfinity, at Pazzo’s restaurant, 311 South Wacker Drive

For a PDF of this press release, click below.

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