Harvard Business School Shark Tank! 2016 HBS Alumni New Venture Competition Finals Central Region


Advancing through preliminary rounds, our three finalist teams will battle live for the U.S. Central Regional Championship of the HBS Alumni New Venture Competition. Don’t miss out on this exciting event where finalists pitch and defend their ventures before an all-star judging panel and live audience.

The winner will be awarded local prizes and will go on to face off against champions from around the world in the Global Finals. The winner and U.S. Central Region Representative will be announced at the conclusion of the event!

Come watch and network with our city’s entrepreneurs and investors to exchange ideas and learn how your colleagues are influencing change in the business landscape.

Wine, cheese and refreshments will be provided. We hope you will be able to join us on what we expect to be a fun and memorable night!

Distinguished Judges

Troy Henikoff – Managing Director, Techstars Chicago and MATH Venture Partners

Mark Tebbe – Chairman, ChicagoNext / Prof. of Entrepreneurship, Univ. of Chicago Booth

Constance Freedman – Managing Director, Moderne Ventures

Tom Hawes – Managing Director, Sandbox Industries

Kevin Willer – Partner, Chicago Ventures


DATE: Monday, March 21, 2016

TIME:  5:30 p.m. Registration/Networking, 6:00 p.m. Competition Begins

LOCATION:  227 W. Monroe Street, Chicago, IL

COST: $30/person ($35 / person after March 16)

Wine, cheese and refreshments will be provided. Please sign up via the registration link or by calling (847) 256-4846. Advance registration is required, as building security requires a list of participants.

Judge Bios

Troy Henikoff

Troy Henikoff serves as Managing Director of MATH Venture Partners and Managing Director of Techstars in Chicago. Troy was a Co-founder of Excelerate Labs, which became Techstars Chicago in 2013. He also helps manage the FireStarter Fund, teaches Entrepreneurship at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business, and is on the board of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center. Troy is a Serial Entrepreneur and has spent 25 years starting, running, and advising early stage technology companies. Prior to Techstars Chicago, Troy was the CEO of OneWed.com, President of Amacai, and co-founder and CEO of SurePayroll.com. Troy built the technology for Jellyvision, was the President of Systemetrics, and his first company was Specialized Systems and Software. Troy holds an undergraduate degree in Engineering from Brown University and a Master’s Degree in Project Management from Northwestern.

Mark Tebbe

Mark Tebbe is the Chairman of ChicagoNext. Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and an Operating Exective at Lake Capital. He has 25 years of successful start-up experience that has included the founding of two NASDAQ-listed publicly-traded corporations as well as direct involvement in numerous high-growth ventures. Mark was the founder and Chairman of Techra Networks. He was a founder and Vice-Chairman of Answers Corporation (NASDAQ:ANSW), which owns and operates advertising-supported public websites, answers.com and wikianswers.com that have grown to be among the leading information portals on the Internet. Before creating Techra and Answers, Mark was the Founder and Chairman of Lante Corporation which he grew to an 850-employee NASDAQ-listed corporation that was acquired by SBI Group, where he subsequently served on the board. Additionally, Mark has served as a Board member for three other publically traded corporations as well as numerous private companies. He was named to the Crain’s Chicago Business prestigious “40 under 40” list and inducted into Chicago’s Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame. He holds a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois by which he was honored with the Chicago Illini of the Year Award and the national Alumni Honor Award for Distinguished Service. 

Constance Freedman

Constance Freedman is the Founder and Managing Partner of Moderne Ventures and the Moderne Accelerator. Prior to launching Moderne, Constance was the head of Strategic Investments at the National Association of Realtors® where she launched its investment arm, Second Century Ventures (SCV), and founded its accelerator program, REach. During her tenure with NAR, Constance invested in over 30 technology companies and was active on the boards of DocuSign, Updater, Ifbyphone and Xceligent. Prior to joining SCV, Constance was an investor with Cue Ball, an early stage fund focused on the information services and consumer sectors. Prior to this she served in an operating capacity at technology start-ups Molecular (backed by CMGI, acquired by Isobar) and Account4.com (acquired by Lawson).  Constance served on the Advisory Board for the National Venture Capital Association’s Corporate Venturing Group from 2010-2013 and is on the board of overseers for the non-profit, From the Top. She has been recognized as one of Chicago’s 40 under 40and Chicago’s Top Tech 50 by Crain’s. Constance earned a BS from Boston University and a MBA from Harvard Business School.

Tom Hawes

Tom Hawes at Sandbox Industries and is a managing director of the BlueCross BlueShield venture fund. He serves on the boards of directors of AbilTo, HeartFlow, Lumiata, Nexidia, Patientco, Phreesia, Oncology Analytics, and ID Experts and formerly served on the boards of InVivoLink and Wellspring Healthcare. Before joining Sandbox, Tom matched at Yale School of Medicine for residency and completed his first year of medical training at Greenwich Hospital. During his medical training, he worked on clinical studies at the ISK Institute for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine and on outcomes research at the National Cancer Institute and NYMC’s cardiothoracic surgery department. Tom is on the national advisory board of the Desmoid Tumor Research Foundation. He holds a B.A. from Brigham Young University, an M.D. from New York Medical College, and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. He is also a Kauffman Fellow.

Kevin Willer

Kevin is a Partner at Chicago Ventures, a seed-stage venture capital fund. Previously, Kevin was the President & CEO of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center (CEC) and 1871. Kevin was also a Venture Partner at Pritzker Group Venture Capital at this time, overseeing their early-stage Seed Investments. Previously, Kevin co-founded the Google Chicago office in late 2000. In his over 10 years with Google, Kevin helped grow this office to more than 400 professionals and led relationships with some of Google’s largest marketing partners based in the Midwest. Before Google, Kevin held business development positions at CMGI, an early internet incubator, and USRobotics, the pioneer in modem technology. Kevin was named to Crain’s 40 Under 40 list as well as Crain’s Tech 50 list. He is a Director of The Economic Club of Chicago and is a Trustee of his alma mater, Loyola Academy, as well as on the Board of Trustees of Loyola University Chicago and of the Illinois Institute of Technology.  He is a member of the Mayor’s tech council, ChicagoNEXT. He serves on the boards of NorthShore University HealthSystem, the BigShoulders Fund, World Sport Chicago, the Future Founders Foundation and the CEC. Kevin earned his MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business where he sits on the Executive Advisory Board for the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and earned a Bachelor’s degree from Boston College.


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