Eleven Chicago Entrepreneurs Recognized by UIC's Hall of Fame

Carlin Sack

The UIC Chicago Area Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame, hosted by University of Illinois at Chicago’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies (IES), inducted eleven outstanding entrepreneurs Thursday evening

This year, six of the 11 inductees were digital entrepreneurs, showing Chicago’s tremendous strides in digital tech since the Hall of Fame began 28 years ago, IES Executive Director Michele Dorvil Agbejule said.

“Traditionally, because the Midwest has been a manufacturing hub, a lot of the companies were focused on manufacturing and from the service industry,” Dorvil Agbejule said. “But like Chicago in the last two years, we are becoming more digital.”

J Schwan, a 2013 Hall of Fame inductee and founder and CEO of Solstice Mobile, said that this spike in the number of digital entrepreneurs inducted was not surprising.

“There’s an energy around tech in Chicago right now that I definitely haven’t felt in 10 plus years,” Schwan said.

Digital entrepreneurs who were inducted include: Rona Borre of Instant Technology, Suzanne Muchin of Return on Inspiration Ventures, Jeff Pieta of Shiftgig, Schwan of Solstice Mobile, Jai Shekhawat of Fieldglass and Andrew Sieja of kCura.

Other inductees were Karen Eng of CSMI, James Malackowski of Oceon Tomo, Bruce Nesbitt of Orion Industries, Karen Wilson of Make Corporation and Craig Zoberis of Fusion Systems. Additionally, Gary Rabine of Rabine Group was recognized as a Lifetime Achievement Award winner.File 23159

                 Gary Rabine (left) received the Hall of Fame's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Thursday’s event, which took place at Chicago Hilton’s Grand Ballroom, included a cocktail hour, dinner and an awards ceremony emceed by Crain’s Chicago Business Editor Michael Arndt. Throughout the night, new and previous inductees mingled with each other and with UIC students (for whom a discounted ticket price was offered).

Providing an accessible base network of entrepreneurs to UIC students was the original premise of the Hall of Fame, Dorvil Agbejule said, because most entrepreneurs that do well in the end have had a great framework of mentors around them. This framework proved to be instrumental to Pieta, president of Shiftgig, at the start of his entrepreneurial career, he said.

“I’m thankful to have had great mentors early on in my career and like to repay them by paying-it forward in helping others,” Pieta said. “I seek out opportunities in which I am able to make the most impact, generally with individuals that have the desire and capacity for change.”

Schwan said that being a part of the Hall of Fame has allowed him to become increasingly involved with IES, in addition to already hiring many UIC graduates and students at Solstice Mobile.

“The goal is to try to connect emerging companies in the city with UIC’s entrepreneurship program,” Schwan said. “Michele has already been great with getting me connected with some different causes at UIC.”

If you are a Chicagoland entrepreneur looking to get involved in IES, contact Michele Dorvil Agbejule at [email protected].

Post a comment

or to post comments

Oh no!

You're fresh out of job post slots.

Upgrade your planmanage current jobs

Create an account

Let startups find you

Create a profile and upload your resume today.

Explore the local startup scene, find your
dream job and hang with fellow techies.

No sales pitches, just awesome original content.

Oh no!

You're fresh out of job post slots.