Howard Tullman steps in as 1871 CEO

by Sonali Basak
November 24, 2013


Startup incubator 1871 has found new leadership in serial entrepreneur Howard Tullman, who currently serves as managing partner of Chicago High Tech Investment Partners. Expect the space, currently home to 240 Chicago companies, to focus deeply on digital and manufacturing and to have far greater reach.  

Tullman said he’s focused on bringing new resources to the space plus a host of global partners, ranging from Indiegogo to Cisco and GE. Intent on turning the space from a room of entrepreneurs with great ideas to a factory of businesses with great products, Tullman said he will execute the following game plan:

  • Telecommunications capability: He said he wants startups  to communicate with the global community, so he’s making sure they will have the resources to do it. A potential Cisco partnership would make this possible.
  • Video capability: As chairman of Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy, Tullman has new age media in mind and wants a way for startups to market their messages to a greater audience in more visceral ways.
  • 3D printing: As startups turn from purely digital towards more tangible products, Tullman said he wants to make sure companies can build and prototype. A partnership with companies like GE would help 1871 manufacture.
  • Increased investment: Tullman said he knows that there’s space for new investment in the community and he is starting with talks with leadership at Indiegogo to help amplify not only outreach and marketing, but also investment inflow. 1871 will be the crowdfunding site’s Midwest headquarters.

All of this is in effort to make 1871 a global hub of innovation and concentrate the capabilities of the Chicagoland entrepreneurial community as it becomes increasingly infiltrated and complex, Tullman said. And while entrepreneurs can expect more resources in the space, they can also expect greater exclusivity.

“We want to be more focused,” Tullman said. “We want to be less focused on volume and more focused on companies that produce great products.”

Tullman’s entrepreneurial expertise has been developed over his 30-year career founding companies such as CCC Information and the Cobalt Group, which sold to ADP in 2010 for over $300 million. He has formed major strategic partnerships with corporations for Tribeca Flashpoint Academy and is credited with turning around culinary school Kendall College in 2003. He also owns venture fund G2T3V - whose investments he said he will be transparent about with 1871’s board to prevent any conflict of interest.

Tullman replaces 1871’s interim CEO Jim O’Connor, who will still be on the board of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center – the nonprofit that oversees 1871. The incubator’s previous CEO was Kevin Willer, who founded Google’s Chicago office and now runs the venture firm, Chicago Ventures.

Tullman’s proven leadership experience has earned him the blessing of Chicago’s entrepreneurial and political leaders as he steps in the new role: “Howard Tullman is the perfect person to take 1871 to the next level,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a statement.

Governor Pat Quinn said in a press release that “Howard knows what Chicago’s best and brightest need to push the innovation boundaries further than ever before.”


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