Have you ever thought of creating your own company? Do you have an idea that you think can become the next Facebook or GrubHub? Want to apply your skills by working at a startup? Come to the Entrepreneurship Roundtable to meet and learn from people who lead companies they've built themselves. Entrepreneurship is more than innovation. This industry features alumni with backgrounds in economics, linguistics, public policy, and philosophy to name a few. These professionals will offer you diverse perspectives that span from startups at various stages, social ventures, growing tech firms, and more. Students from all backgrounds are welcome to explore entrepreneurship, which can be combined with any area of interest.
Sid Bala, AB'91, MIT Entrepreneurial Masters Program 2015; MS Stony Brook University'93
President & CEO, alligatortek
Mr. Bala drives the vision and direction of an award-winning software firm dedicated to solving business challenges with technology. alligatortek was established in 1993 to build custom enterprise applications for the web and mobile devices. These solutions address process bottlenecks to improve efficiency, productivity, and the bottom line for clients. Under his leadership, the company has been recognized as a best-in-class partner, employer and innovator. alligatortek was recognized as a 2015 Microsoft Partner of the Year, and its solutions have earned recognition by the Chicago Innovation Awards. He holds a bachelor's degree from the College and graduate degrees from the University of New York, Stony Brook and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Throughout the years, he has served on various charitable foundation boards and business councils. He currently holds leadership roles at the Economic Club of Chicago and Entrepreneurs' Organization.
Amanda Neely, AB'06
Co-Founder, Co-Manager, Overflow Coffee Bar
Ms. Neely graduated from the College in 2006 with a concentration in psychology and minor in music. While in the College, she was involved with music ensembles on campus and active with work and volunteer opportunities off campus. After three years of dreaming and planning, she started Overflow Coffee Bar in 2011 with the mission "to inspire a genuine and local community of people who change the world with their purchasing power, time, and talents." She is a knowledgeable entrepreneur with experience in creatively solving the funding challenges inherent to growing and starting a business. She is proud to call Chicago home. She is committed to helping create thriving local, independent businesses in Chicago and in local economies around the world. She is a certified life and business coach empowering creative Millennials at www.overflowyourpossibility.com.
Alex Niemczewski, AB'09
Ms. Niemczewski is the CEO and co-founder of BallotReady, an award-winning startup voter guide to local, state, and national elections. Previously, she founded and led a human-centered design consultancy whose findings were used by groups including civic organizations, schools, and the White House. She also taught coding at a Chicago developer school and at Booth. She graduated from the College with a BA in philosophy.
Laura Rodnitzky, AB'97
VP, People, 3Q Digital
Ms. Rodnitzky graduated from the College in 1997 with a degree in Linguistics. While at the College, she was involved with The Chicago Maroon, adult literacy programs, and after-school tutoring. Her career post-UChicago spanned writing, editing, translation, and teaching English overseas, which ultimately led to the creation of several websites for Americans living and working in Spain. Through her experience developing these websites, Ms. Rodnitzky taught herself the basics of SEO and SEM optimization, laying the foundation for her initial work with 3Q Digital, a digital marketing agency. As one of the first employees of 3Q Digital, she has been involved in the growth and development of the organization's processes, training curricula, and HR policy. In her current role, she oversees HR and employee recruiting, engagement, and retention across eight offices and is the general manager of the Chicago office.
Aviva Rosman, AB'10, MPP'16
Ms. Rosman graduated from the University of Chicago in 2010 with a degree in public policy. As an undergraduate, she worked for the UCSC and Resources in Sexual Violence Prevention. In 2016, she earned her M.P.P at the Harris School. She now serves as the co-founder and COO of BallotReady, an award-winning nonpartisan voter guide. Previously, as a Chicago 2010 Teach for America corps member, she taught four years of special education and served as special education department chair. She was elected to the LaSalle II Local School Council in 2014 where she served two years.
Jason Rowley, AB'16, LAB'08
Senior Columnist, Mattermark
Mr. Rowley (finally) graduated from the College in March 2016 with a degree in political science, after a leave of absence taken to pursue a startup project through completion. When at the College, he was heavily involved in setting up the first undergraduate entrepreneurship club at UChicago, the spiritual progenitor of Startup@UChicago and Edge. Today, he is a senior columnist at Mattermark, where he publishes original, data-driven research into startup and venture capital trends. He is also co-chair of Startup Row with the Python Software Foundation, where he helps to identify and showcase high-potential early stage companies that use the Python programming language. When not busy with work, he curates a weekly newsletter, enjoys cooking elaborate meals, camping, and foraging for wild edible plants and fungi.
Rho Kook Song, AB'14, MBA'16
Mr. Song graduated from the College in 2014 with a degree in economics and graduated from UChicago Booth School of Business in 2016. While in the College, he co-founded Freenters, an ad-tech startup that won the College New Venture Challenge in 2013. For his involvement in Freenters, he was recognized as one of the 25 Chicago Startup Founders Under 25 by Chicago Inno magazine in 2015.
Anthony Watson, AB'14
Head of Business Development, ShipBob
Mr. Watson graduated from the College in June of 2014 with a degree in economics. While in the College, he played varsity soccer, was a member of the Major Activities Board, Vice President of Psi Upsilon Fraternity, an EDGE Entrepreneurship member, and an order of the "C" officer. He currently is the head of business development at a local Chicago startup called Shipbob which operates as a hyper-local third party logistics partner for small businesses. ShipBob won TechInMotion's "Chicago's Best Startup" award and he personally was nominated for Chicago Inno's "50 on fire" for innovators in the B2C category.