Momentum Awards Raises $1.5 Million for Chicago Entrepreneurs

Had this been any other late October evening in downtown Chicago, the tent flaps would have been closed shut. But on this night, with temperatures in the balmy 70s, more than 750 supporters of Chicago’s entrepreneurial community sat beneath softly-lit white tents and dined in the open breeze.

The Fifth Annual Momentum Awards Dinner, which cost $800 a seat, raised more than $1.5 million to fund ongoing programs at the Chicagoland Entrepreneurship Center (CEC) and its projects, including 1871 — the newest shared working space for early-stage businesses — located at the Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago.

Winners of the evening’s awards included Michael Ferro, chairman and CEO of Merrick Ventures, who received the Entrepreneurial Champion Award.

“The Entrepreneurial Champion Award honors a prominent member of the business and entrepreneurial community who not only is successful in their own business ventures, but is also concerned with the success of their surrounding entrepreneurial community.” -CEC

Also, Glenn Tilton, Midwest Chairman of CHASE Bank, recipient of the Corporate Champion Award.

“The Corporate Champion Award is presented to a Chicago business leader tasked with leading one of our great, established companies. At one point these companies were mere startups, but today they are landmarks of American industry. The Corporate Champion has shown incredible fortitude in leading a landmark Chicago company while maintaining a commitment to entrepreneurship and innovation.” -CEC

Braintree, a payment platform company, bested two other startup nominees for the Merrick Momentum Award, which “honors the early-growth stage entrepreneurs who have demonstrated success since their inception and are poised for continued growth.” They were Narrative Science, a data analytics startup, and Trunk Club, a technology-powered shopping service for men.

Actors Dan Aykroyd and Jim Belushi appeared as the Blues Brothers in a video tribute to Michael Ferro. Later, at the after party, a musical band composed of startup entrepreneurs, called “the 1871ders” entertained guests. ❒

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