News & Content: ITA Take Aways

Exec Spin: From 7 to 70 - Toot Your Own Horn

Friday, March 29, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kaylin Berg
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Julia Kanouse, CEO, ITA

 Each year, for the past 25 years, Deloitte releases their Technology Fast 500™ awards. Chicago had a dismal seven companies make the list last year and it’s not because we don’t have a plethora of high-growth companies that qualify.  In fact, Chicago start-ups lead the nation in venture returns.

But we do not tell our story often or loudly enough.  Our midwestern values are a big part of our success but they also keep us humble.  We don’t toot our own horn.  We don’t share our successes and celebrate our wins.   As our friends at ChicagoInno recently wrote, “the city is often criticized for punching below its weight.”

Initiatives like P33 want to work to change that.  Penny Pritzker and Chris Gladwin, co-chairs of the initiative, believe now is the time to establish Chicago as one of the primary tech hubs in the world.  And while a “Burnham Plan for tech” is certainly needed, there are little things that all members of our community can start to do to make a difference…starting with simple things, like sharing our success.

As one would expect, the Bay Area and New York led the way in the Deloitte Fast 500 last year with 91 and 70 winners, respectively.  However, other locations, that Chicago far outpaces in categories like venture funding, startup activity and exits, placed more companies in the Fast 500 than Chicago.  Maryland and Salt Lake City had 11 each and Florida had 18. 

Applications for the Tech Fast 500 open next week.  Let’s challenge each other to show up this year.  Let’s see if we can go from 7 to 70 companies on the list.  There is no question that Chicago breeds high-growth tech companies.  I am confident that there are, at least, 70 companies that meet the criteria. But we need to apply.  We need to, as Pritzker has stated, “harness the collective power of what’s already happening in Chicago today to build momentum for tomorrow.”

We need to pick our heads up and show the world what we are made of – it’s only by telling our story that we’ll be able to attract the innovation, talent and investment we deserve. 


For more about the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 awards, including application criteria and deadlines, visit  And be sure to visit in late May when nominations open for the 20th annual CityLIGHTS Awards.

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