Why Jellyvision Supports the ITA
Monday, April 8, 2019
Posted by: Kaylin Berg
Amanda Lannert, CEO, Jellyvision
One of the really unique and beautiful things about Chicago as a city—and the tech community here in particular— is that it isn’t internally competitive. Don’t get me wrong; companies here are as ambitious as you’ll find anywhere. But when someone succeeds here, it’s treated like a win for the whole community. The Illinois Technology Association (ITA) plays to that strength by creating a space where people can come together, offer support, offer advice, and in the end, get that much farther along in putting Chicago on the map.
By creating forums for members of the Chicago tech scene to network and share ideas, ITA is, for many portfolio companies here, a lightning rod for collaboration and innovation. In particular, I appreciate the non-CEO peer mentoring groups they’ve organized that give people in product, sales, and project management the chance to talk candidly with their peers at other organizations about what’s working for them (or not). I think these kinds of conversations are worth their weight in gold: they break the usual business-world code of silence, allowing people to identify patterns in their peers’ approaches that might reflect on their own, and learn from those peers’ mistakes. And vice versa.
Our CTO Jordan Buller puts it this way:
Groups like the ITA are incredibly useful for me because for much of the work I do, there aren’t any peers in my organization. I can talk to the CRO about motivating employees or the CFO about implementing a drastic change to our processes. But if I want to talk to someone about my job—crafting engineering career ladders, choosing some data infrastructure vendors, building processes for system awareness in tech choices—I need to go outside of the walls of Jellyvision. Through formal events, informal meetups, and their physical space, ITA helps people connect and share ideas to achieve these goals.
Another type of event my leadership team appreciates are the intimate dinners ITA hosts: everyone’s nice, and helpful, nobody’s out there grandstanding (which is so…refreshing). About these types of events, our CMO, Bob Armour says:
They’re always willing to help me network with tech and software marketers who have similar challenges as I do. They do a great job of making introductions, and the people I’ve connected with are smart and generous. To me, the ITA is a must-have, go-to hub for anyone in tech in Chicago. Without the ITA, the technology industry here wouldn’t be nearly as strong and vibrant.
Lastly, as a CEO, ITA provides me access to other CEOs who aren’t afraid to tell the truth, which is profoundly helpful. We swap war stories, tips and tricks, vendor recommendations, best practices, and reading lists. We get to bitch and get things off our chests. We get to hear about other people's problems and realize our problems are the best kind of problems. We’re reminded that we’re all trying to make tomorrow better, and that we’re not in it alone. Having this kind of support from a curated community of like-minded people is something I find to be incredibly important.