News & Content: Member Blog

Why Stacey Kacek CEO of OnePlus Loves ITA

Sunday, September 8, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Gary Hotze
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Stacey Kacek, CEO, OnePlus Systems


With the 20th CityLIGHTS Awards only days away, I recall my introduction to ITA back in 2008. Back then, CityLIGHTS was in Union Station, and I had recently left a multi-billion-dollar company to join a growth-stage startup as their VP of Engineering.

It's over a decade ago, and I was just getting introduced to this growing community in Chicago. CityLIGHTS felt like being at the Oscars of the Chicago tech scene. You had your marquee companies everyone knew, but more importantly, you had the lesser-known companies with big stories to tell and successes to celebrate. The stories told, and the people I met were inspiring. From that point forward, I was committed to becoming a more relevant part of this world and took advantage of all it had to offer. CityLIGHTS is one of the reasons I love ITA. It's a true celebration of Chicago's diverse entrepreneurial leadership and innovation.

Remember how I said I had come from a multi-billion-dollar, global company? When leaving a large company, you realize the resources you once had at your fingertips no longer exist. At a startup, you are resource-constrained, and if not successfully managed, you curb your ability to scale. Whether you are the VP of Engineering, CTO, or a CEO - there is only one of you in the company. Where do you turn to find others who have solved, or are facing similar problems? Who does your sales leader turn to when your backgrounds don't match to help them run a 1:1? My teams and I have found "their people" through numerous ITA forums established explicitly for this purpose: CEO dinners, storytelling seminars, B2B marketing trends, marketing round tables, and more. If there isn't a forum already created, ITA's team will find an answer or a resource to solve your problem. They have seen so much and are so well connected; it's an invaluable resource for small companies. These peer connection points are one of the many reasons I love ITA.

Fast forward to 2019. It has never been a more exciting time for Chicago's tech community. Chicago's tech scene has become increasingly relevant on a global scale and well deserved.  With the ongoing expansion efforts from tech juggernauts like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and, Chicago's entrepreneurial leadership, and leading technology talent continue to thrive. Combined with Chicago's affordable cost of living and nearby to some of the best universities, it's no wonder why these technology powerhouses are coming to Chicago and it's about time! As the political climate evoles with a new mayor and a new governor, ITA is lobbying on your behalf to represent the connected interests of Chicago's technology community. ITA blends the collective strength of its members to discover solutions that benefit all member companies. Isn't it nice ITA does this for you instead of you having to worry about whether your voice is heard? Lobbying for our needs is another reason why I love ITA.


ITA has been a staple of Illinois' technology community. As I've navigated various roles at four very different growth-stage startups, ITA has always provided my teams and myself with professional guidance and support. ITA is what you put into it. I hope to see you on Thursday at The 20th CityLIGHTS and to see your name in lights in the future!

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