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10X Momentum Awards Honor Chicago Entrepreneurs

The 10X Momentum Awards, Chicago’s premier entrepreneurial awards gala, took over the city’s Hyatt Hotel on November 6th, 2017. Hosted by business incubator, 1871, and the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center (CEC), the event was attended by over a thousand luminaries from Chicago's tech and entrepreneurial community.

The gala treated guests to a pre-dinner reception with a plethora of networking opportunities and a multi-course dinner gala where six of Chicago’s distinguished entrepreneurs and companies were honored. The evening concluded with a celebratory after-party. Attendees had access to a stylish bar and DJ lounge area where they had the opportunity to meet reputable individuals such as Nick Kokonas, co-owner and co-founder of the Chicagoland gourmet heavyweight, Alinea Group.

The awards ceremony showcases the accomplishments of Chicago’s network of entrepreneurs while showing the great influence 10X has had on them. The awards inspired the city’s entrepreneurial community to take on some of the world’s biggest challenges and continues to do so at an even quicker pace. This “can do” attitude has been further boosted by recent praise from Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, dubbing 1871 as “the mother of all incubators.” Since its founding in 2012, 1871 has grown to become a cornerstone of Chicago’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, providing Chicago’s next generation of entrepreneurs with the resources to build their dreams into fortunes.

An annual highlight of 10X is a presentation of the Chicagoness Award, an accolade given to the individual who best exemplifies Chicago’s vibrant spirit of entrepreneurship. Northwestern’s very own Linda Darragh, a clinical professor of Entrepreneurial Practice and the Executive Director of the Kellogg Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative, was given the honors of handing this year’s award to Lupe Fiasco, a Chicago powerhouse rap artist and entrepreneur.

Fiasco was recognized for his tireless effort and the community engagement he fostered through his Neighborhood Start Fund. Along with Google executive Di-Ann Eisnor, Fiasco founded a multi-million-dollar fund to support sleeping entrepreneurial talent in marginalized Chicago neighborhoods. The fund is underpinned by the strong conviction that good ideas can come from anywhere, from Silicon Valley's biggest tech spaces to Chicago's most underprivileged neighborhoods. A longtime fan of Lupe Fiasco, I became familiar with his capacity for inciting inspiration in others through his music ever since seeing him in concert at my alma mater, Dartmouth College. Following the 10X event, I have become even more inspired by his dedication to helping others.

In entrepreneurial classes at Kellogg (New Venture Discovery) and the Farley Center (NUvention), I have had the amazing opportunity to work on promising ideas for new ventures with highly talented classmates from various professional and academic backgrounds. A lot of the business problems we have been working on are student-focused and technical in nature.

In a day and age where technological disruption is increasingly seen as a threat to marginalized parts of societies worldwide, entrepreneurship becomes a door to avenues of inclusive growth—growth that lifts communities out of poverty and allows them to build a better future. While aspiring NU entrepreneurs may not have the same resources as Lupe Fiasco, we do have the hearts and minds to make a difference in the world and should challenge ourselves to find our own 10X Momentum Awards—an entrepreneurial mission to make the world a better place, one team and one venture at a time.

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