Our next Meet the Member post is with Garett Skiba of Four Footed Alpha & Analytics. He is a member of our Chicago West Loop shared office space.
Four Footed Alpha & Analytics is a holding company for two different operating companies that Garett manages. Here’s how Garett explains the two companies:
“The first business involves working with start-ups or early stage businesses helping them with finance and accounting issues/day-to-day. I will also do direct investments in those Co’s that I work with or through Angel networks which I am affiliated with. The second business is a bit more non-traditional as I have models and algorithms built to play horse races and daily fantasy sports. I invest primarily my own money, but do have a couple LP’s as well that have invested. Of course with the Kentucky Derby around the corner, let me know if you need a Derby horse!”
I’m a big list maker. Every morning I review my long term list and then create a list for that specific day of the tasks I am trying to accomplish. It really helps me stay focused on the most important tasks.
From the Blue Line to the Metra, the transportation options are great and being outside the loop allow for easier travel to meetings in the West Loop & River north area. I have yet to find a great happy hour spot, but have always been a big fan of Al’s Beef for a great Chicago Style beef sandwich.
First of all, having someone like Kerry to turn to for any issue that come up has been amazing, she is the best!
Beyond that, I enjoy the energy and the fact that people are here because they want to be here and not just “punching the clock”.
I think try is the key word here, but every day I do try and exercise, get 8 hours of sleep and spend at least a hour of device-free time with my boys.
I love the flexibility and the fact that there is no ‘typical day’. Of course that can lead to some ups and downs, but it beats monotony.
I have two young boys (3 and 5) so my free time is usually spent at hockey or baseball practice. They do a great job of making sure my free time is limited!
“Most people get interested in stocks when everyone else is. The time to get interested is when no one else is. You cant buy what is popular and do well”.
I’ve always been a contrarian investor, so I’m always looking to find overlooked sectors/ideas when investing. While not direct advice, this quote by Warren Buffett really has stuck with me throughout the years.
Our next Meet the Member post is with Doug Bouton, President & COO of Halo Top Creamery. They are members of our Chicago Gold Coast/Old Town shared office space.
The ice cream brand, which is marketed as containing less sugar, fewer calories and higher levels of protein compared to standard regular ice cream, was founded in 2011 by former lawyer, Justin Woolverton. Woolverton, who had hypoglycemic diet restrictions, began making ice cream in his own kitchen. The company is currently run by Woolverton and Doug Bouton, President and COO. Woolverton met Bouton, another former lawyer, in a Los Angeles lawyers’ basketball league.
Halo Top launched in Los Angeles on June 15, 2012, and is currently sold throughout the United States and Australia. Over the past year, Halo Top has quickly become one of the nation’s top selling ice creams, generating a strong market following and devoted fan base, due to its unique marketing approach and brand. The company has aimed to make its ice cream the first ever “lifestyle” ice cream that can be eaten daily without overwhelming a typical caloric intake diet.
As President & COO, Doug oversees, among other things, Halo Top’s sales and operations departments. Before Halo Top, Doug worked as an attorney in the Corporate Department of Proskauer Rose LLP. Doug received his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law and graduated from Georgetown University with a B.S. in Mathematics.
Cup of the Mighty Leaf African nectar tea that Melissa stocks.
Velvet Taco or anything in Old Town on Wells.
The community and human interaction. Working from home can be very isolating and it’s easy to get “cabin fever.”
Autonomy – working where I want, how I want, when I want.
Learn more about Halo Top Creamery at their web site, halotop.com.
For our next Meet the Member blog post we talk to Karen Thomas, a senior project manager at Ware Malcomb. Karen and Ware Malcomb work out of Assemble’s Chicago West Loop coworking space.
Karen is responsible for helping manage and grow the Interior Architecture and Design Studio at Ware Malcomb. Karen is joined by interior designers, Stacey Paul and Caroline McNulty.
Established in 1972, Ware Malcomb is an award-winning international design firm providing planning, architecture, interior design, branding and civil engineering services to commercial real estate and corporate clients. The Downtown Chicago office is Ware Malcomb’s second location in the Chicago market and is one of a total of 22 office locations throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and Panama.
Karen brings over 20 years of experience of interior design, facility planning and construction development for over five million square feet. Karen holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Interior Architecture from Northern Illinois University and is NCIDQ Certified.
A good run or workout…and coffee!
I love the laid back feel, less congestion, more neighborhood. Who doesn’t love Lou Mitchell’s!?
Meeting new people.
Work hard, stay positive and make someone smile.
All of the above.
Meeting new people and being proud of your work.
My kids. They are my free time and I love every minute of it.
Work smarter not harder.
Learn more about Ware Malcomb at their web site, waremalcomb.com.
WeCo is a UX-based digital accessibility consulting firm which works with private and public organizations to verify their websites and software are accessible people living with a wide range of disabilities. They seek a wide variety of individuals, representing all types of disabilities and computer-use capabilities, to work as usability-focused Certified Test Consultants. Their test consultants assist their clients in fully understanding real-life accessibility from the user’s view. WeCo also employs a team of technical professionals who also live with disabilities, to work as Accessibility Specialists to develop and deliver accessibility testing and training products designed to ensure the most comprehensive user-experience testing results for their clients.
Working with WeCo provides individuals who are often overlooked by traditional work environments with the opportunity to deliver powerful user-experience based testing services to our clients. It also helps these individuals to grow as confident, effective professionals. Whether they choose to remain with WeCo as Test Consultants or Accessibility Specialists, to go on to start their own business enterprise, or move on to another work place, the skills individuals obtain from working with WeCo can equip them for fulfillment in a variety of business environments.
Lynn founded WeCo (The Wehrman Collaborative, LLC) in 2011 with a group of individuals living with disabilities who worked with her on the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Americans with Disabilities Act Transition Plan digital efforts. As one of the first State of Minnesota employee to pioneer accessible digital document and website processes, she’s watched both government and private industry struggle to respond to the growing demand for digital accessibility. Realizing that the user living with disabilities was often left out of the process, Lynn envisioned a company that would help the digital professionals access the user as a subject matter expert and result in a professional career opportunity that is often denied people who live with disabilities.
A practice I learned as a very young direct sales person early in my career: selecting the 6 most important things I am going to do today in a separate list from my project management software and following it. Accepting that you will never completely climb the mountain of tasks it takes to run a business, is also part of keeping my daily sanity.
Being a mega extravert, I love the community of people I run into in the skyway every day. For lunch, I tend to gravitate towards Sprout or Freshii. For dinner or happy hours, I like the old classics, Oceannaire Seafood Room or McCormick’s and Schmick’s.
More than 90% of our staff live with a disability that has resulted in many of them being overlooked in the employment process. Often times these very bright people acquire advance degrees, simply because they need something to challenge their minds and stave off the boredom of existing at home while living on entitlement programs. This means that we have a highly intelligent, very educated work force that has also been socially isolated for at least a portion of their adult lives. Assemble, like our previous collaborative office space, Joule, exposes our staff to variety of people with varying professions and backgrounds. They make friends, go out to lunch and happy hour, and really grow in ways that would be more difficult if our group rented an isolated office space. It has worked so well for us that we often wonder if we could do without it. Also, it’s very common for digital marketing firms to realize what we do and run to us when a client comes to them with a request for Section 508 or Americans with Disabilities Act compliant software or website. Doing business with our office mates has also been another big plus.
Breath, slow down and look around and make a difference.
You are your own biggest hurdle to success. Stop being afraid and move forward, even if you aren’t 100% sure of where you’re going.
Watching the magic that happens when a client realizes that they are totally capable of making their digital venue accessible. Watching this happen while they recognize that people living with severe disabilities are people, just like them, and also a subject matter expert they can depend upon, is the cherry on top.
At this level in our company growth, I work very hard to not work on the weekends. I’m a closet jazz pianist and vocalist, love camping, hiking and running.
A sales director I used to work for used to say, “If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you’re right.” Our own failure, and success, pretty exists only between our ears. Though these can make success happen faster, it’s really not a matter of money, education, connections or intelligence. Once I understood that, I got over it and got on with it.
Our latest “Meet the Member” is with Paris312 Founder and Creative Director Niku Ghalkhani. Paris312 works out of Assemble’s Chicago Gold Coast/Old Town location.
Paris312 is a party planning company specializing in Party Boxes wrapped in a bow and shipped to you. They have simplified the tedious task of event design into a 4-step process providing all your party essentials wrapped in a box and shipped to you. By combining artistry and elegance, they have created alluring product lines meant for effortlessly chic celebrations. Leaving you to #partylikeaparisian.
Getting to the office before the rest of the team is the best way for me to get ahead with my work. Once everyone has arrived, I like to take advantage of their presence to discuss, have meetings and brainstorming sessions.
I like that the neighborhood is very accessible, easy to commute and close to great restaurants and shopping nearby. I also have memberships to a couple of yoga and barre studios in the area. All this convenience helps me make the most out of my day. I can get workouts in, run errands before heading home, and there are plenty of spots for the team to meet with each other or clients.
For meals: Goddess and the Grocer and Tavern on Rush.
For happy hour: Nico Osteria.
Being surrounded by other enthusiastic, ambitious people always helps is great! It gives you energy especially when business gets tough. I used to work from home and it became very lonely and draining.
Having management that takes care of maintenance or IT issues and other services allows me to concentrate on my team and my business.
The boardrooms and kitchen space have coffee and tea available, so they are great for when vendors or clients visit.
1. Meet with the team
2. Work out
3. Scratch off 5 things of my to do list (it’s harder that it sounds)
Never, or rarely, say no. As a luxury party goods crafters and retailer, we are closely associated to the event planning and networking industry. These are people and word-of-mouth based industries and you never know where each opportunity may lead you. Some of our greatest partnerships came from unexpected connections.
Product development. Making new collections and products is a wonderful way of mixing combining the creative talent and analytic minds of our team.
2. Exploring the city on foot (walking is my meditation)
3. Reading interior design magazines
Learn more about Paris312 at their web site, paris312.com.
Paul Vogelman was born in Madison, WI where he went to college. Paul is Caviar’s Chicago Metro General Manager, overseeing all Caviar operations in the Chicago area. A true believer in Caviar’s mission to partner with the best restaurants and to deliver the highest-quality meals to customers, Paul has made it his personal mission to ensure each and every Caviar customer has a tremendous experience. A former Bain & Co. management consultant, Paul holds an M.B.A from Wharton and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Overview of Caviar:
Caviar’s mission is to make delivery easy for customers and businesses everywhere. We work with America’s best restaurants to offer quick and reliable local delivery service, enabling businesses to reach more customers, grow their sales and expand their reach. With Caviar, customers can count on enjoying great meals no matter where they are; in their home, office or on-the-go. Caviar works closely with restaurants across the country to offer delivery for individuals as well as catering for groups and events. We hand-curate our restaurant partner list to ensure that customers have the best meal, every meal. Caviar features photos of each menu item, making ordering fast, easy and intuitive.
Haven’t tried Caviar yet? Click on this referral link for $10 off each of your first two orders: https://bnc.lt/W9Qc/ubMS6Sg7St
The Gold Coast is well located for restaurant meetings, which is an integral part of my job. Favorite local spot: Velvet Taco or Blue Door Farm Stand. The salad bar at Treasure Island is surprisingly delicious and affordable.
Not having to worry about chores (taking out the trash) or having to invest in start-up costs like the printer or furniture is a huge plus. Even though we’ve been here for about 18 months, we love the month-to-month nature of it. Lots of flexibility.
Every single day I ask myself, “What did I do to make Caviar grow today?” If I can’t specifically mention something, it means I didn’t try hard enough. There is literally something I can do every single day to help our business grow.
I love the combination of working for a larger company (Square) but having the independence of a start-up. Caviar is a lean, scrappy team in Chicago, but with smart, hard work we are growing the business one day at a time.
Work? I think I always work. But, it’s ok because I love my job and my company – my favorite job I’ve ever done.
If you are going to jump through a hoop, make sure you actually want what’s on the other side of it first.
Learn more about Caviar at www.trycaviar.com.
With a background in public relations and digital marketing, Anthony helps businesses create meaningful online content as a way to generate sales-ready leads. For the past 3 years, Anthony has worked in online communications, issues management and social media strategy.
Before a brief social media stint at Razorfish, Anthony spent two years at Edelman where he led the day-to-day digital PR operations for a major hospitality client. During this time, the Edelman team received over 20 top industry awards for integrated campaigns. Beyond B2C activations, Anthony advised B2B clients on social media strategy, website development, paid media, and search engine optimization.
Before joining Edelman, Anthony worked at Andrew Freeman & Co., a boutique consulting agency in San Francisco, where he supported PR efforts for clients such as La Boulange Bakery and Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants.
About Likeworth Digital: Likeworthy Digital enables clients to create and distribute great content that turns visitors into leads and leads into delighted customers. The firm’s inbound marketing strategy starts at the intersection of search, social media, and content development. Results are fueled by the co-founders’ combined sales and marketing backgrounds and tracked by HubSpot’s industry-leading technology.
Walking my dog to work with me. Best commute I’ve ever had because it forces me to go outside and take my time heading to work. Those moments when you can ease into work mode and organize your thoughts are precious.
“Be comfortable being uncomfortable.” It’s not something I have an easy time doing, but forcing myself to relax and enjoy the uncertainty in life has really helped me stay energized and positive. Time spent stressing about the future or wondering how ends will meet is unnecessary and unproductive. I’ve become a more successful person by keeping an open mind and allowing life to ebb and flow.
For new small marketing agencies, I’d say don’t be afraid to break the rules. Our success comes from eliminating marketing buzzwords and endless fluff in this industry, not by trying to wield it or “sound smart” in front of clients. Be real. Build marketing strategies that are real. Share real results. Those are the things people will appreciate and they can suspect b.s. from a mile away.
The Gold Coast neighborhood is next to the Loop, so you can easily migrate over to the business districts without having to actually work there. I like the peacefulness of the Gold Coast and there are a ton of great spots for coffee or lunch. Nico Osteria is our fave.
My favorite part of my job is having the freedom to take risks without getting approval from a boss. They don’t always pay off but they always teach me something, and the speed at which I’m learning has accelerated.
Learn more about Likeworthy Digital at their web site, likeworthydigital.com
Andrew is a Graphic Designer and currently the Creative Director at Alliance Creative Group. With 10 years of experience in the marketing field across a variety of industries, Andrew has put a focus on customers, outcomes, and finding the fastest, most efficient paths to moving the needle for businesses. Andrew has provided his skillset to State Farm, OHi, Auto Collision Rebuilders, Acquaviva Winery, Las Palmas, and Boys & Girls Club of Chicago, just to name a few! For these projects, he works on everything from Client Relationship Management to Web Design, Print Design, Social Media Marketing and the overall Art Direction.
He has experience working within strict brand guidelines as well as having creative freedom to develop a design from conception to completion. In his hybrid role, Andrew is often brought on to work on both web and print to ensure consistency across platforms. Whether it’s creating a campaign, promoting an event, selling a product/service(s), or creating brand awareness, Andrew has demonstrated his success as a fullstack marketer and a selfsufficient utility player who can contribute value at each layer of the stack.
Working in a shared office space constantly helps feed my creativity and keeps me inspired. That goes a long way for the type of work I do. I love the energy and different vibes you’re able to get from the people at Assemble, it feels like a constant growing network and a community we all enjoy being part of. There just so happens to be a Chipotle around the corner, so that’s probably what my initial answer should have been. I worry if the day ever comes where I’m not working in a shared office space like Assemble, I love the space!
Relationships have helped me get to where I am today. When I launched my first company at the age of 17, I wasn’t fully ready to take everything on, so I reached out to others that had a headstart to help complete projects, collaborate, to get advice, and so on. By working with others, instead of trying to take all the credit (and possibly failing because I wasn’t fully ready at the time), it gave me time to learn, continue my education, and give my connections time to appreciate the business relationship we were building which ultimately led to more business and sparking Alliance Creative Group’s interest in having me join their company. The advice I’d give on building relationships that play a role in your career is: Don’t be afraid to collaborate. Collaborative problem solving is extremely critical in today’s highly complex information culture. Everything is moving so fast, innovation is constantly happening it’s time to embrace collaboration.
1. Take a picture: I’ve always felt that photography goes handinhand with graphic design. I either get to use photos I take in my design projects, continue to find inspiration in photos that I’m able to look back on, and photography is a field I’d like to continue getting better at so seeing my photo work allows me to figure out what I need to work on or seek advice/suggestions from other photographers (shout out to Felix & Evan!)
2. Notetaking: This is the kind of thing that keeps me up at night. I come from an entrepreneurial background, so I’m always coming up with ideas for new startups, improvements to business processes, my retirement plans (I’m only 27, but why not), ideas that might may never see the light of day but help inspire other actionable ideas, the list goes on. I guess you can say I have the cheat codes to life on my iPhone.
3. Keep a never ending todo list: As much as we all want to get everything checked off our todo list, I always try to ensure I constantly strive for more (for both my career and personal life). I’m obsessively motivated, so I continue adding things to my todo list to ensure I never reach the end. From there, it’s a matter of breaking things down into shortterm and longterm goals and getting shit done!
Work doesn’t feel like work. I’ve been designing for 10 years and to this day it still doesn’t feel like a chore. I love everything about it and I’m still hungry to continue learning, collaborating with others, and look forward to eventually mentoring students and other related marketing/business opportunities.
Shameless Plug Area:
I invite you to check out my portfolio here: http://NoSetStyle.com. You can learn more about Alliance Creative Group here: http://AllianceCreativeGroup.com I’m always game to sit down and grab a coffee or beer and discuss how we can work together!
Daniel is the CEO/Co-Founder of Sabbatical, a destination coworking platform with it’s Chicago headquarters in the Assemble Gold Coast Office. Sabbatical was founded in October 2015 with the mission of creating a network of remote working spaces, providing the same communal, inspiring environment that Assemble provides in Chicago, except for employees working remotely in locations all over the world. The inspiration for Sabbatical comes from Daniel (and his cofounders’) travels to 40+ combined countries and the omnipresent Millennial wanderlust that forces too many motivated young people to choose between exploration and achievement.
Sabbatical is a tech-enabled (but very human) solution to a problem that causes nagging burnout for employees and contributes heavily to sub-optimal productivity and employee turnover for companies. By signing up with Sabbatical, companies can provide their employees with a relatively low-cost way to explore while staying productive, replenishing creativity and advancing company culture in the process. Sabbatical is launching this summer in Puerto Rico, with multiple other markets planned for 2016/2017.
I feel that shared office spaces are a fantastic option for almost all work styles and that environments like Assemble are slowly (or even quickly, in some cases) disrupting the entire market for office space.
From an economic standpoint, my 4-person company would have a very difficult time maintaining a physical presence in 2 cities; however, shared office space allows us to have a place we can be productive and feed off a strong community energy in both Chicago (Assemble) and San Juan, Puerto Rico (Piloto 151).
From a personal productivity standpoint, my work style feeds on the energy of a space and its members, and coming into Assemble each day I feel like I’m entering a place that is equal parts tranquil and energizing.
More than anything, though, I think that the value derived from a coworking space is the sum of its community. I worry that as the shared office space becomes commoditized, work spaces with the character and energy of Assemble will be increasingly difficult to find.
As a second-time entrepreneur, I can safely say that building and maintaining good relationships is the single most important factor I can attribute to any past successes. Anyone who works at Assemble Gold Coast can attest that I spend probably 4-5 hours a day walking around talking on the phone or on video calls in my office. Maintaining connections with interesting, passionate people can result in remarkable and unexpected things. The key is to always be transparent and to give as much as you take from any relationship.
“Fake it until you make it.” I won’t attribute it, because the person who told me that would probably be slightly embarrassed if I told the full story; however, since early in my career the idea of projecting confidence and signing up for things that you weren’t 100% sure you could do have resulted in huge payback.
When I was probably 22, I told one of my managers that I could absolutely build a website despite the fact that I’d never written a line of code in my life. I spent the next 2 weeks voraciously reading books, experimenting with different languages, and the end result was an OKAY website that the client happened to love. I could have just as easily told my boss that this was outside my wheelhouse and he would have found someone else for the job, but instead I was able to get paid to build a skill that has become foundational to my career.
As an entrepreneur you can never be certain of everything. Dealing with unpredictability is part of the job. As long as you’re able to set realistic expectations and have the curiosity and work ethic to back things up, “faking it” can feel a lot like “making it”, even in the short-term.
Learn more about Sabbatical at sabbatical.io.
Tom Kerestes is the Co-Founder of Swingbridge, a company formed in the beginning of 2016 and a new member of Assemble West Loop’s offices. Swingbridge is comprised of a team of financial enthusiasts, with over 25+ years of experience from all corners of capital markets, who work to help their clients with outsourced CFO services in preparation of capital raises, giving the founders the tools necessary to better market themselves to investors. The goal is to take these items off the shoulders of their clients so they can instead focus their time and energy on their passion – running their business. In addition to getting Swingbridge up and running, Tom spends his time networking with potential clients, investors, and new friends as he’s always up for meeting new people. Chicago and the surrounding suburbs have been home to Tom since middle school, minus a two-year stint working in NYC. As Tom has added the distinction of being a family man over the past few years, with an amazing wife, two incredible young kids, and an awesome dog, he has made the move to the west suburbs, where it seemed only natural to become a BBQ pittmaster – he has his first amateur competition coming this summer ’16.
By virtue of coming from a sales background, and now trying to start a new business with Swingbridge, relationships are essential for me. The key is to realize that there is almost always a positive benefit to developing and keeping a new relationship – whether you realize it right away or not. Some advice I would give to anyone on relationship building is to always be 1) listening and 2) thinking about how you can help the other person. What goes around, comes around.
This is easy for me – I love meeting new people and learning about them and their experiences, whether it’s for professional or personal reasons. I have a simple philosophy in life that the more people you know, the more fun life will be. So, anyone want to go grab a drink?
Outside of work and family, I love spending my free time on two items: sports and BBQ. When I can combine the two – have friends over for a game watch and cook up my ribs or burnt ends – life is good.
“’You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take’ – Wayne Gretzky” – Michael Scott”. Technically, not advice directed specifically to me, but still something I truly believe in. And the addition of “The Office” humor is a subtle reminder to also laugh and have fun in life.
Visit the Swingbridge web site at Swingbridge.