Last Thursday we at Hawthorne Strategy Group hosted an evening with Jimmy Odom (Techweek Chicago 2013 Launch, Startup Weekend, and IBM Global Entrepreneur Mentor Day Award winner). Outside of winning tech awards, Jimmy is a local Chicago entrepreneur with a very interesting story. Hawthorne may have provided food and drinks but Jimmy brought an engaging story to tell. Jimmy’s experience of starting his company WeDeliver with very limited funding was truly fascinating.
Being the sole breadwinner for a family of four gave his story an edge. However, he did not jump into this endeavor without thought. His deliberate start and the sacrifices he made became an investment that would change his and his family’s life permanently.
"His deliberate start and the sacrifices he made became an investment that would change his and his family’s life permanently."
Jimmy has become the startup poster-child of success here in Chicago. Jimmy sold WeDeliver last spring to Deliv, a larger company out of Silicon Valley. Jimmy spoke about the challenges, experiences, and education that came with starting a company and building it into an enterprise of thirty employees and over 300 contractors. He talked about the vulnerabilities he experienced along the way: where is additional funding coming from, how to convince a business to become a WeDeliver partner, how do you scale and grow a startup.
After Jimmy sold WeDeliver, he took on a new challenge as Senior Policy Advisor at Illinois’ Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, a part of Governor Rouner’s administration. Jimmy’s goal is to help the state make policies that positively effect entrepreneurs. The state hopes that this will bring jobs and more opportunities to minority businesses in Illinois. Jimmy has seen the challenges of being an entrepreneur first hand and he is doing everything he can to make things easier for them.
We are proud that Jimmy chose to speak with us and were not disappointed by the story he told. We are excited that we could share this experience with the people who were able to attend this event and look forward to inviting other engaging speakers to share their stories as well.
Please watch this space for our next speaker coming in early 2016 as we continue our “interesting people in business” forum.