Archive for ‘News’ Category

 

Dan Cataldi to retire, leaving impact on small businesses in Rockford area

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

ROCKFORD – In a little more than a week, Dan Cataldi, the executive director of the Northern Illinois University EIGERlab, will finally get to “rest a bit.”

Cataldi will retire at the end of the year after six years at the helm of the business incubator. He worked with members of the Rockford Economic Development Council to develop a strategy to brainstorm, develop and grow small businesses in the Rock River Valley.

My View: Celebrating Rockford’s entrepreneurs: A look back and ahead

Saturday, December 17th, 2016

dan-cataldi_btp_8967_cropped

I love passionate, creative, risk-taking entrepreneurs who start businesses or privately grow existing enterprises with little recognition or fanfare. As I retire from NIU EIGERlab at the end of this year, I am humbled and honored to have been in a position to support these innovators who quietly and steadily make a huge impact on the community.

Celebrating passionate entrepreneurs and creative innovators is Rockford’s history. It’s in our DNA.

Over the years, NIU EIGERlab clients have turned their ideas, inspiration and effort into businesses that continue to create jobs and wealth for the region. Just a few examples:

– B/E Aerospace was once two engineers with an idea. They incubated the business at EIGERlab, refining their designs, making prototypes and getting ready for the marketplace. Today, the company employs more than 40 engineers and other professionals in a new Rockford facility.

– Comply365 got its start in the basement of the founders’ home. They pitched their business at FastPitch and Innovate Illinois, polished their business model and attracted startup funding. Today, 75 percent of the commercial aircraft compliance industry uses their software and they employ more than 70 professional staff.

– Accelerated Machine Design began as an incubating EIGERlab business, designing and prototyping innovative custom equipment for aerospace and health care customers. Today, they employ 20 engineers and other professionals in their newly remodeled manufacturing facility in Rockford.

– sockTABs won top honors at FastPitch and gained national visibility and investment when the product was pitched on ABC’s Shark Tank. Today, the product is sold on the Home Shopping Network and in major retail outlets.

Since its inception, the annual FastPitch Competition has drawn more than 450 participants, all putting their ideas and business models in front of local investors, bankers and business leaders. Many of these have turned into lifestyle businesses and some have exploded into major employers in our region.

Supporting local entrepreneurs is important work. Solopreneurs, inventors, innovators and existing small and medium sized privately held companies are an important sector of our local economy. Their impact must not be overlooked or underestimated. They should be encouraged and celebrated.

Rockford has embraced its manufacturing legacy and is offering strong support to this important sector. Similar effort should be directed toward economic gardening, finding ways to grow our own small and medium sized privately held businesses. Other sectors of the economy offer great promise as well: IT and digital companies are producing new high-income jobs at a rapid pace, and small privately held, health-related businesses now top all other sectors in our region.

There is a lot to celebrate in the future-focused, transformational economic and workforce development activities underway in our region. I urge leaders of these initiatives to develop strategies and incentives to diversify the economy and develop plans to support the growth of our own small and medium sized companies.

It has been my pleasure to work with a great group of dedicated individuals at EIGERlab: Mike Cobert, Sherry Pritz, Jeff Metters and Tina Leombruni, and as of two years ago, Dr. Rena Cotsones of NIU. The community is fortunate to have this team in place to continue NIU EIGERlab’s important work.

Finally, I want to say thank you to Northern Illinois University. Did you know that NIU has had a Regional Engagement Office in Rockford since 2009? Did you know that NIU purchased the assets of EIGERlab from the Rockford Area Economic Development Council two years ago to ensure that its important economic development work could continue? Going forward, I hope NIU will get the recognition it deserves for its engagement, investment and contributions in the Rockford area.

For me, NIU EIGERlab has been a labor of love. I leave with great memories of the journey and high hopes for the future of Rockford.

Dan Cataldi, executive director, NIU EIGERlab

Rockford Register Star article

My View: Celebrating Rockford’s entrepreneurs: A look back and ahead

Saturday, December 17th, 2016

I love passionate, creative, risk-taking entrepreneurs who start businesses or privately grow existing enterprises with little recognition or fanfare. As I retire from NIU EIGERlab at the end of this year, I am humbled and honored to have been in a position to support these innovators who quietly and steadily make a huge impact on the community.

Celebrating passionate entrepreneurs and creative innovators is Rockford’s history. It’s in our DNA.

 

Over the years, NIU EIGERlab clients have turned their ideas, inspiration and effort into businesses that continue to create jobs and wealth for the region. Just a few examples:

– B/E Aerospace was once two engineers with an idea. They incubated the business at EIGERlab, refining their designs, making prototypes and getting ready for the marketplace. Today, the company employs more than 40 engineers and other professionals in a new Rockford facility.

– Comply365 got its start in the basement of the founders’ home. They pitched their business at FastPitch and Innovate Illinois, polished their business model and attracted startup funding. Today, 75 percent of the commercial aircraft compliance industry uses their software and they employ more than 70 professional staff.

– Accelerated Machine Design began as an incubating EIGERlab business, designing and prototyping innovative custom equipment for aerospace and health care customers. Today, they employ 20 engineers and other professionals in their newly remodeled manufacturing facility in Rockford.

– sockTABs won top honors at FastPitch and gained national visibility and investment when the product was pitched on ABC’s Shark Tank. Today, the product is sold on the Home Shopping Network and in major retail outlets.

Since its inception, the annual FastPitch Competition has drawn more than 450 participants, all putting their ideas and business models in front of local investors, bankers and business leaders. Many of these have turned into lifestyle businesses and some have exploded into major employers in our region.

Supporting local entrepreneurs is important work. Solopreneurs, inventors, innovators and existing small and medium sized privately held companies are an important sector of our local economy. Their impact must not be overlooked or underestimated. They should be encouraged and celebrated.

 

Rockford has embraced its manufacturing legacy and is offering strong support to this important sector. Similar effort should be directed toward economic gardening, finding ways to grow our own small and medium sized privately held businesses. Other sectors of the economy offer great promise as well: IT and digital companies are producing new high-income jobs at a rapid pace, and small privately held, health-related businesses now top all other sectors in our region.

There is a lot to celebrate in the future-focused, transformational economic and workforce development activities underway in our region. I urge leaders of these initiatives to develop strategies and incentives to diversify the economy and develop plans to support the growth of our own small and medium sized companies.

It has been my pleasure to work with a great group of dedicated individuals at EIGERlab: Mike Cobert, Sherry Pritz, Jeff Metters and Tina Leombruni, and as of two years ago, Dr. Rena Cotsones of NIU. The community is fortunate to have this team in place to continue NIU EIGERlab’s important work.

Finally, I want to say thank you to Northern Illinois University. Did you know that NIU has had a Regional Engagement Office in Rockford since 2009? Did you know that NIU purchased the assets of EIGERlab from the Rockford Area Economic Development Council two years ago to ensure that its important economic development work could continue? Going forward, I hope NIU will get the recognition it deserves for its engagement, investment and contributions in the Rockford area.

For me, NIU EIGERlab has been a labor of love. I leave with great memories of the journey and high hopes for the future of Rockford.

Dan Cataldi, executive director, NIU EIGERlab

Rockford Register Star link.

2016 FastPitch Competition Winner, Michelle Gast with recoup BEAUTISCOOP

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

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Rockford, Ill. —The 10th annual FastPitch Competition was a colossal success with thirty-four eager presenters sharing their ideas, products, services and apps vying for over $7,000 dollars in prizes and presenting, possibly, the Next Big Thing!

First place winner, Michelle Gast with her beauty-related product, recoup BEAUTISCOOP, took home the $5,000 first prize. Michelle’s product is a patented dual-ended beauty tool designed to scoop every last drop from tight-necked containers. It will be featured in the December issue of REAL SIMPLE magazine. Michelle, during the creation of her unique product, was a client of NIU EIGERlab’s Center for Product Development (C4PD). Visit www.LiveBeautility.com for more information.

Second place winner, Charlie Hare, with his patented new tool, the Aerator™, offers an effective, new method to aerate walls that have been adversely affected by a flood. Charlie has also taken advantage of the resources of the C4PD including assistance with engineering, 3D printing, computer-aided design, and commercialization.

Nicole Jakob, third place winner, presented Renegade Made™, a new line of toys that “help teach kids to do the right thing, even when no one is watching.” Her toys have been manufactured and safety tested for children eight years and up, and was introduced into the toy market at the International Fair in NYC in February 2016. Visit www.Renegade-made.com for more information.

Author and coach, Vinni Cavallaro Torrisi, took home the coveted Dale Falconer Spirit of Entrepreneurship award including a six-month complimentary coworking and counseling at NIU EIGERlab’s LaunchPad! space in Rockford with her product, NowSizing™. “NowSizing™ is an educational process designed to help older adults navigate a stress-free, later life move.” Now-Sizing…Making Room for Life! is Vinni’s 44-page workbook that guides senior citizens and family members. Visit www.NowSizing.com for more information.

The Freedom Field’s CleanTech award winner was Branden DeWitt with his Aquarius Fire Protection System™. Branden’s proven technology is a unique way to protect high-end homes in fire-prone areas far better than any system currently available. The system is patent pending and he’s in the process of seeking UL approval. Branden is also being assisted through the C4PD.

Last but not least, the winner of the Student award, Omar Saulters with his company, Salted Art Inc. Omar was a published author at the age of twelve and is excited to share his, first ever, teen publishing company. He truly believes in his “mission to redefine, reinvent, and reimagine what we believe teens are capable of.”

Finalists included:

  • Alejandra Chapel-Herrera Index | Note Taking App  ChaseMountains.com
  • Jim Hall RoP-RoW-Pro
  • Ana Elizarraga Make-up Brush Cleaning Machine
  • SiDi Huang ZipSeam ZipSeam.com
  • Jeremy Perrotta Pub Brewery Unique Beer Keg
  • Barbara Rhodes High Caliber Creations                                  HighCaliberCreations.com
  • Chris Wicklund Wick’s TravelCool Cake Carrier

Previous FastPitch presenters, Kerry Frank, CEO and Co-Founder of Comply365 and Kristan McNames, owner of Grace Funeral & Cremation Services delivered thought-provoking keynote speeches injected with humor and “the good, the bad and the ugly” of becoming successful entrepreneurs.

For more information on the FastPitch Competition, visit the NIU EIGERlab website at http://www.eigerlab.org/. For additional information, call Sherry Pritz at (815) 753-2192.

2016 May NIU EIGERlab Newsletter

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

25 People Who Inspire | Northwest Quarterly

25-Dan-Cataldi-AG16

Click here to download the May newsletter (PDF format).

NIU EIGERlab gears up for 10th FastPitch Competition

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016
2015 FastPitch Competition Winners!

2015 FastPitch Competition Winners!

News Release

For Immediate Release

March 29, 2016
Media Contact: Sherry Pritz,
Marketing Coordinator | Business Development
(815) 753-2192 | SPritz@nullEIGERlab.org

Rockford, Ill. — It’s “Shark Tank,” Rockford-style!

This year marks the 10th anniversary of NIU EIGERlab’s FastPitch Competition. Because the competition has been so successful year after year, attracting upward of more than 40 presenters, organizers can only venture to guess that’s why ABC started “Shark Tank,” a reality television series, that is very similar in scope.

Local innovators and entrepreneurs are invited to share their products, service or “ideas on a napkin” for a chance to win a $5,000 first prize in addition to outstanding mentoring and exposure.

This year’s FastPitch Competition will be held Wednesday, Sept. 28, at NIU-Rockford.

fastpitch-logoFor full FastPitch Competition details, flier and registration form, visit the NIU EIGERlab website at http://www.eigerlab.org/. Business pitches must be submitted in writing (1,000 words or less) to SPritz@nullEIGERlab.org. For additional information, call Sherry Pritz at (815) 753-2192.

Click here for the complete news release.

Maker movement part of Rockford’s past, will help develop its future

Monday, March 21st, 2016

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Your toes owe a debt to a Swedish immigrant who came to Rockford in the 1800s and invented an automatic knitting machine that mass produced socks on South Main Street.

Maybe one day soon there’ll be a digital gizmo to protect much more than our toes. And maybe it’s being invented right now by a kid in Rockford who’s sitting on a couch, hunched over a laptop, cranking out lines of code…

 

Click here for the complete article.

NIU EIGERlab March 2016 Newsletter

Monday, March 7th, 2016

-Introducing Launch Pad!Room165_9718

NIU EIGERlab’s Launch Pad coworking space supports a regional community of like-minded inventors, designers, hackers, developers, solopreneurs and early-stage innovative businesses by providing a fluid environment to convene, learn, collaborate and commercialize next generation digital and physical product-based businesses. Launch Pad delivers a supportive atmosphere for ideation, implementation and collaboration to accelerate the growth of your enterprise.

-March Meetup | “Circuit Building 101: Intro to Electronics”

-February’s Innovation Tuesday Meetup–informative!

February’s Innovation Tuesday Meetup’s panel on, “What is Intellectual Property,” was very informative. They provided a wealth of knowledge, answered a wide variety of questions and provided feedback on many real-world scenarios including…

Click here to read the panelists’ biosFor the complete

Click here for the complete March 2016 newsletter.

WTVO highlights NIU EIGERlab’s place in Rockford’s history of innovation

Friday, March 4th, 2016

InnovativeNIU EIGERlab hopes to increase jobs and create wealth in the region, with a unique project to make Rockford a leader in manufacturing innovation once again.

Rockford has a rich history of inventors starting companies within the Forest City as far back as 1870, when Amos Woodward invented controls for waterwheels, thus starting Woodward Governor.  John Nelson created the knitting machine that launched Nelson Knitting in 1868.  Howard Coleman’s many inventions included the electric garage door opener and the Check Pump that began Barber-Coleman Company in 1894.

That same innovative spirit can be found at NIU EIGERlab.

Click here for the complete story including historical footage, interviews, and more.

Rockford’s SockTABs couple to make live pitch Monday on Home Shopping Network

Saturday, January 30th, 2016

ROCKFORD — After successfully pitching their SockTABs invention to a group of investors on “Shark Tank” last November, Glen and Tracie Burress are ready to stand before a different sea of people: American consumers.

They will travel from Rockford to Tampa Sunday to appear on “The Monday Night Show with Adam Freeman: The American Dreams Edition,” a series on HSN, formerly Home Shopping Network.

It airs at 6 p.m. Monday and will highlight several successful entrepreneurs across the country.

Click here for the complete Rockford Register Star article.

Glen and Tracie were also featured as two of the Rockford Register Star’s People to Watch in 2016. Rockford Register Star link.