Attaining Success through Collaboration

Thomas Edison was a prolific inventor and diligent genius who earned 1,093 patents over his lifetime. Often working 18-hour days in a cramped lab, he took his meals at his desk. He reserved time for few things besides his work, neglecting vacations, sleep and often, bathing. It’s the classic story of grit, hustle and good old-fashioned hard work. But something is missing from this story … actually, there is a lot missing. 

The idea of the lone, lonely inventor is a myth. Edison was surrounded by equally obsessed lab technicians that put in the same 18-hour days. That pervasive myth leaves out the messy yet beautiful process: collaboration. The sharing of a common vision.

Moving from ‘my idea’ to ‘our project’ takes many hands not attached to the founder title.

The process of building a company from a dream is often an arduous and lonely venture. The promise of freedom draws many to the entrepreneurial lifestyle; no overbearing boss, crippling bureaucracy, or unnecessary meetings. However, by the same token, starting a business lacks the structure and built-in support system of a traditional work environment. The day-to-day reality for many entrepreneurs is working tireless hours hunched over laptops in loud coffee shops or at cluttered kitchen tables. Without upper management to turn to for guidance or co-workers to bounce ideas off, it can be difficult to know where to even begin.

Connecting founders to resources that support a shared vision is the mission of Innovation DuPage (ID). As a space designed for collaboration, ID offers entrepreneurs and small business owners a road map for turning ideas into viable commercial ventures. There is an intentionality to the process that enables entrepreneurs to efficiently build a startup by searching for product/market fit rather than blindly executing on assumptions.

Successful entrepreneurs search for the truth about their ideas — wherever that may lead. Failing fast and moving forward is an important advantage of working in a community of entrepreneurs. Operating out of a safe and nurturing environment results in more successes and fewer failures than when founders go it alone. The process develops more resilient entrepreneurs who have a dedicated support network mirroring the experience of Thomas Edison. 

Aligning with Innovation Dupage’s mission they will be hosting the following workshops and meetings for entrepreneurs and businesses to serve as a resource to grow and develop new skills and knowledge applicable to their fields.

Public Events:
Day of Digital Learning
Thursday January 23 / 8:00am-4:30pm

Members Events:
How to Transform Workplace Conflict into a Positive Force
Wednesday January 15 / 10:00am-12:00pm

Until next time remember…

___________________________“Genius doesn’t fade just because we stopped watching.”

Travis Linderman has served as director for three venture incubators prior to his selection as Managing Director of Innovation DuPage. He founded a startup with Princeton University, secured venture capital backing, scaled rapidly and enjoyed a successful IP acquisition. Travis has spearheaded capital campaigns that have raised over $600 million for technology development.

Let Innovation DuPage help you take your idea from concept to success with an open-to-the-public event, our Incubator program or the Owner-to-CEO Accelerator. To learn more, call 630-942-3340 to explore your next steps.

From Aspiration to Achievement: Upcoming ID Workshop Perfect for Early-stage Startups

Do you have an early stage startup and want to increase your probability of success while simultaneously decreasing the time it takes to achieve it? If you said “Yes,” then plan to slide into the upcoming ID Mentor workshop offered by Mark Heintz, X9Y Consulting Group, for ID Members on Wednesday, October 2, 2019, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. at Innovation DuPage headquarters.

Heintz said, “The process of turning an idea into a scalable business model is like a journey. You need to know where you are, where you are going, and how to get there. This presentation will provide you with a high-level overview of the startup process and a methodology you can use to make progress and achieve results.”

Specifically, Mark will cover:

  • Steve Blank’s Customer Development Model to provide an overview of what you need to do to transform an idea into a scalable business

  • Planning and strategy processes to help you bring clarity, focus, and results to your startup

Your Takeaways

At the presentation’s conclusion, you will have a simple but effective set of tools to map out your situation, as well as a set of clear and focused goals, objectives, strategies and tactics to take you from aspiration to achievement.

Learn More About Mark Heintz

Mark’s background and experience are extensive. He has served as CEO for companies, consultant for clients and instructor for the ID Owner-to-CEO Accelerator program where he has received very high marks. Learn more about Mark and read his article The Power of Why on LinkedIn.

Let Innovation DuPage help you take your idea from concept to success with an open-to-the-public event, our Incubator program or the Owner-to-CEO Accelerator. To learn more, call 630-942-3340 to explore your next steps.

How Marvelous Minds Is Breaking Down Barriers

Read time…4.5 mins Kym Larson was a college student with a passionate interest in learning what makes people tick, when she earned extra money as an ABA therapist for autistic children. She noticed the incredible amount of time the children’s parents spent taking the child from one appointment to another. These children needed help with speech pathology, counseling, testing, tutoring, physical and occupational therapy and more. The parents were desperate to help their children but had little down time to just be with them, enjoying and nurturing their natural personalities. Larson, knew there had to be a better way.

An Idea Still Percolating

While working towards her doctorate in neuropsychology and practicing for a number of years, Dr. Larson time and again saw parents struggle to navigate a complex system of services required to help their children achieve success. She realized how the “system” was tedious and complex for parents and children.

And, Larson thought, what if that place were comfy and cozy: A fun place to be instead of a sterile, bland clinic?

That idea she had in undergrad was still percolating. Wouldn’t it be great for the families of struggling children if they could get all their services in one place? And, Larson thought, what if that place were comfy and cozy: A fun place to be instead of a sterile, bland clinic?

What if the service providers—the therapists, neuropsychologists, tutors, OT’s and speech pathologists—just wore regular clothes, like the children’s parents and teachers, instead of lab coats and suits that made them look like intimidating scientists or menacing professionals? After all, Larson reasoned, children need to feel comfortable and safe in order to learn and grow, and the clinical uniforms didn’t really serve any purpose other than making the office look more, well, clinical, and maybe intimidating.

How Marvelous Minds Came to Be

Larson, who hails from Glen Ellyn, Illinois, returned to her home town to raise her own family after completing her education and gaining valuable work experience as a neuropsychologist. In 2017 her idea became a reality and she opened her dream clinic and named it Marvelous Minds: the place where children and families could access a plethora of services all under one roof in an environment that was warm, inviting, entertaining and pleasant. That’s what she envisioned all those years ago as a young college student and everything seemed to be in place for success. Except there was a problem.

Growth as a Barrier

When the doors opened and Marvelous Minds became a reality, the problem wasn’t lack of customers or resources, it was growth. Fast growth. “The speed with which our practice has grown took me by surprise,” said Larson. “I thought I would have time to learn about running a business while my practice grew, but it happened so fast, I could barely keep up. They don’t teach you how to run a business in grad school, the focus is purely clinical.”

Fortunately, Larson found the Innovation DuPage Owner-to-CEO accelerator program which was the perfect resource to meet Larson’s need to learn what she needed to know to continue on her road to success. The program allows business owners of all kinds to come together, learn from experts in a variety of topics like finance, human resources, marketing, distribution and more, as well as from one another. The group forms a cohort that shares what works and what doesn’t in a non-competitive, friendly and collegial environment at Innovation DuPage twice weekly for twelve weeks.

Larson said, “The program was like a mini-MBA. It came at the perfect time for me. I didn’t know what I didn’t know about running a business until I enrolled in the program. But one of the best things about it was getting to know the other business owners and taking advantage of the other programs Innovation DuPage offers.”

Indeed, Larson’s employees are also taking advantage of the classes and workshops offered by Innovation DuPage, so they too can learn what they need to know—from digital marketing to website analytics—to help Marvelous Minds continue on their trajectory toward success.

Marvelous Minds Is Hiring, Welcoming New Customers, Growing and Helping Children

Dr. Larson’s Marvelous Minds is not only growing, it’s thriving. Parents who are concerned about the development of their children—whether struggling in school, suffering from anxious, forgetful or impulsive behavior or myriad other diagnoses from ADHD to cognitive and motor disorders, even substance abuse—can find help under one roof at Marvelous Minds. Under the watchful eye of a range of high-level professionals from occupational therapists to speech pathologists to tutors and parent coaches to neuropsychologists (including Dr. Larson), the whole child is treated to improve behaviors and outcomes.

Larson said, “The biggest surprise in running a business, in addition to meeting my five-year plan in one year, was finding out how much I’m enjoying building a business. I knew there’d be a huge learning curve, but I didn’t know how fast I would need to learn it, and how many mistakes I could have made along the way. I’m still learning, but it’s fantastic to know Innovation DuPage is here to help when I get stuck.”

Marvelous Minds Working Marvelous Miracles

What she already knows is how much Marvelous Minds is helping her patients and their families. Larson said, “Bringing one-multi-disciplinary team to handle everything a struggling child might need and having all the services together under one roof—speech, OT, behavioral, parent coaching, psych—is so rewarding. I love to say, ‘Let’s go across the hall and talk to that person,” when it becomes clear through our work that another service is needed. As far as I know, an organization like this didn’t exist before Marvelous Minds. I love that we can treat kids and their parents, see them thrive and watch as they become all they can be with our help. That is why we are here.”

It is that joy and optimism, not to mention smarts, that is attracting new patients to Marvelous Minds in Glen Ellyn. As the practice continues to add new therapists and services, and continues to grow, it is enjoying a reputation for innovation in its field. That and the gratitude of parents who’ve finally found the help they need to watch the little marvelous minds in their households reach their full potential.

Larson added, “If you (or anyone you know) is looking for a marvelous career to change lives and empower families, contact me today. We are currently looking for pediatric and family therapists, an occupational therapist, a neuropsychologist, and special education tutors and advocates. Come join our ‘marvelous’ family!”

Let Innovation DuPage help you take your idea from concept to success with an open-to-the-public event, our Incubator program or the Owner-to-CEO Accelerator. To learn more, call 630-942-3340 to explore your next steps.

The Doctor Is In … and Helping Women Celebrate Their Feminine Power

2 min read...

Off the shoulder fashions for women are hot. And it’s no wonder because the look is both fun, flattering and—surprisingly—empowering! So said Dr. Symone Lewis, the inventor of Barelastics, a reverse suspender under garment that keeps an off the shoulder look where it belongs: off the shoulder (OTS).

Lewis said, “Wearing off the shoulder fashions exudes an air of competence and confidence. Baring your shoulders communicates a deep yearning to be seen and heard and it’s a powerful way to make a statement and a first impression.” Supporting that sentiment, according to, the majority of designers in 2019 embraced the idea of “you do you,” meaning women are encouraged to embrace a fashion style that suits individuality with the unifying concept being the expression of female empowerment.

Founding a Company to Solve a Problem

In 2017, Lewis founded Shoulder Bare, Ltd., as the manufacturer of the Barelastics product, which has a patent pending. Lewis speaks of women’s empowerment from the credibility of being a working licensed psychologist with an earned doctorate in clinical psychology.

Beauty is power. I believe baring your shoulders is one way forward for women in demonstrating that power.

Lewis said, “Beauty is power. I believe baring your shoulders is one way forward for women in demonstrating that power. But if you’re tugging at your sleeves or fidgeting with your garment, it communicates the exact opposite. I saw a problem with wearing OTS fashions and remedied that problem with my invention. There is an air of sophistication when women bare their shoulders, whether in an office environment, at a gala, going through everyday life or at the beach, but only if they feel confident in their choice of garment. Barelastics make that happen for women who choose OTS fashions.”

Nonverbal Communications Make Impressions

Some have reported fifty percent of all communication is nonverbal. Also, many believe first impressions often are lasting impressions. OTS fashion has been a thing since the mid-1800s and has never really disappeared, with either both or even one shoulder bare, often stealing the show and attracting eyeballs on occasions from red carpet events to weddings to business meetings.

Lewis loves it. “In my opinion, women should celebrate the feminine. In our current culture womens’ voices are often not valued and their opinions are often under-represented and underfunded. Expressing yourself is an inalienable right. The pursuit to be all you can be is a deep-seated need and if you’re not heard you’re not represented,” she said.

How Innovation DuPage Has Helped

Lewis has been marketing her product online since 2018 at She has identified contract manufacturers and worked out quality-control issues on the product for small, medium, large and mega orders, but still considers the marketing and selling of the product second to her day job as a working psychologist.

“I want to scale and designate Shoulder Bare Ltd. my first job. Innovation DuPage is helping me with so many things to make that happen. I have so many ideas for additional products to be marketed under the Shoulder Bare Ltd. banner, but I just need that one big break and I believe Innovation DuPage is going to be that spark to make it happen,” said Lewis.

Moving Confidently Forward

Follow the empowerment journey of Shoulder Bare Ltd. and its Barelastics product with Dr. Lewis on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. Connect with Lewis on LinkedIn. We can “barely” contain our excitement as we watch women around the world discover Shoulder Bare Ltd, Barelastics and Dr. Lewis as she demonstrates the art of baring shoulders and soul with utmost confidence.


Let Innovation DuPage help you take your idea from concept to success with an open-to-the-public event, our Incubator program or the Owner-to-CEO Accelerator. To learn more, call 630-942-3340 to explore your next steps.

Know You. Know Why. Know What. Know How. Know Clarity Ventures.

3 min read …The 20th century was dominated by process efficiency. The first part of the 21st century has focused on technology innovation. Future success will be achieved by energizing people. Organizations that put people first by working with leaders and teams to solve people-related conflicts and maximize every team’s energy will radically improve team performance and more meaningfully achieve their overall mission. So said the founders of Clarity Ventures, Jonathan Schultz and Rommie Zats. The two conducted an ID Mentor Workshop recently at Innovation DuPage to help ID Members understand and manage the most crucial of issues affecting the likelihood of achievement: their own goals and personal motivations.

Know Your Biggest Conflict

Workshop participants found the interactive Clarity Ventures Energy Workshop to be well-managed, interactive and fast-paced. The duo helped each startup founder find solutions for the biggest conflict that was keeping them from achieving next level performance. “We want you to embrace the conflict and go forward,” said Schultz, explaining that diversity of thinking patterns and types of conflict is another kind of diversity teams should adjust for in addition to the most obvious, such as gender, sexual orientation, etc.

With a proven, proprietary framework, the Clarity Ventures workshop yielded energetic solutions and helped each participant define when they are at their best—and worst—as well as the biggest conflicts holding them and their startup back. Zats offered, “Energy underpins your performance. But what is energy? It’s your state of being and being your best person.” Once each person’s biggest conflict was identified, each participant was able to quickly design a solution to be put into action immediately.

The two-hour session didn’t end there. Each startup founder was matched with an accountability partner and was able to strike up a relationship with the Clarity Ventures team for future follow up. Even more, following the workshop, Clarity Ventures devoted 30–minute coaching sessions to follow up on the work each participant completed during the workshop to help frame and assist with any remaining conflicts—all for no additional charge.

What Past Participants Said

Without exception, participants were engaged and enthusiastic about the program. Jon Spungen, founder of startup letzgo, said, “This was really good for me. This organized process was very valuable and helpful.”

Chris Meyer, Stone Dog Productions, said, “I love the two-minute time pressure to identify ideas and solutions. They were all inside my head, and the pressure helped bring them out. And once they were put on paper the solutions become crystal clear.”

In total agreement, Justin Mayer of said, “Partnering up to build support for your ideas was super helpful. I’d like to continue on with this process on an on-going basis.”

More on Clarity Ventures

A startup organization themselves, Clarity Ventures has already put their powerful workshop sessions to use helping a number of teams to energize and break down conflicts.

Here are some examples of the types of conflicts Clarity Ventures has already helped teams solve:

  • Rapidly onboarding and integrating new team members so they can drive impact immediately
  • Resolving team conflict amongst team members / co-founders / investors
  • Teaching leaders to empower their teams and get out of the details
  • Supporting leaders and teams struggling with burnout and rejection
  • Helping leaders build empathy for their teams to better align and storytell on their mission

Schultz and Zats formed Clarity Ventures as people transformation consultants who bring out the best in leaders and their teams so they can make their mark on the world. They find out what energizes teams and remove what’s getting in the way through leadership development programs, team and individual workshops and executive coaching.

They have previously worked for some of the best companies in the world, including McKinsey and Google, where they observed extremely high-performing teams. They learned that teams are only able to maximize performance when they broke assumptions, supported each other and were enabled to be their best selves. Shutlz and Zats leveraged this experience along with extensive research to create a framework for both groups and individuals to enable maximum energy and performance.

Jonathan Schultz holds a Bachelor’s in Finance and Marketing from Augustana College and an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. He has a background in strategy consulting with expertise in enterprise-wide transformations working for top companies such as McKinsey & Co. He gets energy from building and creating, working in chaos and ambiguity, and being a part of an open and supportive team.

Rommie Zats holds a Bachelor’s in Industrial & Systems Engineering from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and is currently pursuing his Executive MBA at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. He has worked for a number of top organizations, including Google, where he has held strategy and operations roles leading and transforming global teams. He gets energy from challenging the status quo, tackling complex problems and surrounding himself with dreamers.

Let Innovation DuPage help you take your idea from concept to success with an open-to-the-public event, our Incubator program or the Owner-to-CEO Accelerator. To learn more, call 630-942-3340 to explore your next steps.