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Pearls of wisdom are to be shared, never hoarded. Or at least that appeared to be the mindset of the five judges of Miller Lite’s Tap the Future Live Pitch Tour who shared a few trade secrets for entrepreneurs prior to the start of the Chicago leg of the national contest.

The judges, Daymond John, CEO of FUBU and co-host of ABC’s “Shark Tank”; Kenny Burns “The Lifestyle Specialist”; Sean O’Brien and Evan Wray, Co-Founders of Swyft Media, former Tap the Future winners; and regional judge Tracy Baim, Publisher and Executive Director, Windy City Times, gave a few minutes prior to the beginning of the contest to explain how their journeys to success can be replicated.

One of the first topics broached was about launching a business as a woman. Baim said that possessing the right amount of passion for any business project is essential to success. She recalled when she started her newspaper decades ago, it was much harder for her to receive a bank loan than her male contemporaries. The newsmaker said that female entrepreneurs should be aware that failure is a possibility but it may be necessary for greater success later.

Being the entrepreneur in the story is not the only way to get involved in fledgling companies. John claimed he was the greatest beneficiary of the “Shark Tank” experience. The FUBU CEO said he doesn’t always have to be the smartest person in the room but rather he could join the people who already have the next best idea and learn something new. He said that he learned from Wray and O’Brien’s business model and recalled some tried and true practices he had forgotten.

“Sometimes, you can get to stages in your career where you’ve forgotten a lot of things that got you here and then you listen to things that they talk about and then you think ‘let me revisit this, let me get back to that’,” said John.

Wray vouched for the Tap the Future program calling it a “springboard” for greater success. He remembered too that prior to his company’s breakthrough the outlook was bleak at times. The former Tap the Future winner said in 2014 on his birthday that the company only had $6,000 in its bank account and that he hadn’t taken salaries for a year to two years at that point. He said the situation can be “nerve racking” and will be worse before the sunshine.

“[My birthday in 2014] was a pretty low moment, those are the ones you don’t see or hear about too much in publications, but we pivoted the business and were fortunate enough to sign a good client and go on from there,” said Wray.

Despite these trying moments, Burns preached persistence to entrepreneurs and advised them to always look forward to tomorrow as it may hold the breakthrough you are looking for.

For the fifth consecutive year, Miller Lite stopped in Chicago for the Midwest leg of its Tap the Future Live Pitch Tour to judge five semifinalists to determine which one would receive their first big break. The event was held at Park West, 322 W. Armitage Ave., where hundreds of curious observers filled into the chic space to find out who out of five semifinalist contestants would emerge victorious.

The winner of Chicago’s Miller Lite’s Tap the Future Live Pitch Tour was Jordan Vanderham, CEO/ Founder of Orindi Ventures. The Holland, Mich., native was awarded $20,000 for his business that creates cold weather masks for industrial workers and will now advance to the national competition with other regional finalists for the opportunity to win the grand prize of $100,000.

Miller Lite’s Tap the Future Live Pitch Tour was held in five locations: Atlanta, Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City.  The Chicago region included Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Michigan, North Dakota, and South Dakota.


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