Charles Adler is Co-Founder of Kickstarter, where he led the product and design teams. A consummate nomad, he’s bounced from coast to coast to beyond our shores, and currently makes his home along the central coast in Chicagoland. His travels inform his work as a designer and entrepreneur.

Previous to Kickstarter, Charles founded the web imprint Subsystence, originally in 1997 as an online streaming service for under represented DJ’s. In 2002 he revised Subsystence into a web periodical, with the expanded ambition to publish and give voice to underrepresented painters, photographers, musicians, interactive artists, poets and others.

He’s an avid cyclist, runner and outdoor enthusiast.


Martin Atkins is the definition of entrepreneurial activity in cultural arts endeavors. His three decades in the music business spans across genres, borders and industries. Having experience in nearly every aspect of record production and promotion has given Martin a unique perspective not only on where the music industry is currently, but where it is going in the future.

After playing drums in a variety of English bands, Martin auditioned for and subsequently joined Johnny Rotten’s Public Image Limited in 1979. His first contribution to the band was co-writing and performing on the song “Bad Baby” for the revered Metal Box LP. After touring the world with P.i.L and contributing to several more studio albums Martin left the group in 1985. Over the next five years, he played with and managed Killing Joke and toured with Ministry. In 1990, while on tour with Ministry, he formed his own band, Pigface. He also worked with Nine Inch Nails, performing on the Grammy award winning “Wish” and appearing in the “Head like a Hole” video.

Martin began working on the business side of music in 1988 when he formed Invisible Records and then Mattress Factory Studios in 1996. Over two decades Invisible has released over 350 albums and has had placements spanning from the original Miami Vice to Showtime’s Queer as Folk to Robert Altman’s The Company.

In 2003, Martin began teaching “The Business of Touring” at Columbia College in Chicago. Martin wrote his book Tour:Smart in 2007 and has since spoken around the world at the Midi Institute in China, Drumtech in London, NAMM, SXSW, and By:Larm in Oslo, and many more. He is now the Dept Chair, Music Business at SAE Chicago and on track to conclude his Masters in early 2017. He spent significant time in China recording, signing, and producing bands. His 2006 visit spawned his first documentary 16 Days in China which documents his experience. He is a father of four boys and lives with his wife, Katrina, in Chicago.


Grammy Award winning musician, writer, producer, and educator, Jimmy Chamberlin was a founding member of The Smashing Pumpkins and the band’s highly acclaimed drummer for over 20 years.

In 2011 Chamberlin got involved in the Chicago tech scene as an investor and advisor. In 2013 he expanded his role and helped co-found LiveOne Inc., a Chicago-based digital entertainment startup, of which he was soon after appointed CEO.

Chamberlin’s extensive experience in the entertainment industry has helped propel and craft LiveOne’s keystone product, CrowdSurfing, as an ideal live streaming application for both advertisers and content producers. His leadership has brought LiveOne to the forefront of redefining the live stream experience.


Jayson Jenkins, better known as Mick Jenkins (his stage name), is an American hip-hop recording artist born in Huntsville, Alabama on April 16th, 1991. He was then raised on the south side of Chicago, Illinois. Jenkins is a member of Free Nation, a hip-hop group that promotes creative thought without accepting narrow views imposed by the powers that be. In the spring of 2013 Mick released a mixtape entitled “Trees and Truths” that quickly became a local favorite, buoyed by acid jazz-influenced production, biblical allegory and lacerating lyricism. The project was by far his most lyrical body of work and caught the attention of Chicago’s incipient gatekeepers. A few months after its release, a collaboration with Chance The Rapper and Vic Mensa came in the form of a single entitled “Crossroads”, which was a summer hit.

On August 12, 2014, Jenkins released “The Water[s]”, a project spearheaded by the release of “Martyrs”, a record that juxtaposes harsh truths about society with thought-provoking single with various underlying messages and subtle notions. Centered around the idea of comparing water to life’s truths, “The Water[s]” has garnered national attention and serves as Jenkins’ breakout project while receiving critical acclaim. In November of 2014 Jenkins toured on The Smoker’s Club Worldwide Rollers tour with Method Man, Redman, B-Real, and Berner. In February of 2015, he headlined his first national tour with Pro Era’s Kirk Knight, selling out almost half the shows on tour. Jenkins later joined Joey Bada$$ for Phase 1 of his World Domination Tour in June 2015 while playing festivals like Bonnaroo & JMBLA. After wrapping up the summer tour, Jenkins focused his attention on his EP “Waves”, which was released on August 21, 2015.

After the release of “Wave[s]”, Jenkins embarked on a domestic and international headlining tour through the United States and Europe.


Raaja Nemani is cofounder and CEO of BucketFeet, a Chicago­-based e­commerce and retail company that collaborates with artists from around the world. Raaja’s international travels, which have included trekking through the Himalayas and diving with great white sharks, served as inspiration for launching BucketFeet as a platform to connect people from around the world through art.

Raaja was not always in the shoe business, a graduate of Northwestern, he left a job in finance to take part in world travels, where he would eventually meet his business partner Aaron Firestein. Now, that business is selling in more than 25 countries, with a network exceeding 30,000 artists; BucketFeet believes art is for everyone.


The year is 1985. The game-Innovation. The players- DJ Pierre, Spanky and Herb J. The story goes Pierre got wind of the uniquely interesting sound coming out of the small silver box infamously referred to as the Roland TB–303 at a friend’s house. The story goes on to say Spanky rushed to purchase the 303 at a used equipment store, after Pierre’s urging. At the time it was defunct and no longer produced by Roland because it did not accomplish what it set out to do. It was originally designed to emulate a Bass Guitar and apparently that did not catch on to the general public.

So back to the moment when our players got a hold of the little silver box with 303 tagged on it. Their creative out-of-the-box mindset saw more to this machine. They saw DIFFERENT and they saw BIG potential. They didn’t see a defunct machine. They made contact and the squelchy sound that to a normal “lay” ear would sound like-nothing, sounded like sweet music to them. They were elated because they knew they found “IT”. Spanky started on drum beats, Pierre got on twisting the knobs…Herb J joined the jam session which lasted hours.

The end result was the very first Track that had elements of what we call Acid House. Acid Track is also tied to legendary DJ Ron Hardy and Marshall Jefferson who helped the group get it to where it is was when we first heard it on record. Ron Hardy was the first dj to play the track and caused an acid madness to sweep across Chicago and ultimately the world.

Acid House took over the UK and the Rave culture was born as a direct result. The Summer of Love in London primarily was a direct result of the first Acid Track and the innovative thinking of the members of PHUTURE.

DJ Pierre, the group’s creative director, began to produce other material and came to be known as the innovator of another sound-Wildpitch. Spanky as dj Spank Spank created notable tracks as well outside of PHUTURE. At the time, the guys had no idea they would be the fathers of a scene that would last over 30 years, so the thought of leaving solo careers to remain as PHUTURE was not a priority.

With age comes wisdom. They looked around and Acid House is a genre that has it’s rightful place amongst electronic music in mainstream Hip Hop, Pop and what the industry refers to as EDM. You hear the impact in all of these genres. And so the players are naturally back in the game because they are intimately connected to this thing called Acid House. It has a new energy now and it’s only right that the fathers, the original players return to help baptize the new generation.

Original members dj Pierre and Spanky with new member Rio The musician are gearing up to release their first album in over 20+ years with a tour to boot.

PHUTURE has survived.


In Spring of 1992 Bettina Richards left a well-paying job as an A&R Representative at London Records, pulled together her personal savings and loans from family and founded Thrill Jockey records in New York. Three years later, she was lured by Chicago’s distribution power house Touch and Go and the fertile music scene of Chicago (the lower rent was a bonus!) where she has since been releasing compelling music.

The Artists hail from across North America: Tortoise, The Sea and Cake, Oozing Wound, Future Islands, The Body, Matmos; and the world: Sidi Toure (Mali), Boredoms (Japan), Colleen (France), Radian (Austria) and that is just to name a few. The label advocates for innovative musicians from all genres and operates on an artists friendly business model (Thrill Jockey is a 50% profit share with its Artists.) Richards operates Thrill Jockey records out of the Pilsen neighborhood, and the entire catalog can be streamed online.


Che “Rhymefest” Smith is the quintessential renaissance man. As a writer, artist, activist, Political organizer and teacher, Che has cracked glass ceilings and shattered negative stereotypes about hip-hop.

In 2005, Rhymefest won a Grammy for co-writing the mega – hit “Jesus Walks” with his childhood friend Kanye West. In 2006 he released his critically acclaimed “Blue Collar” Album on Clive Davis’s J-records.

In 2013 Che, Kanye and Che’s wife Donnie Smith founded Donda’s House. Donda’s House is a non-profit premium Arts program that teaches youth 15-24 years old Health & Wellness techniques, Studio Etiquette & Creative Writing. Donda’s House has served over 160 youth with free instruction and continues to be a force for creative change in Chicago.

In 2014 Rhymefest was nominated for a Grammy for his work on Kanye West’s “Yeezus” album for the song “New Slaves.”

In 2015 Rhymefest won a Critics Choice award, Golden Globe and Academy Award (Oscar) for his work on “Glory” along with John Legend and Common for the film Selma.

Che is the subject of the BreakThru Films documentary In My Father’s House, which explores fatherhood, homelessness and family. In January of 2013, Che goes on a journey to find his father, only to find his father homeless on the West Side of Chicago. The film premiered at Tribeca in 2015, and is expected to be distributed October 9, 2015 in select AMC Theaters. Che Smith was selected to represent Kenneth Cole in the 2015 “The Courageous Class” Look Good, For Good Campaign.

Che believes “true power is the power to empower others.”


Andrew Barber is the owner/creator of Fake Shore Drive, LLC, a Chicago-based music website, media and artist management company founded in 2007. Andrew is a freelance music journalist, artist manager, brand and record label consultant and media personality with recent hosting duties on MTV2’s The Week In Jams and 107.5 WGCI’s The Morning Riot.

He’s recently been profiled in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, New York Times, Washington Post and Fader Magazine. He has also served as a brand ambassador, event curator and representative for such companies as Red Bull, Ciroc Vodka, Hennessy, Heineken, Adidas, Colt 45, Brisk Iced Tea and Cricket Wireless. Andrew currently holds the position of Urban Music Governor on the Chicago chapter of the Grammy board. He was also featured as a character in the 2014 CNN documentary series, Chicagoland.

Andrew’s company, Fake Shore Drive, has been instrumental in the recent rise of Chicago’s hip-hop scene, having helped cultivate the careers of Chance The Rapper, Chief Keef, Lil Durk, Vic Mensa and the many other artists who’ve secured major label record deals over the past few years. Fake Shore Drive has also landed on The Source Magazine’s ‘Digital Power 30’ list four years in a row.


Chancelor Bennett, better known by his stage name Chance The Rapper, is an American hip hop recording artist from Chicago, Illinois. In 2013, he began to gain recognition following the release of his first two mix-tapes, 10 Day, and Acid Rap. Rolling Stone called Acid Rap “…one of the year’s best hip-hop releases,” and Chance was chosen as Spin Magazine’s Rapper of the Year.

Acid Rap also appeared on numerous best of 2013 lists including: BET, Pitchfork, Sound Opinions, and Rolling Stone.Most recently, Chance was listed #7 on Forbes 30 Under 30 in music in 2015, is a member of the collective SAVEMONEY with frequent collaborator Vic Mensa, and is the lead vocalist for the band The Social Experiment.


Tavi is a magazine editor, actress, and singer. She came to public attention as the founder and editor-in-chief of Rookie, an online magazine for teen girls. She has spoken at TEDxTeen, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Sydney Opera House and Melbourne Writers Festival. She’s appeared on the Forbes 30 Under 30 in Media list both in 2011 and 2012.

Also in 2012, Gevinson filmed a supporting role in Enough Said from director Nicole Holofcener, co-starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener and Toni Collette. In 2014, she was named one of “The 25 Most Influential Teens of 2014” by Time magazine. Most recently, Tavi starred in This Is Our Youth in Chicago and on Broadway, opposite Michael Cera and Kieran Culkin.



Adrian Holovaty is a web developer and musician. He co-created the Django web framework and made one of the original Google Maps mashups, He founded EveryBlock, a “news feed for your block” that was eventually acquired by

His current project is Soundslice, a reinvention of sheet music and guitar tablature that’s one of the most advanced HTML5 sites on the web.



A creative duo who came to fame thanks to their genre-jumping mixes, The Hood Internet was formed in Chicago after members Aaron Brink (ABX) and Steve Reidell (STV SLV) both moved to the city with fresh college diplomas. Their shared love of sampling and looping sections from their large collections of music is what started the duo’s creative output in 2007. Hundreds of bootlegs later, the two are now a fixture in North American clubs, igniting dance parties wherever they land.

Their discography includes 2008’s love letter The Hood Internet Vs Chicago, a mix that sampled only Chicago artists, and 2012’s FEAT (Decon Records), an album that moved beyond the mashup featuring original productions and a unique roster of guests including many Chicagoans like Psalm One, ShowYouSuck, Kid Static, Slow Witch, and Kleenex Girl Wonder.


Anna Hovet is an entrepreneur, fashion designer, illustrator, educator, and social media influencer based in Chicago. Her fashion brands, Anna Hovet (womenswear) and HOVET (menswear), embody a fusion of designer style and streetwear comfort. Categorized as Sport Luxe, the garments are manufactured locally in Chicago and sold online and in several boutiques.

Anna Hovet is one of the most recognized names in Chicago Fashion and has had sponsorship deals with United Airlines, Kraft, and EFFEN Vodka. Her designs can be seen on actress Jennifer Hudson and comedian Hannibal Buress and have been featured in several publications including Lucky Magazine, Chicago Tribune, and RedEye. She has appeared on NBC “1st Look” and was a contestant on the Kenmore Reality Web Series “So You Wanna Be A Designer”.


Steve James produced and directed Hoop Dreams, winner of every major critics prize including a Peabody and Robert F. Kennedy Award. Other films include Stevie, which won IDFA’s grand jury prize and landed on a dozen “ten best” lists of 2003; the acclaimed miniseries The New Americans; At the Death House Door, which won numerous festival awards; No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson for ESPN’s Peabody winning “30 for 30” series; and The Interrupters, which won the Independent Spirit Award, the duPont-Columbia Journalism Award, an Emmy Award, and over a dozen festival prizes, and was listed on over 60 “ten best” lists in 2011.

James most recent documentary on the life and career of critic Roger Ebert, Life Itself, premiered to great acclaim at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.


Zach Kaplan is the founder and CEO of Inventables™, the hardware store for designers. Inventables own desktop milling machines—combined with their easy-to-use online maker software, EASEL—are poised to change the game for makers everywhere. Kaplan has given TED talks on innovation, as well as talks at the National Plastics Exposition, and the International Housewares Show.

His work has been covered by Business Week, Fortune, Forbes, CNN, NPR and other leading media outlets. He holds a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois.


Chris Kaskie is the President of Pitchfork, the award-winning online music magazine that Time has called one of the world’s 50 best websites and the New York Times has hailed as “the most prominent brand in online music journalism.” With more than 5 million unique visitors each month and 500,000 visits each day, Pitchfork has one of the web’s most loyal audiences and is widely considered the world’s most popular, trusted, and influential music publication.

Starting in 2004 as Pitchfork’s first full-time employee, Kaskie oversaw the company’s day-to-day operations, guiding its development and growth to include the Pitchfork Music Festivals (Chicago and Paris) and Kaskie recently led expansion into the film world with the launch of the Pitchfork-inspired site The Dissolve, as well as into print with The Pitchfork Review.


Sam Kirk, a U.S. based multidisciplinary artist explores culture, identity and urban politics through her art. Born and raised on the south side of Chicago, in a mixed race family, she has always been fascinated with community and culture. Taking experiences from her own upbringing and merging them with insights obtained during travel, her work is known for its vibrant color palette, whimsical characters and, profound stories laced with optimism.

Kirk’s creative process involves frequent voyages so she may engage with a variety of communities in different cities. A self-taught artist, her artistic influences are drawn mostly from present day artists such as Doze Green, Wangechi Mutu, Kara Walker, Sofia Maldonado, Tristan Eaton ; including a few pioneers such as Frida Kahlo and Antonio Gaudi.

Sam’s current focus is on the exploration of identity and the integration of cultures. Sharing experiences from her own life, the lives of her peers and strangers to bring the reality of this beautiful struggle called ‘life’ to the forefront.

Recognized for her public art and solo shows in Chicago, Sam Kirk has exhibited in New York, Miami, Washington DC, and Minneapolis. She is currently the official Chicago Made SXSW 2015 Artist, recently won the Curator’s Choice award at the Redbull Curates Chicago contest and, exhibited at Scope art fair in December 2014. She has been commissioned by Guinness, Smirnoff, Ciroc, Rolling Stone Magazine and Proctor & Gamble. Unlike many artists, Sam’s art career has been largely non-traditional. Occasionally she holds private exhibitions of her creations to her own personal collector base while working in conjunction with non-profits. This is predominantly her method of operation, alongside gallery showcases. Resolute in her belief of giving back to the community, she donates 25% of her sales to the efforts of a variety of well-deserving organizations throughout the nation. Sam earned a B.F.A. in Interior Design and a B.A. in Marketing from Columbia College in Chicago.


Born in 93, Vic Mensa is an independent recording artist from Chicago, Illinois who released his mixtape INNANETAPE online last year to critical acclaim.

Vic has toured North America with J Cole and Disclosure and Danny Brown on his recent European Tour. Vic is also the leader and co-founder of the SAVEMONEY collective.



Harper Reed is an hacker/engineer who builds paradigm-shifting tech and leads others to do the same. Harper loves using the enormity of the Internet to bring people together, whether as CTO of Obama for America, CTO at, or on his own projects.

Harper and his team created Dashboard, a site that connects volunteer teams and acts as an online component of the field office. You can often find Harper playing with new technology, looking for something to hack, or enjoying life in Chicago with his amazing wife, Hiromi.


Eric Sheinkop is Co-Founder and CEO of Music Dealers, a global music licensing tech company that has disrupted the traditional music industry model to create a new route for artists to break their music. Boasting the world’s largest licensing database of indie musicians, Music Dealers helps leading global brands find credible ways to integrate music into their marketing. Sheinkop has brokered ‘industry first’ partnerships with brands and agencies designed to deliver network efficiencies and a more authentic connection between a brand and its consumers.

This innovative approach has earned Eric multiple industry awards including Billboard Magazine’s “30 Under 30” and “Music Man of the 21st Century” by Crain’s Business. Sheinkop is co-author of i>Hit Brands: How Music Builds Value for the World’s Smartest Brands, released in 2013. Hit Brands is an essential guide to marketers on how to strategically and effectively use music to drive value for their business.


Though born in Puerto Rico, Chris Silva’s creative pursuits are firmly rooted in Chicago’s urban culture. Since the late 80s Chris has been a prominent figure in Chicago’s graffiti and skateboarding scenes. From his solid graffiti art education he went on to play a significant role in the development of what is now commonly referred to as “street art”. For the past several years, he has been working on large scale commissions, creating gallery oriented work, and leading community-based mural/mosaic projects with various Chicago arts organizations. A self taught sound artist, Chris also composes music with his band, This Mother Falcon.

Chris was awarded a major public art commission by the Chicago Transit Authority to create a mosaic for the Blue Line California Station (2004); created block-long murals in Chicago’s Loop “You Are Beautiful” (2006); created a sculpture for the Seattle Sound Transit System (2008); and recently won the Juried Award for Best 3D Piece at ArtPrize (2012). Chris has exhibited in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, London, Melbourne and Copenhagen.


Joe Swanberg has directed many acclaimed feature films, including Hannah Takes The Stairs, Uncle Kent, Drinking Buddies and Happy Christmas. He also created and directed the popular series, Young American Bodies, with his wife, Kris. His acting work includes prominent roles in Adam Wingard’s films A Horrible Way To Die and You’re Next and the horror anthology V/H/S.

He stars in Ti West’s upcoming The Sacrament. His films have premiered at Sundance, Berlin and SXSW, and regularly appear on TV and in theaters around the world.