Mesirow Financial, partnered with the The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, hosted their annual James Tyree Emerging Business Leadership Awards last week. The award pays homage to Mesirow CEO and Chamber of Commerce Chairman, James Tyree. Before James passed away in 2012 he was heavily involved in charitable organizations throughout the city of Chicago. Notably, with groups like the Boys and Girls Club and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. James believed in the persistent effort to grow new and innovative efforts in education.
Beyond qualified as one of twelve semifinalists of the James Tyree Award competition and was invited to present “Shark-Tank” style at the Mesirow Financial auditorium in downtown Chicago last week. Founder and President, Michael Prince, had 3 minutes to give the judges (past winners and runners-up of the award) and an audience of over 200 a short speech on the company’s origins and what Beyond would do with the $50,000 prize.
The award focuses on growing small businesses that instill the importance of charity and humanitarianism into the work culture. Knowing the importance of education and mentorship, when we heard about the competition we knew this would be a great opportunity to increase our involvement with young students across Chicago. Beyond started dig-8 (which stands for Discover, Innovate, and Grow) several years ago at Nettelhorst School in Lakeview (K-8 grade). We have seen students successfully launch their own projects on Kickstarter after going through the full product development process. The program is designed to teach the process of transforming ideas into products and the different routes that product development can take young individuals. We encourage students to explore all the different opportunities that new product development and entrepreneurship can lead to.
Beyond Design planned to invest back into the Chicago school system with the James Tyree prize. With the prize money we could grow the dig-8 mentorship program further and also invest in their partnered program SEE, the Science and Entrepreneurship Exchange. SEE educates and grooms 3rd-8th grade students on the entire product design and engineering process. The students, similar to dig-8, are given full range to create and develop their own designs. SEE is a great program that Beyond Design fully supports.
The other contestants participating in the James Tyree Award included CEOs and Founders from companies across different industries such as food and beverage (co-op and specialty teas), IT and Technology (forward thinking consulting firms and support teams), and retail and music (clothing exchange and music production), to name a few.
Although Beyond Design did not move onto the third round, it was a great event that gave us an opportunity to showcase our passions and connect with emerging companies who think giving back is as important as we do.