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(CIMA, Written by Brandi Lipton) - CIMA hosted an Entrepreneurial Luncheon Panel last week. To say the luncheon was inspiring would be an understatement. Kevin Willer, President and CEO of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, moderated a panel of three dynamic Chicagoland entrepreneurs: Shawn Riegsecker, Founder of Centro; Matt Spiegel, CEO of Tap.me; and Genevieve Thiers, Founder of SitterCity.com, who all shared advice, and stories of their successes, challenges and experiences along their road to success.
Shawn Riegsecker shared how he had mapped out a plan for his life, which included starting his own business by the age of 30. Shawn had started his career working for the yellow pages, was involved in the launch of Ohio’s first website, Cleveland.com, and following, worked at 24/7 Media, helping advertisers to buy local ads. He noticed that the system was not working efficiently, and started developing software to make it easier for advertisers to scale their buying of local ads. This initial idea resulted in Shawn’s establishing Centro as a company in 2001 at the age of 29. The company has now grown to include 30 offices nationwide and close to 300 employees.
In the beginning stages, while Shawn was building the business, he did not have a mentor, but was inspired by reading of others’ success stories. He recommended Richard Branson’s book, Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way. Other words of wisdom from Shawn were that, “Luck =Preparedness + Opportunity + Courage”. Besides running Centro as CEO, Shawn stays involved in the Chicago entrepreneurial community as a member of 1871 and as an angel investor in the FireStarter Fund.