Speakers & Coaches

Meet the Super Six from Chicago

Toni Maraviglia


Toni is on the founding team of beyond.uptake, the philanthropic and civic innovation arm at the predictive analytics company, Uptake. She oversees the Data Fellows Program and projects for beyond.uptake. Prior to Uptake she co-founded a pan-African education technology company called Eneza Education. She also co-founded a program called WISERBridge in rural Kenya and was a Teach For America corps member. As a social entrepreneur, Toni is an Echoing Green Fellow, Unreasonable Fellow and Bluhm Helfand Social Innovation Fellow.

Nicole Yeary


Nicole has led Ms. Tech, a Chicago-based company focused on seeing more women start and scale companies, as the founding President since 2014. She has spent over fifteen years in leadership positions with Fortune 500 companies in various capacities such as Direct Sales, Marketing Services, and Learning Development and several years helping build a startup within a corporation that collectively became the most profitable unit. Nicole now invests her time advising and guiding the next generation of startup companies through a strong partnership between Ms. Tech and 1871 as the co-facilitator WiSTEM, a curriculum-based program that connects women to capital, community, and technology resources. Since 2010, Nicole has made it her mission to see more women capture the resources needed to build scalable startup companies. In just under a year, Ms. Tech was recognized in “Crain’s Guide to Networking” as one of the “Six Great Tech Groups, practically guaranteed to commune with the scenes best and brightest!”

Nicole delivers and shares her expertise by serving select advisory boards. She is a sponsoring member of the United Nations, UN Women, Social Enterprise Alliance, Internet Society and OpenID. Most recently Nicole was recognized as one of Chicago’s “Top 100 Innovators” by Tribune, awarded "Prominent Woman in Tech" by the Illinois Technology Association, 35 Under 35 Making an Impact, among the 100 Most Inspirational Women by Today's Chicago Woman, awarded MAFA Masters Honoree as an “Industry Entrepreneur Emerging Leader,” recognized as a 2016 Women Tech Leader by Chicago Woman Magazine, and among Huffington Post’s "Women In Tech.”

Hal Tezcan


Hal has had a great career in the telecom industry for over a decade. He created his first startup in 1987, has raised capital since the early 90’s, and built a telecom startup in 1993 before exiting in 2001.Hal is a business and technology facilitator, a startup Sherpa, mentor, and team leader with 34 years of “from the trenches” expertise, working directly with early-stage entrepreneurs and established companies, commercializing ideas and concepts. With his vast and proven professional network as well as his multitude of resources, Hal validates and advances business models at each stage of development, assisting in the progression of new ventures through the achievement of financial clarity and enabling founders/ stakeholders to scale their ideas in a profitable fashion.

Carol Fowler


Carol Fowler is a nationally recognized digital content strategist and an active member of Chicago’s tech community, 1871. With more than 30 years of broadcast and digital management experience, Carol has a proven track record of establishing and operating award-winning news operations and bringing them into the digital age. 

Carol’s current focus is her digital content agency, KloboMedia, which she co-founded in 2014. The business helps brands succeed in social media by providing strategy and actionable tips through curated, competitive analysis. Through her work with clients at KloboMedia, she developed a social media growth tool for personal brands, TheSocReports, which launched mid-2015. 

She is also an adjunct faculty member at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism where she teaches on the subject of media innovation and Chicago’s start-up culture. 

Stella Ashaolu


Stella Ashaolu is the Founder and CEO of the Chicago based ed-tech venture, WeSolv.  She created the WeSolv platform to evolve talent and innovation sourcing by seamlessly connecting top MBA students from across the nation to each other and top companies to compete in solving real business challenges.  Recent accomplishments include Winner of the 2017 USC New Venture Seed Competition, FUND Conference Midwest NEXT Award, and 1 of 12 women led companies selected for 1871’s WiSTEM accelerator.

Prior to devoting her full time to WeSolv, Stella earned her MBA from USC, Marshall School of Business and went on to serve as a Senior Management Consultant in Gallup’s Chicago office. There, she led teams to solve companies' most challenging issues around enterprise performance by optimizing marketing, operations and workforce strategies.  She has 9+ years of experience in business growth strategy, client development, and operations.

Stella also holds a BS in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles.  While studying at UCLA, she created and managed Westside Student Tutors (WST), an affordable tutoring company aimed at providing supplemental education assistance for elementary and high school students. Stella is devoted to the intersection of social impact and value creation and has devoted her life to advancing such. 

Elisa Mitchell


Elisa Mitchell is an accomplished attorney and CPA with 18 years of experience in the financial securities industry, bringing new investment products to market. As a team member at Allstate, Van Kampen, Morgan Stanley, and Invesco, Elisa helped business leaders navigate a complex competitive landscape and a challenging regulatory framework. She brings strong organizational skills, attention to detail and a can-do attitude to every project. She is thrilled to be the Assistant Director of Operations and Finance at The Garage and enjoys helping each student start a unique entrepreneurial journey.

Our team

Our conference team from Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia&Herzegovina