Kevin Willer is a Partner and member of the Investment Committee at Chicago Ventures, a seed-stage venture capital fund where he is overseeing all aspects of Chicago Ventures including fund management, deal sourcing and investments, and working directly with portfolio companies. He joined the fund in June 2013.
From 2011 to 2013, Kevin was the Founding CEO of 1871, one of the top ranked incubators in the world serving hundreds of startups building their early-stage businesses located at Chicago’s famed Merchandise Mart. Since Kevin helped launch 1871 in May 2012, the center has welcomed thousands of visitors to events and curated hundreds of workshops and office hours with mentors for entrepreneurs. During Kevin’s time as CEO, high-profile visitors included former British Prime Minister David Cameron, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, AOL Founder Steve Case, Sun Microsystems co-founder Scott McNealy, and YouTube co-founder Steve Chen – shining a spotlight on Chicago’s growing startup community nationally and globally. During this time, Kevin was also a Venture Partner at Pritzker Group Venture Capital, overseeing their early-stage Seed Investments.
Previously, Kevin co-founded the Google Chicago office in late 2000. In his over 10 years with Google, Kevin helped grow this office to more than 400 professionals and led relationships with some of Google’s largest marketing partners based in the Midwest. Before Google, Kevin held business development positions at CMGI, an early internet incubator, and USRobotics, the pioneer in modem technology.
Kevin is actively involved in several civic and charitable organizations. He was named to Crain’s 2011 “40 Under 40” list as well as Crain’s 2012 Tech 50 list. He is on the Board of Trustees of the Illinois Institute of Technology and of Loyola University Chicago. He is a member of The Commercial Club of Chicago and Vice Chairman of the Technology Membership Committee of The Economic Club of Chicago. He currently serves on the boards of NorthShore University HealthSystem, the BigShoulders Fund, ChooseChicago, mHub, The Resurrection Project, the Future Founders Foundation, the CEC, the Chicago Fire Foundation, and the inaugural Development Council for USA Soccer. In 2011, he served on the steering committee for Mayor Emanuel’s Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs and currently is a member of the Mayor’s technology council, ChicagoNEXT. Previously, he was a Director of The Economic Club of Chicago and a Trustee of his alma mater, Loyola Academy.
Kevin earned his MBA from the University of Chicago Booth Graduate School of Business (’10) where he previously served on the Executive Advisory Board for the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship. He earned a Bachelor’s degree from Boston College (’96) and studied at the London School of Economics.