Techweek is an international media and events company that has served as a beacon of the technology industry — promoting entrepreneurs, boosting communities, and informing the public. The company is headquartered in Chicago, with locations in seven other cities in the U.S. and Canada. Techweek holds conferences in these cities each year, providing tech companies with a valuable platform for increased visibility and growth. Techweek itself has also grown in recent years, taking on new cities, different forms of media, and more sizable ambitions.
Techweek was created in 2011 as an annual technology event hosted in Chicago. It began because the event organizers wanted to provide the city’s technology startup scene with a channel for networking, market expansion, and productive discussions about the tech industry. Since then, Techweek has grown into a multi-day conference, and expanded beyond Chicago to host conferences in other cities with burgeoning technology scenes. Techweek regards the city as a technological ecosystem, the well-being of which is dependent upon the success of the city’s businesses. Techweek has termed this belief “Hero Company Theory,” where “substantial and sustainable businesses” act as “Hero Companies” that create an innovative, dynamic atmosphere where businesses thrive. Techweek supports the emergence of these Hero Companies by holding yearly conferences in various cities. However, when Katy Lynch became CEO of Techweek in 2015, it was apparent that this formula needed some work. At this stage, the conferences were best known for their concerts, parties, and marketing missteps. Lynch set out to change that, adopting a more focused and diverse conference schedule that featured topic-specific speakers, panels, and a women-in-tech program. Consequently, the conferences became more effective and inclusive platforms for companies and attendees.
In March of 2016, Katy Lynch was replaced as CEO of the company by Amanda Signorelli, formerly Techweek’s director of the Launch Championship. The hiring of the company’s second female CEO marked a transition to greater diversity as well as different media platforms. As Signorelli noted, “People would say, we love Techweek but you’re really only here once a year. What happens the rest of the year?” In response to comments such as these, Techweek decided to enter the media business, with a focus on tech news. Since Signorelli took the reins, Techweek’s conferences have progressed as well, from an emphasis on quantity to one on quality. This shift has led to conferences that feature less entertainment and more events that are geared towards promotion of new businesses, engagement with market trends, and discussion of technology’s impact on society as a whole. As such, Techweek has expanded its mission, which is now, in Signorelli’s words, “to spread wealth creation across diverse places and people through supporting the emergence of Hero Companies.” While Techweek has always been committed to supporting “Hero Companies” and entrepreneurs, the company has now turned a more conscious eye towards diversity, indicating greater success and inclusiveness in the years to come.
Signorelli has said that Techweek’s theme this year is growth. Techweek Chicago, which ran from June 19 – June 23, featured a growth summit with panel discussions about subjects such as attracting customers, raising capital for growth, and merging and buying companies. In the interest of continued development, the company is looking to add locations in other cities, take part in larger conferences, and partner with other companies. Techweek is also in the process of becoming a public benefit corporation. Signorelli said this transition brings with it a new focus “both on public benefit and profitability.” Under Lynch, the company started women-in-tech programs and events. Signorelli has taken things a step further, making diversity a cornerstone of Techweek’s mission moving forward. In many ways, this comes as a welcome change and exemplifies Techweek’s continued pursuit of fruitful impact in the communities it serves.