John Roa

John Roa poses for a portrait after receiving the James Tyree Award from the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce at Navy Pier
(Armando L. Sanchez / for Blue Sky / 2014)

John Roa founded ÄKTA, a mobile digital design firm, in 2010 after a career in video gaming. Salesforce acquired the company in September 2015. Roa is now principal at Roa Ventures.

In 2013 Roa received the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce’s James Tyree Emerging Business Leadership Award, given to fast-growing businesses with philanthropic values.

Roa told Blue Sky that the key to ÄKTA’s success was building organically, starting by helping smaller clients engage their customers.

“That happened from the first 50 clients, before the big ones,” he said. “We were helping startups innovate. Startups by definition are supposed to be innovative. But if they have a great idea but they can’t bring it to market, if they can’t execute it, they used us, and we helped them get there.”

Those small triumphs grabbed the attention of big clients, such as Exelon, Verizon and HBO.

He also co-founded Digital Hope, a nonprofit that uses crowdfunding to raise money for small nonprofits in developing countries.

Roa is an investor in SocialCrunch, a big data company, and graduate of startup incubator Techstars.

He has a degree from Western Michigan University, Haworth College of Business.

Find him on social: @johnroa John Roa
Age: 36 Website: