Howard Tullman

Howard Tullman poses for a photo during the Lincoln Leadership Prize Dinner at the Hilton Chicago.
(Travis Haughton / for the Chicago Tribune / Mar. 19, 2014)

Howard Tullman is the startup scene’s most prominent and seemingly inexhaustible leader. He is CEO of tech hub 1871 and a noted speaker, writer and connector in the community.

The hub announced in August 2017 that Tullman would leave the position; his replacement, Betsy Ziegler, is planned to take over in April 2018. He was named to lead the Merchandise Mart hub, the centerpoint of Chicago’s entrepreneurial activity, in late 2013.

1871 expanded its footprint vigorously, played host to national and international leaders and doubled the amount of companies under its roof during Tullman’s tenure. He was a seemingly tireless ambassador who attended tours and ribbon-cuttings, showed up on panels and at a raft of tech-community events and shared his thoughts everywhere from commencement speeches to Inc. magazine.

Tullman was paid $414,063 from July 2014 through June 2015, and $394,591 from July 2015 through June 2016, according to tax documents.

Tullman started his career as a lawyer, retiring from that profession in 1980 to become an entrepreneur. He turned around Kendall College, moving it to downtown Chicago from Evanston and converting it from a nonprofit to a for-profit college. He sold his first startup, CCC Information Services, for about $100 million in 1987.

“One of the focuses now is going to have to be up-or-out,” Tullman told the Tribune when he took over leadership of 1871. “We’re not just a hobby. We’re not a place for people to go to feel good about attempting to be an entrepreneur. We’re about people committed to building businesses.”

Tullman served as longtime board chair of Cobalt Group, a buyer-insight platform for car sellers, and in 2013 started his own venture capital firm, G2T3V, an early stage investment firm focused on financing and developing disruptive innovations.

Tullman received his bachelor’s in economics and math as well as his JD from Northwestern University.