Chicago is a hotbed of company start-up activity, and the healthcare sector is generating a lot of heat. This week, our Employer Spotlight introduces you to Healthbox, a part of Sandbox Industries.
Healthbox is the preeminent source of healthcare innovation, driving actionable collaboration between inventors, entrepreneurs and the healthcare industry. Through the Accelerator, Foundry and Solutions Healthbox grows successful healthcare companies and helps industry to develop a culture of idea generation, business creation and external collaboration.
The Accelerator offers serious entrepreneurs the candid, unparalleled healthcare industry access and insight needed to succeed in a complex marketplace. Since 2012, Healthbox has operated accelerator programs in seven unique regions around the world, grown a portfolio of over 60 active companies and formed strategic partnerships with more than 25 healthcare organizations. Go here to learn more about the Healthbox portfolio.
The Foundry takes the Healthbox accelerator curriculum inside leading healthcare organizations, helping them develop the internal capability to advance business concepts through an organized process and test their commercial viability.
Solutions expedites market entry for early-stage healthcare companies with enterprise-focused products and services by providing access to an early-adopter community of industry customers.
With operations in Boston, Chicago, Florida, Nashville, Salt Lake City, London and Tel Aviv, Healthbox is building a strong, global community dedicated to driving change in healthcare. Go to www.healthbox.com to learn more about Healthbox, including their partners, mentors, portfolio companies, upcoming accelerator programs and additional offerings.
Healthbox and Sandbox employ NU alumni, where they are making a powerful difference.
I had the opportunity to join the EPICS team and a group of Northwestern students on a Leadership Journey to the Second City Theater in Chicago. Second City is one of the most reputable, influential comedic theaters in the world. They have a laundry list of incredible alumni, ranging from Stephen Colbert, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler… [deep breath] Bill Murray, Chris Farley, Steve Carrell, and hundreds of others. Their influence spreads across the entertainment industry, regularly providing new cast members to Saturday Night Live, writers for essentially every popular comedy that’s been on television in the last 40 years (from Cheers to Workaholics).
Second City is huge. And it takes a lot of talent and work to make a colossal creative machine run smoothly.
Headquartered in the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago and sandwiched in the remnants of an old shopping mall, Second City over the years has managed to construct several theaters, a suite of classrooms, and office space for their staff. But what exactly goes on behind the scenes of a comedy theater? In my head, I imagined all of their business decisions being made through improv. It’s difficult to picture people in suits sitting at a desk at a place like Second City. But, I learned that Second City the company sprawls far beyond just putting on regular shows on their mainstage. They’ve created something of an improv comedy empire in Chicago. Working with corporations to both entertain employees at events as well as teach leadership skills through the lessons of improvisational comedy, Second City has created a successful corporate crossover brand. Let’s not forget their classes, too, which are wildly successful and continue to cultivate talent for their productions and for comedy worldwide.
We were fortunate enough to meet with a few producers who worked in varying roles in their productions. One was more involved with the development of young talent, while another was more focused on the shows themselves. But when asked to explain their job simply, they said that it’s essentially to make sure the “creative” people (directors, actors) never have to deal with the “business” side of the production. I was really interested in this balance; to me, it often seems like business and creativity are polar opposites. The panel we met with generally agreed, but said that it’s crucial to be able to “flip the switch” on command. One producer talked about going from staring at a budget to having a conversation about the themes of the show – not an easy transition but a necessary one to make it in this business.
Second City is somewhat unique in the theater world in the way that it operates – it’s a for-profit theater unlike other major theaters in the area like Steppenwolf or Lookingglass Theatre. One of the executives who met with us recently came to Second City from a non-profit theatre. She remarked that the difference between non-profit and for-profit theater isn’t as big as you might expect, but that the improvisational nature of Second City’s business lends itself to very unique business situations. For example, the producers discussed that business meetings can sometimes turn into impromptu pitching session with clients.
Another key observation they made was the classic “foot in the door” argument. They mentioned several now-famous alumni from Second City who started out selling t-shirts in the lobby after shows or working in the box office. Simply getting involved with smart, creative people in any facet will be beneficial to your own creative growth, even if the job itself doesn’t seem like it.
Living in Chicago was a topic of conversation that came up. It’s a topic of concern for some students who know they want to work in a creative industry but aren’t sure they want to move to New York or Los Angeles. The producers and executives we talked to wholeheartedly endorsed staying in Chicago, telling us that we’ll be able to afford to have a life and that there’s plenty of opportunities to get involved in the entertainment industry in the city.
After the extremely helpful and personable Q&A, we were given an extensive tour of the Second City facilities. This includes their corporate offices, their several theaters (including UP Comedy Club, the etc stage, a blackbox theater, and the Mainstage), their classrooms, and the complicated mishmash of buildings and hallways that connect all of them. On the way, we saw plenty of photos lining the walls of famous Second City alumni, often looking young and goofy. I found myself impressed at the resourcefulness required to expand to fit their rapidly growing needs. As part of a quickly growing “improv industry,” Second City finds itself changing and growing every year.
Finally, after the Q&A and the tour, we were given tickets to see the Second City Mainstage Revue, Panic on Cloud 9. The show was, of course, fantastic and took plenty of risks. The whole time, though, I was watching it with a new appreciation of the immense amount of work going on behind-the-scenes.
This post was written by EPICS Assistant, Richie Hoffman, a senior Radio/TV/Film major.
Film festival season may be the late summer and fall, but the deadlines for many of them are approaching quickly. Entering film festivals and competitions is a great way to get more exposure to your work as a filmmaker – but there are so many opportunities, it can get overwhelming! Below are a few opportunities to consider submitting your work.
Also check out FilmFreeway for more Film Festival and opportunities to showcase your works.