185 Ventures is the angel investment arm of Kevin Willer, the 185th employee at Google globally and co-founder of the Google Chicago office. Kevin is focused on providing early stage seed capital to Chicago area digital start-ups – in addition, he will provide strategic advisement and mentorship for his portfolio companies.
185 Ventures is primarily focused on the consumer internet.
Kevin is a Partner 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 sits on the boards of Blitsy, Elicit, SimpleRelevance, and GetSet. He joined the fund in June 2013.
From 2011 to 2013, Kevin was the President & CEO of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center (CEC). The CEC manages, operates, and programs 1871, a co-working center serving hundreds of startups building their early-stage businesses located at Chicago’s famed Merchandise Mart. Since opening in May 2012, 1871 has welcomed thousands of visitors to events, curated hundreds of workshops for entrepreneurs, and host more than 200 office hour sessions with mentors each month. High-profile visitors have included British Prime Minister David Cameron, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, 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 where he remains a Strategic Advisor.
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 a Director of The Economic Club of Chicago and is a Trustee of his alma mater, Loyola Academy, as well as on the Board of Trustees of Loyola University Chicago. He served on the steering committee for Mayor Emanuel’s Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs, is part of ChicagoNEXT, and is a member of Governor Quinn’s Illinois Innovation Council. He serves on the boards of NorthShore University HealthSystem, World Sport Chicago, OneGoal, the Future Founders Foundation and the CEC. Kevin earned his MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business where he sits on the Advisory Board for the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship. Kevin gave the 2013 Commencement address at the Illinois Institute of Technology and the 2011 address at Loyola University’s School of Business. He has a Bachelor’s degree from Boston College and studied at the London School of Economics. Kevin, his wife Victoria, and their children, Jacqueline, Max and Lizzie, reside in Winnetka.
Give Us A Ring
We would love to hear from you. We review a large number of opportunities, so please be specific and provide and executive summary of your product or service in addition to a business plan. Background information on the founders is very important. Please email your executive summary to Kevin@185Ventures.com. We will review submissions and be in touch via email within four weeks if we’d like to pursue further discussions.