Time Out Chicago Bar Awards Names This as Chicago’s #1 Bar

Bar industry experts curated by Time Out Chicago have chosen the best bars in Chicago – and there are definitely some to add to your Chicago summer bucket list.  

This June, we got together in the west loop at The Herbarium (right next to Au Cheval – I’m still digesting that burger). After tasting inventive cocktails from William Grant & Sons, which were notable next to individual sized bottles of Rose with cones on them. It seriously felt like a summer spin New Year’s Eve.

Time Out Chicago’s editor, Morgan Olsen announced the winners for Time Out Chicago Bar Awards 2018, who were ranked and profiled by an industry-renowned panel of high-profile drinks experts and top bartenders. The panel included Julia Momose, beverage director at Oriole; James Beard Award-winning sommelier Belinda Chang; Benjamin Schiller, beverage director at The Fifty/50 Group;  Hendrick’s Gin Ambassador Mattias Horseman; Monkey Shoulder Ambassador Vance Henderson; and , the Olsen, herself.

The full list of Time Out Chicago Bar Awards 2018 winners:

Guests enjoyed craft cocktails. Photo: Time Out Chicago

Guests enjoyed craft cocktails. Photo: Time Out Chicago

  • Bar of the Year presented by Hendrick’s Gin: Lost Lake

Guys! I haven’t been here. I was excited about this bar back in 2015 when it opened. For about a year and a half I was following Logan Square’s bar and restaurant scene as a new business writer (shout out to JAM for the best brunch of my life), but I transitioned out and sadly haven’t really explored Logan Square that much besides the occasional PBR, Jamison shot, and pizza special at Boiler Room. If you make a bar crawl out of Lost Lake, I would also add the vintage sports club and eatery, Park & Field to your list of summer time bars – it gave me Cali vibes in their patio with the fire pit and summer games 🙂

Green Mill is a staple. I use to go every Friday night with visitors from Hi USA Hostel. I personally love it for a date night on Sunday with the poetry slam.

Maple & Ash recently got on my radar. It’s always a popular spot – even when I pass through it in the Gold Coast on a Tuesday.

  • Sexiest Cocktail: Spanish-Style Gin and Tonic at Cindy’s

Cindy’s is the best – actually all of Chicago Athletic Club is because it’s versatile for a girl’s night, book club hangout, or a sexy date night. I think I visit Cindy’s the most often. Need to add this cocktail to my list, though 🙂

Photo: Time Out Chicago

Time Out Chicago Bar Awards 2018 panelists

  • Mattias Horseman
  • Vance Henderson
  • Ed Marszewski
  • Julia Momose
  • Danny Shapiro
  • Calvin Martin
  • Christopher Marty
  • Benjamin Schiller
  • Brenton Engel
  • Paul Hletko
  • Caitlin Laman
  • Nandini Khaund
  • Belinda Chang
  • Morgan Olsen
  • Zach Long
Photo: Time Out Chicago

Celebratory hugs all around for the best bars in Chicago for 2018. Photo: Time Out Chicago

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.


Chicago Events Celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8, 2018

Ladies! This week is a good week to network and meet other amazing, entrepreneurial women in Chicago for International Women’s Day on Thursday, March 8, 2018. I went to a beauty event with the Tulle Project today and as we were introducing ourselves, one women shared the four, yes four jobs she has. Another woman, in awe, noted how ambitious Chicago women are. I wholeheartedly believe that. I encourage you to meet these Chicago girl bosses this week at one of the many Chicago events for International Women’s Day on March 8, 2018. Look for events and opportunities to connect all month long for women’s history month.

Quick note: International Women’s Day theme is #PressForProgess.

Global Strategist Association Event:

The Global Strategists Association is hosting a luncheon in honor of International Women’s Day to discuss opportunities for women of color.


Time: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

Location: The DuSable Museum of African American History


1871 Event:

1871, a Chicago incubator for startups is hosting a day of workshops and speaking events for women. 1871 is such a great resource that female founded companies like this 3D printing jewelry company, this beauty services company that is now offering company perks to GrubHub, and this designer clothes and accessories startup all used to help grow their business.

This event series has several sessions that you can drop into throughout the day. I’m personally looking forward to the Building Your Company’s Brand Panel Discussion.


Time: 8 am – 9 pm

Location: 1871, Merchandise Mart


SheSays Chicago Event:

SheSays Chicago, a Chicago chapter of a national organization of women in creative fields, is putting together an event with Leo Burnett on Thursday, March 8, 2018 right after work.

I’ve been attending SheSays Chicago events for years and even spoke at one of the panels about networking. You can read about some of my past coverage of their events like Turning Passion into Profit and Networking Advice from Edelman, PR Agency.

There will be a panel discussion.


Jessica Papilla, Data Analyst at Leo Burnett


Monika Black, PhD, CPC | Chief Strategy Officer at DyMynd

Kayte Malik, CEO and Co-founder of Dresscode

Beth Sehgal, Global Director of Diversity & Inclusion for A.T. Kearney

Priya Shah, Founder and Executive Director of The Simple Good


Time: 5:30 – 8:00 pm

Location: Leo Burnett Office


Ladies Get Paid Event:

Ladies Get Paid, an organization that helps women achieve their professional goals and get equal pay, is hosting an International Women’s Day event at Ace Bounce. This looks like a causal event to get drinks and meet other professional women.


Time: 5:30-7:30 pm

Location: Ace Bounce


WeWork Kenzie Event:

WeWork Kinzie is hosting an International Women’s Day workshop for freelancers and female entrepreneurs. Over 150 people have signed up for this event. In this workshop, speakers will present four topics: (a) finding the courage to lead, (b) the foundations of entrepreneurship, (c) a woman’s story of finding her purpose, and (d) establishing a position of influence in a competitive industry.


Time: 6:00-9:00 pm

Location: WeWork Kinzie

RSVP ($20)

She Means Business Event:

She Means Business will be presenting a panel discussion and gender equality and female leadership in the workplace.

The Panelists:

• Naima Prince, Expert Budget and Financial Analyst at GSA

• Lindsey Branding, Controller at Hireology

• Colleen Wilson, Founder & CEO of Collaborate Chicago

• Holly Glowaty, Co-Founder at K+H Connection and Founding Co-Producer at Flourish

• Katharine Hebenstreit, President & COO at Link Capital


Time: 5:30-8:00 pm

Location: Topstep Trader


Edgewater Chamber of Commerce:

If drinks aren’t enough for you, the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce is hosting a dinner crawl. Get all the savory details below!

Time: 5 pm

Location: Edgewater, over 10 restaurants



I hope to see you at one of the Chicago events for International Women’s Day or you can join the conversation online using the hashtag: #PressForProgress.

How do you build a professional community in Chicago? Tag me on Twitter or Instagram @windycitycosmo.

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.


Product Development Powered By Social: Chicago Social Media Professionals Panel

We get it – you know what social media is. But do you know how to test products and build interest in a company using social media? That’s part of what product managers do.

You can produce content all day long – but if no one is looking at it or interacting with it – then you’re kind of just talking (to yourself).

We know you’re a girl boss who wants to build her brand and empire – so there’s help. Taylor Gaines, Chief Executive Officer at T&T Digital Media Agency, started networking classes once a month. Her current series, Powered by Social Media (R) brings together digital media experts to discuss how social media is changing the landscape not only in marketing but business in general.

Powered by Social Media touches on topics from search marketing to cyber security to highlight differences, overlap, and trends in every area of the online world and how it can be applied to everyday decisions.

In their April Powered by Social Media event, the topic was Product Development Powered by Social Media. Digital experts gathered at Breather in the West Loop for the panel discussion.

The Gist:

Yes, product managers do mock feature releases. Yes, it really is all about the money – if you don’t have revenue, you can’t keep developing your product. And finally, message boards and feedback can make or break product development, but also knowing what your product is intended for and if people are using it as intended is imperative. The right people need to be testing the right products.

“Just because someone doesn’t like x,y,z maybe they are not the right fit for your product,” one of the panelists said.

Read below for more detailed answers from the product development panel discussion.

The Product Development Panelists:

Heather Campos is a Senior Manager of Digital at Brandmuscle. Campos oversees digital marketing strategy and solutions for spirits, wine, food, and hospitality clients.

Chris Kelson, MBA, is a Global Product Manager, IoT & Connected Home, at Whirlpool Corporation. Kelson is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and a Masters in Business Administration from Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.

Colleen Wilson, MBA, is the Founder & CEO of Collaborate Chicago – a product strategy and product marketing consulting firm. Wilson has 12 years of financial services, fintech, and SaaS product leadership experience. Most recently Colleen led product strategy and product marketing for the small-business lending platform Square Capital, turning it into the fastest growing product at Square.


Amanda Elliott, Founder of Windy City Cosmo with panelist Colleen Wilson, Founder and CEO of Collaborate Chicago at the Product Development Powered by Social Media event in April 2017.

Social Media Conversation with Product Managers:

In an hour panel discussion, these product managers answered questions by Gaines that helped social media experts understand more about how product developers leverage social media to test products and how end users engage with their brands.

Question: How does social media affect what you’re doing?

“I work with a Fortune 500 companies that have local entities. They are looking for ways to break through,” Campos shared, “For independent retailers – 9 times out of 10 don’t know how to market themselves. Then we’ll do audits and pull up the responsiveness of their site or their Google maps. Some people post one star, and that can kill you.”

The Product Development Process:

“We will take any data we have access to, and then within 2 weeks, we’ll spin off a lean product and see if we have any bites. That would take anywhere from 4-12 weeks. When you’re rolling out to 5k users it’s a little different than 200,” one of the panelists described.

“It’s very easy to have analysis paralysis. You don’t want to handicap yourself and never take action. Ask yourself, is there a huge regularity constraint that you need to consider?”

“When you have more users, it’s faster. If you see a product selling, you can literally test anything. The more users you have, the more a/b testing you can do.”

“We do fake lead pages. I want to see if people want it. Are they enticed by the tagline and the product?”

Question: Do product developers utilize emerging technology?

“AI is huge. Budweiser just integrated AI into age drinking,” Campos shares, “I work in Alcohol/Beverage, there are 15 documents that you have to look to. There are lots of things that you can’t say online.”

Question: How closely do you work with other departments?

“In tech organizations, product manager, engineering manager and UX designer. At Square, we had a product marketing person, too,” Wilson shares, “Product marketing is how you tell the world about your product.”

“We monitor social to get personas from them, then we look at Open Table and Yelp for the bar industry – based on user personas, we determine who is going to use the product and how,” Campos shared.

Automated Responses (Twitter DMs, etc.):

One of the bigger discussions of the night was whether to automate responses or respond personally.

“If you have an auto DM – save a customer by not using auto responders. If it’s your company, then turn your notifications on and answer. It’s the hustle,” an audience member shared.

“AI is intelligent enough to get the tone and emoji right,” a panelist added.

One of the audience members shared that the CEO of Amazon – social media is used to start conversations. No one said they wanted Prime, but they created it. So, how do you know if they need the product?

The panelists shared that you can’t create pain points – they need to exist. They [customers] don’t know they need Prime, but they know that they want to get a product in a week.

Question: Where are there unmet pain points?

Panelists agreed that social media is a necessary evil – people will BITCH about things that they will never say about to you to your face. That’s their job.

Take a look at Powered by Social’s previous events below.

Want to be part of this exclusive monthly social media mixer? Email Taylor Gaines at taylor@tntdigital.media.

Do you organize social media, blogging, or marketing events in Chicago? Email Amanda at windycitycosmo@gmail.com if you would like Windy City Cosmo to cover your event.

Happy networking and learning!


How a Chicago Tech Power Couple is Teaching a Billion Kids to Code

Katy Lynch wants a billion kids to learn how to code. And she stepped down from her job as CEO of Techweek, to pursue her passion and launch her second start-up this year in Chicago.

Using today’s technology and building a new, simpler code syntax called KidScript, Lynch is transforming a seemingly solo and challenging endeavor – learning how to code – into a collaborative, empowering and interactive program.

Over the past 15 months, Lynch partnered with her husband and former start-up co-founder of Belly, Craig Ulliott. Ulliott and Lynch had previously built the digital media firm, SocialKaty, which was acquired by Manifest Digital in 2014. Together again, this tech power couple created Codeverse, the world’s first hackable classroom and vertically integrated technology platform designed to teach children ages 6 to 12 the vital skill of coding.


A Mission-Driven Business:

“My husband and I have a lot of shared experience in the tech world and educating the next generation of tech stars has always been important to us. This was one of the reasons we jumped into the tech space to create Codeverse,” Lynch shared.

As an experienced start-up founder, Lynch stresses the importance of defining your mission.

“Define your mission, your vision, and your values early on – that dictates your company culture and who you hire. For Codeverse, we came up with the mission statement – ‘teach a billion kids to code’. We are a mission-driven business.”

To develop this kid’s coding program, Lynch and Ulliott hired an in-house curriculum team and worked with a large group of certified K-12 teachers for over a year.

“We’ve conducted over 450 product demos with kids, and all have them completed Codeverse. They’ve generated their own app or game in 20 minutes. It’s gratifying to get kids excited early on.”

Daniel Kelleghan Photography-24820.jpg

Is Learning How to Code Really That Easy?

With coding, there are many different languages to learn such as HTML and Python and Ruby.

“There are multiple ways to perform one action with different languages. Many of these languages are way too advanced for kids to learn,” Lynch explains, ” I’m 32, and it’s difficult for me!”

To assimilate kids to learn to code, the Codeverse team built their real programming language based on the core concepts, of other languages, such as “if” statements, variables, and loops.

“The thing that makes this awesome is if a child wants to learn another language, like Ruby, it’s easy to transition,” said Lynch.

As kids learn to code, the program adapts to their learning needs by giving kids more or fewer lessons depending on how easy it is for them to advance to the next level.

Daniel Kelleghan Photography-24339

Building a Collaborative Environment for Kids to Code:

One aspect of Codeverse is the virtual world, but the second dimension of the business plan is the physical one.

“We’ve done a lot of research – we want kids to code in a collaborative environment,” Lynch shared.

Social interaction plays an integral part in the development process for children, and the support provided by the teaching specialists aids in the learning process.

When starting a business plan as an entrepreneur, Lynch shares that you want to take steps to relay to your investors that “you are a) the right person for the job and b) that you can prove you can scale.”

To do this, she advises to do your research and define your competitive landscape. Think about your business model, and how your business is going to generate revenue.

For Codeverse, Lynch created a new business model by creating a physical space for kids to learn to code together. Upon entering the studio, they pick up an iPad with their name on it. Using the iPad, they can write code that manipulates components of the studio, like activating drones, robotic arms or 3D printers. The million-dollar facility is also full of collaborative and social elements, such as a 20-foot screen where 10 children can collaborate on coding challenges at a single time.

“If you’re sitting in the Codeverse studio and you want to change the lights from white to red,” Lynch said, “We give the tutorials on how to do that. You’re coding to have that end result.”

While the adaptive program is online, there is an on-site staff of certified K-12 teachers from the Chicagoland area in the Codeverse studio.

Daniel Kelleghan Photography-24478

Codeverse Launches in Lincoln Park:

The first location will open in Chicago in Lincoln Park in July 2017 with plans to expand to three additional locations in Chicago and ultimately, nationally and internationally.

Codeverse has many different types of memberships based on after-school or summer session.

“The ultimate goal is that kids are coming into the space to have fun, be creative and collaborate with peers to build and create apps and games,” Lynch said.

Parents can sign-up or learn more about the memberships starting at $125 a month by visiting Codeverse.


What’s It’s Really Like to be a Chicago Female Entrepreneur

What’s it really like to be an entrepreneur? Now add, what’s it like to be a Chicago female entrepreneur?

In June 2016, Chicago was named the world capital for female-founded startups, with 30 percent of startups started by women.

After attending motivational talks, female creatives or business groups, and interviewing Chicago female entrepreneurs over the past four years, I’ve pulled together some of the best quotes to convey what it really means to be a Chicago female entrepreneur in 2017.

Advice from Chicago Female Entrepreneurs:

“Literally, I didn’t see my friends for the year,” Lakesha Rose from Rose Phillips Online said about the first year of going into business. Read the full interview here.

“Give yourself permission to be fabulous. Do not let anyone define who you are,” said Dima Elissa, Mentor, Investor, and Council Member of Ms. Tech. Read more about her story here.

“If I was going to send someone to you, what would I send them for?” Nicole Yeary, Founder of Ms. Tech, said in a Ms. Tech meetup about how to hone your skillset. Read more advice from Yeary here. 

“We talk a lot more than we used to. We talk like 10 times a day. When you are in business with someone, it’s like a marriage!” Vanessa Cutler, Founder of Emotilink said about having a friend as a business partner. Read more about her mental health app here.  As a bonus, you can read the background of her app design and business plan through this case study. 

“I hot glued myself into my dress,” Krista Goral, Founder of MeasureMake, said about the dresses she created in college for special occasions. She now sews custom fit dresses for women in Chicago. Read more about her dress making start-up in her full interview here.

“The hardest part is balancing and finding the time to do it all. I struggle with the life/work balance, and I am sure many other working women would agree with me on that! I wear many hats, and it is important to me to put my all into ever hat I wear and do the best I can,” said Katie Schuppler, Owner of KS Style Consulting and Style/Beauty Blogger for Fashion Speak. Read her full interview here.  

“I never really worry about failure. I do in the way that everyone does with day to day anxiety. But, so much of liftUplift comes out of myself. I don’t worry that that will be taken away from me,” said Corielle Laaspere, Founder of liftUplift about overcoming failure. Read more about how she has built a global marketplace for female-led businesses here. 

“Don’t compare your hustle with someone’s highlight reel. You don’t see the moments where we work 100 hour weeks,” said Katy Lynch, former CEO of Techweek, in a panelist discussion.

Share your Start-up Story:

For more advice on how to turn your passion into profit, check out this infographic.

Are you a Chicago entrepreneur? Email Windy City Cosmo at windycitycosmo@gmail.com to share your story.