Groupon co-founder Keywell taping radio pilots

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"From what I've seen in the last two years, there hasn't been a real concerted effort to bridge the two worlds," said Paul Lee, a Lightbank partner, who previously worked in New York. "There has only been one-offs — startups working uphill to get connected to companies. ... But it happens in Silicon Valley, with big tech companies working with smaller ones, and in New York City, with Madison Avenue working with startups. It should be happening here. This is basically the first step."

Sam Yagan, the CEO of Match Inc., the parent company of, will be the keynote speaker. He also co-founded startup incubator TechStars Chicago, formerly known as Excelerate Labs. Only one other scheduled speaker is not part of a Lightbank-funded company.

"Sam sold (dating site) OkCupid to and subsequently ended up running," Lee said. "He's the best guy to demonstrate how innovation from a startup can expand to a larger enterprise. Think about it: The guy who got bought ended up running the purchaser."

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How millennials bring change

David Burstein co-leads the Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation Fellowship, which annually awards three young social entrepreneurs $10,000 and flies them to Chicago for Chicago Ideas Week in the fall.

Burstein, a New Yorker, also is the author of a new book, "Fast Future: How the Millennial Generation Is Shaping our World."

And much of what millennials are shaping involves business and philanthropy, Burstein said Wednesday morning at a book party at the Waldorf-Astoria, hosted by Chicago Cares founder Leslie Bluhm and Malkin.

"This generation has a predisposition to care and a predisposition to create their own institutions," Burstein said. In the book, he cites 2012 Kauffman Foundation data showing that 40 percent of young people want to start their own companies.

Burstein said millennials believe business can be an avenue for social change. And those not starting their own companies are asking prospective employers about their commitments to service and the environment.

"This is the generation that shops, works and eats their values," Burstein said.

The trends, he said, point to the wholesale remaking of the American dream. For instance, millennials embrace "finding love" versus getting married and "being part of a community" versus buying a home. Homeownership, marriage, childbirth and car ownership are at all-time lows for people of this age, Burstein said.

And the trouble is that much of the country's economy is built on those milestones.

"I think there needs to be an embrace of a shared, collaborative economy," he said. "The future of the auto industry is to figure out how it can be more like Zipcar. And the hotel industry has to figure out how to be more like Airbnb. This is a not a generation that's going to be going to the Hiltons of the world, as they exist now."

Melissa Harris can be reached at or 312-222-4582. Twitter @chiconfidential.

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