2016 Inner City 100 Conference & Awards


Know a fast-growing urban business? Nominate for the 2017 Inner City 100 today! 

The annual Inner City 100 Conference and Awards is the premier networking and management education event for fast-growing urban businesses. It is designed to spotlight successful inner city firms and celebrate their growth.

Register for the event

The 2016 Inner City 100 Conference and Awards will be held on September 14 at the Aloft Hotel in Boston’s Seaport neighborhood. The event will kick-off the night before with a welcome reception, and the conference that follows will feature thought-provoking sessions led by Harvard Business School faculty and CEOs. Networking opportunities will be included throughout the event, and the day will conclude with an awards presentation and a keynote from ICIC founder Michael E. Porter.

ICIC has a block of rooms reserved at a discounted rate at the Aloft Hotel and the Elements Hotel. Reserve a room by August 22nd to secure the special rate!

Inner City 100 is going mobile with an event app! We’ve created an app that will include networking, schedules, social media and much more at the palm of your hand. Once you register, watch your inbox – we’ll be sending those who register an invitation to access the app.


September 13

6:00-8:00 p.m.: Welcome Reception and Hall of Fame Awards program
District Hall, 75 Northern Ave, Boston, MA 02210

  • Hall of Fame Awards Program to begin 6:30pm
  • Beverages and hors d’oeurves will be provided
  • Getting there: ICIC will be coordinating complimentary transportation via Uber between the Aloft Hotel and District Hall. Please look for our event team between 5:00 and 5:45pm in the Aloft Lobby, and they will set you up with an Uber ride or an Uber voucher. 
September 14

Aloft Hotel (All sessions noted below occur at the Aloft Hotel)

7:00-8:00: Registration & Breakfast

8:00-8:45: Welcome Program
Mann Ballroom

  • Welcome by Steve Grossman, CEO, ICIC
  • Keynote by Shira Goodman, Interim CEO, Staples

8:45-10:15: Seeing What’s Next
Mann Ballroom

  • Lynda Applegate, Sarofim-Rock Professor of Business Administration Chair, OPM, Harvard Business School
  • Today, we are in the midst of another technological revolution as we shift from proprietary to open platforms and the digital revolution shifts to an era of digital ubiquity. In this session, Lynda will guide a discussion on these seismic shifts and examine the emerging digital platforms upon which new “ecosystems” are emerging. In doing so, the case will explore the shift from product disruption to platform disruption and approaches that can be taken to “see what’s next” and “invent” the future in business. A case study on Tesla—the first new entrant into the U.S. automotive industry to go public since Ford’s IPO in 1956 – will help set the stage for these discussions

10:15-10:30: Break

10:30-11:30: Scaling with Soul
Mann Ballroom

  • Conversation with Corey Thomas, CEO, Rapid 7
  • Forbes senior editor Loren Feldman will lead a discussion with Corey focused on the major growth decisions in business, including the decision he made to take the company public in 2015.

11:30-12:45: Luncheon
Mann Ballroom

  • 11:30-11:45: Lunch Buffet Pick-up
  • 11:45-12:00: Presentation of the 2016 Marcia Lamb Inner City Innovation Award: Martha de la Torre, Founder & CEO, El Clasificado will be recognized for her innovations in business and commitment to her inner city community in Southern California.
  • 12:00-12:45: Lunch Keynote: Nina Vaca, Chairman & CEO, Pinnacle Group: Inner City 100 alumni leader Nina will provide insight into the successes, challenges, and motivation that helped her grow her company beyond the $1 Billion mark.

12:45-1:00: Coffee Break

1:00-2:00: Conversation on the Internet of Things
Mann Ballroom

  • John Stuart, Divisional Vice President, Sales & Partners, Technology Platform Group, PTC will lead a conversation with the CEO of 2015 #1 Inner City 100 winner Bithenergy, Robert Wallace. John and Robert will discuss how Bithenergy is using the Internet of Things to move their company ahead, and will seek input from the winning companies in the audience.

2:00-3:00: Creating a Culture for Innovation
Mann Ballroom

  • Amy Edmondson, Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management, Harvard Business School
  • IDEO is an award-winning product design firm focused on helping client companies innovate and grow. The case Phase Zero: Introducing New Services at IDEO focuses on whether or not IDEO’s new customer service fits with the firm’s strategic position and organization capabilities. Considered through the lens of the top executive in the Boston Office, this case describes the key questions and challenges related to a novel project for mattress manufacturer Simmons. Amy Edmondson will lead a case discussion guided by these considerations and conclude with practical ideas for managers.

3:00-3:15: Coffee Break

3:15-4:15: Incubating New Ideas to Move Forward
Mann Ballroom

  • Conversation with Brook Colangelo, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has a long history in the classroom, and continues to innovate in support of its mission of “Changing people’s lives by fostering passionate, curious learners.” Loren Feldman will lead an interview with Brook, whose previous roles include CIO for the White House. They will discuss some of the ways HMH is innovating, and will challenge the audience to think through how to leverage technology to move forward, even in a historically traditional industry.

4:15-5:00: Networking Intermission
Mann Ballroom Foyer; snack food and refreshments provided

5:00-6:00: Competing to Change the World: Creating Shared Value
Mann Ballroom

  • Keynote presentation by Michael E Porter, University Professor, Harvard Business School

6:00-7:00: 2016 Inner City 100 Awards
Mann Ballroom

7:00-8:00: Closing Reception
Mann Ballroom Foyer; hors d’oeurves and beverages provided

Featured Speakers

Lynda M. Applegate

Lynda Applegate, Sarofim-Rock Professor of Business Administration Chair, OPM, Harvard Business School

Lynda M. Applegate is the Sarofim-Rock Professor of Business Administration at HBS and Chair of the HBS Executive Education Portfolio for Business Owners & Entrepreneurs, which includes the school’s flagship Owner President Management (OPM) program, its Launching New Ventures and Private Equity/Venture Capital programs, and its newly launched Global Immersions for Business Owners. Since joining the HBS faculty in the 1980s, Lynda has held a variety of leadership positions, including serving as the head of the Entrepreneurial Management Unit, Co-Chair of the MBA program, Chair of Field Based Learning and as a member of the HBS Technology Board and Academic Technology Advisory Board. She has also held a number of Harvard University leadership positions, including serving as the Co-Chair of the Harvard Policy Group on Networked Government Services and on the on the Harvard University Technology Advisory Board. Prior to joining the HBS faculty, Lynda was on the faculty of the University of Michigan, University of Washington and University of Arizona. In addition to her academic positions, Lynda also held a variety of leadership positions in the health care industry.

Lynda’s current research and recent publications focus on the challenges of building new ventures and leading radical business innovation in the face of significant industry, technological, capital market, and regulatory turbulence. A second stream of research examines emerging governance models to support inter-firm collaborative innovation. She is the Series Editor for Harvard Business Publishing’s newly launched Core Readings in Entrepreneurship and is the author of over 40 articles, books, and book chapters, and over 350 published case studies, online learning DVDs, and course materials.

Lynda is the recipient of numerous HBS awards for her research, teaching, and service to the school. Most recently, she was awarded the Robert F. Greenhill award for her outstanding contributions to HBS over the course of her career. She has also received Harvard Business School’s Berol Award for Research Excellence and its Apgar Award for Innovation in Teaching. She has won numerous “Best Paper” awards for her academic research on 21st century business models and executive team decision-making and collaboration when developing and launching strategic innovations, and she has served as a Senior Editor and on the editorial boards for leading research journals in the field of technology innovation.

Lynda is an active international consultant and has served on the board of directors of both public and venture-backed companies. She is an advisor and advisory board member for entrepreneurs launching new ventures and for senior executives launching innovation in established companies. She has served on the Board of Trustees of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council, as a member of the Industry Advisory Board for NASDAQ, and on the US Federal Governments’ Executive Council for Information Management and Technology. Lynda has also served as a policy advisor on a Blue-Ribbon Panel to define a National Research Agenda on the development of the Network Economy and as a member of a roundtable panel for President Clinton’s Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection.


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Brook Colangelo, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Brook Colangelo is Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. An experienced technology leader and former Chief Information Officer (CIO) to the Executive Office of the President, Colangelo now leads the technology-fueled transformation of Pre-K-12 learning in his role at one of world’s leading education companies. Reporting to President and CEO Linda Zecher, Colangelo leads HMH’s Technology Group — a world-class team dedicated to cutting edge technology and services and the delivery of innovative digital content and learning solutions to more than 50 million students worldwide. From HMH’s global headquarters in Boston, he also holds CIO responsibilities, including core IT operations.

Prior to joining HMH in January 2013, Colangelo was CIO for the Executive Office of the President (EOP), managing the enterprise technology that supports the White House and President of the United States. Since his appointment in 2009, Colangelo developed systems for the first digitally mobile President of the United States, driving a turnaround in performance and productivity through a strategic plan to stabilize, mobilize and transform the EOP’s IT enterprise.

Colangelo previously worked as CIO of the Democratic National Convention Committee, where he envisioned and implemented technology to increase online viewership and engagement. He also led the technology team for the American Red Cross’ Hurricane Recovery Program (HRP), dedicated to helping rebuild lives after the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina, Wilma and Rita.

Colangelo holds an honors degree from The George Washington University. He has been recognized for exceptional information technology leadership in Computerworld’s 2012 Premier 100 IT Leaders, Federal Computer Week’s The Federal 100, and InformationWeek’s The Government CIO 50 lists.


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Amy Edmondson, Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management, Harvard Business School

Amy C. Edmondson is the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School. The Novartis Chair was established to enable the study of human interactions that lead to the creation of successful business enterprises for the betterment of society. Recognized in 2011, 2013 and 2015 by the biannual Thinkers50 global ranking of management thinkers, Edmondson teaches and writes on leadership, teams and organizational learning. Her recent work explores teaming – the dynamic forms of collaboration needed in environments characterized by uncertainty and ambiguity. Her prior work has focused on the role of psychological safety in teamwork and innovation. Her books include Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate and Compete in the Knowledge Economy (Jossey-Bass, 2012), Teaming to Innovate (Jossey-Bass, 2013), and Building the Future: Big Teaming for Audacious Innovation (Berrett-Koehler, 2016).


Loren Feldman, Senior Editor, Forbes

Loren Feldman is a senior editor at Forbes, responsible for entrepreneurial coverage in print and online. He also co-hosts The Digital Show on Sirius XM’s Wharton business network. Before that, he was small-business editor of The New York Times, where he created the You’re the Boss small-business blog. He has also been editor of the Web sites at both Inc. and FastCompany. Before going digital, he was a top editor and writer for print magazines such as Inc., Philadelphia, Manhattan,inc., the American Lawyer, Money, and George. He has also written for GQ, The New York Times magazine and The New York Times Sunday Business section. His writing and editing have been nominated multiple times for National Magazine awards, winning once at Philadelphia magazine as part of a team. And he has spoken and conducted interviews at numerous conferences and seminars on entrepreneurship. On Twitter, he’s @lfeldman.


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Shira Goodman, Interim CEO, Staples

Shira Goodman was named interim CEO in June 2016 having served as President, North America Operations since January 2016. Previously, she served as President, North American Contract since February 2014, Executive Vice President of Global Growth since February 2012, Executive Vice President of Human Resources from March 2009, and Executive Vice President of Marketing since May 2001. Prior to that, she served in various capacities since joining Staples in 1992, including Senior Vice President of Staples Direct, Senior Vice President of Brand Marketing, and Vice President of Contract & Commercial.


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Michael E. Porter, University Professor, Harvard Business School

Michael Porter, University Professor at Harvard Business School, is an economist, researcher, author, advisor, speaker and teacher. Throughout his career at HBS, he has brought economic theory and strategy concepts to bear on many of the most challenging problems facing corporations, economies and societies, including market competition and company strategy, economic development, the environment, and health care. Dr. Porter’s research has received numerous awards, and he is the most cited scholar today in economics and business. He has been strategy advisor to leading U.S. and international companies, served on Fortune 500 public boards, and played an active role in U.S. economic policy at the federal and state levels.


John Stuart, Divisional Vice President, TPG Sales & Partners

John Stuart is the Divisional Vice President, Sales & Partners, Technology Platform Group (TPG) at PTC. In this executive role, he is responsible for all aspects of the Group’s sales responsibilities, including recruiting partners to join the platform ecosystem, enabling those partners to successfully deploy solutions on the platform, and managing their long-term success with our technology platform.

Mr. Stuart most recently served as Senior Vice President of Global Academic and System Integrator Programs as well as the Country Manager of PTC Eastern Europe. In this role he was responsible for providing the vision and guidance in developing PTC’s award winning, internationally recognized education program. The program provides 45,000 teachers and professors, 30,000 schools and universities, and over 10 million students with complete learning solutions that not only inspires a new generation for success in a technological world, but also prepares the engineers of the future. As the Country Manager of PTC Eastern Europe S.R.L., Mr. Stuart was responsible establishing PTC’s presence within Romania. Over the 20 years he has been at PTC, Mr. Stuart has held several senior level positions within the sales, marketing, and alliance partner organizations.

Mr. Stuart currently serves on the boards of several organizations including the University of Massachusetts Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Industry Advisory Board, the industry advisory board of FIRST in Michigan, the board of the University of Warwick Design Center (UK), the board of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, and National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc. (NACME).

Mr. Stuart earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Illinois.


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Corey Thomas, President and Chief Executive Officer, Rapid 7  

In addition to being President and CEO, Corey is also a member of the Rapid7 board of directors. He has more than 15 years of experience in leading companies to the next stage of growth and innovation. His previous positions include VP of Marketing at Parallels, Inc., a virtualization technology company, Group Project Manager of the Microsoft Server and Tools division, launching the worldwide availability of SQL Server 2005 and steering product planning for Microsoft’s data platform, and a consultant at Deloitte Consulting. Corey received a B.E. in electrical engineering and computer science from Vanderbilt University and a MBA from Harvard Business School.


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Nina Vaca, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Pinnacle Group

Nina Vaca is Pinnacle Group’s Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer. Her dynamic leadership over the past 20 years has propelled the company from a niche IT services firm to the workforce solutions powerhouse it is today, with a suite of business lines to address the range of IT human capital challenges companies in the Fortune 500 face. Pinnacle’s evolution and astronomical growth is the result of Vaca’s fearless approach to overcoming challenges and her intense focus on two core values: delivering impeccable service to clients and putting people at the heart of everything Pinnacle does. Pinnacle has been named to the Inc. 500/5000 list of fastest growing companies for over a decade and in 2015 was named the Fastest Growing Women-Owned/Led Company in the U.S. by the Women Presidents’ Organization.

Vaca is a committed civic leader and philanthropist. She advocates passionately for women and entrepreneurs and works to advance girls and women in STEM fields. In 2014, the White House appointed Vaca as a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship. She also serves as Chairman Emeritus of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Vaca has been featured in numerous publications and is a sought-after speaker and thought leader. She has appeared on CNBC Squawk Box, Fox News, and CBS Evening News. CNN Money featured her story, as have numerous publications including Forbes, Kiplinger, and The Wall Street Journal. Vaca’s story opens the Entrepreneurship chapter of Understanding Business, a McGraw-Hill textbook used in university classrooms. She is a frequent speaker throughout the U.S. and abroad, and recently served as a panelist at the world-renowned Milken Institute and the Global Entrepreneurship Summit alongside Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.

Vaca has won numerous awards both for Pinnacle and as an individual. She has been named one of the most influential Latinos in the United States for the past nine years and has been called one of the country’s 100 most intriguing entrepreneurs by Goldman Sachs. She was also named an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and was inducted into its Hall of Fame. Recently she was honored with a lifetime achievement award by the Dallas Business Journal. She holds three honorary doctorates from notable universities and is the youngest graduate in her alma mater’s history to be honored as a distinguished alumna. She has been invited to speak at institutions such as the Milken Institute, Harvard University, and Stanford University, where she has also been added to the business curriculum. This year Vaca joined the 2016 Class of Henry Crown Fellows at the Aspen Institute.

A global leader, Vaca is a German Marshall Memorial Fellow and part of the British-American Project. As a PAGE ambassador, Vaca has spoken to and inspired entrepreneurs all over the world, traveling to countries on five continents to empower the next generation of business leaders. An avid and committed athlete, Vaca has participated in iconic races in the last 16 years including the 2.5 mile Waikiki Roughwater Swim in Hawaii, the New York Marathon, and the Longhorne Austin Half Ironman. Most recently, she biked the 120 mile Triple Bypass in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains and completed the famous Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon in San Francisco, and in the process raised $100K to help entrepreneurs.


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Robert L. Wallace, CEO/Founder, BITHENERGY

Robert L. Wallace is an accomplished engineer, entrepreneur, author, business consultant and internationally-known keynote speaker. He is the founder of three companies – BITHGROUP Technologies, Inc., BITHENERGY, Inc., and EntreTeach Learning Systems, LLC. BITHGROUP Technologies, Inc. is a successful information technology services company that specializes in managed security services, health information systems, infrastructure IT services, wireless engineering, and biometrics. BITHENERGY, Inc. is a dynamic energy engineering and management company that develops and implements energy management, energy efficiency, and renewable energy solutions for government and commercial clients. Mr. Wallace also founded EntreTeach Learning Systems, LLC, through which he conducts economic and entrepreneurial research and has authored five best selling books that provide solutions for addressing the unique challenges facing small, emerging, women-owned, and minority-owned companies. His ground breaking research through has provided the foundation for his entrepreneurial training programs that have benefited entrepreneurs throughout world.

Mr. Wallace graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, School of Engineering, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics. It was at Pennsylvania where he began his foundational research on innovative emerging energy technologies. He earned his Masters of Business Administration from the Amos Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College and was awarded a Doctorate of Humane letter from Sojourner Douglas College. Prior to starting his own companies, he worked for IBM, DuPont, Procter & Gamble, and Westinghouse. He was a highly sought after advisor for numerous business executives and political leaders. He was recently chosen by the Mayor of Baltimore City to lead the newly-created Mayor’s Council on Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises. He has served as Chairperson for the State of Maryland Information Technology Board (ITB), the Governor’s Advanced Technology Commission, Small Business Task Force, Minority Business Task Force, and the BRAC Commission. He currently co-chairs the Commerce and Infrastructure Committee for the Maryland/Liberia Sister City Agreement, Maryland’s first sister city agreement with an African nation and is an Affiliate Professor of Business at the Sellinger School of Business, Loyola University, where he lectures on the power and promise of innovation in the global economy.

Mr. Wallace is a committed and passionate business and community leader who generously gives of his time and resources to uplift humanity. He has helped fund major humanitarian projects around the world and unselfishly serves on numerous private and civic boards. Some of these boards include Advisory Board for Credit Suisse Bank, the Baltimore Workforce Investment Board, the Kennedy Krieger Institute, the Maryland Economic Development Commission, the President’s Roundtable, and the Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council. Robert’s dedication and passion has caused him to be greatly celebrated. His most recent honors include:

  • 2016 Small Business Associations “District Director’s Unsung Hero Award”
  • National Technical Association “Joseph Tyler Award”
  • Baltimore Washington Corridor Chamber of Commerce “Hall of Fame”
  • MBE Magazines “MBE Who Rocks”
  • Capital Region Minority Supplier Diversity Council ”Leaders & Legends Chairman Award”

He is also a prolific author who reaches a host of readers and viewers throughout the world via diverse and social media outlets. He has authored numerous articles and books on entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship, strategic alliances, wealth creation strategies and urban economic development. His published works include:

  • Black Wealth Through Black Entrepreneurship (Duncan & Duncan, 1993),
  • Black Wealth: Your Road to Small Business Success (John Wiley & Sons, 2000),
  • Soul Food: 52 Principles of Entrepreneurial Success (Perseus Books, 2000),
  • Strategic Alliances: An Entrepreneur’s Guide To Joint Ventures And Alliances (Dearborn Publishers, Fall 2004),
  • The Ssese Principles: Guidelines for Creating Wealth through Faith (AuthorHouse, spring 2005).
  • The Color of a Billion: Women and Minorities Who Are Building Billion Dollar Enterprises (forthcoming)
  • Green Gold: Building Wealth in the Green Industry through Alliances and Partnerships (forthcoming)
  • CRASH: Business Lessons from the Emerging World (forthcoming)

Robert’s blending of the theoretical aspects of entrepreneurial success – success profiling and success modeling – with the practical day-to-day wisdom of starting and building actual businesses, helps make him a true global, renaissance entrepreneur.



Register for the event.

View the speakers and agenda for the 2015 Inner City 100 Conference and Awards: Engines of Growth.

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