Two Naperville natives recently took a dive into the "Shark Tank" and came out with a big bite.
Brothers Anthony and Nick Pucci took their product, Cubicall, to the popular ABC-TV program, where budding entrepreneurs pitch their business to a panel of celebrity executives, with the hope of getting one of the panel members to invest in their business.
Cubicall is a custom phone booth that the brothers created out of necessity a couple of years ago, Anthony Pucci said in a news release. The booth has a simple and efficient design that fits into an office space, providing a quiet, private space for workers to make calls or hold private conversations.
"We started this company when we created our own solution to the problems we experienced when working in an open office," said Nick Pucci. "After selling two phone booths the very first weekend we put our phone booths online, we knew we weren't alone with our frustrations."
The Puccis sought a $350,000 investment for a 10% stake in the company.
While they were initially met with skepticism from the panel, they got offers from panelists Kevin O'Leary and Barbara Corcoran. Both offered $350,000 for a 25% stake in the company, but O'Leary also sought a $100 royalty for each product sold to a certain point, then a $50 per item royalty afterward.
The duo chose to accept Corcoran's offer.
"We knew going into this that Barbara Corcoran was the best Shark for Cubicall," Anthony said. "Her expertise and experience in commercial real estate and contract furniture dealers makes her the perfect partner for Cubicall. We couldn't be more thrilled with the outcome."
Nick said appearing on the show was a great experience.
"Going on Shark Tank was surreal. We've been watching the show since the first season," he said. "We thought we had a pretty good chance at striking a deal.
"We were thrilled to get two offers," he added. "While Mr. Wonderful's (O'Leary) may have been tempting, we knew Barbara was the perfect partner for Cubicall."
The brothers, who now live in Los Angeles, launched Cubicall in 2017. They realized their potential when they began selling the booths to companies like IBM, SAP, Lyft and Cisco and educational institutions like the University of Wisconsin Madison.
The phone booths have been featured on Fox Business Channel, The New York Times, Interior Design, Fast Company Inc. and was called "an efficient privacy solution to open-plan distractions" by Forbes, according to the Puccis.
While the brothers' business is fairly new, entrepreneurship runs in the family.
Their great grandfather opened Cicero Macaroni, a pasta factory in Cicero, in 1922. Their grandfather eventually sold the business to Riviana Foods Inc., the maker of No Yolks and Wacky Mac noodles.
Congratulations to Cozen O'Connor attorney Danielle Harris for being selected as a fellow to the 2019 National Employment Law Council Academy.
An associate in the firm's Labor and Employment practice in Chicago, Harris is one of 31 fellows chosen nationwide to participate in this year's NELC Academy. It is the second consecutive year she has been selected for the academy.
Harris' practice primarily consists of litigating single plaintiff employment cases and counseling clients with non-litigation employment matters.
The Gurnee native graduated magna cum laude with her undergraduate degree from Northern Illinois University and received her law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law.
Tapping a new role
Kudos also go out to Baxter & Woodman's Carolyn Grieves, who was recently elected chair of the board of directors for the Illinois Section of the American Water Works Association.
ISAWWA provides resources for the management and advocacy of safe and sustainable water. Grieves will represent the section at national events and board meetings, provide input to the executive director and appoint committee chairs.
She's been an active member of ISAWWA since 1994, serving on the Safety and Emergency Management, Water Efficiency, and Water for People committees.
She was named as the organization's Water Professional of the Year in 2017.
Rosemont-based Wintrust Financial Corp. received top rankings in the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study for the Midwest region.
Wintrust Community Banks had a top score of "among the best" in five of the six factors in the Powers study, including overall satisfaction, account opening, communication and advice, convenience, products and fees, and channel activities, which measures customer experience with transaction channels like in-person, websites and mobile.
The company received "better than most" in the sixth category, problem resolution. On the study's 1,000-point scale, Wintrust scored 845.
Wintrust has received recognition from J.D. Powers in two out of the last three years.
The J.D. Power Award comes on the heels of other recognitions, including the Chicago Tribune Top Workplaces Award, three Greenwich Excellence Awards from Greenwich Associates in the Middle Market Banking in the Midwest category; and the 2019 Forbes Best Banks in America list.