The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce announced at its 110th Annual Meeting of Membership today that John Roa, Founder and CEO of ÄKTA, is the winner of the 2014 James Tyree Emerging Business Leadership Award. The award includes a $25,000 cash prize in addition to valuable
business training and consulting services donated by Chamber sponsors.”Through his success at ÄKTA and his philanthropic efforts with Digital Hope, we believe John Roa best represents the spirit and values of late Chicagoland Chamber Chairman and business leader James Tyree,”
said Theresa E. Mintle, President and CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber. “Small businesses drive our regional economy, and we are excited to provide growth opportunities and mentorship through initiatives like theJim Tyree Award to small businesses in the Chicago area.”

ÄKTA is a digital experience and engagement consultancy founded by Roa in 2009 focused on helping companies of all sizes design and engineer digital products. He also founded and runs Digital Hope, a not-for-profit charitable organization that uses the power of crowdfunding via social media to support underfunded international non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Roa’s success at ÄKTA comes aftertrying his hand on a variety of startups since becoming an
entrepreneur at age 14.“I started ÄKTA because of the startup movement that was taking place
at the time. There were a lot of great startups, and having gone through it a couple times, with a few failures and one success, I could coach and teach and mentor,” said Roa in an interview with WGN Radiofollowing the event. “Then all of a sudden I went from teaching user experience to offering to do it for them. That’s where ÄKTA really came from.”

The four finalists for the award were selected by Chicagoland Chamberof Commerce staff out of a pool of 19 qualified applicants from a variety of industries. The finalist pool also included Maria Katris, CEOof Built in Chicago; Dr. Michele Wilkins, Executive Director of Child’s Voice; and Jeff Swano, CEO and Owner of Dig Right In Landscaping, Inc.Finalists were judged in-person by a panel of judges consisting of Eve Tyree (photo above); Anil Ahuja, President of CCJM; and John Rico, President of Rico Enterprises.

About the James Tyree Emerging Business Leadership Award
The James Tyree Emerging Business Leadership Award is given annually to one of Chicagoland's high growth small businesses. In addition to the award, the 2014 recipient will also receive $25,000 in cash, compliments of Mesirow Financial, and valuable business services. The award is presented to the company or chief executive who best represents the spirit and values of late Chicagoland Chairman and business leader James Tyree. These values include integrity, philanthropy, humor, humility, and generosity.

About the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to making Chicagoland the most business-friendly region in America by enhancing members’ success through relevant programs in advocacy, member benefits and services, and actionable information. Serving as “The Voice of
Business” since 1904, the Chamber leads public policy and business growth initiatives and creates meaningful events and programs to inform,

engage, and connect members to each other and the community. Visit

Greg Stevens
Manager of Strategic Partnerships