Troy Henikoff

Adjunct Lecturer of Marketing

Print Overview

Troy Henikoff is the CEO and Co-founder of Excelerate Labs, a seed stage accelerator in Chicago. Additionally he helps manage the FireStarter Fund, teaches Entrepreneurship at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, is a Faculty Coach for University of Chicago / Booth’s New Venture Challenge, is on the board of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center and an advisor to Hyde Park Angels. His last 25+ years have been spent starting, running and advising early stage technology companies.

Excelerate Labs has been ranked as the #3 accelerator in the country by the Kauffman Foundation and by Forbes Magazine. As of September of 2012, Excelerate has had 30 companies through its program that have raised more than $27Million and created over 150 new jobs. This mentorship based program runs every summer in Chicago.

FireStarter Fund is a venture fund that makes seed stage investments in Chicago based digital technology companies. Its LP’s include 42 successful digital entrepreneurs including founders and CEOs of companies like comScore,, NAVTEQ, Jellyvision, MorningStar, Fieldglass, OKCupid and more. FireStarter offers more than just capital – access to some of the best and brightest entrepreneurs in Chicago.

As CEO of OneWed, Troy lead the re-launch of, a wedding website that provides the largest online database of wedding vendors, detailed ratings and reviews and a smart, unique voice for wedding planning tips and advice. The site connects brides and vendors in a focused online marketplace while providing users with the most informative wedding resources available in the online bridal world. OneWed was Sold to Nearlyweds in Seattle in 2010.

Troy co-founded, an Internet-based payroll service bureau focused on companies with fewer than 100 employees. Under his leadership as President, SurePayroll grew from an idea on paper to a nationally recognized payroll service bureau in less than three years. Today, SurePayroll grew to the largest Internet payroll provider and the fifth largest payroll company in the country, managing billions of payroll dollars annually and two-time Inc. 500 honoree before being acquired by Paychex, Inc. in 2011.

Before developing SurePayroll, Troy was recruited by Jellyvision, Inc. to build a software development capability from scratch. Within 18 months, Troy assembled a team and set of tools for quickly creating highly interactive multimedia experiences. Troy’s team utilized these tools to develop products including “You Don't Know Jack®” for Jellyvision, and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire®” for Disney Interactive.

In 1986, Troy founded Specialized Systems and Software, which focused on creating custom database applications. The company quickly developed a national presence, amassing a client list that included companies like Abbott labs, CDW, Hyatt Hotels and McDonald’s Corp. In 1992, Medline Industries purchased the business and it became the Systemetrics Division of Medline Industries, the largest privately-held US manufacturer and distributor of medical products. Within five years, Systemetrics’ software was installed in nearly 10 percent of the nation’s hospitals.

Print Vita
Masters of Project Management, 2008, McCormick School of Engineering, Northwestern University
Bachelors of Science, 1986, Mechanical Engineering/Design, Brown University

Academic Positions
Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, 2012-present
Faculty Coach - New Venture Challenge, Booth School of Business, University of Chicago, 2011-present
Adjunt Professor of Entrepreneurship, Business Institutions , Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Northwestern University, 2004-2011
Visiting Professor, Croma Business Academy, Crioma Business Academy, 2004-2005
Guest Lecturer, Entrepreneurship, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, 1993-2009

Other Professional Experience
Co-Founder and CEO, Excelerate, LLC, 2010-present
Administrative Member, FireStarter Fund, 2012-present
CEO,, 2007-2010
President, Amacai Information Corporation, 2005-2007
Founder, AuctionScience, 2003-2004
Co-Founder and President, SurePayroll, 1999-2002
Director of Technology, Jellyvision, Inc., 1998-1999
President, Systemetrics, a division of Medline Industries, 1992-1997
Founder and President, Specialized Systems and Software, Inc., 1986-1992

Print Research

Print Teaching
Full-Time / Part-Time MBA
Entrepreneurial Tools for Digital Marketing (MKTG-961-5)
This course was formerly known as MKTG 961-A/MKTG 961-B
Most people agree that the Internet has been the single biggest change to business in the last 100 years, yet very few know how to effectively leverage the web as a tool for customer acquisition, retention and growth. This course is based on the framework of the customer relationship funnel but will focus solely on the web/mobile channel. Customer discovery and validation in the web/mobile channel involves strategies and tactics that are faster and less expensive than physical channels. Consequently, digital marketing is an integral part of both the entrepreneurial and corporate environments. This class will be very hands on and tactical, giving you exposure to the basic concepts of UI/UX, A/B testing, conversion funnels, SEO, SEM, Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools and much more. Expect to be working in groups in practical settings. There is not a textbook for this class, guest speakers and lectures will provide the information, and hands on exercises will provide the learning.