We were excited to participate in this year’s Chicago Ideas Week. Chicago Ideas is a movement built on one core belief: When a broad spectrum of thinkers and instigators share ideas, we have the power to transform our world. The week-long event brings together innovative thinkers from around the world to present their ideas about education, science, technology, food, and everything in between.

Early in the week we sponsored and attended the conversation, “Making a Killing: Does America need a middle class?” The session featured Bethany McLean, host, journalist, and author; and Ken Brown, Financial Enterprise Editor at The Wall Street Journal. They explored the changes to America’s middle class over the past decade – and what those changes mean for the nation’s economic future.

We also hosted an interactive lab exploring innovative ideas for making financial wellness a reality for more people. At Envestnet, we believe that financial wellness is the ultimate outcome that our industry can help provide, and we are looking to lead by example when it comes to challenging the status quo related to improving people’s financial lives.

Our lab took attendees into the heart of the Envestnet | Yodlee FinTech Incubator program, through an entrepreneurial process that simulated the journey from an idea, to proof of concept, to creating a pitch, all within 2.5 hours.

The sold-out event brought together leaders from well-known companies, like Envestnet | MoneyGuide, Morningstar, and Barchart, who served as mentors to the group. Participants teamed up in small groups with the goal of brainstorming their own financial wellness ideas to take through our incubator process. After an hour, each team took turns pitching the group. We heard some great ideas for promoting financial literacy, providing access to alternative lending, and more.

Just a week later, we hosted a hackathon, powered by Yodlee APIs, to take the concepts developed in our lab to the next level. Unlike most hackathons, which require the developers to create a proof of concept and build the infrastructure within the allotted time, we delivered the ideas generated from the lab and participants could choose to use them or spend time brainstorming their own.

We had 50 teams participate, and we were thrilled to see a number of them incorporate the ideas that were generated in our lab. In fact, one team was recognized with the “Best Use of the Yodlee API” award for their creation of “Credit U,” which gamified financial literacy using story problems and language targeting millennials.

From ideation to execution, the lab and hackathon helped to further innovation around financial wellness and embodied the culture our founder, Jud Bergman, established at Envestnet. We’re already planning future labs and hackathons, with the next one slated for Boston. Stay tuned for more ideas and events related to our pursuit to make financial wellness a reality for everyone.

The information, analysis and opinions expressed herein are for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the views of Envestnet. These views reflect the judgment of the author as of the date of writing and are subject to change at any time without notice. Nothing contained in this piece is intended to constitute legal, tax, accounting, securities, or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment, nor a solicitation of any type.

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