Who to Watch at Chicago Ideas Week 2012: Tom Szaky

There's a lot to wrap your mind around with the approaching Chicago Ideas Week, the weeklong invasion of super-smart and super-influential folks taking place at venues all over town from Oct. 8 to 14.

We're helping with a series of speaker profiles designed to highlight the speakers who will benefit you, the sexy Chicago entrepreneur. There are just over 100-plus speakers announced so far, and more to come.

In this profile: Tom Szaky.

Accolades: In 2006, Inc. Magazine named Szaky's startup, TerraCycle, The Coolest Little Start-Up In America. That same year, he was also named the No. 1 CEO in America under 30 the same year by that magazine as well. In the years since (and even before then), TerraCycle has nabbed tons of awards, everything from the Edison Green Award to the Eco-Visionary Award.

Why you should care: Well, in case all the awards his company has gotten don't mean much to you, what his company does is pretty cool by itself: TerraCycle makes consumer products from pre- and post-consumer materials that are otherwise very difficult to recycle. Think tote bags made out of M&M wrappers and you've got the idea. It's a simple, but effective, idea, which all businesses should strive to be centered around.

When you can see him: Oct. 9, 12 p.m.-3p.m., Owen Theatre at the Goodman Theatre

Read more here.

David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.

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