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Gesture Featured In Chicago Tribune’s Blue Sky Innovation

Gesture Featured in Blue Sky from Chicago TribuneOur partnership with the Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago Fire was featured in Blue Sky, the Chicago Tribune’s new gathering place for news, analysis and events related to innovation and entrepreneurship.

“It began with frustration. Jim Alvarez — serial entrepreneur, partner in the L.A. Tan salon franchises, owner of a Valparaiso, Ind., haunted house — couldn’t fathom why staging a silent auction took so much work.”

Read the full article in Blue Sky

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The May Report Spotlights Mobile Bidding Company Gesture

Startups and Entrepreneur’s section

The May Report – bringing you the latest in Technology Community News, Information, Opinions, Scoop, and Events.

“Some 12,000 charity goers will be sharing its technology platform and team of auction professionals simultaneously in states across the country on one night in March as the season for galas begins.

The mobile bidding platform sends competitive texts when fans are outbid on their favorite items that are sold to support their charity of choice – whether they can attend or not.

The Oak Brook, IL-based game changer has helped 700 charities raise $60 million since 2011. The company will host events in 120 major North American cities this year. More than revenues, the technology guarantees a convenient, simple and fun way to bring charities’ donors into the digital age using their own phones. Many say that the combination of the technology with a dedicated team sets Gesture apart.

The company revolutionized mobile bidding when it started three years ago as the first technology to allow patrons to bid with their own smartphones. It also was the first to offer a flat-fee business model so charity leaders could put the most of every dollar raised back into their operating budgets to serve community needs.

Listen to national charity leaders, including the American Heart Association, Ronald McDonald House Charities and Boys & Girls Clubs leaders, share their perspectives on doubling auction revenue or making $100,000 more in one night by using the platform and the service.

This month Gesture became the first mobile bidding company to offer in-game professional sports auctions so fans could contribute while rooting for their team. 2013 Stanley Cup winner the Chicago Blackhawks’ Foundation intends to raise up to a quarter of a million dollars annually as fans sip cold ones and donate directly from their seats. Gesture also gave U.S. sports fans the opportunity to bid on Chicago Bears’ Brandon Marshall’s green cleats in honor of Mental Illness Awareness Week last fall.

Whether silent, in-game or online, Gesture keeps all types of auctions in an “always-on” mode. As soon as a patron’s smart phone is registered to the charity’s event, the bidding begins – even if the gala is weeks away or physically the fan cannot be present.

The company has placed as high as 350 people weekly across the country on its payroll to help staff events at a time when 44% of young college graduates are under- or unemployed according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It scored $3.5M in annual revenues this year and secured more than 1,000 events on its books for 2014, a far stretch from the 100 that the team managed during its first year.

Let us show you the mobile bidding technology live at an event or feel free to take a test drive by going to”

Read full article on The May Report

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U.S. Mobile Bidding Leader Expands Silent Auction Fundraising Platform with Live Auction Solutions

Gesture appoints auctioneer veteran Renee Jones who has managed auctions from real estate sales in 30+ states to the disposition of assets on behalf of the US Trustee for the Enron bankruptcy

Chicago, Ill. – January 21, 2014 –Mobile bidding technology leader, Gesture, today announced the appointment of industry veteran Renee Jones as national director of live auction services.

“Our philosophy is centered on being the best partner to the thousands of charities that we work with annually,” noted Jim Alvarez, Gesture president and co-founder. “With the appointment of Renee, we plan to offer a full-service auction solution for our charity partners to continue enhancing relationships with their donors.”

Live Auction ExpertJones has earned a reputation over twenty-five years as one of the industry’s most knowledgeable and experienced benefit auction professionals. She has worked with hundreds of non-profit organizations across the country and in the Caribbean as a professional benefit auctioneer, planner and consultant. She was the youngest competitor to win the National Auctioneers Association’s (NAA) prestigious International Auctioneers Championship. Jones has called auctions for the FDIC, US Customs Service, US Marshal Service, as well as federal and state courts, and municipalities.

A sought after speaker, Jones lectures at dozens of national, regional, and state industry related conferences annually. Jones earned a B.S. degree with honors from Texas Woman’s University and graduated from the Certified Auctioneers Institute at Indiana University. She has served two terms on the NAA board of directors and as Chairman of its Education Trustees. Jones is a designated Benefit Auction Specialist and Certified Estate Specialist.

“What differentiates Gesture is that we have now combined technologically-advanced mobile bidding for non profit events with live auction services in a manner which cannot duplicated in the industry,” Said Ms. Jones. “We provide organizations with a unified system and personnel from start to finish ensuring a streamlined and professionally executed event no matter the size or location.”
Jones will be responsible for developing the company’s live auction strategy, portfolio of live auction services, and its operational implementation.

“We are excited to add a very accomplished industry expert to our Gesture team,” said Alvarez. “Renee’s expertise is focused on education and competency. She complements our event team’s knowledge and our relationships with the best and brightest auctioneers across the country as we expand to manage over 1,000 events next year.”

Ms. Jones added, “Every organization and every event is important and unique, so to maximize the outcome requires a thoroughly customized program from beginning to end. Gesture will blend its state of the art bidding technology with providing the best in live auction event and advisory services.
About AuctionsByCelluar

Based in Chicago, Gesture was founded in 2011 to help non-profits improve fundraising efforts by harnessing the power of technology. The company’s technology platform is responsible for helping to raise over $60 million at hundreds of events annually for organizations such as Ronald McDonald House, American Red Cross, Make a Wish, American Heart Association, Boys & Girls Clubs, universities such as Notre Dame, Purdue and DePaul, and Chicago-area hospitals including Rush Hospital, Children’s Hospital and Wheaton Franciscan. Visit /.

Join the conversation with @GestureTeam or
Monika Rydzewski, 847.409.7189 or

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Gesture TV

Gesture Named A Chicago Startup Destined to Breakout in 2014

Tech Cocktail reached out to a handful of those fully entrenched in the Chicago startup scene to nominate a startup who was destined to breakout. Guy Turner, Managing Director at Hyde Park Ventures, had this to say about why Gesture was his pick:

“Jim Alvarez is an entrepreneur’s entrepreneur. He is in the trenches with his fast growing team and works many of the events that Gesture serves to ensure quality and to get quick feedback from his customers. The market is also ripe with attendees at charity events – regardless of age – now with a smartphone in their hand. Paper auctions are a thing of the past, and Jim and Gesture are poised to accelerate into this opportunity.”

Read the full article on Tech Cocktail.

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Chicago Bears Receiver, Brandon Marshall Auctions Off Green Cleats To Support Mental Health Awareness Week

Chicago Bears Receiver Brandon Marshall Brandon wore a pair of bright green cleats to promote Mental Health Awareness Week during the Bears 27-21 victory. He had a great night, scoring two touchdown passes.

Brandon partnered with Gesture to put together an online auction on just hours before the game.

He was fined $10,500 for violating the NFL’s uniform policy. Said Brandon: “Football is my platform not my purpose. This fine is nothing compared to the conversation started & awareness raised.”

Mission accomplished as his charity, The Brandon Marshall Foundation was mentioned all over the news and his shoes fetched $360l for the cause.

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Gesture is Named a Finalist for the 12th Annual Chicago Innovation Awards

innovationbadgeOut of a record-breaking 562 nominees, Gesture of Chicago IL has been selected as one of the Top 100 Finalists still in the running for the 12th annual Chicago Innovation Awards.  The awards celebrate the most innovative new products and services in the Chicago region across all organization sizes, sectors and industries.  1500 business and civic leaders will come together to honor the winners when they are announced on October 30th at Chicago’s Harris Theater.

The innovation nominated was founded in 2011 to help non-profits improve fundraising efforts by harnessing the power of technology. The company’s technology platform is responsible for helping to raise over $52 million at hundreds of events annually for organizations such as Ronald McDonald House, American Red Cross, Make a Wish, American Heart Association, Boys & Girls Clubs, universities such as Notre Dame, Purdue and DePaul, and Chicago-area hospitals including Rush Hospital, Children’s Hospital and Wheaton Franciscan.

“Chicago is in the midst of a monumental upsurge in innovation,” said Tom Kuczmarski, co-founder with Chicago journalist Dan Miller of the awards.  “It’s inspiring to see the range of vision and the depth of talent among organizations in the Chicago area.  Companies are investing in innovation and taking more risks to launch new ventures and uncover new value.”

As one of the Top 100 Finalists, Gesture will receive a $2,500 scholarship to attend The Practical Innovator, a day-long executive education course on September 27th led by top faculty who teach innovation at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.

Each of the Top 100 Finalists is also in the running for the annual “People’s Choice Award,” selected through online balloting at

Out of the Top 100 Finalists, the judges will select 10 winners of the Chicago Innovation Awards, as well as winners of the Up-and-Comer Awards representing innovation in the start-up community, the Social Innovator Award and the Collaboration Award.  The winners will be invited to ring the NASDAQ Bell in New York City, invited to separate meetings with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Governor Quinn to discuss their innovation and profiled in Crain’s Chicago Business.

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U.S. Silent Auction Leader Gesture Adds Tech Guru to Team

Gesture appoints John Polacek, speaker, popular award-winning open source code author, to help lead mobile bidding platform


johnnydayMobile bidding technology company Gesture today announced the appointment of John Polacek to Lead Web Developer, reporting to Chief Technology Officer, Rich Aquino.

“The appointment of John is critical because our philosophy is centered on the best people and technology working in collaboration with our charity partners. We are committed to a mobile bidding platform that keeps increasing the money each raises by 20-60 percent compared to the prior year’s silent auction,” noted Jim Alvarez, Gesture president and co-founder.

Polacek, previously senior developer at global advertising agency Draftfcb, has worked on mobile sites, apps, websites and more for brands such as Motorola, Boeing, Kmart, Volkswagen, Sharpie and Dow. He is best known for developing plugins used by thousands of developers and agencies all over the world to create award-winning work for their clients.

Polacek was sought to speak at Techweek Chicago where he gave the talk: “Open Sourcing Your Code for Fame and Fortune.” His popular responsive web design tools have been featured in Wired Magazine’s WebMonkey and online coding publications like HTML5 Weekly, Codrops and Treehouse. Polacek earned a BFA in illustration from Northern Illinois University.

“We are excited to add a very accomplished developer to the team and to elevate our silent auction technology to a new level as non-profit leaders increasingly seek engaging technologies that are easy-to-use and enhance relationships with their donors. We help charities take fundraising to the next level,” said Aquino.

Gesture plans to help manage 750 charity events in 2014.

About Gesture: Based in Chicago, Gesture was founded in 2011 to help non-profits improve fundraising efforts by harnessing the power of technology. The company’s technology platform is responsible for helping to raise over $52 million at hundreds of events annually for organizations such as Ronald McDonald House, American Red Cross, Make a Wish, American Heart Association, Boys & Girls Clubs, universities such as Notre Dame, Purdue and DePaul, and Chicago-area hospitals including Rush Hospital, Children’s Hospital and Wheaton Franciscan. Join the conversation with @GestureTeam or on Facebook.

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The Denver Post: Charitable silent auctions go digital and ditch the pen and clipboard

BK29AUCTIONTECHThe silent auction, among the last holdouts to succumb to the digital revolution, is finally giving way.

This year, several Colorado charities and nonprofits, from the Children’s Museum of Denver to the Colorado Symphony, ditched the pen and clipboard for the smartphone and Web browser.

By turning to mobile and online-based auctions for marquee fundraising events, charities increased the amount of money raised by 20-60 percent from the prior year.

The Children’s Museum used technology from Gesture, which allows donors to place bids via text message or a mobile Web browser.

“A huge part of Gesture’s appeal was that it allowed guests to bid on their cellphones and still mingle during the gala, as opposed to standing in front of a sheet of paper the whole evening to watch over their bids,” said Rachael Fischer, a marketing coordinator for the Children’s Museum. “Another great factor was that guests and museum employees were able to start the silent-auction process a few days before the gala by registering online.”

Article was originally published in the Denver Post.

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Alvarez wins Tyree award for startups

Crain’s Chicago Business
Jim Alvarez, CEO of Gesture, won the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce’s second James Tyree award for emerging business leadership.

Mr. Alvarez, a former trader, launched a company two years ago that allows bidders at charity auctions to participate by using their cellphones. It now has 34 staffers and expects $3.5 million in revenue this year. You can read more about Gesture here.

Gesture won the award for high-growth, small companies that’s named for the former CEO of Mesirow Financial Holdings Inc., James Tyree, who died two years ago. The award was announced Tuesday at the chamber’s annual meeting.

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Chicagoland Leaders Unite at Chamber’s 109th Annual Meeting

The theme of this year’s Chicagoland Chamber Annual Meeting of Membership – “Locally Grown, Globally Known” – is indicative of the goal shared by all of the prominent business and government leaders in attendance: to promote economic development in the Chicago region in order to remain competitive in the global marketplace.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel took the stage early in the event, discussing the importance of continuing to strengthen the relationship between the Chamber and City Hall to ensure collaboration between the two groups in working to revitalize the local economy.

To build a successful future for Chicago, the Mayor stressed the need for investment to make our workforce the best trained and educated in the country, the need to improve our city colleges, and the need to improve our transportation infrastructure throughout Chicagoland. He also emphasized the importance of attracting and retaining jobs and companies, noting that his work has begun to pay off as 14 companies moved their world headquarters to Chicago over the past year.

The Mayor also made sure to express his gratitude to Chamber President and CEO Jerry Roper, saying “I’d like us all to recognize 20 years of great leadership from Jerry Roper.”

Roper will retire from his post in August and will be succeeded by Theresa Mintle, who was chief of staff to Mayor Rahm Emanuel until leaving that post in March. Scott Swanson, Chair of the Chamber’s Board of Directors, led a standing ovation for Roper’s accomplishments over the past two decades and expressed excitement about the future of the Chamber under Mintle‘s leadership.

Keynote Speaker Jeff Smisek, Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer of United Continental Holdings, carried the same theme into his address with a focus on the airline industry and its importance to the business community and the regional economy.

The airline industry is responsible for $1 trillion in economic activity, millions of jobs, and the transportation needs of millions of people and companies. Because of this, Smisek said it is in the interest of all Chicagoland residents that the airline industry is successful. Smisek also fielded questions from the audience during a town hall discussion following his address.

16e4d9e8-3826-485a-8df2-f82d15350a05_zps080e0c7bThe final highlight was the announcement of Jim Alvarez, CEO of Gesture, as the 2013 James Tyree Emerging Business Leadership Award recipient. Chicagoland Chamber Vice Chairman and Mesirow Financial Chairman & CEO Richard Price presented the award alongside Eve Tyree, wife of late Chicagoland Chamber Chairman and business leader James Tyree.

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Gesture in Crain’s

alvarezAuction-goers dial their dollars with Gesture’s technology

Crain’s Chicago Business – June 2013, Lisa Bertagnoli, June 01, 2013, Photo by: Tori Soper

Jim Alvarez of Gesture LLC expects to conduct 755 fundraisers in Chicago and 13 other markets this year.

In 2011, Jim Alvarez attended a fundraiser and saw guests using smartphones to text silent-auction bids rather than scribbling on paper bidding sheets. The sight sent his entrepreneurial brain into a tailspin.

“As soon as I saw it, it was clear to me,” he recalls. “This is the future.”

Mr. Alvarez is CEO of Gesture LLC, an Oak Brook-based software outfit that enables attendees at nonprofit events to use their smartphones to bid on silent-auction items via texts, plus contribute to paddle raises and text-to-donate campaigns.

Mr. Alvarez launched Gesture by licensing the technology from its founders. His first gig was for Rush University Medical Center in May 2011, which he got by cold-calling. The event’s auction raised twice as much as expected, says Kelly Parker, assistant director of special events at Rush.

By the end of 2011, Mr. Alvarez had added 57 fundraisers. In 2012, the total rose to 295. He expects to conduct 755 in Chicago and 13 other markets this year and more than 2,200 in 2014 in part by adding six more markets—Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, Houston, Connecticut and New Jersey.

Gesture will post revenue of about $3.5 million in 2013, he says. It has 34 full-time and 200 part-time staffers, who attend galas (in bright red polo shirts) to help guests get started and troubleshoot if necessary. Mr. Alvarez also controls the technology. Weary of bickering with the software’s founders over changes, he introduced his own this year.

Gesture differs from its primary competitor, Indianapolis-based BidPal Mobile Auctions, which launched in 2008. BidPal requires clients to use its own device, an iPod Touch, and it takes a percentage of an auction’s proceeds. Gesture charges a flat fee, based on gala attendance and the size of the auction catalog, which allows organizations to keep more of the loot.

Mr. Alvarez holds down costs by paying sales reps only on commission. That also has allowed him to expand with less risk.

Doug Porter, CEO of Oak Brook-based Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicago and Northwest Indiana, began using Gesture three years ago for the nonprofit’s multiple silent auctions. Gesture has boosted net proceeds by about 20 percent and has made auctions more efficient:The annual Big Mac Under Glass silent auction offers six sports jerseys, not 12; fewer jerseys mean more and higher bids, Mr. Porter says.

Read the full article on Crain’s

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Gesture Products

Make Hope Happen
is more than just a motto.

People want to act on what’s important to them, to contribute to the success of something that matters. But often the business of charity interferes with the experience of giving. Since 2011, we’ve partnered with organizations to capture each helping hand, each friendly smile, and each round of applause by turning inspiration into action.

Meet Our People

1,000+ Organizations have trusted Gesture nationwide

Read What Our Partners Say
Gesture partners with many different nonprofit and charity groups all across the country

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