Founder of Origin Ventures
Miller received a Distinguished Donor award on May 19, 2011 at the Academy’s Illinois Startup 2011 event. See more photos
Steven N. Miller is an important name for University of Illinois students and faculty alike.
Miller, a principal and co-founder of Origin Ventures and an active participant in the Illinois entrepreneurship community, has made gifts of more than $500,000 to the College of Business. These gifts have established the Steven N. Miller Entrepreneurial Scholarships and the Diane & Steven N. Miller Endowed Professorship in Business – but Miller’s impact on the Illinois community doesn’t stop there.
Miller also serves as an angel investor and as a Champion for budding Illini entrepreneurs. In these roles, he provides aid to entrepreneurs who need capital and/or expertise to build their businesses. A graduate himself from the College of Business at the University of Illinois, Miller also serves on the Dean's Business Council.
Miller often speaks in entrepreneurship classes and workshops. Perhaps it is his training with the Second City improvisational comedy troupe that aids him in effectively engaging with the students. In December 2009, Miller acted as a judge in the Academy’s Second Annual Philanthropic Innovations Forum. This initiative, which was co-produced by the Academy and The Hillel Foundation, engaged Illini social entrepreneurs in six learning sessions. At the end of the program, students pitched their social venture plans to a panel of judges in hope of winning a prize to help implement it.
Miller’s business experience began with his work at Quill Corporation, a direct marketer of office products started by his family in 1956. His responsibilities there included running the Canadian distribution center, buying and merchandising a $30 Million product line, and starting up the e-commerce operation. He wrote the business plan for the company's first web site, www.quill.com, and managed the team that executed it to $15 Million in annual revenue. The Miller family sold Quill to Staples in 1998 for over $1 Billion.
Miller brought that e-commerce knowledge to his efforts at Origin Ventures, a firm which he co-founded to invest in e-commerce and other industries. Origin Ventures invests in early stage companies in the Midwest, focusing especially on Chicago, and takes an active advisory role. Miller serves on the boards of VHT, GrubHub and Shoutlet. He has also served as a professional advisor for iNest and for GolfServ.com.
But his work doesn’t stop there, either! Miller is also active in his community, as a board member of the not-for-profit organizations i.c.stars and Urban Students (US) Empowered. i.c. stars provides inner-city young adults with technology training and leadership development; Urban Students (US) Empowered, which furnishes urban students with the resources, support and networks that make higher education a reality.
For his significant contributions to the entrepreneurial community, Miller will be receiving a Distinguished Donor award on May 19, 2011 at the Academy’s Illinois Startup 2011 event.