Press / Media
"John Roa's Second Acts"
Entrepreneur John Roa made his imprint on Chicago's tech scene with UX consultancy ÄKTA. With a host of projects on the way, however, that may have just been the beginning.
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Over 20 years of tech and lifestyle entrepreneurship
"I believe in design-led companies and the power of customer experience. The companies I invest in all share one thing in common: we create unfair advantages by basing every decision on a deep, personal understanding of our customers and always deliver through beautiful experiences."
John Roa is a lifelong entrepreneur, technologist, philanthropist and business investor. He has founded and managed six technology companies since learning to program at age 11. His largest company, ÄKTA, went on to be one of the fastest growing companies in America in both 2013 and 2014, and was fully acquired by Salesforce Inc. (NYSE: CRM) in September 2015.
Outside of business, John is a passionate activist and philanthropist, having been a partner and donor to dozens of non-profit organizations as well as founding and running his non-profit organization, Digital Hope, from 2010 to 2014. Digital Hope focused on building a digital bridge between international NGOs with high levels of impact but little means of fundraising, and passionate micro-investors in America and Europe. Digital Hope successfully executed projects with orphanages, wildlife sanctuaries, schools, anti-trafficking centers, rehabilitation centers, and more, in over a dozen countries.
An avid and adventurous world-traveler, John has found his way to 55 countries, whether by backpack or briefcase. He is attached to his Leica camera, facilitating some 100,000 travel photographs, with selects having been featured in publications like National Geographic.
After committing to take a hiatus from technology startups after selling ÄKTA, he founded Roa Ventures, focused on early-stage investments, projects and experiments in lifestyle companies. Initial outside investments included Ellison (luxury eyewear hand-made in Greece), The Grand Voyage (designer footwear made in Italy), an unnamed hospitality project in Beverly Hills, and others. He then focused real estate investments on the island of Mykonos, Greece.
Successful development of the first luxury mansion led to the creation of Roa Real Estate, who now manages a fund focused on developing luxury residences in Eastern Europe.
He is also an owner of SantAnna, Europe’s most anticipated new mega beach club and restaurant, as well as Sunlust, a high-end swim and sunwear boutique that opened inside of SantAnna, in late June 2017.
Roa is also authoring a memoir on his experience of running and selling his latest business, that will be released in 2019. He is also a sought-after speaker on the topics of Artificial Intelligence, Entrepreneurship, Business Innovation, Mobility, and User Experience Design.