Chicago is among the first to increase the number of jobs in the US tech sector: many IT and tech companies have offices in and around Chicago (Salesforce, Google, CareerBuilder, Orbitz, Groupon, Redbox, Motorola).
Chicago is not only jazz and mafia but also startups. KPMG reports Chicago as a contender to be an international hub for innovation: In 2016, Chicago startups raised $ 1.7 billion, and Uptake surpassed Slack and Uber as the most attractive companies of 2015.
By reading this article, you’ll get to know why the Chicago tech scene is a competitor to Silicon Valley, and the lack of “other people’s money” plays into its hands (spoiler: Chicagoans are used to “living on their ones”).
Profitability is the best measure of success.
Chicago does not like startups that cannot quickly make a profit: this is not pragmatic. It took Google, Uber, and Facebook years to become profitable. In Chicago, where profit is the yardstick, they would hardly be doing well.
Chicago entrepreneurs won’t chase user growth by postponing monetization. Here, most companies are cash-driven and therefore have fewer deals, but the return on venture capital in Chicago is the highest in the country.
Suppose in the Valley they believe that mistakes should be made “quickly and often,” and investors ‘ money mitigates the risks. In that case, pragmatic Chicago businessmen initially hunt for clients’ money as the best confirmation of their business ideas.
The reason why the Chicago tech scene has always had less venture capital is a mystery. But because of this, the entry threshold for new companies is higher here. However, the lack of funding can even be beneficial – in such an environment, only the most significant innovations will develop.
Here are some groups focused on or based in Chicago that comprises the tech scene.
https://techrise.co – Incubators for your startup – Where Chicago’s historically underrepresented tech founders find the funding, knowledge, and networks to help your business thrive.
TechRise by P33 is a multi-stakeholder initiative to support historically underrepresented tech founders from Chicago. We strive for racial, gender, and economic justice for all by challenging systems that limit access to capital from specific populations, especially from people of color.
In partnership with Verizon, 1871, investors, incubators, community leaders, and startup founders, TechRise brings you community, capital, and connections for every stage of your business. We’re with you from idea to exit.
https://www.blacktechmecca.org — Black Tech Mecca uses data to unleash the power and potential of technology to transform Black communities.
Black Tech Mecca’s (BTM) mission is to inspire the development of thriving Black Tech Ecosystems to ensure Black people are full participants in the global technology sector. Currently, the footprint of Black practitioners in the tech sector is not as great as it has the potential to be, and is also poorly defined. Black Tech Mecca uses data to paint a clearer picture of Black participation in local tech ecosystems. We then identify impediments to their full engagement and mobility, and work with local stakeholders to craft strategies for removing barriers and creating opportunities. Our goal is to democratize the tech sector, ecosystem by ecosystem.
https://www.getcities.org/chicago – GET Cities is proud to work in Chicago—a city with a growing tech sector, strong academic institutions, and a vibrant entrepreneurial and venture ecosystem where women run one in three startups.
We’re excited to work in a city that already has the ethos to see women in tech soar and offers a diverse talent pool that continues to gain momentum. We look forward to continuing to convene and elevate convening and elevate Chicago’s already robust efforts toward gender equity in tech, creating an actionable example for cities around the country.
https://1871.com – Join our innovation hub – an expansive community of founders, leaders, innovators, and supporters advancing the world forward and shaping a brighter future.
We’re an independent, nonprofit innovation hub named after the year of the Great Chicago Fire where innovators came together to rebuild and reimagine what’s possible. To this day, we’re rooted in our city with a reach that spans the globe.
We believe in the power of “and.” By partnering with others, we create experiences where everyone can find belonging and win.
Here, surprise and serendipity can be found in every step of your journey. Because when a vibrant community surrounds you, even the smallest and most unexpected interactions can create the greatest impact.
https://www.mhubchicago.com – An Innovation Center for All Things HardTech
mHUB is where people come to build the physical technologies that will change the physical world. Through prototyping labs, industry partnerships, and a commitment to U.S. manufacturing, the mHUB ecosystem is changing the landscape of HardTech development.
https://betaboom.com – Investing in founders as diverse as the consumers they serve.
First and foremost, Beta Boom invests in software companies building the future for women and multicultural consumers—a $4.4 trillion opportunity in the U.S. annually.
However, unlike many other funds, we invest in people rather than diplomas and in startups based in rising tech hubs across the U.S. rather than in Silicon Valley.
We love founders from truly diverse backgrounds that have unique and deep insight about their customers, have unbelievable grit and hustle, and are building something clearly distinct from their competitors.
If you’re driven and passionate about what you’re building, be sure to get on our radar!
https://polsky.uchicago.edu – Applying world-class expertise from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business to bring new ideas and breakthrough research to market
https://www.futurefounders.com – We’re building the nation’s largest inclusive community of young entrepreneurs
Access to Real Entrepreneurs – We pair youth with successful founders from the entrepreneurial community
Building Skills & Businesses – We inspire youth to develop entrepreneurial skills and 18 to 30-year-olds to build their businesses
Peer Community – We connect youth with like-minded peers who can provide a network of support
Engage Startup Community – We immerse youth in the dynamic and growing startup ecosystem