At the turn of the 21st century, Chicago was once referred to as the “flyover city”. Venture funds would fly back and forth from Silicon Valley to Boston, completely ignoring technology startups in the Midwest.
All that has changed now, and homegrown companies like Groupon have prompted a rippling effect in the startup ecosystem, influencing hundreds of digital startups to emerge from the area. With a look back at Chicago's startup past and present, it's clear Chicago is a rising startup hub that presents future entrepreneurs with plenty of opportunity.
So what are some of the benefits of starting up in Chicago?
We spoke with Jason Jacobsohn, the Director of the Chicago Founder Institute. With expertise in startup funding and investor readiness, Jason has mentored close to a thousand companies in the "The Windy City".
In this installment of FI Behind the Scenes, Jason pinpoints three benefits for launching a company in Chicago.
1. It’s more affordable than other cities.
You’re not paying millions of dollars to buy or even rent office space in Chicago. The costs are a lot better here.”
2. You have support from the city.
It’s a really good time to be in the startup [scene] here, the mayor has pushed investment into the space and there is a huge push for [small businesses] in the ecosystem. You have support from the city, large corporations, and programs like Founder Institute. There are a ton of resources here.”
3. Smaller market
It’s not as large as the Silicon Valley market, so you can be a big fish in a small pond, and make a big difference.”
After coaching entrepreneurs in for the past five years, Jason shares the most satisfying aspect of helping entrepreneurs launch in Chicago:
If you could use expert training and advice to launch a technology startup in Chicago, then apply today.
(CHICAGO Skyline via Shutterstock)