For many years, Chicago’s start-up community has found itself torn between two identities – the city flushed with the success of our entrepreneurs and the start-up community behind the shadow of Silicon Valley. The conversation has grown louder and encompassed more supporters with continued innovation and the international visibility of companies that have been founded here and have established roots in the “City of the Big Shoulders,” as Carl Sandburg once penned in his poem “Chicago.” It is those very big shoulders, those of J.B. Pritzker (New World Ventures), Eric Lefkofsky (Lightbank), Joe Mansueto (Morningstar) and Bob Fealy (The Duchossois Group) that have provided funding in support of Built in Chicago. We covered this site previously as we looked at the trend of city-centric tech community hub websites.
Built in Chicago is a social network built on the Ning platform. The community hub strives to reveal the talent behind the renaissance of Chicago’s entrepreneurial spirit. Built in Chicago offers local companies looking to gain awareness additional opportunities and an audience of peers, and the continually evolving collection of community-generated events, blog posts and information aims to grown a dedicated audience. Membership is quickly growing within the Built in Chicago site as word makes its way throughout the city – whether chief information officer, content creator or developer. Start-ups looking for visibility, those in supporting industries, investors, buyers and agencies all can benefit from getting involved, contributing and networking to continue fostering this momentous time in Chicago’s digital community.
With this week’s report from Crain’s Chicago that venture investments doubled from the same time last year to $215 million, and the fact that Chicago’s start-up investment outpaces those of other places (even those receiving capital from Silicon Valley), there is an increased pull and need for the start-up community to continue propelling this movement forward. In many ways, Built in Chicago is a celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit found in this city–from the small incubators housing developers with dreams to the big companies and agencies exploring and breaking barriers. While creating a place to bring all of these ideas and talent together, it recognizes and promotes the energy and missions of the complementary organizations that are working alongside the Built in Chicago mission. It’s important to note that as Chicago’s digital community continues to flourish and grow, there is a great opportunity for start-ups to make the connections that could lead not only to funding relationships, but also to the advisory connections that are critically important to break through from idea to success.