Impact Engine: New Accelerator Opening in Chicago for Social-Impact Startups

May 25, 2012

9:00 am

Chuck Templeton, the founder of OpenTable and chairman at GrubHub, always had a “light green tint” to himself, he says. When his daughter was born 7 years ago, he started wondering what the world would be like when she got older – and became a bit uneasy.

So Templeton is now managing director of Impact Engine, a new tech accelerator for for-profit, social-impact startups set to open in Chicago. Impact Engine’s first class of 10 startups will go through a 12-week mentorship program from September to December and receive office space and $20,000 in funding. Once the startups are chosen, Impact Engine hopes to match them with “supermentors” who will stay with the startups long-term.

Until September, Templeton’s job is to help bring together an innovation community in Chicago around social and environmental issues. Impact Engine has already held a few “Start Your Engines” events, including a design workshop, a panel on social entrepreneurship, and a networking mixer. The upcoming June 4 event is “Office Hours,” featuring free 20-minute coaching sessions with local business mentors.

The Chicago community is also stepping up to provide support. Impact Engine startups will have mentorship and intern help from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, the Kellogg School of Management, and Northern Illinois University. Templeton hopes to stir up some activity in Chicago’s social-impact scene, and get local foundations, corporations, and especially young graduates involved:

“It’s a really energetic group that sees a lot of the challenges that we have out there and doesn’t believe that they’re somebody else’s problems,” says Templeton.

The application deadline for Impact Engine is June 30 – apply here.

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.

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