Meet the Chicago Startup of the Year Semi-Finalists

From the start of the 2015, has been on a journey to find the very best startups across the globe. From Chicago to Las Vegas and everything in between, we’ve identified more than 50 startups deserving of the title Startup of the Year.

On Monday, October 5 the world’s best startups will pitch their businesses in the semi-finalists showcase. Then on Tuesday, October 6, we’ll announce the Startup of the Year. If you want to catch up, take a closer look at a few of our semifinalists from the Chicago region, then see them in person at Celebrate 2015 tomorrow for our Startup of the Year Semi-Finalist showcase.

Chicago Startups


Caysh brings a social layer to gift cards. Currently in beta, their app allows you to create fun messages or videos to go along with with a virtual gift card. It works by taking a photo or video, selecting a recipient, and then sending them a set amount through PayPal. Once the giftee receives the funds, they can also respond with a thank you message.


Dabble lets you discover, teach, and host one-time affordable classes. Pursue your interests and meet new people without a big commitment. They make it easier to try something new or share your passion for interesting activities with those in your city. Through their one-off events, people can further explore their city, meet people, and learn about hobbies they may not have had access to.

Knowledge Hound

KnowledgeHound helps market researchers, marketers and sales teams find, visualize and analyze quantitative and qualitative consumer research studies. Their goal is to retain and reuse valuable information so that data-centric team members can gain the insight they need without starting from scratch.


TurboAppeal uses its technology to give property owners a simple and cost effective solution to reduce property tax costs and increase the chances of a successful property tax appeal. They charge 30% of the first year’s savings for Single Family Homes, with other pricing on other property types. Property taxes are the largest single tax in Illinois and everyone is affected by property taxes. Currently they only cater to Chicago area residents.


BeyondTag allows you to say what you’re willing to pay for for popular consumer products. From dresses to Beats Studio Headphones, their Wish Your Price system allows you to put in any price that you’re willing to pay for it. If accepted, BeyondTag will approve the amount, giving you a savings. Users have three attempts to input how much they would spend, and if none hit their spending threshold, the item becomes disabled. Essentially it’s a way to create your own sale, but with basic restrictions.


Screenom is the missing link for hiring managers looking to bring on technical employees, but lack the proper experience to fully evaluate their skills. Through regular updates designed by technical experts, Screenom is the additional resource added into the hiring process that makes it easy to test a technical candidate.

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Written by:
Elliot is an award winning journalist deeply ingrained in the startup world and is often digging into emerging technology and data. When not writing, he's likely either running or training for a triathlon. You can contact him by email at elliot(@) or follow him on Twitter @thejournalizer.
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