Chicago is a special place for startups. Despite a crazy warped opinion from Pando Daily a while back, people have started to see Chicago’s thriving entrepreneurial and startup ecosystem for what it really is.
While the verdict is out on the actual success of Groupon, we can’t discount the story of it’s rise to fame and popularity from it’s downtown Chicago headquarters. Despite the fact that ousted CEO Andrew Mason is retreating to Silicon Valley, Groupon, like Belly and GrubHub are products of the Chicago startup ecosystem.
While Groupon, Belly, GrubHub, Lightbank, SimpleRelevance and others are names a lot of tech entrepreneurs from across the country know, what’s really amazing is the success that the 1871 incubator has had since it opened it’s doors. 1871 has housed 225 startup companies, creating 800 jobs. 1871 companies have generated $12.7 million dollars in revenue and drew $27.6 million in venture capital. Of course we can’t forget to mention that Chicago is home to one of the newest Techstars programs.
With this wild growth at just one address (albeit a gigantic one) in downtown Chicago, the entrepreneurial leaders in the city announced Wednesday the formation of Chicago Founder’s Circle (CFC). CFC is a new Peer-to-Peer Networking Group offered exclusively to Founders and CEOs of emerging growth companies in Chicago, with a focus on supporting and nurturing the expanding and vibrant emerging growth company community in the region.
CFC was founded by thought leaders actively involved in the emerging growth sector from a variety of different Chicago-focused organizations, including: DLA Piper, Lightbank, Northwestern University, Deloitte, Dignitas, NEA, and Silicon Valley Bank. CFC is structured as an annual group of 25-30 entrepreneurs who will be invited to participate in a series of four events that will offer them the opportunity to connect with one another and listen to prominent speakers. A fifth networking event will serve as a “graduation” type event that will bring together the current class
“We created the Chicago Founders Circle because of the amazing entrepreneurial talent that exists in Chicago,” said Greg Grossman, Partner at DLA Piper. “By connecting world-class mentors, advisors and investors with Chicago’s most successful entrepreneurs, we’ll have the opportunity to contribute to the local economy in a very profound way. The CFC leadership team is excited to use its collective knowledge and skills to foster the growth of these companies and help these entrepreneurs succeed.”
“There is a growing and burgeoning startup ecosystem that has been building in Chicago for a while now,” added Bill Pescatello, Principal at Lightbank. “Last year alone saw a record-breaking $391 million in funding awarded to 197 local startups, which confirms the need and opportunity for a peer-to-peer networking group in Chicago. Our hope is that CFC will become one of the anchors of Chicago’s start-up community for today’s industry leaders and the future generation of motivated, young power players.”