23 venture capital firms in Chicago you need to know

Sam Dewey

They say we operate with a certain mentality here in the Midwest. Slow and steady; safe and certain. In business and in life, the Midwest has a reputation for hard work, accountability, dependability, and low risk-taking. 

But as Chicago tech continues to assert itself as one of the leading innovation hubs in the world, does that description really fit?

According to recent reports by both Compass and Silicon Valley Bank, venture capital investments in the city are growing. As successful tech trailblazers like Groupon, GrubHub, and Coyote Logistics (as well as newcomers Raise and Avant) continue to solidify the city as an alluring home to build a business, that trend is likely to continue. 

In honor of the venture capital firms fueling Chicago's explosive growth, we've rounded up the top names that have helped build the city into what it is today. 

 

HPVP is an early stage venture fund focused on software startups in the Midwest. The firm invests in startups with $500K to $3M in revenue, raising their first institutional round of capital. They look for high growth or large market growth opportunity with a demonstrated strategy to obtain market share.
Location: Chicago
Investments: 40+
Exits: 2 acquisitions 
Notable portfolio companies: Geofeeedia, Avant, ParkWhiz, FourKites
 
 
 
 
 

MATH Venture Partners is an early to growth-stage fund managed by a team of hands-on investors and operators. They look for companies that have customer acquisition as part of their core DNA. It is this maniacal focus, deep appreciation for process and exceptional talent that makes them stand out. The fund is managed by seasoned entrepreneurs Mark Achler and Troy Henikoff.

Location: Chicago
Investments: 14+
Notable portfolio companies: Nowsecure, ThinkCerca, Telnyx
 
 
 

Investing in seed-stage tech companies in Chicago and across the Midwest, Chicago Ventures looks to invest anywhere from $250,000 to $1 million in its companies. Chicago Ventures is located in 1871, which puts it at the heart of the city’s innovative tech scene.

Location: Chicago

Investments: 49

Exits: 4 acquisitions 

Notable portfolio companies: SpotHero, Curiosity, G2 Crowd

 

 

Related: The Best Startups to Work for In Chicago

Energy Foundry is dedicated to building successful energy technology companies, and their financial investments are coupled with support tailored to the needs of a growing energy business, including an advisor network advice on government funding or foundational partnerships.

 

Location: Chicago

Investments: 7

Notable portfolio companies: Digital H2O

 

 

 

Hyde Park Angels is a syndicate of angel investors made up of former executives, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists looking to invest in seed and early stage businesses in the Midwest. In addition to funding, HPA also provides strategy, coaching, and domain expertise to its portfolio companies. HPA was founded in Chicago in 2006 by a group of Booth School of Business alumni and invests in business and financial services, consumer products and services, digital media and technology, and healthcare. Hyde Park Angels works closely with Hyde Park Venture Capital, another leading firm in the city.

Location: Chicago

Investments: 45

Exits: 6 acquisitions 

Notable portfolio companies: YCharts, TurboAppeal, Rithmio

 

 

Jump Capital, a Chicago-based firm that focuses on expansion stage and growth capital investments, has invested in some of Chicago’s hottest up-and-coming startups. Investing in both newly-minted startups and and more established businesses, Jump Capital provides a package deal of advocacy, organizational support, and resources for entrepreneurs.

Location: Chicago

Investments: 29

Notable portfolio companies: NowSecure, Narrative Science, Opternative

 

 

Headquartered in Chicago, Pritzker Group Venture Capital has helped many entrepreneurs build their technology companies through every stage of growth. Founded in 1996, the firm has worked with more than 100 companies and brings to the table tremendous flexibility and size.

Location: Chicago

Investments: 100+

Exits: 1 IPO and 14 acquisitions 

Notable portfolio companies: Roniin, SMS Assist, Options Away

 

 

Founded by ContextMedia co-founders Rishi Shah and Shradha Agarwal, Jumpstart Ventures is a venture fund that primarily invests in seed and early-growth technology companies in the Midwest. Founded in 2011, Jumpstart Ventures has invested in many of Chicago’s most promising tech startups.

Location: Chicago

Investments: 46

Exits: 4 acquisitions 

Notable portfolio companies: WeDeliver, Dose, SwipeSense

 

 

 

Related: The Coolest Tech Offices in Chicago

With a prolific history of investing, Lightbank — a financial organization that makes investments from companies spanning from seed and Series A to late stage investmentments — has established a stellar reputation, not just in Chicago, but across the country. With founders like Brad Keywell and Eric Lefkofksy (and celebrated former general partner Paul Lee), Lightbank is an influential leader in Chicago tech investing.

Location: Chicago

Investments: 100+

Exits: 11 acquisitions 

Notable portfolio companies: Groupon, Sprout Social, Techstars, Belly

 

 

 

A global private equity investment management firm, Adams Street Partners has over four decades of experience with six offices in five countries that management investments in companies in over 30 countries across the globe.

Location: Chicago

Investments: 90+

Exits: 10 IPOs and 21 acquisitions

Notable portfolio companies: Craftsy, Smule, Scytl

 

 

Origin Ventures specializes in providing early-stage companies with the financial and organizational resources they need to scale successfully. The firm focuses on three sectors: e-commerce, digital media and ad technology, and software as a service. 

Location: Chicago

Investments: 34

Exits: 1 IPO and 2 acquisitions

Notable portfolio companies: GrubHub, Ahalogy, Doggyloot

 

 

 

Founded in 2003, Sandbox Industries is a Chicago-based venture capital firm that wants to connect entrepreneurial talent and drive with corporate resources. With three main business lines (venture funds, accelerator programs, and an innovation consulting business), Sandbox does everything from seed and early stage venture to private equity investments.

 

Location: Chicago

Investments: 33

Exits: 5 acquisitions

Notable portfolio companies: NaviHealth, Lumiata Health, FanGo Software Systems

 

 

OCA Ventures focuses on equity investments in tech companies with significant potential to grow. They’re particularly interested in companies that do innovative work with technology, services, mobile commerce, and web 3.0. They invest across a number of industries but prefer financial services and for-profit education.

Location: Chicago

Investments: 50+

Exits: 5 acquisitions 

Notable portfolio companies: Whittl, Pear, Base CRM

 

 

 

Run by a cohort of local founders with stellar track records of launching and growing digital tech startups, FireStarter Fund is a seed stage investment fund based in Chicago. The fund’s purpose is to spur innovation by connecting up-and-coming tech companies with the wisdom, resources, and advice of seasoned entrepreneurs who currently run their own businesses and know what it takes to succeed in the space.

Location: Chicago

Investments: 13

Exits: 1 acquisition 

Notable portfolio companies: Blitsy, Kapow, GiveForward, Hireology

 

 

IllinoisVentures focuses on seed and early-stage technology companies, specifically those that are research-derived in the IT, physical sciences, life sciences, and clean technology industries. IllinoisVentures was born on the campus of the University of Illinois and helps connect the world’s leading researchers with entrepreneurs in order to build truly innovative ideas and companies.

Location: Chicago

Investments: 23

Exits: 3 acquisitions 

Notable portfolio companies: Rithmio, Revenew, Persio

 

 

Baird Capital's Venture Capital team invests in early and expansion stage technology-enabled services and healthcare companies.

Location: Chicago

Investments: 60+

Exits: 29

Notable portfolio companies: Apervita, NowSecure, Synap

 

 

 

With offices in both Chicago and Los Angeles, MK Capital offers multi-stage growth equity and venture capital to companies in a variety of sectors, including digital media, data center automation, software, and edtech. In addition to funding, MK Capital collaborates on strategy, operations, and technology.

Location: Northbrook

Investments: 39

Exits: 1 IPO and 6 acquisitions 

Notable portfolio companies: Machinima, SimpleReach, Wellspring

 

 

Ceres Venture Fund helps fund promising, high-growth companies in the Midwest during their early growth stages. This women-run fund seeks primarily to partner with entrepreneurs with a proven track record in order to help fuel their success with the resources they need most.  

Location: Northfield

Investments: 9

Notable portfolio companies: Coverity, Eved

 

 

 

Duchossois Capital Management, the investing branch of Duchossois Technology Partners (DTEC), is an Elmhurst-based venture capital firm that focuses on information technology, communications, semiconductors, and software. The fund, which was founded in 1998 and receives all of its capital from the Duchossois family, hopes to create long term growth in value.

Location: Elmhurst

Investments: 22

Exits: 2 IPOs and 5 acquisitions 

Notable portfolio companies: Echo360, Smart Signal, Brivo

 

 

At First Analysis, research is the cornerstone of all of the firm’s investments. Their 40-person team of investment professionals has more than 15 years of investment and industry experience on average, many of whom focus specifically on researching specific industry sectors.

Location: Chicago

Investments: 26

Exits: 1 IPO and 6 acquisitions

Notable portfolio companies: Freeosk, Chrome River Technologies, UniversityNow, Yello

 

 

 

Hopewell ventures is bringing equity capital, expertise, and over a century of experience to high-growth businesses in the Midwest, averaging between $2 and $7 million in initial funding. Hopewell’s investments span a variety of industries, including technology, healthcare, manufacturing, and medical devices.

Location: Chicago

Investments: 11

Exits: 2 acquisitions 

Notable portfolio companies: InStadium, Inc., Mersive Technologies, SageQuest Inc.

 

 

Specializing in software, IT, and communications markets, JK&B Capital is a Chicago-based venture capital firm with over $1.1 billion of capital under management. Founded in 1996, JK&B boasts an impressive track record and offers operational and technology expertise in addition to sheer funding.

Location: Chicago

Investments: 60+

Exits: 1 IPO and 15 acquisitions 

Notable portfolio companies: Actiance, EarlySense, Viewfinity

 

 

KGC Ventures

KGC Ventures invests primarily in early stage clean technology companies. KGC Ventures says it looks for highly motivated and entrepreneurial management teams who are committed to building the next generation of clean technology companies.

 

Location: Chicago

Investments: 16+

Exits: 1 IPO and 1 acquisition

Notable portfolio companies: AdYapper, Whittl, Shiftgig

 

Related: Best Startups to Work for in Chicago

Editors note: This list does not represent 100 percent of all venture capital firms in Chicago. The list was written at the author's discretion, based on factors like recent activity, investments size, and notability in Chicago. 

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