- All Community
Chicago has one of the world’s most diverse business environments. We have Fortune 500s, small and mid-sized businesses, mom-and-pop shops, one man shows--the list goes on. They are spread across a range of industries, but there is one widespread trend: our companies solve problems faced in the marketplace. We do more than simply create something cool and hope to make millions.
This is a huge point of pride for Chicago. When there is demand in the marketplace for a certain product or service, entrepreneurs understand that and respond accordingly. It’s not rocket science, it’s a business model and philosophy that focuses on giving people what they need or want. Sure, that kind of company might not be as neat as Facebook but, done correctly, it will monetize from the start while maintaining a sustainable business model.
When I think of companies that exemplify this philosophy, two in the transportation industry come to mind: Coyote Logistics and SpotHero. One is a 500+ person organization, while the other has single digit employees working in 1871’s workspace. I’ll let you guess which is which. Their businesses may not mirror each other, but are great examples of how entrepreneurs recognize a market in need and deliver a unique solution.
Coyote Logistics works with 25,000+ carriers at the local and national level to ensure their customers get their products shipped: “Period. No Excuses.” They were founded “to offer the best third party logistics experience ever.” That was in 2006, and last year they were named to Inc. Magazine’s fastest growing companies in the U.S. list, clocking in at number 221. Their three-year revenue growth from 2007-2010 was at 1,437 percent. Seems like they’re doing a pretty good job of offering a solid 3PL experience for their clients. Their growth has also created a huge demand for a talented work force, providing great opportunity for a lot of young and experienced professionals to join the team. They came in at #1 for Chicago Tribune’s best mid-sized companies to work for.
SpotHero takes the headache out of finding parking in Chicago. We’ve all been faced with such dilemmas: in a rush, too lazy to walk further than three blocks, cheap, friends coming into town, Cubs game, you name it. Well, SpotHero addressed all of these issues with a web-based application that facilitates the process for you. “By reserving your parking online ahead of time through SpotHero, you know exactly how much you’re going to pay, and where you’re going to park.” They’ve been making a lot of noise lately, notably at the end of last year when they took home a $10,000 prize for winning the Apps for Metro Chicago contest. Since then, they have been accepted into one of the best accelerator programs in the industry, Excelerate Labs.
Coyote Logistics and SpotHero are great examples of Chicago-based organizations (both large and small) that truly solve problems. They were built using sound business models with monetization plans in place. It sounds obvious, but this is something Chicago has taken a lot of slack on from different spots across the country. Just reference Pando Daily’s “Midwest Mentality” article, which I think most of us remember very well. The thing is, with companies like these, we’re proving them wrong.