- All Community
Have you ever heard of Plug and Play Tech Center in Silicon Valley? I first learned about them when one of our advisors suggested that we enter our company, Storymix Media, into the “Pitch at Plug and Play Spring Expo” Contest.
Storymix Media was selected from dozens of Midwest companies (I have a knack for getting into incubators, pitch competitions, etc., but that's for another post) to win a coveted slot to go to Silicon Valley and pitch to nearly 100 of the Valley’s top Venture Capitalists and Angels – so I can now share the inside scoop.
The opportunity was valuable in itself, but thanks to my host and native Chicagoan Chris Sorensen I got to learn a lot about Plug and Play and how Silicon Valley works.
I've seen what 1871 can become and the future for Chicago startups is indeed bright.
First, the great thing about PnP is getting access to all the resources, materials, and contacts a startup needs to succeed. Companies get plugged into their extensive network ecosystem which quickly connects to the rest of the Valley and beyond. One thing that struck me was the big monitor you see when you enter the lobby which shows a calendar of all the investors, partners, and companies that are meeting that week. It is certainly the most unique combination of resources I've seen in the startup world.
In the short time I spent at PnP I met several startups that had been through various programs like their Startup Camp incubator or had offices in the center. Everyone mentioned how valuable being part of PnP was to their success. Mentoring from on staff Executives in Residence and access to a wide range of opportunities were cited as major benefits.
For startups looking for a great (and cheap) way to have a semi-permanent presence in Silicon Valley PnP may be the answer. You can have a desk or office that is always there for you when you need to get to the West Coast for important meetings. It also can give you more credibility with investors that you have an 'office' in the Valley.
After recently attending an event at 1871 and hearing from Kevin Willer and Matt Moog about their perspectives on what it can become, it sounds very similar to Plug and Play, which I think is a good thing. Chicago doesn't need to be the 'next Silicon Valley'. We have are own strengths (sanity for one!) to build on. But after experiencing PnP first hand, I see the major benefits to having a place like 1871 that can function and provide much of the same ecosystem.
One interesting difference between PnP and 1871 is that PnP is a for profit company. Startups need to demonstrate they can be successful and it is very much in PnP's interest to see them succeed, because they share the rewards by being part of many venture deals that they help accelerate.
I wonder how 1871's non-profit status will affect the success of the companies included. Time will tell.
ABOUT STORYMIX MEDIA
Storymix Media is a Chicago company that offers a unique way to crowdsource all the video from an event and easily turn it into edited output that is valuable. Our platform allows any device to upload through our iPhone app or website to a central account and our proprietary AutoEdit creates the finished product. We started in weddings with WeddingMix, expanded to Mitzvahs and youth sports, and soon will be building on our platform to serve the broader consumer and corporate markets.