- All Community
About two-dozen aspiring and impassioned startup founders pitched in front of judges and venture capitalists this Thursday at State Farm’s Next Door, making a case for their bootstrapped dreams. Amplify’d was the first event of its kind for Next Door, a community space that’s part cafe, part free financial planning resource.
The 21 ventures had to explain, in five minute lightning round pitches, how their concept is basically going to be the next great startup success story—startups like social-gaming apps; job and college placement resources; and social media platforms, among others. Judges in turn, questioned their value propositions, revenue models and the strength of their teams.
Judges hailed from State Farm; Lightbank; McMillianDoolittle; Dillon Kane Group; and the Plug and Play Tech Center with guest lectures delivered by BodyShopBids, IDEO Chicago (which helped build Next Door) andRentStuff.com, sharing their startup success stories and lessons in innovation.
State Farm was eager to host its first startup pitch at Next Door as a natural extension of its community cafe mission, said Operations Vice President Jack Weekes. While offering a place for locals to seek individual financial coaching, Next Door also offers a full calendar of personal finance and business planning classes.
Weekes says it’s important for the 90-year-old insurance company to connect with young entrepreneurs because they both are in a constant state of analyzing new customer, technological and marketplace trends.
“While we have been successful for the past 90 years, we have a healthy fear of what the future looks like,” Weekes said. “Just because we’ve been successful for the past 90 years, doesn’t mean we’re going to be successful for the next nine years, and there have been many changes that have been affecting our business in insurance and financial services.”
Below are the first, second and third place winners of the night, declared by the judges and five other startup pitches to give you a taste of day-long event. If it’s one thing most of the startups had it common, it was in providing solutions to problems facing Next Door’s demographic: young, tech-savvy urban dwellers. Ah, synergy.