Tech roundup: Leap Innovations receives $5.1M grant, Groupon launches Apple Watch app, & more

by Sam Dewey
June 25, 2015


1871's Leap Innovations receives Gates Foundation grant for $5.1M

Earlier this week, 1871-based Leap Innovations received a $5.1 million grant from the Gates foundation. According to CEO Phyllis Lockett, the funds will be used for the nonprofit to introduce advanced learning technologies in classrooms. Half of the funding will be used to develop Leap’s internal infrastructure—including new research capabilities—to help as it expands its pilot programs across the city. [Leap Innovations receives $5.1M grant from Gates Foundation: Chicago Tribune]



Groupon introduces Apple Watch app to make shopping for deals even easier

This week, Groupon launched its Apple watch app, making viewing and buying deals easier for its customers. According to Chicago Inno, Groupon said the new app will enable users to buy Groupon deals right from their watch, browse other deal offerings for events and restaurants, and be notified about deals near their location. [Groupon launches an Apple Watch app to buy deals from your wrist: Chicago Inno]



DialogTech introduces service to measure and optimize mobile customer acquisition

According to a statement, DialogTech has launched DialogTech for Mobile Marketing, a new solution to arm marketers with the ability to track, control, and optimize calls from popular mobile advertising. The comprehensive, end-to-end marketing solution measures customer acquisition from money-making sources like Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Display, among others.



Ford launches new ride-sharing pilot program

In order to become a bigger player in the sharing economy, Ford Motor Co. has piloted a new program to help car owners rent their Ford models to other drivers when their cars are not in use. The program is rolling out in Chicago and five other cities in the US, with 14,000 customers involved. 12,000 additional Ford owners in London will also participate. The program is available to any customer who’s financed their vehicle through Ford Motor Credit, which will allow them to rent their Ford model to prescreened drivers. [Own a Ford? Want to rent it out?: Crain's Chicago Business]


Designs Desk launches new graphic design marketplace

A new graphic design crowdsourcing platform brought to you by Designs Desk launched Thursday in Chicago, according to a statement. This new marketplace for graphic design hopes to bridge the gap between clients and designers who are looking to make a little more money on their own schedule. Designs Desk can connect businesses with graphic designers from around the world to fill work on all levels of design projects.


WeDeliver acquired by Silicon Valley's Deliv

Chicago-based WeDeliver, the delivery platform that enables same-day delivery for over 100 merchants in the Chicagoland area, announced it has been acquired by Deliv, a leading crowdsourced and same-day delivery company based out of Silicon Valley. WeDeliver launched in 2013 after founders Jimmy Odom, Daniela Bolzmann, and Kirk Lashley took first place in the November 2012 Startup Weekend. [Built In Chicago]



Centro, Solstice Mobile among 4 Chicago companies named 100 Best Workplaces for Millennials 

Four Chicago companies were named among’s 100 Best Workplaces for Millennials in 2015, including Centro, a leading digital marketing agency, and Solstice Mobile, a tech company that builds digital products, from mobile apps to wearables and IoT systems. Centro came in hot at number 28, while Solstice Mobile rounded out the list at 92. Fortune’s recognition is based on research that comes from working millennials themselves. The company surveyed close to 90,000 millennials across the country in order to collect data for the list. [Built In Chicago]



Tanvas secures $5M to transform the 'touch' in touchscreen

Tanvas (previously known as Tangible Haptics) announced this week they have raised a $5M Series A round, led by R7 Partners with participation from Peak6, Northwestern University, and two Silicon Valley venture investors.Haptic technology allows users to physically interact with their touchscreen devices. It might sound like science fiction, but with Tanvas’ high-resolution touch effects, a consumer will be able to feel the texture of objects on the screen. That means you can tangibly sense things like weight, pliability, stickiness, and all kinds of texture under the sun just by sliding your fingertips across a display screen. [Built In Chicago]



Orunje, the Uber for healthcare, launches to bring the doctor right to your door

This week, Orunje (pronounce ‘orange’) launched in Chicago. Orunje is an on-demand healthcare service that enables Chicagoans to bypass emergency care clinics and instead opt for primary care that's brought right to their door—with just the click of a button. Orunje’s licensed healthcare providers can treat a wide variety of health issues, from the common cold to pneumonia. With this service, patients can avoid a lot of the pitfalls that typically come with a traditional office or emergency room visit, like waiting rooms and increased exposure to illness. [Built In Chicago]


[ibimage==48780==Original==none==self==null]'s new iPhone app wants to teach you 5 new things a day, a two-time Moxie Award nominee that advocates for daily learning and growth by aggregating the best educational content from around the web, has taken another step forward to fulfilling its mission. This week, the company, which has been called the ‘Pandora for the knowledge-hungry,’ launched its first iPhone app—a tool they hope will keep its users learning every day. The app will showcase the top five things to learn from across the platform’s various topics each day. [Built In Chicago]

Have a tip for us or know of a company that deserves coverage? Email us via [email protected]

Chicago startup guides

Best Companies to Work for in Chicago
Best Software Engineer Jobs in Chicago
Coolest Offices in Chicago Tech
Best Sales Jobs in Chicago
Best Perks at Chicago Tech Companies
Your Guide to Healthtech in Chicago
Best Data Science & Data Analyst Jobs in Chicago
Best Marketing Jobs in Chicago