Meet the podcaster exploring the ins and outs of Chicago's startup scene

by Andreas Rekdal
April 8, 2016

Every year, hundreds of startups are founded by entrepreneurs in Chicago who saw some kind of challenge — whether personal or professional — and decided that they were the right people to address it.

By the time their startups launch, these entrepreneurs have worked tirelessly for months (or years) on solving the problems their startups are centered on. Oftentimes, they’ve thought more about the problem than literally anyone else — which makes for fascinating conversations.

Back in February, Chicago entrepreneur and podcast fanatic Colin Keeley decided to combine his passions for startups and storytelling. Microphone in hand, he’s been heading out to the offices of Chicago tech personalities to interview them for his podcast,

. On its seventh episode, guests thus far include Simple Mills founder Kaitlin Smith and co-founder Aaron Dallek — to name a few.

“I’m a big fan of podcasts, and most of the big startup podcasts focus on the big guys in San Francisco — the Ubers and the Facebooks of the world,” said Keeley. “So I was thinking I’d go hyper-local and focus on all the awesome startups being built right here by Chicago founders and investors.”

Beyond speaking with startup founders about what they do, Keeley’s interviews explore the aspects of Chicago’s tech culture that make it unique, as well as how Chicago’s tech scene has evolved over the years. (Spoiler: a lot of founders think Chicago is underrated as a startup hub.)

The most interesting insight so far, said Keeley, has been that there's a lot of different ways to become successful.

"Some people really study up and are really sophisticated in how they approach everything, and some people just dive right in, put their heads down, work really hard, and aren't distracted by other things going on in the scene," he said.

Originally from the Chicago suburbs, Keeley went to college in Minnesota, where he kicked off his career and got involved in the startup scene. Two years ago he moved back to Chicago, where he started Geneva Apparel — an online purveyor of high-tech men’s jeans.

To date, Keeley has had no issue booking guests for his podcast, with most people he’s reached out to saying yes in a heartbeat. And though the majority of his interview subjects are founders, Keeley is actively broadening his scope — most recently by interviewing

 VC Ezra Galston. Keeley said he’s open to the idea of going beyond the startup community as well, to talk with local politicians, movers and shakers whose jobs impact the tech scene.

Though his production value is higher than that of many professional podcasts, Tech In Chicago remains a side project for Keeley for now. He’s currently shooting for a weekly production schedule.

You can check out his podcast on iTunes, and Built In Chicago.

Image via Colin Keeley.

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