This week, Chicago played host to its second Venture Summit — an opportunity for the nation’s leading VCs to meet with fast-growing tech companies from Chicago and its surrounding regions.
The summit’s presenters ran the gamut of leaders in Chicago tech, from Mayor Rahm Emanuel and J.B. Pritzker to some of the city's most promising young upstarts, including
This year, the conference is highlighting 90 companies, who have been meeting with attending VCs from 147 firms from across the nation over the course of the past two days.
“We wanted to showcase the variety and the capabilities of these companies here in Chicago,” said conference chair Mark Tebbe, adding that companies were chosen by asking the community.
The founders of five of the city’s most successful tech companies participated in a panel on the unique advantages of — and challenges facing — Chicago as a tech ecosystem.
Here are five large takeaways from that conversation:
1. Chicagoans are extraordinarily loyal
Founders and employees tend to stick with their companies, even when the going gets tough. Looking back at photos of the
2. Chicago’s tech founders want to see each other succeed
After taking a meeting with a recent Washington transplant, Shradha Agarwal, who founded
3. But we still have work to do in building up a lasting, multigenerational tech ecosystem
Silicon Valley success stories don’t come out of nowhere. Part of the Valley’s success is derived from the fact that founders of decades-old tech companies stick around and reinvest in younger companies.
4. Chicagoans should dream bigger, and embrace failure
“In the Valley, you know that if your company fails you can walk across the street and get another job,” said Al Goldstein, founder and CEO of
5. The ecosystem benefits from a diverse economy
Many of Chicago tech’s biggest success stories are in the B2B space — and that’s no coincidence. Unlike many cities, Chicago doesn’t have one dominant industry but many, meaning that there’s plenty of opportunities for young companies to get in touch with major actors in every conceivable business vertical.
Andrew Sieja founded
Image via Built In Chicago.