The Gateway to the West (Loop)

Written by Tim Hines
Published on Aug. 26, 2013
The Gateway to the West (Loop)

Have you seen the Built in Chicago map of Chicago startups lately? It’s exciting to see how many awesome startups are calling Chicago home and being plotted on the map. With an estimated one new company being started every 48 hours in the Windy City, it is likely difficult to keep that map up to date.

I, much like most of you, have come to know River North as the stronghold of Chicago’s startup and tech seen with 1871 being the anchor. Follow the brown line up from the Merchandise Mart and you’ll notice tech company after tech company dotting the River North landscape. San Francisco may have Silicon Valley; New York may have the Silicon Alley; but we in Chicago have the Silicon Railway (the stretch of L tracks from the Mart to the Chicago stop). Many of you know the folks that call that area home: SpotHero, Techweek, Groupon and Trunk Club to name a few. There are dozens upon dozens of companies in this amazing neighborhood of ingenuity and entertainment.

While most of the meetings you may attend and events you may crash are hosted in this area, its important to recognize that that not all that is ‘happening’ in Chicago startups/tech is going down in River North. There are many neighborhoods that startups call home in this great city, but one in particular is the West Loop, or the west extension of the Silicon Railway, and it’s booming.

Many household names like Sandbox Industries (on Racine Av.), Crowdspring (on Lake St.) and Threadless (on Madison St.) make the once meat-packing capital of the Midwest their stronghold.  With numerous office lofts and co-working spaces, the West Loop is becoming a more and more a vibrant part of the Chicago tech and startup community. If the startup migration to this hood wasn’t enough to persuade you, this might: Google is leaving their River North HQ for greener pastures off the Green Line. Once the tech giant has finished building out its new stronghold on Fulton St., the West Loop will be home to their Chicago operations. 

A recent CBRE analysis showed that many tech companies are vying for space in the West Loop as prices continue to climb in River North. This is simple supply and demand. 1871 alumni are rapidly moving into spaces in River North and prices are skyrocketing, while space in the West Loop remains competitive. 

Events are also becoming more frequent. Earlier this year, Lightbank hosted their Innovation Day with amazing content and speakers in the West Loop at City Winery. UIC holds many startup events at their new Innovation Incubator and will be playing host to Startup Weekend later this year. There’s also the month Inspire Startups Showcase & Pitch that I coordinate at the Inspire Business Center. As you can tell, the West Loop is an important part of Chicago’s booming startup scene.

I created a list of events, work spaces and companies that call that are headquartered in the West Loop. If I missed you, don’t worry; post your company’s name in the comment section and help give the West Loop the recognition it deserves.


Co-Working Spaces:                       


  • 37 Signals
  • AdGooroo
  • Autumn Berry Inspired
  • Bloom Health
  • Braintree
  • BTSocial
  • Central Street Games
  • Concept Feedback
  • CrowdSpring
  • CurbNinja
  • Coupon Doc
  • CookItFor.Us
  • Demibooks
  • Digital Bridge
  • Dine
  • Element Bars
  • Epic Burger
  • FoodJunky
  • Furywing Games
  • GeneXus
  • Give Forward
  • Gorilla (72)
  • Goshi
  • KitchIn
  • Knowledge Shift
  • West Loop Ventures
  • Lasso
  • My Short Track
  • Power2Switch
  • Reppio
  • Sandbox Industries
  • Savvo Solutions
  • Signal HQ
  • Skinny Corp (aka Threadless)
  • Sollywood TV
  • Sprout Social
  • We Gather
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