SVB report: Chicagoans expect business to be even better in 2015

Written by Sam Dewey
Published on Jul. 06, 2015
SVB report: Chicagoans expect business to be even better in 2015

After enjoying an incredible year in 2014, the Chicago startup ecosystem proved its prowess in cultivating innovation in tech. We’ve just crossed the halfway point for 2015, and according to Silicon Valley Bank’s Annual Innovation Economy Outlook report, that momentum will likely continue to grow.

“There is a specific amount of continued momentum that continues to be realized in Chicago,” said Dennis Grunt, Silicon Valley Bank’s director of its Midwest technology team.

Those surveyed in the report include more than 1,100 business leaders and influencers in the innovation economy from across the globe. The report received about 100 responses from the Midwest, with the majority of participants coming from entrepreneurs, executives, and leaders from Chicago, according to Grunt.

And those leaders are reportedly “bullish” about the growing levels of success in Chicago.

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That sense of bullishness finds its focus in a sense of excitement for “go-for-it” business opportunities for everything from continued scaling through revenue or exit opportunities in the near—or distant—future, Grunt added.

“An overwhelming majority of Chicago companies expect business conditions to be better in 2015 after meeting or exceeding forecasts for 2014,” Grunt said.

In addition, the report shed some light on the current state of venture capital investing in Chicago and the midwest. Grunt said that even though private capital investment in Midwestern cities like Chicago has improved in recent years, companies in the region face a few more challenges than companies in other geographies, like Northern California and the Northeast.

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Resultingly, companies in the Midwest more often rely on angel investors.

The report also indicated that executives and entrepreneurs in the region identified respectable sales and crafty marketing as the primary driver of success, above new products and markets, access to financing, and scaling.

As far as finding and retaining talent, Midwestern companies had results that varied from other regions, according to Grunt.

“Brand perception, salary and opportunities for personal development remain the key selling points for companies in the Midwest to both acquire and retain talent,” said Grunt. “This varies a bit from other regions – specifically Northern California – where there tends to be a greater focus on equity components of compensation.”

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Across the board, the survey suggested that companies had difficulty in finding talent. But according to Grunt, a greater percentage of Midwestern companies reported that finding talent was extremely challenging—particularly engineering and development talent.

Even coming off its successes of last year, Chicago may have to push the level of tech innovation it’s generating in order to attract the talent it needs to sustain itself.

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