Progress: Building companies in Chicago

by Una Pipic
September 16, 2011

For the last several months the CEC has been working with a group of exciting startups that launched this summer. I wrote about these startups here, here and here. It has been great to see them progress, hit new milestones, get market validation and press recognition. All these founders have been really busy over the summer and I wanted to recognize their great efforts during the past few months:


Smarteys is an online tool to manage personal finances. The founders have been on fire this summer! They hired a new CTO who I hear is a rockstar, evolved the business model to include B2B in addition to B2C offering, and received great press coverage from Chicago Sun-Times, ABC's Windy City Live, & Excited to see the new site and product offerings this fall!


Loadio is the LinkedIn for transportation. They launched less than a month ago and already have 20 business customers using the system!


PreScouter connects corporate R&D labs to new innovations emerging from universities. The team has honed in on a product offering and validated its customer acquisition model resulting in great revenue traction.


Code Academy teaches people how to code and it is one of the most exciting new local startups! It seems that the biggest challenge for startup founders today is finding great technical talent and these guys are nailing it! They launched their site this summer and received 88 applications for a dozen spots!!!  And the quality of applicants was so impressive that they decided to offer two classes instead of one! Several accepted applicants will be flying into Chicago from across the country to learn how to code for the next 3 months (and they have two students who are flying in from different continents!!!!!!). Are there enough exclamation points in this write-up? Keep a close eye on these guys- they will change the local landscape for the better!


SpotHero is a platform that efficiently connects parking demand and parking supply. Awesome validation this summer: winners of the inaugural Apps4Chicago Metro Contest and great Fox coverage. 


KoalaDeal uses your interests and past purchases to find matching deals from the most popular deals sites. Another awesome local startup! They have been picked up in more than 40 media publications including (my favorite!) Springwise and Crain's Chicago Business. Their user count is up by over 400% with thousands of consumers currently using the platform. Also, they closed two strategic partnerships to use the KoalaDeal Relevance Platform to improve conversions on partners' offers. 


plura Financial matches small businesses with a nationwide network of commercial lenders. Huge win this summer was signing up two strategically important customers/banks: the second largest SBA 504 lender in Illinois, and a Portland-based bank that focuses on Healthcare financing. They also facilitated several large loans over the summer, further validating their value prop and business model. 


In case it is not clear from all my exclamation points and over-utilization of awesome, exciting and great, I am very excited about the progress these companies are making- and so should you. If you have not met these founders yet or used their product- reach out and check it out. These are the companies that will lead the way in growing and promoting the startup community in Chicago!



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