Tapping On Shoulders: What I Learned at This Month's Built in Chicago Meet-Up

May 16, 2012


Entrepreneurs, investors and developers from around Chicago gathered in 1871’s new space in the Merchandise Mart on Tuesday, May 15.  Nothing brings people together like meeting some of the most exciting people in the Chicago startup world (and serving food and beer from Goose Island doesn’t hurt either).

While there were many new faces at Tuesday’s meet-up, there were quite a few familiar ones too.  “I was an early Built in Chicago adopter,” says JC Grubbs, the co-founder of DevMynd. “If you’re just getting started, it’s good to go to as many of these things as possible.”

Grubbs wasn’t the only attendee with advice for budding entrepreneurs. “It’s important not to spring in too many directions. Stay as focused as possible,” said La’Shon Anthony. “Many entrepreneurs getting VC funding these days walk around starry eyed with cash in their pocket—it’s not about what your office looks like or if you’re sitting in a $2,000 leather chair. It’s about what you’re providing to your customer or client. You never know what the economy is going to do tomorrow.”

But the main attractions of the evening were the presentations from five new and exciting startups.  CEO Mike Schott introduced his company, ElixServe, as a long-awaited updated solution for managing restaurants. The system solves “problems associated with scheduling, training and communication.”

Liz Eavey, co-founder of Stork Stack, explained that there are more baby products than ever, but less time to do the research to find the perfect products. Stork Stack offers a subscription service that delivers a stack of five of their favorite products. “Parenting is built of a community of sharing,” said Eavey. This sentiment seeps into every part of their business. “We fully expect that our next best idea is going to come from this community. Let’s let moms lead the way.”

Meg Goldberg, founder of bethie b., told the room that furniture is the #1 least recycled item in the home. bethie b. allows people to “buy and sell quality and unique recycle home interior items.”

CEO Jeff Scheur explained why his startup, NoRedInk.com, could help both teachers and students improve English test grades. “Red ink on a paper is not actionable feedback,” said Scheur. “NoRedInk.com is an adaptive learning tool that can generate grammar lessons by pulling in sentences using celebrities and even Facebook friends.” Color coded heat maps can help teachers and student zero in on areas for improvement.

As the final presenter, Nate Lassiter's message was simple: Who's In is a way to do "more fun shit with your friends." The app allows you to mark the places you want to go and shows you which of your friends wants to check it out too. 

Catch Built in Chicago’s next launch meet-up on June 7th from 6-9 p.m. Register here