Today 100 small American companies are headed to the White House to take their place as the new class of the Empact100. This showcase was inaugurated last year as a way to recognize the top 100 startups in America led by entrepreneurs under the age of 30, with over $100,000 in yearly revenue.
Local startups ContextMedia and The Starter League -- coincidentally both led by Northwestern alumni -- will be representing Chicago today at the 2012 recognition event. ContextMedia is a six-year-old suite of digital healthcare networks, which delivers media to educate and inspire patients. The for-profit company employs 36 people and will be represented by co-founder Shradha Agarwal. The Starter League is a school and more for aspiring coders and developers, founded in 2011 and currently boasting 10 employees. Co-founder Neal Sales-Griffin will be representing his company at the White House today.
[ibimage==19310==Original==none==self==ibimage_align-center](Infographic via Empact100)
“We decided to apply for the Empact100 because the organization's focus on bringing entrepreneurs together to make an impact on our community resonated with us,” Agarwal says. As a for-profit dedicated to inspiring healthier lifestyle choices, it seemed like the right fit. She hopes that this recognition will raise awareness for ContextMedia and open doors to new partnerships with other entrepreneurs.
Sales-Griffin agrees that awareness is a key outcome of being a part of this list, but he also says, “It's an incredible accolade, [and] all it means to us is that we'll have to out-do ourselves in the next year and innovate further!”
When asked which other Empact100 companies they admired, both representatives mentioned each other. “I was part of the ContextMedia team in the beginning, it kicked off my life as an entrepreneur and Rishi [Shah] is a really smart guy that I learned a lot from,” Sales-Griffin says. “It's pretty cool to be sharing the honor with the company that started it all for me.”
“Every company on the list has had an impact in their own industry and we admire all the founders for what they have built,” Agarwal says, though she specifically mentioned other fellow Empact100 companies GiveForward and, of course, the Starter League.
More than anything, the two founders are looking forward to connecting with the other entrepreneurs. “We are taking a pledge together to commit to fostering entrepreneurship and giving back in our ways to empower other aspiring entrepreneurs,” Agarwal says.