VIDEO: Starter League Founders Neal Sales-Griffin and Mike McGee at Chicago Founders’ Stories @ 1871

by Pat Ryan
April 23, 2013

(This was originally posted on Pat’s blog:

Starter League Founders Neal Sales-Griffin and Mike McGee shared their journey, lessons and many laughs at March’s Chicago Founders’ Stories @ 1871. We had another sold out crowd join us @ 1871 for pizza, beer, and to hear the two entrepreneur’s stories.

This is the seventh installment of Founders’ Stories. If you would like to check out the prior events, you can see them here: Braintree Founder Bryan Johnson, Open Table Founder Chuck Templeton, Grub Hub Founders Matt Maloney and Mike Evans, Belly Founder Logan LaHive, Context Media Founders Rishi and Shradha, or Siri Founder Dag Kittlaus.

Both guys are graduates from Northwestern University. Neal attended Northwestern thinking he’d play sports but ended up focusing on his academics and majoring in finance. Mike, a political science and film major was the Academic Vice-President of the student body. When Neal ran for student body president, he met Mike and they both got to know one another. Neal went on working with different companies and worked with Context Media Founders Rishi and Shradha. Once Mike graduated, Neal asked him to join him launch a new tech start-up.

Although the two men knew little about coding, they spent a year finding different ways to learn about it. From there, Starter League (formerly known as Code Academy) was created. After meeting with several investors and creating a business plan, Mike and Neal launched Starter League, a software school that gives students a three month long opportunity to learn and network with the best Chicago developers and entrepreneurs.

My INCISENT Labs teammates and I have really enjoyed partnering and sponsoring the past seven Chicago Founders’ Stories @ 1871. Since the event sold out we recorded it and are putting it online for those who couldn’t make it. We broke up the hour into five segments for easier viewing.

In the first segment, Mike and Neal talk about how they got the idea of Starter League and how they started the business.


In this segment, Mike and Neal give a background of their lives and how they met at Northwestern. You get to know a lot about their journey to becoming entrepreneurs.


In the third segment, Mike and Neal talk about the many other opportunities they were offered, including working for President Obama’s presidential campaign. However, after speaking with numerous leaders in the industry and investors, Mike and Neal stuck with their idea of starting a school that teaches coding.


In the fourth segment, Mike and Neal get more in depth on the students and people behind Starter League and share what it is like to partner with 37Signals.


In the final segment, the founders take on questions from the audience members.


We hope you enjoyed this interview with Mike and Neal, and look forward to our next upcoming Chicago Founders’ Stories @1871.

Pat Ryan is a business and social entrepreneur who has created several high growth software companies as well as several innovative urban education initiatives as a social entrepreneur. Pat’s first company, FirstLook, was recognized by Inc Magazine in 2008 as the #4 fastest growing software company in the U.S. in its Inc 500 rankings – the highest ranking ever for a Chicago based software company. Pat is also the Founder of MAX as well as the Founder and CEO of INCISENT Labs, a platform and incubator for innovative, industry-changing technologies that spin out into high growth companies. MAX was created in INCISENT Labs where Pat and a team are currently incubating their latest start-up. Pat blogs at and can be reached on Twitter @INCISENTLabs


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