Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Microsoft Ventures Asks: What Makes Your City Special? Chicago and 1871

Microsoft Ventures Asks: What Makes Your City Special?

Chicago startups
We are proud to partner with Microsoft Ventures to promote their Digital Work Accelerator in Seattle. The team from the Digital Work Accelerator has been traveling across the country to conduct pitch events and information sessions to help startups apply to the accelerator
Last Friday, the Microsoft Ventures Digital Work Accelerator stopped in Chicago to highlight local startups, local programs and sponsors, and the accelerator program itself. According to Michael Donnelly, the Director of Strategic Partnerships with Venture Connects in Chicago, the Chicago event “reached a larger audience than they have seen in any other city combined to date.”
What does this say about the City of Chicago and its Startup Ecosystem?
“This by itself says that the Chicago entrepreneur and tech community is fierce, and Venture Connects is excited to be a part of this growth by actively bringing together entrepreneurs and investors through advice, education and connections.  We heard from local entrepreneurs and had a vibrant round table discussion with influencers on how to keep up the momentum. Can’t wait to see what’s next!”
This week, the program tour continues as they visit DC on Wednesday and San Francisco on Thursday, prior to closing the applications for the accelerator on Friday. Will the DC and San Francisco startup communities rally to support local startups as much as Chicago has? We reached out to Martin Schray, Sr. Evangelist with Microsoft, to find out about all of the exciting happenings in Chicago and at the Chicago event. The collection of quotes from excited attendees that Martin provided was overwhelming!

“With $1.6B in funding and $7B in exits,” he pointed out, “2014 has been the best year yet for Chicago startups.”

Who are some of these startups?
“The Microsoft Open House event was of great value for Parknav. Not only did we get the chance to present in front of a packed auditorium at 1871, but we also experienced incredible support from all the great people at Microsoft who are involved with this amazing event. Their input has been very valuable already and we’re looking forward to continuing the conversation with the folks at Microsoft.” – Gerhard Boiciuc, VP Business Development at PARKNAV

“It was an honor for Kahoots to be selected to pitch to Microsoft Ventures, and after the event we immediately secured additional funding for our bridge round. Kahoots being featured at this event created substantial moment for our startup.” Nick PetitKahoots Founder & CEO

“It was amazing to see how many people attended the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator pitch session at 1871. When it’s standing room only, you know that you have something special. Chicago should be proud of the entrepreneurial spirit that was on display that day, and frankly everyday, at 1871. We were honored to have the opportunity to pitch our HR Analytics solution to a company like Microsoft, who clearly understands the value that entrepreneurs bring to the marketplace each and every day.” Neil Morgan, Founder and CEO, Cobalt Solutions

“We were VERY pleased with the Microsoft Open House event hosted at 1871 on 1/23.  It was a big win for the Chicago tech ecosystem to have an industry leader like Microsoft spend an entire evening with us discussing its vision to become more involved in startups (specifically in Chicago).  For ClearNDA, we benefited greatly from this event.  This was our first pitch event, and to have it be on such a grand scale was a fantastic learning experience and opportunity to get our name out there.  We see a big future with Microsoft, and will definitely support each and every event they aim to put on in Chicago!”  Carl Gatenio, CEO ClearNDA

“Microsoft really shined by getting the right people in the same room — specifically, larger VC’s, MSV reps, and Chicago-based service businesses.” -Earlybird

“The Microsoft Ventures event at 1871 was the largest startup event I have ever seen there.” – William Robinson, VP, Silicon Valley Bank

“Startups that focus on digital work are helping more people return to the workforce and be more productive. Digital work is changing the way we think about employment – people are no longer constrained by where they live or the fact that they may need to or wish to work from home and we see these trends as the future of the working environment. Microsoft has been a great partner in this vision and we expect our partnership to continue to grow.” Howard Tullman,  1871 CEO

The adulation just keeps pouring in about the Chicago event! If you think you might be creating a product that would fit into the Digital Work Accelerator and you still have questions, be sure to contact Or, tweet it out: Add your question and Click to Tweet: @MSFTVentures @techcocktail #digitalwork #Q&A
Startups apply now to the Microsoft Ventures Digital Work Accelerator!

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