Friday, April 29, 2016

Startups Raised $220M After the First Chicago Venture Summit. Here are All the Deals

Startups Raised $220M After the First Chicago Venture Summit. Here are All the Deals

Midwest tech companies will hope to find similar success at the second Chicago Venture Summit on April 21.

One common criticism of the Chicago tech community is the city's access to capital. Chicago startups, while having seenrecord VC funding of late, still fall behind cities like New York and Boston when it comes to venture dollars raised.
To help address this issue, in 2014 Chicago tech leaders launched the first ever Chicago Venture Summit, a day-long showcase where 30 Midwest startups were able to connect with over 100 venture funds, many from out of town, and the event attracted industry leaders like the Founders Fund's Peter Thiel and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.
At the inaugural event Trunk Club COO Rob Chesney told the investors in attendance to "find a reason to do a deal here," and now looking back a year and a half later, we know exactly how many deals actually got one.
Of the 30 Midwest startups at the 2014 Chicago Venture Summit, 23 companies received investments in 33 rounds of funding, and two companies were acquired. In totals, the startups raised more than $220 million, highlighted by Shiftgig's $32 million, ParkWhiz's $24 million, Geofeedia's $23.5 million, and SpotHero's $20 million.
Rocketmiles was acquired by Priceline for $20 million, and Shoutlet was acquired by Spredfast for an undisclosed amount.
To piggyback off the success of the first event, the Chicago Venture Summit will return on April 21 to help facilitate more relationships between Midwest startups and national investors. The event will take place at Google's Chicago headquarters, and will feature a talk by Steve LaValle, the principal scientist for Oculus VR before it was purchased by Facebook. And Steve Jurvetson, a partner at Silicon Valley venture firm DFJ, who was responsible for the firm’s investments in Tesla Motors and SpaceX, will close the summit with a fireside chat.
Here's a breakdown of the deals made following last year's Chicago Venture Summit, based on data provided by World Business Chicago.
4C: Undisclosed debt financing from Square 1 Bank
Ahalogy: $8M (2 rounds) from Origin Ventures, Hyde Park Venture Partners, CincyTech, North Coast Angel Fund, Vine Street Ventures, Drummond Road Capital, Silicon Valley Bank, and JobsOhio
Apervita: $17.92M from GE Ventures, Baird Capital, Pritzker Group Venture Capital, MathVentures and other undisclosed investors.
eSpark: Undisclosed from Reach Capital
Eved: $14.3M from Huizenga Capital Managament, MK Capital, Pritzker Group Venture Capital, Merrick Ventures
Geofeedia: $23.5M (3 rounds) from Glade Brook Capital Partners, Blue Vista Ventures, Hyde Park Venture Partners, Tim Kopp, David Gupta, Gene Delaney, and Silversmith Capital Partners
Persio: $2.5M from Hyde Park Venture Partners, OCA, Serra Ventures and IllinoisVENTURES
LISNR: $10.32M (3 rounds) from Techstars, Serra Ventures, Rubicon Venture, Intel Capital
Narrative Science: $10M from USAA, Sapphire Ventures, Jump Capital and Battery Ventures
NowSecure: $12.5M from Baird Capital, Jump Capital, Math Venture Partners
Opternative: $8M (3 rounds) Jump Capital, Tribeca Venture Partners, Pritzker Group Venture Capital, Chicago Ventures, Craig Duchossois, Sam Yagan's Corazon Capital, and NextGen Venture Partners
OptionsAway: $3.5M from OCA Ventures, Thayer Ventures, Pritzker Group Venture Capital, Martyn Williams, Don Carty and Howard Tullman
Pangea: $2.8M from undisclosed investors
ParkWhiz: $24M from Jump Capital, Beringea, Baird Capital
Shiftgig: $32M (2 rounds) from Garland Capital Group, KGC Capital, Chicago Ventures, DRW Venture Capital - VC arm of DRW Trading Group - Firestarter Fund, Lakewest Venture Partners, Corazon Capital, Pritzker Group Venture Capital, Lakewest Venture Partners, Jose Marin, Fabrice Grinda, Wicklow Capital, Renren Inc
Shoutlet: $5M from undisclosed investors (also acquired by Spredfast)
SpotHero: $20M from Insight Venture Partners, Battery Ventures, Bullpen Capital, Chicago Ventures, Draper Associates, OCA Ventures, Pritzker Group Venture Capital, 500 Startups,
ThinkCERCA: $3.2M from Follett Corporation, Math Venture Partners, Amicus Capital, Great Oaks Venture Capital and Chuck Templeton
TrackIf: $5M from Origin Ventures, Grotech Ventures, Chicago Ventures
UICO LLC: Undisclosed from Plymouth Ventures
YCharts: $5.83M from Reed Elsevier Ventures, Amicus Capital, Hyde Park Angels, 12A, Barney Harford, Morningstar, Jumpstart Ventures
Zipnosis: $18.5M (2 rounds) from Arthur Ventures, Omphalos Venture Partners, Waterline Ventures, Hyde Park Venture Partners, Fairview Health Services, Ascension Ventures, Safeguard Scientifics
Zipscene: Undisclosed from Fifth Third Bancorp

1871 Hosts Group from Bosch Tools for Tour and Work Session


April 28, 2016 | by Kristin Samuelson

EVANSTON, Ill. --- It was standing room only in Norris University Center’s auditorium for inspiring keynote addresses by Chicago-area luminaries at Northwestern University’s annual event, “A Day With Northwestern.”

Presented by the Northwestern Alumni Association (NAA) and open to the public, nearly 400 attendees gathered for the sold-out program April 9 to hear riveting keynote addresses from Orbert Davis, an Emmy Award-winning musician and co-founder, conductor and artistic director of the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, and Howard Tullman, CEO of Chicago’s 1871 startup incubator, as they highlighted the day’s presentations from prominent Northwestern alumni and faculty.

Though from different backgrounds and industries, both keynote speakers focused on a similar theme of urgency and the importance of acting in the current moment.

Davis’ speech, “The Urgency of Now,” focused on four key elements to pursuing anything important in life: dreams, faith, opportunity and work.

“Dreams should always evolve,” he said. “My dream was to be a musician and a catalyst for change. Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen, and faith is positioned by opportunity, which is built upon work.” 

Davis earned his master’s degree at Northwestern in jazz pedagogy in 1997 but said his passion while here was to learn as much as he could about African and African-American history.

“I spent some of my fondest hours at the Melvin J. Herskovits Library of African Studies,” Davis said. “It changed my life.”

Davis’ organization, the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, focuses on music performance, education and cultural diplomacy.

“We believed that music is the medicine for students who are at risk for failure … and we believed that music involvement can save lives,” Davis said, recounting why he founded music education programs for Chicago children.

 Davis spoke about establishing relationships and exchange programs with young musicians from Cuba. He helped bring a group of Cuban musicians to Chicago and Northwestern in 2015.  

“We wanted our students to see the splendor of Northwestern,” Davis said. “Because if you saw their facilities in Cuba, you would cry … But maybe you wouldn’t, because when you hear these kids play, it’s mind-blowing.”

During his speech, Davis played video clips from performances and at one point spontaneously grabbed his trumpet and played to illustrate how improvisation (in music and life) means responding to the moment.

True to his industry, keynote speaker Tullman, a member of the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law’s class of 1970 and a 1967 graduate of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, spoke swiftly and concisely. His speech focused on seven current and future trends in technology and social media, and his first point was about time being the scarcest resource of all:

1. “Time is the single vector on which every business will have to compete. Today, it’s not the big that eat the little; it’s the fast that eat the slow. If you’re not in a big hurry, you’re probably too late.”

2. “Data is the oil of the digital age,” Tullman said, adding that the most important thing about the Internet is that it allows us to measure what users are doing, take information and turn it into insights.

3. You are competing against everything for people’s attention, and “the clutter is accelerating,” he said.

4. Social marketers and companies should aim for “engagement, not eyeballs,” he observed. Don’t raise your voice, he said. Improve your arguments. People want engaging, relevant and customized content in the right place at the right time. 

5. “We live in a world of constant connectivity,” he said. More people have cellphones than ever had landlines. Worldwide, there are more phones than toilets, he noted.

6. Tullman spoke about the importance of “cyberspace, not any place.” Today, he said, “real time matters, not real place, because we can be anywhere and everywhere at the same time.”

7. The Internet is changing attitudes toward sharing, reputation and trust, Tullman said. Studies show that people don’t trust each other as individuals, but they do trust “the crowd” that reviews and offers products or online services they value. For example, through Airbnb, many people will open their homes to strangers. It’s still unclear where this trend will lead, he said, but it’s something to watch.

Tullman ended with a series of tips and practical advice for innovators and would-be entrepreneurs. 

His bottom line: Start now, focus and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

“Your greatest fear should never be failing,” he concluded. “It should be spending your life succeeding at something that doesn’t really matter.”

Wednesday, April 27, 2016





In early April, Chicago technology incubator, 1871, brought more than 90 talented students together from across Illinois to develop and pitch real startup companies at the third annual Campus 1871 event. Twenty-one students hailed from our Urbana-Champaign, Chicago, and Springfield campuses and included a diverse group of students from the Colleges of Engineering, Business, and Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the School of Public Health. Others came from the University of Chicago, Northwestern, IIT, Loyola, and DeVry.
I had the pleasure of helping event organizers with the weekend long startup competition, which included a keynote from 1871 CEO Howard Tullman, a Q&A with a panel of successful founders from 1871, and sessions on how to build a business plan, perfect your pitch, and design the ideal user experience. Several U of I staff and alumni were also on hand to offer up mentorship and guidance to the student teams at Campus 1871. Stephanie Larson, Assistant Director of Student Programs & Marketing at the UIUC Technology Entrepreneurship Center (@TECenter) and Joey Mak, OVPR’s Director of Economic Development, provided input on each team’s business plan, while UIUC alumnus Marty Malone (@martymal1) helped students practice their pitching.
Students self-selected into 12 teams and spent the weekend developing their business idea. The weekend culminated with each team pitching their idea to a panel of judges.
This year’s competition was fierce and several of the teams presented creative and well-thought-out business ideas. Two teams tied for third place: EquipMe, an online platform connect people with disabilities to the medical equipment they need, and AnySpace, a platform that allows users to rent out their extra space for social events. Second place went to dating app, ChiDates, which is leveraging video capabilities to create new user connections.  Each of the teams received a 3-month membership to 1871.
UIC industrial engineering student Maria Mckiever had the winning idea. Grapevine, a startup that connects users with stylists in the black hair care community, is based on Mckiever’s personal experience of having to find stylists through the grapevine. The Grapevine team, which included students from Northwestern, University of Chicago, and IIT, received a 6-month membership to 1871.
 “Campus 1871 was an incredible experience because it allowed students from all different universities and perspectives to come together to build out an idea,” says Mckiever. “Our team is so excited to continue working on making Grapevine a reality.” Read the ChicagoInno article about the team here.
Overall, the weekend was packed full of entrepreneurship, innovation, and inspiration. It was wonderful to watch students from different schools, majors, and backgrounds come together. Congrats to all the students who participated and big thanks to the entire 1871 staff (@1871Chicago) for a wonderful event!
Photo by 1871.

1871 CEO Howard Tullman Introduces Ali Hossaini for Navy Pier Conversation on Connectivity

I’m pleased and excited to have this opportunity to introduce Ali Hossaini for tonight’s conversation about connectivity and how we can use technology to better connect our communities, to build new communication channels, and to aggressively activate our public spaces.

I’m sure Ali will talk tonight about a variety of ideas, devices, installations, displays, kiosks, etc., but, to me, the singly most powerful tool for connection ever devised is the cell phone and I believe we’re just beginning appreciate its power. You may regard it as a calling tool, but we think of these devices (to which we are now permanently tethered) as digital trackers.

They will serve and disturb us forever more. To give you just the slightest, but most telling example, consider this – the average response time for an email is 90 minutes while the average response time for a text message is 90 seconds and the open rate on texts is 98%. We’ll never be free again.

But – make no mistake – we’re all willing accomplices in our own torment because we’re willing to trade our peace and privacy for convenience, savings, and speed. Throughout the day, as we go about our ordinary business, each of us creates a massive stream of descriptive data and it’s this very output that increases the value and the power of our devices.  

Today, we’re all digital immigrants, but our kids will all be digital natives - connected almost from birth by this most immediate and intimate device. In fact, for our kids, it’s virtually a second brain. When it’s used properly, it can make us all more productive, more aware, and better decision makers because it provides us with (a) what we need; (b) when we need it; (c) wherever we are; and (d) increasingly, without asking.  

And again, this process is just beginning.  Places and spaces like the Pier will tell us stories – draw us in - motivate and guide us - and deliver a highly customized experience with rich media and content which is engaging, relevant, and - most importantly - delivered at the right time and place. Everything today is about creating immersive and compelling experiences. Attention spans are short – interest is fleeting – you’ve got to be there when the buyer is ready.

We call this concept “contextual commerce” or I Want What I Want When I Want It. Building systems to deliver real-time results and experiences like this and doing it well isn’t easy. It’s all about creating and sustaining active consumer and customer engagement through data-driven systems which help us establish an ongoing and growing relationship with each and every individual which is at once (1) authentic; (2) immediate; and (3) personal.

The good news is that these aren’t expensive and complex systems and even the simplest of them can learn and improve their accuracy and their responsiveness (and therefore their value and utility) with every interaction.

The bad news is that we’re never going to get to where we need to be if we don’t get started right now. In fact, I like to say that if you’re not in a hurry at the moment, you’re probably too late.

But speed alone isn’t very helpful if you’re headed in the wrong direction and, if you don’t care where you end up, any road will take you there. What we need is a guide and a map for the journey ahead. And, as luck would have it, we have just such a person with us tonight.

I give you Ali Hossaini. 

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