Moving to Chicago – A guide for Entrepreneurs and Startups

YoStartups Team

Whether you are an entrepreneur eager to set up your startup or a professional who wants to work in one, moving to Chicago can give you all the push you need in the right direction. Here is a quick guide for budding entrepreneurs and startups who are considering moving to Chicago to pursue their startup dreams. This windy city is home to a population of over 9 million people with a stunning GDP of $612 billion. Gone are the days when Silicon Valley was the only choice startups in the early stages had when they had to choose a city to set up their operations.  Chicago has proved to a wonderful alternative to the big startup hubs like Silicon Valley and New York City.

Known for its fantastic food, excellent music, and some of the best architectural pieces, the city welcomes entrepreneurs and startups from diverse fields with open arms. It is one of the largest and most beautiful cities in the U.S.

Why Entrepreneurs should consider Moving to Chicago?

The entrepreneurial culture in Chicago is growing at a fast rate and the growth in the technological community is thriving like never before. A recent KPMG report claims that Chicago has all the elements required that could make it the next big international hub for innovative brands. The city is home to more than 2000 startups and over 650 angel investors who are helping innovative startups with amazing and innovative products.

Chicago has a higher concentration of Fortune 500 than most American cities popular for their startup ecosystems. As an entrepreneur or a startup job seeker by moving to Chicago you can open doors to numerous opportunities at one go, you can find many big corporates and investors in the city and network with them. Doesn’t this sound tempting and get you moving to Chicago to start your next entrepreneurial venture or nudge you to find a startup job in Chicago?

Chicago Has a Strong Entrepreneurial Community

Setting up a startup in a community that is pro- entrepreneurs is helpful in many ways. There are more than 20 startup incubators and innovation hubs in the city that can provide your idea with the right direction in a number of aspects. Some of the incubators that are making a significant change in the way startups are set up and carried forward include 1871, Chicago Connectory, mHub, and 2112 among the others.  Chicago has a sense of community index of 5.5 according to a report by Startup Genome which is quite impressive considering that the average index is 4.9. The entrepreneurial community is positive and yearns to help each other make it big. Events to help startups and entrepreneurs meet and interact are regularly held in the city by several organisations.

Chicago Gives you All the Support You Need

A number of business incubators and other similar organizations conduct mentoring programs for helping budding entrepreneurs polish their skills and understand the know-how of setting up and running a startup. The Techweek conference that attracts over 10,000 participants each year is one of the favourite events for startups in Chicago. Not just that, the city is also a very progressive one. There are more women in the startup ecosystem in Chicago than in any other startup cities. The city is the home for several chapters of organizations that are focused on helping women entrepreneurs grow.

Chicago Has a lot of New Talent

The city is known for attracting talent that knows how to get things done.  Recruiters have a choice of business and tech professionals who are from some of the best colleges in the country. This flow of talent can be attributed to the presence of a well known educational institution in the city – the University of Illinois, the Illinois Institute of Technology, the Northwestern University, and the University of Chicago.  All these institutions offer premium entrepreneurship and computer science courses that can set the right foundation for a growing entrepreneur.

Chicago Has a Robust Venture Capital Scene

One thing that can propel the growth of startups is the funding. Startups in Chicago have attracted the right amount of venture capital funding, making the city more and more visible in the startup ecosystems.  Over 100 startups have already raised around $751 million in the first half of 2018 itself.  Setting up a startup in Chicago can help you get noticed with the right lot of other ventures and will also offer opportunities to learn from the success stories of startups in Chicago. The city has been consistently one of the top cities for venture capital returns.

One such Chicago startup success story is that of GrubHub which raised over $70 million and went to acquire four other companies. The company laid its foundations in 2004 and had gone public by 2015.

Chicago Offers an Exciting Lifestyle

A successful entrepreneur does not only work hard but also rests well.  Chicago provides a high quality of life with plenty of attractive features. Entrepreneurs can find the right balance of leisure and work in the city. There are many things you can do when you are not working.  Choose from an array of outdoor activities or visit one of the many parks or beaches. You can also go exploring the various neighbourhoods of the city as well.

Startup Sectors Soaring in Chicago

Startups in Chicago are not just limited to one niche. These are from a diverse background, and some of the popular startup ecosystems in the city include healthcare, tech, social entrepreneurship, clean energy, and machine to machine technology. Some of the tech subsectors are doing exceptionally well and fuelling the growth of tech startups in the country. Some of these sub-sectors are:

Chicago is the  Best Place  for AdTech Startups

Chicago’s advertising industry has been one of the leading ones for decades now after New York city known for advertising players like Leo Burnett. This has helped nurture the Adtech startup ecosystem in Chicago. A lot of adTech success stories have emerged from this windy city making it one of the dynamic adtech ecosystems in the country. One example is that of Signal, a cross-channel marketing company which raised a funding amount of $80 million. It caters to several digital agencies and other brands with its innovating marketing products and services. In case you are looking to build an AdTech or Marketing Automation startup, you should consider moving to Chicago, here are Free AdTech Startup ideas to help you in getting started.

AI, Big Data, and Analytics Startups in Chicago

A popular tech niche in most startup ecosystems, the AI, Big Data and analytics sub-sector, has soared well in Chicago as well. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is one of the powerful catalysts in leading the AI scenario in Chicago. It runs a program for Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Cybernetics which is one of the top 10 programs in the field. Talent for AI, Big Data, and Analytics is in short supply and sticking close to places which produce this talent is a good startup strategy, so if you are doing an AI, Big Data, and Analytics startup, considering moving to Chicago and get an edge over other players. Here are the few AI, Big Data, and Analytics startup ideas from Yostartups to initiate your startup journey.

Narrative Science is one of the startups that is notable in this field in Chicago. The company is creating an advanced natural language generation AI that can be programmed to have learning and writing skills like humans. The firms have raised close to $43 million already. Another success story from the  AI, Big Data and analytics industry includes Uptake Technologies that is valued at $2.3 billion and has raised $117 million in 2017.

FinTech Startups in Chicago

Chicago is a prominent American Midwest centre for fintech startup ecosystems. This sub-sector holds a 23% share of the total venture capital funding that the city has received since 2011. One of the important flag bearers of the fintech subsector in Chicago is a company called Avant. It has raised around $1.8 billion in all till 2017. It is an online lending platform that offers credit alternatives. Its target audience is middle-income American consumers.

Many Startup Genome partners are helping the various startups in Chicago grow at a reasonable rate. These partners include:

mHub

Catapult Chicago

University of Chicago

Matter Chicago

The Shift Chicago

1871

WorldChicago

You do not need to think twice before moving to Chicago for fulfilling your entrepreneurial aspirations. The city has all you need – a supportive community, a stunning infrastructure and lots of talent. Chicago also has its fair share of educational institutions that can help you and other entrepreneurs get the right skill set for leading a startup.

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This article is from Yostartups, YoStartups is a Pre Accelerator, and it empowers entrepreneurs to propel their business ideas into successful ventures. Yostartups’ core mission is to take the message of entrepreneurship to 1 billion people globally by 2020.

In case you are looking at scaling or launching a venture on similar lines, you can apply for our virtual acceleration program Excelrate on our website, Yostartups.com, Yostartups’ Excelrate program will help you in streamlining and structuring your startup idea. We have limited scholarships and discount packs for deserving business ideas, depending on the strength of your startup ideas, you may qualify for a discount.

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