In the book The Tipping Point the author, Malcolm Gladwell, describes it as the little changes that can have big effects; when small numbers of people start behaving differently, that behavior can ripple outward until a critical mass or “tipping point” is reached, changing the world.
I have been lucky enough to be involved with dozens of startups in the Chicago community through consulting, working for and starting a few of my own. It seems like the ground swell of entrepreneurship is finally reaching that “tipping point”.
Chicago has been getting some much deserved press with the recent Fast Company article featuring Chicago as a great place for startups or the fact that Crain’s launched a section for small business. We are fortunate to have dozens of organizations in Chicago who have been supporting entrepreneurship for years.
But, I am talking about the grass root efforts that are taking place under the radar, that is slowly changing the landscape. I am talking about all the new buzz and comradery in the community. People like Mark Bertrand who is curating the startup digest, a list of weekly startup events around the city. The group of entrepreneurs who started Scale Well, a grant of $1,000 to help companies small startups get off the ground.
A brand new incubator called Excelerate, which Crain’s decribes as, “backed by a Who’s Who list of entrepreneurs”. New investment fund lead by Brad Keywell and Eric Lefkofsky two industry veterans that have funded Groupon, Echo Global Logistics, Innerworkings and Mediabank- which combined employ more than 2,500 people and generate in excess of $1 billion annually. They have paired up to create a $10 million fund to launch Lightbank, an incubator that could invest in as many as 10 companies a year.
Finally I am really excited to be part of the team that is bringing StartUp Weekend to Chicago for the second time. We are hoping to make this year bigger and better than ever with an ambitious goal of doubling last year’s attendance to 150 entrepreneurs for 54 hours. Mark your calendars for Startup Weekend for June 25-27th. Check for updates on the Chicago Startup Weekend blog, tickets will be going on sale in a few weeks. So keep up the good work Chicago, I am excited to see what the next few weeks, months and years bring to the Chicago startup community!
Here is a great video from Crain’s on the rise of the Chicago Startups