2012 felt a lot like 1871.
Chicago’s startup community came together last year to open a home for early-stage startups to build their businesses side-by-side, to have access to education and mentorship, and to meet customers and investors. Building the next-generation of high-growth Chicago companies captured the spirit of the year 1871 that was defined by an incredible period of innovation, entrepreneurship and using technology to build the modern city we know and love today.
A year ago, 1871 was not even announced yet – it was an idea, a plan on paper. Today it is a thriving center where over 200 early-stage startups are building their high-growth companies. We have hundreds of expert volunteers teaching Workshops or sharing their knowledge through individual Office Hours. We have hosted well over 100 events at 1871 welcoming over 12,000 visitors through our doors. We have valuable partnerships with leading organizations like Excelerate Labs and the Starter League as well as with many of our top universities like Northwestern, the University of Illinois, the Illinois Institute of Technology, Loyola, and the University of Chicago. 1871 really has become the hub of startup activity – putting a spotlight on local startups and on Chicago – welcoming government and business leaders like Mayor Emanuel, Governor Quinn, British PM Cameron – and the CEO’s of Twitter, Caterpillar, Walgreens, Northern Trust, Allstate, Groupon, and the co-founder of AOL.
So what will 2013 bring?
In 2013, 1871 will work to create an even better experience for our startup members and partners. We will work to create an even more welcoming home for our startup community. We will invite leaders and investors from around the country and around the world to come see what is happening in Chicago. Please refer any great startups you know to apply – we’re always looking for amazing new members!
My hope for Chicago’s startup community in 2013 is that we fulfill the promise from all we’ve done in 2012. We need startups to execute on their strategies and create growing, sustainable companies. In 2013, I hope we have more big successes –- maybe an IPO or two. I also look forward to seeing how the city invests in wired and wireless infrastructure. And hopefully we’ll have a few “graduates” from 1871 who are growing so quickly that they need to get their own office space (nearby please!).
We look forward to working with the entire startup community to grow Chicago in 2013.