The Chicago College Startup Competition

The Chicago College Startup Competition (CCSC), working in conjunction with ThinkChicago, will involve 1871 providing up to 10 full-time Memberships to the 75,000 square-foot networking and business incubation space in The Merchandise Mart. The spaces will be for entrepreneurs who started their businesses while in college and want to continue after graduation by moving to Chicago. The winners of the competition will receive a full free year at 1871, including desk space, mentorship services, a support group of college startups currently at 1871, and all of the amenities that are made available to startups at the facility. The idea is to attract some of the top startups in the nation directly to the city and give them the support and resources they need to succeed.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke enthusiastically on the matter. “This is exactly what ThinkChicago is about,” said Mayor Emanuel. “I am completely focused on attracting the best and brightest to Chicago. In giving an opportunity for collegiate entrepreneurs to continue their business in Chicago upon graduation, we will open up a whole new avenue of talented people coming to Chicago. I’m excited at the prospect of bringing some of these young businesses to Chicago and helping them succeed while integrating them directly with Chicago’s thriving tech community.”

We are actively seeking businesses started in college, along with winners of the top college startup contests, both of whom are looking for space to grow. If this sounds like you, we strongly encourage your submission to the initial application below.


Once at 1871, the winners of the competition will be treated as full members. They will receive a year’s worth of free membership, after which they will be treated like any other business that chooses to locate at 1871. The area in which they will be co-located will be branded with ThinkChicago logos. Additionally, 1871 will be creating a working group of former college startups, focused specifically on the unique challenges facing collegiate entrepreneurs to support these companies and future collegiate businesses that come to Chicago.


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