Chicago College Startup Challenge: Beyond the Textbook


Between the excitement of launching a brand new website and the recent announcement of 1871 FEMtech, our new incubator for female entrepreneurs, energy is definitely pulsing through the floorboards of our 1871 team “war room”. This is undoubtedly the action you would expect to see with serial entrepreneur Howard Tullman, and his keen eye for “the next big thing,” at the helm of the organization. And so, it’s exciting to report that 1871 is presenting another exciting program today, touching a slightly different demographic this time – college students.

The new Chicago College Startup Competition (CCSC) is designed to catch the eye of some of the country’s best and brightest young entrepreneurs and expose them to our awesome startup community. Sponsored by the City of Chicago and ThinkChicago, CCSC will afford ten incredible college startups with a 1-year free membership to 1871 that will not only include all the programming, mentorship and services offered as part of the community but also, a unique support system of “Upper-Classmen.” A group of companies at 1871 is currently being assembled, that were not too long ago in the same collegiate shoes as those who will enter the competition. They faced the same daunting task of turning the impossible, transitioning their college startup into the real world, into a reality. This advisory panel of blossoming, former college startups include: Charlie, DoubleMap, Global Petals,, Rent Like a Champion, Packback Books, and Selfie.

Much hype is being built around the contest, largely from the obvious opportunity of free 1871 membership and the plethora of mentoring opportunities that will be available to these young startups. In addition, a lot of the excitement is resulting from the fact that the winners will be announced during this summer’s ThinkChicago: Lollapalooza, where 125 talented technology students will visit Chicago, experience our tech community and spent 3 days at Lollapalooza. What better time to generate some instant exposure to a massive group of Millennials for these future blossoming startups that will be part of the CCSC winning class. The rewards seem to be boundless and present a unique opportunity for the selected startups to make their mark on the Chicago tech scene in a big, big way.

To identify possible candidates, ThinkChicago and 1871 will work with some of the leading entrepreneurial business plan competitions at colleges across the country. Businesses can also directly apply to 1871 and ThinkChicago to be considered for the program. This will ensure businesses that are not involved in ongoing entrepreneurship competitions can still have a chance to be offered a place in the program. A panel of 1871 startups that were founded during college and members of ThinkChicago will evaluate the additional entries.

Read the official press release of the Chicago College Startup Competition.


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