Last summer was the first for Excelerate Labs in Chicago. Hyde Park Angels was a co-sponsor, and we hosted an angel summit at the end of the program. We are proud to be working with them again, and one of our associates, Brian Luerssen is intimately involved. Troy Henikoff runs the program, and he is also a member of HPA.
If you have been a successful entrepreneur, one of the greatest gifts you can give is to mentor a fledgeling company. In order to create a dynamic entrepreneurial community in Chicago, it takes more than just writing checks to start ups. Sometimes you have to go in and get your hands dirty. The advice you give them on their business could save them from making mistakes other people made as they started their own businesses. Your input on their business plan might cause them to look at the world slightly differently and could mean the difference between success and failure.
The other thing you can do to encourage successful start ups in Chicago is either become a customer, or pick up the phone and make a phone call. Use your network to put them in front of a potential customer. HPA has read and heard a lot of people wish there was a more thriving entrepreneurial community in Chicago. No one can wish it. We have to do it ourselves. Today, because of the efforts of a lot of various organizations and groups, that entrepreneurial community is starting to thrive. If you have been on the sidelines wondering, now is the time for you to get involved.
Today, they announce the ten companies that they will be mentoring this summer. They are:
A Space Apart, CEO Jason Goodrich: helps people communicate with local businesses.
BabbaCo, CEO Jessica Kim: offers help for parents via products and online videos.
Beyond Credentials, CEO Andy O’Dower: allows you to create a “pitch page” and post video for recruiters
BuzzReferrals, CEO Jordan Linville: helps businesses identify and reward customers who refer friends.
Cookitfor.us, CEO Moshe Tamssot: connects you with someone who’s willing to make a recipe.
Exchangery, CEO Chris Duesing: helps people create exchanges for unusual commodities.
FoodGenius, CEO Justin Massa: a Pandora for restaurant dishes.
MapDing, CEO Jack Eisenberg: a mobile-only, customizable version of Craigslist
Power2Switch, CEO Seyi Fabode: helps consumers purchase cheaper electricity.
Joystickers, CEO Anthony Cerra: offers pens and removable gaming buttons for touchscreen phones and tablets