Featuring Startups & Thought Leadership

Chicago Startups That Changed the Game

Chicago Startups That Changed the Game



The startup scene in Chicago is on fire according to reports, especially those in the technology scene. According to NBC Chicago, the city has emerged in the past two years as “one of the hottest cities for technology startups in the United States.” Although 'Groupon' seems to get all of the attention, Chicago is full of new companies that are moving the city into the next century of tech startups. But technology isn't the only genre where Chicago startups are changing the game. Here are a few of Chicago's hottest startups.


Although it has already been mentioned that Groupon gets a great deal of attention, they are the ones who started the technology startup explosion in Chicago and this article would not be complete without mentioning them. The Huffington Post points out that Groupon has a “love-hate relationship with the media,” the company's overnight success has made it an icon in the Chicago startup story.


The Next Web calls midVentures “a scrappy startup,” and explains that the business was founded by a group of graduates from UChicago. Specializing in venture development, midVentures helps young, new businesses find which resources would help them grow the best. They also provide information and advice for new businesses to help them avoid possible problems while they grow. In addition, midVentures posts a popular technology blog for the Chicago area and also plays host for the largest tech conference around. 


This startup was founded in 2007 by Bryan Johnson, and is based in Chicago, Illinois. It is known for such products as Payment Gateway, Merchant Account, Recurring Billing, and Credit Card Vault. Braintree is a subsidiary of eBay, and had a revenue of almost ten million dollars in 2011. According to Wikipedia, Braintree is “an American company that helps online businesses process credit card payments by providing a merchant account, payment gateway, recurring billing and credit card storage. Braintree is a Level 1 PCI-DSS compliant service provider. On September 26, 2013, it was announced that eBay had acquired Braintree for US $800 million and would continue to run it as a separate service.”

Narrative Science

Narrative Science was created in January of 2010 in Evanston, Illinois and is based in Chicago. It was founded by Larry Bimbaum, Stuart Frankel, and Kris Hammond. This technology company invented a product known as Quill, which Wikipedia calls “an automated narrative generator powered by artificial intelligence.” It started as an academic project at Northwestern University's Intelligent Information Laboratory. Quill analyzes structured data, and then automatically generates that data into narratives, according to Wikipedia. It takes raw data and translates it into easy-to-understand explanations. Since its inception, Narrative Science has acquired equity financing of 32 million dollars.

Sprout Social

Sprout Social is a management and engagement platform for social business and is said to turn social connections into loyal customers. According to their website, they can help you to discover new highly targeted customers, measure success and optimize your social outreach, and organize your social networks all in one place. It currently has the ability for its users to integrate with LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and UserVoice. As of 2012 Spout Social had over 10,000 paying customers and was continuing to grow. When asked why they decided to found the company in Chicago, CEO Justyn Howard responded, “he reality for us is to have built the team that we've built and to have the kind of retention we have among our engineering core, our sale steam and everyone else probably could not have happened in an environment like Silicon Valley or like New York.” (Wikipedia)


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