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Made in Chicago.

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going

By: Staci Chesler


Life is hard and the life of a business owner is even harder. You’re responsible for not only keeping your dream alive, but keeping your employees, well, employed. I’m sure we aren’t telling you anything that you don’t already know. But here is our two cents anyway, because sometimes we all get a little too caught up in our own worlds to notice how many things are actually going right. So what if your company is taking a little longer to startup, the reward will be that much sweeter in the end. Way too over your head with tasks? Ask for help. Trust us it’s okay, we all need it at some point. Most importantly, never stop. Never stop trying, believing, and working on your dream. You’ve waited this long and worked this hard to get to where you are now, so what’s one more late night going to hurt?

1. AirPR 5


PR has changed a lot in the past years. It is a lot more than just sending out statements and organizing parties, it too has become a number game. Stay ahead of your competition with AirPR and keep track of real-time data aggregation and dynamic data visualization of the most popular and important information from blogs, articles, and social media. You can even use it to keep track of your competition’s numbers.  


CEO Sharam Fouladgar - Mercer, shared, “A lot of people talk about finding your passion, but you want to find your passion in an industry that matters. Solve a real pain point.”

2. Chute 5


Questionnaires, focus groups, the list of ways to see what your customers really think of your product go on and on. But lets be honest, people rarely take those things seriously, and it’s too time consuming and costly. Chute, a social media tracking platform, allows users to view, organize, and analyze real time media posts about their products. Whether it’s a fashion blogger using your brand in her #OOTD or an everyday user tweeting about how great they love your product, Chute tracks it all.  


Co-Founder Ranvir Gujral, shared, “Every single decision you make around your product should be around solving your customers problem. It keeps your company and product on track in a way that almost no other thing does.”

3. Mammoth 4


A pen and notepad are boring and outdated. The future of notetaking is here and it's name is Mammoth. With multiple users being able to collaborate on one project, sharing ideas and notes for class has never been easier.


CEO Karan Gupta, shared, “Never give up. If you believe in what you’re doing, if you think your idea has legs dont give up on it. It might be hard to find money, it might be hard to find co-founders, and it might be hard to convince your spouse about it, but don’t give up if you believe in it.”

4. Travefy 3


21st birthday trips to Las Vegas, or group getaways for the summer, whatever your trip is, let Travefy make your life a little easier. With this app, users can split the costs of tickets, hotels, and any other travel cost evenly right from their phone. Say goodbye to money arguments and hello to an easy vacation.


CEO David D. Chait, shared, ““Don't be afraid to fail. If you try different things, you’ll discover new products, and ways of doing things.”

5. Papermine 3


Everything in today’s world is visual. We as consumers and business owners want to see things that are doused in color and creativity, not boring black and white. Papermine helps users create stunning online booklets, pamphlets, wedding albums, you name it! Unlike other online platforms, Papermine doesn’t just convert existing content into computer friendly versions. It lets people create original, eye catching work that was made for the web.


Co-Founder Marco Muccini, shared,  “Think big, start small, and believe even when things aren’t going well.”

6. DORN Companies 3

DORN Companies

Back pain, leg pain, you name it we have it and a lot of the times it’s caused by our work environment. Most of the time, the pain is a simple fix, either with massage or some good old fashioned TLC. Instead of filling out workers compensation forms or worse OSHA Recordable, DORN offers on-site treatment and care to all employees. Keeping insurance costs down.


CEO Dell Dorn, shared,  “Keep with it. It’s very frustrating starting a company, you're constantly running into problems and roadblocks but part of the entrepreneurial process is solving these problems in order to move ahead.”



The worst is seeing someone wearing the same department store outfit as you in the office, at a party, or just on the street. This is where Nineteenth Amendment comes in handy! This website connects users with up and coming, independent fashion designers. Our fashion nightmares have been put to rest.


Co-Founder Amy Curtis, shared, “When you’re trying to do something so big the odds may be stacked against you, and surrounding yourself with the right people who believe in you, while also believing in yourself is key. Once you have that down it makes your journey a lot easier.”

8. Agency Spotter 2

Agency Spotter

Finding the right branding agency is important. They need to be someone with similar ideals as your company and someone who shares a vision with you. Agency Spotter helps you find the right companies in your area, who are in your price range and fit your needs.


CEO Brian Regienczuk, shared, “When you start to think about using an external partner, it’s always good to make sure you’re ready before you jump in.”

9. CoverHound 2


Car insurance is required in every state no matter what you drive or how well you drive it, but most insurance plans are expensive and one never really knows how much coverage to get. CoverHound helps users compare different insurance plans so that they may find the right one for them.


CEO Keith Moore, shared, “Getting advice from people who have done similar things to what you’re doing, is worth its weight in gold.”

10. Wealthminder 2


We love a good symbiotic relationship. If you’re an individual who needs some help organizing, planning, or just understanding your finances, Wealthminder will help match you with an affordable financial advisor who fits your specific needs. If you’re a financial advisor, Wealthminder connects you with clients and companies who they think will benefit from your area of expertise. It’s a win-win.


CEO Rich Ellinger, shared, “When starting a venture one of the most important elements is your team. The business will change and evolve as you learn more and you want a team that is able to willing to dive in and pivot if and when necessary.”

11. Canvas 2


We don’t like using paper. It hurts the environment and it clutters up our office. Canvas and its founders understand the paper struggle all too well, which is why they built a platform that allows users to store all of their paper. Whether it be payroll, dispatch, workflow, you name it, Canvas stores it all in one place and lets you access it from anywhere.


Director of Marketing Jason Peck, shared, “Focus on moving fast. Things are changing so fast today that sometimes something that you can execute and get done in a week if it’s 75 percent as good as you’d like it to be, is better than waiting 3 months for it to be 100 percent. Getting things out there, getting people’s reaction, getting feedback from customers, and then aerating on that.” 

12. Finovera 1


Being an adult is hard. I think at some point in our lives we all miss the days when mom and dad took care of all of the bills and finances. Thank goodness for us all that Finovera was invented to ease the financial burdens of adult life. The platform allows users to download and organize bills and important documents all in one place. No more searching through papers during tax season, everything is now neatly and securely organized for us online.


CEO Purna Pareek, shared, “Take on the large project, but focus on specific pinpoints instead of trying to do things all at once.”

13. Netlify 1


We hold web developers in high regards here. It’s no easy feat to build something out of nothing, let alone making a website people actually want to use. Well, it is about time the world was made a little easier for them too. Netlify is building, deployments, configuration, hosting and maintenance rolled all into one.


Co-Founder Christian Bach, shared, “See if you can get into anything that people would pay for. You just need a minimal bible product, see if there's interest and build on top of it.”

14. Waygo 0


Asia is a growing metropolis with new businesses popping up almost everyday, making it the ideal place for tourists, businessmen and women alike. But if you’re going to travel to parts unknown you should at least know the basic language. Waygo is the ultimate phone app for translating menus or road signs into either Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. Simply aim the app at anything you want to translate and boom! You’ll have a direct translation right in the palm of your hand.


CEO Ryan Rogowski, shared, “Persistance is key. One of the challenges that most people face is that they give up too early. If you're really dedicated to building something new and creative, persistence is important.”

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