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New Reasons to Live in the Windy City

We were so excited to see venture capitalist Brad Feld post about the Chicago start up scene in Startup-Communities.com. There’s a ton going on here, and it’s great to see it be recognized:

Troy Henikoff, one of the founders of Excelerate Labs and one of the leaders of Chicago’s startup community, sent me an update on what’s going on in Chicago. It’s pretty awesome and is a great example of what happens when entrepreneurs take a long term view to building their startup community. Here are a few of the things going on that Troy mentioned….

Click here for the full post.

Microsoft BizSpark joins as a sponsor of Excelerate

Microsoft BizSpark is offering up to $60,000 in Windows Azure cloud-computing services for all members of the 2012 Excelerate class. Windows Azure is a simple and powerful cloud-computing platform for hosting applications and the creation of web applications and services. Microsoft has extended this offer to all members of the Techstars network, including Excelerate.

This is a great partnership and increasingly relevant as cloud computing continues to explode. This offer is a great addition to our arsenal of startup support, joining great mentorship, pro-bono legal, office space, and much more!

EXCELERATE LABS 2012: APPLICATIONS ARE NOW OPEN!

Do you have a phenomenal idea for a startup? Are you building a team? A product? A company?

If so, we want you to apply to our Summer 2012 class! We offer an investment of up to $75,000, office space, pro bono legal, an intense network of one-on-one mentors, and much, much, more to help startups grow and excel!

We will select 10 companies to participate in our third-annual summer program. It’s an intense 13 weeks! Starting at the beginning of June, we match the selected companies with great mentors who can advise them and help them build connections to growth their business. During July, everyone focuses on growth. The program culminates in an Investor Demo Day at the end of August, where the companies showcase their progress and plans at the House of Blues to more than 400 angel and venture investors from around the country.

The 2010 and 2011 Excelerate classes have had great success. They have raised a total of more than $12 Millon in venture funding and creating over 100 new jobs. These companies contribute to an alumni network we’re very proud of – one filled with great entrepreneurs.

If all of this sounds like it might be a good fit for you, please apply! The deadline for early consideration is March 1st, and we recommend applying early to stand out amongst hundreds of applications. The final application deadline is March 16th at midnight.

 

Yeah, that’s the Governor, hanging out at Excelerate… No big deal…

Actually, it was a pretty big deal. We were honored to have Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and his team announce the first investments for the state’s new Invest Illinois Venture Fund at Excelerate on January 31st.

A company from Excelerate’s 2011 class, Buzz Referrals, was one of the first two investments. The other was Evanston-based AuraSense Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company.

Troy kicked it off (pictured above), talking about how the startup community in Chicago, and Illinois more broadly, has grown and matured over the past 3 years. Then, Governor Quinn explained that he was excited about the new fund because it would promote jobs in Illinois. Jordan Linville, Buzz Referrals’ CEO, told us about how this investment, plus the rest of his $600K round, will help them grow. We love growth, so we are thrilled to see his team’s progress!

If you have a startup in Illinois, you may want to learn more about the Invest Illinois Venture Fund (IIVF) and the Illinois Angel Investment Tax Credit. IIVF is part of a larger program called Advantage Illinois, which is $78M in federal funding towards new businesses.

Two Excelerate Companies Invited to Participate in the Clinton Global Initiative

The Clinton Global Initiative has selected BabbaCo and Power2Switch to participate in their 2011 Annual Meeting June 29th and 30th in Chicago. The meeting, which focuses on creating jobs, brings together more than 700 high-profile participants, including former President Clinton, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, and Professor Michael Porter of Harvard Business School.

These delegates will be helping five companies through working sessions at the conference, including the two Excelerate companies. BabbaCo is the “Netflix of parenting solutions” – a subscription model of monthly boxes delivered to parents to help them address their child’s need based on their development stage. Power2Switch’s website is a portal to help consumers and businesses save money on their electricity. The other three featured companies are Dallas-based RentSavvy, a housing-match service; Boulder-based TruantToday, a student-attendance service; and Cincinnati-based Wellthy, a social-health planner.