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Come hang out with the Excelerate Team – Friday at 5:30!

You’re invited to an impromptu Excelerate Labs applicants party so that you can mix, mingle and get to know the Excelerate team in a casual environment.  This will be a great opportunity to learn more about the program and network with fellow entrepreneurs and potential mentors.

The best part?  Founders from last year’s Excelerate companies will be there to share their experiences and answer your questions.  The party starts at 5:30 this Friday, and drinks and pizza will be served.

Excelerate Labs Applicant Party Details

When: This Friday, February 25th from 5:30-8:30PM

Where: Sandbox Industries, 213 N. Racine Ave, Suite 102, Chicago, IL 60607

Who: You, The Excelerate Team, fellow entrepreneurs, founders from last year’s companies

RSVP: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/1341433263

Don’t be shy.  We can’t wait to meet you!

One of America’s Most Promising Startups: Interview with the CEO

Be part of a team that builds something new & control your own destiny


FeeFighters is a comparison shopping site that keeps credit card processers honest, and was recently named one of America’s Most Promising Startups by Business Week.  This Excelerate 2010 company has found incredible success since participating in the summer intensive program, and we had the opportunity to chat with co-founder and CEO, Sean Harper.

Your company was operating prior to joining Excelerate.  Why did you decide to join?

Sean: When you are staring a business, having more people on your side is really important. Excelerate is a focal point in the Chicago startup/tech community, a community which is just getting started but has lots of potential.

I spend a lot of time in the Bay Area and a big part of what makes that area special is the connectedness and sense of community.  Everyone knows everyone and getting introductions and connections is easy.  That environment makes starting a new business a lot easier and is a lot of fun to be in.  Josh and Stella and I hoped that joining Excelerate would help us be part of that kind of community here.

What did you expect to get out of the Excelerate program and what did you actually get out of it?

Sean: There were five major things we were hoping to gain from our summer at Excelerate.

1. Connections and an expanded network

2. Mentorship and support

3. Opportunity to build relationships with other startups like us

4. Press/Buzz

5. Connections to investors

We came in with really, really high expectations and Excelerate met these expectations with flying colors.  We have friends that have participated in similar accelerators that have been around longer so are better established (like Techstars and Y-Combinator).  Based on our experience and the successful outcomes of other Excelerate companies, it’s clear that the Excelerate program offers the same level of support, resources and opportunities as those programs, quite an accomplishment given that Chicago was starting with less of a startup infrastructure than the Bay Area, or Boulder, or Boston and 2010 was Excelerate’s first year!

4 pieces of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?


  1. Don’t give up – entrepreneurship is about creating your luck through hard work and staying in business.  If you believe and work hard, you will make it work and good things will happen to you.
  2. Don’t be scared – the stability of a normal job is illusory, you can be fired at any time, but if you are part of a team that builds something new you control your own destiny.
  3. Add people – they will bring new energy to your business.  Find people to get involved, and stake them in.
  4. Put new people on a vesting schedule in case it doesn’t work out.

3 Valuable Takeaways from your summer at Excelerate?


  1. In-person usability testing is hugely valuable.
  2. Without a product you don’t have a company, so build something.
  3. A simple product or company or value proposition is critical.——————————————————-

We Want YOU to apply to Excelerate Now!

Apply to Excelerate 2011

We Want YOU!

Technori did a nice piece on Troy Henikoff, our co-founder and CEO for 2011.  It is fun to read about his background and get a feel for why he got involved in starting Excelerate in the first place.  Go read it, but more importantly, go fill out your application for Excelerate 2011!

White House Rallies Behind High-Growth Entrepreneurs

… hails private sector as “the engine of innovation”

25,000 new jobs will be created.  There will be a tenfold increase in the success of new startups. All by 2015. Intrigued? Keep reading.

The Startup America campaign aims to “celebrate, inspire, and accelerate” high-growth entrepreneurship throughout the nation.  To address the unique needs of high-growth entrepreneurs, the Startup America Partnership was formed, with heavy hitters like Steve Case (co-founder of AOL) and Carl Schramm (President/CEO, Kaufman Foundation) leading the charge. The partnership brings together all the major players in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, and big names like Facebook, Intel and IBM have displayed their commitment through multi-million dollar investments and entrepreneurial training programs.

During the campaign’s partnership announcement at the White House, the TechStars Network was unveiled.  The mentorship-driven model that has made TechStars so successful serves as the foundation of the network, currently comprised of 17 independent regional organizations with startup accelerator programs, including our very own Excelerate Labs.

The TechStars Network will be a driving force in the creation of 25,000 new U.S. economy jobs by 2015.  Committed to supporting 6,000 young promising entrepreneurs (and drawing more high-potential players off the sidelines and into the game), the network will match bright talent with seasoned business leaders, CEOs, successful founders and investors (5,000 of them). As part of the TechStars Network, entrepreneurs accepted into Excelerate’s Summer 2011 program will have access to invaluable resources, support, networking and professional development opportunities.

Thriving entrepreneurs supporting up-and-coming entrepreneurs; pooling resources to drive innovation; a commitment to recognize entrepreneurship as a core competitive advantage and driver of the U.S. economy.  It sounds like the movers and shakers in Washington have finally realized what many of us know to be true– high-growth businesses (like those supported by Excelerate) are the job-creation engine of the future.  Stay tuned to see how this all shakes out!

Technology Industry News Chicago interviews Excelerate

Kathryn Born interviewed Troy Henikoff about Excelerate, its history and where it is going in 2011.  Get the full story at http://tincmag.com/2011/01/17/interview-with-troy-henikoff-of-excelerate/