Techstars Demo Day Chicago 2014

NOTE: If you want to see the pitches from Demo Day live, you have one more chance.  Tuesday September 9th at 6:00pm we will be holding Community Demo Day at the Northwestern Law School Auditorium.  There are still tickets available, but you should register quickly!!  -> Community Demo Day Registration

Here is my post about this year’s Demo Day:

Each year I look forward to Demo Day more than any other day of the year.

Each year I am more and more amazed by the entrepreneurs and what they accomplish.

Each year the bar is raised higher and higher. It cannot continue forever, but it certainly did this time, WOW!

With the pressure on and the House of Blues packed, our ten companies gave the best presentations of their lives. They rose to the occasion, putting an exclamation point on months of intense hours and late nights.

It has been my pleasure to watch our entrepreneurs grow and their products develop over the summer. It’s a testament to the Techstars approach that we were able to pack years worth of acceleration into just a couple of months. We definitely did more, faster.

Join me in wishing them great luck in the future, not that they need it. These ten teams have the never-stop work ethic that creates luck in the first place.

They are going to succeed, and with your help, they can succeed even faster. Whether it’s as an investor, as a customer or just as a cheerleader, find a way to support our ten newest Techstars alumni. They’ve earned it.


Clutch Prep helps college students get better grades with textbook-specific videos.
My favorite moment of their pitch: “Voodoo Math”

Data Everywhere is the cloud database that unlocks your spreadsheet data and makes it available in Excel, Google Sheets, iOS, APIs and more.
My favorite moment of their pitch
: “(before DataEverywhere) You are in ‘Excel Hell!’”

Gamewisp gives gaming celebrities the tools to interact with their devoted fans and monetize their content.
My favorite moment of their pitch: “Be the mushroom to our Mario.”

InRentive automates marketing and analysis of residential rental listings across multiple listing services and social media platforms.
My favorite moment of their pitch
: “Four times as many at 7% higher rates…”
MartMobi helps online retailers dramatically increase mobile conversions by offering beautiful sites and apps using our turnkey mobile e-commerce platform.
My favorite moment of their pitch
: “BOOM!”

NexLP’s next-generation analytics and visualization technology dramatically reduces enterprise costs related to eDiscovery, fraud investigations and compliance.
My favorite moment of their pitch
: The announcement of $2M in funding.
Package Zen makes managing deliveries and packages simple, beginning with solutions for front desk staff, doormen and mailrooms.
My favorite moment of their pitch
: “We just processed 500 more packages, here at the House of Blues…”

Tangiblee enables online retailers to provide a realistic shopping experience for any product, leading to higher conversion, fewer returns and happier customers.
My favorite moment of their pitch: “We help you with your marriage”

Telnyx is enabling universal voice communication via the web, regardless of application or device type.
My favorite moment of their pitch
: “True VoiP is a fraud”
WeDeliver provides a digital platform for flexible, on-demand delivery of unique and curated products in order to increase local merchant sales.
My favorite moment of their pitch
: The launch of their new product, Locally.


Filed under: Status Updates — September 7, 2014

Demo Day 2013 – Just in case you missed it…


The Techstars Chicago 2013 class is officially finished! We celebrated this year’s class with our Demo Day event, which brought in more than 500 investors, mentors and entrepreneurs.  The energy in the room was vibrant, exemplifying the growing entrepreneurial community in Chicago. Some say it was our best event yet. Pictures from the event can be seen below.

If you weren’t able to make it to Demo Day, we’re hosting another event on Monday, September 9th (follow this Eventbrite link). You’ll get to see our companies pitch and food will be provided.  Make sure to register soon before tickets run out. We hope to see you all there!

Filed under: Status Updates — September 4, 2013

Meet the Associates for the Summer 2013

It is not always obvious just how much work goes into putting on a three month program like TechStars Chicago.  We started ramping up in January getting ready for applications to open February 1st and will finally slow down a bit around Thanksgiving.  A program like this could never come together without the dedication and incredible work of the entire team.  We want to proudly introduce the three Associates that have already been working for months, they will have a lot more visibility as the program starts next week!


Colin Boardway - Originally from Buffalo NY, Colin just graduated from Loyola University. He specializes in inbound marketing and is working to make a name for himself in the Chicago Startup community. He’s put in his 10,000 hours as a working DJ and also manages digital marketing efforts and events with Entrepreneurs Unpluggd. Though he would eventually like to run his own startup, he is eager to put his skills to work helping the TechStars teams this summer. In his spare time he enjoys being probably the Midwest’s leading taco aficionado. You can usually find him biking the streets of Chicago, or you can follow him on Twitter @ColinBoardway.

Ian Connell - Ian loves all things startup. A California transplant, Ian began his career with a startup focusing on improving state and local government through SaaS program management solutions.  Mid 2012, Ian was looking to gain some experience on the other side of the table and took a duel role as 1) a summer associate at Kapor Capital working on early and seed-stage investments in the EduTech and Human Capital verticals and 2) as a strategy intern for one of Kapor’s portfolio companies UniversityNow Inc. Ian is currently pursuing his MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Since moving to Chicago, Ian has been working as an associate with Hyde Park Venture Partners and Hyde Park Angels. Outside of work and school, Ian volunteers with Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), a nonprofit focusing on increasing the pipeline of under-represented groups in top universities, and spends all of his remaining time praying for a 70-degree day. Check him out at @IanConnel271

Ryan Fukushima - Hailing from sunny streets of Silicon Valley, Ryan has a soft spot for warm beaches and startups. Two years ago, he decided to take his talents to Michigan’s Ross School of Business and hasn’t looked back since. While Michigan is lacking in the beach department, he has been supporting the entrepreneurial community as an associate at two local VC funds. The Midwest has definitely won him over and he’s excited about the vibrant Chicago scene. When he’s not in the office he’s likely cheering on his fellow Wolverines, trying to surf in Lake Michigan, or validating product-market fit. His fun fact is quite awesome but you’ll have to chat with him to find out more – follow him @RyFukushima

Filed under: Excelerate Programming,Status Updates — May 19, 2013

TechStars Chicago’s class of 2013

Entering the fourth year of the program, and the first as TechStars, we are excited to announce this year’s class.  Selection was difficult as we had to narrow the 904 applications down to 10 companies to admit.  We conducted over 225 interviews, had hours of debating, and cannot wait to get to work with the new class.

Getting more twice as many applications as we had last year is a clear signal that this program is continuing to earn respect of entrepreneurs everywhere and that Chicago is becoming a leading destination for developing technology companies.

Here is a quick run down on the 2013 TechStars Chicago class:

CaptureProof – Is a platform for patients to securely and easily share photos and videos with their doctors.


HIPOM – Gives parents total control of Internet access in the home on a device-by-device basis. The cloud-based solution makes it as simple as a light switch to turn individual devices on and off and even set timers to control them automatically.


Nexercise – Mobile app that makes fitness fun through the use of friendly competition, smart alerts and real rewards.

Pathful – Web analytics platform that captures every visitor interaction with every element on a website automatically. Makes it easier for marketers and designers to understand what users are really doing on their site.


Peoplematics – The easiest way to search for emails and documents stored in the cloud using your smartphone.


Project Fixup – Digital matchmaker that fixes people up on fun one-on-one dates.

SimpleRelevance – Analytics-driven email marketing platform that provides customized digital communication for every customer and every message.

SocialCrunch – The new way to unlock the most provocative human insights for brands and their agencies.


Sqord, Inc. – Makes healthy, active play more fun for kids by allowing them to compete and earn points for everyday activities.

TradingView – An online community for investors and traders to share and discuss their ideas.





Filed under: Status Updates — Tags: , , — April 25, 2013

TechStars Chicago applications are closed, but YOU can still get into the program…

Have you dreamed of becoming the next success story to come out of TechStars but don’t have a team or an idea? Are you a full stack developer who can execute like all hell? Great news! TechStars Chicago is recruiting for our HackStars program for the summer of 2013!

Hackstars are highly-skilled software developers and designers that love to work with the companies and go through the TechStars program.  Plus, they get paid for the program (just like the founders) and most HackStars ultimately land a job or co-founder status with one of the startups. What a great way to hack into TechStars!

What we’re looking for:

·       You’re a a code-slinging mac-daddy superstar guru at PHP, Java, .NET, Python, Objective-C, Ruby, JQuery, or design/UI/UX.

·       You can design, cut and code efficiently and brilliantly

·       You want to have a TechStars experience so you can learn all about startups and funding from our mentors.

·       You want to work side-by-side with some of the country’s most promising new founders and young companies. (wait until you see the great companies we accepted for this summer!)

·       You live in Chicago, or are willing to relocate for the program and are willing to dedicate 100% of your time during the program to TechStars Chicago.

In addition to being compensated ($6,000), your network will explode beyond all comprehension and you’ll have the chance to work along side some of best and brightest new companies.

Applications close May 30th,so what are you waiting for? Are you ready to join the TechStars network? Apply now!



Filed under: Status Updates — Tags: — April 12, 2013

Open House for TechStars-Chicago applicants

The final deadline for applications is midnight EST on March 15th and there are a lot of people with a ton of questions.  If you have already applied or are thinking about applying, come by on Thursday, March 7th for an open house.  Come see the space, talk to the directors, alums, mentors and get your questions answered.  This is a big year for the program, coming off 3 years as Excelerate Labs and now transitioning to TechStars-Chicago!

We will have finger food, drinks and some amazing entrepreneurs, but RSVP quickly as space is limited!  

For those who are curious, here are some highlights from Demo Day 2012 at the House of Blues (how about that foreshadowing by Brad Feld, who noticed it last August???)

Filed under: Events,Status Updates — March 2, 2013

Women Entrepreneurs – come learn about TechStars-Chicago!

Excelerate Labs (now TechStars Chicago) is  looking for the best digital startups out there, and to find the best we need to encourage a broad range of applicants across gender, age, ethnicity and nationality. In our first three years as Excelerate Labs, 30% of our CEOs were women. We are having an open house on Tuesday February 26th specifically for women who want to learn more about our program to come and meet some of the CEOs and Mentors that have been through the program.  Come see what we are all about and RSVP here if you are interested.


Women Entrepreneurs at Excelerate Labs from Excelerate Labs on Vimeo.

Filed under: Status Updates — February 15, 2013

Call for interns for TechStars-Chicago 2013!


Excelerate Labs has always been a busy place in the summer with 10 amazing companies in the throws of intense programming.  Now that we are part of TechStars and sitting on a national platform, it will be even more exciting and we need help!  

We are looking for MBA and undergraduate interns for the summer of 2013.  If you are excited about helping build the next amazing batch of internet startups, as they grow from early stage to venture-backed companies, this might just be the best decision you ever make.  It will be crazy, it will be intense, it will be exhausting and it will be the best decision you ever made.  You will participate in mentor meetings, the Chicago program’s famous “Entrepreneur’s MBA” and of course Demo Day.  Some days you will be ordering pizza and managing calendars, others you may be giving a tour to out of town VC’s – there is a little bit of everything.

Our program runs from the last week in May through the end of August, you must be available to be in Chicago full time.

Requirements for Undergrad Interns: Rising senior or recently graduated. Demonstrated interest in startups. Comfortable with uncertainty and self-directed.

Requirements for MBA Interns: Completed your first year or have recently graduated. Able to leverage your knowledge of startups, business models, strategy, finance, and more to help both our companies and the program. Ready to manage one or more interns.

The applications are open until February 22nd at midnight central time, so apply now!

Filed under: Status Updates — February 11, 2013