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Blackline interviews Troy about TechStars-Chicago

Blackline did this interview of Troy the day the TechStars-Chicago deal was announced.  Great way to get some more perspective on the history and why it is an important step for the program.


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Filed under: Status Updates — Tags: , , , — February 2, 2013

Some more good ink for Excelerate in Elite Daily

“Incubators are to Startups as Steroids are to Baseball. They are not necessary to succeed, but they sure as hell help. In this third installation to Elite Daily’s Incubator Series, we lay out the best startup accelerators for entrepreneurs in the North and Midwest regions of the United States: from Pittsburg to Chicago. ”



Excelerate Labs – ranked 3rd best incubator worldwide – is an intensive summer accelerator for startups driven by proven entrepreneurs and investors. Led by world-class entrepreneurs Sam Yagan (OKCupid, Sparknotes) and Troy Henikoff (SurePayroll), the program is unique in attracting scores of mentors from around the country to work with the teams in direct 1-on-1 meetings. The catch: they only accept ten applicants each session. But if you are accepted, Excelerate Labs may provide the best trade out of any startup: $25,000, resources, connections and press for only a 6% stake in the company.

Read the entire story on Elite Daily…

Filed under: Status Updates — Tags: , , — October 27, 2012

Crain’s feature on Excelerate Labs

John Pletz and Crain’s Chicago Business did a nice job highlighting some of the back story on Excelerate Labs this week.

“The main stage at the House of Blues is 40 by 20 feet, the centerpiece of a dark vaudevillian space that holds 1,300. It’s where you go to cash in.

The conference room at Excelerate Labs in 1871 at the Merchandise Mart is just 10 by 15 feet, stark, bright and white, with room for about a dozen. It’s where you go to pay your dues.

The entrepreneurs who come to Excelerate hoping to launch their companies as the next big thing don’t get their 10 minutes in the spotlight at the House of Blues in front of venture capitalists without spending hours polishing their pitches before Troy Henikoff and Sam Yagan, who lead the 90-day boot camp where startup dreams get reinforced, realized and sometimes ripped to shreds…”  Read entire article on Crain’s site

Filed under: Status Updates — Tags: , , — October 8, 2012

Food Genius Helps Food Industry Understand Trends with Big Data Tools

Food Genius entered the crowded market of dish recommendation apps last year, using big data to revolutionize the way people discover restaurants and dishes. At the time, the startup’s focus was on getting (scraping) as much menu-level data as possible, which they parsed by ingredients, preparation methods, spices and other aspects of a dish, and then combined with a user’s personal preferences and reviews shared on other websites. The company was still exploring business models, but knew that collecting and combining data about what, when and where their users were eating could offer invaluable insights to anyone from consumer packaged goods companies (CPG) to mom-and-pop restaurants, CEO Justin Massa told me in an interview last year. And now, they’re releasing their first related product for businesses…

Read entire article on

Filed under: Excelerate in the News — Tags: , — October 5, 2012

Food Genius snares $1.2 million VC investment

By Steve Hendershot

Food Genius, a Chicago startup that analyzes restaurant menu data to predict food-industry trends, will announce this week it has raised $1.2 million in venture capital.

The lead investors are Hyde Park Venture Partners and Hyde Park Angels; others include New World Ventures, the I2A Fund, Amicus Capital and product-development firm IDEO, where Food Genius was a startup in residence. Food Genius was also part of the 2011 class at Chicago accelerator Excelerate Labs.

Food Genius plans to release its signature product in January: Food Genius Reports, a food-trends dashboard that allows users to search for and analyze menu-level industry trends. Food Genius is also announcing two data partnerships, with CHD Expert and GrubHub. Both deals will provide Food Genius with access to data on restaurant menu data; Food Genius’ database includes 260,000 menus, more than half of all U.S. menus.

Justin Massa, Food Genius’ founder and CEO, tells Silicon City about the investment and Food Genius Reports.

Describe your new flagship product, Food Genius Reports. How does it work?

Justin Massa: Food Genius Reports is designed to help you figure out what to make, how to package it, how to market it, where [it is likely to be popular], how much should you charge for it, all that stuff. It takes you from the beginning point of the creative process, where you’re deciding what to make, to the end, where you’re looking for the right price point and the words you should use to describe it…

Read entire article:

Filed under: Excelerate in the News — Tags: , — September 11, 2012