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Moxie Jean in the WSJ Today

How Your Start-Up Stacks Up


Systematic data analysis has changed the business of scouting for baseball talent, “Moneyball” style, and has altered Wall Street trading, now ruled by algorithms crafted by so-called quants.

Can analytical rigor also help entrepreneurs such as Sharon Schneider, of suburban Chicago, make better decisions about how to manage their start-ups?

In the past year, thousands of small-business owners have turned to free “benchmarking” services to assess their young companies, based on an analysis of comparable data from their peers.



Ralf-Finn Hestoft for The Wall Street Journal

Sharon Schneider, at work at her start-up, Moxie Jean Inc.

Read entire article in the WSJ

Filed under: Excelerate in the News — Tags: , — May 31, 2012 ranking Startup Incubators – guess who is listed #3…

Forbes did a couple of pieces on incubators and accelerators around the country and Excelerate was featured in the #3 position. We are honored to be a part of this list and working hard at making the 2012 Excelerate even better! Applications will open the first week of February, we cannot wait to see all the applications!

Filed under: Status Updates — Tags: , — February 15, 2012

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.

Filed under: Status Updates — Tags: , , — February 1, 2012

New funding sources emerge for Chicago-area tech startups

State of Illinois, group of industry leaders unveil separate investment initiatives

By Wailin Wong, Chicago Tribune reporterFebruary 1, 2012

The local technology sector gained two new sources of high-profile funding on Tuesday, with both the state of Illinois and a group of industry leaders unveiling investment initiatives for early-stage companies.

BuzzReferrals and Governor Quinn

Governor Quinn introducing Jordan from BuzzReferrals

The two announcements were unrelated but speak to the growing amount of entrepreneurial activity in the Chicago area. According to data collected by, an online community for members of the local startup scene, 124 digital startups were launched in the area in 2011, compared with 82 in 2010. Funding is also on the rise when measured by money raised and the number of companies attracting investment.

The state is joining an increasing pool of local investors eager to tap into young companies. On Tuesday, Gov. Pat Quinn announced a $575,000 investment in two local startups from the Invest Illinois Venture Fund, a new program that is, in turn, part of a $78 million initiative called Advantage Illinois. The recipients were Chicago-based Buzz Referrals, which helps companies use social media to reach friends of existing customers, and Evanston-based biopharmaceutical firm AuraSense Therapeutics.

The funding for Advantage Illinois, which seeks to help small businesses, came from an initiative within the federal Small Business Jobs Act signed into law in September 2010.

“They’re very young companies, and that’s why it’s so important for job creation,” Quinn said at a press conference.

The second investment announcement came from Matt Moog, chief executive of Viewpoints Network and the founder of Moog has launched the FireStarter Fund, a $5.7 million pool composed of contributions from more than 40 founders and CEOs of digital technology companies.

Brian Hand, co-founder of Timelines, is also a co-founder of the FireStarter Fund. Moog and Hand will manage the fund along with Troy Henikoff and Sam Yagan, the founders of Chicago-based incubator Excelerate Labs.

The investors involved in FireStarter are a veritable who’s who of the Chicago tech scene and include Morningstar CEO Joe Mansueto, venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker and Kevin Willer of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center. The fund will make investments between $25,000 and $500,000, with the typical amount between $150,000 and $300,000.

Read Entire Article…

Filed under: Excelerate in the News — Tags: , ,

Troy interviewed on CEOIntroNet

CEOIntroNet did a one-on-one with Troy where they dug into some of the details behind Excelerate and what makes it all tick. Funny to see him with a sport coat in the library filled with “dead trees” – a little different than what it is like back at the Excelerate office!!!

Filed under: Status Updates — Tags: , , — January 22, 2012