Chicago’s SpotHero Raises 2.5mm to Bring Sanity to Urban Parking
The influx of West Coast VC money to Chicago continued today with the announcement that SpotHero, a recent graduate of top incubator Excelerate Labs, has raised USD2.5 million from an array of investment firms across the country. The round was led by Battery Ventures (who maintain offices in Silicon Valley, Boston and Israel), along with 500 Startups, David Cohen’s Bullet Time, e.Ventures, OCA Ventures, New World Ventures, Lightbank, & Draper VC.
West Coast money is crucial to the rapid growth of Chicago’s entrepreneurship community. As explained by Mark Suster at Chicago Booth’s SeedCon, it’s not that VCs don’t want to invest in our city; it’s just not convenient for them to do so right now. They don’t have offices here, nor do they have many portfolio companies with which to meet. That makes it harder for entrepreneurs seeking funding to land meetings, and the vicious cycle continues. SpotHero founders Jeremy Smith and Mark Lawrence took an ambitious whirlwind trip to the Bay Area just days before Excelerate Labs’ Demo Day. Initially the trip was slated to be a turn-around; one VC meeting, then back on the plane. But the wind was in Jeremy and Mark’s sails; tapping the powerful Excelerate Labs network, they set up a veritable tour of Sand Hill Road instead.
These were not casual meet-and-greets, all smiles and handshakes. As Jeremy explained to a rapt audience at the Startup Leadership Program‘s class on negotiating with VCs last night, he had one goal; come home with a term sheet. Between their expert guidance from Excelerate, the sheer quantity of meetings they took and their raw ambition, they succeeded in glorious fashion.
Planning to use this funding to expand to national markets, SpotHero is currently only operating in Chicago and Milwaukee. As with most startups receiving an influx of cash, they plan to spend a good chunk of that money on engineering talent.