by Tim Jahn on July 11, 2011
Two years ago, the Chicago startup/entrepreneur scene looked nothing like it does today.
Excelerate Labs, a local startup incubator, is currently in their second summer class of startups. Resources like the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, TiE Midwest, and SCORE Chicago provide tools and advice founders need to get their ideas off the ground.
Companies like Lightbank, Hyde Park Angels, OCA Ventures, Sandbox Industries, and New World Ventures invest in great ideas. Sites like Technori, Tech.li, BuiltInChicago, and Midventures keep a constant pulse on the activity buzzing in this old town.
If there was ever a time to be building a business in Chicago, that time is now.
In my regular interviews with creative entrepreneurs and meeting new people with new ideas, I’ve noticed a bunch of other communities popping up all over the US, outside the traditional Silicon Valley.
Durham is part of the Chapel Hill-Raleigh-Durham triangle area in North Carolina. From the folks I’ve spoken with out there, Durham seems to be the hub of activity. They have an old tobacco factory that has been converted into startup offices and meeting spaces.
Events include Startup Weekend, Big Top (a new kind of career fair), Launch Madness, ExitEvent, Hackers and Founders, happy hours, Meetups, user groups, and more. Companies including ShoeBoxed, iContact, ChannelAdvisor, Lulu, ReverbNation, and Alexa call the triangle area home.
After I attended The Combine conference in Bloomington, IN last fall, I became more and more aware of the growing startup scene in the Indy area. Bloomington is home to Sproutbox, an innovative take on the traditional startup incubator by founders Mike Trotzke and Brad Wisler.
Matt Hunkler created the Verge Meetup group in Indianapolis about a year ago and now gathers hundreds of local entrepreneurs monthly to pitch their ideas, drink beer, and chow on some pizza.
There’s the Orr Entrepreneurship Fellowships and Indy is also home to names like Angie’s List, ExactTarget, ChaCha, and FormStack.
Kansas City, MO
Home to the renowned Kauffman Foundation, Kansas City is a force to be reckoned with.
I first discovered Omaha, Nebraska in 2010 when I attended the Big Omaha conference. Coming up on its fourth year, this amazing conference surrounded around innovation and entrepreneurship attracts hundreds of the most innovative minds from all over the country, with an emphasis on the Midwest.
Jeff Slobotski, Danny Schreiber, and the entire Silicon Prairie News team shine a spotlight on the Omaha scene every day. There are plenty of events like Startup Weekends, Silicon Prairie News meetups, Cornstalks, and many more.