Last week was a whirlwind in the city of Chicago, and we were excited to be at the center of all the action. From a TechCrunch pitch-off event at The Loop to a career fair for the top technology and engineering students at River North Point, we loved engaging with the vibrant tech community in Chicago. Here’s a recap of the exciting events we hosted in the windy city:
CrunchTime for Tech Crunch
When TechCrunch needed a last-minute venue to host its Chicago mini meetup, the team at MakeOffices at The Loopwas happy to host the group. The event, held on July 26th, was a pitch-off for startups hosted by well-known TechCrunch contributor, John Biggs. Ten companies – ranging from a solar-powered inflatable light for disaster relief, to a real-time parking application, to a fitness program for both humans and dogs – were each given two minutes to pitch their ideas and two minutes to answer questions in front of an audience of venture capitalists and tech enthusiasts.
The first place winners of the pitch-off, Parknav received a table at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, where the entrepreneurs, startups, investors, and techies will gather in September for a host of technology events. The pitch-off was an engaging way for attendees to get to know the amazing startups in the Chicago area. Katy Canzone, Community Manager at MakeOffices, felt the company presentations were “incredibly inspiring and educational. It was fascinating to learn about the exciting breakthroughs and disruptive ideas in the startup community.”
Today’s Innovators, Tomorrow’s Leaders
While music lovers gathered in Chicago to see the hottest musicians at Lollapalooza, 200 of the top technology and engineering students from across the country convened to engage with innovative tech companies at ThinkChicago. The annual event, which took place from July 27-29th, was hosted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Lollapalooza, World Business Chicago, and the University of Illinois.
This year, we had the opportunity to host the ThinkChicago Company Showcase at MakeOffices River North Point. The showcase featured over 20 of Chicago’s top tech companies, and gave high-achieving students the chance to meet with recruiters, learn more about the innovation present in the city, and gain valuable connections. According to Olivia Heller, a rising senior at Northwestern University, the showcase helped her learn about how “tech is getting involved in civic engagement in ways that other professions are not.” In addition to the learning opportunities, ThinkChicago allowed students to expand their horizons. Olivia recounted, “The speakers were really inspiring, and I’ve had the chance to meet a lot of cool people from across the country.”
The students also had the opportunity to explore MakeOffices and learn about ways coworking spaces and a strong community help startups grow their businesses. Kislay Vhagat, a rising sophomore at Illinois Tech, noted that the more casual, informal environment at a coworking space “is a nice thing to have for startups.” She added, “[coworking] is like having a group of friends or colleagues coming together and sharing ideas.”
In the summer, Chicago’s social scene is pulsing with activity. The same can be said for the innovation and tech community, and we’re excited to see all the great things the passionate group – motivated students and disruptive startups alike – can achieve.