The City That Works
Author: Christine Birkner
Christine Birkner is a staff writer for Marketing News
. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Flyover country. A few decades ago, that’s how many tech executives referred to Chicago as they traveled from New York to venture-capitalist-filled California. But now some execs are descending from 35,000 feet to take a closer look. “In the old days, the joke was that Chicago was just a place you would look at from the plane as you’re going from Silicon Valley to New York. But more and more, you’re seeing firms that will land here in Chicago. There’s too much cool stuff going on here to blow it off,” says Eric Lefkofsky, co-founder of one of the city’s most celebrated start-up success stories, Chicago-based Groupon Inc., and managing partner of Chicago-based Lightbank, a $1.2 billion venture capital firm that invests in start-ups in Chicago and around the country.
Although not yet a hub of technological entrepreneurship, Chicago is positioning itself to become a more start-up-friendly location, with a budding network of educational and funding programs intended to nurture a tech start-up ecosystem. The effort is, in many ways, a massive marketing campaign designed to showcase the city as a tech start-up destination. Compared with its rivals on the coasts, however, Chicago still has a long way to go to build its reputation as an environment in which entrepreneurs, particularly tech start-ups, can thrive.
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