This month Built in Chicago hosted their pitch event at Rockit, a fitting place to revel in the success of the thriving Chicago scene. After announcing the fifth annual Momentum Awards, an event that honors successful early-growth stage entrepreneurs, Leslie Anderson, the Managing Director at BMO Harris Bank, took the stage.
“We have gone past the days of Silicon Valley running the hub for entrepreneurship. Now all eyes are on Chicago,” said Anderson, commenting on the energy currently surrounding the city of Chicago. “The digital community is what makes the non-digital community work—this is where innovation starts.”
BMO Harris Bank is an actively engaged supporter of the local entrepreneurial community, Anderson said. And the company considers investing in the future of entrepreneurship akin to investing in our country’s future. Below we recap the five recently launched start ups that pitched Thursday night in front of 350 investors, fellow entrepreneurs and startup enthusiasts.
Georama is the worlds first map-based travel platform that allows travelers to plan, book and share their trips all in one place. Georama strives to streamline a process that currently “takes 11 to 28 sites to complete, making it a painful experience,” said founder and CEO, Nihal Advani. In addition to injecting the online travel industry with some much needed design innovation, Georama is working to make the entire travel process more convenient and enjoyable by giving undecided users destination recommendations and incorporating social networking.
Pairing local artists with local businesses, HangItUp Chicago is a unique and accessible way to bring high quality original art into your home or office. An advocate of supporting local business, founder Amanda Bryant transforms dull office spaces into aspiring art galleries by partnering exclusively with local artists.
Box Score Games
A mobile development studio that creates interactive games around live sporting events, Box Score Games helps brands engage with their customers in real-time. They are focused on the 80 percent of fans who use their phone or tablet while watching a live sporting event, known as the second screen market. They strive to enrich NBA, NFL, MLB, and other games, through social interaction and competition. This summer marked the launch of Box Score’s first game, Pitch Count, where users guess the exact amount of pitches that will be thrown in a half inning of a MLB baseball game.
A new kind of dating startup, Project Fixup aims to make dating easier by putting the focus back on conversation. A lightweight, fun and affordable version of It’s Just Lunch, Project Fix up is focused on bringing the human element back into online dating. Eliminating profiles, messaging or scheduling, Project Fixup matches singles up for fun dates. “We do all the work for you: the person, the location, the time and day that works for you so you can focus on seeing if there is a spark,” said Co-Founder and CEO Sarah Press. Anything goes, from late night improv at Second City to cheap PBR’s at a dive bar, they are all about getting off the computer and doing whatever you think is fun.
An online trading marketplace, Swapidy lets traders list their items, negotiate deals and swap their property. Swapidy is a new option for those looking to avoid e-Bay and Cragislist, that the site’s founder and CEO, Adam Ahman refers to as “a breeding ground for scammers.” To tackle this potential problem, Ahman has built in a verification system that confirms the products functionality and physical condition. Currently focused on video games, gift cards, cell phones and books, Swapidy has the lowest fee structure on the market.