Crain’s Chicago Business’s annual Chicago Tech 50 list is an essential who’s who of Windy City’s trendsetters: clustered with leading entrepreneurs, mentors and tech startup mavens. We’d like to congratulate our clients and friends for making the list this year.
From Crain’s: “[C]onsider this not so much a Hall of Fame as a starter list of names you ought to know before you wade into the tech scene.”
Brian Johnson, founder and chairman of Braintree Payments, which we redesigned earlier this year.
“Braintree handles online payment processing for clients including Groupon rival LivingSocial Inc., OpenTable Inc., Airbnb Inc. and, yes, Angry Birds. Mr. Johnson founded Braintree in 2007 and raised $34 million in venture capital last year. That helped provide Braintree the ammunition to purchase New York-based mobile-payments company Venmo in August for $26.2 million.”
Seth Kravitz, co-founder of Technori, Bow Truss Coffee Roasting Co. partner
“Seth Kravitz is passionate about Chicago startups. So are his fans. After co-founding entrepreneurship-focused publication Technori in 2010, Mr. Kravitz began hosting monthly events in August 2011 in which 522 aspiring CEOs pay to listen to one another share their business plans. Each of the monthly events has sold out. InsuranceAgents.com, which Mr. Kravitz co-founded in 2004, was acquired by Bankrate Inc. in March. In April, Mr. Kravitz’s latest venture opened for business: a Lincoln Park coffee-roasting company called Bow Truss.”
J.B. Pritzker, founder and partner of New World Ventures, which we recently redesigned
“New World Ventures, Mr. Pritzker’s investment firm, has been around since 1996, when technology companies were expensive to build and required large sums to get started. Now the costs of supplying startups with venture capital have decreased, and while New World still makes big bets, such as leading a $9.5 million investment in Chicago-based Eved earlier this year, Mr. Pritzker has also modified his firm’s model. New World now makes $50,000 investments in each startup that participates in Excelerate Labs, for example. Mr. Pritzker also helped launch startup co-working space 1871, where New World Ventures maintains an office and can scan the next wave of promising Chicago startups.”
Eric Lefkofsky, managing partner of Lightbank, executive chairman of Groupon, both companies we’ve designed digital products for as well as Lefkofsky’s personal site.
“Eric Lefkofsky and entrepreneurial partner Brad Keywell became tech celebrities after launching Groupon, and have parlayed that high profile (not to mention the cash they earned) into one of the Midwest’s leading venture capital firms, Chicago-based venture fund Lightbank Inc. Portfolio companies such as Body Shop Bids and Belly hope to follow in Groupon’s footsteps by equipping local merchants with cutting-edge technology and a broader reach.”
Brad Keywell, managing partner of Lightbank, director at Groupon, both companies we’ve designed digital products for as well as Keywell’s personal site.
“Brad Keywell, along with entrepreneurial partner Eric Lefkofsky, has launched a string of tech companies that revolutionize old-school industries with high-tech solutions. The formula has worked in transportation (Echo Global Logistics) as well as local retail (Groupon). Mr. Keywell also founded the annual conference Chicago Ideas Week.”
Brian Fitzpatrick, launched ORD Camp, which we’re helped design.
“Mr. Fitzpatrick heads Mountain View, Calif.-based Google Inc.’s Chicago engineering team, leading projects of international scope. One of these is the Data Liberation Front, founded by Mr. Fitzpatrick, whose Google Takeout software allows Google users to download copies of their personal data stored on Google servers.”
Shradha Agarwal, co-founder of ContextMedia, which we redesigned last year.
“ContextMedia operates broadcast networks that air in health care waiting rooms; the company’s content reaches more than a million patients monthly. Ms. Agarwal is also an investor: Not only is she the youngest partner in the FireStarter Fund, a Chicago-based angel-investment co-op, but she co-founded Jumpstart Capital in 2011 and through it has invested in such Chicago startups as Buzz Referrals and BucketFeet.”
Howard Tullman; president and CEO of Tribeca Flashpoint, which we helped redesign last year.
“Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy offers two-year degrees in subjects such as animation, video, gaming and design. In other words, the school that Mr. Tullman founded in 2007 is supplying employees and entrepreneurs for Chicago’s startup scene. Northbrook-based private-equity firm Sterling Partners acquired a majority stake in the academy in June; Mr. Tullman will remain at the school.”
Brad Weisberg, founder and CEO of BodyShopBids, which we helped design for mobile last year.
“The idea behind BodyShopBids is simple: When your car needs body work, instead of groping in the dark for a fair price and competent shop, you use BodyShopBids to bid out the job among trusted providers. Venture-capital firm Lightbank Inc. likes the idea, pledging $1 million in January. And if a body-shop site seems hopelessly masculine, check out Mr. Weisberg’s other company, TheJMom.com, which caters to Jewish mothers hoping to play matchmaker for their kids.”