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You start a company. You’ve got a great idea, a great team… you apply to a Techstars mentorship-driven accelerator program. And you get in! Congratulations! Now you’re probably wondering: what’s the beginning of your program actually going to look like?

Fortunately for you, Techstars Class 134 in Chicago has documented their exciting first days in the program.

On July 16, 2018, 10 startups began this year’s Techstars Chicago program. They’re all at different stages in their businesses, but during their first week of the program, they were all in the same boat—literally!

Chicago Architectural Boat Tour, Wednesday, July 18th


While up to their elbows in customer acquisition and product development, the companies attended a vigorous schedule of orientation week activities, jam packed with strategies to get the most out of Techstars.

On day two of orientation, Suzanne Muchin stopped by to give our teams a branding reality check.

Brands that Matter with Suzanne Muchin
Brands that Matter with Suzanne Muchin

Day three, they dove into team dynamics with Whitney Capps and Thea Polancic, followed by an architectural boat tour to see the city the founders will be living in for the coming months. That night, our very own Logan LaHive shared his founder story.

The following morning, on day four of orientation, product roadmapping expert Cody Simms and networking expert John Hill flew in to prepare the teams for the craziness of mentor madness. That evening, we had our annual Mentor Kickoff, where the companies pitched to over 200 mentors!

Much to the joy of the guests, both the food and beer was sponsored by well-respected local Chicago brands. Techstars Chicago partnered with Food For Thought, which provided guests with high quality hors-d’oeuvres and finger food. In addition, guests could enjoy locally brewed beer from Burnt City, served by the fine people of Burnt City themselves.

While we work hard to put on top programming and content, mentors are what make this program so amazing.

Want to help out? The best thing you, the startup community, can do for founders is share the companies with your network or introduce them to prospective customers or investors.

2018 Techstars Chicago Class

2ndKitchen2ndKitchen enables businesses without a kitchen to serve food seamlessly using restaurants around them. Founders@2ndkitchen.com

ClydeClyde is technology company transforming insurance at the point of sale, starting with the underserved and highly profitable extended warranty industry. Founders@joinclyde.com

Hurry HomeHurry Home finances houses through shared ownership, enabling renters to become homeowners and offering a streamlined investment opportunity. Founders@hurryhome.io

KaiKai is a fitness coach that communicates 100% via text message.

NeopendaNeopenda is innovating medical devices for high-growth emerging markets, starting with a wearable vital signs monitor for critically ill newborns. Founders@neopenda.com

Optivolt LabsOptivolt Labs develops high efficiency solar powered drones for commercial and military clients to extend flight time by 3-4x. Founders@optivoltlabs.com

RheaplyRheaply is a marketplace platform where businesses and professionals can share surplus assets and expertise. Founders@rheaply.com

Speeko Speeko is an artificial intelligence-powered mobile app that brings interactive verbal communication training to your workforce. Founders@speeko.co

TralaTrala is a Juilliard-approved app that teaches users how to play the violin. Founders@tralaapp.com

Vacation FundVacation Fund is an employer-matched travel savings program for employees, incentivizing them to put money aside and take meaningful vacations every year. Founders@vacationfund.io

Demo Day

Now that you know what the beginning of a Techstars mentorship-drive accelerator program looks like, here’s a sneak peak at the end of one: Demo Day!

At Techstars Chicago, the investor/mentor only Demo Day will be held on October 4, 2018. Interested in attending? Qualified investors and Techstars Mentors can email Rachael Feuerborn for an invite. The Community Demo Day will be October 1, 2018.

Having trouble receiving communications from Techstars Chicago? Email Rachael to be added to future updates.

About Our Partners

We love our Chicago partners, and we bet you’ll love them, too.

Food For Thought enterprises is a family of food and hospitality services, each with a shared vision of creating exceptional moments—wherever you celebrate, wherever you work, and whenever your moment matters most. Founded as a catering group 35 years ago, Food For Thought has grown to serve more than 2.5 million people annually through special events catering, in cafés within corporate and cultural institutions, and in offices and homes throughout Chicagoland. Use offer code techstars2018 and get 10% off of your first order at Food For Thought.

In 2012, Burn City Brewing opened a brewpub on the north side of Chicago. Here, they brewed great beers, hosted some pretty epic events, and made some good memories. Since then, they’ve expanded and now serve high-quality beer in multiple states in bars and groceries stores.

Silicon Valley Bank helps innovative companies and their investors move bold ideas forward, fast. They provide a full range of financial services to companies of all sizes in innovation centers around the world.



Rachael Feuerborn Rachael Feuerborn
Rachael is the Program Manager of Techstars Chicago. She loves turning big, messy startup problems in to well-oiled machines. As the “COO” of Techstars Chicago, she makes the wheel turn in our efforts to find, help, grow, and fund the best founders. Rachael received a JD from Pritzker School of Law and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management in 2017.