Global Startup Battle 2015 was awesome!

The Global Startup Battle 2015 was a world-class event that brought together startup enthusiasts and industry professionals from the Chicago community in order to identify and develop innovative business ideas.

The weekend kicked off Friday afternoon with a speech by Anthony Zeoli (JOBS Act and crowdfunding expert) which provided attendees with an overview of the investment ecosystem in Chicago as well as general advice on launching a startup. After the lecture was over the attendees took the stage to pitch their startup ideas! While all of the ideas presented were fantastic, a voting session by participants narrowed down the best and determined the official teams for the weekend:

Giftr – A social platform for discovering gift ideas through relational groups

HirePower – Software tool aimed at improving and streamlining the hiring process (particularly for management consulting firms)

Chews – Interactive platform that provides menus that help users find their ideal meals (particularly beneficial for individuals with dietary restrictions)

Chefy – An app that allows people to schedule private chefs to cook at their home

Between the Notes – A startup which aims to revive classical music education for the next generation

Oyster – Curated weekly entertainment guide that delivers experience and variety

On Saturday, the teams worked on getting market feedback for their ideas by conducting in-person interviews and polling social media. As they figured out what worked and what didn’t, they refined their business models and adjusted their marketing strategies. It was a great learning experience which allowed attendees to get a deeper understanding of their potential customers and the most effective ways to market their products.

On Sunday morning, with their ideas polished and their business models defined, teams worked on their pitches with the help of an amazing roster of mentors which included professionals in the fields of product design, data analytics, software development, venture capital, marketing, and social entrepreneurship. Finally, on Sunday afternoon, the teams presented the results of their hard work to a panel of judges that included high-profile members of the startup community including the assistant director of the University of Notre Dame’s entrepreneurship program and a managing director of Techstars, one of the world’s largest startup accelerator programs.

While in our book all of the teams are winners for successfully turning their ideas into viable products and putting together amazing presentations, one team stood above the rest: Chefy. By developing a sound business model and validating its business concepts with market data (including receiving request from a chef from Italy to be included in their beta), Chefy embodied what Startup Weekends are all about.

If you are interested in oin us for the official relaunch of the Startup Weekend Chicago meetup on January 14th:

Stay tuned for more updates and information regarding our next event (last weekend of February 2016) at

Startup Weekend Chicago is back!

gsb15-1 (1)

The biggest startup competition in the world is finally back.

On November 13th-15th thousands of entrepreneurs from all over the world will gather in over 200 cities to put their startup ideas to the test and see if they have what it takes to start a company. Of course, Chicago won’t be the exception! Having spawned technology companies such as FishBit and WeDeliver, Chicago is a very real contender for a global win.

For those unfamiliar with Startup Weekend, our motto is “No Talk. All Action.” In other words, don’t expect to sit around and listen to talks and presentations. This is not that kind of event. If you sign up, you will work your ass off. You will be challenged with different perspectives. More often than not, you will discover that what you thought was a great idea is actually not, but that’s ok! Startup Weekend is about learning, collaborating with others, and getting a taste of what it feels like to start and run a company in the real world.

The event will kick off Friday afternoon with a round of pitches from entrepreneurs, followed by a voting session to determine which ideas will move forward. At this time, participants will have the option to join teams to work on the ideas they like the most. Over the course of the weekend, teams will get market feedback for their ventures, figure out what works and what doesn’t, and refine their business models. It’s a great learning experience that allows entrepreneurs to get a deeper understanding of their potential customers and the most effective ways to market their products. Finally, on Sunday afternoon, the teams present the results of their work to a panel of judges including high-profile members of the startup community. The event winner will then move on to the next round of the competition and face other winning teams in the region. Ultimately, regional winners compete on a global stage to determine the best global startup idea/team.

Does this all seem challenging? It should! Fortunately, you won’t be alone. Startup Weekend is a network of passionate leaders and entrepreneurs on a mission to inspire, educate, and empower individuals, teams and communities. For this reason, during the weekend you will have access to a group of volunteer professionals from industries such as software development, social entrepreneurship, data analytics and venture capital that will be there to answer any/all questions you may have in their particular fields. So what do you think? Are you up to the challenge? If so, come share ideas, form teams, and launch startups!

For more info and tickets:

Startup Weekend FinTech is a Huge Success in Chicago!

Chicago Startup Weekend FinTech, co-hosted by Startup Weekend Chicago and FinTex Chicago, was a huge success!

Attracting more than 60 entrepreneurs and inspiring collaboration between professionals across industries, the event spawned 7 teams around ideas in diverse areas such as crowd-sourcing, machine learning insurance, financial options trading, and online bill management.

IMG_4311As with previous events, things kicked off Friday afternoon with a round of amazing
pitches from the entrepreneurs, followed by a voting session which determined the official teams for the weekend. On Saturday, the teams worked on getting market feedback for their ideas by leaving the building to conduct in-person interviews and polling social media. As they figured out what worked and what didn’t, they refined their business models and adjusted their marketing strategies. It was a great learning experience which allowed entrepreneurs to get a deeper understanding of their potential customers and the most effective ways to market their products.

On Sunday morning, with their ideas polished and their business models defined, teams worked on their pitches with the help of an amazing roster of mentors which included professionals in the fields of venture capital, intellectual property, social entrepreneurship, marketing, software development, and micro lending. Finally, on Sunday afternoon, the teams presented the results of their hard work to a panel of judges that included high-profile members of the startup community – including one of the founders of Hyde Park Angels, a Chicago-based angel investment organization.

While all of the pitches were truly amazing, only 3 could be selected to place.

3rd Place-TaxCut

TaxCut is a simple tax return service platform for college students with part-time jobs. Students can take a photo of their W-2 forms, fill out a quick questionnaire and finish their tax returns!

2nd Place-Crowdsurance

Crowdsurance offers an innovative way to crowd source insurance premiums. By investing with people you know and trust, versus investing in a larger crowd with risk you may not understand, you have more opportunity to make out on your insurance choices.  

And 1st Place Goes To……InVoice!

InVoice is an online platform aimed at streamlining the sales invoicing process. Led by software developer Ellie Day and powered by engineer Bill Finn and finance pro Cristina Vera, InVoice capitalized on the growing need of freelancers and small businesses to keep good accounting and provide their clients with invoices in a seamless, user-friendly way.

Of course, the weekend would not have been possible without our awesome sponsors. For this reason, we are infinitely grateful!   Also, big shout out to FinTex (Chicago’s financial technology cluster) for their incredible support.


Chicago's 2014 Global Startup Battle is Rocking!

The Chicago Startup Weekend edition of the 2014 Global Startup Battle (GSB) started last night and it was fantastic! Over 60 attendees, 40+ pitches that generated 10 teams, who are now working for 54 straight hours in hope walk away with the Chicago GSB Crown.


This morning, teams started right away on validating their ideas and building their products. Here are the 8 teams still in the race to win this Chicago Startup Weekend GSB 2014 event:

  • Expecting Delivery: A subscription service for expecting mothers
  • Fitness Guru: An online personal trainer service
  • Skillet: An app to push people learning skills
  • Subscrible: A subscription management service for bills
  • Evolve Educators: A tool for educators
  • Skillet: A community service to learn skills
  • Beer Man: An IOS app that makes it easier to buy beers at sports venues
  • Live right: An app between Fitness, health and products

We will keep you posted on how these teams and ideas evolve until Sunday’s Demo event. Tickets are still available for Sunday’s Demo on our website.

Final Teams Form at Chicago StartupWeekend EDU

As the first night of Chicago StartupWeekend EDU comes to a close, our 7 final teams are furiously whiteboarding and business model canvasing.  image1A list of those teams and all 25 ideas pitched during PitchFire follows (final teams markets in bold and with an asterix):

  • *Eternity Engine: an online globe with a slidebar overlay for more interactive world history lessons
  • Math and Logic: math tutoring and…I missed this
  • Pedagoji: an online learning hub with gamification for engagement
  • Lingua: an ESL tool, not a lot of detail beyond that
  • *Games for Jocks from Educelerant Dennis Glen, offering remedial tutoring through serious games and other aspects appealing to collegiate atheles
  • Eduko from another Educelerant Erika Kot offering an occupation focused social website to support career exploration / entrance 
  • *Coachable, cloud hosted short class recordings for teacher professional development from recently retired teachers. Made it to the finals, but subsequently disbanded
  • *WatchmeWork, web portal with online streams of experts hard at work for consultation / reference. Made it to the finals.
  • Seeking Mentorship, a website for mentorship, I think
  • *Learning Buddies, from Dr. Jane Hornickle, a peer to peer tutoring in special education, which made it into the finals!
  • Codeable Bracelets, a cool idea from Makeda Ricketts for programmable bracelets to teach and popularize coding to girls (still bummed this did not get through to the finals!)
  • Math Media, from Michael Adamson of Atlanta, one of our farthest travelling participants, injecting pop culture video into math lessons
  • Summer Plans, for tracking children’s plans for summer
  • IdiomOcean, from Natalia from Indiana (though only recently having moved there from Colombia) a marketplace connecting language learners with native speakers for improved fluency and contacts
  • Pi Master from Educelerant and 2013 SWEDU alumna Deeann Dorman
  • *Whipping Post, an online disciplinary write-ups app which made it to the finals!
  • Perfolio from Jeremy Peters who only days ago told me he was done with Education and Start-ups…glad to see him back in the fold
  • *Tutor Train, an online tutoring feedback app jointly pitched by Tash and Stenio (looks like they already have a team), which made it into the finals!
  • *FantasyFinance bringing fantasy stock portfolios into the classroom to teach math, which advanced into the finals (too bad Eric Nelson isn’t here to help coach)!
  • Mentors for Minority Success, a social site connecting incoming minority freshman with older peer students for mentorship and support
  • And our last two pitches responding to our facilitator’s personal appeal, Student Studio, and MyMoney, a math app based on real world math skill needs
Speaking of our facilitator, a special thanks must be given to Nirav Amin, a local Chicago StartupWeekend enthusiast and recent facilitator of Little Rock Startup Weekend.  With widespread flight cancellations following the closing of all Chicago airports due to some bizarre Air Traffic Control tower arsonry, our original facilitator from Startup Education was kept from flying in today.  Thankfully, we were able to appeal to Nirav’s love of StartupWeekend to pry him away from his father’s birthday party to facilitate!

Chicago StartupWeekend Education Announces its Prize Package

SWEDUChicagoThanks to our amazing sponsors, Chicago StartupWeekend Education is announcing some special prizes for its winning teams! Local and global Startup Weekend sponsors are also providing some awesome perks, swag, and resources for all attendees.

The Winners’ Circle

  • 4.0 Schools4.0 Schools is providing free admission and travel to the multi-day Essentials workshop (covering up to $500 in travel costs);
  • The Educelerate Conference is providing a $500 credit to the team that best addresses the unique Challenges of Non-Educeleratetraditional Students (adult, online, low-income, minority) for the technology development consulting service of their choice.
  • 18711871 is offering a free two month membership to the winning team and, with DeVry Education Group, an invitation to the top higher education focused team to meet with the head of the new DV X EdTech Incubator there;
  • Kaplan TechstarsThe lead mentor at the Kaplan Techstars EdTech Accelerator will connect with the winning team to provide advice and insight into their next cohort;
  • The head of West Coast Relations at Pearson Labs will also connect with the winning team to provide advice and insight into the next Pearson Pearson CatalystCatalyst cohort;
  • And rumor has it that there is one more winner’s prize in the mix…

We are also excited to highlight several global Startup Weekend resources and sponsors – check out the below for information about Google bootcamps, free domain registration, and more!

  • .CO is proud to support Startup Weekend by providing all participants with the opportunity for a free 12-month .CO domain registration. Don’t settle for a lame name with dashes or missing vowels — get a short, memorable, user friendly domain name to launch your startup this weekend! Find an available .CO name via and use the promo code provided by your organizer to get your .CO at
  • Google is providing everyone a $500 of credit to build startups on Google App Engine and Google Compute Engine. Redeem at: (verification code: swoff-org).
  • Built with the same technology that powers, Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides start-ups and businesses with a secure, reliable, easy-to scale, low-cost computing platform “in the cloud.” AWS is issuing all SW participants a credit voucher valued at $100 which can be applied to an existing account and is good until 12 months from issue. Please follow the instructions on to sign up for AWS and redeem the promotional code provided by your SW Organizer.

ONE WEEK until Chicago StartupWeekend Education


Chicago Startup Weekend Education

 September 26th – September 28th, 2014

National Louis University


Last year, Minnesota high school teacher Eric Nelson drove down to Chicago to share the paper based project he had developed over the years for the Civics elective class he teachers. Over one 54 hour hackathon, Chicago StartupWeekend Education (“SWEDU”) helped Eric to build this idea out into an actual, online product, Fantasy Geopolitics.

Eric did not win Chicago SWEDU, he did not even place in the top three, but he had a product, team members and coaches who believed in him and so, he continued on with a kick-ass Kickstarter campaign, admission to 4.0 Schools, and an invitation to the EdSurge Tech for Schools Summit.

Next week September 26, StartupWeekend Education returns to Chicago and our hosts from last year, National Louis University, the largest educator of teachers in the state of Illinois. And ironically enough, the top two teams from last year were both led by members of the NLU community.

And to support this year’s new teams, we have assembled an all-star list of coaches from such Chicago EdTech start-ups as GetSet, LearnMetrics, Packback, RedShelf and instructors from start-up schools like DevBootcamp, Starter League and Startup Institute. The finals will be judged by the president of National Louis University Dr. Nivine Megahed, the noted K-12 consultant and founder of the #GlobalEd and #STEMxCON movements Lucy Gray, the founder of Starter League Neal Sales-Griffin and more.

Winning teams will be selected to receive such prizes as free admission (and airfare!) to attend the 4.0 Schools Essentials program, two months free rent at 1871 and a meeting with the new DV X DeVry EdTech Incubator at 1871, and interviews with the head of the Kaplan Techstars EdTech Accelerator, Pearson Labs and Pearson Catalyst and a new edtech corporate venture group.

Buy your ticket to Chicago SWEDU here (and thanks to the Joyce Foundation, we are offering a promo code “JoyceFdn” offering a 40% savings for Educators).