How to Raise Capital in Chicago

ChicagoNEXT’s Mark Tebbe explains how Chicago is becoming one of the best cities for the next generation of entrepreneurs

Chicago is getting recognized by groups around the world as it’s becoming one of the best cities for the next generation of entrepreneurs to build a business.

Whether looking at it from innovation, competitive cost of living or business growth, Chicago is moving up the lists. And we can now count it as a great place for proven returns on investment.

Pitchbook recently ranked Chicago as having the highest venture capital returns out of any startup hub in the United States — outpacing New York City and even Silicon Valley. This is a great recognition, and we’re just getting started.

We’ve also seen several Chicago-based startups make their way to the big leagues. In May, Chicago-based Outcome Health raised their first external capital, $500 million at an impressive $5 billion valuation. And of the eleven fastest startups to reach a $2 billion valuation, three come straight from the Windy City — Groupon, Avant, and Uptake.

Last month, Chicago also reached a major VC milestone, with more than $1.2 billion invested in Chicago startups, well on pace to beat the 2016 total.

Chicago’s diverse economy and strong corporate and community relations are vital to our success in attracting new venture investments. With this foundation, we are continuing to build impressive companies, as evidenced by our booming B2B tech industry and expansion into the emerging frontiers of machine learning, big data and IoT.

The strengths of Chicago’s technology community will be highlighted at this year’s Chicago Venture Summit, which takes place on September 13 at five innovation hubs in downtown Chicago and on September 14 at Google’s Chicago office. At this marquee event, nearly 500 venture capitalists and entrepreneurs will be talking about our emerging industries, early and mid-stage startups and collaborative tech ecosystem.

Most importantly, the Venture Summit will showcase why now is an awesome time to increase investments in Chicago. When you combine our growing recognition as a global innovation leader with our Midwest culture of bootstrapping and hard work, it should be no surprise that Chicago has provided investors with record returns.

But remember, this is just the start for demonstrating that Chicago is the best city for our entrepreneurs on their path for continued success — locally and internationally.

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This story initially ran in Chicago Business Journal. Mark Tebbe is chairman of ChicagoNEXT, WBC’s effort to drive growth and opportunity in Chicago’s tech economy. He’s also adjunct professor of entrepreneurship and entrepreneur-in-residence at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. Tebbe’s 25 years of successful entrepreneurial experience includes the founding of two NASDAQ-listed companies, Lante Corp. and Answers Corp., as well as involvement in numerous startup and high-growth companies.