Chicago Shines at SXSW

The ChicagoMade Lounge brings community together to network with the world

ChicagoMade Lounge at SXSW 2016ChicagoMade wrapped up another successful year of showcasing the city as a global hub of innovation and creativity at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, TX this month. The initiative is a collaboration between World Business Chicago (WBC), Choose Chicago, and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) to increase awareness of Chicago as a destination for business, talent, and tourism.

The group is now measuring the impact of its presence at SXSW, which included a day-long networking event at the ChicagoMade Lounge and an official music showcase featuring Chicago artists. SXSW Interactive has become the place to discover tomorrow’s technology and creative industry leaders. Initial outcomes are highlighted below:

  • WBC was invited by the UK Trade and Investment office to present the benefits of doing business in Chicago to companies from the United Kingdom at the Great Britain House at SXSW
  • WBC met with U.S. Congressman Randy Hultgren of Illinois, and discussed ThinkChicago and 1000 Jobs for Chicagoland Manufacturing before his SXSW panel on STEM education
  • Comcast NBCUniversal livecast a ChicagoMade panel at its SXSW Lounge featuring Alya Woods (Director, ChicagoNEXT), Joe Wood (CEO, AIWA), Chris Campbell (CEO, ReviewTrackers), and moderator  Matt Summy (VP, Comcast)
  • WBC met with leaders from the Washington D.C. Economic Partnership who organized a similar lounge to ChicagoMade, called WeDC (which they noted was partially inspired by ChicagoMade’s previous presence at SXSW)
  • Choose San Antonio had its first-ever SXSW activation, also inspired by ChicagoMade
  • The ChicagoMade Lounge welcomed business leaders from across the country and the world including visitors from Germany (Hamburg,  Munich and Berlin), Brazil, Sweden, and more
  • Sunlight Foundation Labs Director Kat Duffy of Washington DC spoke with the Chicago Tribune about the ChicagoMade Lounge saying “To me, this tent feels very Chicago. It feels very down to earth, and friendly and accessible.”

ChicagoMade Lounge at SXSW 2016ChicagoMade Lounge @ SXSW 2016

Jaime Black of Dynasty Podcast featured the ChicagoMade Lounge and its Chicago ambassadors including Josh Chicoine of the Chicago International Movies & Music Festival (CIMMFest), Mandy Yoh of ReviewTrackers, music legend Martin Atkins, Andy Annacone of TechNexus, Emile Cambry of BLUE1647 (who received a prestigious SXSW Community Service Award), and Justin Massa of IDEO in their coverage of ChicagoMade; including this interview with Shannon McGhee and Jake Trussell of World Business Chicago:

ChicagoMade Ambassadors discussed Chicago’s tech ecosystem and its position as a premier destination to grow a business. A networking event transformed Austin’s Downtown Burgers into the ChicagoMade Lounge, and featured products and food created in Chicago. Ambassadors at the Lounge included:

  • Martin Atkins: Tour Smart author, SAE professor, former drummer of PiL, Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, etc.
  • Joe Born: AIWA CEO
  • Emil Cambry: BLUE1647 CEO
  • Chris Campbell: ReviewTrackers CEO
  • Scott Fetters: 2112 Director
  • Justin Massa: IDEO Director of Business Strategy
  • Mike McGee: Starter League Co-founder
  • Kent Nielsen: Fort Knox Studios Founder and Director
  • Eric Sheinkop: MusicDealers Chairman (Shienkop launched a new startup at SXSW called
  • Michael Slaby: Former Obama for America CTO & CIO, Timshel Head of Mission
  • Matt Summy: Comcast NBCUniversal VP
  • John Tolva: PostitivEnergy Practice President, former City of Chicago CTO

The Lounge featured artwork by renowned Chicago street artist Sam Kirk and included a tweet-activated vending machine. When guests tweeted with the hashtag #ChicagoMade, the vending machine provided Chicago-centric items including Cards Against Humanity expansion packs, Field Notes notebooks, KOVAL Distillery keychain flasks, Chicago Fire t-shirts and more. The hashtag was used more than 270 times during the ChicagoMade lounge on March 14, reaching more than 1M twitter user’s feeds.

WBC would like to extend a special thanks to ChicagoMade partners and sponsors: 1871, 2112, 3D Printer Experience, AIWA, BallotReady, Bucketfeet, Busy Beaver Button Co., Cards Against Humanity, Chicago Design Museum, Comcast NBCUniversal, Dynasty Podcasts, Field Notes, Fort Knox Studios, GE Ventures, General Assembly, Gramovox, Illinois Technology Association, KOVAL Distillery, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Locke Lord, MINIMAL Design Studio, Ms. Tech, MusicDealers, Opternative, ReviewTrackers, Rhine Hall Distillery, Shawnimals, Skinny Pop, The Hideout, Vice District Brewing, and You Are Beautiful.

In addition to the Lounge, ChicagoMade produced an official SXSW music showcase featuring Chicago artists Rhymefest, Mick Jenkins, Phuture, Dreezy, Saba, Taylor Bennett, Z-Verse, Psalm One, Hawley, and Mike Golden.

Mick Jenkins at the SXSW ChicagoMade Music Showcase 2016Mick Jenkins performing at the 2016 SXSW ChicagoMade Music Showcase

WBC will be analyzing the impact and building on the ChicagoMade effort in the months ahead. For more information visit