Entrepreneurship puts on a Chicago face
August 29, 2005
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
Chicago is deep dish
pizza. Chicago is the L. Chicago is a Vienna hot dog with mustard,
relish and onions. Chicago is Millennium Park. Chicago is Milton
Friedman's Chicago School of Economics.
think it's time we defined the Chicago School of Entrepreneurship.
There's something brewing here in entrepreneurship. It begs to
be codified and documented.
Is a Chicago School
emerging? You bet. Between the academic work at the University
of Chicago Graduate School of Business and the hands-on efforts
of Chicago's entrepreneurs, a Chicago School of Entrepreneurship
is nearly a reality. It hasn't fully emerged. It will soon.
What will characterize
the Chicago School of Entrepreneurship?
"A diverse, gritty
style," says David Weinstein, president of the Chicagoland
Entrepreneurial Center. "In Chicago, entrepreneurs come in
all shapes and sizes. It's down to earth, at street level, taking
nothing for granted. It's real. It has substance. It's less about
cool ideas and more about doing the hard work to succeed."
Weinstein points to
Maven Cosmetics, Maddie Powers, Fieldglass, Neuros Audio, Cleversafe
and thinkorswim as Chicago School examples.
With the founding of
the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago,
Professor Steve Kaplan is quietly creating the Chicago School
of Entrepreneurship. He may not describe it that way, but Kaplan
has assembled a group of top thinkers and practitioners who are
conceptualizing the theory and teaching the best practices of
"When you think
about Chicago, there's a more disciplined approach to launching
new enterprises," says Ellen Rudnick, executive director
of the Polsky Center. "We haven't had the feverish lemming
approach of the Bay Area."
Some might say it's
too soon to define a Chicago School. I say let's get on with it.
We need to define what works in the Windy City. The sooner we
do that, the sooner we'll create successful companies.
The more Morningstars,
Archipelagos and Navteqs, the sooner the Chicago School will gain
its due. It's just a matter of time.
companies, 10 stories
are hard to spot. Tuesday night, Chicago's future stars will be
on display when TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) hosts "Ten
Great Companies, Ten Great Stories" at the offices of law
firm Gardner Carton & Douglass.
The event is the brain
child of TiE's executive director, Anjali Gurnani. "We rarely
have an opportunity to learn about maturing local companies,"
says Gurnani, who vetted the presenters. "Outside of venture
forums, the community rarely glimpses promising firms."
The presenters are:
CompassCare, a healthcare software provider that raised $2.75
million; Go2Call, a global VoIP provider; Informance, a manufacturing
analytics firm that raised $6 million; Redsky Technologies, an
E-911 solutions provider that's raised nearly $5 million; and
Visibility, a collaborative litigation-management solutions provider
servicing the insurance industry that's raised nearly $20 million.
These five will be
joined by Home Preview Channel, which offers technology to transfer
information from desktop computers to cable TV; Akoya, a business-intelligence
software provider that raised $800,000; Socrates, which offers
low-cost legal and professional services; Intellext, a context
based search provider of business-critical knowledge, and Univa,
a GRID computing software provider that raised $8 million.
Kudos to Gurnani and
TiE for creating this one stop venue for the Who's Who of Chicago
entrepreneurship. Each company gets 10 minutes to present. For
more information, point your browser to www.tie-midwest.org.
Tech Matters reader
Garry Jaffe was glad to hear Illinois will have a simplified .gov
e-mail address. Jaffe laments, "Will that stop the state
from changing its Web site URLs every six months?" Probably
State of Illinois spokesman
Justin DeJong says the state's official Web site, www.state.il.us,
was updated to www.illinois.gov as part of the effort to simplify
e-mail and Web addresses.
"We have made
changes to streamline and merge government agencies, and improve
how Illinois government interacts with residents statewide,"
adds Jay Carlson, deputy director of the bureau of communications
and computer services.
Krauss is a Chicago-area tech writer and consultant.