1871 anniversary spotlights Chicago startup growth

By May 6, 2013

Kevin Willer, CEO of Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, celebrates with start-up leaders on the first anniversary of 1871.


Leaders of the Chicago startup community released figures Friday regarding the city’s start-up growth coinciding with the first anniversary of 1871, one of the city’s start-up incubators.

“Over the last year, the tech community has really come together through 1871,” said Lindsay Mosher, executive director of the Illinois Technology Partnership.

“This has really been a community effort,” said Kevin Willer, CEO of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, during a press conference Friday morning to reveal statistics regarding 1871.

Out of the most surprising facts, the following were revealed:


  • More than 800 jobs were created over the past year
  • More than $13 million in revenue was added to the economy.
  • Nearly $30 million in capital was raised, with more than 40 percent coming from entrepreneurs’ own pockets.


The Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center projects more than 1,300 jobs to be created within the next year.

Friday’s press conference featured Willer, Governor Pat Quinn and JB Pritzker, one of the financial backers of 1871.

Pritzker commended the significant work that entrepreneurs have put into the space. “When we threw up the chance to put together a location, a startup place, a place to really build from scratch what could be great companies, it was the entrepreneurs who came together to decide what this place would look like,” he said.

While leaders recognized that the past year brought great success, leaders also recognized that there is work to be done to bring 1871, and the Chicago start-up community at large, to an even more successful year two.

Mosher said Chicago has a lot of work to do in terms of attracting significant investment and though many feel that Chicago lags behind larger start-up communities such as New York or Silicon Valley, leaders stress that Chicago should define itself on a new rubric.

“I think Chicago is in the process of defining itself as a tech community,” Mosher said, adding that new announcements of Chicago as a biotech center and a dedication to social entrepreneurship are redefining Chicago’s strengths.

“I think we’re going to see some of these young companies grow up and be our next great success stories,” Mosher said.

“I’m excited to see as technology evolves how Chicago really latches on and takes off from there.”


For more on 1871, see video and infographic below: