America’s largest midwestern city is known for its robust advertising and finance industries, as well as a diverse food culture. That’s not all the Windy City excels in, however.
This year, 15 successful tech startups caught our attention—be sure to keep these companies on your radar in the coming months and years.
Do you have 25 minutes to spare? In that time, you can take an online refractive eye exam for less than a typical optometrist or clinic-administered exam. And in 24 hours or less, Opternative delivers a personalized prescription for purchasing corrective lenses at your favorite shop. You don’t need glasses to see that this company will go far.
Move over, OpenTable. Tock is a startup taking on the restaurant reservation industry and already has some big names behind it. Heavyweights like Grant Achatz, Brian Fitzpatrick, and Nick Kokonas are bringing foodies and restaurateurs a service that not only lets you reserve a spot, but also pre-order food—thereby helping to cut down on no-shows.
Rippleshot’s proprietary algorithms and fraud analytics help banks identify and mitigate costly fraudulent behavior with payment cards. Even better, the system learns and improves itself over time. Investors recently invested $1.2 million in this notable Chicago upstart.
Like similar offerings Draft Kings and Fan Duel, this fantasy sports website/app that combines the best of daily bracket rounds and season-long leagues. Players go head-to-head against each other in a survival system for real money.
There are few challenges more difficult than dress shopping for bridal parties. Brideside aims to alleviate these pains by cutting out the middleman with its one stop shop solution. After a style is chosen, dresses are shipped out to bridesmaids to try on for a more reasonably-priced, perfect fit.
Signal—formerly BrightTag—provides real-time customer data analysis, market research, and data collection services, allowing businesses to engage with audiences more efficiently using its data infrastructure platform. Some notable investors are behind this upstart, such as Pritzker Group Venture Capital—one of Chicago’s very own.
Bitcoin aficionados now have cause for rejoice—this startup takes the frustration out of buying/selling in the preeminent digital currency. Bridging the gap between bitcoin wallet services and conventional banks, Glidera aims to gradually bring the digital currency into widespread use.
Already well-known in some circles, Avant goes head-to-head with traditional lenders by customizing the process for personal loans. A few minutes is all it takes to apply for a loan—if approved, funds are delivered to your account as soon as the next business day.
Hospitals are in the business of saving lives, but are often viewed as hotbeds for dangerous bacteria and infectious diseases. SwipeSense is a system for improving hand hygiene through the use of statistics and compliance tracking.
With the rise of medical cannabis across the US, various tech startups have emerged to provide innovative products and services to players in this burgeoning space. Riding on the success of Illinois’ pilot medical cannabis program, HerbFront helps entrepreneurs navigate complex zoning limitations and find real estate to set up shop with its web-based mapping service.
In response to the boom of streaming video games among global audiences, this Techstars Chicago 2015 company has developed an offering to make getting in on the action easier than ever. Infiniscene allows gamers to broadcast via a simple web interface that sports an array of advanced features for the hardcore.
Fundraisers aren’t all about fancy galas; similarly, auctions aren’t all about fast-talking auctioneers behind podiums. Gesture brings the fundraising process to mobile platforms, helping organizations generate the money they need to continue making the world a better place. This startup has already raised hundreds of millions of dollars across thousands of events.
Based right in the heart of downtown, Centro caters to the local behemoth advertising industry with its solution for organizing and automating digital advertising and media campaigns.
Rithmio aims to make wearables more intelligent—learning and adapting to the user’s behavior over time for delivering more accurate fitness tracking information. Founded at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, this startup now also has offices in Chicago.
Managing multiple social media accounts can be challenging; this startup’s platform enables businesses to take control of it all from a single interface. Stanford University, Zipcar, and Pepsico are a few of Sprout Social’s marquee customers, to name a few.
These 15 Chicago startups are just a few out of hundreds carving out their respective niches and capitalizing on ingenious endeavors. With a phenomenal local talent pool and longstanding tradition of entrepreneurship, the City of Big Shoulders continues to be a tech innovation force to be reckoned with on a global scale.