If you ask any Chicagoan, they’ll tell you that Chicago is the best city in the world. Their opinion is subjective but what’s not subjective is how nurturing Chicago is for startup tech companies. Here are 12 reasons why Chicago is the optimal place to establish your next tech startup.
Chicago has a rich history if tech innovation. Starting as early as the 1920’s, this city has founded some of the most notable tech companies including Motorola, which remains one of the city’s largest tech employers. The first big tech wave came in the 1970’s and 80’s with the formation of companies like Morningstar, CCC Information Services and HERE (which was still Navteq at that point), all of who are still big players.The second wave came in the 1990’s. Since that second wave, the Chicago tech scene has continued growing exponentially, employing nearly 55,000 at the end of 2015.
The Heavy Hitting Employers
Chicago was home to 89 digital technology companies with 100 employees or the last year, a 16% increase from 2014. While Morningstar, HERE, Coyote Logistics and Enova account for spots 2-5 — all over 1,000 Chicagoans in employment, Groupon remains the city’s biggest tech employer with over 2,000 people on staff. Additionally, Chicago’s tech scene has also made a vast impact on the local economy. The sector employed more than 54,000 Chicagoans in 2015 – a notable increase from the 33,000 employed in 2012.
With so many established tech companies calling Chicago home, it’s no surprise that some of the world’s top tech influencers flock here. Tech pioneers like Troy Henikoff and Howard Tullman come to the city in order to use their past experiences to help startups flourish. Other influencers, like Shradha Agarwal and Joe Mansueto, are investing and advising companies while they continue to work on their own companies and adding valuable insight on current trends and business strategies.
It’s easy to come up with a tech business idea – but turning that idea a reality is an entirely different monster. If your idea needs to gain a lot of speed / cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time, you may want to look into Chicago’s incubator and accelerator programs. Veteran entrepreneurs, investors, and leaders in the techcommunity lead these programs.