Invest with Chicago's Hottest Startups with the Top Venture Capital Firms & Angel Investors

What are some of the top startups in Chicago, Illinois region?

 
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1.  RAISE

Raise is a C2C gift card marketplace where members can sell gift cards for cash or save on gift cards to their favorite stores. Raise helps buyers increase their purchase power and allows sellers to raise their earning potential.

 
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2.  Blinkfire Analytics

Blinkfire Analytics uses computer vision to analyze multimedia resources and generate reports for Teams, Players, Agents and Brands so they can better engage their fans and sponsors.  Brands can now manage their brand lift on the "visual web", first in the sports channel, and later, beyond.

 
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3.  BELLY

Belly’s industry-leading mobile platform has redefined the loyalty space by offering customizable, unique rewards programs backed by a seamless marketing solution. Belly makes it easy and affordable for businesses to engage customers with memorable in-store experiences and build lasting relationships. Through digital connections, businesses gain access to customer data and a suite of innovative tools to track their marketing efforts.

 
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4.  Snapsheet

Snapsheet provides mobile branded apps to help auto insurance carriers settle claims in hours instead of days. Our self-service mobile app enables customers to take photos of their damaged vehicles on their own time without the hassle of scheduling an adjuster or a trip to a body shop. The customer can view their carrier approved estimate, schedule an appointment with a body shop or even take an EFT cash payout all from their carrier's mobile app.

 

 
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5.  Rocketmiles

Rocketmiles enable customers to travel more, travel better and travel further. 20M+ consumers stock away miles & points to satisfy their wanderlust. With Rocketmiles, customers earn ~7000 miles/booking for staying among a handful of premium hotels in each city. One stay can now earn a free flight. Hotel partners fill rooms that would have otherwise gone unused with coveted premium business travelers. 

 

Who are the top 3 investors from Chicago?

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1. Sam Yagan

You've probably heard of or used SparkNotes before, likely while cramming for a book report on a 600-page novel that you never bothered to read. Maybe, you wanted to try the dating scene and turned to a website called OKCupid. Well, you have Sam Yagan to thank for both of those. Founder of both SparkNotes and OKCupid, Yagan is now the CEO of Match.com. He's also invested in some notable startup companies such as: Authy, Rocketmiles and Brilliant.

 
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2.  Andrew Williamson

Andrew Williamson, partner at True North Venture Partners, focuses on identifying early and late stage investment opportunities, identifying key technology trends and innovation and assisting portfolio companies post investment. His previous work include working with companies that are developing technologies, products and services to enable customers to adopt more sustainable lifestyles. Some of his notable investments include: Chromatin, Gazelle and Recyclebank.

 
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3.  Tao Huang

Former Chief Operating Officer for Morningstar, Inc., Huang is now a Managing Partner at Range Light, LLC. He has extensive experience in corporate strategy and business growth. Some of his notable investments include: Ideafirst, Youbeauty.com, and Simplefuture.

 

Learn about how Angel Kings' VC Firm in Chicago is helping local startups:

You can always find a new solution to an old problem. At Angel Kings, we look for founders with creative, intelligent, and marketable approaches. Travis Kalanick's approach with Uber was to use the crowdsource model in technology to a new field: transportation. And he started small, in a niche – sedan cars and high–end limousines – and within a community he could manage: San Francisco, California. 

GoPro approached personal video with the knowledge that individuals are more mobile, more discerning, and more connected than ever before. GoPro products build on decades, if not centuries, of photography and video solutions, but the company does so with an eye toward professional image capture and fewer limits on camera person mobility.  The company also has created a culture, community, and zealous following of consumers, which no doubt helps brand loyalty – even with a recycled idea. 

How do you know something offers a new, or better, approach? We look at four major qualities of a product:

1.  Efficiency

A product or service is more efficient if it saves time or resources; time or resource savings is a reason people choose to buy one product over another. The growing trend in hybrid car sales points to this premise: Despite a number of factors that might turn buyers away–such as higher price point–many consumers choose the vehicle that is presented as most efficient.

2. Economics

Economics deals with the costs, or perceived costs, to the value ratio of a product. Beating the competition on cost is an obvious step to a better solution, but we don't need to see lowest–price products to believe that something's a good investment. 

3. Sustainability

Sustainability has become a growing factor in investment decisions, because it's a growing factor in consumer buying decisions. Studies have shown that modern consumers are more likely to purchase items–and even pay a bit more for them–if the brand, product, or service is somehow inclined toward environmental solutions. This drive from consumers explains why the green packaging market in America is trending to pass $178 billion by 2018. When selecting investments, we are always cognizant of consumer behaviors, which is why sustainability is a consideration.

4. Convenience

We love to see a founder with an intelligent idea that makes life easier for the target audience. Drive–thru windows, toss–away plastic storage containers, and a proliferation of frozen pizzas in the cooler aisle of any grocery store illustrate the point that convenience sells, making it a good investment.

 

What if your startup idea already exists?

I've wrote about the fact that almost every idea that's under the sun has already been created. It's in our book, "Kings Over Aces," I talk about the fact that if you've got an idea it's probably been built before. I think you have to wonder if it's already been built are you going to do something different with that to make it so monumentally better than the next guys, the next girls, that's it revolutionary. I think there's still opportunity.

If you want to find out whether it's been built there are tools. You can clearly go to Google and search for a general concept of what you're trying to build. That might lead you to the USPTO, the United States Patent and Trademark Office, to see whether or not your idea, or your product could be patented. Proprietary stuff is important. Beyond Google and the USPTO you can also search great sites like TechCrunch, Mashable, VentureBeat and Business Insider. You can search for the general idea and find whether the press have talked about it.

Beyond on that, I'll say more likely than not it has been done before. It's incumbent upon you if you want to do it better to do it in a way that no one's done before. You also need to build a great team. You've got to have a product that is much more efficient on a different scale than any other before, and you've got to be willing to execute in a different way. Of course you need to check online tools to know whether they'll be legal obstacles, or people that will bother you while you're creating them. Focus more on building something that can still sell, and can make you and your investors a lot of money. 

 

Invest in one of Chicago's Top Startups.

Or, better yet, we've convinced you to join Angel Kings!  Regardless of the reason, we'd love to talk to you.

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