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5 of the Hottest Places for Startups

When you think of tech startups, you think of sprawling campuses in Silicon Valley fed by venture capitalists from across the bay.
San Francisco is synonymous with fresh faced programmers with a penchant for disruptive technology. But rising costs has made San Fran a less than desirable place to get going unless you’ve recently seen an injection of a few million dollars.
Having high-profile neighbors does not make a city the best place to launch your technology career. In fact, the competitive nature of the area makes it a more difficult place to be. Instead, check out these five places that aren’t Silicon Valley that foster creative culture and add fuel to the startup fire.
1. Denver, CO and Boulder, CO
You might be surprised at the most consistent places to launch your career. Colorado is consistently ranked as one of the best places to launch a tech startup. In fact, Denver and Boulder can be found at the top of almost every list.
Colorado features affordable real estate and a relaxed lifestyle. Education is a high priority in this state and creatives make up around 29.3 percent of the area’s population. The area is also home to tech giants like Oracle, SAP and HP as well as a large number of government research groups.
Boulder itself is known for its productivity and the city has an impressive tech startup density sitting at six times the national average per capita.
2. Austin, TX
Fly a few hours south to Austin in the heart of Texas and you discover another surprising city that is full of hot startups.
Austin sits at the top of several lists. From its food scene to its creative capital, the city offers plenty of resources to entrepreneurs at lower prices than its coastal compatriots. The stable cost of living combined with no state income taxes makes Austin a great place to get started.
3. Boca Raton, FL
Boca Raton – located near other Florida startup hub, Miami – is known mostly for its white beaches and the white hair of the swarms of retirees that flock to the area. But this all quietly began to change when IBM opened its doors in the city in 1970.
Lately, IBM vets have started opening their own tech firms. The number of creative professionals currently sits at around 14.2% of the population.
4. Seattle, WA
Seattle is the home of tech behemoths like Microsoft and Amazon. This is great news for new startups because these giants attract world-class talent to the city. With Microsoft’s increasing layoffs and Amazon’s high staff turnover, there is plenty of talent to go around.
5. Global
The tech startup scene extends far beyond the borders of the United States. There are countries around the world exploding with highly innovative technology companies. Some well known companies like TransferWise, a disruptive service endorsed by Richard Branson, have surprising origins.
If you’re looking for a change of scenery, you might considered the European Union. The Netherlands was recently ranked as the most entrepreneurial country in Europe and is home to many of the global tech campuses.
If the high prices of Amsterdam are a bit much, you can check out countries like Lithuania and Estonia. These countries have high levels of creativity and incredibly low costs of living. The number of creatives enjoying new found freedom have made these places attractive for getting your startup off the ground.
If you travel a little further afield to Tel Aviv, you will find yourself in a thriving beach technology culture. The country spends more money on research and development than many other countries in the world.
Whether you want to stay close to home or go far away, remember that San Francisco may be at the center of everything but the tech world is a big one and it is worth exploring.

Workation: 10 Getaways Near Chicago

While Chicago is a great place to live and work – especially if you’re looking to build a company – sometimes you just need to take a small break. But, alas, sometimes living the startup dream is actually far from it, and going away for a full vacation simply may not work work when starting a company. In that case, maybe it’s time to get away on a “workation”.
Nowadays, it’s all too common to find entrepreneurs and other working professionals toting their work along with them. These “workations” give the benefit of some level of escape from the doldrums of everyday life without having to sacrifice too much on the business end. But what if you’re a startup founder in Chicago that needs to make sure you’re near your office or at least near the city in those “just in case” situations? Well, what better way than to spend that workation in some yet-unexplored nook of Chicago or some nearby attraction?
This celebration of the Chicago ecosystem is brought to you by @properties, the leading Chicago real estate brokerage serving both the city of Chicago and North Shore through dynamic marketing and innovation. Read more here. Tech.Co reached out to a few agents at @properties, did some of our own research, and reached out to some other professionals around the city and got them to share with us some of their favorite workation spots that aren’t too far away from Chicago (or even already in Chicago) – places where you can take some time to relax, and still manage to get your work done.
Whether you’re staying in the city for a staycation or hoping to find someplace near for a workation, here are 10 getaways to check out near Chicago.
The Spoke & Bird

What is it?
An American restaurant with a great outdoor space that makes you forget you’re in the city.
Where is it located?
Prairie District in the South Loop (205-209 E 18th St, Chicago, IL 60616)
Why come here?
According to @properties agent Colleen Harper: “[There’s] a quiet haven on the patio during the summer, Monday through Friday. The indoor cafe is also a great place to catch up on emails. The organic, locally-sourced ingredients for their unique meals and snacks are delightful and quite tasty. The friendly owners and employees leave you feeling connected to the neighborhood. They know lots of their clientele by their first names – four star pick.”
The Drake

What is it?
One of Chicago’s oldest luxury hotels.
Where is it?
Near North Side (140 E Walton St, Chicago, IL 60611)
Why come here?
According to Chicago-based attorney, Michael Helfand: “Staying Downtown in a hotel off of Michigan Ave is a true staycation because unless you are a tourist or work in that area, most Chicagoans don’t spend a ton of time there. I work in the loop and don’t have much reason to ever be there. But if there is an event in the city or we just want some quiet time, my wife and I stay at the Drake or Peninsula because they are world class hotels, one older, one newer, both with a great style. And when I need to get work done – which for me is every day – I can do so in their rooms, but have a breathtaking view.”
Union League Club of Chicago

What is it?
A renowned social club whose members are recognized for establishing many of Chicago’s major cultural institutions, such as The Art Institute of Chicago.
Where is it located?
In the Loop (65 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60604)
Why come here?
According to @properties agent Diane Edelman, the Union League Club offers everything from free Wi-Fi and art exhibits, to food and exercise facilities. It’s a great escape from the city, if you happen to be a member. If you’re not, then you just need to find someone who is and get them to invite you over as a guest.
I|O at The Godfrey Hotel

What is it?
A lounge area that also serves as a great meeting and event space.
Where is it located?
On the fourth floor of The Godfrey Hotel in Near North / River North (127 W Huron, Chicago, IL 60654)
Why come here?
Writes VP of Wagstaff Worldwide, Carissa Remitz: “[It’s] a great place for a hideaway! Located on the fourth floor of the hotel, the indoor/outdoor rooftop lounge and meeting and event spaces offer free Wi-Fi (no codes needed), ample electrical sockets, and great food and cocktails. The Chef’s Cocktails are not to be missed – Chef Riley Huddleston creates them to order in the kitchen using scientific methods (like checking the pH to make sure the cocktail is the perfect level of sweet and sour).”
King Spa & Sauna

What is it?
A day spa and sauna that’s great for families.
Where is it located?
Niles, IL – just 20 minutes outside of Chicago (809 Civic Ctr Dr)
Why come here?
For @properties agent Mirlinda Vula: “This is a co-ed, true bathhouse with massages, body scrubs, facials, saunas, hot fresh food, Wi-Fi, movie theater, meditation room, and more. This place is hands down my only choice when it comes to getting some much needed R&R&R (rest, relaxation and rejuvenation).” Not only that, but there’s also apparently an option to stay the night in one of their meditation rooms for a mere $35.
Chicago Harbors

What is it?
A string of 10 harbors along Lake Michigan.
Where is it located?
There are 10 harbors total, each of which can be found here.
Why come here?
Heather Clark from Video Brewery suggests: “If your battery is fully charged and the weather is nice, [then] head to any of the harbors. There is open Wi-Fi serving all of the boats in the Chicago harbor system and picnic tables available for working at.”
Little Beans Cafe

What is it?
A cafe that doubles as a creative recreational space for kids.
Where is located?
There’s one location in Evanston and one in Chicago, right in Bucktown (1809 W Webster Ave, Chicago, IL 60614)
Why come here?
A great staycation spot for parents in the city. Write @properties agent Ressie Krabacher: “I come here with my kids and watch them play, learn, and imagine in their indoor playground. They get so busy that they don’t even come to look for me. [The] cafe has good Wi-Fi, [and it’s] not crowded at all so I’m able to catch up with client calls during the week. Wonderful staff too. I get hugs and kisses from my happy little rugrats, [and] get to play with them and be a kid too!”
The Long Room

What is it?
A joint coffee shop and bar.
Where is it located?
In Lakeview (1612 W Irving Park Rd)
Why come here?
It’s a unique hideaway space that offers both alcohol (known for its craft beer) and coffee, as well as food. They have a fully-enclosed beer garden outside, photobooths, free Wi-Fi, and plenty of outlets. If you’re planning a staycation, you may as well someplace comfortable that’s got a great vibe.
Marina Grand Resort

What is it?
A beachside resort on Lake Michigan.
Where is it located?
New Buffalo, MI – a few miles outside of Chicago (600 West Water St, New Buffalo, MI 49117)
Why come here?
According to Bill Fish, president of Reputation Management, it isn’t just t a great resort offering all the amenities you need to do your work: “I happened to grow up in Valparaiso, Indiana which is roughly 30 miles from Chicago. As a kid, my parents would drive us just over the border to New Buffalo, Michigan. Its a phenomenal beach town and roughly an hour drive from Chicago (non-rush hour).” A good workation option that isn’t too far from home.
Four Seasons Hotel Lobby

What is it?
The lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago.
Where is it located?
Inside the Four Seasons, Near North Side (120 E Delaware Pl, Chicago, IL 60611)
Why come here?
Writes food and travel writer Amber Gibson, a staycation doesn’t mean having to keep locked up in your apartment: “I love working and meeting clients at the Four Seasons lobby. There is free and speedy Wi-Fi, several outlets, and they have a beautiful new contemporary art collection. It certainly has better ambiance than my apartment and is so much more peaceful and elegant than working in Starbucks!”

Memorable Moments From Four Decades of TIFF

TORONTO—The Toronto International Film Festival turns the big 4-0 this year with yet another star-studded edition of the annual movie marathon. It’s grown up a lot since starting out as the Festival of Festivals, a fledgling affair largely regarded as a local event until Hollywood started taking note and sending its A-listers north.
Throughout the decades there were stumbles, triumphs, and plenty of celebrity hijinks. Here’s a look at some of TIFF’s most memorable moments:
1976 – The first edition unspools in October with Canadian organizers promising visitors a wonderful Indian summer. It snows. Co-founders Bill Marshall and Henk Van der Kolk discuss the cost of renting snowblowers. Future fests move to September.
1978 – Publicity boss Helga Stephenson is punched in the shoulder as a frenzied mob tries to enter an overflowing screening for “In Praise of Older Women.” A dispute with censors over the film’s sexual content landed programmers in the papers and gave the fest the best publicity it could hope for. Staffers sneak an uncut version onto the screen.
1983 – The ensemble drama “The Big Chill” and its fresh cast of up-and-comers, including Glenn Close and William Hurt, enthral audiences. The surprise hit and parade of photogenic actors set the stage for future red carpet spectacles.
1990 – Now festival director, Stephenson convinces “White Hunter Black Heart” star/director Clint Eastwood to visit her dying mother in hospital. “He was her favourite actor. So after the presentation, we walked across the street from the Elgin (Theatre) and into the hospital where he was whisked to her room.”
1991 – A TIFF delivery van containing that day’s stash of film prints is stolen. Programmers scramble to find other flicks to screen. “Of course, the studios freaked out,” recalls current festival CEO Piers Handling. The van is recovered several days later behind a deli, with all the prints accounted for.
TIFF marks its 40th milestone with a new program for foreign TV series and a juried competitive section for ‘artistically ambitious cinema.’2001 – Matthew McConaughey reportedly leaps from his seat to tend to a woman who faints at a screening of “Thirteen Conversations About One Thing.” She later tells press: “I felt a man stroking my hair and kissing my forehead saying, ‘It’s OK, sweetheart.'”
Days later, red carpets, press conferences, and parties are cancelled when word spreads of hijacked planes slamming into New York’s World Trade Center. Stranded film stars gather around televisions, shocked by what they see. Canuck filmmakers including producer Robert Lantos open their homes to U.S. and European colleagues unable to immediately find a way home.
2006 – “All The King’s Men” star Sean Penn lights up at a hotel press conference, violating an Ontario law that forbids smoking indoors. Penn escapes punishment, but the hotel faces more than $600 in fines. Across town, Sacha Baron Cohen shows up at the midnight premiere of “Borat” in a cart pulled by women dressed as dreary peasants. At the screening, the projector breaks down and spectator Michael Moore (director of “Bowling for Columbine”) attempts to fix the problem, to no avail.
2007 – “Cassandra’s Dream” star Colin Farrell makes headlines for taking a homeless man on a shopping spree for clothes and waterproof gear, and handing him a wad of cash. Meanwhile, a cranky Sean Penn returns with “Into the Wild” and berates reporters and photographers at a press conference: “You can stop taking pictures because I can’t think,” he snaps.
2008 – A man yells at legendary film critic Roger Ebert and smacks him on the knee at a screening for “Slumdog Millionaire.” Ebert, who had been rendered mute by health ailments, explains in a column afterwards that he tapped the shoulder of the guy in front of him because his head was blocking the subtitles.
2009 – Naomi Klein, Jane Fonda, and Viggo Mortensen join a local protest against TIFF’s decision to spotlight films from Tel Aviv, complaining it excludes Palestinian voices. Their petition is quickly denounced by a celeb-stacked counter-statement from festival friends including Israel-sympathetic stars Natalie Portman, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Jerry Seinfeld.
2010 – A rumour spreads that bed bugs have infiltrated Scotiabank Theatre, a multiplex hosting many TIFF screenings. Theatre owner Cineplex Entertainment denies the claims, but an itchy panic spreads online regardless.
2011 – Keira Knightley risks rankling a Toronto audience by striding into a press conference with a Montreal Canadiens jersey slung across her shoulders. The Brit star says she did so at the bidding of her “Dangerous Method” co-star Viggo Mortensen, a big Habs fan. Their Toronto-bred director David Cronenberg deems the stunt “perverse.”
2015 – TIFF marks its 40th milestone with a new program for foreign TV series and a juried competitive section for “artistically ambitious cinema.” For local fans, it offers free screenings through the fall, including Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” with a live symphony score Sept. 20, the last day of the fest.

Grow Detroit Is Trying to Do Exactly That

Some people see Detroit as a lost cause, while others see it as a land of opportunity. In a way it’s the modern American frontier. A fallen city that now holds nothing but possibility.
Grow Detroit believes the city has a lot to offer and can become a vibrant startup hub like Boston, Chicago, or Boulder. They keep an updated list of Detroit area startups as well as other startups in Michigan, and partner with other organizations to sponsor events such as Detroit Startup Weekend and Global Shapers Detroit.
“Grow Detroit connects entrepreneurs with other like minded people. The high quality meetups act as a great support great and platform for anyone stepping into the arena!” says Erick Bzovi, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of HealPay Technologies in a quote on the Grow Detroit website.
The Detroit Startup List, which is featured and updated by Grow Detroit was inspired by a similar list created by the NY Tech Meetup called Made In NYC. In addition to local startups, the list also contains Michigan incubators and accelerators, groups & meetups, and venture capital resources. The site currently lists over 90 startups, proving that Detroit is not kidding around when it comes to regrowth and cultivating new businesses.
A few of the startups listed:
DigitalRoots – A social engagement platform that enables brands to proactively engage with consumers on social media.
HealPay – Allows people to pay one time purchases and recurring bills easily and seamlessly online.
Kidpreneur – Teaches kids age 7-13 entrepreneurship and technology, from python to 3D printing, web design and more
Message Blocks – Easy to use collaborative event management system
Wisely – Unified loyalty app that allows you to earn rewards and perks for frequenting your favorite restaurants.
Grow Detroit and the Detroit Startup List is proof that Detroit is a city in the middle of a revival. People are starting up there for the same reason they startup in other small cities–low cost of living and the opportunity to grow with the community and get in on the ground floor before everyone else catches on to the perks of starting up in a city like Detroit.

Detroit’s Build Institute Trains Aspiring Entrepreneurs

The Build Institute – based in downtown Detroit – was birthed out of D:hive, a kind of welcome center for Detroit residents and visitors started in 2012. There, people could find resources that were not easily accessible by the city, such as information on where to live, work, engage, or build a city. At its core, D:hive was all about making connections between people and building a sense of community in the city they called home.
D:hive spawned two programs: The Detroit Experience Factory and the Build Institute. The Build Institute was created specifically to help aspiring entrepreneurs by giving them access to the tools needed to build a business.
The institute offers classes called “Build Basics” which are based on national standards for entrepreneurship education. Classes are 8 weeks long and taught by local experts. They cover all the basics of starting a business – from licensing and financial literacy, to market research and cash flow.
One unique program they offer is a training course in Etsy Craft Entrepreneurship. It was developed specifically for community members who are unemployed or underemployed but have existing creative skills. It’s a 4-week program that guides them through the process of building a micro-business and becoming a craft entrepreneur.
In addition to the classes, they also offer networking events that are free to the public. These events, called Open City, are an opportunity for Detroit’s established and aspiring small business owners to have the opportunity to exchange ideas and learn from each other in a casual atmosphere over a couple drinks.
Since 2012, Build Institute has graduated over 600 aspiring entrepreneurs. They definitely have the diversity thing down – with a minority of graduates (42 percent) having been white and 71 percent female.
Build Institute carries on the goals that started at D:hive, primarily the goal of connecting community members with resources that they did not know existed.

Sidewalk Ventures Connects Small Businesses with Community Investors

There are a lot of businesses based in Detroit that are doing well believe it or not. But there’s many more that need some help. The businesses that rely on the city itself as a market are the ones in need of the most help.
Jeff Aronoff is helping local businesses in Detroit by connecting them with investors from within the community. He started Sidewalk Ventures, a company that focuses on helping local businesses and their supporters grow together. At the company’s core are several closely followed values: clarity, transparency, being hands on, and attachment as a human need, not a file icon. According to the company’s values page:
“We love technology, we use technology, but we aren’t technology. Community-based investment cannot be automated. Technology is a powerful tool, but it’s just a tool. Handshakes, eye contact, face-to-face discussion, and the clanking of glasses still matter.”
Growing up, Aronoff’s parents owned a framing shop and gallery, so entrepreneurship is in his blood. After working as an attorney for a number of years he helped develop D:hive, a nonprofit startup that served as a welcome center for Detroit residents new or old who needed access to resources that weren’t well advertised in the city. As the Executive director of D:hive, Aronoff learned the importance of human connection. He says:
“One thing I learned during the D:hive experience is that in an age of virtual connectivity, people are still yearning for human connection; a forum in which to feel physically welcome and engaged by other people.”
He took this knowledge with him when starting up Sidewalk Ventures. He wanted to help small businesses raise capital, but he didn’t want it to be through crowdfunding on a site like IndieGoGo. He wanted these businesses to build investment relationships with those who already supported them. Aronoff talks about where the investors come from:
“The investor pool is unique to each business, because we draw from the business’s own community of existing customers, supporters, neighbors and admirers. In fact, we always start by identifying people who might have expressed an interest in investing in the business’s growth even without ever being asked. You’d be surprised how common it is for a community business to have those regular customers who have gotten in the owner’s ear and said “hey, I love what you do. If you’re ever looking for investment to expand this place, call me first.” We rely on folks like that to form an “inner circle” of anchor investors who make up the foundation for investment from a business’s wider community.”
A business’s relationship with Sidewalk Ventures doesn’t end once they’ve raised some money. Aronoff and his team use their expertise to act as post-funding advisors, work as consultants to help businesses with strategy and growth planning, work with local government entities on policy related to small businesses, and work with nonprofits that help grow Detroit’s local economy.
Sidewalk Ventures launched in April, 2015 and is projecting to have five local businesses funded by the end of 2015.
Image Credit: Detroit Jewish News

4 Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Detroit’s Rebuild

In the 1980s, Detroit was at the peak of its suffering. Ongoing racial tension, political corruption, violent crime, and economic turmoil left the once-proud city in shambles.
Today, however, Detroit is a brand-new place with a brand-new identity — and entrepreneurs can learn a whole lot from studying how the city went about rebuilding itself.
When you think about it, revitalizing a city is a lot like launching a startup. First off, Detroit was tight on money — something every entrepreneur can relate to — and banks were hesitant to involve themselves with the city. Just like startups that have difficulty finding investors, Detroit needed to find a way to display that it was stable and worth investing in.
Like startups struggle with existing expenses long into their lifespans, Detroit’s legacy costs were hindering its growth. Despite all of the challenges, the city elected to prioritize innovation and expansion as the solution.
For startups trying to break out, nothing is more important than the ability to innovate.
Innovating a New Identity
For a long time, Detroit suffered from “little brother syndrome” while measuring itself next to powerhouses like Manhattan and Los Angeles. But once the city embraced the fact that it was not those cities and established its own unique characteristics — both negative and positive — it was able to take major strides toward defining its true identity.
Part of this process involved finding positivity in the city’s most negative characteristics. For example, even though much of the city was impoverished, Detroit used this trait to rebrand itself as a gritty survivor town full of hardworking people who know what it means to have nothing and work toward a better life. Also, the city’s population was dwindling, but Detroit owned this fact by embracing the deep roots of the families who still lived there. These Detroit lifers take incredible pride in their hometown and want to make it a better place for future generations.
It took a lot of creativity to transform a beaten-down area into a vibrant city. Isn’t this the same basic premise most startups are founded on? Entrepreneurs identify an area that needs to be rebuilt, and through creativity, they seek to improve it and achieve big results.
What You Can Learn From Detroit
Like Rome, Detroit wasn’t (re)built in a day. Instead, it focused on the little things and improved one neighborhood at a time. Eventually, the culmination of these efforts resulted in an entirely revamped city.
You can emulate Detroit’s success in your startup by sticking to these four strategies:
1. Think Locally: Detroit went down to street level and said, “How can we make this street better before moving on to the next one?” Entrepreneurs like to think about all of the global change they’re going to make, but starting local and keeping your focus small will make big results happen sooner.
2. Seek Diversity: In Detroit, people of all kinds make up the city’s identity and are helping turn things around. In your startup, you can’t gather a group of identical individuals and expect them to have a far-reaching impact. If you want your business to transform the world, bring in people of different genders, nationalities, socioeconomic statuses, and races to take advantage of what these unique viewpoints have to offer.
3. Fire the Rotten Eggs: Detroit’s most recent rotten egg was sentenced to a 28-year prison sentence, and since then, the city has improved at a record pace. Startups need to evaluate employees carefully. Hanging onto bad ones will only cause you to miss the opportunity to hire the right ones. It takes strong leadership skills to make hard decisions, but if you want to succeed, you must learn how to maximize your staff.
4. Befriend Billionaires: Detroit has a handful of lovely, generous billionaires who are playing major roles in the city’s rebuild. Entrepreneurs don’t necessarily need to buddy up with billionaires, but receiving backing from wealthy individuals can be a game changer. These are people who have the financial security to be able to see beyond immediate ROI and look at the bigger picture.
Getting your startup off the ground takes grit — and so did bringing Detroit back from the brink. Follow the example set by one of America’s most iconic cities, and you will set yourself up for long-term success while readying your business to face the challenges and pitfalls that come with it.
Image Credit: Flickr/Bryan Debus

The Greener Side of Chicago Startups

Chicago is no stranger to being green and focusing on sustainability. As far back as 1909, city planner Daniel Hudson Burnham created a plan focusing on urban growth and greenbelt around the metro area. Now there is more than 5.5M square feet of green or living roof coverage, with a 5-to-1 ratio for electively green vs city required green roofing. Housed within many of these green buildings are also Chicago startups that specifically focus on green activities and technology. From turning carbon waste into opportunities to advancing mobile batteries lifespan, the green startup community in Chicago is continuously growing.
This celebration of the Chicago ecosystem is brought to you by @properties, the leading Chicago real estate brokerage serving both the city of Chicago and North Shore through dynamic marketing and innovation. Follow the full content series here!
Chicago’s SiNode Systems
We all love our smartphones, but let’s face it, a lot of the time batteries can’t even survive a full day of regular use on a single charge. On top of that, many batteries take hours to charge and their lifespan don’t survive your two-year contract. SiNode Systems is changing all of this with their batteries which are said to have a longer life and charge more quickly.
According to their site, they “utilizes a composite of silicon and graphene in a layered structure, which was developed, optimized, and patented by our team working in collaboration with researchers at Northwestern University and Argonne National Laboratory.”
Founded in 2012, SiNode Systems has raised $1M across two rounds. They are based out of Northwestern University.
LanzaTech
Headquartered in the suburbs of Chicago, LanzaTech is helping turn waste from carbon into a green business.
“At the heart of the LanzaTech process is our patented, wholly-owned microbes that convert carbon rich wastes and residues produced by industries such as steel manufacturing, oil refining and chemical production, as well as gases generated by gasification of forestry and agricultural residues, municipal waste into valuable fuel and chemical products through a process of gas fermentation.”
Founded in 2005, LanzaTech has raised $186.3M across four rounds. They were originally founded in New Zealand, but later expanded and moved their headquarters to Chicago.
Green Per Square Foot
As businesses grow, so does their need for more office space. Green Per Square Foot (PSF) is helping by creating a simple platform that let’s any company interested in going green find cost savings, contractors, and materials to make it all happen.
“We help customers go beyond energy audits and data analysis to actually get projects done. From global REITs to Fortune 500 companies to local businesses, we help companies save between 15-30% on energy efficiency retrofits, renewable energy installations, energy purchasing, waste hauling contracts at properties of all types and sizes throughout North America. We’ve also certified dozens of buildings for LEED, Energy Star, and IREM Certification.”
Founded in 2010, Green PSF has completed 15M square feet of green building projects.
FunderHut
Want something great such as a park to be built in your neighborhood? FounderHut is a Kickstarter twist with a community focused crowdfunding focus, and was developed in Chicago. Founded by Dan Salganik and Eugene Salganik, the pair allows people within your community to create educational programs, green events, and supports those looking to volunteer around the world.
“FunderHut is a community-oriented crowdfunding platform that helps communities, small businesses, nonprofits, and individuals fundraise online. Through the support of others, ambitious project creators are able to turn their goals into reality.”
FunderHut was founded in 2010 in Chicago.
Verde
Similar in goal to Green PSF, another Chicago startup is helping small businesses replace their lights with energy efficient LEDs. Best of all, they have a subscription service that spans three years, so if any light goes out during that time, it gets replaced for free (covered by the subscription fee).
“This subscription model was found after I interviewed hundreds of restaurant owners about their lighting needs. We found why businesses have yet to upgrade to LED lighting, and have addressed all of those concerns around high costs, dimming of the lights, quality of the lights, and bulbs burning out early,” stated Verde Founder Jamie Johnson.
Verde is based out of 1871, a digital startup incubator in Chicago. They began as an energy efficiency startup by building the Verde API, an iPad app, and the Stopwatch meter.

Startup Communities: Does Location Matter To Start Your Company?

In May 2015, I left everything in Montreal, Quebec, Canada behind and together my co-founder and fiancée Emilie Elice-Label, arrived in San Francisco to set up operations for our company here for the next 6 months.
While living in Montreal, and Paris before that, I’ve been educating myself about Silicon Valley with news articles to learn from other immigrants that made the same jump such as Bastian Lehmann, CEO of Postmates, and many other entrepreneurs. I thought deeply about how much of a difference location can make when building your company. Moving from Paris to Montreal helped me grow because there are more startup-minded people in Montreal, and the city offers easy proximity to New York City.
While in the startup capital of the world, we’ve visited the true Silicon Valley (Palo Alto and Mountain View), and began thinking about the benefits of the area and the importance that location has for companies.
Since we arrived in San Francisco, it is much easier to meet like-minded and useful people, and my expectations of how easy it is to meet people and how helpful people are have been exceeded. We’ve also had the chance to meet startups in our space and it has been fascinating to learn from them. It’s easier for these things to happen since many startups are based here. Emilie, my co-founder has been to many San Francisco events and it emphasizes this feeling even more.
People actually “get” what you’re building: This is what makes our move to the US unavoidable because this isn’t something that we felt in Montreal. In Montreal, most of the people didn’t get what we were building or why. In San Francisco, people get startups. The conversation can jump right into what your startup is about. Conversations like mobile strategy are easy to have, whereas the real estate marketplace conversation in Montreal seemed to center around explaining the instant gratification that only mobile devices can offer.
Sure, you might not be in Silicon Valley and you might not be able to pack your bags and hop on a flight over here for many reasons. That being said, I advise any founder to take risks and move to wherever you feel you’d be at ease to jumpstart your project. But not being in the right location shouldn’t stop you from making progress with your startup from your current location. To wait for any perfect environment, be it location, startup communities, experience, funds or otherwise, is a mistake to be avoided.
I’d love to learn from your experience in the comments.
Image Credit: Flickr/Jeff Gunn

4 Ways Atlanta Is Becoming a Silicon Valley Competitor

Everyone knows that some of the world’s largest technology corporations reside in the Silicon Valley of California, and it’s hard to compete with the area’s wealth. However, the Bay area isn’t the only United States tech hub. Atlanta, Georgia is also a major player in the technology sector.
As far as technological advancements and major tech companies are concerned, Silicon Valley is far ahead of Atlanta. However, when it comes to small tech businesses and startups, aspiring entrepreneurs will have a tough time in the Silicon Valley. The Bay area is one of the worst places to begin a company, but those dreams have often been realized simply by visiting Atlanta Tech Village or Tech Square in Georgia.
The tech industry in Atlanta is already quite impressive, and there is always room for growth in the technology business sector. Atlanta grants more than 1,500 patents to new businesses alone for new technological innovations every year. It’s also been named one of the best places to start a business by Forbes. This is just one of the many reasons that Atlanta is defining itself as the East Coast’s version of Silicon Valley, but here are a few more:
1. Atlanta’s Economy Is Rising
It’s true the Silicon Valley’s economy is booming, and the average salary for a tech job is the highest in the nation. However, Atlanta isn’t far behind. The city took a significant hit in the 2008 financial crisis, but it’s been steadily gaining speed in the tech industry. According to a chart from 42 Floors, “The Atlanta metropolitan area is considered the eighth-largest economy in the country and the sixteenth-largest economy in the world.” This booming economy is largely a result of their determination to put startup companies on the map.
2. Woman-Owned Businesses Can Make It in Atlanta
Georgia is currently one of the best states for women-owned businesses. In fact, it was the number one state in 2013, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle. The Bay area has always been high on the list of regions that support women-owned businesses, but they haven’t reached the top. Prominent women-operated businesses including Partpic and Rimidi got their start in Atlanta, and have already been largely successful at expanding their businesses.
3. There’s No Shortage of Fortune 500 Companies
With the third largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in America, Atlanta can certainly compete with the major concentration of high-profile businesses in Silicon Valley. However, Atlanta’s businesses are far more willing to work with the surrounding startup businesses to help them get a leg up in the industry. What’s more, British tech firms looking to infiltrate the United States tend to gravitate more often towards Atlanta than larger tech hubs because of the success rate for startups. This means they’re slowly going international.
4. Atlanta Has Drive
If you look into the history of Atlanta, you’ll see that it hasn’t had an easy time staying at the top. However, it continually works to rebuild itself, both figuratively and literally. It’s the only United States city to have burned entirely to the ground twice and then picked up the pieces and started over again. This idea has translated to the way they handle new entrepreneurs and tech jobs.
The city has a drive to stay afloat, come recessions or natural disasters. It’s the sheer determination of Atlanta to help startups and small businesses rise to the top that will have the Silicon Valley watching their backs in the future.