When I was looking to move back to the Midwest two years ago, it struck me that
the startup community in Chicago was small in ways both bad and good.
Despite a very respectable amount of new venture activity here, it’s not exactly
Silicon Valley. People at a Chicago cocktail party probably are not debating whether
Facebook overpaid for Instagram, and your neighbor probably doesn’t have two
failed businesses—worn as a badge of honor.
On the positive side, the sense of startup community here was—and is—really
strong. People willingly introduced me around, and strangers took meaningful time
to chat even if they didn’t have a role for me. What the Chicago startup scene lacked
in size, it made up for in spirit and collaboration.
To me, 1871 embodies this spirit. The new center is going to provide a home for
the Chicago startup community to bring it even closer together. It will connect new
founders with people who have been around the block a few times. The support I
experienced before moving here will be concentrated under one roof, which will
help new entrepreneurs increase their chance of success.
For me, getting involved as a mentor is an opportunity to participate in that spirit.
It’s going to be fun to be a small part of fostering this ecosystem. Hope to see you
About the Author
David Jesse,Vice President of Product, Groupon
Prior to Groupon, David Jesse was the Head of product management and business analytics for Gaia Online after serving as the Director of Skype Integration Manage team.