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Techweek Chicago Jam Packed With Startups in Finance, Food, Fashion, Fitness, and Workspace Solutions Techweek Chicago Jam Packed With Startups in Finance, Food, Fashion, Fitness, and Workspace Solutions(0)

Merchandise Mart, Chicago, 60654

By:StartupCity #Chicago

During a jam-packed first day of Techweek Chicago 2015, speakers, vendors, and more than 100 entrepreneurs and startup companies engaged with each other, learned about others’ projects, and presented their own innovations.

Tech food startups

A large section of the conference hall was dedicated to the Techweek Launch Competition, which featured over 100 startup companies competing to win more than $250,000 in cash and prizes. Of the more than 100 companies in industries like food, fitness, fashion, and workspace creation, sixteen made it to the finals on Friday, June 26.


One of the most successful Chicago startups in attendance at Techweek was Avant, founded by entrepreneur Al Goldstein. In less than 3 years, the company has become the leader in providing online credit lending services for middle income people. Avant have created over 700 jobs for Chicagoans. Chicago Business reported in 2014 that Avant raised $225 million in one of the largest venture rounds for a Chicago startup history.


Two startup companies in the growing technology-based food service industry showcased their innovative meal options to conference attendee were Sprig from San Francisco and Chefmade from Chicago.
Chefmade prepares healthy meals that is delivered chilled and only requires reheating. All their meals are prepared by a chef who uses locally sourced ingredients. Users can order from their menu that changes weekly.
Sprig provides healthy, organic food delivery on demand. The Sprig app allows users to order healthy food and get it delivered within 15- 20 minutes for only $10-12 per meal. Sprig recently raised $45 million in funding and entered the Chicago market.


Fit Hero, FitPairs, and FitnFair all competed in the Techweek Launch Competition at Techweek Chicago. Each company created applications that to help people meet their fitness goals
Fit Hero provides on demand personal trainers delivered within 30 minutes or less. They used the Uber business model to provide individuals personal training. “We want affordable fitness for everybody,” said Gabe, personal trainer and founder of Fit Hero.
FitPairs provides opportunity pair people with similar fitness goals to work out and create accountability and team building. Users can find people nearby, schedule time and location to workout.
Fit ‘N Fair, aims to solve lack of motivation and procrastination within fitness market. They help users navigate gym memberships, equipment, and fitness tools that helps them reach their goals.


With the recent launch of the Apple Watch, there is a lot of excitement around wearable tech and fashion. At Techweek Chicago, three companies that focus on creating fashion applications in technology were Pyazza, Fad Channel, and FashionMe.
Pyazza allows users to purchase clothes from other members on the app. Users interact face to face during the transaction. Pyazza aims to build community around fashion.
Fad Channel is a interactive television network for fashion combines shopping and fashion into one channel. They make fashion and design more accessible to viewers of their content. FAD Channel empowers users to interact with our content, e-commerce, and local and national promotional events.
FashionMe app allows users to create new outfits from their own clothes.Users can add as many clothes and share their styles with friends in social media.


Creating workspaces that best suit startups companies are important. Two companies providing workspace solutions are Gallerique and SpaceHq.
Gallerique is a marketplace finding unique decor items from fine arts to antiques for workspaces. They provide consultation for clients to find the best items for their workspaces.
SpaceHq provides an online platform where small companies build out their space within weeks rather than months. They do the work to ensure clients find the best solutions for their workspace needs and culture.

Early-Stage Investment 101 Program II: Hyde Park Angels Entrepreneurial Education Series at 1871 Early-Stage Investment 101 Program II: Hyde Park Angels Entrepreneurial Education Series at 1871(0)

1871 Business Incubator, Chicago, 60654
By: StartupCity #Chicago

On June 17, 2015 at 6:30 p.m., livestreamed “Early-Stage Investment 101”, the second of Hyde Park Angel’s Entrepreneurial Educational Series panel from 1871, the technology incubator in the Merchandise Mart.

The panelists on this second program were Aashish Dalal, Co-Founder and CEO of ParkWhiz; Ira Weiss, General Partner of Hyde Park Venture Partners and Professor of Accounting and Entrepreneurship at University of Chicago Booth School of Business; Sach Chitnis, Managing Director of Jump Capital; Desiree Vargas Wrigley, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Give Forward; and Rishi Shah, Founder and CEO of ContextMedia.
The panel introduced entrepreneurs to options for funding other than investment.
Some of the topics discussed by panelists include:

  1. Recognizing when to raise your first round
  2. Identifying whether raising is the best option
  3. Differentiating between funding stages (seed, Series A, etc.)
  4. Finding the key deal points to negotiate
  5. Explaining how convertible debt stacks up against equity
  6. Knowing who the right investors are and how to find them
  7. Timing the investment cycle correctly
  8. “Reading” a venture capitalist
  9. Defining the mechanics of closing a round (deal leads, legal best practices, board seats, etc.)Watch the first Hyde Park Angel’s Engrepreneurial Education Series Part 1 “Are You Ready to Raise?” video.

The Entrepreneurial Education Series feaures four panels, consisting of top entrepreneurs in the Midwest. The dates of the entire series are:

  • Are you Ready to Raise? Thursday, March 5 6p – 8p
  • Early-Stage Investment 101 Wednesday, June 17 6p – 8p
  • Connecting Corporations and Startups Thursday, September 24 6p – 8p
  • How to Work with your Advisors, Board Members, and Investors Thursday November 12 6p – 8p

Managing Director Pete Wilkins said, “we’re bringing some of the best minds in entrepreneurship and investment– people who’ve already achieved incredible success in both areas– together.”

Hundreds of Chicago Women in Tech Attended ARA Mentors Event at 1871 Chicago Tech Incubator Hundreds of Chicago Women in Tech Attended ARA Mentors Event at 1871 Chicago Tech Incubator(0)

1871 Tech Incubator, Chicago, IL (60654)

On Wednesday, December 10, 2014 hundreds of women attended the first ARA Mentors event at 1871 Chicago’s Tech Incubator. The goal of the event was to have a conversation with leading women who work in male-dominated sectors such as the culinary world, banking, and sportscasting.

The four Chicago women who participated on the ARA Mentors panel were Stephanie Izard, Executive Chef for Girl & the Goat, Little Goat and Top Chef Season 4 Winner (@stephandthegoat), Connie Lindsey, Executive Vice President and Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Global Diversity & Inclusion at Northern Trust (@connieleads), Sarah Spain, espnW Columnist & TV Personality, SportsCenter Anchor & Host for ESPN1000 (@SarahSpain), and Retired Colonel Jil Morgenthaler, Author, Leadership, Expert, International Speaker. I.C. Stars founder Sandee Kastrul (@sandeekastrul).

ARA aspires to Attract, Retain, and Advance women in technology by cultivating and nurturing relationships via mentorship and events/programs, thereby building strong female leaders to support and influence the IT community.


At the direction of moderator Sandee Kastrul, the women in the audience stood upon their feet and shouted “We are here!” in unison at the beginning of the event.

An employee at 1871 said this was the most women she has seen at an 1871 event since she started working there.



“Cover ever ground you stand on with confidence, courage and character”, said Connie Lindsey who gave many memorable advice to the women in attendance.


Confidence and leadership advice were among the main topics the panelists shared. Watch the video of the key takeaways they hope every women will apply to their professional lives.



According to a 2012 Dow Jones study, startup companies with more female executives were more successful than their counterparts. For more data points on technology and women, read Tech Republic’s 15 key statistics on the state of women in tech.



ARA Mentors support the advancement of women in IT by offering opportunities for women to mentor and to become mentees. The ARA event at 1871 was sponsored by Enova, a financial services company.

For more information about the ARA Mentors visit ARA Mentors

West Humboldt Park Residents Celebrate Fourth of July With Locally Made BBQ Grills By Eva’s Hardware West Humboldt Park Residents Celebrate Fourth of July With Locally Made BBQ Grills By Eva’s Hardware(0)

By: See Brown

The Fourth of July is marked by community celebrations and the heart of the American tradition is the BBQ. In the West Humboldt Park Chicago neighborhood is a long-standing Mom- N-Pop hardware store called Eva’s Hardware that sells custom made barbeque grills. The jumbo grills are built from steel drums by neighborhood craftsmen inside the store.


Eva’s Hardware store is located on the first floor of a three-story brick building located at 3622 West Chicago Avenue. It is owned and operated by Ms. Eva, the only female African American hardware store owner in the City of Chicago. Eva’s Hardware has been a staple in West Humboldt Park for more than 20 years. Ms. Eva inherited the building from her parents who bought it more than 40 years ago.

On this particular busy day before Fourth of July,  workers placed two of the custom made bbq grills in front of the store to attract passersbys and busy traffic on Chicago Ave.


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Walking into the store, Ms. Eva was multi-tasking as she worked the register, assisted customers, and answered phone calls. She wasthe only female inside the store in an industry that is predominantly men. She answered a customer call, while patiently assisting one man searching drawers for screws. One customer praised Eva’s Hardware and its employees for their good customer service throughout the years they have been patronizing the hardware store.

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Watch Breaking Voices news video of a West Humboldt Park resident talking about his experience at Eva’s Hardware store.

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At the back of the store, a partition of boxes and shelves divide the store’s inventory from the craftsmen’s work area. Two craftsmen were in process of drilling holes and torching metal drums to make more bbq grills.

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The grills ranged in sizes from a large double barrel that cost $225 and a single barrel drill that cost $85. Each size grill are made with two rack levels that could be used for grilling both meats and as well as vegetables.

To find an independently owned and operated African American hardware supply business is a rarity in Chicago. Eva’s Hardware is located in the West Humboldt Park community, a high-crime area where few businesses survive.

Next door to the hardware store there once was an African American owned restaurant that closed years ago. Now that restaurant is replaced by an Asian-owned fast food joint. A week prior to this article writing, one homicide occurred on the west side of the building, causing the Chicago Police Department to place one of its cars to watch guard at the building’s southwest corner.

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From the entrance of Eva’s Hardware one can see the John Hancock building standing prominently few miles to the east on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile.

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Despite the crime, evidence of community exists in this part of West Humboldt Park. Eva’s Hardware shares the building with the West Humboldt Park Development Council, an organization on a mission to improve the area. Around the corner is the Chicago Commons Nia Family Center, a non-profit organization that partners with individuals, families, and communities to overcome poverty, discrimination and isolation. One block west on Chicago Ave is the Rowe-Clark Math & Science Academy Charter School. Nearby is a beautiful “Black History” mural that illustrates the dreams and hopes for the community.

Eva’s Hardware store presence in West Humboldt Park is evidence that small businesses are the cornerstone of communities. And on Fourth of July, a day where freedom is celebrated it is good to see an African American female-owned business like Eva’s Hardware providing goods that make Fourth of July celebrations more festive.

Eva’s Hardware is open Monday to Saturday from 8am – 6pm.

UPDATE July 8:
Over the Fourth of July weekend, more than 82 people were shot and 11 fatally in the City of Chicago, according to The Chicago Tribune, making it the single most gun violent weekend in Chicago this year.  Chicago Police Superintendant blame weak Illinois gun laws and the ‘proliferation of firearms’ that make Chicago more violent than other big cities like New York.

On July 7, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made following statement about the violence:

“The number of shootings and murders that took place over the holiday weekend is simply unacceptable, and points out that we still have work to do. The solution does not just include policing – although we’ll continue to look for ways to put more police where they’re needed. We also have to give our young people alternatives to the street, and as a community we need to demand more of ourselves and our neighbors. This violence is unacceptable wherever it occurs in our city and all of us need to take a stand. The only way we will meet this challenge to our future is to join with one another and create a partnership for peace.”

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In writing this article and observing large number of idle youths hanging out in middle of weekday afternoon in West Humboldt Park, one solution to reduce Chicago violence is that more work is needed to create jobs for youths so that idle youths can stay off the streets and out of gangs.

With more small businesses like Eva’s Hardware in high crime neighborhoods, youths can find places to work and stay engaged in their neighborhood.


Wal-Mart Express Expands Footprint With Third Store In The River North Neighborhood of Chicago. Wal-Mart Express Expands Footprint With Third Store In The River North Neighborhood of Chicago.(0)

By : BV Staff

The new WalMart Express located in River North neighborhood is a 16, 000 square feet location which features groceries, a pharmacy and “ ready-to-eat” meals kiosk placed perfectly in the path of incoming walking traffic from the Chicago Avenue side of the building. Less than 35 feet from the Brown line Chicago Avenue platform on Franklin & Chicago you will find the only entrance. More than 50 employees will work at this location year-round. Unlike the traditional 186,000 square feet superstores you typically find in the suburbs, you will only find items such as produce, meat products, frozen food, personal care, home  and convenience items that you would find at bargain chains like Family Dollar or Dollar General.

For more affluent neighbors from River North,this gives a chance to be more competitive with there purchasing power , but for those that are the last remaining residence from the once famous Cabrini-Green neighborhood located within 3 city blocks, this can equal a sign of hope for those that live on fixed incomes like the elderly. Like so many Chicagoans, this is as much a opportunity (less expenses prices) as well as curse (impacting local mom & pops) for those that live in the River North area to get better priced goods even if only a few cents cheaper than a comparable purchase at a seven-eleven mini-mart when the citywide sales tax rate currently stands at 9.75 percent.

After visiting the River North Walmart Express over the last 5 days since  its grand opening to the public, I have purchased many products that are comparable to those at retail locations (Seven Eleven, CVS, Wal Greens, Family Dollar, etc) that have profited on convenience ( location, after-hours, limited selection) of a few products instead of customer selection. This third Walmart Express is apart of WalMart Corporation testing its new “Express Mini-Marts” concept stores specifically for urban markets that are between 14,000 to 21, 000 square feet.

The official address is 225 West Chicago Avenue, Chicago, Ilinois 60654 .

The “Avengers” 3D Screening at Chicago AMC River East & The S.H.E.I.L.D. Acura Hosted After-Party The “Avengers” 3D Screening at Chicago AMC River East & The S.H.E.I.L.D. Acura Hosted After-Party(0)

By: BV Staff

Like most, when we discovered that we had advance tickets to see the “The Avengers” three days before the general public at the AMC River East theater because of the partnership between Marvel Studios and Chicago Acura dealers, a inner child from the 80’s jumped out of us all like scientist Robert “Bruce” Banner does when he turns into ” The Incredible Hulk”.


When the world is threatened by Loki (brother of Thor), Nick Fury as the director of S.H.I.E.L.D, an international peace keeping agency, must rely on Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow to fight what may be that last stance for the human race. As most know, the movie was 143 minutes with the entire cast really delivering a amazing performance from the likes of hollywoods biggest stars such as Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner & Samuel L. Jackson.


For this review, we are going to leave the typical theatrical reviews to the professionals at the Chicago Tribune, NYTimes, IMDB, and Rotten Tomato to tell you if you should see it or not…… PS: If you think this movie sucks, you suck (Jk). For this review, we are going to talk about the amazing after party sponsored by Acura Motors at the River East Art Center. The after party included top shelf alcohol, appetizers, sketch artists, video games, photographs with the Acuras, and a very nice swag bag with a dvd copy of “Caption America”.

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