By: Alyssa Schoeneman
Illinois Launch Startup Bootcamp may not have required a lot of pushups, but it certainly whipped its participants into shape.
With more than 60 people in attendance and 35 startups represented, Illinois Launch team members and applicants showed up in full force to learn about pitching, networking, marketing, branding and other relevant issues in entrepreneurship. Featured speakers included Business and Success Expert Steve Kaplan, Social Media Expert Jeff Willinger, Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center President and CEO Kevin Willer, Lightbank Principals Vicki Levine and Bill Pescatello, and GrubHub Co-founder Mike Evans.
“Mike Evans is not only an accomplished entrepreneur but always has good information to share with aspiring entrepreneurs,” said Tech.li Founder Edward Domain. “He gave a great talk!”
Startup Bootcamp not only included workshops, but also several competitions. Pitch competitions were judged by members of the Chicago entrepreneurship community, Illinois Launch Mentors and representatives from Chicago VC firms.
5Degrees CEO Jeb Ory won the elevator pitch competition with a great explanation of his team’s social media management site. Ory said that a combination of passion, people, product and poise “make an A+ pitch.”
Tech.li Founder Edward Domain, who took second place, agreed that passion is the key factor in delivering a good pitch. Domain’s site, which highlights technology, entrepreneurship and innovation, aims to be the “Tech Crunch of the Midwest.”
What Fits Me Founder Erica Daly won the final pitch competition on Wednesday. Daly designed an algorithm that can predict what other clothes will fit a person similarly to his or her favorite clothing. WhatFitsMe.com allows users to search for clothing by type, color, brand, location and fit.
Additional winners during the week included Launch team HonuTV, which offers a technology that synchs television with web-enabled devices, and BT Social, an online social meeting place for business travelers.
The Startup Bootcamp District Bar Networking Event was attended by more than 100 members of the startup community, including Launch mentors and Chicago VCs. The event was Illinois Launch’s second successful Chicago networking event this month!
Startup Bootcamp participant and Red Radius founder Akiwumi Attawia had nothing but great things to say about his experience at the 3-day event.
“I had a great time participating in Startup Bootcamp this year,” Attawia said. “I gained lots of valuable information and am hitting the ground running with my venture, building out a prototype and beta testing in the next month.”
UI Extension Educator Kathie Brown said she was impressed by the event’s overall flow and productivity.
“Startup Bootcamp created a remarkable space for networking, content and, ultimately, deal flow,” Brown said. “It seemed as though you could almost see some of these ideas launching as you talked with the students and watched their interactions with the exceptional team of business leaders, all [of whom] are keenly interested in supporting new ideas.”
Many Bootcamp attendees used Twitter to Tweet about their experiences and to connect with Startup Bootcamp speakers like Jeff Willinger (@jwillie) and Kevin Willer (@kwiller). The hashtag #UILaunch was used to organize Tweets about the event.
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