Scale your growth with Chicago's best accelerators & incubators

Discover the Behind The Scenes of how everyday start-ups grow into unicorns.

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Choosing The Right Accelerator

Start-ups are hard. Choose an accelerator that guides you in the right direction.

Patrick Collison, Founder of Stripe

"I doubt that Stripe would have worked without YC. It's that simple."

Patrick Collison, Founder, Stripe

Chris Lynch, Founder of Atlas Venture

"Accelerators claim they are in it for the long haul — I call bullshit"

Chris Lynch, Founder, Atlas Venture

Raj Aggarwal, Founder of Localytics

"The network we built with Techstars was incredibly valuable during and after the program."

Raj Aggarwal, Founder, Localytics

What truly matters

Domain expertise > Funding amount

Accelerator’s connections in the industry

Accelerator’s brand power

Do they know why they succeeded in the past?

Discover your perfect match

No accelerator or incubator is perfect for every start-up. Your business’s context and constraints matter. Identify your perfect match by answering this short questionnaire.

Chicago's Top Accelerators By Neighborhoods

Comparing Accelerators

NameAerial ScoreStandard DealAddress#Investments#ExitsDetails
Techstars Chicago Powered by J.P. Morgan9.9$120K for 6% equity222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza #1212, Chicago, IL 60654, USA6,002475Learn more
Second Century Ventures5.8430 Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611, USA20724Learn more
Techstars Chicago5.7222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza #1212, Chicago, IL 60654, USA13326Learn more
TechNexus Venture Collaborative5.720 N Wacker Dr 12th Floor, Chicago, IL 60606, USA25616Learn more
gener8tor Sustainability Accelerator5.6$100K for 7%+ equity on a SAFEChicago, IL, USA25014Learn more
IrishAngels5.4Chicago, IL, USA16913Learn more
Healthbox5.233 W Monroe St Ste1700, Chicago, IL 60603, USA9712Learn more
Illinois Ventures5.0$10K2242 W Harrison St, Chicago, IL 60612, USA579Learn more
Polsky Center4.71452 E 53rd St, Chicago, IL 60615, USA203Learn more
mHUB (Chicago)4.6$105K-$70K for 6.5% equity1623 W Fulton St, Chicago, IL 60612, USA44Learn more
Productive Edge4.61 E Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60601, USALearn more
Women's Startup Academy4.6Chicago, IL, USA19Learn more
Duality4.6Chicago Booth Harper Center, 5807 S Woodlawn Ave #207, Chicago, IL 60637, USA1Learn more
Relish Works4.6222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza Ste. 575, Chicago, IL 60654, USA15Learn more
Paragon Biosciences4.5330 N Wabash Ave #3500, Chicago, IL 60611, USA5Learn more
Matter (Consulting Services (B2B))4.5222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza #1230, Chicago, IL 60654, USA7Learn more
Matter Chicago - Healthcare Incubator4.5222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza #1230, Chicago, IL 60654, USA7Learn more
Future Founders4.51 N Dearborn St 5th floor, Chicago, IL 60602, USALearn more
The Food Foundry Accelerator4.5$75K222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza Ste. 575, Chicago, IL 60654, USA7Learn more
18714.5222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza #1212, Chicago, IL 60654, USA1Learn more

This page covers the top accelerators and incubators in Chicago.

If you would like to check out our top rated accelerators in Illinois, please check here. And if geography isn’t a constraint for you, discover the best incubators and accelerators across the US here.

Brief Overview Of Different Accelerators

1) Techstars Chicago Powered by J.P. Morgan

Techstars Chicago Powered by J.P. Morgan - supporting Chicago's best founders

The accelerator, led by Managing Director Tricia Martinez, seeks audacious founders pioneering disruptive emerging technologies, particularly in Artificial Intelligence and Deeptech. The program is located in Chicago, Illinois and pursues promising early-stage companies using AI to tackle global challenges, scale businesses, and craft new business models. The key industries include AI, Cleantech, Quantum Information Science, Advanced Manufacturing, Biotechnology, and 5G/Advanced Wireless Technology. The 90-day in-person program culminates in a Demo Day and offers various benefits like mentorship, office space, and a global network. Notable Partner Mentors include Tara Reed, Amanda Lannert, Victoria Bills, Sergio Suarez, and Veronica Aguilar. The accelerator aims to provide equitable access to funding for underrepresented entrepreneurs and those dedicated to embracing Chicago's tech uniqueness. With a standard deal offering $120K for 6% equity, the accelerator supports founders envisioning scalable solutions in Biotech, Fintech, and Clean Energy, reflecting a commitment to innovation and collaboration within the tech ecosystem.

Techstars Chicago Powered by J.P. Morgan's Website
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2) Second Century Ventures

Second Century Ventures - supporting Chicago's best founders

Second Century Ventures is a venture capital fund focused on promoting innovation in the real estate industry. It operates the REACH accelerator program, backed by the National Association of REALTORS (NAR), with over 100 bilateral partnerships worldwide spanning 85 countries. The program manages a portfolio of over 200 technology companies across real estate, financial services, insurance, and home services. Based in Chicago, IL, the program accelerates technology companies through an intensive event-based program, offering access to a community of real estate industry executives, investors, developers, and mentors. The team has direct relationships with over 1,000 real estate executives globally. The accelerator provides 1:1 mentorship from industry experts, investors, and corporate sponsors, shaping emerging technologies in areas like property management, proptech, and smart homes. Founded by Bob Goldberg and Dale Stinton, Second Century Ventures specializes in industries like Edtech, Renewable Energy, Healthcare Tech, Logistics and Supply Chain, and SaaS, in addition to real estate tech, offering funding types including Seed, Early Stage VC, and Series A.

Second Century Ventures's Website
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3) Techstars Chicago

Techstars Chicago - supporting founders in their growth journey

Techstars Chicago is a global platform that provides investment and innovation, with a focus on audacious founders pioneering disruptive emerging technologies, particularly in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Deeptech. The accelerator, known as Techstars Chicago Powered by J.P. Morgan, offers a 3-month program starting on December 5th, 2024. Led by Managing Director Tricia Martinez and Program Manager Anthony Alepra, the institution aims to solve global problems through AI innovation. Notable mentors include Tara Reed, Amanda Lannert, Victoria Bills, Sergio Suarez, and Veronica Aguilar. Positioned in the Midwest startup ecosystem, the program provides access to capital, connections, and mentorship. Founded by Brad Feld, Chisa Egbelu, Daniel Mason, David Brown, David Cohen, and Jared Polis, Techstars Chicago specializes in AI and Fintech industries. Participants benefit from perks such as funding, lifelong access to the network, and mentorship from a wide range of experienced professionals.

Techstars Chicago's Website
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4) TechNexus Venture Collaborative

TechNexus Venture Collaborative - a modern, innovative hub for start-ups in Chicago

TechNexus Venture Collaborative is a growth accelerator fostering collaboration between established corporations and ambitious startups in various industries such as Travel and Tourism, Renewable Energy, Consumer Electronics, Fashion and Apparel, Healthcare Tech, Robotics, Gaming, and Cybersecurity. Founded by Fred Hoch and Terry Howerton, the organization connects entrepreneurs and corporate executives to drive innovation. The program combines capital investment, incubation, and collaboration to offer a unique advantage to early-stage companies in its venture portfolio. While specific numbers regarding start-ups and funded ventures are not disclosed, TechNexus invests in promising startups using collaboration capital for comprehensive support beyond financial backing. Entrepreneurs accessing the program benefit from partnerships with leading corporations, gaining opportunities for business growth, product co-development, and industry insights. Additionally, they receive network support through introductions to mentors, customers, and investors, as well as access to global entrepreneurial support organizations. TechNexus provides strategic guidance on various business aspects, including models, pricing, fundraising, and market research, making it a holistic platform for venture development and innovation.

TechNexus Venture Collaborative's Website
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5) gener8tor Sustainability Accelerator

gener8tor Sustainability Accelerator - building Chicago's entrepreneurial future

The gener8tor Sustainability Accelerator is a prominent program that accelerates and invests in sustainability and climate tech startups, focusing on solving, mitigating, or adapting to current climate and environmental challenges. With an investment of $100,000 in five cutting-edge startups per cohort, totaling $500,000 annually, the 12-week accelerator offers coaching, mentorship, and valuable connections to support startup growth. Founded by Dan Armbrust, Joe Kirgues, Jon Eckhardt, and Troy Vosseller, it is known for its commitment to supporting diverse founders impacted by climate change. The accelerator specializes in industries like Renewable Energy and Clean Energy, targeting startups in domains such as renewable energy, carbon reduction, waste management, and water conservation. Additionally, startups benefit from networking opportunities with industry experts, investors, and potential partners. Overall, the program aims to nurture a community of passionate founders dedicated to creating a sustainable future, offering a standard deal of $100,000 for 7% equity on a SAFE agreement.

gener8tor Sustainability Accelerator's Website
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6) IrishAngels

IrishAngels - promoting the start-ups of tomorrow

IrishAngels is an angel investing network affiliated with the University of Notre Dame. They focus on pre-seed and seed stage startups in B2B, consumer, and medical domains. The organization has deployed millions of dollars to support startups, with a group of angel investors forming their network. Their collaborative and founder-friendly approach includes regular check-ins to assist companies in building and growing. The accelerator, founded by Gale Wilkinson and Jordan Curnes, strategically supports early-stage startups in industries like Ecommerce, General Tech, Healthcare Tech, and Fintech. The institution engages with startups from due diligence through the investment process and continues to add value leveraging their active network. Notable companies like Elevate K-12 have benefited from their strategic partnership, showcasing the commitment to fostering innovation and supporting portfolio companies. IrishAngels' funding types include Seed and Early Stage VC, making them a vital player in the startup ecosystem.

IrishAngels's Website
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7) Healthbox

Healthbox - supporting founders in their growth journey

Healthbox, a HIMSS Solution, was founded in 2010 by Nina Nashif. The organization is a healthcare-focused accelerator that aims to drive innovation and digital transformation in the industry. Over the past 10 years, Healthbox has specialized in health-tech startups across various healthcare domains. The accelerator partners with leading healthcare organizations to support entrepreneurial innovation. In January 2022, Healthbox was acquired by Biolife Sciences Corp. Additional support is offered through Healthbox Studios, an accelerator with locations in Chicago (HQ), Boston, Los Angeles, Orlando, Salt Lake City, and Tel Aviv, to help early-stage health-tech startups navigate industry complexities. Healthbox has also introduced Idealy, an innovation intake software solution utilized internally for over 5 years, which collects input from all organizational voices to drive decision-making. While specific metrics on funded startups are not disclosed, the organization remains dedicated to revolutionizing the healthcare ecosystem, focusing on healthcare tech, general tech, and fintech industries.

Healthbox's Website
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8) Illinois Ventures

Illinois Ventures - Chicago's true entrepreneurial hub

Illinois Ventures is a return-focused venture capital firm dedicated to life science and tech innovation. Founded in 2015, the iVenture Accelerator is the educational accelerator for student startups at the University of Illinois, serving as the flagship program of the Origin Ventures Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership in the Gies College of Business. The accelerator supports student-led startups by offering knowledge, funding, and access to resources and alumni. With a focus on seed and early-stage technology investment, Illinois Ventures targets research-derived companies in information technologies. The program provides numerous benefits including funding of $10,000 per venture, a $2,500 stipend for up to 4 full-time team members, and access to over $300,000 worth of resources including AWS credits. Alumni of iVenture Accelerator have gone on to create over 550 jobs, received prestigious awards like Forbes 30-Under-30 and Thiel Fellowships, and some have been introduced by President Barack Obama. The accelerator welcomes both non-profit and for-profit startups in various domains including Social Media, General Tech, Healthcare Tech, and Fintech, offering support through different program stages from ideation to scale.

Illinois Ventures's Website
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9) Polsky Center

Polsky Center - a modern, innovative hub for start-ups in Chicago

The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago is renowned for its accelerator programs designed to foster early-stage ventures. The center offers the BUILD Accelerator where students spend their summers validating assumptions and building their ventures, with a focus on market and customer aspects. Teams undergo a competitive selection process based on business stage, team strength, and growth potential, receiving funding, coaching, mentorship from alumni entrepreneurs, and guidance from investors. The LAUNCH Accelerator concentrates on fundraising, selling, and maintaining momentum. Similarly, teams benefit from funding, coaching, mentorship, and guidance. The center also features specialized accelerators such as Compass, a deep tech accelerator for early-stage startups from research institutions, and Transform, a data science and AI accelerator. Both programs offer support tailored to the unique needs of deep tech and data science ventures. Additionally, they support ventures in industries like Artificial Intelligence and Edtech, and Polsky Center was founded by John Rockefeller.

Polsky Center's Website
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10) mHUB (Chicago)

mHUB (Chicago) - Chicago's true entrepreneurial hub

mHUB is a hardtech innovation and manufacturing entrepreneurial center situated in Chicago. The institution houses the mHUB Climate & Energy Tech Accelerator, a 6-month program designed to fast-track startups in energy, climate, and clean tech. It is recognized as the largest independent innovation center for hardtech in the US. The accelerator program supports disruptive solutions and has a portfolio of 46 high-growth hardtech startups. Participating startups receive $105,000 in cash, $70,000 in services, programming, and hardware, with the institution taking 6.5% equity. mHUB specializes in energy, climate, and clean tech, and actively encourages startups working on renewable energy and sustainability to apply. The program components include product and business acceleration, prototyping, manufacturing guidance, mentor matching, corporate partner access, and investor networking. Additional benefits include hands-on venture investment, follow-on investments, deep dive incubation, and a requirement for Chicago relocation for the 26-week program. Founders Bill Fienup and Haven Allen have cultivated a community at mHUB that is focused on consumer electronics, renewable energy, and clean energy.

mHUB (Chicago)'s Website
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11) Productive Edge

Productive Edge - supporting founders in their growth journey

Productive Edge is a digital strategy consulting company headquartered in Chicago. They specialize in digital transformation in healthcare and other industries while implementing complex websites for enterprise clients. The Productive Edge Accelerators they offer focus on bridging the gap between high-level strategy and concrete action within rapidly evolving industries. These accelerators include the Digital Product Accelerator, a six-week program aiming to refine, test, and validate distinct problems through design thinking and agile practices to create a prioritized digital roadmap. The Digital Venture Accelerator works on quickly launching new products and services with an emphasis on innovation and market expansion. Additionally, the Omnichannel Engagement Accelerator streamlines digital interactions, the Modern Data Platform and Analytics Accelerator leverages data foundations, the Cloud Migration and App Modernization Accelerator accelerates cloud journeys, and the Intelligent Automation Accelerator reduces manual tasks through automation. Specializing in domains like digital product development and cloud migration, these programs offer expert guidance, industry insights, and networking opportunities to participants. The company was founded by Joel Livet and caters to industries such as Mobile Apps and General Tech.

Productive Edge's Website
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12) Women's Startup Academy

Women's Startup Academy - Chicago's true entrepreneurial hub

Beta Boom's Women's Startup Academy, also known as the Women Founders - Google for Startups Accelerator, is a prestigious program supporting women-led tech startups in North America. The 10-week intensive accelerator focuses on Seed to Series A startups in the U.S. and Canada, with each cohort comprising 10-15 top startups. The program, facilitated by experts from Google and the industry, combines remote and in-person elements, including 1-to-1 mentorship, group learning sessions, and specialized workshops on Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Eligible companies, led by women and based in North America, benefit from tailored mentorship, product design workshops, and connections to Google teams. Notable founders like Kimmy Paluch and Sergio Paluch have spearheaded this initiative in industries like Artificial Intelligence, General Tech, and Fintech. Testimonials from Co-Founders Amanda Julian and Kelsey Hahn of Monark highlight the program's value in providing mentorship and technical support. The program's duration is 20 weeks, making it a pivotal accelerator in fostering diversity and innovation within the tech ecosystem.

Women's Startup Academy's Website
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13) Duality

Duality - building Chicago's entrepreneurial future

Duality is the first accelerator program in the US exclusively dedicated to supporting innovative quantum startups. Based in Chicago, known as a leading hub for quantum innovation, the program runs for 12 months, providing a nurturing environment for new startup companies focusing on quantum science and technology. The accelerator stands out for its exclusive quantum focus, offering participants world-class business training from partner institutions and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, along with mentorship from quantum experts. State-of-the-art facilities are provided to foster growth and development within the program. Duality plays a vital role in advancing quantum technologies by supporting and accelerating promising startups in this cutting-edge sector, ultimately contributing to the evolution of quantum science and technology. The industries served by the accelerator include a wide spectrum, as it is sector-agnostic.

Duality's Website
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14) Relish Works

Relish Works - supporting Chicago's best founders

In collaboration with Gordon Food Service, Relish Works operates the Food Foundry accelerator program, which aims to support startups disrupting the foodservice industry and reshaping the food operations landscape. The program works with both early-stage innovators and established industry leaders to provide funding introductions, valuable resources, including access to national foodservice business resources and specialized programming, and a supportive community through events and workshops in Chicago, Illinois. Food Foundry has run multiple cohorts, with the fifth cohort starting in January 2023. Startups benefit from mentorship, networking opportunities, and a vibrant ecosystem in Chicago. The program's specialization in food and foodservice innovation covers areas such as technology, supply chain, sustainability, and culinary advancements. Founded by Mack Tilling, Relish Works focuses on industries like logistics and supply chain, general tech, and food and beverage.

Relish Works's Website
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15) Paragon Biosciences

Paragon Biosciences - promoting the start-ups of tomorrow

Paragon Biosciences, founded by Jeff Aronin, is a global healthcare company specializing in biotech and healthcare tech. The organization focuses on accelerating biomedical research and solving human challenges by nurturing visionary companies in the life sciences domain. Portfolio companies like Harmony Biosciences, Emalex Biosciences, Evozyne, Castle Creek Biosciences, and CiRC Biosciences receive support to develop novel therapies for various conditions. For instance, Harmony Biosciences offers innovative treatments for sleep-wake disorders, Emalex Biosciences concentrates on central nervous system disorders including Tourette syndrome, Evozyne utilizes generative AI for novel protein systems, while Castle Creek Biosciences pioneers cell and gene therapies for skin diseases. The expertise, industry connections, and financial backing of Paragon Biosciences enhance the success of its portfolio firms. The organization provides resources, mentorship, and networking opportunities, contributing to the growth and development of startups in neurology, rare diseases, and regenerative medicine.

Paragon Biosciences's Website
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16) Matter (Consulting Services (B2B))

Matter (Consulting Services (B2B)) - a prominent start-up growth supporter in Chicago

Matter is a Chicago-based accelerator founded in 2013, focusing on healthcare sectors like biotech and healthcare tech. Collaborating with healthcare innovators, their goal is to improve products and services through technology solutions. Matter integrates sales outsourcing, marketing services, and proprietary technology to drive measurable growth for B2B companies in the healthcare sector. Specializing in digital health, medical devices, and health IT, they aim to facilitate growth at an unprecedented speed, leading to bigger deals. While specific metrics like the number of start-ups associated or funded are undisclosed, Matter actively seeks new investments. The accelerator, co-founded by Andrew Cittadine and David Schonthal, provides market-leading products to enhance precision and performance. By leveraging their expertise and proprietary technology, Matter offers a seamless experience for start-ups looking to make a difference in the healthcare industry.

Matter (Consulting Services (B2B))'s Website
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17) Matter Chicago - Healthcare Incubator

Matter Chicago - Healthcare Incubator - enabling start-ups to fundraise successfully

Based in Chicago, MATTER Chicago Healthcare Incubator is a global startup accelerator and community nexus driving healthcare innovation and entrepreneurship in collaboration with industry leaders. Supported by the City of Chicago, the State of Illinois, and local businesses, MATTER serves hundreds of startups globally with diverse programs in healthcare and life sciences, focusing on digital health, medical devices, and biotechnology. Among the notable founders are Andrew Cittadine and David Schonthal. The accelerator facilitates workshops, fireside chats, and events for entrepreneurs, partnering with executives, entrepreneurs, and investors to foster a dynamic community aimed at improving products and services in the healthcare industry. Recent initiatives include the U.S. Market Expansion Program with KOSME and the Health Equity Innovation Challenge in collaboration with the Healthcare Education, Research, and Innovation Foundation. MATTER's innovative approach and commitment to healthcare excellence make it a vital player in advancing health technology and patient care worldwide.

Matter Chicago - Healthcare Incubator's Website
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18) Future Founders

Future Founders - connecting start-up founders with success

Future Founders, a nonprofit organization, is dedicated to fostering youth entrepreneurship. The organization firmly believes in the potential of every young individual to become a successful entrepreneur. With a focus on building the nation's largest inclusive community of young entrepreneurs, they have already impacted 47,000 youths. This has led to the creation of 1,980 jobs and a remarkable $374M in generated revenue by associated ventures. The organization offers various programs such as the Startup Bootcamp, catering to individuals aged 18 to 30, and the prestigious year-long Fellowship program. The Fellowship program is designed to accelerate top young entrepreneurs and their businesses. Participants benefit from workshops, mentorship opportunities, and a strong peer support network while being paired with successful founders for guidance. Future Founders was founded by Bradley Keywell, Candice Blacknall, and Scott Issen. The organization focuses on nurturing entrepreneurial skills across diverse industries under the generous support of the Motorola Solutions Foundation. This reflects their commitment to empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Future Founders's Website
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19) The Food Foundry Accelerator

The Food Foundry Accelerator - supporting founders in their growth journey

Food Foundry is a growth accelerator program founded by Relish Works, Gordon Food Service, and 1871, aimed at supporting and propelling innovative startups in the food industry. The 16-week initiative provides strategic investment, network access, guidance, and tailored programming to companies reshaping the food and foodservice industry. Each startup receives a $75,000 investment, 1:1 mentorship, specialized programming, and networking opportunities with industry experts and mentors. The accelerator focuses on areas like third-party delivery, blockchain, IoT, AI, sensors, AR, VR, autonomous vehicles, robotics, food tech, hydroponics, and vertical farming. Food Foundry creates a dynamic ecosystem in Chicago, Illinois, offering resources for founders and entrepreneurs in industries such as Food and Beverage, AR/VR, AI, blockchain, and robotics. Notable startups and founders have benefited from the program, gaining insights and connections within the foodservice value chain.

The Food Foundry Accelerator's Website
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20) 1871

1871 - a modern, innovative hub for start-ups in Chicago

Founded in 2012, 1871 is a private, global innovation hub based in Chicago. The organization serves as a prominent accelerator in the technology and entrepreneurial ecosystem. Under the leadership of CEO Betsy Ziegler, it is on a mission to uplift, connect, and amplify its members, which include over 400 early-stage companies and various nationally recognized accelerators and incubators within the community. The accelerator hosts a diverse range of tech start-ups across domains such as Technology, Healthcare Tech, Logistics and Supply Chain, and Fintech. Notable founders of 1871 include J.B. Pritzker, James O'Connor, Steven Collens, and Tom Lee. With a focus on building startups and sharing ideas, 1871 offers a vibrant ecosystem where start-ups can connect with potential investors and industry experts. Members benefit from a supportive community, access to workshops and events, marketing exposure, and exclusive perks tailored to their growth stage. Overall, it is a dynamic hub that fosters collaboration, networking, and innovation in the tech industry.

1871's Website
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21) Technori

Technori - promoting the start-ups of tomorrow

Technori, founded in 2010 and based in Chicago, Illinois, is a media platform that serves the startup ecosystem by providing exposure, hosting live startup showcase events, and connecting entrepreneurs with investors. Through its services like the startup showcase events, weekly podcast, and newsletter reaching over 30,000 investors, it facilitates funding opportunities and showcases new ventures. The company specializes in industries such as Healthcare Tech, General Tech, and SaaS. The founders of Technori include Mark Bertrand, Scott Kitun, Seth Kravitz, Val Chulamorkodt, and Zack Gilbert. Despite the lack of detailed information, its impact on the startup community is evident through its diverse offerings and engagement with entrepreneurs and investors. The accelerator likely offers additional benefits like mentorship, networking opportunities, and access to resources beyond funding, contributing to its support for startups in various sectors.

Technori's Website
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22) Future Founders - Fellowship

Future Founders - Fellowship - accelerating exceptional start-ups in Chicago

Future Founders Fellowship is a prestigious year-long program designed to accelerate the nation's top young entrepreneurs and their businesses. The program is open to 18 to 30-year-olds who are founders and equity holders of their companies, focusing on growth-stage entrepreneurs who are typically revenue-generating or handling investments. It is free of charge and does not take equity from startups. Fellows become part of a national community of successful young founders, receiving mentoring, skill development, and access to entrepreneurship retreats and volunteer opportunities. Led by entrepreneur instructors and Entrepreneurs in Residence, the program emphasizes building transformative relationships and providing motivation and accountability tools. The Fellowship boasts impressive impact metrics, having created 1,980 jobs, generated $374 million in revenue, and raised $299 million in capital through a diverse group of founders representing industries such as Healthcare Tech, Edtech, and General Tech. Graduates can further their entrepreneurial journey by participating in the Alumni Accelerator. Notable individuals involved with Future Founders include Bradley Keywell, Candice Blacknall, and Scott Issen. The program is industry-agnostic, offering support to founders across various sectors and providing additional benefits like priority access to services and a supportive network for personal and business growth.

Future Founders - Fellowship's Website
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23) Future Founders - Startup Bootcamp

Future Founders - Startup Bootcamp - building Chicago's entrepreneurial future

Future Founders Startup Bootcamp is a free accelerator program open nationwide to 18- to 30-year-olds with idea-stage companies in various industries like Edtech. Founded by Bradley Keywell, Candice Blacknall, and Scott Issen, the program runs for three months and aims to help participants turn their ideas into functioning businesses. It offers workshops, mentorship opportunities, and a peer support network to assist entrepreneurs in launching and growing their startups. The program is industry agnostic, catering to a wide range of business ideas. Participants can join virtually from anywhere, benefit from entrepreneur-led instructors, workshops focusing on essential skills, and build relationships with a national network of young entrepreneurs. Future Founders does not take equity from the startups involved. Additionally, there are post-program opportunities like mentoring and further programs. Exceptional founders demonstrating traction may progress to Phase Two for continued support in expanding their businesses.

Future Founders - Startup Bootcamp's Website
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24) VentureShot

VentureShot - supporting Chicago's best founders

VentureShot is a startup and growth-stage incubator and strategic growth program. Founded in 2012, it is based in Chicago, Illinois. The accelerator focuses on helping entrepreneurs build their businesses by emphasizing key factors like growing revenues, scaling the business, and securing funding. It has made one investment in Shurpa Health within the Logistics industry and has one exit involving the same startup, occurring on November 16, 2022. While the accelerator's specialization domains are not explicitly mentioned, it likely supports startups across various industries, including logistics. The mission of the organization is to empower entrepreneurs, foster growth, and facilitate funding opportunities for startups. Notable investments by VentureShot include Shurpa Health in the Logistics and Supply Chain industry.

VentureShot's Website
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25) Chicago Venture Summit

Chicago Venture Summit - building Chicago's entrepreneurial future

Chicago Venture Summit is a prominent accelerator program showcasing Chicago as a leading global technology hub for investment, entrepreneurship, and innovation. The program hosts the Future-of-Food Week, a multi-day event connecting food innovators throughout the Midwest. Scheduled for May 20-24, 2024, the event focuses on Food & AG Innovation, welcoming over 1,000 startups, VC firms, and Fortune 500 companies. Participating startups benefit from complimentary tickets and exclusive programming invites. Chicago Venture Summit offers venture matchmaking opportunities between regional and national investors and 250+ entrepreneurs seeking various funding rounds. Exclusive event invitations are extended to participants managed by respective event hosts. Since 2014, the program has brought local founders and investors together, solidifying Chicagoland as a global capital for food and ag innovation. The accelerator caters to industries such as Fintech, General Tech, and Food and Beverage, further fostering innovation and investment in the startup ecosystem.

Chicago Venture Summit's Website
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26) mHUB MedTech Accelerator

mHUB MedTech Accelerator - supporting Chicago's best founders

mHUB MedTech Accelerator is a 6-month program designed to fast-track high-potential startups in the medical technology (MedTech) space. It provides hands-on support for product development within a state-of-the-art prototyping facility. The accelerator, based in the leading independent hardware innovation and entrepreneurial center, supports breakthrough solutions in key areas such as Medicine Delivery, Remote Patient Monitoring, Wearables, Sensing and Diagnostics, and Therapeutic Devices. The program focuses on Health Tech and has already supported 46 high-growth hardtech startups. It offers an initial investment of $175,000 (including cash and in-kind services) for 6.5% equity in each startup through the Product Impact Fund I. Startups also benefit from customer discovery activities, prototyping assistance, mentor matching, corporate partner access, investor network connections, and a 24-month mHUB membership post-program for continued support. The accelerator aims to turn innovative ideas into scalable products. Applications for the next cohort will open on 9/5/2022 and close on 10/31/2022.

mHUB MedTech Accelerator's Website
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Top Reasons Start-ups Participate In Accelerators

Critical Industry connections

A good connection at an FMCG/AI giant can help you 10x more than connecting with 100 retailers.

Holistic growth

Marketing, Sales, Tech, Ops, HR, Finance, Admin...... you can’t go wrong in any one field.

Rapid learning curve

There’s a reason accelerators are called accelerators. It’s a fast ride.

Early state financing

Big ideas arise mostly when you don’t have to worry about day to day expenses.

Why an accelerator might not be right for you

It's usually helpful to consider potential pitfalls. Some common misconceptions

Are the alumni actually helpful?

An accelerator's alumni network can play a big role in your longer term growth. But ask around and figure if any of them gave back even a couple of hours in the past year.

Figuring out the failure rates

Everyone can point to a few success stories. Though in general 95% of all start-ups fail. An important question is- what %ge of an accelerator's start-up survive after 3 years.

Correlation isn't causation

What worked for Airbnb might not work for you. If the accelerator playbook was 100% full-proof, they would have been running a start-up and not an accelerator. After all, everyone's chasing a unicorn.

FAQs About Start-up Accelerators

Author Bio

Michael Li

Michael Li

For the last 10+ years Michael has helped start-ups of all scales and sizes succeed. A 2X entrepreneur, he is now working on Aerial to help founders avoid costly mistakes. He regularly writes for publications like the Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, Harvard Business Review and others.

Last updated date 4/5/2024

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Accelerators and Incubators in chicago

Looking for the best accelerators in Chicago? Here are some top reasons to choose an accelerator in the Windy City. Chicago has a thriving start-up culture with a supportive ecosystem that fosters innovation and growth. With access to top talent, resources, and funding opportunities, accelerators in Chicago provide the ideal environment for start-ups to thrive and succeed. When choosing the right accelerator in Chicago, consider factors such as the industry focus, mentorship opportunities, network of investors, and track record of success. It's essential to align your start-up's goals and values with those of the accelerator to maximize your chances of success and growth in the competitive start-up landscape. Some notable start-ups that have thrived in Chicago include Grubhub, Groupon, and Sprout Social. These success stories are a testament to the supportive ecosystem and valuable resources available to start-ups in Chicago accelerators. With the right accelerator by your side, your start-up can reach new heights and achieve success in the dynamic Chicago start-up scene.

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