Should Chicago Build Another 1871?

Rumors are circulating that Mayor Emanuel wants to build another 1871 in Chicago.  He said it in front of a bunch of women entrepreneurs-which makes me assume he means to build an 1871 focused on a special interest group.  Nothing against women or minority entrepreneurs.  I support them with my time and money.  Dabble, Smarteys, and Alltuition are investments of mine that are women led.  I invested because they are great people, with great businesses-things like gender or race didn’t enter into it.

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Chicago doesn’t need another 1871.  1871 is our town hall for startups.  It’s a great place to go, meet people, make connections and hang out.  It’s a launch pad.

People from all over the midwest are starting to gravitate to 1871 and utilize it.  Yesterday, I met with the entrepreneurs behind a company from Madison, WI there.

Chicago needs to build the next level of the ecosystem.  Building needs to be agnostic of race, creed, gender and special interest.   Entrepreneurship is all about merit.  No one cares who you are, or where you came from if you have a good idea and can execute.  Or, if you make a promise and deliver.

Chicago has a great base to build off of.  The best thing Mayor Emanuel can do now is use tax credits to stimulate the ecosystem.  He can also order the Chicago government to try and do business with startups, no strings attached.  The mayor can also use his corporate connections to tell local corporations to figure out a way to interface with local startups to get a virtuous cycle of innovation jumpstarted.

Then, he can concentrate on the day to day problems he is currently focused on-running a city.  He has enough to handle there and I empathize with him.

The Chicago ecosystem is starting to build.  It’s starting to hum.  In the past year, a lot of companies have been started, funded, and now have to execute to get to the next level.  More mature companies that had previously raised first and second round capital went out and raised third rounds.  What they need is no meddling, focus, and the willingness for the surrounding community to support them by becoming customers, talking about them to their friends, and introducing them to potential customers.

1871 brought needed density to the Chicago entrepreneurial community.  Now, it’s time to expand the footprint in a different way to increase density and collaboration.  We can mix diverse entrepreneurial communities in different ways without creating another 1871.  I love 1871 because of its focus.

There is a massive entrepreneurial party going all over the midwest today.  Everyone is invited and can have a seat at the table.  The table is endless-and there are an unlimited number of seats.  However, there’s no free riding.  Entrepreneurship is hard work.

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