Chicago, Fin Tech City

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office announced that Chicago was named one of the top financial technology hubs in the entire world.  The entire report was compiled by Deloitte.  Here is a link to the report. Chicago has a deep history of financial innovation.  In the S&P pit of the CBOE, there were at least 5 companies I know about formed which combine for over $3B in enterprise value.  The exchanges in town created a culture of innovation.

High-frequency trading firms house some of the most innovative engineering talent in the world.

Some highlights from the Deloitte report:

  • Chicago acts as the epicenter for all FinTech activity in the Midwest, representing well over 20,000 financial institutions.
  • 6% of Chicago’s workforce is engaged in financial services
  • 2/5ths of the world’s top business universities are in Chicago.
  • Close to customers
  • Government support
  • Proximity to expertise and talent

Over the next 12 months, Deloitte expects to see state and local governments partnering with the private sector and NGOs to pursue greater adoption of blockchain as well as creating an innovation-friendly environment. 2017 will also see the launch of Currency, a FinTech center of excellence and development of an innovation-friendly regulatory stance.

Some challenges that Chicago has:

  • Risk averse culture
  • Low levels of knowledge sharing
  • Insufficient scale capital
  • Regulatory hurdles
  • No foreign startups

At West Loop Ventures, we are trying to cure a couple of these problems.  First, we have been actively creating a network. Big companies and startups.  Talented people and interested people.  We hosted an event on The Business Blockchain and look for us to host a few more events in order to educate the community on cutting edge topics.  Of course, we are raising a $30M seed fund to jumpstart new companies.  We have done a first close and stay tuned for news of a first investment.

If you are a fin tech startup, Chicago is a great place to be.  Customers are here. Feedback is immediate.  If you have to hop on plane, two airports can get you there and many destinations are a day trip.  Costs of operation are cheap.  It’s also a beautiful city, walkable, parks, pro sports, great food, with lots of culture.