How to Build a Startup, Chicago-Style

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Building a startup in Chicago differs from building one in Silicon Valley. Chicago investors, both individuals and committed venture funds, tend to be more reserved and practical, whereas coastal venture investors are more likely to bet on the next big idea. Not surprisingly, many of the city’s successful startups take on those same practical Midwest attributes.

Whether you’re currently building a business or plotting your path to a launch, here are three lessons you can learn from startups that made it in the city, and from the investors you’ll need to get off the ground.

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6 Tips for Chicago Startups Seeking Funding Outside Chicago

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Chicago startups have more local funding options than ever before. However, many founders remain hungry to obtain funding from elsewhere—especially from the venture-rich east and west coasts. Trouble is, for reasons both practical and instinctual, investors tend to direct their capital to nearby companies.

While it may be an uphill battle to obtain funding outside Chicago, growth-stage startups should still look far and wide for capital. Broadening your potential funding sources can help you scale your company’s footprint nationally, giving you access to people with deep experience and connections in alternative markets. Below are six tactics that an entrepreneur should consider before seeking funding outside of Chicago.

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4 Ways to Protect Your Business During Exit Talks

There comes a time when just about every reasonably successful startup gets an exit opportunity. For founders, these moments are triumphant. You’ve dedicated years of your life to building something, and now somebody wants to pay you a lot of money for it. That’s not only rewarding, it’s also validating.

Trouble is, an offer is just the first step in an exit process. Selling a company takes time and effort, and entrepreneurs often can’t spare either of those.

Here are four steps to take after a buyer comes knocking — but before you begin serious talks.

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Pitch Perfect: Eight Insights for an Effective Start-Up Company Pitch Deck

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Preparing an investor pitch deck is a task that most start-up companies encounter in the fund raising process. While almost all companies create investor pitch decks, many fail to do so effectively or with maximum impact. Founder teams often consider the pitch deck an afterthought to a company’s MVP (minimum viable product) or the beta version of its platform, for instance. But that is a huge mistake! Sharing a pitch deck with a potential investor can be a special opportunity to engage and connect with that person or group. Professional investors and funds receive 200+ pitch decks per month. It is critical to communicate effectively and concisely to stand out from the pack. Below are eight insights and considerations to keep in mind when formulating your pitch deck.

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Corporate Venture Funds: Friend or Foe?

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Many large corporations have set up, or are in the process of setting up, in-house venture funds. At the same time, early and later-stage companies are looking for “smart money” investors – funds that bring strategic and operational help along with cash. Are corporate venture funds the perfect match?

Yes and no. Corporate venture funds can provide industry expertise, market intelligence, production know-how and capabilities and distribution channels, in addition to funds. They can validate a company’s technology and market opportunity. These attributes also make corporate VC funds attractive for VCs, who see participation by corporate venture funds as mitigating risk, lowering capital requirements and providing expert partnerships. So what’s the problem?

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