Announcing the Class of Techstars Chicago 2018

07/16/2018 | By Logan LaHive

This post originally appeared on blog.up.co


We are thrilled to announce the 10 companies and founding teams honoring us with their participation in Techstars Class 134! When I started as Managing Director last year, I said that we’d be hyper focused on recruiting companies with Bad Ideas 

  • Non-consensus ideas with a vision that raise eyebrows
  • In markets that are bigger than outsiders perceive
  • Elite in either engineering, product, or design
  • And, most importantly, founding teams that turn us into fans

After having a full year of learnings under the belt, we remain steadfast to this thesis and our commitment to ensure Techstars Chicago is primarily known for being Intensely Founder Focused.

We also continue to believe that Midwest markets are undervalued, underserved, and filled with talent, so this year we really honed in on local recruiting…

  • We visited 15 Midwest startup hubs, including Indianapolis, Bloomington, Cincinnati, Columbus, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Pittsburg, Minneapolis, Madison, Milwaukee, Champaign, and local university entrepreneurship programs
  • Reviewed/screened 2,243 companies
  • Interviewed 408 founders/teams
  • Brought 22 finalists into Chicago for final screening

The final result is 8 companies from the Midwest, with participation also coming from Toronto and NYC. We’d love to have you come see them in-person and will be hosting our Demo Day on October 4th in the Auditorium @ 1871.

Without further ado, the Techstars Chicago Class of 2018:

2nd Kitchen: 2nd Kitchen allows businesses to serve food from nearby restaurants.

Founders: Arik Gaisler, Jon Elron, Nick Anastasiades

2ndKitchen enables businesses without a kitchen to serve food seamlessly using a custom menu from nearby restaurants. Because of short distances and order bundling, food is delivered to customers’ seats hot and fast. We have launched the concept with bars that do not have kitchens and we plan to test it with hotels (room service please!), vacation/short terms rentals, co-working spaces, and offices.

Clyde: Clyde is technology company transforming insurance at the point of sale, starting with the underserved and highly profitable extended warranty industry

Founders: Brandon Gell, Josh Scaglione, Nick Scaglione

Twitter: @join_clyde

Clyde allows e-commerce stores to offer extended warranty/product insurance to customers at the point of sale. Our plug-in technology and network of insurance and administrator partnerships enables us to offer online businesses a passive revenue stream and transform a 6-month costly process into a 3-minute setup time. Clyde’s vision is to build the Stripe for insurance, providing businesses with tools and support and transforming the customer’s purchasing experience.

Hurry Home: Hurry Home finances houses through shared ownership, enabling renters to become homeowners and offering a streamlined investment opportunity.

Founders: Jada Mclean, John Gibbons

Twitter: @HurryHomeInc

Hurry Home finances houses through shared ownership, enabling renters to become homeowners and offering a streamlined investment opportunity. Despite there being 3 million houses for sale in the bottom tier market at any given time, banks are unable to profitably originate mortgages for these properties. Hurry Home uses capital from investors to offer a new financial product that enables buyers to earn equity in their home while paying close to or less than what rent would be for the same property, and investors reap a competitive return.

Kai Coach: Kai is a fitness coach that communicates 100% via text message.

Founders: Jonathan Smith, Jane Decker, Dan Rye

Twitter: @MeetKai

Kai is a fitness coach that communicates entirely via text message. Powered by augmented intelligence (humans and machines working together), Kai engages you in daily conversation about your goals and how your doing — physically and emotionally. With Kai, you get goal-setting, workouts, nutrition, and accountability, all for a fraction of the cost of a personal trainer.

Neopenda: Neopenda is innovating medical devices for high-growth emerging markets, starting with a wearable vital signs monitor for critically ill newborns.

Founders: Sona Shah, Teresa Cauvel

Twitter: @Neopenda_Health

Neopenda is innovating medical devices for high-growth emerging markets. We create end-to-end solutions that enable high quality patient care and nuanced data insights for stakeholders. Our first product is a wireless wearable neonatal vital signs monitor designed for resource-constrained health facilities. The affordable system enables more responsive & appropriate care for critically ill newborns, and ultimately helps reduce preventable newborn mortality.

Optivolt: Optivolt Labs develops high efficiency solar powered drones for commercial and military clients to extend flight time by 3–4x.

Founders: Rohit Kalyanpur, Paul Couston

Twitter: @OptivoltLabs

Optivolt Labs is optimizing the utility of efficient solar-powered technologies in drones and other electrical machines. Optivolt Labs has developed a patent-pending power management algorithm which is optimized for solar to lithium ion/polymer battery applications. We are prototyping our technology to solve the battery life problem for commercial drone companies, increase the flight time of drones by 3–4x, and cut costs of commercial drone missions.

Rheaply: Rheaply is a marketplace platform where businesses and professionals can share surplus assets and expertise.

Founders: Garry Cooper, Tyler Skelton

Twitter: @rheaplyinc

Rheaply enables professionals to trade, donate, or easily share surplus inventory or assets within their organization, and better collaborate with their colleagues. For every enterprise, Rheaply’s marketplace creates an internal circular economy which helps save money, reduce unnecessary waste, and increase collaboration. By building a shared economy for surplus resources, clients of Rheaply’s — from Northwestern University to Google X — can transact or donate surplus assets or easily collaborate on Rheaply’s marketplace.

Speeko: Speeko is an artificial intelligence-powered mobile app that brings interactive verbal communication training to your workforce.

Founders: Nico Aguilar , Will Field-Thompson , Anthony Pham

Twitter: @SpeekoTech

Speeko is a public speaking measurement and enhancement tool. Leveraging artificial intelligence and automated voice analytics, Speeko assesses live or recorded presentations and provides speakers with objective feedback, actionable leadership insights and development tools to help them improve their verbal communications.

Trala: Trala is a Juilliard-approved app that teaches users how to play the violin.

Founders: Samuel Walder & Vishnu Indukuri

Twitter: @tralaapp

Trala is a Juilliard-approved app that teaches users how to play the violin. The app uses instant feedback on mistakes, step-by-step tutorials, and daily lessons to teach absolute beginners how to play songs like Amazing Grace in 30 days. Compared to private instructors, the Trala app is 1/25th the price and accessible anytime in the comfort of one’s own home.

Vacation Fund: Vacation Fund is an employer-matched travel savings program for employees, incentivizing them to put money aside and take meaningful vacations every year.

Founders: Erica Pearson, Abhinav Mathur, Britney Mackey

Twitter: @getvacationfund

Vacation Fund is a research-backed benefit for employees. The program allows employees to direct a portion of their paycheck into a separate Vacation Fund Account, and allows employers to match a portion of the contribution. Not only does this make employees’ dream trips more financially attainable, but it encourages them to periodically take time off to disconnect, rejuvenate, and experience something new.


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