Kohactive Logo Kohactive Logo

The Best Organizations in the Chicago Startup Scene

One of the first lessons learned when launching a startup is that you can’t do it alone. And while we have seen some founders proudly try to make a go of it without much help, it’s the folks who surround themselves with industry guidance, wisdom, and support that tend to come out on top.

The Chicago startup world is booming with competition and innovation right now, and joining some of these organizations is a surefire way to make a meaningful and, most importantly, lasting splash.


Located in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart, 1871 is a full-service incubator that not only helps nurture startups at any stage of development, but provides an exciting open-floor community that promotes networking opportunities, industry-tailored events, and weekly educational seminars.


1871 constantly offers companies a chance to have their product or idea nurtured by tech veterans. It isn’t just for startup noobs, though. Many of their peer-to-peer style programs will appeal to even the most hardened tech entrepreneur, as evidenced by the success of their Bunker Labs, which is built “by veteran entrepreneurs for veteran entrepreneurs.”

Built in Chicago

An indispensable resource for heavy hitters in the Chicago startup world like GrubHub, Braintree, and Centro, Built in Chicago offers a vast menu of features designed to help build your young company, as well. They’re particularly prodigious when it comes to all important task of recruiting.

As a member of Built in Chicago, you’ll have access to exclusive features such as their candidate database, assistance with company branding, original content creation to artfully highlight the uniqueness of your startup, and targeted job postings to ensure you are reaching the best of the best in each respective department, speciality, or field.

Ms. Tech

Ms. Tech’s mission statement includes a sobering reality of the industry: Less than 3% of venture capital funding goes to startups led by women. We believe this has to change, which is one of the many reasons why we applaud Ms. Tech’s tireless commitment to changing the status quo, and why we encourage all tech founders to give them a look. First class membership includes monthly “Masterminds,” which are sessions on important topics such as innovation, accountability, and self-management. Sessions are led by industry vets, and provide valuable interaction with other driven entrepreneurs.

Tech in Motion

Tech in Motion

In an environment as fluid as the startup world, it’s important for you to know the general landscape of who’s doing what, how, and why. Whether it’s a new outside-the-box business model gaining some steam or a simple employee morale boosting tip that’s been working for young companies, Tech in Motion’s wide array of community-based conversations ensures you’ll walk away from each meeting having learned something new. These peer-to-peer style meetups are perfect for networking, too.

Startup Weekend

With a belief that entrepreneurship should be about more than just being well-financed in a big city, Startup Weekend’s mission is to give opportunities to visionaries far and wide. From their immersive, self-titled Startup Weekend weekends to their multi-week intensives that put you under the mentorship of a successful tech veteran, you’re sure to find an aspect of their membership that works for your schedule and company status.

What’s more, you can stay plugged into the various goings on of the Chicago scene by way of Startup Weekend’s terrific weekly digest. With a rundown of news, events, and other important industry happenings, theirs is a can’t miss addition to any entrepreneur’s inbox.