WBEZ | 1871 http://www.wbez.org/tags/1871 Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago's future innovators look to the past http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagos-future-innovators-look-past-108910 <p><p>To get a glimpse of the future of innovation in Chicago, you have to visit one of the oldest buildings in the city. Up on the 12th floor of the Merchandise Mart an unusually high level of entrepreneurial energy is coming from a 50,000 sq. foot workspace called <a href="http://www.1871.com/">1871</a>.</p><p>In a large communal space 20 &amp; 30-somethings are sprawled on couches, glued to laptops, and of course slurping coffee. These digital dreamers are all here for one reason. They want to be the next Groupon or Grubhub...or if they&rsquo;re lucky, Google. This is what a tech incubator looks like.</p><p>&ldquo;It means a place of risk and a place to collaborate, a place to challenge, a place to compete, a place to win, and a place to put Chicago on the map,&rdquo; says Frank Muscarello, one of the first entrepreneurs to work at 1871.</p><p>Muscarello is the founder of <a href="https://www.markitx.com/">MarkITx,</a> an online marketplace for used IT equipment. A year and-a-half ago it was just an idea. Now it&rsquo;s one of the most promising startups in town.</p><p>&ldquo;This whole thing, this whole ecosystem at 1871 is all about newness and creativity, innovation and disruption,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Economists say the biggest risk to the economy today might be companies not taking enough risks. Chicago already has a reputation for being more risk-averse than other parts of the country. But a new bunch of digital entrepreneurs at places like 1871 are starting to change that &mdash; with a conscious nod to the past.</p><p>The name 1871 refers to the year of the Great Fire. That disaster killed hundreds, left one-third of the city homeless and burned 18,000 businesses to the ground. Yet according to <a href="http://www.valpo.edu/history/faculty/carter.php" target="_blank">Heath Carter</a>, a history professor at Valparaiso University, it was also a turning point.</p><p>&ldquo;1871 brings catastrophe but it&rsquo;s also quickly seen by many in the city here as an opportunity,&rdquo; Carter said.</p><p>The city was already known for its boom and bust economy &mdash; so why not take a chance on rebuilding?</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Frank%20Muscarello%20at%201871.jpg" style="height: 451px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Entrepreneur Frank Muscarello at Chicago tech incubator 1871. (Photo courtesy GG Photo)" />&ldquo;Risk is at the heart in some ways of what drives capitalism, and I mean Chicago in the mid-to-late 19th century is just a center for that kind of activity,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And there&rsquo;s a reason why people are betting on this swampy marshy undesirable piece of land to become the next big thing. And in that sense Chicago is itself one huge gamble.&rdquo;</p><p>Long before the fire, a wild and woolly capitalism had already taken root in the city. Carter says to understand how that happened you have to start with the river. And so that&rsquo;s where I met up with him on a recent afternoon. As we walked along the river&rsquo;s edge near Wolf Point, Carter described what it would have looked like 170 years ago.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re in the middle of what&rsquo;s going to become within a decade or two one of the biggest ports, most active ports in the whole country,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;In 1850 you would&rsquo;ve had schooners and ships carrying their wares and cargo, taking lumber down to Pilsen, taking grain up to the elevators on the north branch.&rdquo;</p><p>In fact, the grain industry shows just how disruptive this new economy was. In a few short years, you went from sacks of wheat to giant grain elevators to an entirely new commodities exchange. Suddenly at the Chicago Board of Trade you could bet on the future price of grain and make a killing.</p><p>Taking a risk in those days was almost irresistible according to Rima Schultz, a Chicago historian who studied the mid-19th century version of startups.</p><p>&ldquo;So if you didn&rsquo;t take a risk, if you didn&#39;t borrow money. Stayed still, so to speak, didn&rsquo;t reach out to develop a new business...[you didn&rsquo;t really fit in],&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Schulz adds that there was also tremendous workforce mobility. Like today, hungry entrepreneurs jumped from one opportunity to the next.</p><p>&ldquo;I looked at maybe 400 businessmen that I traced through their credit reports. And 1/3 of them go bankrupt. I mean bankruptcy was relatively ordinary,&rdquo; she said.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Chicago-fire1.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="An artist's rendering of the Great Chicago Fire. The digital bootstrappers at tech startup hub 1871 say they're inspired by the risk-taking innovation that followed. (Wikipedia)" />Entrepreneurs would often lose everything. But then they&rsquo;d dust themselves off and build something new. So it&rsquo;s no wonder that the city did much the same after the Great Fire.</p><p>&ldquo;There were lots of ideas, some things worked, some didn&rsquo;t but Chicago was a laboratory for all sorts of experiments,&rdquo; Carter says.</p><p>Steel kyscrapers rose upward, refrigerated trains shipped meat cross country, and by the 1893 World&rsquo;s Fair, Chicago was again seen as a center for innovation.</p><p>Which brings us back to the digital bootstrappers of today like Frank Muscarello. Not long ago Muscarello suffered a major setback when a previous business of his went under.</p><p>&ldquo;I had to sell all the cars, sell the house,&rdquo; he remembers. &ldquo;And I mean literally you go from having a high-paying great job from a business that&rsquo;s like your child that you built. And then all of a sudden she grows up and marries someone that doesn&rsquo;t like you.&rdquo;</p><p>Muscarello says bankruptcy was a bruising experience, but nothing to be ashamed of at 1871.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s not this negative connotation around failure. Because it happens, you know? Unfortunately 99 percent of these companies that are here are going to lose and that&rsquo;s a risk you understand going into it,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>It&rsquo;s hard to pin down exactly how many of these companies have failed or will fail. But in the last 5 years roughly 1300 tech start-ups have launched in Chicago. Of those, just 6.6% have been acquired or gone public according to Adam Calica, product manager at <a href="http://www.builtinchicago.org/">Built in Chicago</a>. In other words, a lot of risk-taking has yet to pay off.</p><p>And that&rsquo;s perfectly fine with <a href="http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/faculty/directory/darragh_linda.aspx" target="_blank">Linda Darragh</a>, head of the Entrepreneurship program at Northwestern&rsquo;s Kellogg business school.</p><p>&ldquo;It drives me crazy when I still hear people in Chicago say that Chicago&rsquo;s risk-averse. People don&rsquo;t understand that that&rsquo;s changed,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>But <a href="http://www.chicagobooth.edu/faculty/directory/w/ira-s-weiss" target="_blank">Ira Weiss</a> an angel investor who teaches at the University of Chicago&rsquo;s Booth School of Business, thinks Chicago still has a ways to go. He points to the culture of rapid turnover at young tech startups.</p><p>&quot;In Silicon Valley it&rsquo;s very common to work at a company and then they hop around. So people will have a new job every couple of years, that&rsquo;s normal,&quot; Weiss said. &quot;But here [in Chicago] you&#39;d ask the question: &#39;Well, can that person hold down a job&#39;?&quot;</p><p>Darragh thinks as long as Chicago continues to encourage risk-taking that mindset will change. And she says the energy in the tech startup scene is no longer exclusively on the the coasts.</p><p>&ldquo;I was at 1871 just last week and I met a person who had been in Chicago and then went to the West Coast for funding, same thing as we always hear,&rdquo; Darragh said. &ldquo;Well, she was back in Chicago I was totally surprised to see her. And she said &#39;I&rsquo;m here because the best talent is in Chicago and I&rsquo;m hiring people here.&#39; And I said, &lsquo;why&rsquo;? And she said, &lsquo;basically the work ethic is very strong and they can build companies. They have all the skills, they&rsquo;ve got the network.&rsquo; It&rsquo;s here now.&rdquo;</p><p>Or maybe it&rsquo;s just come back.</p><p><em>Derek L. John is WBEZ&rsquo;s Community Bureaus Editor. Follow him at <a href="https://twitter.com/DerekLJohn">@DerekLJohn</a></em></p><p><em>&ldquo;At What Cost?&rdquo; is made possible in part by the John A. Wing Society, an initiative of the Illinois Humanities Council to improve dialogue about business and the common good.</em></p></p> Mon, 14 Oct 2013 10:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagos-future-innovators-look-past-108910 Chicagoans prep for massive 'civic hackathon' http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagoans-prep-massive-civic-hackathon-107327 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/hackathon11.jpg" alt="" /><p></p> Thu, 23 May 2013 11:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagoans-prep-massive-civic-hackathon-107327 Afternoon Shift: 1871 anniversary, tech and immigration reform and SAIC fashion http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2013-05-03/afternoon-shift-1871-anniversary-tech-and-immigration-reform-and <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/1871_use.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Niala talks with CEO Kevin Willer about the anniversary of 1871 and how it has grown in the last year. Wailin Wong and Jimmy Prude weigh in on the tech community in Chicago. Then, Alison Cuddy and Natalie Moore ask the question: What inspires your fashion style?</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/afternoon-shift-303.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/afternoon-shift-303" target="_blank">View the story "Afternoon Shift: 1871 anniversary, tech and immigration reform and SAIC fashion" on Storify</a>]<h1>Afternoon Shift: 1871 anniversary, tech and immigration reform and SAIC fashion</h1><h2>Niala talks with CEO Kevin Willer about the anniversary of tech hub 1871. Wailin Wong and Jimmy Prude weigh in on the tech community in Chicago. Then, Alison Cuddy and Natalie Moore review the Art Institute's fashion show. Call 312.923.9239 or tweet using #AfternoonShift.</h2><p>Storified by <a href="http://storify.com/WBEZ"></a>&middot; Fri, May 03 2013 11:11:28</p><div><b>Happy Birthday, 1871:&nbsp;</b><i>Afternoon Shift&nbsp;</i>spends the hour assessing Chicago's tech chops with&nbsp;<i>Chicago Tribune&nbsp;</i>business reporter&nbsp;<b>Wailin Wong</b>&nbsp;and tech community organizer&nbsp;<b>Jimmy Prude.&nbsp;</b>The startup hub 1871, housed in Chicago's Merchandise Mart building, turns one this week. According to a report released earlier today, the organization created 800 jobs. <b>Kevin Willer</b>, who runs the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, the non-profit that operates 1871, reflects on 1871's growth and where it is headed. What is Chicago's reputation for tech?</div><div>1871 celebrates its one-year anniversary with a survey of accomplishments and a look forwardThe 1871 technology incubator celebrates its one-year anniversary on Friday with 225 startups - most of which are growing, though largely...</div><div>Celebrating the 1st year of @1871Chicago w/ @GovernorQuinn @kwiller @NewWorldVC @vprillinois @starterleague @IMSA_ http://pic.twitter.com/lF3w790zIhISTCoalition</div><div>Happy 1st birthday @1871chicago. May 2, 2012 was an incredible milestone for Chicago's startup community. Thrilled to still be a part of it.Melissa Lederer</div><div><b>Tech news:&nbsp;</b><i>Chicago Tribune&nbsp;</i>business reporter&nbsp;<b>Wailin Wong,&nbsp;</b>tech community organizer&nbsp;<b>Jimmy Prude </b>and<b>&nbsp;</b><b>Kevin Willer</b>, head of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, take the pulse of Chicago's tech community. Wailin looks at a new hub designed to bolster startups in the biological sciences. Jimmy talks about the need to foster tech talent at the elementary school level. Are your kids learning tech skills at school?&nbsp;</div><div>1871 tech co-op created 800 jobs in first yearThe roughly 200 startups working out of the 1871 collaborative hub at the Merchandise Mart created 800 jobs during the space's first year...</div><div>&quot;Investing in talented people creates jobs&quot; -- @GovernorQuinn at @1871Chicago #innovation #startupsISTCoalition</div><div><b>Tech industry mobilizes on immigration: </b>Tech giants like Facebook and Google have spent a combined&nbsp;$13.8 million to lobby for the expansion of temporary visas and green cards for high-skills foreign workers. Former Googler <b>Josh Mendelsohn </b>co-founded lobbying outfit Engine Advocacy to give startups a bigger voice in the immigration debate. He tells Niala what he wants to see in new immigration legislation. How reliant is the tech world on foreign workers?</div><div>Tech companies driving the lobbying on immigrationFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on March 7. (Photo: Jeff Chiu, AP) WASHINGTON - Seven...</div><div>The myth of America's tech talent shortage, and what it should mean for immigration reform. http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/04/the-myth-of-americas-tech-talent-shortage/275319/Jordan Weissmann</div><div>Education, Entrepreneurship and Immigration: America's New Immigrant Entrepreneurs, Part IIA report released by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation that tracked the educational backgrounds of immigrant entrepreneurs who were ke...</div><div><b>"The Walk":&nbsp;</b>This morning WBEZ's Alison Cuddy and Natalie Moore attended the School of the Art Institute's fashion show dress rehearsal. The official runway show, dubbed "The Walk, and the scholarship benefit dinner happens tonight. Alison and Natalie review the student show, which is celebrating 79 years. What is your fashion inspiration?&nbsp;</div><div>#thewalk #saic #fashion2013Liz Avery</div><div>headed to cover the #walk @SAIC w/ @natalieymoore. asking student designers about their fashion inspirations - what are yours? tell us!alison cuddy</div><div>#SAIC Fashion ShowAlanna Lamma</div></noscript></p> Fri, 03 May 2013 13:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2013-05-03/afternoon-shift-1871-anniversary-tech-and-immigration-reform-and Chicago startup sees big energy savings in big data http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/chicago-startup-sees-big-energy-savings-big-data-106302 <p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/katherineofchicago/2443941619/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bunglaow%20by%20katherine%20of%20chicago.jpg" style="height: 458px; width: 610px;" title="Bungalows, like this one in Berwyn, could provide Effortless Energy with a replicable model for cost-effective energy efficiency retrofits. (Flickr/katherine of chicago)" /></a></p><p>In the age of big data, it pays &mdash; or, in this case, saves &mdash; to put your nerdiest foot forward.</p><p>Matthew Gee co-founded Chicago startup <a href="http://goeffortless.com" target="_blank">Effortless Energy</a>, where his business card reads &ldquo;Chief Nerd.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I swim in this stuff,&rdquo; he says, mocking up a probability distribution on a whiteboard in the company&rsquo;s offices in Merchandise Mart tech incubator&nbsp;<a href="http://www.changinggears.info/2012/01/18/1871-chicago-entrepreneurs-to-open-startup-tech-center/">1871</a>. Gee, a third-year PhD student studying computational public policy at the University of Chicago, started the business in 2012 with a fellow University of Chicago student, Claire Tramm.</p><p>They want to be a one-stop shop for residential energy efficiency retrofits. Simple upgrades like air sealing can save American homeowners energy and money &mdash; sometimes as much as 50 percent on their energy bills. For low-income residents, who typically pay between one quarter and one third of their income in energy costs, the savings can be powerful. Cumulatively these retrofits could make a serious dent in our carbon footprint; the U.S. residential sector is nearly as large a source of carbon emissions as transportation.</p><p>Gee and Tramm think they have an answer for the question that dogs every energy saver who sings the praises of efficiency: If it&rsquo;s so good, why isn&rsquo;t everyone doing it?</p><p><a href="http://nextcity.org/forefront/view/home-economics">For many families, it can be difficult to finance</a> an effective retrofit. And in a highly technical market, good information tends to be in even shorter supply. Like <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/stimulus-dollars-insulate-chicago-homes-105178">Illinois&rsquo; own stimulus-funded energy efficiency program</a>, Effortless Energy fills in that gap.</p><p>Their product is called a Home Energy Efficiency Service Agreement, and it works like this: The company pays for its customers&rsquo; energy audits and certain retrofits, sharing in the energy savings until the investment pays for itself. The customer pays less, even after its monthly installments to Effortless Energy. If Illinois were to adopt an <a href="http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/12/a-new-way-to-foot-efficiency-upgrades/">on-bill repayment policy</a> like the one California has, it could streamline this process by combining the two bills.</p><p>The default rate for utility bills is under 2 percent, lower than for credit cards or mortgages. Gee said the company estimates 8-9 out of 10 customers will pay back the loans in full.</p><p>CEO Claire Tramm conceded their business model might also benefit from a region with higher energy prices, such as California. &ldquo;But if it can work here,&rdquo; she joked, &ldquo;it can work anywhere.&rdquo;</p><p>And they are careful about which homes they target. Roughly 60 percent of Chicago&rsquo;s housing stock is <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/look-centurys-chicago-bungalow">bungalows</a>. A partnership with <a href="http://www.dnrwindows.com/">DNR Construction</a>, which is well-versed in bungalow renovation, could help them tap into a $230 billion U.S. market, Gee said.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/contractor-blower-door.jpg" style="height: 239px; width: 305px; float: right;" title="A contractor with Building Energy Experts conducts a blower door test to assess an Avondale home's leakiness. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></p><p>Their proprietary algorithm shares DNA with the code that powers investment banking, but Gee likens it more to retirement savings &mdash; they&rsquo;re in it for the long haul, he says.&nbsp;It works by quantifying the variance in a slew of home energy efficiency metrics, such as a building&rsquo;s insulation value and draftiness, and optimizes for the best returns. That means they know with what level of certainty any given improvement, such as installing a new heating and ventilation system, will return a certain amount of savings each year.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re viewing each home as part of an investment portfolio,&rdquo; Gee said. Their system works best in homes with <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/smart-meters">smart meters</a>, thanks to those digital device&rsquo;s more robust data. Typically energy audits result in a hard-line recommendation: Install a new heating system and save $1,000 per year, for example. But for many customers, Gee said, that implied certainty is hard to believe. Instead Effortless Energy projects a range of savings.</p><p>&ldquo;No one is building uncertainty into energy models, but we need that uncertainty,&rdquo; Gee said. &ldquo;When we&rsquo;re making an investment decision, we&rsquo;re not just looking at the mean, but the spread.&rdquo;</p><p>Gee&rsquo;s PhD research uses computational modeling to analyze energy use and consumer behavior, anticipating a day when an integrated smart grid would use big data to optimize energy efficiency nationwide.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" mozallowfullscreen="" name="Effortless Energy from Impact Engine on Vimeo." scrolling="no" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/54490978?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;color=fc0303" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="500"></iframe></p><p>Wells Fargo no longer offers its <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/07/realestate/07mort.html?_r=0">energy efficient mortgages</a>, and <a href="http://www.ase.org/resources/property-assessed-clean-energy-financing-pace">&quot;Property Assessed Clean Energy&quot; loans</a> have <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/01/business/energy-environment/01solar.html?pagewanted=all">met the same fate</a>. With traditional catalysts for energy efficiency retrofits on the outs, Effortless Energy hopes to gain a foothold in a massive, still largely untapped market.</p><p>They have done 7 or 8 home tests validating their model, and will soon begin a pilot program on 20 homes in Oak Park, opting for the West Side suburb because of its renewable power bonafides. Oak Park became <a href="http://www.oak-park.us/aggregation/">the first municipality in the state to pursue an &quot;all-green&quot; power program</a> that favors wind and solar power, and purchases <a href="http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/gpmarket/rec.htm">credits</a> to offset any nonrenewable sources.</p><p>Gee may bill himself as Chief Nerd, but he knows it isn&rsquo;t numbers that ultimately close deals. Energy efficiency, he says, has an emotional appeal: it could save money and energy, but when it saves you from reaching for a winter blanket, the investment has paid off.</p></p> Wed, 27 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/chicago-startup-sees-big-energy-savings-big-data-106302 A haven for start-ups, or a no man's land? Chicago techies answer http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-05/haven-start-ups-or-no-mans-land-chicago-techies-answer-99040 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/567177515_8b1a8ef5d3_z.jpg" style="float: right; width: 300px; height: 225px; " title="Google's Chicago offices. (Flickr/Eric Olson)">Trevor Gilbert is only 19 years old, but that didn’t stop him from causing a stir in Chicago’s tech scene back in March, when he published an article titled “<a href="http://pandodaily.com/2012/03/18/the-midwest-mentality//">The Midwest Mentality</a>” for the popular tech blog Pando Daily. Gilbert wrote the piece after a trip to Chicago, during which he observed the unique character of Midwesterners trying to make their way in the tech startup world.<br><br>Taking fewer risks and making stable growth the goal, a hallmark of the Midwest according to Gilbert, “does allow people to have lives...[w]hich is another thing that Chicagoans and Midwesterners are rather enthusiastic about.” Funny, that.</p><p>Gilbert caught flak for saying that Chicagoans marry too young to achieve the sky-rocketing profits that are sought after on the West Coast, but he did make a few points that actual Midwest tech entrepreneurs agree with: Ignoring the hype machine, pursuing modest goals and a steady work ethic allows the Midwest to create a crop of midgrade, dependable companies.<br><br>Justin DeLay, co-founder of the cloud-based data gathering site TempoDB, says those are the reasons he returned to Chicago after spending time in a tech incubator in San Antonio, Tex. He defines that Midwestern qualiy Gilbert tries to understand as a type of modesty. In the Midwest, DeLay says, “We’re not going to shout that we’ve raised a bunch of money. Until we’ve built a sustainable business that can provide jobs and growth, there’s nothing to say.”</p><p>DeLay sees Silicon Valley as an echo chamber, where major dollar signs fuel the media and there are all-out wars over talented young engineers. Why battle Google, Facebook and Apple for the cream of the engineering crop, DeLay says, when schools like the University of Michigan (of which he is a graduate), the University of Illinois and Ohio all have top tier programs?<br><br>Sue Khim, a graduate of the University of Chicago, considered things differently when it was time to think about relocating her start-up, Alltuition. Khim got her start as the CEO of Edulender (which later became Alltuition), a website that helps students understand their student loans. It found a home in the Excelerate Labs incubator, an organization that has since moved to Chicago’s new tech hub, <a href="http://www.1871.com/">1871</a>.</p><p>Housed in Merchandise Mart, 1871 is a collaborative operation of dozens of very young start-ups organized by the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center.&nbsp;While many, including Justin DeLay, are excited by the new space and its capacity to create spontaneous creative collaboration, it wasn’t enough to keep Khim in Chicago. Looking to work side by side with companies that had found success in California, she moved Alltuition to San Francisco. Chicago has made huge progress, Khim says, but California has the connections, infrastructure and experience that made 25-year-old Khim feel more sure of herself. &nbsp;</p><p>Friday morning on <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>, we put these two young entrepreneurs in conversation with Kevin Willer of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center. Willer has a great deal of experience on the scene here; he opened Chicago's Google office in 2000. He credits companies like Groupon for putting "Chicago on the map" -- whether or not they end up being successful. And, he says the city has something its often not given credit for: the managerial experience that comes from traditional industries.</p><p>According to Willer though, going forward, Chicago needs more acquisitions and more IPOs to be a sustainable tech-oriented city. Otherwise, it might just become a stomping ground for companies that are just starting out -- who then leave us for the bright, big lights of the coastal cities.</p></p> Fri, 11 May 2012 08:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-05/haven-start-ups-or-no-mans-land-chicago-techies-answer-99040