Chicago’s tech sector is experiencing an unprecedented surge in growth. Unicorns are emerging, funding is pouring in, and the Windy City is asserting itself as a formidable tech hub. Yet, this remarkable success story is accompanied by a pressing challenge: the battle for talent. Attracting and retaining tech professionals and startups remains a crucial task. In response to this call, P33, a non-profit organization committed to inclusive development in Chicago’s tech sector, has partnered with World Business Chicago to launch TechChicago—a movement that seeks to redefine success in the tech industry and spotlight the city’s diverse and thriving tech community.
The Chicago Tech Boom
Chicago’s tech sector is experiencing a meteoric rise. In 2021 alone, the city birthed 12 unicorns, representing a sixfold increase from the previous year. Tech companies secured an astounding $7 billion in funding, marking a 2.5-fold growth compared to 2020. Meanwhile, local venture capital firms raised a staggering $5.6 billion—more than double the previous year’s figure. This impressive growth reflects the city’s emergence as a tech powerhouse, but it also intensifies the competition for tech talent. Chicago, like other tech hubs across the nation, faces the challenge of attracting and retaining professionals and startups in a highly competitive landscape.
TechChicago: A Paradigm Shift
TechChicago marks a transformative moment for Chicago’s tech community. It commences with the inaugural TechChicago Week, spanning from July 12th to 14th—a three-day event designed to foster connections within Chicago’s tech ecosystem. The week features keynote addresses, fireside chats with influential figures such as Governor J.B. Pritzker and Mike Gamson, CEO of Relativity, and an array of events. The pinnacle of TechChicago Week is TechChicago Day on July 14th, a full day of activities, networking opportunities, and afterparties that brings together leaders in Chicago’s tech sector.
From Pilot to Movement
TechChicago is the evolution of the “Come Back to Move Forward” pilot campaign initiated in 2021. The pilot campaign achieved remarkable success by reaching 1.2 million tech professionals nationwide within its first few weeks. With 6.3 million tech professionals across North America, TechChicago aspires to engage a significant portion of this vast talent pool. This endeavor is aligned with CBRE’s 2021 Tech Talent Report, which underscores the need to bridge the tech talent gap.
Building an Inclusive Ecosystem
Chicago’s tech identity distinguishes itself through a commitment to inclusivity, robust tech infrastructure, regional resources, and a pragmatic Midwest ethos that prioritizes building meaningful businesses over empty tech pursuits. Tech companies in Chicago tackle challenges that will shape the future, such as sustainable food production, global logistics amid pandemics, life-saving health and science research powered by data, and the future of clean energy.
Diverse Narratives, Singular Goal
The launch of the TechChicago brand involves the collaboration of over a dozen entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and startup leaders. Together, they are determined to showcase the diverse narratives and faces that constitute Chicago’s tech industry. Among these narratives are:
- Nature’s Fynd: A future-of-food company inspired by NASA research in Yellowstone National Park.
- Cyber Pop-up: A marketplace connecting high-demand businesses with affordable cybersecurity solutions.
- Aspiration Hustle Code: An initiative inspiring confidence in computer science and coding among Black and Brown youth.
- Rheaply: A platform powering the circular economy and sustainability through resource exchange.
- Bringg: A cloud-based software transforming the future of food delivery.
- Sugar Gamers: An inclusivity-focused community for the gaming industry.
- Ocient: Enabling rapid analysis and management of the world’s largest datasets.
Uniting the Chicago Tech Community
TechChicago’s brand launch encompasses digital marketing and social media strategies, including:
- The launch of the new TechChicago website as a community resource.
- Targeted digital marketing in national tech markets like San Francisco, New York, Seattle, and Austin, aiming to engage tech students and professionals in various fields.
- Social media storytelling on Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Events and community activations to connect Chicago-based and national tech talent, venture capitalists, founders, and tech leaders.
A Vision of Tech’s Future
TechChicago embodies the spirit of unity and inclusivity within Chicago’s thriving tech community. As it continues to break records in venture capital funding, especially among early-stage Black and Latinx founders, the city reinforces its position as a global tech hub distinct from coastal counterparts. The heartland is where the future of tech beckons, and TechChicago invites the world to take notice.
TechChicago is not just a movement; it’s a testament to the power of community and collaboration. It’s a bold step toward redefining success in tech, away from the image of solitary tech titans and toward a vision of diversity and purpose-driven companies that provide opportunities for all. Chicago’s tech sector is on an upward trajectory, and the world is beginning to recognize its significance. As the city leads the way into the future of tech, TechChicago stands at the forefront, a symbol of innovation, inclusion, and limitless potential.