Saturday, December 17, 2011

My First Ohours Session

I signed up on the site to chat with a managing director at the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center (CEC).  I originally signed up to chat with the MD to learn about her background, how she came into the role and what the CEC does. I came to realize that the CEC is a phenomenal resource for the startup community here in Chicago and their goal is actually very similar to mine when it comes to advising startups. The CEC is a non-profit organization that has been around for about 10 years, providing resources and connections to local tech startups in the area. They have five criteria for the startups they work with:

  1. Tech industry focused
  2. Unique and compelling value proposition in the company’s specific landscape and industry
  3. Growth potential – they like to see reasonable projections of $10m in revenue by years 3-5 in order to help the startups get ready for funding
  4. Market validation – i.e. customers
  5. Strong management team
They also want to understand what the startup needs help with and see if it fits with the resources they have available. They typically have 30 startups that they talk to on a regular basis and develop an informal curriculum to bring in experts on valuation and how to build marketing strategies, etc. The sessions are typically twice a month and not publicized, since they are exclusively for the startups they work with and often 10-15 startup teams will attend each session on a first-come, first-serve basis. After an initial phone call, they like to meet in person with the startup team to do a deeper dive into the business and see where their network may overlap with the company’s own contacts. After our initial phone call, I introduced the startup I am working with to the CEC and we will be sending our teaser/executive summary prior to our in-person session. After the holidays, I’m looking forward to hopefully getting a chance to start attending these bi-weekly informal classes offered by the CEC.

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