Boosting Female Business Builders: Lessons from Chicago
KARL R. LAPAN, PRESIDENT & CEO, THE NIIC
The Windy City is known for a variety of things (in no particular order): Major League baseball, hot dogs, deep-dish pizza, high-end shopping, Lake Michigan, a robust museum scene, and more. But did you know it’s also home to a growing hub of female business builders? Chicago has the highest percentage of female entrepreneurs in the world at 30 percent, well above the average of 18 percent, according to Chicago Inno.
So, what’s the secret sauce?
Pockets of innovation
It’s all starts at the local level, the neighborhood scene. The River North area alone is home to the “biggest concentration of startup activity” in the greater Chicago area, according to one female founder. Female-run startups like PartySlate, Trunk Club, Groupon, and SpotHero all started in this part of the city. Other neighborhoods in and around the Chicago metro area have seen similar growth. It’s a case of one success begetting another. When women see others pursuing their dreams and succeeding, they see a clearer path forward. That’s the same reason why local efforts like our own Women’s Entrepreneurial Opportunity Center (WEOC) program is an important enabler and catalyst for women-led and women-owned businesses.
Talent on tap
There’s no lack of qualified talent in Chi-Town, thanks to institutions like Chicago DePaul University, University of Illinois Chicago, Loyola, and Columbia College. And these grads want to stick around, thanks in part to the area’s growing number of hip destinations and a thriving arts and entertainment scene. The pipeline is robust.
Betting on each other
The female empowerment mentality in the Chicago business community is manifested in financial investment—in women by other women. For example, women are investing small amounts in early-stage female-founded startups through platforms like Republic or truCrowd Illinois as well as supporting organizations like DyMynd Angels, InvestHer Ventures, and Ms.Tech! In this way, women aren’t just giving lip service to each other—they are backing their words with monetary support, mentorship and connections.
I believe women in Northeast Indiana are poised to enjoy similar success, with the right tools. The Women’s Entrepreneurial Opportunity Center (WEOC), in partnership with The NIIC, serves aspiring women business builders at all stages of their venture paths.
From ideation and startup through growth and expansion, WEOC was designed to understand and respond to the unique needs of women business builders. The program does this through business growth coaching, mentorship, training and entrepreneurial education, connection and access to capital.
We help you define your unique pathway then provide resources and connectivity for your venture’s success using our proprietary Idea to Commercialization Entrepreneurial Pathway – Assess. Discover. Do.™
If you’re ready to get started, click here to schedule a meeting with one of our business coaches.